WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS?

WORLDS…

COLLIDING

OXYGEN LEAVING THE ROOM….

This is what happens when your job is to teach grammar, and, all of the sudden, you’re teaching that very same grammar, not to college students, but to your daughter.

Let me just get this out of the way… when it comes to teaching my daughter I am as calm as the grave. Calm, calm, patient and calm.

My daughter… is not.

First of all, I do not know if it is because she is a pre-teenager, but she constantly interrupts me. “Mom, what does it mean when the verb has two subjects?”

“Well, when the verb has two subjects”

“I mean, I think it means there’s not change, or is their a change but not like a change that matters, or possibly the change could be that you don’t need a FANBOYS word with the comma, and can I have a snack? I’m soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo hungry!”

“Okay, sure you can have a snack, but let’s talk about….”

“I’m hungry now! I can’t think when I’m huuuuuuunnnnngry!”

*sigh*

Lol.

Other than grammar it’s all cool. Grrrrrrrrrammar.

#homeschoolfun #thatlasthashtagwassarcasm

#howthehelldohashtagsworkanyway

#isthereanybodyoutthere

IT’S BEEN STRESSFUL, WAITING FOR THE ELECTION TO BE CALLED

That is what I wore when I went to vote, and I felt like I was dressing to do battle. I had my Ruth T-shirt and my Ruth pearls, and I felt RGB’s loss, again, and keenly.

I made myself get up and do a run before I went to vote. I have been trying to bike or run 2-3 miles every day (M-F) because this is probably the best chance I will get in my over 50 life to develop an exercise regime/routine, because I am teaching from home. (I am one of the very lucky people to be working from home during the pandemic.) I am hoping it will get to the point that when I finally am back out in the car for 2-3 hours a day I will be so accustomed to exercise that I will still do it, and do it 5 days a week.

Oh, and by the way, I hate exercise. Yup. I hate it. I don’t wanna. But, WTF, I am going to be one of those dam lucky people who comes out of this damn pandemic hotter than when I went in, even if I’m only hotter in the sense that I am covered in hot smelly sweat.

In any case, I got myself all exercised, and then I got myself all Ruth-red up, and then I went to vote.

There were no parking spots.

Typically, in this small rural town, my husband and I walk in, vote, and walk out.

There were no parking spots.

I went home, went to a Zoom meeting. Worked at my desk and homeschooled Sophie for awhile, made her lunch, and, at 1pm, went back.

There were no parking spots.

I went to my doctor for my check-up (blood pressure good, pnemonia and flu vaccine, and I am still fat), and went back to the polls.

There were no parking spots.

At 6pm Dave and Sophie and I picked up my mom, and we all went to vote.

After 90 minutes in line, we made it through, and voted.

I was shocked and dismayed to see one particularly do-nothing state Republican representative was running for re-election unopposed. His name is Steve Smyck, and, as a politician, he’s a waste of space. I was disappointed no one had run against him. Had anyone run s/he would have lost in this part of Joe Biden’s state, but still.

I took my mom for her first Delaware vote. I made sure she got there, was safe, and voted. Last spring I made sure she was registered for state and town elections. My mother votes straight Republican all the time, and this time was no different, except, I may have convinced her that Chris Coons was a nice guy and Lauren Witzke was a nut. I may have convinced her. She was quite dismayed to hear Witzke thinks the earth is flat. Well, she would be. She went to Europe with me once. She knows it’s not flat. She saw the curve of the earth with her own eyes. But, currently, she is having just slightly more trouble than Trump accepting the results. She said she is going to rename her cat Joey… Donny. She refuses to give an inch on her conviction that Biden is a slimy election stealer. She refuses to believe Trump ever said anything even remotely rude about anyone who was a woman or non-white. It just hasn’t happened. And my momma is sharp as a tack. She is not in dementia. She’s only in the river, that one called the Nile. Suffice it to say she is not happy with me. She expects gloating. I would never do that, to her. Hell, I took her to vote. That’s not just what Democracy is, that’s what family is; that’s what being a mensch is.

