Monday, November 24, 2008

Cat Bath

Big fluffy cat was perched atop the comfy chair meticulously cleaning his fur. Exhibit C (3 years old) asked me what "that cat" was doing. I explained to him that Bailey was giving himself a bath. Exhibit C asked if he was taking a long bath, to which I responded, "yes, he sure is." He thought about it for a few moments and then looked at me with those big brown eyes and remarked, "Bailey's going to be very wrinkly."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I'm looking at the blaze of fall colors in the woods through the picture window in my kitchen. I bought my house because of this window and this kitchen, and that decision has never once disappointed me. It is where decisions are made, work is done, friends gather and family shares... not just meals but laughter, wisdom and sometimes tears.

Today I'm having difficulty leaving my kitchen. It's warm and smells cinnamony good. It's safe here with no one to face but myself, though I am arguably my toughest critic. It's one of those days where my body refuses to cooperate. I feel I've little to offer to others right now, I can't crawl out of this time and space, and that there's not much to which I can look forward.

Sometimes a little glimmer is all I need, but it's simply not there today. However, if I look long and hard out my window the sunlight will undoubtedly catch one of those leaves in just the right way, glimmering, shimmering hope in the corner of my eye, and I'll suddenly remember how good it feels to feel good.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I am pained by the following text I received after asking a question regarding my cell phone bill:

This is Att. In regards to double billed minutes it shows you wasn't double billed.

Seriously? This is the best AT&T can do?

Dear AT&T,

If you're going to allow your practically illiterate employees to communicate with your customers via text message, you might want to consider helping them with the ampersand characater and adding grammar and spell check features. As a side note, I'd appreciate that tremendously so I can stop sending text messages to my boss asking her to "dmail" me things.

Your Pal,
The Cranky Princess


I've had a love affair with words for as long as I can remember. At the princessy private school I attended, we were required to take study skills as its own subject area for 5 years. Everyone moaned and groaned about it (though I feel certain that as they flew through college they changed their tunes about its importance), but not I! Outlines... notecards... highlighting... yummy.... almost as good as the actual creation of a piece of text.

Senior year of high school meant a semester of creative writing. We journaled, and from those journal entries created amazing works that we shared with one another and learned the art of constructive literary feedback. We had to write one short story a week, though my story count was far more than the teacher's requirement. I couldn't seem to stop writing, and I still have those stories in some buried treasure box in the basement. Many snippets from those stories are permanently etched in my mind. It was a rough year for me personally, and I realized that writing was only rather therapeutic and that the best literature is written from a place of knowledge. It's so simple, really: you write best about that with which you are most familiar.

In my freshman year of college I had the coolest ever writing professor. Her name was Anne... she was funky and fun and understood the importance of authentic tasks and meaningful subject matter. She pulled me aside one day and said "you have a gift and it begins with just one word, just one emotion". I'd been told by many teachers along the way that my writing was "good". I could write one helluva 3.5 essay, but this was the first time anyone ever told me that she'd connected to my writing on a deeper level, and I literally felt drunk with power, because words, I knew, were powerful things. I later had her mother as a professor for a course on Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature. I didn't realize it was her mother until after I got back my first paper, and at the top was written, "Anne was right... you write like an angel."

The realization that we are good at something is important, so too, is positive and specific feedback along the way from people for whom we have respect. I feel blessed that my gift touches hearts and has the ability to pull forth emotion, even from people who aren't so very emotional. I'm glad to have a creative outlet, for my reality is that someday, my body might decide it's had enough, but, hopefully, my mind will remain in tact and my words will continue to flow.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tastes Like...

So we're sitting at dinner one night. I had made deeee-lish grilled pork tenderloin with a rockin' rub and a jalepeno honey sauce, and Exhibit B, who was 6 at the time, says, "Mom, what is this called again?" So I tell him it's pork tenderloin. He thinks for a moment and asks if it's like a pork chop. Yup, kinda. Then he says, serious as a heart attack, "I can't remember what animal pork comes from. Is it squirrel?"

I love kids.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Foe and the Friends

There is a darkness enveloping me. I am fighting it constantly, and I believe I am winning that fight on some levels, but I fear I am losing most everything else in the process.

It will pass, and I've lived it long enough to understand that. I know what needs doing but I'm having such difficulty finding the energy and means to get it all done. I've lost myself and maybe others along the way.

On the plus side, I know exactly who my real friends are at this very moment. It's a small circle of incredible people and I thank them for all that they are and the strength they share with me. They've never run a mile in my Asics, yet there is a quiet understanding, a solidarity among us, and a collective sass factor of off the chain.

Veterans Day Thanks...

