Mistress Nic

March 19, 2010

Twenty-four years together.

Daily visits with you.
Sneaking around behind my back.
Trips out to meet you.
Thousands of dollars wasted on you–
Money that could have financed
Our dream vacation
Or brand new furniture
(Instead of the crap we have now)
Or paid for our kids’ braces
Maybe even a few college credits.

Well, bitch, guess what?

He finally dumped you.
It took him awhile
and a lot of pleading from me and the kids
But, he chose life with us
Instead of a living hell with you.

So, get out — You disgusting piece of filth.

He (We) doesn’t want you around.
Dirtying up his life or
Ruining  his health anymore.

He’s not falling
for your tricks anymore either
or your instant allure.

He’s done with meeting you
for morning coffee
or an evening beer
or a quickie
after our family meals.

I (We) win.

He’s mine (OURS) now.

You (YOU) lose.

Take your poison elsewhere.

Advertisements

Role Models Come in All Sizes

March 6, 2010

I was fully prepared for the accolades I would receive from teaching. I was well on my way towards patting myself on the back and crowing “What a GREAT teacher you are, Nerd!” while blowing smoke up my own backside. Two years of teaching almost behind me, and so far, everything I’ve done has been met with praise and glory and…blah, blah, blah. Enough of that–here’s the reality of working with children — they are great equalizers when it comes to feelings of self-importance.

Nothing deflates an over-sized ego faster than dealing with the untimely death of a child. No, not my own child — I wouldn’t be writing this post with such reckless flippancy. Besides, if it were my 13- year old child who just succumbed to complications from his 6-year battle with leukemia, I’d be on the way to the nearest psych ward, hoping for a voluntary psychiatric hold.

But today, as I write this, there is a family here who is losing their child to the battle. Most likely, right this very minute they are gathering at his bedside, holding his hands, and praying one last time as a cohesive, family unit. Then, his younger sisters will leave as they see their brother alive for the very last time. And this is what is tearing me apart.

I met this family last year, when I was his teacher. Despite weekly chemo treatments, horrible side effects and general feelings of “ick”, he still managed to earn straight As and complete all his work at home. His parents insisted he maintain as “normal” a life as possible — going to school, doing his homework, taking his tests on schedule, etc., etc. His chemo treatments were always scheduled on Friday, so he’d have the weekend to catch up on homework (between bouts of nausea, I bet).  I could tell where he was in his treatments based upon the amount of red fuzz he had on his head — the less hair, the more dosage of chemo he would have in him. But, never, ever, did he lose ground in my class. His parents insisted upon it, and he made it happen.

He moved onto eighth grade this year, so I lost him as a student. But, his little sister took his place at a desk in my 6th grade room this year. And, much like he was, she never lets her brother’s health situation get in the way of her schooling. Every day she comes to class, ready, eager and willing to participate. She eagerly reads out loud, answers questions about grammar, bops up to be the first person to share her writings — everything that happens in my class room, she embraces enthusiastically and with such focus and attention. All the while knowing when she goes home at the end of the day, her parents will be at the hospital, hoping for a miracle for her older brother.

I’ve always known the world needs positive role models. I get so disgusted when I hear that people with questionable morals and values are being idolized in the press and put on pedestals for the world to “ooh” and “aw” over, when all they’ve really done is just figure out a way to act obnoxious and foolish and get away with it.

They aren’t role models to me. The role models — the ones who deserve to be placed on a pedestal, are the ones like the family I’ve met, who are going to be burying their 13-year old son and brother shortly. Through this horrific battle, they have remained close, strong in their faith and stoic in their deeds.

They are my role models. They have taught me more than I could ever teach them. What a great way to keep my ego in check.

Goodbye, Seth.


The Sexiest Men in the World Live in My Area

October 18, 2009

I used to think firemen were the sexiest men on the planet. Well, that was before my area got an NHL team.

I’m often surprised by the lack of positive publicity this sport receives. I’ve written about it on my blog, so I won’t rehash my thoughts here. But, I want to add another element I didn’t mention before:

Hockey players are the sexiest men on the planet. I should probably qualify that with “my” definition of sexy: a man who is strong, brave and tough when needed, but soft, gentle, and caring all the other times. That is not just sexy, that’s intoxicating.

