Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fashion (Pants on the Ground)

I've often said that guys have it so much easier than girls do regarding fashion; fewer choices makes it easier to determine what to wear everyday. Suit styles tend not to change much over time and thus, guys can get more use out of an item. Sizing is far more standard from one men's designer to another, so it's easier to find your size when you're a guy. But most importantly, and this is the reason for this post, guys' styles are typically more comfortable. If you question the veracity of that statement, just think: HEELS. (I almost typed HELLS, which isn't far off, but they make our legs look good, right?) However, I am re-thinking that last part. I know that guys have been wearing their pants at questionable levels for awhile now, but it seems to have reached a new low. (pun intended). Many guys are now belting their pants BELOW their butt. First of all, doesn't that completely negate the wearing of pants to begin with? Why even wear them? Pants are meant to cover one's undergarments, right? But never mind that part, what I want to know is, isn't it uncomfortable as hell to wear them that way? When I see them worn in that manner, I can only think of that song about pants on the ground...he must have noticed it before I did and felt compelled to write a song. I get the song now. It feels weird looking at a guy who is wearing his pants that way, almost obscene. People complain about women's styles being too revealing, but usually a revealing style in a woman's garment is by design. On purpose. The guy's pants on the ground is a modification of the intended design. I just don't get it, and I don't think it's because of my age or gender. I think I don't like it because it's totally asinine. There I said it, I feel better.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Thankful. I am thankful. Thankful for my family and I love them with all my heart. But this post isn't about them, though they deserve it, it's understood that I am thankful for and love my family. Love is a many splendored thing, right? Patient. Not over-rated. It doesn't stink. Generally under-appreciated and taken for granted in the grand scheme of things. But not by me. I am overtly expressive of my love of my family and that's not what this post is about. Today I want to express my thanks for my co-workers. The people I work with on a daily basis are pretty amazing. It's easy to see someone in one particular light, as a teacher or social worker or psychologist, but in reality everyone, every individual is multi-faceted and multilayered. From the tech-savvy linguist, who at first blush takes what we do very seriously, but who is witty and hilarious and makes us all laugh at lunchtime; to the quiet, reserved and more ernest, yet laid back individual who brings us delicious home-made brownies, which I swear are the best. ever. (ever); or the knowledgeable and dedicated life-long learner/educator who devotes precious time outside of school to her students and her thoughtful planning and instruction, or the vivacious and remarkable new staff member, who is at once silly and bubbly, but yet incredibly kind and patient. I could go on and on and on. My point is that we all know how important it is to have people in your personal life who love and support you, who inspire you, but isn't it just as important to have those same kinds of people where you spend the majority of your day: at work? Isn't it enlightening and enjoyable to be able to work with people who share your same level of energy doing what you do? Yes it is. I am surrounded by the kind of people who love what they do and I am thankful.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Preschool/High School


Me: Iz! Look at these adorable Saucony gym shoes, but they have ties, is this something you would like to work on together? Tying shoes? Should I order them?

Iz: Yes Mommy, those are soooooo cute! (she hugs me) I’ll practice tying my shoes.

Me: Ok, sounds like a plan.

(Later that week after the shoes arrive)

Me: Iz, let’s work on tying together. (She slips the shoes on, still a bit big but I want plenty of time to work on the tying part). You cross the laces over, tuck one under and pull tight. Voila! You try.

Iz: OK! (takes the laces, wraps them around each other, pulls tight, nothing happens.) That’s ok, Mommy, can you help me and show me again?

Me: Sure. (repeat steps delineated above) ((We are both happy to have the cute shoes and to work together))

(A few days later, after many tries at home and at school)

Me: Ok, remem…

Iz: I GOT IT! (she aggressively grabs the shoes, shoves them on her feet, takes hold of the laces, wraps them around each other, pulls super tight, nothing happens)

Me: Should…

Iz: NO! I CAN DO IT!!!! (repeat steps delineated above) (MANY MANY MANY TIMES, including the vehemence about doing it ALL ON HER OWN)

Me: Ok, I’ll just wait. (no shoes are tied at this point, nor will they ever be if this continues) ((Sigh))

High School

Me: (In German to my AP class) Good morning! Let’s start your essay on diversity and cultural differences; how can we describe these concepts in detail? What are the historical implications of these concepts to a German-speaking person compared to an English-speaking person? How do they affect us on a daily basis? Be sure to make an outline, staying only in the target language and have a rough draft ready by the end of class with a final draft by week’s end. Also, be sure to call my Google Voice number and respond to the prompt. I will not give you the prompt in advance! Remember, I can see how many times you call and you should only call one time. This call counts for participation, next time it will be for an assessment. OK?