My step-father is one of the most fascinating people on the planet. He is a psychologist by trade and has voluntarily devoted much of his free time to veterans' affairs. He testifies before Congress on a regular basis, is frequently interviewed by news organizations as an expert on WWII, POW/MIA/VA issues, as well as post traumatic stress disorder. He is invited to the White House on a regular basis to discuss veteran's affairs and the state of the VA, but has refused to go. Seems he is not too keen on our current president. He was instrumental in pushing forward the WWII memorial in D.C. and was among the honored guests at its unveiling. His passion for his work with veterans from around the country and from every conflict, storm or war comes from the fact that he, himself, was a POW. He can frequently be found talking with former soldiers by phone... or handwriting them letters... helping them get the benefits they deserve.

So on this veterans' day, I am thankful not only for all of our veterans, but also for the work that my stepdad does to ensure that we continue to take care of those men and women that put their lives on the line for us.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Helpful Hints

Dear Job Applicant,

Generally speaking, it is best not to get onto the floor and do supine pelvic thrusts during any portion of the interview process.

Your Pal,
The Cranky Princess

Yeah, uhhhh, that really happened yesterday. And yet people wonder why I want to bang my head against the wall (without denting my tiara, of course)??

Dear Other Job Applicant,

When writing a post-interview thank you note to your potential employers, it is best to refrain from making disparaging remarks about the current employees in an effort to explain how much better you are than they. This is especially true when those employees in question are internationally known for what it is they do. You might also consider not stating that you won't take no for an answer and will continue to apply for the position should you not be selected *cough*stalker*cough*. Instead, you should just leave it at "Thank you so much for the opportunity, I look forward to hearing from you."

Your Pal,

The Cranky Princess

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Things That Go Bump in the Burbs

I saw an old friend at the gym the other day. She asked me if I still lived in the neighborhood because it's really been forever since we'd seen each other. Made me get to thinkin'...

In keeping with my non-conformist badself, I don't like to hang out with all the other hens in the subdivision. I enjoy socializing, but I don't really like to go to parties where I'm expected to buy things like candles, pottery, baskets, jewelry or purses. I also don't really have the patience to listen to them complain about the men they've chosen to suck the life out of. I mean that in the nicest way.

Now when I first moved here and knew not a soul, I confess, I was happy to be included in each and every social activity... from Bunko to Pottery Painting to Patty Cakes parties and more. It's just that I've evolved since then. I think that means I'm getting old, but I'm not exactly sure.

Every single time I watch
this, it makes me laugh. It's remarkably spot on. It reminds me of who I was when I first arrived on this scene and who I am now, seven years later... and it reminds me that no matter how old I get, I gotta keep it real, not get all gangsta with my parking, enjoy some Corona Lights with lime (well, in my case, it's Blue Moon with orange), and, every once in awhile, enjoy visiting with an old friend or two or thirty.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My President

It's funny...

I didn't particularly care for either of the candidates running for president this year. While the realization of the importance of this election weighed heavily on me, I found it hard to feel passionate about one or the other. I saw the good and bad in both of them and found myself somewhat apathetic towards them, but not towards the political process.

As I stood in line for 2 hours to cast my ballot, I did what I typically do in situations like this: people watching. There was the kid behind me who had just recently turned 18. He was about to burst with excitement. I told him how lucky he was that this was his first election, for it was likely to be quite a historical one. There was the 78 year old man who, despite the fact that he was eligible to go to the front of the line, opted not to, stating that his ability to vote was worth the wait. There was the couple in front of me who were reading to each other from a newspaper article detailing each candidate's views on different issues. When not people watching, I stood with my iPod blaring tunes and reading an AEA manual. I am sure I was bopping around a little bit... and that somewhere, someone, right now is writing a blog that says "and there was this girl in brown leather boots dancing in the polling place...". The wait didn't bother me. I can not ever remember having to wait long to cast my ballot and having to do so yesterday, at least to me, meant that people were doing what they should have been doing all along. Perhaps, now, they realize that it does, indeed, take not just a village, but a country.

I stayed up late to watch the election returns, even though it meant I'd be seriously sleep deprived today, and I am happy I did. I thought McCain was incredibly gracious in his concession speech, and, for what it's worth, I felt connected to it and like it was heartfelt. Maybe it's because I know each of us, presumably John McCain included, looks around our country right now and realizes there is work to be done and that the only way to get there is to move forward.

As it turns out, we elected my president last night. The thing is, I didn't really know he was my president and that I'd embrace him as such until his acceptance speech which, actually, moved me to tears. It wasn't so much what he said, though what he said was quietly strong and optimistic without being over the top, and I admired that. Instead, it was what he stands for and the hope that he brings to so many people in need of a glimmer. I'm not naive enough to believe that the fate of the world lies on the shoulders of one man, but I do believe that the sea will shift and, eventually, the tide will turn, because the people will demand it... and he will have to be an agent of change.

I was also struck by the language with which he is comfortable. He said gay in that speech and he damn skippy didn't mean happy. I don't believe there's ever been a president elect in history to use the kind of language in an acceptance speech Obama used last night. As he continued on and reached out to the American people, I sat up and took notice and began to connect with a man for whom, up until that point, I'd really had a rather neutral attitude.