Last summer, when I was involved in my writer’s workshop, I had to write about someone or something in the community that was actively working towards change. I immediately thought of our local NHL team. Why? Because I know the back story of these guys. I know the team captain anonymously sends large sums of money to organizations–just because–and expects no press attention in return. Last year, he gave almost $150,000 of his own money for various causes in and around this area. And, by the way, he also visits sick children in the hospital on a regular basis.

The players make regular stops at schools and libraries to stress the benefits of education (something close to my heart, being a teacher). The team has built a safe playground for children, donating the supplies and man hours. The organization has re-opened one of the local after-school program buildings that had to shut down due to lack of public funds. Everything they do, they do because they want to, not because they are contractually obligated.

And the real tear-jerker…

The NHL’s motto is  “Hockey Fights Cancer”. Last year, one of our local high school hockey players was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Upon hearing this, the team offered the young man a contract — a legit one — to become a “Blue Jacket” for a day. They even paid him a small salary ($1.00) and gave him an official team jersey with his name on the back. Team players would go to his house (or his hospital room) and sit by his side while they watched the other NHL teams play.

Unfortunately, Ryan succumbed to his cancer in May of this year. His last wish? To make it to at least one playoff game before he passed away. The team made sure he got his wish.

Last night’s game was our team’s chance to raise money to fight cancer. The team had this young man’s jersey displayed on the player’s bench, in tribute to his memory. When one of the players scored the first goal of last night’s game, his response to the interviewer went something like this “I just had a feeling I was going to score. I’m not a huge fan of a ‘higher power’, but I think Ryan had something to do with it…” Wow. Talk about a sense of humility and compassion.

So, I apologize to all the sexy, heroic firefighters out there who risk their lives every day to save the lives of others. You are still very much heroes in my eyes. But, in my opinion, you have some pretty stiff competition when it comes to the true definition of  “sexy”.


Puckin’ Nuts

October 18, 2009

I was never a big fan of college or professional sports. My dad and mom preferred the nightly news to the Stanley Cup playoffs, “The Carol Burnett Show” to the Super Bowl. There were no Sunday dinners planned around “game time”, no “football pools at my dad’s work”, not even a sibling or two who participated in school sports. We were the “pseudo-intellectual family of nerds” who would sit around the dining room table playing cut-throat games of Scrabble, “Fictionary”, or Boggle.

I know the exact moment, however, when it all changed. It was my first date with the man who would become my husband. Unlike our family, he was a sports junkie. His two favorite sports were ice hockey and college football – in that particular order. After what has come to be known as our first “hot date” (a story best saved for later), we moseyed over to the Chicago Stadium – home of the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks. That night, my future husband would introduce me to the sport of ice hockey. Little did I realize at that time how influential or profound an impact that would have on my adult life.

I didn’t know a thing about the sport – and honestly didn’t really care at the time – I was on a date with a cute guy I was crazy about. I could have spent the evening sipping Coke and eating sliders from White Castle and had been perfectly content. But, as I sat there in the stadium, listening to the crowd’s collective voices bloom as the national anthem was sung, something began to stir inside me. The sound of the crowd was cacophonous – decibels louder than anything I had ever heard. It became obvious something magical was going to occur.

The teams made their way from their locker rooms and out onto the ice to the sound of the crowd’s roar. Glass panels undulated as the fans pounded on them again, and again. The concrete flooring in the stands pulsed to life as the audience stomped their collective feet in thunderous approval.  All because of the six gladiators squaring off at center ice.

The crowd went silent, the organist stopped, and the puck fell. A mad scramble began to gain control of the puck and begin the dance towards the opponents’ goals. Metal blades shredded the fresh, slick, shiny surface of ice – and at each shift of the player’s weight, snow cones sprayed the air and spread like Japanese fans. I watched in awe – and wondered how a fully grown man could shift his well-muscled body and fifteen pounds of protective gear all the while standing on 1/8th an inch of finely sharpened steel, and manipulating a frozen, rubber disk with a long, wooden stick. I was witnessing true athleticism, and it was intoxicating.

