Friday, May 29, 2009

If You Had to Lump Them…

Would you rather get hit in the face or the stomach?

Break an arm or a leg?

Lose your sense of smell or taste?

Who would you make out with if you had to pick one of these two - or be put to death?

Sometimes in life, you are forced to make a choice and neither of your options makes you want to get up and do the happy dance.

That was the premise on one of the anticipatory journal prompts my students responded to before they began The Crucible. The prompt was getting them prepared to wrap their minds around the concept of “guilty until proven innocent.”

You have been accused of cheating on an important test when you did not. You can either admit to cheating, even though you didn’t, with the consequences being that you will serve after school detention and the incident will be put down in your permanent school record. But, you will also be allowed to retake the test.

Or, if you refuse to admit to cheating, you will still have to serve detention. However, your school record will be kept clean with no incident of cheating recorded. The down side, you will not be allowed to retake the test.

Under these conditions, which choice would you make and why?

I had not expected the students’ responses to this question to be such a tool for categorizing them, which, try as hard as I might not to do, was difficult.

Students who would admit to cheating even if they did not so that they could retake the test. Overwhelmingly, the students who responded this way were students that I might suspect would have no trouble with cheating in the first place. But. I was surprised (and yes, try as I might not to be judgmental, disappointed) that some of my best students academically would take this route just to retake the test. No problem caving their integrity? Or…not yet able to think of the subtle consequence of their permanent record being scared?

Students who would take the zero on the test rather than admit to something they did not do. These were the most satisfying responses to read. Again and again I had the honor and pleasure of glimpsing a young person whose principles were rock solid at such a young age. Who claimed that their integrity was not for sale at such a price. There were some type “A” kids who justified this choice because of the possibility that down the road it could affect their college applications. I just wished while I read them they had also mentioned their own personal principles.

You might think that was it. What else could there be? Maybe you will be as surprised as me that there are two more lumps or clumps that came out of this little assignment that turned out to be a social experiment of sorts.

A handful of students fall into the category of not reading directions or writing prompts very well in an effort to fly through any and all assignments. These students said they would admit to cheating so they could retake the test and it is better to just go ahead and admit to something when you know you are guilty. ??? or WTF?

Then there is a fairly large clump of students who cannot wrap their minds around the idea of having to choose between two courses of action which don’t fit their fancy. These students invented their own third choice, which usually called for bringing their parents down to the school to yell at the imbecile of a teacher who would accuse them of something they did not do.

Then there was the rare breed. The kid whose honesty and introspection made me think twice about my own ability to answer that journal question. That kid who comes along maybe once in a career. This is the same kid I quoted in this post with two stanzas of a poem he wrote back in the first quarter where the subject matter was his using sleep as a way to get through the angst of middle school:

What wonders it brings
to shut my eyes closed
and put down all the walls,
and weapons and soldiers
that keep me safe from
the biting and gnashing of bitter teeth
and bothersome, mindless chatter of the world.

Please leave me for awhile
And I will reach you across the wide oceans of my mind
Through the colossal mountains of thought
Beneath the clouded sky of reflection
And speak with you
In the green fields of sleep.

In the first quarter he also wrote a personal narrative (topic= self identity) that actually made me weep every time I read it. The entire piece was an extended metaphor where his life was a mural and he was the artist. It was one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I’ve ever read.

But he is an artist and not motivated too much by grades. Translation: he doesn’t do all his work. I have heard this from his math and science teacher. He does most of my work as he loves writing and he loves literature. He DID NOT do this journal assignment. So I pulled him aside and asked him why not.

Well, Ms Pseudo, I really tried. I started it twice. But I realized I could not answer it honestly. I’d like to think I would take the zero and keep my integrity. But writing that down just seems so pompous and without the humility that such a choice would suggest. And really? How do I know that I wouldn’t just go ahead and say I did something I did not do unless I actually had to make the choice? Whichever way I started my response, I felt like I was being dishonest.

Suddenly I realized that I felt the same way about the entire assignment, but had not let myself get there in my thinking…

I’m really going to miss this kid next year.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spin Cycle: Dating (Sorta Kinda)

I learned the hard way that it’s not usually a good idea to go out with someone for looks alone. I’m thinking that I’m not alone here- that most people figure this out the hard way. However, mine was hard in the, “I did not realize what an asshat I, myself, could be kind of way.”

So it’s the summer of 1978. I had broken up with my boyfriend of four years and had set sail on the rough waters of dating. Little did I know that I would be bouncing around in this boat for the next five years before my next serious relationship. Let’s just say I was not so good at the whole dating thing. The next five years would be like trying to sail around the world in a dingy, with spots of bad weather.

