I am like one of the Chinese mothers in The Joy Luck Club The one who fixes dinners and then says a disparaging remark about how the food looks or tastes, only she's really soliciting praise. I gave away one of my prologues to a piece of writing as a white elephant of all things, and as soon as she opened it and looked at what it was, I saw that look. The look was a brief eye roll, and I immediately wished I had never put it in the bag. I think I wanted someone to read it and tell me if it was good, but the person who left with it is very analytical and exact, and I'm not sure she would enjoy it for what it is.

Just like the Chinese mother, I said, "It's not very good."

And just like the soon-to-be son-in-law in The Joy Luck Club, my friend said, "We'll have to see." The son-in-law gave suggestions as to how to make the food better; my friend would do the same with the story. I already know how to make the story better--I just want someone to say it was good so that I can move on. Why I need that encouragement, I've no idea.

I am 37 years old and I should have had a novel written at this point. Twenty years ago (almost exactly) in Mrs. Tush's Creative Writing class, I made the decision that I would be published by 30. What do 17-year olds know about time, anyway? The idealistic 17-year old me didn't care about publishers or their quirks or their demands. She just thought of writing something so good that she'd be able to meet Stephen King or V.C. Andrews.

Ah, well. Dreams of a teenager go unrequited. I'll await for any kind of feedback from my friend, good or bad. The piece of writing is only a first draft with all of the mistakes and initial musings that make writing fun.


Ahhhhh, the first day of vacation

It is 6:30 in the morning, and Emily is still asleep. I'm eating carrots nubs and celery after I've already eaten my protein and fiber-rich cereal. This is like the first day of the year for me where I can finally sit and reflect and figure things out.

Like my butt. I have a lot of figuring on that one.

This week is cardio-only week to give the rest of me (and my butt) time off for good (?) behavior. I thought I would dread it, but I'm actually enjoying the time on the treadmill doing intervals. Well, not enjoying it like HAHA Look At Me With A Smile On My Face enjoying it, but more like Look At What I'm Accomplishing enjoying it.

I also have to sit down and again find a list of vegetables that I actually like and enjoy other than lettuce. Obviously, carrots and celery would be a couple more, but how am I going to eat veggies 5-6 times per day of stuff I don't even like. I'd be a binge waiting to happen. And what's the deal with the taste of leftover chicken? I can't stand it! Is there something chemical that happens to the chicken when it cools off and is in the fridge for 24 hours? It's sealed in a bag or a plastic container... any food chemists out there? Is it just me? I LOVE leftover turkey.

That's the ramble for today. I'm hoping to ramble every day this Christmas break.


Of COURSE I know what STFU means...

After doing group work in one of my freshman classes, and everyone was excited to be done and get the snot out of school, the little squirrels were having a difficult time quieting down. They were to clean up and line up their desks back into rows. I was waiting to get their attention and one small boy seems to take it upon himself to "help me." This time he did it by hollering out the initials, "STFU, people!" At first I didn't say anything because I resumed my roll of teacher to get everyone quiet and then told the boy to stay after class.

His head snapped up towards me before his neck, like an overstretched rubber band, unstretched and pulled the rest of his face down towards his desk. He pouted.

When the others had left

--and bless their hearts, but two boys took their time getting out of the room--Boy Wonder had to wait--

Well, when the others had left, I said to Boy Wonder, "Not only do I know what STFU means, but that is just the same as saying the F-word out loud in class, and you will never say that again--"

He interrupted me and said, "The F meant something else."

"If you say it again, it's a PBR (write-up) to the office. Do you understand me?"


I briefly thought about letting him sit awhile longer, but this was also my time and he was draining it. I let him leave.

It was funny that he seemed genuinely surprised that I, an aging teacher who would not ever be on a computer despite there being one on my teacher desk, would know such ill acronyms such as STFU.

I think I was alive when the first emoticon was created.


No Kidnapper Left Behind ...

... because they shoot themselves in their pee-pees. I love how this idiot has made national news!



I can't believe it's been over a month...

I can't believe it's been a month since my last post. I think that I've been "of a mood" here lately, and have been so rattled by the ceaseless hopelessness of it all that I haven't had the energy to live it and then write about it.

If we (teachers) are held to the NCLB thing, then I reserve the right to kick out a student who consistently refuses to work and wants to be nothing better than a seat warmer in my room. His administrator can talk to him, because I've had it.

Why is the school spending so much money on committees to create a guide for all district English teachers to follow, then creating reading tests that have nothing to do with what the kids have supposedly been taught? Instead, they're tested on readings that they won't study for two more years. However, teachers are held accountable to those scores. Not the kids. Apparently, that's one way to show growth--test them in the 9th grade and then again in the 11th grade when they've finally been taught the tested material. Woohoo--there's that growth!

9th graders aren't coming in to high school ready to learn. Middle School seems to be worth nothing but a way to pretend to go to class and learn something--except how to feel good about doing nothing. The serious students, of course, take their education to heart, but the majority of our classes aren't made up of serious-minded students, and the kids expect the same game in high school despite being told that h.s. is a different animal altogether. I had two students yesterday tell me that I wasn't doing what they thought I should be doing (how I taught). I had to remind them that it was my classroom and my class. They weren't doing what we as teachers expected from them--and another thing--Go. Sit. Down.

Where have they been taught that they can speak to adults like that? The kid who defiantly refuses to work and helpfully warms up a seat in my classroom spoke to his mother at parent/teacher conferences like he had raised her--and in a way, I'm sure he did. He was obviously the one in charge of that duo and had been for a terribly excruciating long time.

And so it goes--I come home exhausted, waiting for a No Teacher Left Behind and will have to wait forever for that one to happen. When parents take back control of their kids and when our school system changes will there actually be growth so that we meet "AYP." It won't happen and I can wager that only a handful of school won't be on the NCLB watch list in this nation. Along with the obesity epidemic, we are also at a stupidity epidemic. When teachers start quitting, and when there is a shortage of teachers (as there is now), and there will be no one in the schools to take care of their ill-mannered children for 7 hours, then perhaps parents will begin to see the light. It'll be too late, since it will be the train hitting them because we're not there.


Writer's Digest Non-Winner: Me

Surprise! I'm not a winner! No big deal, I'll just keep submitting my crap until someone over there decides to like it. Here's my entry for a 750-word "My Story..." writing prompt. Writer's Digest gives the prompt and you write the rest of it in 750 words or less. You can view the winning entry at http://www.writersdigest.com/contests/your_story_previous.asp?id=245. The winning entry is witty, and my entry is dark and surreal and cycles over again. If you get through my story and want to ask me "What does it mean?" I'll probably answer you like any self-respecting English teacher would: what do you think it means? :)

Okay, without much further ado:

Mr. Garcia’s Operation

Seven days ago, I created a hole in Anthony Garcia between his ear and the top of his head. My hand brushed against the side of his face and stubble tickled my gloved hands. Adrenaline slung-shot straight to my brain, and I sucked in short quick breaths before letting it go, and Erin flashed me a deep look after the dull light dancing in my scalpel bounced against her face. Bleeps from the heart-rate monitor rose to 80 beats per minute then drummed down to a steady 60 beats. I wondered which smartass hooked it up to his, or her, heart.

I sunk the instrument into Mr. Garcia’s scalp as my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Puerta, draped in her Argentina flag floated through the room.

Now nobody will talk to me. At least nothing that isn't wasted air.

Clara repeated “Freak” over and over. She had a clear view of the door if she wanted to lift her head and look in that direction, but she stared at the man’s face instead. She was only moved by watching the disposable number-ten blade with someone else’s blood dried in a brown crust that I found in the hazardous waste basket. No need mucking up a good piece of steel when a crusty one would do. Mrs. Puerta morphed into my dead grandfather. He waved and left through a door marked “Exit.”

Erin raised her eyebrows and I imagined cutting her head open instead.

“Sweat!” I yelled. Shannon wiped my brow with a soiled tissue from his white-coat pocket.

A soft glow washed over the long metallic room. Humming from invisible rafters reminded me of the white noise of a television that turned to snow after the last early-morning show was spent. Inhabitants who lived in this room lined the walls with three inches between gurneys. Most lay beneath sheets of white a shade darker than the walls, floor and ceiling, and if I stared at them long enough, I expected puffs of life to lift the sheets, proving that someone had made a mistake.

Not dead! Save this one!

No puffs of breath, nothing, and Mr. Garcia who lay here like such a good boy, his eyes closed, his face a bluish-green had no idea that he was here. The humming thickened.

The slice of hard skin, flesh and hair now lay perfect in my hand. “There!” I said, holding it up.

Tom tip-toed to see the white of the man’s skull I exposed.

“Tom! How sick can you be?” I smirked. Not for long, however. My heart skipped and I took in a quick breath. The monitor registered erratic lines and the green digital number whirled to 116-beats a minute before it slowly came down to 99, then 85, then 82, then finally to an easy 56 beats. The digital read-out frosted over.

Erin and Clara snapped off their gloves. In the back, I heard a door open and shut.

“There’s no hope for him, is there?” said Erin.

Hope? I thought.

Clara and Tom looked at each other before turning to me. My mother came in, her face flickering like a television that wouldn’t tune into its channel.

“Hello, Mother. Care to join us?”

“Love to; what are we making today?”

“Hair Soup.”

Beep, beep, beep, BEEP, reported the heart monitor. Now a sucking sounded, as if fresh air swooshed into the spacious operating room, mingling with the hum of electricity.

“Tony, my boy; I am so proud of you! When you should be dead after that awful accident,” she said.

My friends dissolved, leaving me alone with my mother.

“My brave boy,” said my mother, who then leaned over and kissed me on my cheek, then the top of my head, burning me with her affection.

I leaned down, expecting to examine Mr. Garcia’s own seared spot that I had stolen, but I recoiled.

“Where’s Mr. Garcia, Mother? What did you do with me?”

“Oh, my boy!”

Below the hum and the fog of beeps were the whispers in English and Spanish, so faint and fleeting and confusing:

“Mr. Garcia needs to rest.”

“Not Mr. Garcia. Anthony. Tony. I need to be here when he wakes up.”