Students: Alles klar! :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

(Anti)Social Media

I adore social media and how it connects me with friends and family that I don’t get to see nearly as often as I’d like. It’s a give and take, an exchange of information, pictures, trivia and life’s minutiae. Due to the nature of life in general, we all have things we love and things we hate. We are all different. Life would be a total snoozer if we all liked the same things. But back to my point, I have an adorable 4.5 year old and I love my husband and my dog and my job and I’m trying to stick to an exercise regimen, so you’ll see a LOT about all those things from me. That’s me. I have friends who are wonderful cooks and bakers and they share what’s cooking tonight. I love that. But I have other friends who complain about others’ posts and I don’t get it. The beauty of social media is that you can change settings to see as much or as little of someone as you would like. If Onkel Fritz is posting too much about his (ugly) hamster, you can edit which of his posts you get. Or, my personal non-fave, when someone decides to post pictures of an injury, (seriously, this GROSSES ME OUT) I swiftly delete that picture, but look forward to the other posts that individual has to share. But don’t fool yourself when you post something snarky about someone else’s posts, because let’s be honest, I’m sure there are friends in your queue who have had enough of what you have said, but they like you so they tolerate you. Or secretly mock you in private, but that’s life. Can’t we all just get over ourselves? Or not, that's ok too. That’s why social media exists; we love to share about ourselves and we love when people notice. It’s quid pro quo, just like life, and it’s awesome. Can’t we just be (facebook) friends?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Preschool/High School

Preschool: “Mom! I get new clothes for the new school year? Every year?? Yippeeeeeeee!”

High School: “Mom! Are these the only new clothes I am getting for the new school year. Boooooooooo!”

Preschool: Letter from teacher: ½ page ‘Welcome, my name is…” ½ page supply list.

High School: Letter from teachers: What letter?? Is there a list-serve I missed somehow??

Preschool: ‘Open-house Night’: teachers, students, parents, grandparents, neighbors are all invited and are all there. Early.

High School: ‘Curriculum Night’: teachers, students, parents, grandparents, neighbors are all invited; the teachers are all there.

Preschool: Lunch: Lettuce and carrots with ranch, chicken breast and apple slices.

High School: Lunch: Ice cream sandwich, bag of pretzels sticks and a can of pop. (don’t judge, that was a staple for me way back when...)

Preschool: “Honey, what did you do at school today?” “I learned numbers and the alphabet and how to write my name and how to read and circle time. Oh, and we played outside and made a craft and Terrence got glue in his hair and Sherrie wouldn’t eat her apples and I said I would eat them but Ms. Carol said that Sherrie should eat her own apples and I skinned my knee and then I fell and I skinned my other knee. Did you see the hole in my pants?

High School: “Honey, what did you do at school today?” “Nothing.”

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Back to the School of Rock Daze*

This day marks the last day before we are back to school in the Miller Household. I am back at South for Institute Days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with our students starting on Thursday and Isabelle is back at West for year two of Preschool.

I actually started last week with my new position as Department Chair for World Language, Fine Arts and ESL; Isabelle has spent some time at Central, more as Summer Camp recently, but it’s not exactly the same ‘back-to-school’ feel as this week. Regardless, we’re back!

2011-2012: what does this new year have in store? I have made a commitment to myself to write in this space weekly, I hope you will join me to find out about the interesting things which could happen. Preschool and High School? Drama, drama, drama, there’s nothing more compelling, is there??

*I couldn’t decide on a catchy title so I borrowed some other creative monikers and smashed them together, please accept my apologies at being so non-inventive at this time, I hope something better will come. For what it’s worth, I LOVE School of Rock, so at least there’s a reason for me to use that one.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hero of the Day

