Sunday, November 23, 2014

Day 23

I don't feel good. I woke up yesterday with seized neck and upper back muscles. So I took some painkillers and then I felt nauseous. Today my back is a little better but I'm still kind of nauseous, and I'm afraid to take anything for my back OR for the nausea. And now I feel like the week-end has slipped away in this haze of pain and sickness and I didn't leave the house and I'm sort of sad and worried and icky.

On Friday the kids had a P.D. Day and Angus went to a movie with two baseball friends. He called at around four and asked if I would pick them up and drive them all home. I could have told them to take the bus. But I wasn't doing anything especially important, and my dad would have done it for me at the same age. The two other boys are funny and quick-witted, and Matt calls them Team Shit-Disturbers but I find them sweet. They both thanked me multiple times for the ride and one said "it's so sad now how it gets dark so early", and I wanted to clasp him to me and weep empathetically into his hair.

I finished Dreams of Gods and Monsters - well, first I started, and then realized I had to reread the first two books, which I don't always do although I almost always wish I had (unless I waited until the whole series was published to start). And mercifully the first two were instantly available as ebooks from the library. So I read them, and then I restarted the third, and then I finished it, and it was wonderful. Although I'm kind of sad that it's over.

I also remembered that I had stopped watching The Big C halfway through Season 3, and started watching again, and I still love it, but now it's almost over, and it's a show about cancer, so over really means over. Perhaps not the wisest viewing choice for this time of year.

It turns out that most of my book club was at World Trivia Night, which reminded me that I have book club on Wednesday and had totally forgotten to locate and read the book AGAIN. So I bought it on my Kindle. It's short and I will be able to finish it by Wednesday. I hate it. It's silly, shallow with pretensions of profundity, adolescent, tries to use sex and bodily functions as shocking devices which just seems pathetic, and generally it's the worst published thing I've read in a long, long time. At least it doesn't make me sad. My comments so far are: "Jesus Christ"; "Because you're an asshole"; "Um, no."; "Jesus Christ again."; "JESUS FUCKING CHRIST." Should make for a spirited discussion.

Last night I was reading in my chair and Eve was reading in my bed. I started nodding off. It was eight-thirty. I knew I should get up and do something or I would fall asleep and then screw my night's sleep up even more colossally than it's usually screwed. Instead I crawled under the covers beside Eve and closed my eyes while she stroked my hair and played me a lullaby of quietly turning pages.

I've spent worse Saturday nights.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Sense of Insignificance

Standing under the stars.... bowing to the weight of great literature.....

Nah. World Trivia Night. "Pieces of information of little importance or value." Except when you're trying to remember enough of them to be able to tell fifty other tables to SUCK IT. Or justify your seat at the table, and immoderate candy consumption.

Imagine my shock and horror at realizing that there was NO LITERATURE CATEGORY this year. In fact, the one question that I knew that no one else did was the next three words (the category was The Next Three Words) in Iggy Azalea's Fancy, and THAT was because I'd googled them for Eve and Marielle on the rooftop patio at East Side Mario's after drama camp. I had to wake Eve up and tell her when I got home.

I also got the Robbie Burns question, thanks to my friend Dave who has a Robbie Burns party every January, complete with the Address to the Haggis, and the Lascaux Caves question, thanks to a mean lesbian French professor in grad school (I wouldn't mention the lesbian part except she was particularly withering about the love affair in one of the books we read and how it all seemed to center around the man's "énorme pénis"), but I think we were already covered on those. Still, as long as I get one, I'm happy.

The final category was particularly creative and challenging, as usual. It was called "Questions Faciles" (Easy Questions), and they were, but they were in other languages - Finnish, Norwegian, Lebanese and Esperanto, among others. We did okay - I'm still not sure how the hell anyone in the room knew that "pääkaupunki" meant "capital", but one girl at our table went into a mysterious trance state and somehow got the answer "Paul Anka" from a garbled Lebanese phrase in which the only discernible words were 'Ottawa' and 'Diana', so I'm willing to accept that I am a veritable single-celled organism in the stages of trivia evolution. 

I also missed a very obvious turn on the way there and somehow left too late and got stuck in a lineup at the parking gate and almost turned around and went home before I even got there. But at least my daughter wasn't on a week-end sleepover with undiagnosed pneumonia this time. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Last Book Fair Post - Promise

You know how it can be really hard to do simple tasks when someone is watching you? Twice yesterday I had to look through the picture book racks for a Splat the Cat or Hot Rod Hamster book with a little boy shouting NO, NOT Hot Rod Hamster Wacky Whatever Race, Hot Rod Hamster MONSTER TRUCK MANIA, or NO, NOT Splat the Cat What was That, Splat the Cat MAKES DAD GLAD. Why, I whimpered, why on earth don't we keep all the Splat the Fucking Cat books together? Because some are picture books and some are Early Reader books (taller, skinnier, pre-chapter books) was the sensible answer, but when you have little Charlie breathing down your neck it doesn't help that much.