My eyes locked shut, and no matter how hard I tried opening them, they wouldn’t. Would I ever?

Seven days ago, I created a hole in Anthony Garcia between his ear and the top of his head.

My hand brushed against the side of. . .

Copyright 2006, Tracy Catlin


Cheesehead lives here

Emily was quite upset yesterday because a little boy she thought was her friend had called her a cheesehead.

"I don't know why he kept calling me that, but he wouldn't stop!" she said.

I leaned in really close to her, wiggling my finger to come even closer to me. I turned my head and my eyes first to the left. No one listening there. Then to the right. No one listening on that side. I whispered, "Did you ask them if you were cheddar or mozzarella?"

"Or stinky cheese?!" said Dale, breaking the quiet.

She giggled and everything was okay. But we did talk about what to say if someone ever calls her a cheesehead again.

"I'll just say ... watermelon!"

I'm proud of my little cheesehead.


ABC "Family" should be ashamed of itself

We set Tivo to record anything that said "pilot" in the description so we wouldn't miss out on some of the new shows coming up. One of the shows grabbed was one called Ugly Betty. So the name intrigued us. After 15 minutes, I noticed that the ABC Family logo hung in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Considering I was about to tell Dale to turn off this trash, I cried out instead, "ABC FAMily?! What's family about this?"

The show is on 7 p.m. on Thursday nights, a prime viewing time for a typical family. But if "family" means that we get to share what the b-word is and have to explain why that woman was coming up from underneath that man's desk and why are those women all showing their underwear, (and did I mention the constant use of the b-word?) then this is the wrong kind of family. The rest of the show goes on as to how badly the guy with the woman underneath his desk doing you-know-what can humiliate Betty so she'll quit because she's too ugly. The man's father who hired Betty was hoping that his son--the libido-crazed 30-something who is the editor of a fashion magazine--won't be attracted to this woman and won't want to sleep with her like he does with every assistant. The women constantly showing the guy their underwear are sleeping with him to get the job, and there is one scene in which he makes Ugly Betty call his cell to warn him that another one is on her way up to his loft apartment. It's a revolving door of sex romps, though the romps are implied and not shown, thank goodness. But that's the only thing I have nice to say about this show. Oh, and the young boy in the show who is Ugly Betty's nephew seems to be portrayed as gay.

What crap. What trash. And if you have kids in the house younger than 16, you should NOT consider this a family show. Good thing that CBS is our channel of choice, and thank goodness the person who created Tivo created Tivo. And now that Alias is no longer in production, we don't need ABC anymore.

Family, my butt.


Goals: Short and Long Term

1.) Ultimate Long-Term Goal: 125 pounds, 12% bodyfat.
a. When people see me, I want them to admire my physique and to know not to even think about messing with me because I could drop them on their hineys.
b. I want to be published in a magazine before and after success story article. The picture would have to be the one taken at April and Tom’s wedding when I wore those atrocious size 16 pants that barely fit and had elastic in back and rubbed into my skin. The jacket was one of those hand-made numbers Dale’s grandmother made for her “fat days.” She gave it to me because she had “whittled down to nothing. Here Tracy, it might fit you.”
c. I want my butt to be smooth.
i. (if achieve a. and c.): Celebrate with professional pictures
2.) 12-Month Goal: 130 pounds, 16% bodyfat. Fit a size 4.
i. Celebrate with a one-hour massage and a facial
3.) 3-Months’ Goal: 135 pounds, 20% bodyfat. Fit a size 6.
i. Celebrate with a one-hour massage.
4.) Weekly Goals:
a. To weigh myself (and not wimp out). Saturdays.
b. Measure weekly. Saturdays.
c. Eat only one cheat meal per week (Saturday evening)—and not any more than that.
5.) Daily Goals:
a. Increase vegetables to 4 servings per day
b. Drink one gallon water per day
c. Weight-lifting 5 times a week.
d. Slow-mo cardio 1 time per week.
e. 1800 calories per day
f. Complex carbs for first three meals of the day
g. Fibrous carbs for last three meals of the day
6.) Beating my Personal Best:
a. Increase jogging times to more running, less walking.
i. Run a 5K in 30 minutes or less
b. Increase weights on benchpress, deadlifts, squats.


Jesus Goes to the Office

I wrote up Jesus today for having his cell phone out in the hallway. He knows the rules.

Okay, am having fun with this kid's name, who actually did turn into a good-natured kid; he just forgot that he wasn't the center of the universe and there were actually teachers in the halls, and yes, we do watch what the little buggers are doing. I'm standing by my classroom door and not more than two feet away from me, a kid is checking his phone for a text. Rule in the school is no cell phones until after 3:20. This was 11:58 a.m. I give him the I-Can't-Believe-You-Just-Did-That Look and he looks at me. My hand is outstretched as if I expect him to drop his phone into my palm just like that. Actually, I do expect that, but am equally expecting him to give me trouble. I scope out if he has a school ID hanging off of him just in case he runs, I'll know who to write up. I don't see the ID. I wiggle my fingers as if to say, "Come on, come on. Time is precious." He turns off his phone, his face is turning pink and he writes his name on a sheet of paper. He's a ninth-grader, bless his heart, and that's the end of that. I see the name of Jesus --------, and I say, "Hay-zeus?"


"I have to give this to your administrator."


Okay, then. A parent gets to come up and get it and the kid gets a day in the In-School Suspension Room. What will Jesus do?


Am I dreaming?

My honors freshman class is probably what "regular" freshmen looked like about fifteen years ago. They are good kids. They remember their homework, they get right to work when told to do so, they discuss, they listen, they follow the rules, they know when to laugh at my stupid jokes.

But they don't seem too "honored," if you know what I mean. They're good, but not terribly bright. In fact, I probably have only two kids in this class who I would consider to be well above average. The rest are--average.

Does this mean that if a student in high school is someone who can do the aforementioned things should be a head above the rest? What would happen if they were in regular English? Would they become tainted or would the others rise above to reach that level of what we used to consider as average?

That average student entering high school now refuses to listen, refuses to comply with adult authority, refuses to complete homework assignments, and there are a few who plain ol' refuse to do any work in the classroom. I wrote up a kid today who for the fourth week in a row, forgot his English notebook, refused to get out materials to work and was content to just be a seat-warmer. I refused to let him go through one more day of painful non-learning. I told him he needed to speak to someone else about it because this wasn't working out. I had tried the me-counseling route, the psychologist-depression route, the calling-Mom route. Obviously those didn't work. Plan D. Don't know if it'll change anything, but at least I know I'm doing everything that I can to make sure he succeeds. Too bad he doesn't have that in him to do that himself. I did warn him last classtime that if he didn't have his English notebook put together that I would send him to his administrator. After that class, I found a partially torn up 3-ring notebook under his desk. I had called his mother shortly after that discovery. She had bought him a 3-ring notebook, she said. I told her that he's not bringing it. When he came to class today, I asked him to get out his English notebook (as I asked the rest of the class, as well, but he had a personal invitation). He said he didn't have it. That he must have forgotten it. I told him that was a sad situation.

The others seemed a bit surprised that I wrote up someone who was being quiet. I think they hav the impression that if they're just quiet, that they'll be okay. Mrs. Catlin likes things quiet. But here she was, writing up someone who hadn't said a word. What was this??

So--I think any of one my regular kids can attain "honors" status in today's public high school. But what is so honored about doing what should be done to be a decent human being?



There is a young man out in the hallway outside my door somewhere who feels the need to exclaim at the top of his lungs every 30-seconds the signal: "Wooooooooo-Eeeeee!"


Meth Heads Hear Me Now

I hope every meth head who ruined it for us all gets the flu--the most rare kind--and suffers because they have to show their ruined i.d. in order to get a bottle of DayQuil or the generic version of such medicine. I hope they die with phlegm packing their lungs, making them have to sleep in an upright position so they don't drown--if they can sleep at all. I hope their skin ages another 50 years as they're sneezing snot out of their noses at high velocity. I hope the fever that racks their bodies burns out the drugs in their system as well as burn off their stupidity. Perhaps that'll teach them that they're all a pack of idiots.

Whatever bug I caught has hit me hard. I couldn't sleep last night and got up at about midnight to watch the rest of Big Brother All Stars that I had Tivo'd. (Drat that Mike! Can't stand him, either). I took a quarter dose of Tylenol PM, but it didn't do me any good. Sleep doesn't come if you can't breathe. I went back to bed about 12:30, hoping the Tylenol would kick in, but my lungs felt like I could drown if I laid flat. I propped myself up, reminding me of my pregnancy days when I couldn't sleep, either. Somehow, I must have fallen asleep, but it was fitful.

Dale had volunteer time this morning, and it was just me and the kid. When I gathered enough energy to actually get dressed, off to Wal-Mart we went. First aisle: DAYQUIL (or the generic thereof) and NYQuil (or the generic thereof). Nyquil was easy, but it must be the ingredients in DayQuil that meth-makers really relish. There were plastic cards made up to take one card to the pharmacy register to get one bottle.

Okay. Great.

I took a card, Emily was quiet and not telling me yet another story about flying unicorns, and I passed by three workers in the pharmacy and I stood at the neglected register. One of the problems with that is that though these workers know there are people in the pharmacy, they don't seem to think that any of their customers will need to pay for anything. The Register Goes Unnoticed by WalMart Pharmacy Workers. I waited. I made some noise. I waited. I coughed--which is not a pretty sound lately. I took my meth-head induced card to one of the workers who was at the window. She tells me to go wait at the register.

You have to realize that not only do I not feel well, I'm also premenstrual. I don't have the energy to do anything more than shoot her my PMS look.

Thankfully, she makes it to the register, gives me wrong directions, has to see my driver's license, I have to sign a document on their little machine--the one where it looks like my signature was drawn while I was on crack. I croak out a thank you, and hope it's obvious to her that I am actually going to use this medicine for good and not evil.

Emily and I finish our shopping, go to the register, and by golly, if I didn't have to show my driver's license again.

I want every meth-head to line up while I sneeze and cough on them.