Mouse, bless him, was also supporting Biden and RBG. He has often referred to Trump as a bastard. Well, you know Mouse, he would. He’s got a bit of an obscenity problem. Probably because he spends too much time with Sophie, and me.

Did you vote? Were you part of the wonderful process?

SALES

So, you know, I run Devil’s Party Press (and now Gravelight Press, and Hawkshaw Press, and Out of This World Press). And, the toughest thing about it is that I have this mission, to publish older authors, like myself, who don’t get a fair nod from traditional publishing companies, so I am a traditional publishing company and I do give them a fair nod, but…

Sales.

I have to find people out there to buy the books.

They are great stories. I know it. You know I have read a lot in my life, and been through dozens of classes on literature and three college degrees on writing and literature, and, I’m going to venture to be bold enough to call myself an expert on not just good writing, but engaging and surprising writing. Unless you’re down for all romance, all the time, of which, I confess, beyond Love Story and Oliver’s Story and a brush with Barbara Cartland in my misguided youth, I have almost no experience, I can find you a really good book to read.

So, when I pick stories and books to publish, I’m pretty selective.

These are great writers I am publishing who just happened not to have the time in their youth to hunt down and kill a publishing career. Which, I get. Sometimes I feel like life, for me, in some ways, ending being about what I wanted once I bought my first car. There it was, debt, and from then on out I was striving to stay caught up or ahead of it beyond anything else.

So, these writers I am choosing are really worth a reader’s time.

And our books, thanks 100% to Dave, are gorgeous.

So, how do I find people to buy them?

How do I let people know about these wonderful stories and these wonderful writers, and writers they should choose, over the latest cookie-cutter best seller, because these are people who have done their duty to job, family, country, and now, finally, they get to write.

This is the nut to crack.

And, the loneliest part of the job. It’s all up to me. I have to do it.

Of course, I want to do it.

But I have to do it. These writers are important to me, and I have to find a way to get them out there.

Would you like to buy a book?

Buy it through our website (where more of the money goes to the authors) or buy it on Amazon. All our titles are available there.

And reassure me I can do it.

GETTING MY SOGGY (FOGGY? SAGGY?) BOTTOM OUT THERE

Oh yes, in support of the arts! I am going to be running my slow and steady tushie around my neighborhood this weekend.

Why not join me? What else you got going on? Gorging on Three Musketeers? Wait, that does not sound like exactly what I want to say, but you know what I mean. However, come to think of it, D’Artagnan sounds yummy, but this woman would have to get rid of her soggy bottom to tryst with a Musketeer! And so, run lady run!

Join me, and, for a teeny bit of money, help keep the arts going through this tough time. They have absolutely wonderful kids, classes at the League. You donation and a nice slow one-mile walk around your neighborhood could give a kid a free class.

Do it. You know you’re gonna do it. Do it!

I AM HOMESCHOOLING. POST 1: THE MATH BOOK

Ay, yi, yi, I am homeschooling this year. (expletive deleted) Fun.


In any case, this is the workbook my daughter’s school used last year, and it was a private school (that went out of business that I switched to after the racism at our public school was simply unchecked). Being as it was a very expensive private school I made the guess that it had picked fairly reliable materials. As we could not afford the private school one-bit, I guess it’s just as well that it went out of business, or I would be paying to have her enrolled in that school and also be acting as a homeschool, basically, which would double-suck.


Last year, when the school went on lockdown, our daughter brought this home (for 4th grade), and if we needed any help we asked the teacher, and it was fine. Our daughter learned math with really zero Zoom meetings of any substance, so I attributed it to the book, and my help understanding concepts.


This year I bought one, on Amazon, for 5th grade (And, no, neither Sadlier or Amazon is giving me a kickback.). First thing to note, even in a private school with a class of only 14 kids, they only got about half way through this. In homeschool we do math once or twice each week for about 2-3 hours total each week. Important to note, when you homeschool there is a LOT of time to fill. I’m guessing, in K-12, most of that time is filled with trying to get kids to sit still, and to stop passing notes, and to transition subjects in an orderly manner, and, not to put too fine a point on it, the time is mostly taken up with crowd control. So, like, for a 45 minute math class, about 15 minutes is actual math. What a bleak outlook on school for the kid who does not need crowd control, or who would like to explore something longer in math, or history, or etc. Is public school shoving the bare-minimum down kids’ throats like so many foie-gras geese? I mean, it seems to me it must be.