I have discovered time travel! Ok not really, but sort of. I was jogging and a song came on my iPod that I haven’t heard in quite some time. It was “Hero of the Day” by Metallica and it sent me back to the last time I had heard it. (Imagine squiggles across your vision a la Wayne and Garth) It was a week after my first chemo treatment and I was lamenting the fact that I had only just started getting back into my exercise routine and then I got slammed with the cancer; my good habits stopped as abruptly as they had started. Not wanting to cave in to the swirling, sucking toilet drain that is self-pity I decided that I would try to just get out there and go for a jog and see what happened. Chemo sucked, yes, but I still had legs that worked, right? I jammed an ill-fitting baseball cap on my bald head, grabbed my Walkman and headed out. I had made a bunch of CDs labeled ‘Jog Mix’ and had no idea which one was in there but it didn’t really matter, they were all good. I decided I would go around my neighborhood twice and call it a day starting out slowly; it was not easy but I did not quit. I wanted to quit around the last few blocks before I was finished and then “Hero of the Day” came on. Not being self-aggrandizing here, but as I finished up I FELT like the hero of the day. I was amazed that I did it without quitting and as I barely jog-walked the last block I just cried. And sobbed a little too. It must have been a pretty sight: white-as-paste head, sweaty and sticky chest and back, red-rimmed and tear-stained eyes, runny nose. In a word, gorgeous. Listening to that song made me realize that I had to fight and I was right. It got me through that moment. Other songs have gotten me though other moments. A song can motivate you to do more than you thought possible and can transport you in time. Jog your memory so to speak. ;) I wonder what song I am listening to these days that will make me nostalgic in a decade or two? Any songs that you have that just send you back in time? I’d love to hear about them.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


We all have a Phoebe. Or a Rachel. Or a Monica. A Joey, Chandler (Chanandler) or Ross.

We all rely on our Tin Man or Cowardly Lion or Scarecrow.

Where would Nemo be without Dory? Or Woody without Buzz? I’m talking about friends, of course. Or Friends. I miss them, my sitcom Friends, but they aren’t the gist of my mental meanderings today. I’m saying we all have that one person, or several persons, upon whom we rely. And we rely upon them for different reasons. For my group of friends I don’t know where we’d be without M. Most of us would have lost touch if not for her. She’s the glue that holds us together. She’s Super Glue, really. She also happens to be my Dory, my guide. Merci mon amie.

Or how about that friend who meant the world to us, but just for a little while? That army or college friend with whom we were thick as thieves, couldn’t live without but then just as quickly went separate ways? For me, there were two, T. and W. Inseparable, we were! And then, inscrutably separable.

What of the friend that is just always there no matter what? Years can pass and you pick up where you left off regardless how much time has passed. For me that’s J. Calvin to my Hobbes. (Or Hobbes to my Calvin?) No matter, God willing, we will always be one to the other.

Friendship can be summed up in so many ways, but I often think of Dorothy before returning to Kansas from Oz telling Scarecrow, “I think I'm going to miss you most of all.” We should all be so blessed to have a Scarecrow. Or be a Scarecrow. Yes, family is important, but our friends (who become like family) are just as precious. ♥

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why the guy who sold me my car has added years to my life…

I am a bit of a speed demon; my old car (and new) are responsive, fast and fun-to-drive little cars; moreover I’m a bit impatient when I drive and have had my share of speeding tickets over the years. Let’s just say a one-per-year average was the norm and the tipping point was when I had a teary-eyed ticket encounter on I-80 with Iz in her car-seat and suffice it to say I swore I would never replicate that particular moment of joy. And since we're being honest, tickets notwithstanding, the impatient driving causes a LOT of stress in my life since I get frustrated with people not being in the correct lane, suddenly slowing down, gaping at an accident etc. On more than one occasion I have suggested to another drive that he or she, “GET THE &$@## OFF THE ROAD!” I can be incredibly patient in certain circumstances, but insanely impatient while driving. Jekyll and Hyde squared, so to speak. Which is odd because I am never late. I do NOT have to BE a speed-demon.

Well I finally got my new car last week and it’s a totally fantastic car: Jetta, TDI Clean Diesel, manual transmission, Bluetooth yada, yada, yada. Gorgeous. But the more notable and important transaction was a response to something the salesman, Rich, said to Don & me. In discussing fuel conservation he said, “If you’re on the highway for a stretch of road, set the cruise to 60 and just stay in the right lane, pass if needed, still at 60, but maintain your speed and you’ll save hundreds of dollars in fuel over the course of the year.” Don added that it’s how he must drive for his job; his employer audits their miles and fuel to verify that it’s the procedure everyone uses, and he stated, “It’s also less stressful.” I was skeptical but said I’d try it for a week since less stress is something we can all use. I did. Wow. Life-alteringly epic. Not only is it saving me money via less fuel consumption, but it’s EASIER to commute to work. Granted, I am not grid-locked on the Ryan, but rather take I-80 and can comfortably stay at 60 in the right lane. It’s liberating; the cruise is set, I can sit comfortably, listen to music, think about my day, and still get to work or home on time. It takes like 2 minutes longer, that’s it! I’m a convert, at least until I really am late, then we’ll see. But I’ll keep you posted. It’s ‘fuel’ for thought people, fuel for thought.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It’s Saturday, it’s Saturday, gotta get down...