And the math. I am perfectly able to perform simple arithmetic, EXCEPT when someone is standing on the other side of the counter watching me. Then my brain suddenly comes to a hard stop while trying to make 10.00 and 7.00 and 8.00 and 11.50 come out to a reasonable sum. It doesn't help when a student's father starts shouting out numbers when I finally resort to the calculator - WRONG numbers, may I add. I should have just LET him overcharge himself by six dollars.

Eve, my sixth-grade daughter, was better at giving change than the ninth-grade volunteer we had. She gets that from her dad.

The parent volunteers decided we would keep the book fair open straight through from school dismissal until the end of parent-teacher interviews, letting the librarian go home for dinner and to walk her dogs. So when a student came in asking for an exchange or return, we had to make an executive decision. Sometimes it was easy - the kid wanted to exchange a Minecraft Combat Handbook for a Minecraft Construction Handbook. The one he wanted was a dollar more than the one he had. I told him to take it and bring back a dollar when he could. He did, which I was ridiculously pleased by. Then a girl came in with a poster she wanted to return. I was in the back room and Eve was at the cash. I watched, ready to step in if needed. The girl said "can I return this poster?" Eve asked why. The girl said "I was in a hurry and I didn't really read it." I couldn't see Eve's face, but I imagine her expression was as blisteringly incredulous as her tone when she said "Didn't READ it? It's a POSTER." The girl took her poster and left.

Eve was also the one to notice a bit of a disconnect between this girl's chipper expression


and the subject matter on the screens.





Read to connect to what, exactly? Serial killers? Odd choice, we think. Odd.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Day 20

Eve and I are home from the book fair and tired. We had an interview with her teacher who I already loved. She said Eve obviously doesn't face any academic difficulties, so she thinks they should focus on preparing for middle school and high school by working on the challenges of things like group work dynamics and subjects that Eve finds less engaging, like geography (poor kid has a little dead spot in her brain just like mine, where mapping skills should be). Then she said Eve was awesome, which, duh, but always nice to hear.

Then we went back to the book fair. It was crazy busy and crowded and I had to go out in the hallway every time somebody used debit or credit again and fighting through the throngs of people wearing winter coats made me claustrophobic and panicky,  but most people were awesome and we made a metric fuckton of money for the school library and by the end of the evening everything was hilarious and math stopped working in the library for a few minutes around seven o'clock and we thought about asking the principal if next year we could pipe oxygen into the library during the book fair like they do in Vegas. Then there was a lull and I walked around finding picture books and making them seem dirty (which wasn't that hard, really - There was an old woman who swallowed a stick? Oh what a trick, to swallow a stick? Seriously? Okay, she swallowed the stick to hit the puck, but come ON.) Then we played with the pom-pom pens that we had hidden behind the desk because the students kept whacking each other in the face with them. You click a little button that makes the pom-pom fly off, and it WAS oddly satisfying. 

Then we went to McDonald's and ran into some people who had been at the book fair, which made the night feel very small townish, in a good way. Then we came home and watched Bones. It started with a scene in a playground, and Eve said "oh, great. A bunch of kids are about to find a gross dead body. Why do we always watch this show while we're eating?"

Then she said something about dogs and I remembered that I had to show her this, which made me fall off my chair laughing earlier today. When she stopped laughing she said "WHY did she even sign him UP?" As a special bonus, we read the headline in the sidebar which said "Polish playground bans Pooh because 'it doesn't wear underpants'". 

And now I have to get ready for bed because Eve asked me if I would read the Bad Kitty Christmas book she got at the book fair to her just for fun. And I said I would. Because it does sound like fun.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Surly Tuesday: I'll Complain About the Snow if I Bloody Well Feel Like It

To everyone on Facebook saying "quit whining about the snow, it happens every year, you should be ready for it by now" - FUCK OFF. Unless you're someone I know and like, because I haven't bothered to go back and check who actually said it. If I know and like you - sod off (I'm sufficiently fired up that you still get some kind of expletive containing an 'off' directed at you, but we're still friends).

