Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Last Sunday of Summer

Today is a bittersweet day. Counting today, I only have five more days of summer vacation; I start back to work on Friday. :-( Still, I have these last five days to enjoy. I am going to read one more book, which I started last night. I am going to go to the beach one more time and sit and read under the shade of an umbrella that, on a too hot Texas day, is worth much more than the $15.00 it will cost to rent. I am going to see the Cy Twombly exhibit at the MFA, even if I have to go on a day other than Thursday when it's free. I will use my new watercolors for the first time. I will finish at least one of the poems I have started this summer. Maybe I will go see one more movie.

Addition - 8/1, 8:48 a.m.
I had a nice last Sunday of summer. I went to church and heard and interesting talk about positive ways to interpret the story of La Llorona. After church, I had lunch with Valerie. Later, we went to see The Beautiful Country, which was an excellent movie. It really heightened my awareness of people trafficking, which made me angry, disgusted, and sad. Americans really should be more aware of these horrible crimes. Then I played Betty Homemaker and made dinner: salad, mashed potatoes, green peas, and grilled some sirloin accompanied with Black Opal Cabernet. It was all yummy. After eating, Valerie beat me playing cards. Then we watched Def Poetry On Demand and were disappointed not to see the most recent episode. A poet that we met last year in Lake Jackson was on Friday night, but apparently Def Poetry On Demand is over a week behind, which is weird because other shows like Six Feet Under are not over a week behind. Speaking of Six Feet Under, we watched that last night too. As we were watching, I said to Valerie that I would rather Nate die than end up with the syrupy, sweetly manipulative Maggie. Can you imagine how shocked we were when Nate DIED? I don't read all the entertainment news, but I had not heard anything about a main character dying in this final season of the show. What a shock!

Now, I need to get ready to go to the beach. I'm going to sit under an umbrella and read for hours while the ocean serenades me today. I'm not even going to think about summer ending and work starting. I'm just going to chill--of course, I will be sweating and chilling at the same time. :-) Later.

Monday, July 25, 2005

A Fallen Woman Finishes Another Book

On Friday, 7/22, I finished reading Dear Zoe. Finishing three books in one week is a big accomplishment for me, so I feel the need to document. Also, I really enjoyed reading Dear Zoe. When I finished I wrote a blog entry in my paper journal. I'm just going to copy it here.

I just finished reading Dear Zoe. I wish I was home alone so I could have a good cry now. Valerie is here. We had gone to Cafe Artiste earlier but came back here to finish our books (she's reading Three Junes). I thought I would finish reading and wait out the rain, then walk at 7:00. Unfortunately, my clumsiness, rain or not, will keep me from walking today.

When we got back to my apartment, it was raining, and I was running my mouth, always, and running up the stairs when I slammed my left foot into a concrete step. After of moment of stunned suspension, I proceeded to fall up the stairs, slamming my leg into another concrete step. The Coke that I had just bought slammed to the sidewalk below--an acceptable loss, easily replaceable. My book and the take home container of blackberry cobble landed safely on a stair albeit not without some minor injuries--those losses I could not have borne. :-) I actually almost started to cry, but then I realized that I'm a big girl, one who's fallen before and will likely fall again, so I stopped myself. Besides I didn't want to cry in front of Valeria or anyone else for that matter. I prefer to do my crying in solitude. Though I'm sure she would have taken care of me if I had. She's nice like that. Only superficial wounds to clean then I could get back to finishing my book, which I did.

So what did I think of Dear Zoe? I thought it a very straightforward, epistolary, coming of age novel, a genre that I really don't care for. I liked the premise of this one though. On a day when a whole nation was rocked by a great tragedy, a family's small world is rocked by it's own smaller (in the eyes of the world only) tragedy, which makes dealing with their tragedy a bit more difficult. The narrative voice--Tess, a fifteen-year-old girl who is aware of how her world works, but not without some blind spots--is extremely well done. Despite some unbelievable plot twists, I found lots to like about this novel. The no-good but loving dad Nick and the almost perfect step-dad David make good foils, though not angry or antagonistic. They both recognize their limitations and try to do the best they can within their limits. I like that they don't try to punish each other, but they aren't friends either. The author works very hard to draw emotions in the last chapter, but I don't think that detracts from the novel. I think he speaks, through Tess, a lot of truth about the loss of a loved one, and some may find it a bit sappy, but I thought it sounded like a fifteen year old girl, which is what it should have sounded like.