It’s Saturday, it’s Saturday, gotta get down…I know, I know. Couldn't resist.

When I awoke I wondered how today would be different than yesterday, because in all honesty, yesterday was a difficult day at school to say the least! Today started with a run with Soph, who proceeded to do her business as we ran. No biggie, I always bring bags, so I cleaned up and planned on tossing it in the next garbage can on the trail.

When I got to where the can should have been I noticed it was gone; hmm. I wondered, "Is today going to be an extension of yesterday? I hope not!" Owell, whatev, I decided to just kept running figuring I’d have to carry it and see if another can showed up. A walker who I see almost every weekend was heading toward us and as she got close she said, “Want me to take that? The can in this direction isn’t far.” I didn’t know what to say, so I said, “You know what’s in here, right?”

I mean, I didn’t want her thinking it was a snack of sorts for after my run because she would have been in for the rudest of awakenings upon the opening of the bag later, expecting a yummy treat and finding, well, you know, so I had to verify, right? She just laughed and said it was no big deal. She patted Sophie on the head, took the bag and went on her way.

I was flabbergasted and yelled back to her, “Do you have a dog, I’ll come and pick up your yard?” She replied, “No, I have cats,” and just kept walking until she was too far from me to hear. Still not knowing what to make of the whole thing or what to say I just mumbled to myself, “I’ll come…and pick up…cat…barf?!?” Owell. I tried. If that isn’t a random act of kindness that negates the ickyness of yesterday, then I don’t know what is! Thank you 'poop lady'. No, that has the wrong connotation. Thank you 'poop-filled-bag-taking-lady'. Today is already better than yesterday. :)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

If I only get to have one, then I am so blessed to have her be the one…

Before I became a mom I always just kind of thought that I wouldn’t become one; it wasn’t all that important to me in my 20s and then when it was important in my 30s I got sick and my body had been through so much that I just didn’t think it would happen. So when we learned I was pregnant at 36 it was über-unexpected and spectacularly momentous.

After giving birth to a picture-perfect baby, wanton hubris set in and I totally thought it would happen again. Honestly believed that if it happened once it would happen again. Well, here we are 4 years later and it didn’t. I grieve that loss on a regular basis since being witness to how amazing Iz is, it only makes me want to have more children. Selfish, I know, but true nonetheless. Most parents adore and lavish praise on their offspring, and I always wondered before how this could be since let’s face it, not all kids or people are perfect and wonderful. But now I totally understand: we think our kids are great because they have the qualities we admire. If we think being creative, musical, funny, well-mannered and polite is important, then we develop those traits and talents in our children. Thus, we appreciate and love them even more than we imagined we could when we see the fruits of our labor. Conversely, if you do not love all the characteristics of your child, well, you are partly to blame since you have allowed those traits to take root and grow. Looking at Isabelle who is a typical pre-schooler and makes mistakes and tests my patience, she is truly amazing. I marvel at who she is and what she is capable of every day. I wonder what her future holds. I wonder how she would be as a big sister and fear we will never know.

On this, the eve of the 4th Mother’s Day we will celebrate, though, I am perfectly content. Content knowing that if I only get to have one, then I am so lucky to have Isabelle be the one. I thank God every day we have each other, what a blessing. Happy Mother’s Day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Scowling Dogs

I love that my newly-turned 4 year old is helpful and wants to contribute to the household. She particularly likes to help with Sophie since she knows that Sophie is quite grumpy, or in her own words, not nice. As in “maybe our next dog will be nice.” (She has said this more times than can be enumerated.)

