Friday, November 28, 2008


"Culture is a discourse, a language, and as such it has no beginning or end and it is always in transformation, since it is always looking for the way to signify what it cannot manage to signify." Antonio Benitez-Rojo.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day

When I was little, we always called Thanksgiving "Turkey Day." Thanksgivings were wonderful when I was a child. We had a ton of food (a big deal when you're poor), and the whole extended family gathered. We played with our cousins all day. My uncle was the great organizer for ball games of various sorts (I ended up the ER one Thanksgiving due to a rousing game of basketball). Today, most of all, I miss Maine, and I miss my family.

But we still had a wonderful day that is continuing into the early evening. We went to see "Bolt" at the theater. Going to see a movie has become a tradition for us. It's a rare treat because it's a tad expensive for all of us to see a movie. We had a good time, even the grownups. Now I have a turkey breast in the oven, which we'll be enjoying with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, rolls and of course pumpkin pie (which all the kids help make)...and maybe a few glasses of wine for the grownups.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mid Year Update

It's been a while since I posted. I have lots of things to write about and I need to change the name of my blog. I'm not sure freeing is the right word for knowledge (although it can do that but that's another post). But I need to update on my darlings now that we're at the midyear mark, and since Erica left such nice questions.

Mornings are horrible! The kids are so used to waking up and just mellowing out before having to face the day. Now we have a mad rush no matter what time I get them up. They won't eat, they won't get dressed, they want to fall back asleep on the chair, the couch, the floor. Camille has sensory issues about her clothes, and now they must all be pink or at least have pink in them. Things that were okay last week are not okay this week. Certain shirts have to go with certain pants, etc. And she won't wear a coat which isn't a big deal here. Her teachers make it a big deal but that's on the other blog. Umberto spends most of his morning groaning about how he hates school, wants to stay home, etc. By the time we get to the car, I'm raging, yelling too much, etc. I try to keep a good attitude because I know it effects them but I'm not really a morning person. But we do manage to get to school on time with everyone alive and no one crying.

Umberto moved to another room last week. I LOVED his teacher but we both felt that Umberto would get more of the reading help he needs from another teacher. This teacher is also awesome, and she's a literary specialist. Now he has this teacher, special reading classes, and he'll be doing after school tutoring. All of this will add to up interventions which can be used to argue his case for testing. And maybe just maybe it will all click and the testing will be unnecessary. His former teacher told me when I talked to her about moving him that Umberto could do anything if he could read. He's taken the move well but he misses his friends from his old class. I noticed today at their Thanksgiving Feast that he hung out with his old friends. But he has already shown a lot of improvement, and he actually talks about what he did in class as opposed to what his friends did during lunch and recess. He is making some slight improvements but he still gets frustrated easily and has a hard time with memorization.

Camille has overcome her friend issue. She now has several friends both girls and boys. She's also learning to read, and does well academically. Her classroom is horrible though, and right now I'm about to go to battle because of her teacher. I try to not be a perfectionist when it comes to teachers because I know it is a hard job but there have too many incidents that concern me. I want her moved to the teacher Umberto has now next year. She has some kind of anxiety, obsessive thing going on where she licks her hands. It's more pronounced when she's nervous, agitated or upset.

Both kids are doing drumming with the world's best music teacher. They love it. Music is awesome at CCS. They sing, make up ballets and musicals, play all kinds of different instruments, and just have a really good time. The teacher is excellent about teaching them traditional stuff but combining that with improv.

For the most part, I really like CCS. Most of the teachers are superb. The staff is mostly welcoming and friendly. Piper has become a part of the family, and is treated like a student. The other parents are funky, cool, and friendly. The school's small size is nice, and I know kids from all grade levels at this point. When I walk the halls, I hear "Hey Ms. Ginger!" a lot which is kind of neat. So if I can deal with Camille's problem I'd say we picked a good place for us to be.

And do I miss homeschooling? I don't know. Sometimes I do. There are days I miss the lazy, in bed mornings with the kids all around me. I liked being such a huge part of their learning process and definitely feel a bit left out of it right now. There was a freedom to how we learned things that has been lost. I miss random park days and unplanned adventures. It seems like we don't do the park as much as we used to. On the days I teach, I don't see the kids much which makes me sad. But I wasn't able to do homeschooling the way it should be done. I just didn't' have the time. And I think we were very isolated onto ourselves which I'm not sure was such a good thing.

But we're working it out just like we worked out homeschooling.