A lot of things happen every year. We get colds. We get stomach bugs. I get seasonal depression. I have a snow brush in my car that has the head on the wrong way - perpendicular to the handle instead of parallel, like a toothbrush, which means that it's been designed by some disciple of Satan to pull snow down on me instead of brushing it away anywhere useful, WHY WOULD ANYONE EVEN MAKE THIS KIND OF SNOW BRUSH AND OFFER IT FOR SALE??? I claim my right to complain about all of these in a timely and spirited fashion (just ask my husband, the hapless buyer of the aforementioned FUSB (Fucking Useless Snow Brush).

Complaining is one of the pleasures and comforts of life. Everybody has shit going on. Just because somebody else's shit isn't the particular kind of shit that gets to you doesn't mean you get to tell them to shut up about it (without being considered a big jerk). In certain very specific cases - say, someone very very rich is on their yacht being waited on hand and foot, with their loving and faithful spouse by their side, surrounded by their four beautiful children whom they had no trouble conceiving, and they complain that their gold lamé bikini is chafing? Maybe, MAYBE, you should tell them to take a breath and re-evaluate. Otherwise? Cork it.

I think of complaining as vaguely akin to perspiring when it's hot. You perspire, and then a breeze or a fan blows on the perspiration and cools you off so you don't die of spontaneous combustion or something. Similarly, something crappy happens, you complain, friends offer sympathy and commiseration and you don't explode or sink into a boggy mire of despondence. It's a time-honoured tradition.

I get that it's not cool if someone does nothing but complain, especially if there are things they could do to improve their situation. I get that perspective is sometimes useful and that other people often have it much worse. But in the full flush of that cold, or stomach bug, or seasonal depression, or first day driving in the snow with clenched fists and knotted stomach, how much of a percentage of a fuck do I give about perspective? A VERY, VERY LOW FUCK PERCENTAGE.

Moving to Hawaii isn't a viable option for many people who live in places with long, cold winters. Our jobs and families are here. Some of us look really bad in bikinis. And we love where we live, despite the fact that for a good chunk of the year it feels like the outside is trying to kill us (come ON, that thing where Mother Nature drifts down a gorgeous soft white fleecy blanket of snow, and then drops the temperature fifteen degrees so everything turns sharp and chunky and if you slip and fall you might stab yourself in the jugular? That is a HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT) . So we stay, and occasionally we complain. Lord help you if you try to stop us.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Fair Day One

1) I thought of Nicole every time I said "the posters are five dollars each."

2) I thought "there's no way they sent us enough Frozen posters."

3) I told one grade six girl that the pointers were (also) five dollars each and she exclaimed "OH F..." and I gasped and she finished "OH FIVE, I only have FOUR, bummer!" That was exciting.

4) One little boy came back up the counter, clasping his Pokemon book and his Ninjago book, looked at me and the librarian and said 'You guys are the BEST'. 

5) I only screwed up simple addition once. Maybe twice.

6) I ranted (probably for the dozenth time) that all the erasers should be the same price, and whoever added a .50 to ANY price should be shot. Or relieved of their position at Scholastic. Or made to work the book fair without a calculator. Don't even get me started on the 1.25 highlighters.

7) There are no cake pop erasers this year so we haven't had to tell anyone not to bite the erasers. There are, however, pencils with Groucho Marx nose/moustache combos on them, which have been held up to many, many faces. I don't bother to tell them not to do it, but it grosses me out a little. 

8) I was disproportionately cranky about the 'borrowed' pencils for the wish lists. We started the day with almost twenty pencils, and after two classes we had almost none - rotten little pencil thieves. Some teachers were awesome about sending their kids back to return the pencils, some were ridiculously defensive - "most of my kids brought their own pencils" - THAT PENCIL AREA ON THE COUNTER DIDN'T EMPTY ITSELF, SIR. When I came home to grab lunch, I took some pencils back from last year's school supplies. They all have EVE A. carved into them. I will HAVE my pencils back.

9) The woman I volunteered with last year is coming on Wednesday and she's bringing a BABY. On Wednesday I will be working the BABY FAIR, and someone else can do the math and find the fucking unicorn books.

Our book fair was blessedly boner-free
Photo by IIII Chin
10) At one point, Katy the librarian came back to the desk to check the flyer because someone had asked her if we had a book. I asked her what she was looking for and she said "Do we have Fart Powder: Who Cut the Cheese?" This was particularly marvelous because Katy has a British accent, and after she said it a few times I was on the floor laughing, and told her I have to record her saying it so I can play it back when I'm sad. P.S. We did not have Fart Powder: Who Cut the Cheese. (You're saying 'fart powder' to yourself in a British accent now, aren't you? You're welcome).

11) I used to spend hundreds of dollars when I worked the book fair, on books for my kids. Today I spent twenty, on a cool washi tape craft kit, because ninety percent of the books are too young for my kids. That made me sad, but not as sad as I thought it would. 

12) Fart powder.