When the first fight broke out around the goalie’s net, I wasn’t sure how to interpret it. I wondered, “Isn’t anyone gonna stop this?” but my then-boyfriend leaned over and nudged me knowingly, adding “Eh, the official will stop it when one of ‘em falls down. That’s just part of the sport.”

Hockey continued to permeate my life, making another appearance when our son was eighteen months old. My husband and I, being native Chicagoans, would talk about how we used to remember Chicago winters cold enough to skate outdoors. We shared our favorite skating rinks – the ones where the frozen pond was smooth, instead of rippled by the wind. We talked about “warming houses” and “cold benches” and how the snow would inch its way down our skates, freezing our feet until we could no longer feel them inside our now frozen-solid skate boots. We spoke of lips that turned blue from being exposed to the bitter cold far too long, rosy, wind-nipped cheeks, and how we knew it was time to go home when the floodlights came on.

Shortly after moving to Columbus, Ohio, it just so happened there was an indoor ice rink within a thirty-minute drive from home. Of course, we had to go over and check it out. We bundled our son up, put him in his car seat and headed over to the rink. I remember the smell – fresh paint over concrete walls. It smelled “untouched” and “unspoiled”. Even the cold air smelled appealing. We paid our admission, rented skates – torture devices for those with bad feet – and tucked our son into his first pair of hockey skates. Being eighteen months old, he stood up, toppled over, then burst into gales of tears – screaming, “No! No! No!” loud enough for everyone to hear. Undeterred, my husband picked him up in his arms and lugged him over to the fresh sheet of ice, our son kicking and bucking the entire time.

At first, it was a difficult concept for our son to accept. Hunched over, spine nearly snapping, my husband stood behind our son and inched forward slowly, stopping only to reposition our son’s tiny feet so he wouldn’t collapse under himself.  After what seemed like an hour, they made one complete revolution around the rink and met me back at the starting position. I asked, “How’d it go?” and looked down at our son. He was not impressed. Determined to try again another day, my husband and I left shortly thereafter – all the while telling our son “What a great job you did! We’ll try again another time, okay?” We were going to have a son who played hockey, regardless of what it took.

The light bulb moment came when we purchased our son his first pair of rollerblades. They were cheap, plastic, blue, Little Tykes roller skates that snapped on over his shoes. The Velcro strap held them closed, and they were extendable. Removing the fear of the ice, we would spend hours outside trailing behind him as he shuffled his little feet down the sidewalk outside our house. At first, he would stand stock straight – knees locked out of fear of falling, and move forward in a herky-jerky motion, much like a newborn colt learning to walk shortly after its birth. But soon enough, he began to glide – slowly and surely over the concrete sidewalk, bending his little body while he found his center of balance.

By age three, he was ready to give ice skating another chance. At age four, we signed him up at the local ice rink, purchased his very own hockey skates (size 1, I believe), and let him go. We weren’t aware that, during his skating lessons, he was being “scouted” for the new youth hockey league opening up at that rink. When we signed him up, he was just entering kindergarten. I’ll never forget that first year, because we received a letter from his elementary school physical education teacher talking about the importance of “physical activity” and “major muscle coordination”. The teacher was encouraging us to work with our son on hops, skips and jumps. I can only imagine the look on this teacher’s face when we wrote back that our son was “working on his hand/eye coordination while skating several times a week, manipulating a rubber disk over frozen ice by way of a long, thin, wooden stick.”

We have been personally involved with ice hockey ever since. My husband coached our son from age five until age fourteen – until he was no longer certified to teach that age level. I was the official “team mom”. Rarely did I miss a game – even the ones that would begin at 6 am. I’ve often said there are only two things that would get me up and out of the house at 5 am on a cold winter’s day – a house fire and a hockey game.