In light of that, she tries to be über-nice to Sophie in hopes that Sophie will be nice in return. (good luck with that! At least she’s an optimist like her mommy) She feeds her and let’s her out into her pen. Well, as much as Sophie is grumpy, she’s also smart. She knows when Iz is in charge, the whole process takes longer. A lot longer. And well, she actually scowls when Isabelle feeds her or lets her out. She will make periodic eye contact with me throughout the whole process as if to say, “Can’t you just do this? (scowl) Pllllleeeeeeaaaassssee.” (scowl) Oh wait, she’s way to rude to say please, it would be more like “You do this, damn it!!” (scowl)

I’m not sure what I’ve done karma-cally speaking to deserve this ingrate of a canine, but at least Isabelle is sweet enough for the both of them that it balances it all out. I do love Siberian huskies, but this one is just too tempermental. I’ve heard pugs are amazingly sweet. Thoughts?

The Art of Fidgetetry

My sweet pre-schooler is a fidget. She has kicked the back of the seat in front of her in the car so many times that there are little divots where her feet have rubbed in permanent scars.

She loathes when her socks get twisted around; she will huff audibly, stop whatever she is doing to and bend down to fix them. Unfortunately this sounds all too familiar; I am a world-class fidget. Have been for about 40 years and I am now accustomed to it.


It can be really annoying to others around me; remember that kid in high school who bounced her leg so intensely that the whole table did the jitterbug right along with it? That’s me. Or the person in the seat behind you in the airplane who constantly crosses and uncrosses her legs, hitting your seat each and every time she does it? C’est moi.

You can, perhaps, take comfort in the fact that it is frequently annoying to me as well. When I go to bed at night and Don has found his perfect slumber position after 2.3 seconds, I am only on fidget round number -1. As in negative one, as in there is pre-fidgeting before the real fidgeting starts. Pre-fidgeting happens while I read and it’s not too bad since I am distracted by what I am reading. Once I am finished reading and the pre-fidgeting round has commenced then the real deal begins. First I have to adjust my pillow and in doing so my left sleeve slides up so I fix that, but as I readjust the sleeve my left pant leg creeps up and I have to fix that using the right foot so that the right pant leg creeps up and I use my left hand to fix the pant leg and then the left sleeve slides up and, well, you get the point. At some point I just get tired and fall asleep. Sometimes mid-fidget. As in I am holding the end of my sleeve in my balled up hand when I awaken. I am the Master Fidgeter, or “Meister Zappelphillip” in German.

Even our dog Sophie has decided it’s better to sleep on the floor than the super-soft, king-sized bed since she cannot take the fidgeting. Yes, dogs can scowl. And scoff. Even at adorable pre-schoolers who kick their feet under the table where the dog is trying to rest. Such is life with a family of fidgeters.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


3.5 3.5 years filled with memories and days I have spent with the amazing Isabelle Elise Miller. My tough and resilient April baby. 3 and a half candles on her half-birthday cake. 3.5 years worth of firsts. 3.5: rational #.

12. 12 years of teaching German. 12 Septembers I’ve stepped into the classroom all bright-eyed and idealistic since in my chosen profession, every year is a fresh start. A dozen times I've turned the calendar and ushered in a new year, cheering 'Prosit' with my classes, establishing goals for the year. 12: real #.

20. 20 years since I met Don, the most amazing person I could hope to partner with on life’s journeys and adventures. A score of years I’ve gotten to look over at that remarkable face and see love and contentment and support in those big, brown eyes. 20: natural #.

1st. 1st time I’ve run over 5 miles since the Army. And in a really respectable amount of time, which for me, is a personal best. 1st: ordinal #.

9. 9 years since my first cancer. 9 glorious years. And due to the staging of my cancer a great place to be. Sort of, since I cannot say 9 years cancer-free. 9: whole #.

4. 4 years since my second cancer. In many ways worse than the first, but I’m still here after 4 years and will do everything I can to continue to be. 4: even #.

13. 9 plus 4 is 13. 13 years, technically, that I have lived thinking about cancer on a constant, then a fairly regular, then a semi-regular, then an occasional and finally on a sporadic basis. 13: prime #.

13. 13 years cancer-free for a blogger I follow regularly. 13 years her mother survived cancer-free and then it came back suddenly and took her life. Wouldn't you think you were safe after 13 years? 13: unlucky #?

41. 41 years I have witnessed incredible happiness and sadness. 41 years I’ve heard the laughter of children playing, including the sweet giggles of my own child. 41 years hung on a face that has chortled, frowned and gasped at all of life’s surprises. 41: odd, and yet awesome, #.

What are your numbers?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tiger Mother > Helicopter Mom

Amy Chua has gotten a lot of press, negative and otherwise, about her book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.” I stand firmly in the ‘support’ camp.