Although I would not be 21 until November, that posed no problemo as I of course had a fake ID. The first tool to hanging out in bars, the best place to meet guys, or so we all thought at the time.

In the suburb where I graduated from high school, the hangouts were mostly restaurants with either live band bars attached, or little mini discos. Months later, I would venture the 40 mile stretch of the 101 and go out in LA proper. But I started off small potatoes with my high school friends.

So one night we were at one of the mini discos and this totally hot guy was there. He looked like a younger, more accessible version of Gino Vannelli and I had a crush on Gino Vannelli (he had come in to where I worked one night).

Stop judging me. It was 1978 and I was 20.

My friends and I were doing the hair toss maneuver on an Olympic level. When hot guy looked over to check us out, he and I made eye contact.

Oh yeah baby, he walked right over and asked me to dance smack dab in front of my friends.

Me. The Rookie who had not dated since 11th grade. Who was making my debut in the bar circuit.

Looks can be deceiving. And not always in a “your hot and handsome but a total dickwad” genre.

In retrospect, my friends (who had been hitting the bars for months) probably set me up. I actually just thought of this now while writing.

Anywhos, Mr. Totally Hot and I hit the dance floor and he danced like a geek from Mars. Or Planet Erkel. He was a misguided, bizarre version of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. And he kept pointing at me. Even SINGING TO ME. LOUD. The song was Rick James “Superfreak.”

He had both hands pointed in my direction, was dramatically nodding his head yes, was singing at me, and the crème de la crème, he was coming at me in crotch first jerks and jolts.

My friends were laughing their asses off.

You would think that would be the end of the story. But I actually gave him my number. He was that hot looking. Or I was that desperate (stupid).

I threw the whole weird disco boy out my mind’s back door and gave him a second chance. We made a dinner date for The Hungry Hunter. The “in” steak house.

But he was worse at conversation than he had been at dancing. He tried too hard. He never got the point. He laughed at all the wrong places. Was way too loud.

The poor guy was a complete dork trapped in a hot guy’s face and body. It was one of the most surreal dates I have ever had. He was clueless, but he did try. He was a nice little weirdo in a Rock Star’s form.

After dinner we went to the bar to listen to the band. I was such an ass. I figured that the music was so loud I wouldn’t have to try and keep up an awkward conversation, but could just enjoy sitting there and looking at him (note: be seen with him).

But he leaned across the table and shouted the whole time. He sprayed my face trying to be heard. It was the Niagara Falls coming at me.

He excused himself to go to the bathroom and while he was there another hot guy came up and asked me for my number. This guy was the arrogant SOB I deserved and I was just handing him my phone number when my date returned to the table.

Ack. He looked so wounded. I’ve probably paid for it in blood karma 10 times over.

For more spins on dating, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Great Meadow in the Sky

Today we are headed to the cemetery to put flowers on the graves of my husband's mother and grandmother. While we are there I will of course be remembering my relatives back in California who are laid to rest. My father who was a WWII veteran. My grandparents on both sides, which includes my beloved paternal grandmother with whom I was especially close.

With the passing of our beloved family pet yesterday, I hope it is not too weird that for our family, today rings loud and clear with his memory. Seventeen years is a long life for a dog and he had a great life. We were very fortunate that he spent it with us. I hope his Great Gig in the Sky includes a beach with sand crabs to chase. That was a favorite sport of his and it had been a few years since he had been able to enjoy it.

Edit Note: My sister posted this about Old Man. All my digitized pics he is old, but she has him still at his favorite beach.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Spin Cycle: Pets and the Universe

A friend of mine always sends out a mass email when Mercury is in retrograde. A warning that communications might go wrong, electronics might go wonky, everything might be more difficult.

Whenever possible, pull back, huddle down, take care of what's important, and wait to take chances.

So I thought it might be just our family. The email did not go out.

My beautiful not even one year old computer is on the fritz. I'm on my daughter's laptop right now. It, and she, are hardly home, so I have only a small window of opportunity.

Our truck, which has become the 3rd vehicle and our son's ticket to independence, almost died when the mechanic did not tighten something after last week's oil change, the oil almost all leaked out, and we almost fried the engine.

Then the check engine lights came on for regular maintenence in both my husband's and my cars.

The boy's energy is wonky and the hubs is making it worse instead of better.

And. At the center of all this pleasantness, the Old Man started going downhill.

Five days ago he did not want to walk around the block.

Two days ago he stopped walking more than five feet and I had to carry him outside to go to the bathroom.

Yesterday he stopped eating.

This morning he will not drink water.

He would be 17 next month.

If I am not around the internet too much, well, even if the computer was working, I have an Old Man to sit with until the end.