Condom Boy

While one of my 9th grade classes was working in groups, I walk around to make sure everyone is on task and understands the assignement. From afar, I notice one boy who is very intent in his notebook. Considering that he should not be in his notebook, but presenting a project and listening to his peers, I was quite curious as to what was so much more interesting. I approach behind him, stealth-like, because that's what I like to do, and you can catch so much more inappropriate activity that way. He has a gold-wrapped condom, and he is reading the package.

My first thought to say was I hope you read the English 1 material as intently as you're reading right now. I don't. Instead, I tap him twice on the shoulder. He jumps. I say, "Put that away. It doesn't belong here," and I walk away. He groans and buries his head into his arms. I let him have a moment and he doesn't raise his head for a good five minutes when I ask everyone to put their desks back into rows.

I haven't seen a condom in class or narry an inappropriate word since.


Primal Scream

Somebody (freshman? sophomore? junior?) just screamed "Oh my God!" at the top of her lungs in the hallway outside my classroom door. It's lunchtime.



The first day of school for everybody and the second day for freshmen. Those poor guys. They still look like a ton of bricks hit them. However, there are several that I can tell aren't going to be too happy with me when their lives suddenly become very difficult. I had to tell one kiddo in front of his seatmates that he needed to change his middle-school mentality because he was a big kid now. I didn't say it quite like that or in that exact verbage, but he got the point very quickly.

I just realized that I needed to add another rule to the set: Just Because You Don't Want To Do It, Doesn't Mean You Don't Have To Do It.

I've already hit them with the if you don't pass English, there's always summer school speech. Their response: "Summer school?!" Coming from middle school where their credits don't count, that's quite a shock to their system to have to not just get by.

Anyway, I'm pooped. It's still like I'm teaching special ed., but at least I don't have to worry about the IEPs.


I still love Mel

I have recently finished watching all four Lethal Weapon movies. Of all of them, the first one is my favorite. And though I was in the middle of the fourth L.W. movie during the anti-semitism/arrest of Mel Gibson, I did not stop watching it just because of what he said while he was being arrested for a DUI. And I will not resort to what Barbara Walters is going to do--give up watching any future Mel Gibson movies. I'm sure in her sinless state, that she has never said anything or done anything that is shameful or is against the grain of her fellow man (or woman). In fact, I'm just SURE she has never taken Jesus Christ's name in vain, because that would be an anti-semitic comment since our Lord was a Jew. And I'm sure she's not broken any of the Ten Commandments herself. In fact, none of the people and organizations who are now after MG have done anything wrong in their lives. It is truly amazing how many perfect people are walking around on the earth.

And something else that I find odd ... From http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14137508/: This is not the first time Gibson has faced accusations of anti-Semitism. Gibson produced, directed and financed "The Passion of the Christ,'' which some Jewish leaders said cast Jews as the killers of Jesus.

Have they not read the Bible?

Anyway, I don't need to hear anything else from Barbara. I'm done with her if she's done with Mel. She can go and be perfect on her View. I'm going to try to be sinless over here in my part of the world, but I know that I'll screw that up--like I always do. Jesus loves me and Mel anyway.


Flies do not like being in any weather

Right now, Emily has not taken a breath in the span of ten minutes so she could tell me about the lifespan of a fly, how she can kill the one buzzing in the house because flies do not like being out in the rain or in the sun for that matter or the wind or . . . they just like being in the house to bother us and to buzz in our ears and to land on our food and Mama, did you know that you left this on and can I turn it off, and could I please watch an Arthur because it is Thursday and that means it's my t.v. day...

MSNBC.com (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14013567/) has a list of television shows that they think should be made into feature films and what directors they think should direct the movies. This is in response to how "they" think the director for Miami Vice was the perfect choice for the movie since he supposedly also created the television series. It's a different look and feel, that's for sure, and in all of the trailer commercials, I don't see pink or peach at all. That's the first good sign that this might be a cool movie. The second sign is that Don Johnson is listed nowhere for the movie on http://imdb.com/title/tt0430357/. Whew!

Here is my pick of television shows that should be turned into feature films:

1.) The Love Boat, directed by Leonardo DiCaprio
2.) Dallas, directed by Charlene Tilton
3.) TJ Hooker, directed by Tommy Lee
4.) Bosom Buddies, directed by someone who has real bosoms
5.) Diff'rent Strokes, directed by Ant
6.) Facts of Life, directed by Mrs. G.
7.) Good Times, directed by Michael Jackson
8.) Welcome Back, Kotter, directed by John Ravolta
9.) Doogie Howser, M.D., directed by Any ten-year-old in the gifted program
10.) Saved by the Bell, directed by Mark-Paul Gosselaar because his new series was not renewed, bless his heart.

Eating plan going well, I'm on my rear-end today, still nursing that back injury from Sunday. Worked out with sis-in-law on Tuesday, and worked hams, glutes and quads. Awesome workout, but I'm really paying for it today! Took a nap, which was good because I was seriously going to fall asleep during morning snack time. Had to keep it together for the kid's sake. So, we watched Martha together. I tried watching The View, but it's just not good anymore without Meredith, and I was afraid that Joy Behar would throw out the "ass"-bomb. What's up with that? Even news shows like Today have guests that throw out that word like it's candy. I do not want ASS to be part of Emily's kindergarten vocabulary. She already repeated the f**k word during her pre-school days, thanks to another little girl. We do not need to add the a-word to it.


I KNEW I wasn't crazy!

My husband, bless his heart, thought I had finally lost it. But thankfully, the new vet vindicated me, and I am not crazy after all. I am right--and it's very important for me to be right, no matter what Dr. Phil says.

A few days ago, Saturday in fact, we had the windows open all day since it was beautiful outside. I did not know that my husband had closed them before he got into bed just because I was so exhausted and the temperature in the room hadn't changed much. In the middle of the night when I had to get up to go you know where, I smelled the most awful skunk smell. It was so strong that I couldn't get back to sleep for the longest time. I buried my face into my night shirt which had been freshly laundered that afternoon. I finally fell asleep. I think my lack of sleep probably helped cause my injury the next morning during those deadlifts, come to think of it. When I went downstairs to the basement, I still smelled skunk, and after my injury and I'm giving Dale the evil eye because he made some sort of dorky comment about my wet butt, I ask him if he smelled the skunk last night.

"Skunk? What skunk?"

"The skunk smell in the bedroom," I replied. "I probably smelled it so bad because the windows were open."

"Uh, no. The windows were closed all night, Dear." Patronizing. I hate that.

After awhile, he spends some time on the back deck with Cady. He came back in and noticed nothing unusual. He concludes, and he reiterates this later, that I must have been dreaming pretty hard last night, "Because, I didn't smell anything."

Today at the vet's, they DID smell something and they smelled it as soon as we walked in the door. I smelled it on the deck when I harnessed up the Cady-dog to go for a car ride, and I smelled it all the way to the vet and back. I was totally vindicated. The vet's "people" gave me a recipe for skunk-smell removal:

1 Qt. Peroxide 3%
1/4 C Baking Soda
1 tsp. detergent

I gave Cady a bath and washed, soaked and rinsed and rinsed and rinsed. And she's still as stinky as ever.

The stuff didn't work. So, off to Wal-Mart again for tomato soup. A LOT of it.


Did anyone else hear that snap?

I had finished squats, and I'm in my first set of deadlifts when I feel and hear a snap! in my lower right back area. Not quite into the glute region, but close. My second thought was--because my first thought was, "Holy crap! What was that?"--was it really pain or can I work through my other three sets of deadlifts?


I did not work through more sets of deadlifts, because that would be stupid. I immediately grabbed the ibuprofen and an ice bag, wedging it in my workout clothes. Later, Dale would tell me I had a wet spot on my rear end and I would shoot him a does-it-look-like-I'm-concerned-with-wet-spots-on-my-rear-end? look.

Leg Extensions: 90#/15, 90#/15, 90#/12
Squats: 45#/25, 65#/20, 85#/15, 95#/10
Deadlifts: 95#/12 (should have stopped at 11!)



"No, 991 is for the hospital," said the 5-year-old

Emily's two bestest friends in the whole world were over today at my insistence. The girls should just get together to play without there being a birthday party involved. They were in Em's room chattering and playing "kitchen" together, and as any parent would, I listened in on the baby monitor.

Side note: What are the odds that we'll get to keep that monitor there through her teen years? Yeah, I didn't think so, either.

Anyway, the conversation came around to calling 911. After my initial thought of Who's hurt?? I relaxed. Afterall, it was just girl talk. One little girl said that if you called 911, you'd get the hospital, only they didn't say 911 but 991. Another said that if you called 991 that you'd get the fire people. I set Emily straight during snack time, but with our crazy phone system--sorry, dear--you'd have to dial 9, wait for an outside line, then 911. Explaining that to a kindergartener is like explaining to my Grandma Dosh (may she rest in peace) how the wires are put in a computer CPU. Same result.

Workout yesterday was a run/walk program. I think I already typed that, but not sure. It was for 32 minutes where I ran for 3 minutes, then walked for 2. I'll do that again in the morning.

This morning's workout was upper body work, and I'll get specifics in later. There's a cool BOSU workout in the latest Oxygen magazine, so I'm going to add that in to my routine somewhere starting next week.

Eating has been really good. Starchy carbs in a.m./fibrous in p.m. I found a new peanut butter--new to me--that has Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats in it. It is SUPER GOOD. I added that to my fat free cottage cheese, and it's just wonderful.


What in the WORLD?!

Weighed and measured yesterday morning. No changes. None--I have "successfully" maintained for the last year. Yipty-dodang-do. My body is more stubborn than my personality, and it's like dealing with a teenager who doesn't give a flip what I want or need. I have to remember that I'm feeding it--my body the teenager--all the good things and then it will have no choice but to conform. Like sending it to military school to learn how to behave itself. I have only been on the complex carbs for the morning/fibrous carbs in the afternoon for two days now, so I'll do another weigh and measure day each week. I'm going back to logging everything into DietPower, and I'm just going to have to learn how to keep that up when I go back to school in August. I'm not going to post my nutrition (what's the point??) until I start seeing the weight or measurements go down.