In our 2-3 hours/week my daughter is either doing the worksheets, discussing math with me, or taking a math test that I create based on the workbook. No homework, right? Because it is all homework. And each test I create includes concepts from every single unit we have covered, so, yes, the tests get a little longer each time. But hey, I have one student. I’m not about to let her go forward not really “getting” it.

I get it that math is confusing. It is not hard though. I reject that. It is confusing, like reading the directions on how to install a dishwasher. Once it has been explained to you properly, you can do it. I teach English in community colleges, and maybe my mastery of understanding what I read helps here, but, also, I like math. So, we don’t have too much trouble.


But, sometimes, I feel there is a concept I need to re-explain to myself as much as teach it to my daughter (exponents anyone?).


For that I was going to the absolutely wonderful (&free) Khan Academy. And I know I will again.


But, last week I broke down and called Sadlier. Turns out if you don’t need the answers (I don’t) you can buy the student textbook and get all you need to teach with for waaaaay less than the teacher’s edition. Perfect. 🙂 I bought 6th grade (textbook and workbook) too, because I think we are going to motor right through 5th grade math this year, and I may as well have us ahead if we manage to get into a charter school next year. I don’t know if I could send her back to public school. If Trump loses the election it might be safe, but I don’t know.


On a side note, Sadlier is very definitely a Catholic company. I am very definitely an atheist. I have absolutely zero concerns about the religion bleeding into the non-religion textbooks. We are using math, grammar, and vocabulary. This week’s vocabulary lesson is Emily Dickinson. What’s not to like? I think it’s a good curriculum, homeschool-friendly, and much cheaper than the canned curriculums you can buy.

Anybody else doing non-religious-motivated homeschooling out there? How’s it going for you? Am I excluding people who homeschool because of religious reasons? Yes. Yes I am.

I’D LIKE TO THINK

If I could choose an outcome for us after we are no more; it would be that we would leave behind our dusty bodies and sharp bones to add our essence to the fuel that lights up the stars.

I’ve never been able to wrap my mind around the idea of an ever-after. Though I have kidded with my mother that her mother and father are above us playing double-deck pinochle and having the time of their lives, well, what they would be having would, in fact, not be the time of their lives, for the time of their lives is over.

I mean, just, what, exactly, would be the point of this time here, and now, if we were going to get to go to another place and do the same thing again, but this time just all our favorite bits?

Is all we do on earth simply preparation for a greatest hits album?

If so, I find it unappealing.

I miss my brother.

I do think Bill would have a pretty good time in the great beyond playing pinochle with Grandmom and Pop, and cracking jokes to make my father laugh. Bill was always one for his favorite reruns, and I think he often wondered why we couldn’t take a new year and replay the same exact holidays in it the same ways as the year before, or make them just like the ones he liked best from childhood

Trying to repeat your favorite moments is like herding cats. People will not hold still and stay the way they had always been.

My brother was 9 years older than me and 17 years older than my sister. I know there are people and events he knew that I never knew, and still more that he and I knew, but not my sister. So much flux, and unending forward movement.

In any case, maybe I’m too smart for my own britches, but it seems, on the one hand, unlikely to me, and on the other, undesirable. Though I would love to see them all again, and especially my Bill, I do not think I would enjoy playing out our same lives, over and over minus the bad times, for all eternity. I’d get bored to, well, death.

For my dad and my brother I feel like I wish so much that I could have somehow convinced them to take better care of themselves.

In any case… here I am, woefully behind on my blog because I am back to teaching, albeit online, which is not any easier at all, and because we are into the homeschool experiment big-time. But that’s for another blog.

I have some wonderful plants around my house that my BF Kris gave me when Bill died, and my BF Dot gave me this star today in memory of Bill.I know that those who left before me are certainly part of the essence that I see in the stars. Do we really want a mapped-out life re-do?