For more spins, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hi! I’m Chuckie. Wanna Play??!!

The Setting:

Last three weeks of school. Students have finished reading the The Crucible and are working in groups to produce a skit for the class.

It is Day Two and the task sheet requires the group members to decide on interpretation, costumes, props, and set layout.

Ms. Psuedo is sitting at her desk, going through the task sheets from the previous class while listening in on the tables and their conversations.

The Action

Table Three erupts into a cacophony of chaos. Athletic male student pushes his chair back, stands up, and firmly makes his unequivocal statement.

I’m not bringing no Chuckie doll to class. NO WAY!!

He shivers.

Female surfer/lifeguard student is grinning ear to ear.

I said I’d bring him. A Chuckie doll for the poppet. It’s an awesome idea.

NO WAY!!! No one is bringing a Chuckie doll.

Assistant teacher goes to the table and asks if she can be of assistance. Do the students need help working things out?

Freaked out, bigger than a house, male student blathers on about butcher knife wielding creepy dolls blah blah blah.

Meanwhile female student catches Ms. Pseudo’s eye and sees the twinkle. Oops Ms. Pseudo.

Male student huffs and puffs and starts to settle back into seat.

Female surfer/lifeguard student eyes Ms. Pseudo and the rest of the kids at the table. She waits until he is seated. Then she turns to the boy with a creepy shit eating grin and shrills,

HI!! I’m Chuckie!! Wanna play??!!

I love my job.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Click here for more Wordless Wednesdays.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lie Revealed

If you have no idea what this is about and you want to, yesterday's post will help.

#3 True. I did enter my horse in gymkhana events, and in the cloverleaf barrel racing we won every time. Sometimes first, sometimes second, a few thirds. Pole bending not so much. However, the full discloser is that these gymkhana events were at the stable where I boarded my horse and only local kids entered. The family that owned the stable had the events once a month so I had plenty of opportunities to acquire ribbons and hang them around my bedroom. However, I never kicked it up a notch and entered county events or rodeos. So when I won those ribbons, it wasn’t all that competitive.

#2 True. My dad was a film editor for a production company that did mostly commercials. He got me a job as an extra on this commercial. It was a defining moment, when I realized I am a behind the camera kind of person and am totally not at ease in front of the lens. And all I had to do was sit at a fake bar acting hot, until the hot girl walked by, when my expression was supposed to show I knew I was second fiddle. The jeans were called Made in the Shade. The model was actually a VERY cool chick. I was a 20 year old from the suburbs and my jaw dropped when half way through the shoot she had a wardrobe change and she dropped her shirt and stood non-pulsed in the middle of a crew of mostly men with her titties showing (rather than walk back to the dressing room). She also made small talk with me in make-up and made me feel like a million bucks for treating me like an equal when I was just an extra and there on my dad’s say so.

#1 THE LIE! Bald-faced, only in my dreams, never even came close lie. Only in my fantasies have I ever sung in a band. Although I was in the school choir from 3rd to 8th grade, the fun stopped there. But, like many, it was always a fantasy. If I could be a singer for a day, this is my alter ego – Susan Tedechi. I pretend to be her when I vacuum.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Would I Lie to YOU?

Apparently I would. Jane at Gaston Studio’s tagged me for this little game.

Tell two truths and one lie and dare the game players to guess which one is the lie. I have played this game mucho times with my students. It is one of my favorite getting to know each other, class bonding games. The students have very little aptitude for stepping into the teacher’s shoes and hardly ever guess my lie. But I have no idea how well you folks on the internet will do.

1. Right after high school I sang backup vocals and played tambourine for a local band that played at parties. Our highlight was a couple bar gigs, after which everyone went their separate paths.

2. I was once in a jeans commercial where I was the one NOT in the jeans, envying the hot model who walked through the night club IN the jeans.

3. I was a gymkhana barrel racer. My horse and I placed in every event we entered and my teenage bedroom was decorated with ribbons.

I’ll post part two tomorrow, where I will reveal the lie.

I’m encouraging any and all who want to play along to tag themselves….

Meanwhile, if you have not checked out Jane’s blog, you should head on over. She is a great storyteller with some terrific tales. Like this one where she was living in Egypt and had to find her way back home after riots broke out.

And in the theme of things, treat yourselves to five minutes of Annie Lennox, circa 1980's. She is so awesome. You have to click over to YouTube as they would not let me embed the video, but it's a classic.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Foto: Mother's Day 2009

Mother's Day was a quiet, peaceful, relaxing day of just my daughter and me. My husband was working (Mother's Day is huge in hotels and restaurants). I'd go into the story of how Son turned out not to be with us and make it light and funny, but I have a headache this morning. Let's just say it was all good.