Yesterday's workout:
150 meter runs and then immediately to
jumping pullups (20)
Did that three consecutive times

Sumo Squats: 45/12, 65/12, 65/12
Deadlifts: 65/10 x 3

I'll be doing another lower body day this week.

142 lbs.
Pecs: 32.5"
Waist: 27.5"
Biceps: 11.25" and 11.5"
Hips: 36.75"
Thighs: 23" and 22.75"
Calves: 15.5" and 15"


Oh how I love green beans

I don't know what I'm going to do when school starts back up and I need to get up at 4:30, rather than sleeping in until 5:30. This morning's workout was just a light workout for the smaller muscles in my triceps and calves--which aren't really that small, but I want them to be small.

Lying tricep extensions (single arm): 10/12 x 3 sets
Kickbacks: 15/12 x 3 sets
Standing calf raises on the BOSU: 20/40 x 3 sets


Meal 1; post-workout
3 eggs whites, 1/2 yolk
1/3 serving whey protein
1/4 C skim milk
1 serving Cream of Wheat

Meal 2
4 ozs tuna and egg white
1/2 C blueberries
1/2 C strawberries

Meal 3
3 ozs. buffalo patty
2/3 C Oats

Meal 4
3 ozs tuna and egg white
1 C celery
1/4 C tomato
1/4 C romaine lettuce

Meal 5
4 ozs chicken breast
1 C green beans

Meal 6
3/4 C fat free cottage cheese
1 T natural peanut butter

Tomorrow is a crossfit workout day.

Emily was helping me out in the vegetable garden this morning and she marches in and says, "If I don't work, I doooon't eat!"

I stopped and said in my most calm horrific voice, "What?!"

She repeated it, and I asked where she heard that from. "It's in the Bible! Silly," she said.


Crossfit Kicks my Behind

I've recently begun CrossFit workouts and I am totally whipped by the time I'm finished. It takes me 15-20 minutes to get through three sets, and that's with taking minute breaks between sets. I'm such a newbie at it, but this week, I plan on doing three days of CF workouts rather than two like I did last week. The week after this, I plan on upping that to four days.

Check out the CrossFit workouts by going to www.crossfit.com. I found the most information from reading the message boards, but mainly it's using 1-3 different exercises in a row for a count of however many you can do within a specified period of time for a total of 3-5 sets. I can only do three sets right now, but hope to move that up to five sets. I also like how I'm only competing against my own weights and my own times and no one else's. My workout this morning was:

300 meter sprints (treadmill)
Squat Thrusts (squatting with dumbbells and on the power up lift the dumbbells in order to work shoulders)

I must have been tired because last week, I could knock out 400 meters, 15 pushups a set and 15 squat thrusts (10 pounds). Today, it's the 300 meters, 10 pushups and 12 squat thrusts.

What is especially noteworthy is watching the 13 minute video on the CF site called "Nasty Girls." Not the best name for the video, and there's nothing nasty about it except that these girls work their workouts hard. Made me wish I had a set of Olympic rings--but then again, not.

Goal for the next month: Knock out an unassisted pullup. Just one.

I'm also going to keep accountable by posting workouts, nutrition, and weight. Tuesday morning will be my baseline weight and measurements, and I'll remeasure and weigh every two weeks. My plan is to eat most of my starchy carbs for meals 1-3, and then fibrous carbs for meals 4-6.

Another favorite recipe:

.75 C fat free cottage cheese
3 packets Splenda
1 T natural peanut butter

Blend it like a mad dog (may have to add a smidge of water or skim milk so it'll blend better). Freeze for 15-30 minutes, then eat.

220 calories
8 g fat
14 g carb
25 g protein


Start Little, End Big

This guy (Kyle) is a great example of American ingenuity. He used bartering, starting out with one red paperclip to work himself into a house in a year's time. Kyle's a "normal" guy (whatever normal means), and not only did he think outside the box to get what he wanted, he smashed the box to pieces.



And WHY is it wrong to have wine at breakfast?

Here's a story that needs to somehow be included in CSI: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13626398/. It's about an 80-year-old woman who wouldn't let the police come in because she said her mother was sleeping. Well. . . apparently she had one heck of a nap because she'd been dead for at least three years and there was only a corpse in the bed. Police think it is the woman's 98-year-old mother. They were there with a search warrant due to a handful of violations, death not being one of them, however.


Protein Treat

I am severely limiting carbs for my meals 4, 5 & 6, but sometimes, I just need to nibble on something, and it usually ends up being bad and starts a whole round of cravings that I didn't really want. I had made Dale a lemon meringue pie for Father's Day, and usually I don't like l.m. pie, but the meringue just about blew me over. I didn't even know that I liked meringue! Then, of course, I started thinking about meringue cookies that any bakery sells. Those little dingers sound healthy, but are so filled with sugar that the insulin spike could send you to the moon. I found myself dreaming about them (at least it wasn't another pathetic school-anxiety dream!), so I figured it was time to come up with my own recipe with apologies now if someone has already come up with this and I'm too dense or lazy to go looking for it. Below is what I came up with. More fiddling is necessary, but these served for the nibbling purpose.

8 egg whites
1/3 Cup Splenda (perhaps could go to 1/2 cup on this)
1 Tablespoon Cream of Tartar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla

Whip egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla with electric mixer on high until soft peaks form. Sloooooowly add in Splenda and whip like a mad dog until stiff peaks form. Do not under whip.

Note: Every person's "whip like a mad dog" look will vary.

Spoon out whipped stuff onto a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 275 for 50 minutes. Turn off oven, but keep cookies in for another hour. I was able to get two dozen medium-sized cookies out of the 8 egg whites.

Serving size: 1 cookie
Calories: 5
Carbs: 0 grams
Protein: 1 gram

I thought about adding a little bit of brown sugar (just a little bit!) to give it a caramel flavor. I'm sure other flavorings added to the recipe would give it more unique flavors.


Grammar Pet Peeve

First of all, I am totally amazed that after all of the poor grammar I grew up listening to that I have turned out to be an English teacher. My mom and her group of country-singin', redneck-lovin' git-tar playin' folk wouldn't string a grammatically correct sentence together on purpose if you gave them a million dollars. In fact, they'd probably look at you and say, "We don't got no need for none of that money, honey." My mom's the smartest mom I know (Hi, Mom!) and she knows a whole lot about language because her English teacher in high school made her class diagram sentences over and over, and my mother could still diagram a sentence if she could sit (a spell) and think about it. No need to do so, however. But as far as that knowledge goes, we were still surrounded with double negatives, split infinitives and ending sentences with prepositions.

I don't usually have a problem with ending a sentence with a preposition, but there is one that causes my insides to wither: "Are you coming with?" or "Is she/he coming with?"

WITH WHOM??? Me? Us? I've never believed that the object of the preposition needs to be understood like "You" can be understood and consequently left out of the sentence.

I don't usually care about other prepositions, but this one bothers me. And really, there is no strict "rule" that sentences just CAN'T end in prepositions. If the sentence has an object (noun or pronoun) earlier in the sentence, then it's okay to end in a prep. And then we'd need to get into phrasal verbs that look like prepositions but are actually acting as verbs. . . but we won't.

A DaVinci Code question for those who think that a writer in the Bible just left out Jesus' wedding and He really did marry Mary...
If the people who wrote the Bible thought it was important enough to put in that Jesus attended a wedding, do you think that they'd think it was important to write that Jesus was the groom of a wedding? When Jesus attended a wedding of a friend, the writer of that book was pointing out the miracle of turning water into wine. Think if Jesus had had his own wedding, oh the miracles that could ensue there.

I'm being a brat, but the argument that Jesus really was married and it was just left out of the Bible because nobody wrote about it is silly. The DaVinci Code is a work of fiction.


Top Dads, Hula Hooping and Sliding into the Baptismal

CNN.com posted the "The 10 Funniest Movie Dads" but also added in the phrase "role models" right alongside it. When the very first dad we read about is Jim's Dad from the movie American Pie (1999) and played by Eugene Levy, I have a problem with the role model part. When I think of role models, I like to not think of a "good" dad giving his son sexual pointers along with a slice of porn. During last Sunday's church service (holy moly, pardon the pun, Sunday was YESTERday--this day has just about dragged itself to death), Pastor Jim mentioned a movie scene--but not American Pie--of Michael Keaton greeting his wife's dinner-date (a working dinner, of course, and not the woman's father--work with me here) while in dirty work clothes, goggles and a chain saw. You can rest assured that when Emily is ready to date that her father will probably take up some sort of shooting in some sort of capacity.

CNN's Entertainment Top 10:

Eugene Levy as Jim's dad in American Pie.
Professor Henry Jones Sr, Sean Connery, Indy's daddy in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Armand and Albert Goldman, Robin Williams and Nathan Lane from The Birdcage. Armand runs a Miami drag club, and Albert stars in the revue there.
Clark Griswold, Chevy Chase, in National Lampoon's Vacation.
Sonny Koufax, Adam Sandler, in Big Daddy.
Royal Tenenbaum, Gene Hackman, in The Royal Tenenbaums.
Sheldon Korpett and Vince Ricardo, Alan Arkin and Peter Falk, in The In-Laws.
Gil Buckman, Steve Martin, in Parenthood.
Old Man Dunphy, Alec Baldwin, in Outside Providence.
Bernie Focker, Dustin Hoffman, in Meet the Fockers.

Really, I liked Dustin Hoffman much more as a woman in Tootsie than I liked him as a Focker.

My Top Ten Movie Dads:

Michael Keaton, "Jack Butler," Mr. Mom
Sean Connery, "Professor Henry Jones," Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Spencer Tracy and Steve Martin, "Stanley T. Banks" and "George Stanley Banks," Father of the Bride
Marlon Brando, "Don Vito Corleone," The Godfather
Gregory Peck, "Atticus Finch," To Kill a Mockingbird
Cary Grant, "Walter Eckland," Father Goose
Patrick Stewart "Professor X", X-Men I, II, and III (as a father figure)
Pat Morita, "Mr. Miyagi," The Karate Kid (as a father figure)
Marlon Brando, "Jor-El," Superman: The Movie
Jack Albertson, "Grandpa Joe," Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

On hula-hooping: It has only taken me 36 years, but I have achieved success today! I can now hula hoop. Man, my abs are going to hurt tomorrow, but now I want to find one of those weighted hoops that I read about in my Oxygen Magazine.