The rest of my writing on Friday was about what book I would read next. Two days have passed and I'm almost half finished with Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers. A British mystery published in 1937, I have a real affinity for things British, especially mystery novels.

I've Been Tagged

Valerie tagged me to do top 10 lists of turn-ons and turn-offs. When she told me she tagged me, I acted like I wish she hadn't done it, but just a couple of months ago, I was wishing someone would tag me. I don't know why I acted that way. I do wish that she had not tagged CM because that leaves me only one person to tag, Lois. Really, though, I'm glad to be part of this tagging thing. It makes me feel part of the blogging community.

Top 10 Turn-ons
  1. Brains. You have to be intelligent to interest me.
  2. Humor. If we can't laugh together, we can't love together.
  3. A big smile, one that lights up a room.
  4. Smooth brown skin. The smooth skin can be brown from birth or a healthy, natural sun tan.
  5. Pretty eyes. Like the waiter from Carrabas yesterday, he had eyes that I could have looked into for hours at a time.
  6. Self confidence. I'm not always very self confident, so if you're not, then we're screwed (and not in a good way). ;-)
  7. Articulateness. I love to talk about books, movies, politics, the world, and I really like to have some witty repartee, especially if there's some flirting involved.
  8. A reader. I love to read and want to be with someone who at least likes to read.
  9. Soft hands. To run over my body, I really like the feel of that.
  10. A good kisser. I really like to make out, maybe even more than having sex. Did I really say that? ;-)

Top 10 Turn-offs
  1. Cockiness.
  2. Hatred.
  3. Intolerance.
  4. Scraggly facial hair.
  5. Ignorance.
  6. Sloppiness.
  7. Condescension.
  8. Obesity.
  9. Non-reader.
  10. Body odor.
The turn-ons list was really hard for me. I'm not sure why. Of course, now that it's finished, I will probably think of so many more that I could add.

I have decided to tag one other person, Danny at Dad Gone Mad. His blog is so funny, even the ones focused on sophomoric humor, which I could have put in my turn offs list. I can't help myself from laughing out loud when I read most of his posts. I'm sure his lists will be nothing short of hilarious.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Pretty Thoughts

The subject of this blog has been on my mind since I attended my niece's wedding last Friday night.

My sister Susy is still the pretty one in my family. My niece's are all pretty too, but I'm talking about my four siblings and myself. When Susy got out of her car at the church, I was actually taken aback by how pretty she looked. I guess, for the past few years, when I've seen her she has usually looked stressed--being a single mother of two, aged 13 and 15, and our father's caretaker would make anyone look stressed. She has worked in a factory for a long time and only in the past year or so has she moved into an office position, one that she should have had a long time ago. So, for a long time, she dressed extremely casually all the time, jeans/shorts and big t-shirts. She still dresses this way sometimes, but she has recently begun to care more about her clothes. I think she's really trying to hook some man, but she's playing it real nonchalant when she talks about it. ;-) She used to tease me about "dressing up" when we would go places because she didn't want to dress up, but the last couple of times that we have gone to the casino boats, she has "dressed up" too.

So back to Friday night, I had some rather unpleasant deja vu when I stood near her part of the night--part of the night all I felt was very pleasant wine effects. Standing near her, I felt fat (she's not skinny either, but she looked so pretty that I don't think anyone would have noticed that she's not skinny) and not ugly but not pretty, homely, I guess. This is exactly how I felt growing up next to her. To those of you who know me IRL, please do NOT send me messages affirming how pretty you think I am or how pretty I am on the inside or how being pretty doesn't necessarily = happiness. I'm really not depressed or self-loathing over this; I'm just explaining. I am being completely honest about my looks, not my person, and I think it's healthy to admit that I'm not physically pretty but I wish I were. Honestly, if I was in a line up, no one would say, "Well she can't possibly be guilty because she's so pretty." :-) Besides, those kinds of messages only confirm the recipients feelings.

