July282013

The things that distracted me today. A List. By the Author of a Dissertation in Progress, Title Forthcoming.

  1. Dog tries to sit on my laptop. Repeat at regular intervals.
  2. Have idea to dress the children up as Gru’s Minions for Halloween (I bet they have great DIY ideas for that on Pinterest!)
  3. Begin making list of distractions. Force self back to work and set tomato timers for reinforcement.
  4. Try to make dog get into a position where I will not have to type with T-rex arms (because dog leans his whole fat body on my right arm)
  5. Coffee wears off – as indicated by staring at screen trying to formulate a thought for so long that it goes dark.
  6. Neck is filled with stabbing needles. Time for daily injection of Advil.
  7. Contemplate absurdity of how many things Charlotte Smith published in spite of mothering 12 children, having a total douchebag for a husband, ending up impoverished, losing a child, decades of litigation, and the very fact of being a woman in the 18th century.
  8. Contemplate hiring children OUT as minions. This is a brilliant plan as it will a) bring in extra cash and b) give me some extra work time. (Plan nixed when I remember that they barely do anything we tell them to do.)
  9. Wonder how many obscure BtVS quotes I could get into my dissertation. Guess I’ll have to watch Buffy to find out. Ah, the difficulties of academic life.
  10. Pea-sized bladder of dog. OK, not really. My pea-sized bladder.
  11. Significant other turns on the TV. I look for things to throw at him. Thank the gods for noise-cancelling headphones and www.simplynoise.com He will live to see another day.
  12. Important life decision: I definitely want to be in Dumbledore’s Army. Also, MS Word knows how to spell Dumbledore. “You may not like him; but you can’t deny Dumbledore’s got style.” 
  13. I need a Chillow.
  14. Wonder if there is a dissertation equivalent of “tennis elbow” – “dissertation elbow.” I have it.
  15. Mistype ‘young female’ as ‘femal’ leads me to think of ‘feral,’ which makes me picture what a pack of young, feral females would look like. Then I remember Mean Girls. Distraction averted.
  16. Giggle at dog running at barking in his sleep.
  17. Wondering how much wine is left and if I put a bottle in the fridge. Utterly burned out by blurring lines of multiple editions of 18th century texts. 
July142013
July32013
gallimaufryan:

josephdreamboatlevitt:

Haha what! My life, it is complete. I am an image quote on tumbls. 

And deservedly so because you’re so fuckin’ gay, which is to say, I like you and your words and their mix of sex, zombies, wit, warm fuzzies, cold not-fuzzies(? - you know, the delightfully sad and/or creepy stuff), queer positivity, and also cats.

gallimaufryan:

josephdreamboatlevitt:

Haha what! My life, it is complete. I am an image quote on tumbls. 

And deservedly so because you’re so fuckin’ gay, which is to say, I like you and your words and their mix of sex, zombies, wit, warm fuzzies, cold not-fuzzies(? - you know, the delightfully sad and/or creepy stuff), queer positivity, and also cats.

(Source: m-ilochan)

July22013

Tuesday: Superman on Ritalin?

"What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended? What if a child aspired to something greater?" ~ Man of Steel

My son and I started out our day today reminding one another about the day before. I reminded him about 19 times about our new Inside the House Rules for Our Bodies, while he reminded me that I said we would go to Target to use his birthday gift cards “first thing in the morning.” 

Inside the House Rules for Our Bodies for Especially Bouncy Boys:

WE ARE TO PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO THE … 

  1. FLOORS — by not jumping or stomping
  2. WALLS — by not slamming ourselves or our toys into them
  3. FURNITURE — by not climbing or jumping (or doing gymnastics) on it

My son looks up and asks, “What about the ceiling?”

Images of cars, planes, and soccer balls dance in my head. “OK, add the ceiling to the list. Floors, walls, furniture, and ceiling. Control your body with ALL OF THOSE THINGS. Got it?”

"Yes, ma’am," he says with a military voice, followed by a salute. "Now can we go to Target?"

Oy. 

******

During first grade, the school finally came out with the whole ADHD thing, dancing a jig around the laws of what they could and couldn’t say. But the message is clear — your kid has it and we can’t do our jobs until you give him the meds. Not that they aren’t doing a genuinely great job. But our school systems are set up to provide the widest range of test-based education to the most children, rather than to help individual children learn how to learn. This system fails many. It stifles creativity and initiative, and it discourages independent thinking. Kids spend most of the day indoors and immobile—disconnected from nature and most of their senses. The curriculum does very little to engage tactile and other sensory learning techniques because reading is (understandably) emphasized,yet these other competences are not tied into literacy. 

Most importantly, this system labels kids who cannot work within the system as abnormal, rather than considering the unnatural construct it represents. And they (along with the medical establishment) pressure parents to medicate children to fit their construct. I refuse to medicate him. I know I’m making things more difficult in many ways, but the risks are real and I cannot in good conscience do it.