On Sliding: Dale is doing web site work for our church and he and Emily were exploring the church. One of the areas was visiting the Baptismal. Emily and Dale are where the preach stand where it's nice and dry and she peeks into the watery section. She asks, "Where's the slide?"

Don't you think a lot more people would want to be baptized if there were slides in the baptismal??


Christmas Island

Did anyone notice that Christmas Island kind of looks like a poodle?

Check it out at www.googleearth.com. You have to download the program, and it is awesome! Especially since I've learned that islands come in the shape of dogs.

Finger-lickin' Bad For You

Okay, raise your hand ('cause I'm the teacher) if you don't know that Kentucky Fried Chicken is bad for you.

Hmm. So you all knew, huh?

Another "duh" story is out wasting bandwidth about the evils of fast food, and this time KFC is in the crosshairs with a lawsuit. You can read this at http://www.cnn.com/2006/LAW/06/13/kfc.suit.ap/index.html. I'm sure that if KFC changed the oil from a trans-fatty oil to a regular cooking oil that the chicken would be minus heart-plugging trans-fats, but it would probably still contain a deadly amount of Trans' evil step-sister Saturated.

Much fast food isn't healthy. I think most people in the world know this, and that's why it tastes so good.

Emily Update:
Emily was playing in the sprinkler yesterday afternoon and I was talking to her about the good things that sun provides us. I told her about Vitamin D. When her daddy came home from work, I told him and he asked her which vitamin did the sun give.

"What vitamin?" she asked.
"The one the sun gives us," I replied.
"Um, I don't know!"
Her father said, "Which letter of the alphabet is it? A, B, C, D, E?"
She's zooming back and forth beneath the spray of the sprinkler, getting her hands wet so she can make handprints on the sidewalk and the porch.
"Which one?" I asked.
She stops and said, "The orange one!"
We both laugh and said, "How many suns do you know of?"

Anyway--you just had to be there. She really did know the answer but was goofing around with her mom and dad.



Found this little tidbit on www.youtube.com. At first I thought he might have been in . . . certain classes . . . at some point, but he's actually quite on the ball. He makes spaghetti and he makes rules for grocery shopping. I like it. I really do.



So you think it's the devil's day. . .

June 6, 2006; aka 666.


How does 6/6/06 get translated into 666 when it would be closer to a number such as 6,606? We're off by 5,940 to get to Satan's number if that's the case.

Yes, I live in a different world than everyone else, usually.


Crap in the Walls

When we built our house, why didn't we think to put crap in the walls so someone 100 years from now will be perplexed with the mystery of the folks who lived in this house before them? And why did people put crap in their walls 100-200 years ago? Was this some sort of fad that they went through much like listening to Ipods are today? (I predict that Ipods won't last as long as the Walkman did, and we'll have something like a Brain Chip that can be loaded with the last 50 years of music and you just plug yourself to the computer whenever you need a new download.)

Anyway... junk I would have put into our walls if I had only known:

A tape of Madonna's Ray of Light (because why would I want to listen to it anymore?)
A copy of property taxes of our house during the year 1999
My leg warmers from that horrible time for me in 1984. And 1985. And 1986...
Those VHS copies of every bad aerobics' tapes I've ever owned
Printouts of Bulletin Board System conversations (this is way before Al Gore made his invention of the Internet so public)
Malibu Barbie, nekkid
Notes from high school that never did get burned
A short story started on a napkin while sitting in a King's X

And that's about it. Should be enough to make the future owners think odd things about the former owners.

And if you should catch the program If Walls Could Talk, it can be pretty interesting--for crap in the walls.


"It's like Empire-Strikes-Back Cool" (Marshall; "Alias")

What an ending to Alias! And to think I almost missed it. I watched the May 17th episode and there was a blurb at the end that said not to miss the 2-hour series finale coming Monday.


"This coming Monday" would have been May 22nd, and I was viewing the episode before the finale on May 30th, and Tivo showed no more episodes for me to watch. I searched Tivo again. No. Nope. Nothing. Why hadn't Tivo recorded it??? I've spent the last four-and-a-half seasons being an almost-faithful viewer of the show, and I wouldn't get to see the finale?? I haven't seen half of season five because the writers of Alias departed from the Rambaldi storyline and Michael Vartan was in a contract dispute and they shot him off the show. I thought perhaps it was because Jennifer Garner wanted him shot. As soon as Vartan returned, so did I. But THANK YOU to ABC.com, I didn't have to worry about the series finale. I had resigned myself that Tivo became confused since Alias changed nights, and I'd simply read what happened online in the episode guide. Well, ABC did way better--and "It's like Empire-Strikes-Back cool" according to Marshall. ABC has every episode of Alias' Season 5 in streaming video. If I wanted to watch the non-Michael Vartan episodes, I now can. I watched the series finale in bits and pieces and clapped in serious joy as to what the writers did with Sloane.

He finally got what was due him.

Today's Workout:
Nothing. Slept in.
Felt good.


"I pity the fool!" (Mr. T)

Emily's telling about conversations she's had who knows when. "Cameron argued with me about how she didn't know how to make a paper airplane and I did. I finally got tired of arguing, but she wouldn't stop," said Emily. Since we've been out on summer vacation since last Friday afternoon, I asked her when exactly she had this argument with Cameron. She responded with a tiny shrug of her shoulder as she stuck another bite of peanut butter sandwich in her mouth. As I had a reprive from some chatter (have to remember that peanut butter trick. It works with children as well as it does dogs) I was able to think about the poor fellow she will choose for her mate. They may go happily along for years when she'll suddenly pull out of her memory the tiniest little speck of an argument from long ago.

"Why did you do that," she'll ask.
"Do what, dear?" he'll respond.
"Oh, you know."
He'll look at her as if she really is her mother's daughter and perhaps even go along with the game and say, "Well, yes, that. I'm in trouble again, huh?"
"Uh huh," she will say as she crosses her arms and perhaps won't speak to him for the rest of the day.

Yesterday's workout was a lower body workout that lasted a full hour. This consisted of compound movements and so my heartrate was up pretty much the whole time. I completed 30 minutes of going back and forth from the elliptical trainer to the treadmill.

Today's workout was almost an hour at the park power-walking (with a little jog thrown in there), and this afternoon will be a chest/back weights workout.


Captain Meaniemommacrankypants

I wasn't a meanie momma until about 4:00 this afternoon. Seems that was when all of the activities from the day and the hot sun mixed into a hot ball of lava right behind my eyes. I got cranky. I didn't mean to, but it happened.

One thing I figured out from this morning's workout and this afternoon's workout, is that I bit off more than I could chew. I did the 45-minute powerwalk this morning, and I had intended to do the weights right after that. I didn't, thinking I could just do it during naptime. I should have followed my original plan. Instead, I did the weights during naptime, but was already too tired from the morning to do any decent job. I also only did chest, shoulders and triceps rather than a whole body workout. I will finish the split tomorrow morning before cardio.


Miss Captain Crankybottompants

Oh boy, if today is any indication of the summer to come, then let me find a surrogate mother for The Girl now. I'm SURE that it's just a lack of sleep which is causing the fits of hysterics and the tears of discordia. One would also think that a morning of church would calm her down, but I think it just made things worse. Instead of a prayer of a worshipful "Jesus, Jesus!" I am yelling in my head, "JEsus! JEsus! When you comin' cause this ain't workin' out." :) Really, it hasn't gotten quite that bad, but you get the picture. She's taking a nap right now, and I have a really great box for her to play with when she gets up, so that ought to keep her content for at least ten minutes.

Now. What to do for the other ten weeks of the summer...and is it too late to get a summer job?

Today was the first day of a new eight week workout plan. It was simple this morning: 30 minute power walk on the treadmill and some stretching. I wanted to spend less time on the workout and concentrate more fully on the nutrition, especially Sunday Nutrition. I tend to fail nine times out of ten on Sundays due to the temptations that are in the house, and more specifically, in the pantry. Chee-tos are one downfall, as well as leftover Easter candy. I've already gotten rid of the candy, and I'm hoping that my husband eats the cheesy carb sticks fairly quickly. So far today, it's gone very well. I filled out my nutrition-plan sheet last night and have followed it almost to a tee. Instead of strawberries for a snack, I had an apple. That's about all I've deviated. I'm watching my portions more closely and have assured myself that if I'm hungry still, I either need to drink another glass of water or I can really wait for another two hours before I eat again. Easy. Every summer I expect a loss of 10-12 pounds, and this summer will be no different. The big difference is that this should be my last summer in which I am actively losing the weight, and after, it should be maintenance mode for me.

Tomorrow's workout plan:

a.m. Cardio--45-minute power walking and hill runs
a.m. Weights: Compound movements full-body workout
p.m. 30 min jog/run on treadmill @ 3% incline



Everyone, especially parents, should know this address (as seen on Dr. Phil 5/22/06--thanks Sharon!)



Considering the odds on publishing, anyway . . .

I left my last class last night at the break, which was the middle of class. I felt liberated and almost euphoric that I'd be home before my bedtime. I had this planned out; if I was so enthralled with class that my eyes were continually trying to snap closed, then I'd leave at break. If class were so exciting that I'd be perky and write down every word this instructor said, then I'd hold out to the end. This was supposed to be the Week of Interest for me: Publishing. She lectured about the publishing world for about 15 minutes and then spent 25 minutes on joining--or NOT joining--critique groups. All well and good, I suppose, but give me a break. Obviously, she didn't believe we could be published, either, and spent most of the session on that topic rather than what we really wanted to know. Of course, since I left early, who knows what nuggets of wisdom I could have gathered at my feet.

But I had had enough. I left my evaluation on the table, hoping my partner would turn it in. It doesn't really matter either way. I stated that I would pay more money to WSU if they would get a published author/editor/agent in to do hands-on training. The instructor was very knowledgeable, but I just don't agree with the teaching style in a writing class.

