I LIKE INSTANT NOODLES

Do you?

Dave and I are adding a new and online lit mag. to Devil’s Party Press to increase the amount of exposure we can give to writers over 40.

Check out the link, and see if IN is right for you!

On an unrelated note… I did eat instant noodles on Monday, for breakfast, and they were… amazing. Of course.

THIS IS A BOOK I PUBLISHED

It isn’t often I get to publish women. They don’t submit nearly as often as the men. What does that mean? Does it mean they are not writing as often as the men or does it mean they are not submitting as often as the men? I don’t know, but they are certainly as good as the men, and sometimes their fellow women relate to them more, and such is the case with this beautiful book. Check it out.

SPECIAL POWERS

This is the front of my slightly grimy shirt.

I am having trouble finding peace this week. Are you?

This shirt is possibly trying to tell me something. It is a secret message, disguised as wash and wear. This shirt is trying to tell me that peace is the thing with stars, and flowers, and rolling waves of something… good vibes? And, in words, that peace is the thing with power.

I think that peace, like anger and grief, is a very tough sword to wield. I cannot hold onto it for long just now, not because it’s hot, but because it’s cool, too cool. Not cold either, but just, dare I cliche it? Chill. And, sometimes, it goes into hiding, and only the worthy can find it.

I am not a “pray the stress away” person, nor am I good at forgiving people I feel are trying to erase others. I like the saying that equality for all doesn’t mean less equality for you, it’s not pie. I am badly paraphrasing that, and I don’t know who wrote it, but it bears repeating. I would like to think that people are basically good at heart like Anne Frank said in her diary, but Anne never got to complete her diary because some people erased her, slowly and cruelly. If you’re against immigrants, if you’re against gay and lesbian people, trans people, people who are not cis-gendered, if you’re against people who have no religion or a different one from you, if you’re against science and vaccines, if you’re against democracy and the peaceful transition of power, if you’re against sometimes your candidate wins, and sometime he loses and you play fair and accept it, if you’re against facts, if you’re against people of color, or “just black people,” well, man, I cannot tolerate you, and you actively fomenting, even just being around, gives me no peace. I cannot wield the sword of my own peace against the onslaught of you.

And maybe peace is so heady, stalwart, and chill all at the same time because we’re not supposed to be at peace when the world is full of rot. Maybe we’re supposed to be itchy and twitchy and uncomfortable and raging inside and crying inside and out and not getting any damn sleep so that, even if we are not the one in the crosshairs, we cannot ignore injustice.

I believe the world will be changed, ultimately, not by the ones who get hot and violent, but by those who are able, over and over again, to wield the chill of peace. But I think peace may only reveal itself to the worthy, and I ain’t there yet. Are you?

2021 IS HERE. NOW WHAT?

That’s me, up there, @ 5am. I am just out of bed and modeling two new gifts from my oldest and dearest. She brought me a beautiful rebozo from her trip to Mexico, in my favorite color, green, and the wonderful RBG collar “I dissent” earrings. First thing in the morning, no make-up (though teeth are brushed) I look okay for an old gal. One thing about an old pal, she gets you.

So who the fuck uses the word gal?

It turns out M-W says that gal is, essentially, a reflection of dialect. People dropped the R and extended the I until it became gal.

However, gal ain’t such a bad word. I like it when you think of it as being an old gal. And I like it as a unit to measure acceleration in relation to gravity. Like this gal is taking off from gravity-central, Earth. No longer Earth-bound.

And we come to the end of a very Earth-bound year, 2020.

I did not love 2020.

And I did, too.

It’s been very very sad, stressful, frustrating. Like, what do I do without my big brother on this Earth? Thought I like to think of him playing pinochle with the old folks in heaven and being overfed by my Grandmom, it’s not something I really believe or believe in. He’s just gone. His sweet face, his funny laugh, his great jokes, his little groove he did when he was playing his guitar, his big eyes behind his glasses. I think of him constantly. I know the way people feel who have lost loved ones this year, their people, who died on ventilators, alone, and they weren’t able to say goodbye. Covid didn’t get Bill, but he went out the same way as the ones it did, and possibly because he was trying to avoid going to the hospital and getting exposed. But that’s no matter, no matter, however the one you love left, there is still the hole.

And hey, 2021, what do I do if I’m not endlessly fretting about the guy running the country who some of us elected in 2016? True, he ain’t quite gone yet, but I’ve lifted beyond fear that he will never leave. He is going to go, and January 20th is coming at us, and no amount of proud assholes can stop it. I do worry that a lot of people will be needlessly hurt by the giant limp dick in the White House constantly calling the racists to him, but I can’t stop that, and I hope the good-guys stay home and safe, rather than try to take them on. I am relieved to know, straight out, which of my neighbors are racists and haters, so I may avoid them, and they are easy to spot, those whose signs still stand in their yards, because the winners all took their signs down. In any case, what do I do if I’m not fretting a megalomaniac’s existence?

I think the answer is to grow… me.

I have loved 2020.