So, after I sobered up the next day (my increased/increasing alcohol intake will be the subject of a future post, I'm sure), I started thinking about my desire to be pretty. When I was younger and possessed a bit more bravado, I was only too happy to be the smart one in the family. Other members of my family are smart, but I'm definitely the intellectual one. I had brains. What did I need looks for? Besides, I wasn't "dirt ugly"--my high school friends and I used to say we could never marry anyone dirt ugly, wouldn't want to wake up to that every morning--man, we were really shallow 80s teens. :-)

Now that I'm older, I find myself wishing that I was pretty, not gorgeous or beautiful, just pretty. I know that looks aren't everything. I know that being pretty wouldn't eliminate all my angst. However, I can't deny that I want people to look at me and say/think, "She's pretty." And yes, I know how silly this sounds, but it's true. None of us can deny that in the world today looks do count. I'm sure most of us can name someone whom we feel like either did or didn't get a job because of her/his looks. When I see women on TV talking about having work done, I completely understand why they've done it. If I had the money, I'm sure I would have something done. I wouldn't have too much done, but I would have something done to look pretty--braces, a nose job, liposuction, something. I would draw the line at a boob job though. My breasts are not that big and if I lost weight they would be smaller, but I want people to look me in the face, not the chest.

Speaking of losing weight, readers will notice that I have not discussed ways that I can work to make myself look better, though not necessarily prettier. Basically, I'm lazy about working to look good. I don't want to spend too much time on makeup, hair, or weight control. However, I have recently thought about working more at looking good. I have walked three miles many days this summer. The last couple of weeks though my walking schedule has been disrupted by work, travel, and rain. :-( I will get back on track this evening, weather permitting. Also, I bought a hair straightener to try to make my hair look better (and hence pretty?) than it does when I just blow it dry. Finally, I have started a back-to-school (work) shopping list with new makeup at the top.

So why the desire to look pretty? Sibling rivalry, maybe. If Susy looks pretty, I want to look pretty too. Besides, I'm single and over 40 and smart; I need to add pretty to my qualities to increase my chances of finding someone to share the second half of my life with. I don't want to end up an old maid, do I? ;-) Well, at least, I'm funny, aren't I? That's something. Right?

Before I sign off, I have to stress that Susy is not merely physically pretty. She really has bravely taken on the care of our dad and is trying so hard to raise her kids to be good people. She would do anything to help her friends, of which she has many, and her family. AND she's smart. I wish I had a picture that I could post to show how pretty she looked Friday night.

Waking Desperation

I woke this morning feeling like someone/something is trying to steal my summer time from me. I feel like I start back to work tomorrow, but I don't really start back until August 5. I do have to go to a meeting tomorrow, and I'm supposed to go to a couple of things next week, which reminds me I need to cancel those (done!). Today, all I have to do is drive down to Freeport this afternoon and pick up Valerie. I had thought that I might go visit my friend Lois and her grandsons, whom she is babysitting this week. They must have kept her so busy this week that she has not had any problems sleeping because she hasn't replied to my email yet. She tends to surf the net late at night and early in the morning when she's having trouble sleeping.

I feel like I have to fight the summer-time thief by satisfying my need to do only what I want to do--read, read, read, and blog a little, nothing too stressful, no expectations. For the past three days, I have really done nothing stressful. I have even decided to drop my fiction workshop. I am completely blocked on finishing my story, but also, I really can't stand the thought of spending 6+ hours of the rest of my summer, reading and responding to someone else's work. Damn, I really am so selfish these days. Instead, I want to finish Dear Zoe, read at least two more books, write some blog posts and maybe a poem or two, and not really think about work until August 1. I just want to be able to stay up late and sleep late and not feel like something is waiting for me.