See the NYT review here .

If I had to choose between being a ‘Tiger Mother’ or a ‘Helicopter Mom’, I’d choose the Tiger every time. Why? A Tiger Mother is trying to nudge her child, albeit a bit aggressively, to excellence through the child’s own doings. Practice longer! Work harder! Expect more of yourself! All signs of good parenting. Conversely, a Helicopter Mom is hovering on the fringe, questioning the child’s teachers, coaches and friends. Why so much homework? Why is the teacher so critical? Why did your coach do that? We’ve all heard that in Chinese culture teachers are revered and respected. Not true here in the U.S. I am teaching Isabelle that her teachers are there to help her, to lead her down the path of enlightenment. And I want her to know that she has the power and the knowledge to make her life better through perseverance and hard work. But am I a total Tiger Mother? Not so much. I wouldn't forbid being a part of the school play or musical and if Isabelle plays any musical instrument with aptitude, well I'll be proud. I am probably more of a 'Tigger Mother', because sometimes, ya just gotta bounce. On the bed. ;)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cancer ‘touches’ so many lives/Frosting for the Cause

I love to read. I devour reading material: novels, stories, newspapers, magazines, blogs you name it, I read it with relish. Especially blogs, je t’adore. I have found a new one called Frosting for the Cause.

It is a blog which raises money for cancer quite creatively, wherein each post is sent in with a recipe and a story of a person touched by cancer. Well, I love this blog. I have recently learned that I actually have patience to bake; I don't do it well -yet- but I'm getting there and this blog has some amazing recipes and stories and has motivated me to try some new things. Truth be told, the stories also usually make me cry, but I continue to read it nonetheless. However, I detest the notion that cancer ‘touches’ people. Je déteste. Cancer doesn’t touch you, it punches you in the face, spits in your eye and kicks you in the groin. Can’t we please come up with a new phrase? Cancer affecting lives isn’t strong enough and I’m sure people wouldn’t tolerate that cancer kicks the asses of so many. Any thoughts? Snarky or otherwise?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mommy, I found something CTD

“Mommy, I found a bigger,” said the cherubic little waif who shares my abode. Once again Isabelle had a treasure to share with me. “A bigger?” I said. When I gazed upon her tiny outstretched finger, I saw “the bigger”. “Oh, you mean a booger.” I replied. “Where did you find it?” I asked innocently. “In my nose!” she giggled. “You’re not supposed to put things in your nose!” she exclaimed. “No, not really. Not even your finger!” We both giggled. I tried to explain that it is ok to use a finger on an assist, because let’s be honest, sometimes things just won’t come out on their own. But generally, nothing goes into the nose. In fact, the nose should have a more semipermeable nature, things should only come out and most things should be blocked from going in. As a parent, that would be a useful modification to the human design.

I then tried to explain that we wouldn’t say we ‘found’ a booger in our nose. You should find them there. That’s where the boogers are. If you found one, say, stuck under a table, that would be a find. A gross find but a find nonetheless. The subtlety was lost on her and that’s ok for right now; she’s my little bigger-finding Preschooler and it’s a subject we can address later on. I’ve reiterated how to use a Kleenex to assist in the retrieval of boogers. We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, on to bigger* things.

*and not ‘bigger’ things I hope!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Introspeculation: The Quintessential 'Burke' trait