I didn't say goodbye to my tablemate, either, but figured if we ran in the same writing circles, we may meet up again. Her name is Elizabeth, and she has a beautiful two-year-old boy, and I know the critique group I could find her if I wanted to talk. Elizabeth has quite a bit of talent, and I think that she will be published if she keeps writing the way she is.

I think there's hope yet for me--even if it is e-publishing and getting those run-ons figured out--(Calling on Hannaaaaaaah--I'm dying to know what you think!) :)

Nugget of humor I gathered last night:

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me straight a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rarely ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in it’s weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

--Sauce Unknown


Quick Pacing-Copyright T. Catlin 2006

After Set, you have ten, she read before destroying the note.

Jaycee passed the vending machines. Passed the group who she befriended only two weeks ago. They would be dead by five-thirty—five minutes had already passed since she set the plan in motion.

And if she didn’t get out now, she’d be among the body count, if the authorities could find them all.

A thin layer of perspiration broke out on her face and her heart raced. She turned around, running back to her office. The heels of her shoes made mild thud-thud noises on the berber carpeting. Pushing open her door, she stepped inside and rifled through the papers on her desk.

The key, the key? She thought.

A paper sliced through the skin of her index finger. Blood etched graphs and charts she’d never see again. A cup of coffee toppled over onto the floor right in front of her desk. She glared at the clock on her computer desktop.

Three minutes to explosion.

Forget the key. Forget the damn gun.

Her fingers brushed the cool metal of a small key. Her hands shook.

Two minutes; three flights of stairs to go.

She unlocked the drawer, pulled out the gun from a hidden case deep inside. Grabbed a file. Jaycee didn’t close the drawer.

She listened to the clomping of her heels on the way out and tried to match her heart-rate to her quick and sure steps.

One minute to go.

“Diana, we really need to—“

“Not now, Tom, I have to be downtown,” she said, waving the file at Tom. She hid her guilt behind her fake name the CIA gave her. Jaycee ignored his scowl.

It took her thirty seconds to reach the first floor taking the stairs.

Thirty seconds.

The bank was abuzz with raucous activity. From the stairwell to the front seemed a lifetime away, and she sprang into a trot to the golden revolving doors.


She dared not turn around.

“Diana!” the voice called, more insistent. The voice followed her closely.
The giant bank clock ticked seconds.

Ten seconds.

Jaycee’s left heel slipped on the slick floor. She would have been down, but she caught herself. The contents of the file flew around her as she bolted for the door. Jaycee’s hands first reached out and then shoved against the glass of the doors, wedging between, then running to the air and light of dusk.

She heard the rumbling deep below where she had planted the device. Jaycee picked up her pace, driving her feet into the ground, knees high up and lengthening her stride.

Then the whole world shifted.


I don't write no stinkin' run-on sentences.

My instructor for this writer's "workshop" wrote that I had a run-on in the paragraph I turned in to show description. I did not have a run-on in the whole thing--it may be long. It may be awkward, but it is no run-on.

Don stared at his wife when she flowed into the room, and he almost poured the milk on the countertop rather than over his cereal. He fought the urge to physically soak her in to his own skin--from her red-painted toes, up her slim muscular legs to her flat stomach and across her lips that he thought tasted like cherries. He sighed and shook his head, grabbed his spoon and dunked it into his full bowl. A splash of milk landed on the back of his spoon hand. Don turned away, instead, imagining her as she grabbed her keys from the entry table where she left them last night, how she let her long fingers spread wide, letting those wonderful scratching nails barely brush the entryway table. He dragged his fingers through his hair, pausing at the crown of his head as if to hold himself down. The door clicked closed and a hum of the garage door filled their tiny house, then the gentle purr of her Mercedes Cabriolet. Don closed his eyes, bringing his milk-splattered hand to his mouth and drinking it before he jaunted up the stairs for a shower.


Good grief!

For my original New Year's Day Non-Resolution, I said that I was going to not resolve to do something: write in my blog every day. Well, blew that non-resolution! But if I didn't resolve in the first place, am I really blowing anything? I don't think I am, but oh the guilt! Guilt for a non-resolution...how pathetic.

The updated news is that I have accepted a regular education Language Arts position at my school. It took practically an Act of GOD to get out of special education, but it happened. I'm wondering if I made the right decision, but as long as I'm on the good side of the department chair and the principal, and I can hide myself and my students in my own classroom, I can hide from the other English teachers who Know Everything There Is To Know About English--Much More Than The Rest Of Us. I plan on telling them at some point that I taught kids IN special education, and I am not special ed. myself. There seems to be some misconception that I am not as bright as the regular teacher due to that fact.

I need to practice my response to the following: "How are you?"
It is not: "Good, thanks!" (A normal person's response).
It is: "Well; thank you for asking." (The English Teacher's response)


BTW, I'm taking a writing class on Wednesday evenings--something I'm finding difficult since it's lecture. LECTURE, for pete's sake. I do have my assignments that I sometimes complete. I've paid for the course and it's a non-credit course, so what are they going to do to me? Give me a non-F? Anyway, one of the exercises that I decided to complete was to describe a fearful scene. Here it is:

Angela's eyes widened when she turned the corner. Her first instinct was to run, but legs of lead would not let her move, let alone run. Not since this happened five years ago had she felt her heart thrash as it did, as if someone were using it for a punching bag. Angela's eyes darted to the hallway, then to the door just three feet down the hall, hoping to see a light peeking beneath the one-inch space between carpet and wood.

No one will be able to save me this time, she thought.

Angela stepped back, the muscles in her thighs burning from holding tight and to keep herself from toppling over. Beads of perspiration bubbled on her upper lip and she blinked away a strand of hair that had fallen over her right eye.

That's it. The instructor doesn't want a lot to read.


Figured out the Parmesan Cheese Bottle

Ever close the parmesan tube closed only you (okay, me) aren't smart enough to get it closed the fast way, so you (me) end up turning the silly lid all the way around to line up the holes with the non-opening? It's taken me 30+ years to figure out the "shortcut" to this bottle. It just takes a village.

For those of you who are keeping track: I am officially off to the regular education department to teach English and out of special ed on May 26th. It's a little scary after reading the first cheese paragraph that I'm in charge of a room full of kids, isn't it? I need to stop being sped myself and learn to talk real English. <----------that was a joke. It's amazing how this job process just whipped me to pieces. I should have done this last year, but I don't think the opportunity would have presented itself last year. Getting out of special ed. pretty much took an act of God, and God sent word down right before spring break and I signed the paperwork the day we returned from spring break. Apparently English teachers are no longer a dime a dozen but hot commodities--almost as hot as sped teachers are now. The rock from my shoulders has fallen off and it's like I'm 30 pounds lighter.

Made some new goals:
HIIT training three times a week to shred the last of this fat (lose 5 lbs a month for two months).
Split my weights routine to 3 times a week.
Increase bench press to 100 pounds by May 31st.



Dessert Malfunction

Dear Hungry Colleagues;

I signed up to bring a homemade cherry-chocolate cheesecake to share my culinary skills with you. I so rarely bake anymore--much to the chagrin of my husband who misses hot meals.

I shopped right after school, though tired. I bought cream cheese. I bought cherries and all the other delights that meld into a delectable dessert. Emily came home after school and at once noticed Mom was up to something. Without saying a word she scooted a chair to my side, and just as silently, I handed her the spoon with just enough batter to eat. She is the one who doesn't like cream cheese, but it hid, mixed in with a chocolate brownie mix.

The time ran short, and I needed to rush off to a Wednesday night writing class. My husband graciously offered to take the cheesecake out of the oven at the bell of the timer. Ten minutes. That's all it needed to be perfect.

45 minutes later when he had that "Oh Crap" moment, he did take it out of the oven.

It is the first time in eleven years of marriage he has apologized so profusely, and I'm hoping I can milk this for an evening out to dinner.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you and to have a dessert malfunction.


Tracy Catlin

P.S. Please enjoy Wal-Mart's cheesecake instead.


Smack Attack in a Baby Blue Cadillac

Last week, I was bitten, chewed up and spit on by a very powerful virile bug. It laid me out cold on the couch for a day and a half. The two days after that, I trudged through work, ate saltine crackers all day long and then back on the couch for the rest of the evening. Unfortunately, this was also the week of my writing class in which I decided to enroll, and the first night was also my first day back to work. That coupled with I had a very perky tablemate made for a very long day.

Considering that I was very ill--so sick that I had to leave at lunchtime as soon as I knew a substitute was secured--that I thought what I saw in my rear-view mirror while driving was a hallucination and I had better pull over and call a cab. I looked again, this time drinking in the view like watching a soap. We were stopped at Kellogg and Rock Rd., moving forward two inches every ten minutes.

The girl had grabbed the driver's male bald head, pulling him down towards her shoulder and then letting go only to smack him where her hand had been on his head. His long basketball arms waved her away, not so much fighting back as he was trying to ward from another smackdown in the middle of traffic. His car was also inching closer to the back of mine and I prayed for my two inches to come quickly.

She pulled at him again, this time, grabbing his ear. His mouth rounded into a yawping O, and I heard the silent yell from the young man who this time did more than just wave her away, but then put the smacks on her. They were like ducks diving into a pond.

One bent over.
Bobs up
The other bends over.
Bobs up

Wonder what they were so ticked about.

I moved up another two inches and I moved over into a turn lane, hoping that the blue caddy people were continuing straight. I felt more comfortable with them running into a semi than fighting their way into me.

No such luck.

The young man received a small reprieve as he turned around the corner, but that's all she gave him. She reached around his head and grabbed the other ear, pulled him down, then with her other hand, hit him across the head before letting go. Ruthless, cold and fast!

I lost them (or they lost me?) shortly thereafter.


Got Goth, Will Travel

The American Heritage Dictionary: Goth. abbr. Gothic. Of or relating to the Goths or their language. Of or relating to a style of fiction that emphasizes the grotesque, mysterious and desolate. Barbarous; crude. adj.