Daughter and I got to the North Shore around 10 AM and apparently nearly everyone else was taking their mom to a hotel or restaurant brunch because the beach was nearly deserted.
I think the cloud up there behind BC looks like a flying dragon.

A sweet and fun dragon.

Right after I took this picture, I jumped in the water and BC came flying in after me. Daughter and I played catch with his tennis ball and he played Monkey in the Middle. He can swim like a little steam engine when a ball is at stake.

Our little spot of heaven for the day.

BC and I took off for a nice long beach walk. Summer weather is here. It was so hot there were shimmer waves coming up off the sand and we had to jump in the water every ten minutes.

While perky boy
and forth


The shell on the right is very pretty.
If you click on the picture, it enlarges.

This family of paddle boarders are letting mom have some ocean space to herself.

We left early to beat the crowd to Hali'ewa for dinner. We frequent a Mexican restaurant that has some tables outside we can have BC join us. We did not, however, anticipate how freaking hot it was to sit with a brand new sunburn in the hot sun and eat spicey food. After I downed this here margarita, we got some to go boxes.

And finished our dinner at this picnic table.

For more Friday Fotos, head on over to Candid Carrie's.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spin Cycle: A Tale of Two Proms Part Two (Daughter)

Part One is here.

When I took Daughter shopping for her prom dress we found her dream gown at the first shop. It was a Cinderella gown, a Belle gown, a “puffy” gown. It was a beautiful deep, dusky pink, my girly girl’s favorite color. If she had gone straight to the fairy godmother of all godmothers and had been allowed to design her prom dress herself, it would have been exactly what we discovered hanging in the middle of the rack that day.
Picture this in deep, dark pink.
When my daughter was a little girl, she acquired every Princess gown on the market; not only all the Disney ones from the Disney store, but every Puffy dress that came her way. Her dance recital costumes and her puffy dresses from thrift stores were the bulk of it, but it did not stop there. Even mall boutiques and big department stores would occasionally have a timeless, fairylike dress hidden among the I’m-trying-to-look-sixteen-even-though-I’m-six collections.

Growing up, Daughter loved twirling around in these swirly, puffy dresses. ALL. THE. TIME.

Everyone’s home for dinner? Daughter would run to get “dressed.” Hub’s and my eyes would follow her scrambling up the stairs, then glance over each other in our shorts and T’s, shrug, and wonder from what storybook this child had been delivered. She played fairy princess constantly, sometimes with neighbor kids and sometimes by herself. The child swirled and pranced through her entire childhood.

The girl might have been seventeen for senior prom, but she had not outgrown her love for Cinderella styled gowns. She beamed at herself in front of the full length mirror and then surprised the holy crap out of me when she turned around and said,

It’s pretty but…no.

Why was she hesitating you might ask?

Well, the gown was over the budget we had discussed. I had just gone back to work after six months of cancer treatments and there were unpaid medical bills. And since Daughter hasn’t a selfish bone in her body (don’t think for a second that this is not exploited on a daily basis by Teen Boy) she said no thank-you.

Since I could not convince her it is sometimes OK to throw a bit of practicality out the back door, we put the dress on hold. Hubs and I then spent a week explaining to her that we really didn’t mind spending the money. In fact, we WANTED to pay the extra $100 so badly, she would be doing us a disservice by denying us the pleasure. How COULD she leave us with the burden of guilt heavily cloaked over our shoulders when she had this wonderful opportunity to lessen the weight of our burden?

That was our thinking and although we were trying to be funny and dramatic in our delivery, it was the truth. She’d been through so much that year. She had been my rock through every step of the cancer treatments. And… Did I mention that for her senior year we had pulled Daughter out of the private girl’s school she had been going to and put her in the public school where I worked? Yeah we did. She actually volunteered to do it to help us out. It was huge and a financial life saver, but oh the guilt.

So Daughter. What’s $100 when you not only saved us $1,000’s of dollars in tuition, you also never complained even once?

Once she acquiesced, the dress was all she could talk about. It was the most beautiful gown ever, better than all the dance costumes, the Disney costumes, the gowns she had designed in her head. She was ecstatic.

We felt like the best parents in the world to be able to put that smile on her face.

When we went back to buy the dress she brought a friend with her. Daughter tried on the gown to show her friend (and also so I could take pictures with my camera phone to send to aunties in the Mainland). She smiled like a goddess and asked her friend what she thought.

The girl pursed her lips and in the most hesitant of manners told my daughter she wasn’t sure if she should buy that dress. Because “puffy” dresses were not in style, that everyone else would have on “slinky” gowns.