That same toddler who was scared to death of the skates, and the ice, is now sixteen and playing for his high school’s hockey team. He eats, breathes and sleeps hockey. Thankfully, we’ve never had to watch him fight another player on the ice, or get bloodied and battered himself. We’ve steeled ourselves against the inevitable – hockey is a sport of blood, sweat and tears. And of course, we still watch the game on television, but we no longer root for the Chicago Blackhawks. We’re Columbus Blue Jackets fans now – we’ve earned that title through honest means.


Conversations with My Muse: Working with Children

August 25, 2009

Oh my gosh, is that Modern Bride magazine you’ve got there?

This? Eh, just a little something I picked up at the local quickie mart.

It’s pretty telling. Got a secret to share?

No, not really…I’m kinda bummed, actually.

What’s up?

Well, I’m just so tired.

Oh, I know how that is. I’m worn out, now that school’s back in session.

You think you have it bad? Try having my job for a day — you’d never be able to handle it!

Yes, but I teach middle school students.

Yea, so what?

So, I teach WRITING to middle school students.

Ohhhhh…

Yes, it’s tough, but I love it.

You like teaching middle schoolers?

Absolutely! It’s a great age, they’re a real hoot.

What’s so fun about hormone issues, bodily odor emissions, growth spurts, acne, sneezing into their hands and wiping it on the desks, blah, blah, blah?

Oh, I can handle all that, I’m a mom. What I love about this age is their enthusiasm — or watching their enthusiasm grow. These kids really can put the pencil to the paper, if I let them.

Wow, you’re actually getting them to enjoy school?

Of course, that’s my job. I’d be a miserable failure otherwise.

True.

You do realize, of course, that I have had  a sizable amount of help with teaching them to become better writers.

Oh? Do you work with another teacher in the same classroom?

No, silly! YOU.

Me? What’d I do?

You have no idea? Honestly?

No. Give me a clue.

Ha, ha, ha!!!

What’s so darn funny?

Notice how the tables have turned! Wasn’t it just a couple weeks ago that I was completely clueless about your job?

Yes, so?

Well, well, well, I guess my muse isn’t as insightful as I thought she was.

Ummm…

Oh my goodness! My Muse is SPEECHLESS! Mark the calendars! Alert the press!

Actually, no. I was thinking about something else.

Lemme guess: shiny objects and sporks, huh?

How’d you know?

Come on, muse! Haven’t we already covered this? You’re so easy to read, you’re transparent.

What do you mean by that?

Transparent — able to see through. I know you know this.

Sorry, but you said “sporks”. I started to hear dolphin squeaks and whistles shortly after that.

Do I need to rewind this conversation then?

Just go back to the “spork” part — I’ll catch up from there.

What is it with you and sporks?

Don’t forget shiny objects.

Of course not.


“Social Committees” = “Us versus Them”

August 18, 2009

My buddy Bill just tweaked my “bitch bone”.  I’ve been meaning to write my next rant about this issue for some time, but when I read Bill’s post about reacting to others’ comments, it sent me into a froth. Ironic, huh?

The subject of this rant is:  obligatory office/school/work parties. I can’t stand those things. These are the parties where some young, annoyingly, chirpy bubble headed “life of the party” chick comes up to you and says: “Hey! Wanna donate to the social committee fund? Only 40 bucks for the whole year!”

Social committee, my ass. This is just one more way to suck money out of my wallet while making me realize how much of an invisible person I really am where I work. Let me give you an example (names have been removed to protect the obnoxious).

At the start of the last year (yes, I am in education), a staffer put a sign out that said “Social Committee: 40 dollars , sign up here”. Well, I was part time and worried more about paying my electricity bill and feeding my hungry children than contributing to a “social” committee. (So, I never bothered to sign up, nor did I ask what exactly the “social committee” was in charge of doing.) Allegedly, the committee was “created to raise funds to purchase cards and a candy bar for birthday celebrants, and generally any other occasion that requires buying a cake.” Oh, yea, sure. I just call it one more way to shake down people for money.