When you leave us, when I leave us, may we all number among the stars, bringing light to even the most dark of nights.

And may I always miss my brother.

RBG

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — here in her chambers during a 2019 interview with NPR’s Nina Totenberg — died on Friday at the age of 87.
Shuran Huang/NPR

I don’t really think of myself as a person with heroes, but, I guess I have a few, and RBG would be one of them.

If you click on the photo above, you’ll end up over at National Public Radio (NPR) which is the only place you should end up, IMHO (in my humble opinion) simply because reporter Nina Totenberg has been so complete and so kind in her coverage of all the justices as long as I can remember. No other news source has covered the SCOTUS more thoroughly, and more fairly than Nina and NPR. (And this is me, doing exactly like I tell my students not to do, talking about Nina, as if we were buds. And it is exactly something Nina never does.)

There are so many outsized and amazing things about RBG. She survived in a women-hating world (law) at a very young age. She argued 6 times before an all-male SCOTUS herself. She was married for 50 or so years to the genuine love of her life. She went to work, and back to work, over and over, from her 20s to her 80, during real challenges in her husband’s health, her own health, and other family issues, when lesser people would have given in. One thing that everyone is remarking on, she was friends with Justice Scalia, a name I can barely type without anger rising in my gullet. This is something few in politics can even imagine today, being friends with their ideological opposite. She was beyond extraordinary.

Well, if you’re going to pick a hero for yourself, Pearce, might as well pick a super-hero.

Women in the USA owe her so much, and many don’t even realize it.

“Ginsburg is the rare supreme court justice whose most significant work was done before she joined the court. She changed the course of American law not as a supreme court justice, but as a lawyer, the founder and general counsel of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. Ginsburg began the project in 1972, the same year she joined the faculty of Columbia Law as a professor; by 1974, the project had participated in nearly 300 gender discrimination cases nationwide. Ginsburg personally argued six gender discrimination cases before the then all-male supreme court, winning five. She built on her victories one by one, establishing precedents that made future victories easier to win.

First was Reed v Reed (1971), a monumental victory that struck down an Idaho law favoring men over women in estate battles. That case extended the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment to women, barring laws that discriminated by sex. Ginsburg followed this case with victories in Frontiero v Richardson (1973), barring gender discrimination in compensation of military members, and Weinberger v Wiesenfeld (1975), striking down gender discrimination in state benefits. Her tactics were savvy; she framed gender discrimination in ways that made the practice seem unreasonable even to hardened misogynists. In Craig v Boren, she successfully convinced the court that state laws that distinguished on the basis of sex needed to be subjected to at least what was called “intermediate” scrutiny; she won the decision not by arguing for women to have equal freedom to men, but equal obligations. In Weinberger, she managed to get a discriminatory practice deemed illegal largely by virtue of finding a rare case in which the victim of sex discrimination was a man.

These victories, coming down between the years 1971 and 1976, forced laws to change nationwide. It is impossible to overstate their impact. One moment, much of family, tax, and financial law was made of statutes that codified men as breadwinners and beneficiaries, women as dependents. Within just five years, all these laws were declared unconstitutional. At the time the supreme court first ruled in Ginsburg’s favor, in Reed v Reed in 1971, many banks still would not issue women credit cards. By the end of it, her work had helped to usher in a feminist revolution that has changed the face of American families and expanded the possibilities for American women’s lives.” (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/18/ruth-bader-ginsburg-death-legacy-supreme-court)

And, I have to tell you, it is this lack of understanding of what women haven’t had that has often caused me to be frustrated with or disheartened by the young women I teach. I was an adjunct at the University of Delaware I cannot easily count how many young women told me that men, like Bernie (big Bernie fans there among the ladies) would be better presidents than women because men are just better at it. And, when I was teaching at Santa Ana College, a large number of the young women I taught there would say how men should make more money than their wives, and the women should take their husbands’ lasts names, because when women make more money or keep their last names, men feel badly, and they feel not manly, and women have to help with that.