Daughter’s smile disappeared and was replaced by a look of utter confusion.

I told Daughter if she felt like a million bucks in the dang thing, then who cares if it’s not like everyone else’s?

Her friend kept it up; how Daughter will feel out of place, that maybe at her all girls’ school it would have been OK, but that she would stand out like a sore thumb at a big public school prom. In order to pull it off, she would need to WANT TO BE THE CENTER OF ATTENTION. And possibly not in a good way.

I told my daughter she should not care what people will think and to get what would make her happy.

Easy for me to say. I’m not a 17 year old girl at a new school.

In the end Daughter took the girl’s advice, saying to me that even though she loved the dress, it was more important to her to fit in, to feel comfortable, and to have fun. She bought a slinky black dress for half the price but instead of being pleased at saving the money, I felt a little bit bummed and tried not to show it.

I think that if she could have pretended to be six, she would have asked for the slinky gown AND the pink gown, the puffy gown only to play dress up in around the house.

The day of the prom was such a great day to have a daughter. Hair. Makeup. Photos. She looked like a movie star and we had mostly forgotten about the puffy pink Belle gown. I drove her over to a friend’s house where 16 of them were meeting to catch a limo ride together. All the parents were there with their cameras.

Daughter disappeared into the house while I met and made nice with the other parents. Finally, the mom of that house hollered at the bunch of prom goers to come out and pose in front of the limo for us.

The parents gathered in the front yard and readied their cameras like a pack of paparazzi.

The kids emerged single file looking awesome in their tuxedos and gowns, their flowers and smiles.

As my daughter emerged through the door, she had a funny look on her face, but before I had a second to wonder why, her friend from the shopping trip came sauntering out of the house behind her…

The fucking bitch was wearing the exact puffy Belle gown that she had talked my daughter out of - the only difference was that it was in Cinderella blue instead of dusky Princess pink.

I couldn’t fucking believe it. I wanted to tear the dress off the little cunt and then whip her with it. Sometimes acting civilized is more work than it is worth, but in the end I did not make a scene because I knew my Daughter would not want me to.

My daughter has a lot more class than I do. She shrugged it off, never said a thing, and went and had a great time. Then she politely never spoke to the girl again.

Me? I would have made sure I accidently spilled my whole dinner and a cup of coffee on the snake.
For more prom spins, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Spin Cycle: A Tale of Two Proms

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…

Me? I never went to prom. I could say it’s because I was not a prom kind of girl back in the mid ‘70’s, and I’d be mostly correct. I was a beach girl, a horse girl, an organic too-late-to-be-a-hippy-but-almost-a-hippy girl. But the truth of the matter is, no one asked me, no one back then at my high school went stag or in groups of same kind gender, and I was not bold enough to ask a boy.

But my kids have both been to prom, so now I have a terror or two to tell. Both stories involve the shopping for prom wear.

Let’s start with son.

I don’t have any brothers, we’ve already established that I never went to prom, and the only experience I had with tuxedos was when my husband, his best man, and my father showed up wearing them at our wedding. However, I haven’t a clue how or where this came about.

So when Son told me he was asked to prom and he needed my help getting something to wear, I went to the experts.

Hubs went to proms. He said we had to go to a tuxedo shop. That Son should find out what color the girl’s dress was and to get a tux with the tie and/or vest complimenting her gown. If you are wondering why hubs did not take care of getting Son's prom tuxedo himself, you are probably a new reader. Welcome.

Anyways, hubs went to prom like, uhhh, maybe a hundred years ago. So even if that tux shop was still around, he did not remember where it was. He thought it was in Sears…. Seriously.

I called my friend the wedding planner. She knew where all the tux shops were and all the insider’s information on each of them. I made my list of each shop’s specialty.

Then I went to Son.

Hey kid, what kind of tux did you have in mind?

I think a zebra stripe suit would be awesome.


I am serious.

This exact same conversation took place on three separate occasions, so I asked Daughter to call the girl that Son was taking and to ask the girl what she would like Son to show up in.

Prom Date said a tux or suit would be nice. Her dress is red and she seemed really relieved when I asked her. I think she knows about his zebra suit idea.

When it came to the day to go and pick out a tux, Son was out with his friends, so we made plans to meet up in town.

When Son pulled the truck up next to my car, there were three of him. Meaning his two friends had the same longish hair, skater/surfer look as Son. They walked like Son. They even talked like Son. They were the Patty Duke triplets of the skater scene.

A visual aid for those too young for the Patty Duke reference. Go ahead. We'll wait.