At this time of year, many of us become introspective trying to figure out what can be mentally and physically jettisoned in hopes of finding balance and harmony. A life with balance is serene and tranquil and creating such a thing could be my holy grail. I have always believed that it is fruitful to be introspective; that the happiest people look inward just enough to see beyond the flaws and scars which mar the surface to what lies just beneath, that which is purely good that isn’t visible for all to see. But even in introspection there must be balance; if one constantly analyzes then true happiness is still elusive. I look to my own kin to determine what level of introspection is enough and what is too much. The men in my family, particularly the Bill Burkes, my dad and Grandpa, illustrate this perfectly. My dad was a man who liked things the way he liked them, things were black or white, his way or the proverbial highway. I need to add that it worked for him because he was incredibly intelligent and remembered everything he ever read or heard. Every. Thing. And he read a lot. His way WAS the right way, the man did extensive research, right? His Einstein-like intellect made it so that he never questioned what he believed and why should he have? He was always right. But at least Einstein recognized that he was just a Mensch. My dad did not. Einstein had incredible patience. My dad did not. Einstein could see that life had nuance, shades of grey, if you will. Not my dad. Sometimes I wondered if he was happy since he never expressed it. He read and occasionally worked. He invested in the stock market and played Trivial Pursuit. He told stories. He smoked and drank. Which ultimately lead to his demise, sadly. He did what he did and didn’t question it. Ever. In hindsight I realize that my dad seemed to be more speculative than introspective. Speculate about the stock market? He did that with great success. Speculate about politics and law? That was just plain fun for him. I often wondered if he should have questioned his choices more. Wait, who am I kidding? He never questioned his choices and enjoyed his life the way it was. End of story. My Grandpa Bill, on the other hand, always seemed content. He was a dentist who worked until he was in his late 80s. Picture it, an octogenarian standing at his dentist’s chair pulling teeth! Oh weh! He was kind, loved to read, loved classical music and was a great cook. And he had infinite patience; when he taught me how to sail in a little Sunfish skiff I dumped us over many, many, many times. Each time he said, "Let's try again!" The last time I put us into the drink he lost his glasses. I was so dejected that I had dumped us yet again AND that he had lost his specs, but he just shrugged and said they were replaceable. That’s a superlative amount of patience if you ask me. My Grandpa had the same intellect and DNA as my father but they were so different, their personalities so divergent. My Grandpa Bill seemed more introspective and seemed to truly enjoy his life. My dad more speculative and not as content. So what is the difference between introspection and speculation? It is handily defined using my family as an example, but I still wanted them formally defined so I looked up the dictionary definitions of those two words. Here's what I found:



The denotations are a bit similar, really, whereas the connotations are completely different. Just for fun I also looked up the meaning of the word ‘Burke’ to see if it could lend more clarity and to possibly learn what is the quintessential 'Burke' trait which lives on in me or in Isabelle and may assist in my finding a more balanced life. After perusing the definitions which are below, I honestly hope that I don’t have much of either type of 'Burke' quality or that I don’t regularly act like a compete 'berk'. But it’s hard to tell since I do have some definite 'berk'ish moments. This may require a little more self-evaluation, or introspeculation, so to speak.

Definition of BURKE transitive verb

1 : to suppress quietly or indirectly -burke an inquiry-

2 : bypass, avoid -burke an issue-

Origin of BURKE

from burke to suffocate, from William Burke †1829 Irish criminal executed for smothering victims to sell their bodies for dissection

First Known Use: 1829

Definition of BERK British : fool

See berk defined for English-language learners »

Examples of BERK

1 :He was acting like a complete berk.

2 :I wouldn't like some silly berk from Fleet Street following me about.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mommy, I found something…

“Mommy, I found something,” Isabelle said as she was sitting in my lap in my comfy chair watching “Tinkerbell.” I wondered what could she possibly have found? What could she reach from where we were sitting? She held up one adorable little finger and on that finger was the tiniest booger you have ever seen. I somehow thought that my sweet little girl was going to bypass all things booger-related. In the three and a half years she has been on this earth, she has pretty much ignored her nose. I have never even seen her finger near a nostril, let alone in one. I have tried to teach her good hygiene. Case in point, she can almost, all on her own, blow her nose into a Kleenex to rid aforementioned nostrils of, ahem, detritus and I thought the coast was clear. ‘Til yesterday. Even that tiny booger almost made me throw up. For some reason boogers gross me out more than poop. I don’t know why, they just do. There was a boy in elementary school whose last name was ‘Bruggeman’ but the poor kid got labeled ‘Boogerman’ instead. Not to be impolite, but it was a deserved name because, well, because he always had boogers. My maiden name is ‘Burke’ and he was always seated next to me in class. His cubby was next to mine. Let’s just say he shaped my view of boogers. Let me clarify, though, he wasn’t unkind with the boogers, he never put them on me. They were just always there. Somewhere. On his person. (shudder) There’s yet another interesting story from early in my relationship with Don involving a booger but I don’t think he’d like to be fodder for my blog so I’ll withhold the story. (If you really want to know, just ask and I’ll tell you) No matter how boogers come to be out of one’s nose, they are just plain icky and make me ill. I pray the incident yesterday was a random deviation from the norm and that I don’t have to see my darling daughter pick her nose on a regular basis. And PLEASE God, no picking and eating. No picking and eating!! I’m going to vomit now. Thanks for staying tuned despite all the talk of bodily functions. I truly hope this will be the only post. Forever.