I remember when I was a college student myself, and living in a neighborhood at University of Penn (though not attending… too expensive for my family to even consider), in an apartment surrounded apartments occupied by white male students, how harassed I was for my Mondale/Ferraro poster. I faced a verbal confrontation almost daily, and had my apartment windows broken, because the guys at Penn were losing their minds over the mere possibility that a woman might become VEEP.

Of course, Mondale and Ferraro were running against Reagan/Bush. And those were dark times for women. Nancy Reagan certainly popularized a shut-up and stand-by-your man ethos. Women, at least many white women, believed her. The movement lost momentum, and women who had once marched must not have told their daughters in any meaningful way about what they hadn’t had before. Of course, that is an assumption, but, I have been teaching incoming freshman at colleges and universities since 1991, in urban and suburban and rural settings, and women do not seem to see a problem with their situations when it comes to gender equality, and that is a huge loss.

And that is why we need a SCOTUS that looks to the future, that sees the needs for society that society cannot see for itself, and which was a major problem with RGB’s friend, Scalia. He felt The Constitution was a dead document. And it is, in so much as it was written to be complete to the best of the imaginations of the men who wrote it at the time. However, the fact that they immediately attached a Bill of Rights to it shows them setting a precedent for revision.

RGB was able to see that women needed their own rights cemented into law, so that they would never be in question again.

I am very afraid of being emotionally wounded in the coming weeks and months, as people attack RGB from both the left and the right. From the left they will say she should have stepped down when Obama was in office, as if her career was not her own, as if she still had not earned the right, as a women, to fully own her own career. And from the right they will say any horrible thing they can think of to smear a woman who earned every single accomplishment in her life with blood sweat and tears, unlike our despicable POTUS who has only ever broken a sweat after eating fast food, or while paying for sex.

RGB was a very very successful woman. She was a very very intelligent and educated woman. She was a beloved friend, mother, wife, grandmother. She was a beloved Justice. She was a champion of the underserved and under-heard.

She was my hero.

And I feel the world has lost a bit of its magic now that she is gone.

PUBLICATIONS!

This month I have two poems published in Next Page Ink. I am just thrilled, and so appreciate being published by this wonderful online literary magazine. My poems are “Good Dog,” and “Jackie Don’t You Go.” Sadly, they are both sad poems, so don’t you read them! The first one describes, quite accurately, what life can sometimes be like in the more rural areas of Sussex County for gentle things. I am not a farmer, and I do not live a farmer’s life, but from the outside looking in, rural life is not a place for gentle things. The second one recalls my friend’s suicide, and how I have wished and schemed, all these years, maybe 30 or so, for a way to stop it from happening. But, we can never stop the past, it goes on in perpetuity. And that is a good line. Perhaps I will stick that in another poem.

I would love it if you would take a moment to read my poems, and I would love to hear what you think as well. Drop me a comment below. Thanks!

 

 

 

LOVE AND PANTYHOSE

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I looked to the left of my desk last night, and that is what I saw, on a bookcase I inherited from Sophie that she painted Pepto Bismal pink with her dad and then later abandoned when she decided her favorite color was Elsa-blue.

Let’s discuss that pink for a hot minute.

One of the earlier jobs I had in my life was working for a place called Delta Hosiery.

Delta Hosiery occupied a space about the size of a shoebox in a strip mall in Springfield, PA (one of the most Springfieldy Springfields of all), and I was the sole employee. It sold discount pantyhose, a small selection of socks, a small selection of dance wear, and nothing else. My most recurrent customers were “professional” dancers (read as strippers), who had way better bods than me. And, the entire inside of the store, walls, and ceiling, cheap industrial carpet, was Pepto Bismal pink.

I spent many a long day and night there, making the minimum wage don’tcha-know people, alone with book after book to read, or watching Unsolved Mysteries on the tiny black and white portable TV Delta had supplied me with to help with the crushing boredom. This choice of TV shows would often make me afraid to leave the lonely store at night, in the dark. “It was right here where she left her job at the lonely hosiery outlet to walk to her car, and was never seen again. Maybe you can help solve a mystery!”