The boys wanted to come tux shopping with us. They thought it would be fun. You just never know what is going to get their interest these days. Next thing you know, they will ask to grocery shopping with me.

When we got there, the man working the counter appealed to the boys. His head was shaved, he had a goatee, and intricate ink covered most of his forearms. I think they figured him a sympathetic audience to their antics. Their questions emerged in Beavis and Butthead fashion.

Do you have a tuxedo in zebra print?

Uh, no.

How about a cheetah print?


You know what would be really cool? A tux made out of ‘70’s shag carpet material.

Ho, yeah baby. Like in orange.

Do you have that?

The tuxedo man is staring at them. Then he says,

I can get you a plaid tux in lime green.

The boys chuckle.

That might be kind of cool. Let’s see that one.

Meanwhile, Daughter and I are just standing there, enjoying the side show. However, I feel it is time for me to step up to the plate.

Excuse me,

I say to tuxedo man,

but I’m paying for this. I have no intention of sending him off to pick up that poor girl in a lime green plaid tuxedo.

The Boy didn’t put up a fight as Daughter and I selected a glorious black tux with a deep red tie and vest. His friends walked down to the nearest fast food outlet to rev up their batteries. They'd had their fun.

The only other highlight was the fitting, where the 6’1” 138 pound teen looked absolutely stunning in pants that came half way up his ankles and a jacket that stopped mid forearms. He could have been a Dickens’s urchin and I could kick myself for not having my camera.

If you want to see how it all turned out, it is here in this post.

The boys did say that next year they are ALL going to go and they will plan ahead so they all find zebra, cheetah, or shag carpet tuxedos. I’ll make sure my camera is ready.

Part Two, Daughter’s prom shopping tomorrow.

For more spins, head on over to our host, Sprite's Keeper.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

To My Mother

I know that with the miscarriages that you had had, your pregnancy with me was not an easy one. Thank-you for doing everything you could, including six months of bed rest, so that I would make it here. Thank-you for giving me the gift of life. Thank-you for demonstrating to me in so many ways, including your years of cancer recovery, what it means to be a survivor.

To my Bahquine (grandmother)

Thank-you for being the rock of my childhood. For your stories and your unwavering love. Thank-you for showing me how a woman could be strong, and smart, and generous all at the same time. Especially, thank-you for being that adult person in my life who believed I could do anything I if I set my mind on it. And for telling me this way more than once.

To my Husband’s Mother

Thank-you for hubs. I am so sorry that I never was able to meet you and that you were not able to watch your son grow up, but I know you are so proud of the man your little boy turned out to be. I feel your presence watching over us and see you in the eyes of Daughter each and every day. She looks so much like you.

To my Husband’s Grandmother

Thank-you for raising your grandson to be such a thoughtful, caring man who is so respectful of women and who is so dedicated to family. Those last years of your life that you spent with us were precious and we miss you. Spending their young years with their great grandmother in the home taught the children more about what is important in life than anything we could have said with words.

To All of You out there reading this…

Whether you are a mother or celebrating your mother or both and more, wishing you a very happy Mother’s Day weekend from Pseudo Land.

And if you want to give me a present, click on the badge in the upper right corner and go to blogger's choice to vote for this blog. You'll have to register, but it would be a Mother's Day bonus to get close enough to dooce to give her a little pinch in the arse.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Friday Foto: Déjà vu

I think falling in love is a little like having visitors. You push the things you have to do aside and make the time to participate in life. The balance shifts in favor of fun and recreation, of sights and sounds and sensory perception. Slow conversations and leisurely meals. Mixing things up and staying away from routines….

Of course it is a big cosmic joke because when the visitors leave, or when the honeymoon is over, real life and routine become a juggling act where mortgages, careers, children, elderly relatives, schedules, housework….fuck I’m tired just by putting it all down on paper. Where was I? Oh yeah, with all the balls in the air the ones that tend to get dropped are the leisurely ones. At least, it did for us. Not absolutely, but enough.

I’ve written this before, but surviving cancer helped me put things back into perspective. To let some things go, to make time for others. To appreciate the little moments and figure ways to fit in more of them. I got a reminder of that that last month. That scare has helped me once again slow down my frenzied tendencies.

One late afternoon last week that I spent with my daughter gave me a strong feeling of déjà vu. I picked her up in town from work and we were going to see a play together. It was preview night and therefore was free. We wanted to get something to eat, maybe a little on the treat side, but within budget.

We picked up some food to go and headed out for a picnic on the wall overlooking the ocean as you drive around Diamond Head.