So my son has been “diagnosed” and labelled by this system. I don’t know how other parents take this experience, but for me, it makes me angry — because I don’t want what he might be trampled by this bureaucratic need for boxes.

****

After an endless trip to Target, which involved a lot of math and complicated decisions about action figures and Legos, we went to see Man of Steel. I have plenty to say about this film, but for now, all I will say is that I always love movies that show superheroes with their Moms. 

Today, watching my son as he watched the action I wondered if Superman would have been considered ADHD. The scenes from his childhood show a strong, athletic boy who is hypersensitive to sounds and images and therefore unable to concentrate in class. He certainly didn’t fit into any of the physical “norms” that the other children did.

What’s normal? Since when do we label disease and disability according to what a child can do in school? I learned this year that ADHD falls into the “other” category because it doesn’t actually have anything to do with a child’s ability to hear or see or physically move around. The child has the capability to learn at the same speed and cognition as others. The only identifiable variable seems to be inattention and physical movement. But they also know that these kids do well in other situations. Could it be that if the school was different the kids would do better? 

I just want my child to be a man of integrity, one who cares about others and who finds fulfillment in life by discovering his gifts and using them. 

Did I mention that his middle name is Clark? He’s totally going to save the world one day. He can already melt an iceberg with his smile. 

 

"You’re not just anyone. One day, you’re going to have to make a choice. You’ll have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be. Whoever that man is, good character or bad, he’s going to change the world."

July12013

Monday: Capturing the Image and the Imagination

I began today with warm fuzzies. A tap-tapping on my shoulder and “Hi Mommy!” … only to open my eyes and see two big brown eyes and a dimpled smile about 6 inches from my face. My 7 year old still snuggles with me, and still lets me attack-kiss those edible cheeks so I get to indulge in both. He plays hide-and-seek with our very cute midget-lab while I get my breakfast and start in on my first cup of coffee. Le adorable. *sigh*

Inevitably, however, boy and dog rev themselves up and romp around until the floor shakes. Our lives may be in danger if the downstairs neighbors are Voo-Doo practitioners. Between the elephant children and the mini-horse dog, they must curse our children’s children. 

When I tell the boy about our art class, he tells me that it sounds boring and whines about going. I tell him that it’s already paid for and he will be happy about it whether he likes it or not. 

The warm fuzzies are dead before I make it to a second cup of coffee.

When we get there and he gets his smock on, he overhears someone saying that we are painting [GASP!] SHARKS! He decides this might not be such a bad idea. Then the teacher begins class and he interrupts immediately to tell everyone that he just caught a shark yesterday. Suddenly, he is the coolest kid in class —an instant celebrity. Even the teacher is impressed. He refers to him as Shark Hunter for the rest of the hour.

By the time he gets the second blob of paint onto the canvass he looks at me and says, “You were right, Mommy, this is totally fun.”

To which I respond, “Aren’t I always?” 

"Yes," he says, "I wish I could be right sometimes." 

HA!

I shall make a Renaissance man of him yet. 

image

June282013

(Little) Renaissance Man

Next week my little man and I will spend our annual vacation week together. This happens when I inevitably realize that regardless of how much I need to finish my dissertation, I should take advantage of our coinciding summer breaks and spend some real time with him. Before he was born I had lofty ideas about being a stay-at-home Mom because I think that is an awesome thing to do. My kid is seriously the funniest, coolest kid you could meet. (Yes, we all say that.) I would love to stay home with him and teach him about life and nurture him and do crayon etchings of leaves and take photographs of the sky and … you know. Stuff. I’m sure there are books full of things to do with kids when you have them all the time. Anyhow, when I gave birth to my 11 pound tornado of hilarity, I found out that no matter how great an IDEA this was, I was not equipped to carry it out. 

As an educator, this distressed me. Hell, I worked my way through part of undergrad working with elementary school kids. How could I handle 30 at once but not one? But it didn’t distress me enough to keep tormenting myself or my fabulous child. I did not feel fulfilled, I felt cranky and ill-tempered. I had no patience. 

Que Sera, Ser-whatever. I’m over it. That was over 6 years ago. I’m working on a PhD now and am thrilled to be doing it. We all have our gifts and being a stay-at-home Mom isn’t one of mine. Being an English teacher and writer? That I can do. Parenting a child while I am fulfilled at work? That I can do. We enjoy our time together. Turns out he is remarkably independent and likes to do his own thing most of the time anyway. Man, I love this kid. 

So I embrace the brevity of my week in the summer, fill it with fun things, and understand what my limits are. We have a blast and drive each other crazy and laugh and do it again. 

My theme this year will be Making a 7 Year Old Renaissance Man!

I want him to be well rounded. Also, I’m a geek and I wanted a theme and it helped me come up with ideas. So here’s my list. The week will tell the tale. (The week doesn’t start until Monday. As you see, I’m a planner.)