Days Blending Into Days

I'm waiting patiently for the drugs to kick in...right now they leave me feeling a tad dopey and sick to my stomach. The fog is still there but I'm used to that...just wishing it would clear a little so I could do all the things on my list. I have three things I MUST write this week, and have done little to work on them. I read a good article about Cortez, and am still plowing through his letters from Mexico. They always leave feeling a bit sick. And it's strange now that I've been to Vera Cruz and have done, by the road, the trip he made to Mexico City.

Mostly, though my whole world is revolving around concern for Camille. Camille has, what might be, the worst K teacher on the planet. I feel a bit betrayed by our otherwise wonderful school as this is not what I was sold on. Camille's room is dismal and depressing not just in decoration but in actual work done. There are lots of worksheets and boring lessons. They are often asked to sit still with nothing to do while the teacher does her planning. The aide yells a lot and says grossly inapprioate things to the children. Monday there was a huge issue about Camille wearing her coat. I wanted to just let her not wear it but they insisted that she did, and then made comments about how she never acts like this unless her mama is around. By the time we got back to the school Camille was sobbing. I took her home. The issue isn't the coat. It's about making Camille do what they want. I just don't get dominating children. Why do people invest so much power in this kind of thing? I've watched Camille become increasingly more anxious. Her behavior is horrible at home due to, I think, the strain of having to be "good" all day at school. She has this kind of compulsive thing where she licks her hands when she's nervous which lately has resulted in her chapping her cheeks. It's painful to watch, and I feel agonized about doing the right thing. I know if she can just make it through this year I can get her to a better teacher. Of course, I wonder if I'm just making this into a huge mountain because of all the shit I'm going through. I tend to exagerate things when I'm in this state. I second guess my concerns. Wonder if I expect too much. So this is weighing on me, and trying to deal with while wading through this fog is hard.

And of course it sucks what little energy I have, and leads to an increasing state of anxiety. I wake up at night worried about her, about the economy, about everything. And I have to keep saying to myself "It will not fall apart. Everything is going to be okay." Living life this fragile is draining. I realize that so much of my energy during these times is spent trying to not let myself break into a thousand pieces. I feel Piper bears a big brunt of this because often we come home from dropping the kids off and I sleep. I don't give her nearly as much as I should. And this cycles into more anxiety. But it will get better...

And thanks everyone for the words, encouragement, and concern. I am not going to off myself or end up with a breakdown. I made sure I got help before I hit bottom. I knew it would take some time to figure out a potion so I got help early. I know I'm crazy John, and it's okay. I've been crazy for awhile, and still manage to find so much love. It can't be all that bad right?

Sunday, November 23, 2008


The Friday appointment was uneventful really. For such a dramatic step in my life it was actually very anticlimactic. But in my experience life is all too often like that. I remember my friend Tyler used to wish her life was a musical. We would imagine music for all the mundane things we did (imagine having a chorus of dancing girls as you brushed your teeth). There were no dancing girls at my point only a rather plumb, balding, man about my age who blushed profusely when I said "Look my sex is about the only good thing going for me right now and I don't want to ruin that." But he talked me into the Zoloft for three weeks. I have to get counseling which I feel rather indifferent about. Before drugs, I really felt that people on antidepressants should always get counseling. But now I don't know. I guess it's going to depend on what I can find. I leaning toward cognitive therapy because you know I have spent years talking about all the fucked things that have happened to me, and I'm kind of over it. Now I'd just some coping mechanisms please.

But what this post is really about has been every one's reactions. H has been supportive. I don't think he's thrilled about antidepressants as a whole but he respects me enough to honor my choices. My "alternative" friends haven't come outright and said anything but I think they're horrified. I've had subtle hints that maybe I should try Yoga or get a massage. And you know those are all good things to do and I will do them. I'm not against holistic medicine, but I'm not anti Western medicine either. I like an approach that utilizes both. But these friends really see antidepressants as the prime example of the problem that Western medicine poses. Then I have the friends who were me a few months ago. The antimediciation period friends. These are the friends who spent a lot of time trying to persuade me from going to the appointment. And they're the friends who can't understand why I just don't other things to make myself better. I think they also might think there is a bit of weakness to taking a pill to "feel happy." I can't really complain about them because this was my attitude not that long ago. I didn't look down on those who took antidepressants but I think back in my mind I saw it as a weakness.