When my husband and I were dating, we had many a lunch date on that wall. Afterwards, we would break out the backgammon board. We’d straddle the wall, sitting in one direction for an hour, then we'd switch places so we did not tan on only one side. We would play so many games we called them tournaments, and we'd place bets. If neither of us had to work that night, we’d do this all the way from lunch until sunset. Time moved slowly.

While I sat there having a picnic dinner with my daughter I thought about the me that had sat on that same spot, over twenty years before....

Green papaya salad and summer rolls.
Lychee iced tea (me) and iced latte (daughter)
Not the greatest foodie shot. Sorry folks.

The view.

The path.

Through the plumeria tree.

The play was free. The Thai food to go was $13.27. The drinks from the coffee house one block over from the Thai restaurant were $6.75. The view was free. Our night out came in at just $20, so I'm cross listing this as a Money in the Bank post. For more money saving ideas, clink on the piggy bank or this link to Money in the Bank host, Words of Wisdom from a Smart Mouthed Broad.
For more Friday Fotos, head on over to Candid Carrie's.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009

Spin Cycle: Making Mountains Out of Molehills

I’m spinning; spinning my wheels. I’m spinning this week’s topic with such a twist it may not quite be what Jen over at Sprite’s Keeper had in mind, but she’s such a doll I think she will be fine with that.

The general slant of the spin is bragging.

Not just regular bragging. Tooting your own horn at work bragging. Work bragging of the kind where someone talks themselves up to the boss in such a way that the exaggeration of their feats crosses the border of exaggerated reality to pure and simple fiction.

Hence, my conundrum. Instead of making mountains out of molehills, it’s more like making mountains out of sneaker farts.

Well then, now that we have our sensory details, let’s get on with the story.

The last restaurant where I worked was a rising star at the time. I started working there when it had been open less than a year, but the chef owner had a gift, not just for cooking, but for business as well. During that first year he really made a name for himself. After a few years, he started opening up other restaurants. Many of my waiter friends were the first to go into management at the new establishments.

One of my friends there was everything you’d want in an employee. Hard-working, smart. A truly caring person who could give just the right service to a young prom couple who had never been to such a nice place; but also be able to handle the richest, pickiest asshat with aplomb and finesse. I liked her.

Another fellow employee was a back stabbing, ladder climbing bitch. She had been hired a year or two after a lot of us, but she was itchy to be pulled up the ranks ahead of the pack. Every other night I would see her go up to the dining room manager and brag about something. Her sales. A compliment from a customer. How she managed to give great service despite her slow, shit for brains busboy. A lot of her tactics for illustrating her profound greatness was by throwing whoever she could under the bus. I did NOT like her.

Sometimes, when there was a large party (fourteen to twenty) two stations would be worked as one with a team of two waiters.

One night Glenda the Good Witch was teamed up with the Wicked Witch of the West (original version people – not Elphaba). Let’s just call her Bitch Witch so there is no confusion. I was working right next to them, a true eye witness. Glenda was on the ropes making sure that not only the twenty top, but also the six other tables were happy. Checking on them, getting the little extras, opening the bottles of wine. Bitch Witch was taking orders and ringing them up. However, she had absolutely no fucking follow through. More than once I stepped in and helped when Glenda asked me by opening a bottle of wine that Bitch Witch had rung up but left sitting on the bar while the customers sat there waiting.

I mostly thought they were going with their strengths. Glenda was awesome with her interpersonal skills. Bitch not so much.

At the end of the night while I was sitting at a table doing my sales report and money drop, the dining room manager and the chef owner were having dinner at the table next to me. Bitch Witch comes up, sits down at their table and shows them her and Glenda’s ending sales read out.

Look how busy I was. I sold $2,200. Man, was I busy. You know. Glenda only sold $1,000 tonight. But that’s OK. I’ll still split the tips down the middle. Cause I’m a team player. But I bet this is the highest sales ever, right?

Technically, Bitch was supposed to ring the tables in Glenda’s station on Glenda’s number….

Her point was moot.

She did not mention that she did nothing to actually service her customers that night.

But she came really close to me grabbing a fork and shoving it up her ass.

Bottom line? They both went into management and both manage their own restaurants. I don’t go to the one the Bitch is running.

I’ve observed this phenomenon in every line of work that I’ve come across. What has always irked my idealist side is most bosses (be it manager, owner, or admin in education) seem to usually buy the horn tooters version of their accomplishments at face value. It's like many that go into management acquire some kind of immunity to smelling a stinker when they leave the ranks of the field workers.

I kind of feel like it’s my boss’s job to know how good I am at what I do without me pointing it out.

Any horn tooters driving you crazy out there at your jobs? Fellow employees who brag mountains with only a sneaker fart to stand on?

