Friday, November 30, 2012

Today's Rant

I try to be open-minded. As in, I can see why someone might theoretically like satin sheets...although flannel or fleece sheets are clearly superior. Or why they might like Twilight...even though it's complete crap.

Ummm, okay, I'm not all that open-minded.


There are three things that have been bugging me because they are so CLEARLY WRONG that I feel compelled to say something. And it has to do with parenting, which is already so controversial: stay-at-home moms vs. working moms, disposable diapers vs. cloth diapers, cry it out vs. attachment parenting, and so on. To show you just how open-minded I am, I will tell you that on any of the issues I just brought up, I can see both ways...except that I do think it's kind of creepy when the whole family sleeps in the same bed even when the kids are in their teens.

First let me get philosophical for a moment. What is the goal of raising little Junior? I see that the end goal is to have Junior become a successful, independent adult. "Successful" defined as pursuing a lawful passion of theirs that makes them happy and hopefully provides an income. "Independent" defined as not calling me a billion times a day with all of their problems AND not living with me after they turn 21 years old. Keeping that in mind, here are my 3 parenting issues that I have a strong opinion on.

1. Paying your kids for good grades is not wise. They don't develop an intrinsic love of learning if you reward them with money. Proponents say that it's the kid version of working, and they need to be paid for doing a good job. In response, I say, "No, that's stupid." My more articulate argument is in the aforementioned paragraph.

2. Spanking is a poor choice of punishment. Spanking is using aggression to punish. Hitting teaches....ummm, hitting. So when Junior starts hitting other people and you wonder why, maybe you should rethink how you dole out punishments.

3. Elf on the Shelf is stupid. Have you heard of this inane concept? I already think the Santa thing is stupid, but I go along with it because I have a 4 year old who's been brainwashed by her friends at school. Elf on the Shelf is basically Santa's tattletale. You put a toy elf on a ... shelf and move it around to other ... shelves (get it?). You tell your kids that it's going to watch them and know whether they're being naughty or nice and tell Santa.

So it breeds:

- Paranoia. This creepy little doll that moves around is WATCHING YOU.

- Only good behavior from Thanksgiving to Christmas (i.e., the other 11 months of the year you can be a hellion)
- Parental work in the form of reminding your children that it is WATCHING YOU, and of course you have to move the dang thing around from shelf to shelf.

I admit I'm lazy and don't want to deal with the dang elf. I also think it teaches the wrong thing...only be good so that you get presents. If you want to move around novelty items around your home for the fun of it, go right ahead. I suppose it's the "so that you get presents" part that really annoys me, kind of like paying for grades. Shouldn't you be a good citizen and a good learner because it's the "right" thing to do, not because you're trying to get the proverbial carrot?


I did find this link highly amusing:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A potential connection

I never really liked kids much. I babysat when I was young because it was pretty much the only job you could get between the ages of 13 and 15, and I figured that watching kids would be a cautionary tale of why teenage pregnancy is a bad, bad thing. And it worked. I got pocket money, and it was excellent birth control. Don't forget to add that most people had better food than I had at my house.

I wasn't an awful babysitter. Most of the time, I even liked the kids. A few hours at a time is enough time to build up a rapport, play a few games, watch a movie with them, and tuck them into bed. It usually didn't last long enough that you went crazy. There was one horrible, horrible job where I was sooooo outnumbered by 5 little girls. It was mayhem that lasted all day long. Infant twins that cried and puked nonstop, a potty-training 2 year old who pooped on the carpet, a 6 year old who got into her mom's makeup and an 8 year old. That truly was a cautionary tale.

They say that even if you don't like kids, you like your own. I like my kid. She's reasonably quiet, she clings to me in public, she so very much wants to be accepted (which tugs at my heart strings), and she wants to do the "right" thing. It also worked to our advantage that one of her big strengths was that she has never been a kid that gets into anything. Never once has she tried to put her finger in a light socket or even tried to leave the house on her own. We've never had to child proof the house, which astonishes most people that come to visit. No cabinet locks, no toilet locks, no gates. That has its own drawbacks, such as she's usually extremely anxious because she doesn't want to do anything wrong. We'll deal with that later or enroll her in a class that teaches her to bend the rules more. Right now we have a decent kid, on the whole.  She has her annoying moments, which tend to be right before bed, because she's hyped up (I swear, she's going to be a night owl when she gets older).