  1. Painting and Art — already booked a class for Monday, and we can visit our local museum, which has a great kids area
  2. Theatre — already found a children’s theatre show for Tuesday
  3. Literature and Poetry — we will be taking a library trip because I will go broke if I set foot in a bookstore. We are also going to visit a local comic book store to let him pick out his own *real* comic book to encourage reading. 
  4. Swordfighting — I am still stumped on this one. We might have to rent a video and use our Jedi swords at home, but that’s kinda lame.
  5. Alternately, in my research, a Renaissance man is by definition a good “sportsman,” which could be any sport. What other sports did they have in the Renaissance? Jousting? (Under no circumstances will I put myself in a position to be run-through with a long stick. Er, or my kid. No long stick for him, either.) He’s an excellent soccer player and rocks out the boogie board. Does this count?
  6. Singing (Still stumped on this one as the child just can’t sing. He thinks he can. But no. Many bystanders concur.)
  7. Dancing (Ummm. Ditto with the singing, but I am of the philosophy that one can be a bit more expressive with dancing. Especially at 7. I need to check out one of those freebie classes.)
  8. Science — He’s actually covering this one next week at a really cool marine biology camp
  9. Philosophy — How does one teach/explore philosophy with a 7 year old? We’re going to see Man of Steel, just because I told him I’d take him. Perhaps we can discuss good and evil and the choices Superman makes in the film. Yes. I’m totally counting that. 
  10. Mathematics. We’re going to use his gift cards from his birthday. He can add up the prices and only buy things if he can make the math work out. (Evil Mommy!)
  11. Engineering — That one’s easy. He’s a Lego Master and has at least one project he hasn’t started. Guess who just became Assistance Engineer?

I’m sure I’m missing something, but that’s plenty for one week! Obviously we won’t get to all of it, but I have lots of ideas. 

And we’re off!!

May302013
May142013

The View from Here: Dementia in Decline

Your conversation is a mish-mash of words and people who aren’t there and bursts of thought about things without context. As a bystander, I wish I knew what was going on inside your head. I think.

What it’s like—

I’m outside a house with hundreds of rooms, shutters mostly drawn, curtains half-pulled, lights on in some rooms, off in others, only a dim candle burning in a few. And there you go wandering from room to room, spending only a few minutes in each, touching a picture, or a figure — speaking to a ghost, or an old friend sitting on a high-backed chair with its back turned to me. Your face lights up, you laugh. But then the children in the next room (I can’t see them either) make you angry and you shoo them out the back door, yelling after them for making messes and missing dinner and forgetting shoes.

Now and then you see me. Sometimes you know I am me, and your face melts into sunshine as you say my name and ask after my boy. “How is the little guy?” He earns an even bigger smile, which is fine with me. He makes me feel that way too. The stars wrapped up all together in a Christmas bow couldn’t make my eyes sparkle as brightly as my little boy’s being does.

Sometimes when you see me, I’m my aunt. Other times you ask me my name, and then tell me you have a granddaughter with the same name, and isn’t it a small world? Then it’s back to your many rooms, where invisible cats and rabbits roam. Where the dead and the living congregate to discuss the news of the day, arguing and chattering about the same things we all do.

“Who has the keys?”

“Will you ever be ready to leave?”

“Are you packed yet? And do I need a jacket where we’re going?”

“What do we do now?”

May52013

A consummation devoutly to be wished

"To be or not to be?" Not a question of whether to die but how to live. Not so much the death but the contemplation of the many consummations to be had. For to be — the verb — is all of life. The ‘to be,’ the ‘I am’ - fill in the myriad things one does and is. The doing, that is life. I am - engaged, enraptured, aroused, terrified … alive. The consummation one wishes is not death. Death is a cold, hollow thing. A steel wall against which every living thought smashes and turns to dust.

Rather, it is in the contemplation of death — that final empty void — that our senses thrill to life.

May12013

thumbcramps:

hi guys! this is a comic i made for a final in my comics in literature class. we had to do a research paper on a topic we’d discussed in class and then accompany it with a comic with a relevant subject. my paper was about hyper-sexualization of women in comic books, but i decided to broaden it out here as well as personalize it and make myself the subject and discuss something i’ve been subjected to in the convention circuit and on the internet as well as thousands of other women, as well as give a cue to thought about how the comic book industry as well as the video game industry and even just media in general (all of which are male dominated) push such ridiculous pressures onto girls and women.

also, it feels kind of silly to have to add this since i hope it’s obvious, but i am very aware that there are men that don’t subscribe to this attitude, and am incredibly grateful that these issues are brought to light to people other than the ones that are subjected to it. 

anyway haha i have literally been staring at this for 9 hours i don’t even know which direction is up anymore. thanks for reading!!!

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