One potentially stressful thing that I must do before August 5: my car needs some repairs. I had planned to have the brakes done and the front axle replaced when I get paid next week. Now, I think I may have to have my alternator replaced too. Maybe the need for car repairs initiated this feeling of desperation. Whatever caused it, I don't like it! Damn the life of an underpaid working person.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Finished Another One

I have finished another book, Forbidden Knowledge by Roger Shattuck. It's about one half literary criticism and one half cultural/social criticism. I really enjoyed the first half in which he analyzed literature that uses the idea of forbidden knowledge. Some of the texts he used in the Bible, Paradise Lost, Goethe's Faust. I read the first half during the school year. The second half is mostly about science and how it should be cautious in its desire for knowledge. For those who know me IRL, you understand how good finishing this books makes me feel. I really don't do non-fiction very much at all. I'm a literary fiction snob and proud of it. :-) The second half of the book was very interesting too, but I thought Shattuck never really answered the question of whether some knowledge should be forbidden. He did, however, caution against unbridled discovery without concern for the effects on ourselves, others, and the world around us.

Since this has become my week of reading, I have already started a new book, Dear Zoe by Philip Beard. It's not very long, less than 200 pages, and is reading fairly fast. I will probably finish it in a couple of days. Of course, I will let you know what I think of it when I've finished it. So far, so good. It's about a girl who was somehow complicit in the death of her sister on Sept. 11, 2001 (not in the terror attacks though). She is writing to her dead sister, working through her grief.

Monday, July 18, 2005


I spent the day finishing my reading of Bee Season by Myla Goldberg. In the end, I really didn't like the book, but I have a thing about finishing all books that I start. In a previous post, I commented that there was something unsatisfying about the book. At first, I thought the book was too light-hearted, not dark enough, but in the end, the book is fairly dark, so that can't be the cause of my dissatisfaction. I think I have figured it out though. The book is structured in short scenes, which alternate the focus on each of the 4 members of the Naumann family. I think this structuring prevented me from ever spending enough time with one or more characters to feel connected to them. I just never was able to feel very deeply for the characters. I do have to admit that Goldberg's descriptions of Emily Naumann's, the young girl who unexpectedly wins her school spelling bee, relationship with and ideas about letters is at time so very clever. But that cleverness wasn't enough to make me care about what happens to the Naumanns in the end.

Now, I have to figure out what to read next. Of course, I have plenty of choices on my bookshelves, but I think I will go to the bookstore(s) tonight to see if I can find something new anyway. I think I've written before about my book-buying addiction.

I should be at the fiction writing workshop that I'm in this summer, but I decided today that I would play hooky. I only have this week and next left to enjoy as my summer break, so I couldn't bear the thought of sitting in class tonight. Tonight, like today, is my time, and I don't want to share it with anyone. I'm going to eat a nice dinner and go to the bookstore then start reading a new book. Besides, I didn't finish my submission, which was due today--you readers who know me IRL know how I procrastinate. Not to worry though, I can email it later in the week. Maybe my creative energy will return tomorrow or Wednesday. I'm sure it will. :-)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Good, Short Vacation

The trip to Galveston was a big success, even though we didn't spend as much time on the beach as we had planned or sit on the balcony drinking wine. The rented umbrella had to be relinquished at 5:00, which meant we only had a couple of hours on the beach. Still, it was a nice couple of hours, chatting and reading, despite the knee-high pile of seaweed lining the beach and the family drama of the group next to us. The balcony was nice, but it was positioned so that it didn't get much breeze, so it was too hot to sit and drink. We did, however, sit in the room and drink wine and played Trivial Pursuit--yeah, we're both nerdy like that. The first bottle opened easily, but the second bottle required quite a fight to open. We had forgotten a corkscrew and bought the cheapest one at Kroger in Galveston. Of course, the cheapest one was one of those that waiters use--you have to pull the cork out. We both fought valiantly--lots of cork remains and some wine splattered all over the table--and refused to be beaten by the cork. Finally, we decided that if it wouldn't come out then we would push it in and drown it in wine. At last, we were victorious! Valerie took some pictures of the dead cork, which I'm sure she will post in her livejournal some time. The bad thing is that we fought so hard and didn't finish that second bottle of wine. The sight of wasted wine is so sad. :-( Still, a good time was had by both (I think I can speak for Valerie, anyway) of us--we had a good seafood dinner and spent yesterday morning strolling in and out of the air conditioned shops along The Strand. It really didn't matter that the trip was short; it was nice to get away with a good friend and relax for a couple of days. After all, the start of a new school year is less than a month away now. :-(