Not being on the committee, I didn’t think anything of it, until IT happened. My big day. Okay, I admit I didn’t TELL anyone it was my birthday before it came, but my birthday date was posted in the staff room. And, the sparkly tiara I was wearing all day should have been a big clue that “something” was going on with me (Yes, I DO have a tiara I wear on my big day, I’ve been doing this for 5 years now.) I wasn’t expecting a card or chocolate bar. After all, I never DID pay my money so that wouldn’t have been fair. I’m the kinda gal who doesn’t expect special treatment or feel I am above following the rules.

BUT, not one single person on said “social committee” even offered a “Happy Birthday” to me. The entire day went unnoticed, unspoken, unacknowledged. If it hadn’t been for my team worker bringing her kids into my classroom to sing “Happy Birthday” at the end of the day, the issue would have never been mentioned (my team worker is GREAT!!!) Meanwhile, “Chirpy Shirley” and her crony “Psycho Bitch” were showered in praise, chocolate bars, cards and a cake for their birthdays. And that pisses me off. It became nothing more than another “popular crowd versus the nobodies” event.

Yes, I know this sounds like I’m whining and begging for attention, but that is not what this rant is all about (is it ever really about the story?)

I am sick and tired of being asked to participate in “work parties” where I know I am not wanted. I don’t care that so and so is having a bridal shower or a baby shower. If I don’t hang out with them on a personal basis outside of the work place, then I don’t feel like I should have to fork over much needed cash to purchase them a gift. (Conversely, I wouldn’t expect them to do the same for me).

And the bad part is, if I don’t get involved, then I become the “snob”. If I do get involved, then I am giving away hard earned cash for NOTHING in return — not so much as an invitation to go to the local bar for after-work drinks. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

I’m pretty sure this whole issue started back when I first entered the workforce. I have always been “the odd woman out”. Very few women “get” my sense of humor or are willing to accept the fact that I don’t give a damn about shoes, purses, shopping, designer labels, vapid conversation, Cosmopolitans, Brad Pitt, etc. I also don’t have the time, desire or energy to sit around bitching about men. I love the way men think — it’s the bitchy women who sit around bitching about men who annoy the crap out of me.

I’m not a cold-hearted, uncaring bitch. I can be very generous when the situation calls for it. One of my colleagues has been battling breast cancer. She has a “meals on wheels” deal set up for co-workers to bring her and her family pre-cooked meals so she doesn’t have to worry about that while she undergoes the fight for her life. I eagerly and willingly volunteered my hubby to cook up a big ol’ pot of homemade chili (he’s the chili expert, I just delivered the food) and even included a bag of cheddar cheese with that.

But, my generosity should end there, guilt-free.  So please, folks, stop with the incessant “obligatory office parties” shit. It makes me want to join the post office just so I can go postal on some unsuspecting, chirpy, bubble headed woman.


Ignoring My Muse? Naw…

August 13, 2009

I feel bad for ignoring my muse the way I have been lately. I’ve just been so preoccupied with other things.

I recently was offered a full-time position where I work, instead of having to go another year as a part timer. So of course, that’s more money and opportunity! In today’s economy, just holding onto a part-time job is hard for some folk! So, that was one blessing for which I am extremely grateful.

Yesterday, I was certain our “fat bastard” had run off to die somewhere. He is an indoor cat and usually never goes outside. Two days ago, he walked out the back door and was gone for more than a day and a half. Assuming the worst, we went to bed last night missing his mandatory evening lap sit and bitch fest. Around 11:30, my son went to get something to eat and heard Fat Bastard yowling at the back door. The prodigal kitty had returned, none the worse for wear. I guess he had grown tired of us and decided to take an unscheduled (and unapproved!) vacation. He’s neutered so we can safely assume he wasn’t going out for some pussy. He’s also declawed, so he wasn’t out searching for a cat fight, either. The only one who knows is him, and as I’ve said before, “I don’t speak cat”. (see: “Fat Bastard” post)

So needless to say, my muse has been unusually quiet, what with me having to focus my energies on my new full-time gig and cat wrangling. But don’t worry– I’ve tweeted her the following:

@themuse: Sorry ’bout the ignoring stuff, mind previously occupied. All better now! Back to business.. PS: Thank U God!!!

The Nerd