I was allowed to put up a “be back soon” sign on the door for 15 minutes to run and get food at one of the attached eateries in the strip mall, or to pee in the tiny toilet in the back in a room so small the sink was outside the room. And it never failed, the minute I headed over to Salad Alley, as I was walking up the hill toward it, I would hear the bell on the door rattling as some woman tried in vain to get in, shaking the door like mad to try to get it to open. As I’d already gotten half-way to the salad, I would keep going, and when I came back I’d have either lost a sale, or the woman would be waiting, visibly steaming, outraged that she had to wait to get her taupe thigh highs or her smoke control tops. And I always wondered at the popularity of those colors. In the most Springfieldy of Springfields there were no people of color to speak of, so my clients were universally white, and, aside from the strippers, women who topped the incredibly old age of 50, and they just loved their smoke and taupe and coffee hosiery. By that point in my life I was evolved enough as an adult to have declared pantyhose of any kind off the table for me forever. (I am too old (21) to be uncomfortable while going to church I don’t even believe in!) But, that being said, everyone knows that black pantyhose are the only choice a person of style should make. TAUPE? Before I worked at Delta Hosiery I had never even heard the word taupe (pronounced tope, like dope, I was told by the district manager), and my vocabulary was not small. Taupe, you elude me still; I cannot understand why someone would choose such a muddy, non-specific color to cover their white legs with. I also could not understand how anyone, even the strippers, could comfortably wear pantyhose without underwear, which was a thing that happened right about that time. Do not worry World! I am not likely to go commando anytime soon. I like underwear! TMI? Actually, I think Delta may have sold underwear too. In fact, I remember some women called them panties, but, trust me, they were definitely underwear. I know the difference.

One thing I can say in favor of pantyhose though: they are very silky and beguiling to the touch.I remember feeling that I could not resist touching them as I walked through the store each day after opening up. I totally get why perverts like them! Are there perverts anymore? Is that word a thing still? Wait, am I a pantyhose-fondling pervert myself? If I try to run for office now, someone will find this and say I once confessed to being a pervert.

My favorite story about working at Delta Hosiery? The Saturday I was restocking the metal prongs that stuck out from the wall and held the limited selection of socks. When an empty prong is sticking out from a wall it is so thin it is easy not to see it, which is what happened to me when I bent down, and hit myself in the brain (forehead) with a prong I didn’t see. The next thing I know, two women were standing over me and trying to wake me up. Had it not been a Saturday, who knows how long I would have been on the floor in the rarely visited store, unless my most reliable stripper would have come in for a refill on her bare-to-waist control-tops.

The last thing I remember about Delta Hosiery is how the pink would get to me. I’ve never been a fan of pink in general. I was never one of those blonds who went through a pastel/earthtones phase. Blech. And, sometimes, the vibrating Pepto Bismal pink, from the ceiling, from the walls, from the rug in the tiny rectangle of a store, was just too much to take, like a visual tinnitus. And so sometimes, when I left at night, I was unsteady on my feet, like I was coming off an amusement ride.

I looked, but I can find no record of Delta Hosiery’s existence on the internet. I guess they were pre-internet. However, doubting Thomas, here’s proof of their existence, found, like much of history, on eBay.

delta

Ahhh, Fern, what are you doing now?

Delta Hosiery was, like many of the jobs I have had, not hard, but not even remotely interesting. That store could even take the fire out of strippers I tells ya….

Now, for the love part. And in case you ever doubted my ability to go off on a tangent, you now know I can.

And so, as you may know, I have rearranged the office many times. And somehow, in my possession, are two framed photos that are the exact same photo: my Chad, my darling Chad.

How I miss his dear little face. My mother says he had a bark that would go through her skull, or some such thing. I don’t remember him making a sound. But I do remember how I loved him, and he loved me, and I loved him enough to put several photos of him in my office, and, apparently, two closest to my line of sight when I sit at my desk. Normally, when I look over at his photo, I don’t even notice there are two, and I certainly almost never notice the Pepto Bismal pink bookcase beneath them.

Love.

We see what we want to see.

And what we want to see our starving eyes can never get enough of.

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