This is the "Goth" look for me. Swell, isn't it? Although no ACTUAL Goth would even dream of using the word "swell." I had a BLAST dressing "up" and would do it again in a heartbeat. I actually had a happy, joyous day, so I think I need my doctor to write this into my plan of action for a happyjoyous life. :)

Oh. And I doubt if any self-serving or self-deserving (??) Goth would probably use smilies.

Peace out.


Scented Markers Contribute to Huffing?

I recently bought Emily a brand new set of skinny markers. Every color she can imagine is in there and some there she never knew existed before were there waiting for her to create her magnificent stick figures. With hair. And long arms that wouldn't be possible unless you were from the planet Zork.

As part of this spankin' new set of markers came five that were all black with deeper, darker colors on the caps. These were Silly Scented Markers--a bonus. Before I even bought the package I imagined our daughter as one of those creepy people who has been huffing for half her life.

The Wal-Mart lady bid me a good day, and it was--as soon as I took those markers out and threw them away.

Whew. Another future medical and learning emergency diverted.


Story too politically INcorrect?

Copyright 2005, Tracy Catlin


Dana stared up and gradually ate off the tip of her thumbnail. Tilting her head slightly to get another look, she suddenly felt ill.

“What if no one comes?” she said and thought, is this for real?

“Whuzzat?” asked her brother, the guy who owned the sign company.

He stepped down the ladder and one of his workmen with Nifty Neon Signs on the back of his coveralls whisked away the ladder. They were all anxious to be home with their families for Thanksgiving. The workday was ending as the sun disappeared; barely leaving a soft glow against the clouds that banked the horizon.

“What if no one comes, Ham?” Dana asked again.

“What do you mean ‘if no one comes?’ It’s the holidays! People buy all of that retarded stuff. Besides, Aunt Celia just turned the corner in her big ol’ pink monster. She’ll make sure you sell your crap.”

He put an arm around her waist as she hooked hers around his chest. At first she thought he was joking. Indeed, it was the pink Caddy, the one she had won after five years of being her pushy self. Aunt Celia was a close inspirational second to Tammy Faye minus the preaching and she believed in the mighty power of green, not the mighty power of God.

Dana slugged her brother in the chest. “You always knew how to cheer up a girl,” she deadpanned.

Ham pecked her on the cheek and said, “It’ll do fine! You know that I’m bringing the girls over tomorrow for our private shopping experience. What a great opportunity to make our walls cultured and civilized like.”

“But can you take Celia away with you tonight? This is supposed to be my moment.”

The Cadillac lurched forward when Aunt Celia forgot to shift the thing in park before taking her foot off the brake.

“Then make it your moment. Don’t let her railroad you. You should—“

“Know better.”

“Wewwhoo!” Aunt Celia called. “Wewwwhoo! Auntie C’s here! And just in time it looks.” Her thinning hair blew into her face as the chilled November breeze blew her over to her sister’s children. Aunt Celia had colored her hair a bright pink this time.

“Are we ready?” Ham asked.

“Are we ready? Well, I’m so glad you waited for me to help you all out!” said Aunt Celia. “It’s bad manners to begin without everyone present. Now. What do you suppose we should do with that sign up there, Ham? It’s a tad off, isn’t it?”

Dana poked him with an elbow in the ribs.

“Hey,” he whispered, but he smiled at his little sister.

“Okay,” Dana said, “light it up, baby!”

ARTISTIC ANGLES zapped and glowed yellow against an orange and purple horizon.

“We’re in business!” Aunt Celia laughed and clapped her hands together, the tips of her fake red fingernails clacking together.

Dana couldn’t help going into her store at four o’clock in the morning the day after Thanksgiving.

She resisted flipping over the “Closed” sign to the “Decorate Your Life” sign. Her homemade frames decorated the walls with price tags from $4.99 to $299.99. The world’s best known and best loved art would look fabulous in any one of her homemade frames, and the prospect that no one had popped in as soon as she turned over the sign pinged a little twinge of disappointment in her stomach.

“Come on now,” she said aloud. “Only hopeless insomniacs and people who watch X-File reruns are up at this time—fa la la la la la la la la,” she sang.

Five a.m. came and no one lined up at her door. She’d only been ready for five years for this. When she set her elbows on the counter and rested her chin in the palm of her hand, the breath that came out of her raised her bangs into the cinnamon-fresh air.

Eight a.m. Dana felt silly for thinking that her business would just shoot off the ground as soon as she turned over her sign in the window.

At two in the afternoon, she had two old women with white puffy hair flitter in. They chittered away without a glance toward Dana.

“Can you imagine buying such a gaudy thing for a widower?”

“I’d say somebody wants a little bit more than friendship,” said the other.

“He’s much smarter than that, I think to—“

“May I help you?” Dana interrupted.

Both women scolded her with upraised eyebrows and dismissed her immediately by continuing their gossip.

"Just looking,” they said and both walked out after a five-minute browse.

“Thanks for stopping in,” said Dana as the chimes above the door tinkled.

She twirled a brown hair tress. She recounted the money drawer and re-arranged the Christmas ornaments that were for sale at her front counter. She roamed the room and re-angled the angles, and she dusted each work of art carefully. She vacuumed for the fifth time. Then she recounted the money, read the newspaper, checked the want ads and called home to her husband, Paul, and their children, David and Mandy. But no one was home as she knew. They were all at Paul’s mother’s house a couple hundred miles away.

Dana listened to the answering machine and Paul’s voice: “We’re not home right now, but please have a Merry Christmas anyway.”

What if I have to go back to being a secretary, taking orders, running errands for other people? Even Aunt Celia would be a blessing right now.

She played a new CD, read a few Christmas cards, straightened everything again, straightened her blouse, grabbed her purse, locked up the shop and left an hour early.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” said the old man waiting at the door. He wore an old overcoat and looked like he hadn’t slept for days. A woman peeked from behind his shoulder.

Dana’s heart fluttered madly as she struggled to get the door open. The tinkle of the bells seemed more like clanging, especially as her key stuck. “Why won’t this open?” she said under her breath.

“We thought you’d be open early since it’s the Lord’s season,” a woman said. She stood behind the man. And as seriously as they were alive and standing before her, the woman said in a harsh whisper, “We’ve come to see the autistic angels.”

Dana’s hand, the one that had been shaking as she tried to unlock the door, stopped. “What?”

“The autistic angels. We drove by yesterday afternoon; five-ish, and saw your sign for autistic angels,” said the old man.

The door lock clicked and Dana held the door open for the couple to step through. A blast of blessed heat enveloped them, and Dana was grateful that the heat and its timing system worked.

“We’ve been waiting for over three hours,” said the woman.

“Three hours? Here?” replied Dana. Desperately, she tried to think of a way to get rid of the couple, and a twinge of shame made her cheeks redden. She said, “I’m sorry, but I believe you must have misread my sign. We are ARTISTIC ANGLES; I sell angles--frames, and works of art. Plus whatever other knickknack I can find that will help decorate—“

But they looked at her as blankly as she looked at her teenaged daughter at times, and her words died as soon as they hit her lips. If only the couple had had a pitchfork in one of their hands, they’d be the farmer couple in American Gothic.

The man took a step towards her and she automatically took a step backwards. “Ma’am. Your sign says what it says, and we mean to see some angels. My wife, here, it’s been a dream of hers to see a real angel without having to travel overseas. They seem to be a-plenty over in them Espanol parts of the world.”

Dana stared back at them if only to just stall so that she could think. How could they think that she would advertise angels, for Pete’s sake!

“It’s more than just a dream, Miss,” the woman said. Her fingers gently brushed Dana’s sweaty right hand, the one with her keys about to slip out, and the woman’s skin was cold, paper-thin that sent a chill up Dana’s arm.
“It’s my son’s birthday.”

The husband nodded.

“Eleven,” she said, and then louder: “He would have been eleven if I had only been watching him,” she said, voice dissolving in streaks of pained whispers.

“The boy was retarded, Miss,” said the man. “And the doctors did their best to explain this to us. It didn’t change nothing to us. He was our boy. He could milk a cow once we showed him, and the sheep tended to like him best, but he did have a hard time following what his mama wanted him to do. She stayed home with him—taught him the best she could. But once something caught his ‘tention, you couldn’t stop him and that’s the only thing he will pay mind to. Unfortunately, he’s a better runner than his mama.”

“What did he see?”

“My boy saw a silver gum wrapper at the side of the road,” said the woman.

“Unfortunately, that wrapper was on the wrong side of the highway. The sun was just right in the sky.” The man looked down and then away, as if he could see the words tumble around the room.

“And then we saw your sign and surely it is a miracle. We always come up to town during this time, and so we thought . . . seeing your sign so close to Tommy’s birthday was surely from God.”

Dana stood as still as she could, mesmerized. Before she grabbed her throat, she absently wiped a tear that was threatening to fall. “Why don’t you look around for awhile, and I’ll see if I can sum up the angels for you.”

The woman reached out and grabbed her wrist and mouthed dramatically, “Thank you.”

While the strange couple browsed, Dana called home.

Aunt Celia answered the phone on the second ring as if she knew someone would call at this early hour.
“Hi-dee-hi and Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah—“

“Aunt Celia! It’s me; please stop,” said Dana, a sudden flush of anger stuck.

“And God bless us everyone,” Aunt Celia finished. “Why honey, it’s so good to hear from you. I thought everyone had left me. And then hearing your poor pitiful message to Paul and the kids,” she finished her statement by tsk-tsking. “It’s good that they all came home before you had a sweet panic attack.”

Dana sighed, letting loose of the anger before whispering. “Could you get the kids dressed and bring them to the shop?”

“Speaking of the shop, darling, I was meaning to talk to you about your hours. I just can’t make it during the times that you’re open. I do have to work too, you know.”

Dana counted backwards in her head, starting at one hundred.


“I’m sorry, Aunt Celia, I just had a customer walk in and put you on hold.” Stop clenching your teeth! she told herself. “Aunt Celia, could you get the kids ready and bring them to the shop?”

“How wonderful! Is the shop that busy? You poor dear—I’ll bring your free labor down in a jif, and you can put all three of us to work.”

“Could you also dress them in their Christmas pageant clothes?” asked Dana.