For more spins head on over to our host, Sprite’s Keeper.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

If I could straight up trade jobs with someone and had to pull a specific name out of my ass, in say like two seconds, I hope I'd have the where with all to spout out Anthony Bourdain. I love his show and thought I had seen them all, but today he went to Hawaii. So, OF COURSE I dropped everything I was doing and sat down and watched the show.

His production assistants that research the locations really know what they are doing. He did a tour that made me proud. Hawaiian food at a place my husband has gone to since he was a boy, a local bar known for its great local pupus (appetizers). He even hung out on the North Shore with the old guys and went to a local barbecue in Kalihi. If you are a foodie and want to see a couple of the great places the locals go to eat, watch this segment.

Remember how last week I was wondering how each of these blog awards get started? The zombie chicken one to be exact. Well, ask and you shall know. My good friend Jan from Jan's Sushi Bar has created an award. If you are not a regular reader of Jan's blog I highly recommend it. She has wonderful recipes, including delicious cocktails, and she has got dry wit down to a science. She carries her dry wit and fun sense of humor with her as she makes her way around the Internet. Her comments are always favorites of mine. One day I went blog reading and I just happened to come about 15 minutes behind her on almost every blog I went to. She was a hard act to follow in the comments section.

Thank-you so much Jan!

A Sushi Grade Blog is a cut above other blogs that are canned and turned into salad or casseroles. A Sushi Grade Blog is fresh, lively and of superior quality. It is rare, has character and is of good taste.

Oh, and it’s packed full of heart healthy Omega 3 oils.

And since it seems there must be rules for awards, here they are:
1. Grab this nifty little graphic and display it proudly on your site.
2. Choose 5 blogs of superior quality and list them, along with why they are A Sushi Grade Blog.
3. Link to them, announcing their award.
4. Leave them a comment letting them know they’ve been given an award.
5. Link back to the blog that awarded you.

I'd like to pass this award on to some humor bloggers who tickle my funny bone on a regular basis. They are lively indeed and very deserving of the sushi award.

Serving some sushi to:

Ann's Rants

Bern This

Life Just Keeps Getting Weirder

Motherhood in NYC

Vodka Mom (so happy you're back)

A new friend of mine passed a Friendship award on over. Jane over at Gaston Studio. She's led a very exciting life and has the most wonderful stories to tell. I love the fact that it did not seem to come with any rules or restrictions. I read on some blog somewhere that the awards are kind of like a game of telephone, with every passing the rules and such change a bit.

I'd like to pass this one on to some bloggers I met when I first started out who have become a network of friends to me. Not only through our blogs, but also through emails. Nine months ago, these people were the bulk of my readers. Their comments and encouragement made this blogging thing something I wanted to keep doing.

I'd like to pass the friendship award on to

Don't Worry it's Only a Movie

Kristen Hoffman

My Life Interrupted

of thistles and maple leaves

Twenty-Four at Heart

Words of Wisdom From a Smart Mouthed Broad

Borrowing some words from Mad Dog, you may choose to not post the award that is fine by me, but your friendship means a lot to me.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Friday Foto: Opera Workshop

When I was taking my daughter to dance classes and going to her recitals I had no idea where it would lead. Her first recital she did not want to go on stage - she was scared stiff. I watched with the sure expectation she would take one look at the crowd and come running back into the wings, tears streaming down her face, making sure I knew that I had emotionally traumatized her for life by insisting she do the yearly recital "just once and if it's not your thing, you never have to do it again."

She came running back alright, but she was grinning from ear to ear and saying,

Again Momma! I want to go on again!

That's it baby. You are done for tonight. So you liked being onstage?

I LOVED IT!! When can I do it again?

Next year's recital.

Why do I have to wait so long? I want to go NOW.
Fast forward
15 years
And that sweet, cuddly little five year old
This beautiful 19 year old college sophomore.

For her opera workshop class they did a recital. Dad was working. Son was with his friends thankful we did not invite him.

I loved every minute of the workshop, especially when it was my girl's turn to be onstage. Afterwards we were both hungry since we had not eaten dinner. We splurged and went to a restaurant we had both been dying to try. It's somewhat new (OK, opened several years ago, but we rarely go out). The restaurant is known for serving up local ingredients and my daughter and I can go and not spend a fortune as we don't eat like the boys do. We shared an appetizer and an entry, with tea (I had brown rice tea, daughter had chamomile) and thoroughly enjoyed each other's company and the ambiance of the restaurant. It was perfect after a night of opera workshop performance.
Shutome (swordfish) on the left.
Lemon risotto with cardoon on the right.
Lots of yummy veggies that I did not know.
And now for a little song and dance...

For more Friday Fotos, head on over to Candid Carrie's.