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Vacation - 2 days, 1 night , one hour away

I went to Nashville a couple of weeks ago, but that really wasn't a vacation. I went for a work conference--all that late night honky-tonkin' still didn't make it a vacation. Really. Today, I am going on my summer vacation. I am all packed, waiting on Valerie to pick me up. We are going to Galveston, of all places, for our summer vacation trip. We had wanted to go to San Antonio--still not really far enough away for me--for a few days, but our meager teacher salaries and excessive spending on things like wine, books, and dinners out--the truly important things in life--prevented us from being able to do so. Alas, it's hard being a poor teacher with no rich spouse to pay for really good, long vacations to exotic places.

Really, though, I love Galveston. It's always been my favorite Texas getaway spot. I have many fond memories of family trips to Galveston. Too many years ago now, my mom and I had a couple of wonderful weekend trips to Dickens on the Strand--a pre-Christmas celebration. For a long time, after she died, I felt a need to go sit on the beach and just mourn. Unfortunately, she died at the cold wet beginning of November, and I didn't make it to the beach until the next summer. That trip with my sister, her kids, 4 nieces, my almost invalid dad, and Asshole Alvin, who was in the midst of a guilt-driven nervous breakdown or so he claimed, didn't lend itself to much time for reflection. Still it was a fun trip, especially the last night when my sister and I made very weak strawberry daiquiris for the girls, all too young to drink. We were the "cool" aunts--aunts should always be cool. I've been to the beach once or twice since then, but the need to mourn has passed. Maybe today, while I'm lying on the beach, I will think about Mom and not mourn but revel in my memories of her.

I'm sure Valerie and I will make the most of this short, in more ways than one, vacation trip. We must enjoy a really good seafood dinner somewhere. I woke up this morning craving boiled shrimp. Yummy!!! :-) Last night, I stocked up on wine. We plan to sit on the balcony with its guaranteed view of the ocean until very late, listening to the waves, and enjoying wine. Tomorrow morning, we will enjoy a leisurely breakfast then hit the Strand. Of course, payday is not until Thursday, so too much shopping won't be possible. The Strand is a good place for just browsing though, lots of interesting shops. Although this will be a short trip, not very far from home, I know we will have fun. We always do.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

A Decision Made

This morning, I went to eat breakfast and took the novel Bee Season with me. I started it a couple of days ago, and I thought at first that the main character's point of view was very cute, and the book was funny. However, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to sustain my interest in it. I am easily bored by coming of age novels, and I'm sure that's what this novel will end up being one. (When I read books like this, I wish I could read as quickly as Valerie. She would probably have already finished the book by now.) Anyway, I was enjoying it while I ate breakfast, but periodically I had thoughts of wishing I was reading something else, something different. So after I finished eating, I gave in to my desire to go to the bookstore.

I had fought that temptation all week. I really can't afford to buy any new books until my next payday, nor do I need more books to read. I have over twenty books on my bookshelves that I plan to read some day. However, I love to buy books, so I will still go buy more when I can afford it. Today, I was good and didn't buy anything, but I really wanted several books and really wanted to read several books I already have but was reminded of them when I saw copies on the shelves. Walking the bookstore aisles, picking out book after book that I would love to have time to read before work starts back, I realized once again that I can't bear the thought of having to go back to work. I hate not having time to read and study for myself. Scanning the shelves for new books, I kept noticing the books that I teach. Seeing A Prayer for Owen Meany almost gave me an anxiety attack. My AP students are reading that this summer , and I haven't even begun to reread it, which I must do before school starts. However, I don't want to reread it; I would rather read something that I've never read before. I want to read for myself, not for my students.

For a while now, I have said I will teach one more year, and spend the year working toward leaving the classroom for good. I thought this was a good plan, but I knew that I had to make some decision about what I would do once I left the classroom. I kept vacillating between becoming a librarian and teaching at a community college/university and anything else that didn't involve teaching. I knew that I had to have a real plan and put it into action, but I just kept talking about it and doing nothing. Recently Valerie pointed out to me that I can't work toward a negative, that I have to work toward something. I admitted that I had been thinking the same thing and that I knew that I needed a concrete plan, or I would drift along and be in the same position next summer.