Aunt Celia’s voice became conspiratorial. “My, what a grand idea! We’ll be rich in no time!”

“No, Auntie C—" but she found she was explaining to a dial tone.

Aunt Celia swept into the shop; David looked as if he had just woken up and Mandy wore her pajama bottoms. She grabbed their wrists and almost dragged them to the storage room while the American Gothic couple hid behind a display of Christmas CD’s.

Aunt Celia followed behind, and as soon as she learned the story, Dana saw her hazel eyes mist and light up behind her faux jewel-rimmed glasses.

“It’s just for this one time for that poor couple over there,” said Dana. “They can’t read, and I guess they’re expecting something. Maybe it will make their Christmas a little brighter this year.”

Celia’s wispy hair suddenly flew into her cheeks as the heat kicked on and blew from the vent above her. Celia didn’t speak for several minutes as she watched Dana fluff up the kids and their costumes. This would be their first production; stars in their own show. And Aunt Celia smiled from the tips of her toes.

“Honey,” she said, “I’m going to make you rich.”

“Excuse me, Mr. and Mrs.—“

“Dooley,” the couple said in unison.

“Mr. and Mrs. Dooley. The angels are ready,” Dana said. As soon as she said it, she regretted it. But instead of explaining yet again what she sold, she pointed towards the back room. They followed her.

Aunt Celia cut through the couple to get to the door first, and helped hold it open, her fingers sprawled like a spider.

“Oh my good Lord!” shouted the woman, who dropped hard onto her knees.

The look on David’s face was one of abject terror. Mrs. Dooley came closer and closer to his face and his eyes widened. Mr. Dooley’s back cracked as he peered in at David. David must have remembered something that Aunt Celia told him in the car about autism, because he suddenly jerked his hand up to his face and began waving his fingers in front of his eyes, focusing on something beyond the people staring at him. He even swayed back and forth from one foot to the other and began to hum.

“This one certainly is autistic, the poor thing,” said Mrs. Dooley. Rising from off the floor, she moved on to Mandy, who was poked and pinched, and even though she was older, she had the same look of terror on her face. “And those wings, those magnificent wings! They just fill the room!”

“Well, Jacob, it certainly is a Christmas miracle,” and Mrs. Dooley pinched David’s blushed cheek. “He’s not Tommy, though, but I am glad for this, all the same.”

The Christmas Miracle Couple left beaming and had told another couple and that couple told their family members. E-mail spread to those who could send it to their ten closest friends or suffer serious bad luck. And after three weeks, the angel costumes had been torn twice, David and Mandy were suffering in school and dreading Winter Break for fear that their Aunt Celia would not let them have a day off to gawk in front of the television or play with their new toys.

Aunt Celia was relentless, and with Christmas quickly approaching, Dana’s guilt grew. She cried every morning before flipping her open sign, and wished that she had never called Aunt Celia to bring the kids over that day. The people kept coming and Celia kept raking in the money. None of Dana’s frames sold.

“I’m making us rich, m’dear!” exclaimed Aunt Celia, holding a wad of bills in her white-clenched fist. Dana held her tongue.

Christmas Eve morning, the tinkle of the bell rang early over the shop door and Aunt Celia blew in like a tornado with Mandy and David skulking behind her. The phone rang and three customers walked in right behind them. Dana answered the phone and as soon as the receiver was to her ear, the whole lot of them began speaking at once.

“No, there are no autistic angels here. I sell angles—frames. Quite lovely, homemade, some oak, some—“

“What do you mean there are no autistic angels here? George, we’ve come so far!”

“Oh yes we do have them!” said Aunt Celia. “They just haven’t—“

Gotten into their fraudulent I-hope-to-never-see-again costumes, thought Dana. The woman on the phone yammered away about why Dana didn’t have the autistic angels in her shop, especially if she advertised them on that big yellow sign. The people in the shop glaring her down were repeating everything she said on the phone, and Celia denied everything that Dana was saying.

The death glare Dana sent to the back of Celia’s head did no good. Celia’s hair waved all around her face, her hands crackled with each clack of her cubic zirconia rings, and her jewelry tinkled as she swung from customer to customer.

“She’s hallucinating,” said Celia, or, “It’s been a bad year for her.” “She hasn’t slept in days,” or the kicker, “The Lord won’t let her see His angels.” This she said with a cluck clucking of the tongue, closed her eyes and bowed her head as if to pray. What she was really thinking was how many more dollars she could make.

Dana chuckled to herself. “Oh, yes ma’am, I’m still here, and listening. No ma’am, but if you’d like a Monet reprint, I’d be happy—“

Celia leaned over the counter, and snatched the phone out of Dana’s hand. “Oh please DO come down to our humble shop, ma’am. Yes. Yes, they’re here. You better put a rush on it; our precious angels have such Godly work to perform.”

Dana stormed into the workroom to cool off rather than tell her aunt where to go and how to get there, and to give her children a pep talk. Before she threw open the door, she heard groans ending when Aunt Celia reminded the children of their cut of the profit, for it was very, very significant, especially to a boy who had a sweet tooth. They pulled on their costumes, wary of their mother and great aunt, who smiled at them and waved her own fingers in front of her face. Aunt Celia’s shoes click-clacked on the way out of the room.

She snatched up the receiver to the ringing telephone. “Halloo! Why yes, we have exactly what you’re looking for. Ten dollars a peek; a nice price compared to those Guatemalan monks. Oh, her.” Pause. “Yes, I did hear her say that there were no angels.” Pause. “She’s new.”

Dana tried not to listen to the commotion outside, but the walls were thin, and her nerves were thinner, especially after she heard the words that came flying out of her aunt’s ruby red off-color lips and into the phone. Her heart felt like it was set on fire. She flew from the back room, her arm raised, her finger pointing and horrible, nasty names on the tip of her lips. Dana grabbed the receiver and hung up the phone. It jumped from the cradle and the whole front row of patrons could hear a muffled, “Hello? Hello?!” before she hung it up again.

The store was packed with people waving ten-dollar bills. They swayed from side to side and morphed into one giant ruckus of a demanding, hungry monster. Women screamed for a peak at the angels, that it was her first amendment right to see. Ten dollar bills were drifting through the store. The monster shrieked.

Dana held her arms open, fingers pointing to the east and west walls. She looked as if she were Moses ready to part the waters of the Red Sea, only this time, she was trying to prevent her aunt from parting the fools with their money. The burning in her chest intensified as she yelled so loud that Mr. Reed from two doors down called the police. She climbed on top of her counter.

“The LORD . . . has called His angels home! Unless you’re here to buy . . . angles . . . people, they are ANGLES, A-N-G-L-E-S, then I suggest you . . . blindly go . . . not read . . . someone else’s . . . sign. And YOU,” she pointed at Celia with the jabbing west-pointing finger, “follow me.” Dana swept her head around, meeting anyone’s eyes who dared to speak to her, then climbed down, disappearing back from where she came.

All was quiet; no one dared to move.

Aunt Celia dutifully followed, but only after raking her eyes over all of the bills that jabbed the air. One lone voice in the crowd said, “Didn’t she say that like a true prophet?”

The door slammed behind them in the workroom. Celia whined; both her fists balled on each hipbone. “Do you know how much money I’ve made you?”

Dana ignored her aunt. Aunt Celia said something else about money and paying the bills, and the frames not going very fast, but Dana’s head hurt too much to let in any more chaos. She thought about Prozac and needing Paul.

“ . . . One thousand dollars in two hours . . . " said Aunt Celia. Only the words just didn’t flow right; they were slow, like someone had pushed that button on the VCR that showed only one frame at a time.

The pounding intensified and redness flooded her eyesight.

“Mama?” said Mandy’s voice so far away.

“Mama!” David’s voice now, insistent, and their mama opened her eyes. She swayed back and forth, sight fuzzy like all of those romantic black and white movies. The wings were so large that they filled the room, and she didn’t understand how there could be wings in this room. She had just cleaned it this week and she distinctly remembered there were no wings.

But they were there nonetheless. And they grew and grew, and finally, Dana could make out a face that rose and kept rising until all she could see was an outline of the most beautiful chin, mouth, nose. Its eyes looked down upon her, so liquid. The eyelashes closed, and a rush of cool air whisped Dana’s hair from her eyes. The room widened and stretched as the angel before her stretched its wings.

“You’re so . . .” Dana whispered. She clasped her hands together and had to avert her eyes, though she worked to look again. The angel was silent as layer of wing billowed out. Dana felt one small feather brush her cheek and it was as if she had been kissed for the first time.

Dana didn’t have to say anything else or even think of anything else because there were no words she could think of. She looked at the face of the angel, who smiled down as if Dana were a small child. Dana couldn’t stand to look at such beauty, and when she forced herself to take one more glance, she saw the bumpy texture of ceiling while three very pale faces looked down at her, one with too much ghostly foundation.


“Did you see it?” she whispered, her head filled with honey.

“See what, baby?” replied Celia.

“It was so beautiful! How long was Tommy here?”

“You’ve been out for about ten minutes, sweetheart. You were about to scream something at me. Then you just floated out of your mind and onto the floor.”

Dana felt as if her chest would explode when she tried to stand. “Did you see it?” she almost cried. “Oh, I’m so dizzy!”

“That’s because you hit your head when you fainted. And your cheek is bleeding, Sweetheart. We have to get something on that.” Aunt Celia, Mandy and David helped Dana from off of the floor. David found a blanket and carefully wrapped it around his mother’s shoulders as Mandy got a chair from where her mom did the books.
Dana touched the burning spot on her cheek and swiped the blood. It stung, but it was the most glorious sting in the world. Tears came, then spilled onto her cheeks, making the cut burn even more.

“Aunt Celia,” she said.

“Wait a minute, Sweetie. Let me see that cheek. Why, it’s an angel.”

“No, no, I saw an angel,” Dana said.

“As God as my witness, it’s a bleeding one, too!”

Dana held her hand to her cheek, closed her eyes, a tear rolling across her fingertips.

“Oh, honey! I’m going to make you rich!”

Apologies to my brother Tommy. I really thought that name was cool and used it. --T.