I have loved it.

I am so sorry to all those I love who have hated it and cannot wait for it to be over and itch and prickle and are so uncomfortable and get this over with!

I don’t want the virus to be in our lives, I don’t.

And I don’t want to go back to my pre-virus-shutdown life.

I am home. I am happily introverting. I do not have to spend hours commuting. My husband and child are with me. We are all getting along and “getting” each other better than we ever have. We miss friends, but we are so in-tune. We are really enriching each other’s lives. We are enjoying each other’s company. We are not tied to our devices, though we do love a good game of Among Us and I do like to read WaPo on my phone. We learn together, we exercise together, we cook together. We split up and do our own things, writing, reading, art. We make art together. We grow together. And I don’t, yet, have enough time. I have more time than I have ever had to myself and for myself, and I don’t yet have enough time. And I know that by next fall I will probably have to be back on the road and in the classroom and it makes me so sad, for me, not for my students who will certainly prefer that, but for me. I will so much miss this life. I will miss running in the mornings and then walking the dog, before anyone is awake in the house, and even the development in which I live. I will miss quiet coffee-time with my beloved WaPo to read, and no hurry to be anywhere. And I love getting dressed, and I have not stopped that. Every day, except Sundays, I shower and dress as if I am leaving the house, everything but the shoes.

There was a funny article in WaPo in September, “Some people are getting hotter during the pandemic. How dare they.” And I found it inspiring, and I had begun running the month before, so I could participate in a social justice 5K, and it (the article) helped me keep going. I love my running, and, of course, I hate it too, but I do it now, or I ride my bike, 5-6 days/week. That never would have happened had I not been on lockdown.

I am not good, being a people-pleaser, at saying “No” to things I don’t want to do, and the lockdown has helped with that, a lot. Never have to say “No,” because no one can get together.

I think that 2020 inspires me to declare that Introverts Rule! Barbara Streisand was wrong. People who need people are not the luckiest people in the world. People who are okay with themselves, alone, and their intimate few, are actually the luckiest people. I was doing fine before, and it was not my preferred habitat. Now I’m in the habitat that fits me, I am thriving.

Don’t get me wrong. I do miss having a meal or a coffee with a friend, and I’m not, generally, overwhelmed with social invitations. But I am so very happy to have more time to devote to my business, my health, and my own projects.

2020, am I glad to see the back of you? Yes. Do I long for a White House where an English professor and her dog live with her very nice husband? Yes. Do I want to go back to “normal” of running to and fro and never doing the things that are important to me? No. No. No. No.

So many people I know feel like this year is a year without power, like the lights have all been off, and we’re wandering in the dark. I don’t deny there are things about 2020 that have pushed the envelope of absolute shit. But, for myself, and for my family, it has, in many ways, been one of our best years, simply because of the freedom from living a life scheduled by someone else. Here’s hoping I can think of a way out of “normal” before all the lights get turned back on again.

Happy New Year everyone. May this year bring you a world reconfigured and renewed in the way that suits you best.

IF ENGLISH GRAMMAR IS DIFFICULT, LA LANGUE FRANCAIS EST FACILE

It’s interesting to me that Sophie is so excited about French. She absolutely loves it, on her own, and, when she was in TJS last year, she had some Spanish, and she absolutely hated that. Funny.

When we were in CA I’d have said Spanish was a must for school mates, but, truly, I could have said the same thing about Farsi, and no one out there was teaching Farsi lessons to kids that I saw. Here in DE it could also be a must to speak Spanish, but she is stone-cold not interested. And yet, she adores French! And, of course, that means if we ever do travel outside of the USA ever again, in addition to China, it will have to be France. Oh, boo-hoo; nobody wants to go to France.

Am I insane? France is amazing. Back in March when we first heard the USA was going to be closing its borders during the pandemic I said to Dave, “Quick, let’s get stranded in France!” Of course, we were slow packers, so we’re still stuck here. (And don’t yell patriotic things at me. France is, well, special, and, it must be said, it also suffers from a nasty undercurrent of over zealous nationalism, but at least that comes with a side of brie, or croissant.)

It took me ages to find a French curriculum. I could find college French textbooks, but nothing for K-12.

I finally found Skoldo on the Secular Homeschool website. If you are likewise interested I would say that you don’t need the elementary (yellow) book. You need the red book, which you see pictured above, and the …. green, nope, rainbow book, pictured below.

I got the yellow book, which you don’t need unless your child is in K-2, and the red book, student book and teacher books, on Skoldo’s website.

I got the rainbow student book on Amazon, and I am going to get the rainbow teacher book on eBay. Skoldo no longer has the rainbow teacher book on its website, only the student book.

You can buy some flashcards at Skoldo’s website. I bought the vocabulary flashcards, and that is the only download I felt like I needed.

If you curious about our schedule, it usually begins around 7am with getting up and breakfast. Dave usually has some time in the morning, as he is more on West Coast time, so he does essay writing, novel reading, science, and music theory.