And now I'm on antidepressants. I haven't been on long enough to see any difference. It makes me a little dopey right now, nauseous and gives me a headache but I've been assured this will past. I think it is already starting to soften my moods a bit. Yesterday I was starting to get real nasty about the time I needed to take another pill but since I've also quit smoking....well who knows where the nastiness was coming from! But the thing is I don't feel weak for doing this, nor do I feel like I'm just taking a happy pill that will make my problems go away. I'm doing something that might help be able to work at the problems. Right now I'm so fucking low I can't even function. I realized I was addicted to Facebook because it requires minimum mental activity. If taking a pill will give me some space to breath so that I can work on what needs to get worked on is it really a bad thing? Am I weak? Maybe but you know I've spent a long time trying to work through this on my own, and it didn't help. If being weak is going to help me to function than I guess I'll have to live with being weak.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


America responded that yes we are ready for an African-American to be president. Last night, I watched and listened to Obama's acceptance speech alternately weeping and smiling. This is history unfolding before us, we are walking into the future. My sincerest hope is that this is a moment of racial healing for the United States. No, it won't happen over night but we made an important step in unification and healing of the horrible past that has plagued this countries founding. For once, we have lived up to the ideals at all humans are created equal. For the first time in a very long time I am proud to be a citizen of this country. Like most liberals, it is very easy to get caught up in the game of horrible the U.S. is, and yes, like all countries, we have our ugly side. And that side is magnified because of our size, miltary, etc. But too often it is easy to forget that it not all evil. Tonight I was reminded that Americans can make incredibel things happen. We did it.
Look at these little faces when we asked who our next president was going to be...they all yelled out "Obama!" Of course the adults spent a few hours in a state of anxious anticipation but it was fairly clear early on that Obama had this one. The kids shortly after this picture burst into what they called their "Obama" dance.
And a very sleep Umberto just awoken to hear his man had won. He got to see a bit of the speech before drifting into sleep again. I am so proud that my son gets to see this.
Yes I did disable comments. I'm apologize to the last commentor. He knows how to get in touch with me if he wants to discuss why.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Umberto and I did our thing at about eight ten this morning (note the "I voted" stickers). I got up at six, and watched as people began to file in across the road. We went over at 6:20 to a small line, discovered the real line was out back, and ended up waiting awhile to actually vote. It was one of those moments when the excitement and tension filled the room. I let Umberto pressed the green confirm vote button. I want him to remember the day we elected the first African-American president in the U.S. YES WE CAN!

For all my U.S. readers, I'm assuming that most of you are voting but if you're on the fence please vote for Obama. Our country needs something new and while we have all become cynical of politics for good reason, Obama represents so much. Even if he does nothing, he will show the world that we can get beyond our racial issues, that we can elect someone with a "foreign last name." And I think he will do important things. Just the fact that he's a lot less war crazed than McCain is big. We have a chance to walk into the future...let's do it.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Doing a Small Part for Change

How can you not vote for change when you see a face like that? Seriously.

First, sorry about the awkward half-video on the side bar. I couldn't figure out how to embed it a post. It's worth listening to no matter the awkwardness. Williams is a gifted poet, and his words capture so much of what I've been feeling about this election.

Second, we went canvassing for the campaign today. We weren't intending on doing so...we arrived at the station thinking we'd sit at a table or something with the kids' music teacher. We waited around a bit and he didn't show up. We had already signed up so we figured what the hell, we'll go out. It was amazing. The few people who were home were pumped. Many had already voted, and those who hadn't had plans for Tuesday. But the best part was a "wrong address" hit. The guy had just moved down to Charlotte, and didn't realize today he was the last day that he could register at the polls. We gave him directions to the nearest early voting station, and as we were leaving, he was leaving to go vote. He made sure we knew he was heading out. Just one person but still it felt like a really big deal. The kids went along with us, and Umberto left fliers on the doors of those who weren't home.

Being in our area's headquarters was an amazing experience as well. There were people of every color in the restaurant (which the owner had shut down until Tuesday so it could be used as a meet up place for Obama supporters). Everyone was friendly, chatting, and united. This is a pretty unusual sight in Charlotte. I made me realize how much this campaign has brought people together. And about how much this campaign is not just about Barak Obama. It is about hope, change, and moving into a new century more united than divided. I felt this surge of faith, and realized that if Obama loses due to dishonesty, the protests will blow this country apart because it will be protest not riots. It will be about people of all colors uniting once again. And if he is elected, it will do a lot to heal the racial scars that our nation has shameful brought upon itself. As I stood there surrounded by all these people, I knew this was the future I wanted for my children.

And we got to see the early voting lines that extended blocks down the road. Today was the last day for early voting in North Carolina, and the turn out was unreal.

Last night as the kids trick or treated with our friends' kids, they all burst into a spontaneous chant of "Obama, Obama!"
We'll be having an election day gathering on Tuesday. Food, drinks, and company as we watch the results come in. I hope to be having a celebration/victory party on Saturday. If "that one" doesn't win, we'll be using Saturday to plan a mass exodus to Mexico or Canada (although the dark side seems to be taking over in these places as well).