When you have a kid, especially one kid, that becomes your baseline when you encounter any kids approximately the same age. I'm always taken aback when other kids display far more outgoing behavior than my kid. For instance, some kids at daycare come up and hug me whenever they see me. I could NEVER EVER imagine my kid doing that to someone else's parent. Then there are some kids with apparent speech issues because I cannot understand a word they're saying, and they're older than my kid. Or kids older than mine who spit objects at one another. I'm like WTF when I see this because I cannot imagine my kid ever spitting at another kid. What's even more funny is when my kid gives the spitting kid the same look I just did.

What was great about Mean Girl was that she was a lot like my kid - she was reasonably well-mannered in the presence of adults, didn't spit objects at people (yes, some girls do this), was clean and neat, and thought before doing things. What was bad about Mean Girl = she was mean.

And, yes, my kid still laments Mean Girl being gone. And, no, they still haven't had a playdate because her mother still hasn't gotten back to me after our long talk before Halloween. Yet Mean Girl's mother's profile picture is the two girls sitting together. Which I think is kind of weird that my kid is in a non-relative's profile picture...

So with Mean Girl gone, I've been hoping to find other girls that she wants to play with. There is one really sweet girl at her school who seems so polite and welcoming and thoughtful. Last night my kid made her a card with a kitty cat on it. It was so cute how excited she was to give it to her today at school. I briefly met her parents at the school Halloween party because I recognized the little girl from seeing her at drop-off every morning, and the mother seemed so nice. That moment when you "click" with someone and think to yourself "hey, this could become a good friend." But someone else came up to me, and she and her husband ambled away, and we never got a chance to connect again.

Today when I dropped my kid off, I asked one of the teachers if she could try to hook me up with that girl's mother. Maybe it could lead somewhere.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The journey of NaNo

My husband and I have different writing journeys.

Not that I know this from actual experience. We've rarely read each other's stuff. Why? Because I'm intensely paranoid about my writing...that is, the stuff I DON'T put on the internet for anyone to stumble upon. He, apparently, is also paranoid. And he writes science fiction/fantasy, which is a genre I'm not terribly interested in, so I wouldn't have any feedback other than asking why his characters had such horrible names like Dramenod (I don't know that this is what his character names are since I haven't read anything he's written).

We were having a conversation this past weekend when I was lamenting that I don't quite know how my story was going to end. "Don't you know where you're going when you start?" he asked quizzically as if anyone who writes always has a well thought-out plan.

(I don't.)

"No, not really," I bite my lip nervously.

"I always know where the story is going to end before I start." He really doesn't sound holier than thou when he says this although it may come across that way. He's much more matter-of-fact about it.


I had outlined NaNo 2011 before I started. I had a path, and I worked backward methodically in order to set the stage for the ending. It was a pretty sweet deal how it all came together so well.  Almost like I should give up my day job and become a writer. No, not really (I like steady income and health insurance), but it went far better than I had expected it would go.

Several months ago I had an idea for NaNo 2012. But it was a very painful idea that brought up feelings of guilt and regret. Nothing really horrible, but I just didn't want to go there. I'm not ready yet. And that's okay. There's plenty more NaNos in the future, or I can just do it when I *am* ready.

That left me in a bit of a lurch when I realized my original 2012 idea wasn't going to work. When I was sleeping one night, an image came into my head - a crisp, Technicolor picture. And that was what I used for my opening scene, and it became the main fixture for the story. Dreams can be so helpful...and other things, but in this instance it was helpful.

When you base a book on a picture, the plot doesn't reveal itself right away. I had to understand the characters - absorb them, understand their motivations, their values, what makes them tick. That process took a long while, and I watched like any other reader as they slowly revealed the cards in their hands.