Then Sophie is responsible for practicing bells, and then piano, which takes her up to lunch which she usually makes herself (usually Annie’s Mac and Cheese or Annie’s All Stars, sometimes cheese grits, and sometimes ramen). She chills out for 1/2 hour with her iPad and eats.

Then the afternoons are me. And we do grammar (how do I hate thee?) French, math, reading comprehension, vocabulary. Next month I am going to try to add in art history in the afternoons. She also got her first bank account this fall, which we deposit a little money in each time we get paid, and she looks at that with me I think about twice each month. I am also trying to get her to work on projects so that we can make her a studio website, and I have a book on entrepreneurship I hope to get into one day. For the math, grammar, reading comprehension, and vocabulary I am using the Sadlier books. They are not cheap, but they cost less than college textbooks, and they are MUCH less expensive than those canned homeschool programs you can buy.

I will confess that I am ambitious about homeschooling. I want Sophie, when/if she goes back to regular school, to be beyond the grade she’s in, because the teachers didn’t do right by her in grades 3 & 4 at public school, and I don’t trust the system. I also confess that we have had one “come to Jesus” meeting in September and one in October, where we had to remind her that she had to be nice to all her teachers, even the ones she lives with.

Sophie also takes two music lessons a week, and is in a weekly geometry class for two months now on Outschool, as well as the various art classes she takes there. The music lessons run about $200/month, as do the Outschool classes. And add in the shear amount of coffee pods I go through in a week, and the care and feeding of three cats, a dog, and two guinea pigs, and we’re damn lucky I’m not driving 100 miles a day to work this year. BUT, and still, I think this comes out to be cheaper than a canned homeschool program.

I think Sophie was about 2.5 when she started in preschool, and we paid for the most expensive school in our area, not because we’re snobs, but because we tried two before that, one cheap, one moderate, and they both sucked in various ways. Before that either Dave or I were home (part-time work for me and FMLA for him). And then, for awhile, we had a babysitter, and, in LA, that was 15/hour, for 8 hour days, which was pricey for us.

And I guess, what I am saying here in this post that began by talking about how great French class is, is that being a parent, for us, has been expensive and labor intensive. And I would not change that, in fact, the only thing I would change is, in 3rd grade, when our public school got a new principle and new teachers and took a nose-dive in quality, I wish we had left then, and paid for two years of private school instead of just the one abbreviated one we got. We probably still wouldn’t own this house, but hell, a house is just a building. And the other thing is, more than a trust fund, more than a new car, more than an iPad or a MAC, an education and practical skills (like piano playing, dance, etc. and being able to make your own lunch) are things that neither feast nor famine can take away from your kids. When Sophie and Dave read The Week and write an essay on it, not only is she getting a great skill, but she’ll never forget debating the metric system with him, or making sourdough starter for science class.

And I know that not every parent can afford the time or the money to do what we are doing. And every single pandemic-day I am grateful for that blessing.

A bientôt!

EPIC: THANKS JAMES GOODRIDGE

Dave and I put another book to bed this week. Our third in the series of books I do with my Creative Writing class at University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

This time I was so lucky to have James Goodridge be a guest speaker in my class (part of the untold benefits of remote teaching). And then, as if that wasn’t enough, James was nice enough to write the introduction for the book.

And now the students have their work, in their names, on Amazon… forever. What a resume builder!

Thank you thank you thank you to Dave, without whom very little would be possible. He’s pretty epic himself.

OUR TALENTED AUTHORS

Our Talented Authors:

BLOGROLL

Have you seen my new blogroll? Up there, above Monet.

You’ll meet some really interesting folks there.

AND, if you follow me, I’ll follow you too, and add you, to my blogroll.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BIG BROTHER

It’s your first birthday without you. It’s our first Bill-Birthday without you.

You’re so cute.

You’re so funny.

I remember how you could eat any number of Thanksgiving dinners one right after the other and still keep your 29″ waist jeans.

I remember the cut-offs you always swam in that had too many holes to be respectable.

I remember when you visited me in Los Angles and we sang “narcissistic” songs all night long. “I love me, for sentimental reasons. I hope I do believe me; I’ve given me my my my my my; given me my heart because I mmmmmmm- me, and I alone was meant for me…..”

We laughed so hard we almost peed.

I wish Mom had given in and moved to Los Angeles and you had come too, and we had bought that property in Venice with the three houses on one lot. I feel like we could have lived happily ever after there. But, no one was ever ready to compromise for the other. That’s how we are. We love each other, and we love our freedom. And we can’t seem to give one up for the other.

I miss you.

I hope you’re somewhere and not nowhere even though nowhere is where I am sure we all go someday.

I hope you’re happy.

It won’t be your birthday without you.

It won’t be Thanksgiving without you. And who knew, when you were sick and missed last year, that you wouldn’t be here for cake and pie this year? We didn’t expect 2020, and really who did?

I’m thankful you were my big bother of all the big brothers I could have had. I think you were the best.

Except you left.

Too early.

Too quickly.

I miss you.

Everyday.