His election brought communities together. There was dancing in the streets of my town... a town where MLK was a preacher, a town with strong roots in the Civil Rights movement and a town with racial struggles. He filled hearts with hope on many different levels. It is undeniably a moment in history that anyone old enough to appreciate it will remember forever. In my lifetime, thus far, there are two defining historical moments: 9-11-2001 and 11-4-2008.

And so it goes... we have a new president elect. He will be the president... but it appears that he will also be my president.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The I Will Not Give Up On You Message

When I was a teacher my favorite students were always the "throw away" kids. I still have a special place in my heart for them. These are kids that someone along the way gave up on. Often, it was teachers, sometimes it was parents.

One of the neatest kids I ever taught was Danny. When I received the articulation card from his previous teacher it said, simply, "no redeeming qualities". He had the best sense of humor and was incredibly smart. An amazing kid. Too bad that teacher missed out on the joy he brought to a classroom.

There was Robbie, whose mother was dying of breast cancer, and who had spent most of his school career in trouble because he was very busy "inventing" things during class. His desk was ridiculously cluttered. He had some contraption for holding pencils onto his desk and some other stuff inside his desk for keeping track of erasers, paperclips, coins, Pogs and other treasures. He was bright and always got his work done. I didn't care if he was inventing, as long as he was learning. I used to have the kids read biographies and create a puppet in the likeness of their subject then put on a puppet show about the person, inviting the kindergarten and first graders to attend. Robbie sat in the back of the room near me and I remember vividly the look of appreciation he gave me when the Walt Disney puppet that was "on stage" at the front of the room complained about his horrible school experience because his teachers squashed his creativity. His mother died that year, and so did George's (a whole different throw-away kid that I loved story... his mother died of, ummm... "liver problems" and then his father sent him away to military school in the years following). I took them both to the "family picnic" at the end of the year. They each wrote me thank you notes that were, by far, the best teacher gifts I ever received.

There were countless others along the way... someday I'll have to tell you about Diego the Bomb Builder, or Darrell who witnessed his mother's murder. But the one that got me thinking about all this was Wesley. Wesley came to me as a fifth grader hardly reading a word. He had no support at home and a sketchy attendance record. However, he showed up at school every day of fifth grade with a smile on his face and worked hard. Wesley's mother never bothered coming to anything at school, be it a class party, field trip, class performance or parent teacher conference, yet he always looked out into the audience or down the hallway... thinking that maybe, just maybe, this would be the day.

The amazing thing about my classroom is that there was this sense of positive interdependence among the kids and so they really became his support system and helped him be successful (they even took to making sure he had all of his materials that mom didn't send or replenish and helped him with homework afterschool when he was home alone). When I taught, Halloween parties were still legal in public schools and so Halloween came and Wesley, a tough, street-smart kid, came to me privately and in tears. He had no Halloween costume. I smiled at him and told him that, though it wasn't really a disguise because it happened to be true, that he did, in fact, have a costume. Using some construction paper, a crown (see, it always pays to have one handy), and other props from my classroom, Wesley led our class Halloween parade in arguably the best costume ever. He went as my favorite student.

So what's the point of all this? The point is that the message "I will not give up on you" is a powerful one and does not apply only to children who might otherwise fall through the cracks. It applies to us, as adults, who still thrive on positive feedback and a sense of accomplishment. In fact, I would argue that it also applies to us as we look at ourselves as athletes... overcoming adversity to train and race... healing from injuries, battling illnesses, finding balance with busy families, careers and tri training. Perhaps the ultimate definition of endurance is not only having the physical and mental capacity to handle imposed athletic demand but also having the ability to not give up on oneself, to find strength from within, even when your circumstances are less than perfect.


Dear Ed Psychologist,

I'm a little confused about the recent "evaluation" you performed on my client's child. It is my understanding that despite the extensive assessment that a very reputable SLP did over a 6-week period, and despite both the anecdotal and testing data I provided based on having worked with this child for in excess of one year, you spent a sum total of 2 hours with her and drew some unique conclusions. I understand that you invited the parents into the room during the evaluation. *Golf Clap* well done!!! I am sure that this didn't raise the child's level of concern at all. Oh, and ya know... I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but that testing you did doesn't resemble any formal evaluations with which I'm familiar. I particularly liked that you did a read aloud comprehension story with a kid with an identified auditory processing problem. You then informed the child's parents that their daughter simply has ADD, needs to be medicated and that these meds will magically solve the significant auditory processing deficits that showed up during her SLP eval... you know, the formal kind that's both valid and reliable.

I'd like to personally congratulate you for turning a mother's world upside down to the tune of 2500 wasted dollars... which will likely now turn into $5K as she seeks a second opinion. However, given that I am going to be short on cash soon, I sure do appreciate the opportunity you've afforded me for extensive consultation with my client.

Your Pal,
The Cranky Princess