So I have decided to pursue a Master's of Library Science from University of North Texas. Also, I have almost decided that I can give up finishing my thesis for a Master's of Literature without feeling too much guilt. I really am just not interested in the topic right now. It's too stale for me, I think. Finishing that thesis really wouldn't open any new doors for me anyway. I can't afford to pursue a Ph. D., nor do I believe that I have the ambition to do so. Of course, as my friend Penny said, "...there is something to be said for just muscling through and to hell with any insecurities about 'how good it is'--how many master theses are even read anyway? Just get it over with." So this part of my decision is not definite yet. However, if I can afford to start working on the library science degree in the fall, then I think the literature thesis will be put away forever. I certainly won't be able to pay to work on it and the library science degree at the same time at two different universities.

Now, if I can just not feel guilty about quitting on the literature degree then I think I will be okay. And, of course, I have to cope with the depressing prospect of teaching for another year. Damn, I hate it when I make what should be a positive decision and end up still being depressed by it. Well, maybe I'll feel better in the morning--not likely since I will have more guilt for not finishing my short story today. Sometimes, I think I will never do anything but sit around and whine and complain about me not doing anything. I better to go to bed now so I don't sit here and become morose.

Watching the Watchers

Yesterday, I read about the Minutemen Militia organization coming to Houston to witness HPD's hands-off policy regarding immigrants. This organization has decided that they can do a better job than border patrol agents at patrolling the US's border with Mexico. I don't trust the leaders of this organization. They claim to be worried about security and terrorism, but I think they are more worried about the increasing number of Hispanics in the US. I think it's about the majority becoming a minority in this country. I have to admit that all I know about them is from what I've read in the newspapers and seen on the television news. This group just really worries me--any time someone outside the law decides to organize and try to do the job that the law is supposed to do, I get worried. Someone is going to get hurt eventually, and that someone will probably be an innocent person.

The group is now setting it's sites on Houson's day laborers. They are going to videotape the day laborers waiting for people to drive by and hire them. They are also going to videotape the contractors who hire them. All of the day laborers are not illegal immigrants, and I have no idea what percentage are estimated to be illegal. I haven't seen or heard evidence that these people cause any big problems in Houston, so I'm not really concerned about them in a negative way. The police do not ask about their immigration status if/when they speak to the day laborers. They were taking photos of them, but stopped last week when a local immigrant rights organization questioned the use of the photos. All of this photographing and videotaping, got me to thinking about watching and watchers.

Last night on the way downtown to watch the Astros win, I told Valerie that I would like to go take pictures of the militia taking pictures of the day laborers. I thought it would be interesting to watch the watchers. I knew the media would be out watching the watchers, but I still thought it would be interesting to photograph people photographing other people--seems kind of postmodern and interesting to me. Valerie pointed out that I would have to get up very early to go do this. She knows the likelihood of me rising early on a summer day, unless I have no choice, is pretty close to zero. So, sadly, I gave up my idea of watching the watchers.

This morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see this article in the Chronicle: Minutemen headed here warned they, too, will be watched. I don't have to worry about watching the watchers because someone else is going to do it. I really think this idea of watching the watchers is a great idea, and I may have to use it in a story or something at a later date. With all of our concerns about security not likely to lessen in the near future, this idea will be timely for a long time. I'm sure it's not an original idea either, but I can't think of any books or movies that use this idea. If you can think of one, let me know. I would like to check it out.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Change of Blog Plans

It's funny how life gets in the way of our plans sometimes. I was going to load Palm Pilot software on my laptop tonight, so that I could post a long blog post that I wrote in my Palm Pilot the last day of the Model Schools Conference in Nashville, a week ago. Much of it concerned my continued unhappiness with my job situation, probably very whiny and pathetic in tone. For those three people who read my blog, most of it redundant. I'm sure I will at some point post some of it--the next time I'm feeling sorry for myself and need to wallow in my unhappiness maybe.