So, no, I didn't know how it was going to turn out. I had a potential lead when I started the journey, but decided that it didn't quite mesh with how the character had developed over the month when I got to starting to tie up the book on Sunday night. And so it went in a slightly different direction.

It's hard to judge if I'm happy how it turned out. When I go back and read the beginning, I think it reads stronger than I thought it was at the time. Toward the end, I started to get fatigued, and I think it slacks way off. But in editing I think it can be brought back.

All in all, I think NaNo is a wonderful exercise. It does take a lot of energy to do. Around the 15th of the month, I was just exhausted and couldn't really figure out why until I realized that I was spending hours a night after work thinking and writing and typing toward a mission.

Mission accomplished.

Monday, November 26, 2012

NaNo: Coming to a Close

I'm on the tail end of NaNoWriMo. As of this moment, my word count is 48,003. I need to get to 50,000, which is completely attainable since I have 4 additional days in which to cross the finish line. Unless I get hit by a bus in the next couple of days, it will be my second NaNoWriMo down. Two novels written (at least in word count only) in the past 13 months.

I wonder when or if the sense of elation will hit me. Right now I'm still in the "eh" phase.

I hate that about myself. I'm so unimpressed by things.

I want to want something with all of my heart. I want to go after it with passion and zeal. I want to continue to want it, even if it doesn't want me back. I don't want to give up. I want to persevere, eventually conquering it with a euphoria that lasts long after the victory.

Alas, I doubt that will happen in this instance. I will go back to my normal, which will be reading books that sound interesting to me, writing, editing my NaNo pieces, finding quirky things to watch on Netflix, napping, chastising myself for not taking more pictures, etc.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Friday Crash

I have a tradition that is many decades old (ok, 2 decades, but since I've only been alive 3 decades, I think I can use the term "many"). That would be that I work myself to the bone Monday - Friday afternoon, and then...I kind of die.

In high school/college, I took full class loads, I worked, I had an active social life, I studied, I dated. Monday - Friday afternoon was a sea of writing papers, going to class, working at a stock brokerage firm, dating, going out with friends. I'd stay up until 2-4am burning the midnight oil writing a paper or playing a fun computer game. Come Friday afternoon, I was done. Done.

When I went away to college, it was very similar. I'd work hard, I'd play hard. Come Friday afternoon, I was done.

Most Fridays I'd be in bed by 7pm. Other kids my age? They'd be getting drunk in someone's dorm room, partying. I would dread if a friend asked me to do something on a Friday night. Why can't it be Saturday? I can do Saturday. Friday night? I just can't do. Even now, I just can't do it. Last month my husband had a work function on a Friday night. I grumbled, I complained. I don't DO Friday night events.

Friday nights are when I get in my least romantic pajamas (fleece), crawl in bed, and just sleep.

In college, my boyfriend was impressed by my Friday night fortitude. I would be in bed by 7pm (because I eat dinner at 5pm like a senior citizen). He would be awake until his normal 1am, a whole 6 hours after I fell asleep. He would then wake up at 9am, and I would STILL be asleep. I'd usually wake up at 10am after sleeping a good 14-15 hours in a row. I didn't move the whole time. He would check to make sure I was still breathing.

I miss those Friday nights.

Now I still like Friday nights, but I just can't do the marathon sleeping as well as I used to. I can make it about 10 hours, which is profoundly awesome in its own right; it just sucks in comparison to 14-15 hours. Last night was 7:30pm - 5:30am. 

I am jealous of people who sleep like that every night.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fun Size Bars

Get these fun size bars out of the house. I've eaten a hideous amount.

Julia eats them at the rate of about 1 per day. There are A LOT. Well, there WERE a lot. Now there's not that many. Was it the 7 she has eaten, or was it the 100 I have eaten?


On the bright side, I've been running. 15-30 minutes at a time. For me, that's not too bad.

My intake eating all those fun size bars has greatly exceeded the calories burned during running.

Nano is kind of going okay.

With the election and general stress and Nano and "I'm thrilled soccer is done" and I'm catching up on some TV watching, my blogging here has decreased.

I'll bring it back up soon...I promise.