For now though, I have to talk about my niece being one of the employees in this jewelry store robbery, Store Employees Bound During Jewelry Store Robbery. When my younger sister called me this afternoon and told me about it, I was calm and seemingly unaffected emotionally. I told Valerie about it, and my voice didn't even crack or anything. My sister had immediately told me that my niece was okay, but that she had been tied up and held at gunpoint during the robbery. Later, I spoke to my sister again, and I was still not really upset about the situation. I was concerned about my niece, of course, but I didn't feel like crying or anything. I didn't even try to call my brother (her father). I just felt like it was over, and I shouldn't make a big deal about it, but, of course, it's a very traumatic thing for my niece to have gone through.

Then about 30 minutes ago, I searched the web for the media outlets in that part of East Texas and found the news story. I decided to email the story to some of my prayerful friends and ask for prayers for my niece. As I was typing the email, tears filled my eyes and washed down my cheeks. Suddenly, I was overcome with relief that she was not hurt physically and shame that I had not called her or my brother. What is wrong with me? I am a horrible sister and aunt these days. Why didn't I call? Selfishness? Fear of crying? Silliness? Probably a combination of all three to be honest. I am selfish, extremely so these days. I do think I might cry if/when I talk to either my niece or my brother, but I'm not sure why I feel that I will cry. I am silly about family situations, especially when it involves illness or hurt. Unfortunately, it's too late to do anything about it tonight. I will call them both tomorrow morning.

Speaking of tomorrow, I have to go to work again tomorrow. I really hate working during my summer vacation, but usually I can feel okay about if I'm getting paid for the work. This summer, however, even getting paid hasn't made me feel okay about working. Today was the first day of two days of curriculum writing for our new advisory period, and it could have been a disaster. Luckily, though, I was able to work with Valerie and Lucy. If I had had to work with either of two particularly irritating co-workers, the Psycho sounds that I heard every time PICW1 spoke today might have manifested themselves into Psycho actions. PICW1 gets on my last nerve. Warning! Tackiness is forthcoming--stop reading if you don't want to witness my cattiness. ICW1 has absolutely no taste in clothes, but she thinks she is so cute--a prime candidate for What Not to Wear. (If I didn't dislike her so much, I might have to try to get her on that show.) The too short pleated black skirt today almost caused audible guffaws, but I found enough will power to restrain myself. I don't know if I have any left for tomorrow's outfit though.

Now I have to go to bed and go to sleep. I hope I don't have nightmares about armed robbers, Psycho, or, even worse, ICW1 and her bad outfits. ;-) Later.

Nashville Notes

I went to Nashville on June 25. I typed this post very early in the morning on 6/27, but I didn't feel it was finished so I never published it. Tonight, I wanted to post something so I thought I would start with this.

Before leaving on the trip, I was really wishing that I wasn't going. It's not a pleasure trip; it's for work, and I just have made it my goal to not work this summer any more than I have to. Of course, a few months ago when I agreed to attend this conference, I thought it might be fun. The last few weeks, though, I have been dreading the trip. One of the things I dreaded most was my roommate, but, to be honest, she has not been as bad as I expected. Anyway when I arrived at the airport and met the others in my group, I became some other version of me. When my roommate got out of the Suburban, she ran over to me and huggedme like were were friends, and I returned the hug in kind. Then she asked if I brought snacks for our room, and I cheesed and asked if she did. When she said no, I said something like, "Well, we will just have to buy some snacks as soon as we get to Nashville." I think I even said this in a rather Southern accents. YUCK! I am ashamed to be able to be that fake. (I was telling Valerie about this and she said that all Texas women have the ability to be this way. Maybe she's right, but I still can't stand the thought of me being so sweetly fake.)

I have never been to Nashville, never desired to come to Music City--it's been a long time since I have voluntarily listened to country music. I did go through my country music loving, two-stepping phase, but that was almost half a life ago. On Saturday afternoon, we took an hour long bus tour of the city. The coolest thing I saw was the Bicentennial Mall Park--not a shopping mall--a beautiful green space. A wall, etched with a timeline of Tennessee historical information, surrounds the inner park, and it is broken or separated only where it documents the secession during the Civil War. One of the strangest things I saw was the life-sized replica of the Parthenon, in another park in Nashville. Apparently, the founders of the city wanted it to be a center for cultural arts and thought the Parthenon replica would symbolize that desire.