Wednesday, June 27, 2012


It's 106 today.  It was 107 degrees yesterday as I passed a bank clock at 5:15 p.m. on the South side of Oklahoma City.  I waited in traffic with the other schmucks, my air conditioner blasting slightly cooler air than what you'd find outdoors, sweating from the top of my melting hair to the bottoms of my low heeled pumps.  On the South side, you'll find about 60% of the people in their cars lack a/c.  Their windows are wide open, they drive fast to encourage air flow and have short tempers.  Their hair tends to be dirty with pollution and skin is more tan, at least on the window side of their ride.

I stayed on the city streets, skirting the outskirts on my way home.  If I took the highway, I would be more cranky, sitting in a traffic jam with hundreds of others, all inconsiderate and cutting in front because their destination and time are so much more important than my own.  Sigh.  It happens more in the summer.  People get more aggressive; either that or I just notice it more.

During the summer in Oklahoma I either head north for a couple of weeks and find a place to hang out that is both cool and near water, or I simply dig in and wait out the heat inside an air conditioned house/car/office/world because I cannot take the heat.  It is depressing, like seasonal affective disorder in the summertime.  Too much sun; too much heat.  Not enough snow.  Last year we had 63 days in a row of over 100 degree temperatures. Everything not inside died.  This year I planted cucumbers, basil, and a ton of other decorative plants under the porch awning where they are more or less protected from the sun.  As long as they are watered every day, they should live. Should. Except that (as my friend Laura says) it's like a pizza oven out there. We only had one day where it snowed and I felt more alive than usual.

The heat makes people a little crazy too. In the years that I have made my cell phone number public, I have never had a crank caller. I have never had hang ups and I have never had anyone sell my number to a telemarketer.  Only this week has anything strange happened.  I got a text from an Oklahoma City cell phone number.  It said "Can you Send meme pics of your schnou" with no regard for basic grammar. I'm not sure, but I suspect that it is from one of my students. Yes, I just berated someone's grammar before their poor choices.

I have been directly approached by college students and former college students for anything from sex to romance.  There is this rule that every educator knows and every educator follows or they are taking advantage of the power they have over that student, either by their grade or by the regard with which the student holds them. Generally speaking, you're a low-down dirty dog sun of a beeswax if you have sex with your students.  You just are.  Think of Mary Kay Latourneau, John from Oleanna, and any number of other scandalous rotten teachers. And that's just the female ones.  I have seen my share of both female and male professors in relationships with students.  There is a sense of decorum in waiting until after grades are turned in but not everyone who begins a romantic entanglement with a student has the ethical fortitude to do so. Me? I have to watch my own reaction to such activities. My fingers itch for a stick. My advice to all teachers everywhere is this: Don't f**k your students.

In no way am I interested in sending pictures of my schnou, nose, the crack of my butt or the crack of my cat's butt across the interwebs for the personal or public entertainment of another without payment.  I didn't respond. It's not that I don't have anything to say to the request.  I'd like to respond with "May I have your credit card information?" or perhaps "You are obviously in need of some higher education.  May I direct you to my English class instead?" or the classic "What the hell is wrong with you?", because this really is horrifying.  Then I wondered if I could look up some strange medical disease dictionary and forward those. Yes, I have a mean streak and do not like to be messed with. Must be the heat.  I settled on ignoring it.  If the person texts again, I will track them down and call their mom, girlfriend, wife, or clergy member and embarrass them.
This one is free, but the arm, leg, and schnou will cost ya!
During the course of writing this blog post, my dog has been outside. I have to get a pancake turner and scrape him off the sidewalk where he has melted around the edges.

It's that hot.

Friday, June 22, 2012



Someplace I never thought I'd be.

That means paying mortgages and bills and having a responsible job helping people and shit.

And having a car and paying for my education and not letting the dog starve or the cat go without her medication and eating healthy and exercising regularly and cleaning the toilet from time to time.


It means admitting that I am not 25 anymore.  Switching my afternoon snack from barbecue chips or guacamole to broccoli.  Not staying out all night having fun with friends.  Grading papers and having insurance and planning for retirement.  I've never thought I would be able to rely on Social Security anyway and really, that's ok with me.  Social Security gave us a monthly allowance until I was 18 because of my dad's death so I figure that by the time I retire, we are even.  That's what Social Security is; a safety net for people who really need it.

Besides, I'm totally middle class now.  Yep, I made it.  I was reading "Robinson Crusoe" the other day and in the opening pages, Defoe was talking about how it's best to be in the middle class, free of the problems of both the extremely poor and the extremely rich and how it's a nice life to have.  To neither be envied nor desperate.  I like the middle class.  It comes with fresh vegetables.  And a husband who shares stuff with me.  Like barbecue potato chips.  Seriously, he needs to stop buying those.

Being a grown up means that I have to pay my student loan.


I owe roughly a million dollars.  I'm not sure of the exact number.  And I just knew the repayment amount was going to be about another million dollars a month.  And when I don't know things and I'm afraid of them, I tend to ignore them until someone mean and ugly comes and knocks on my door or sets me on fire or whatever.


I made a New Years resolution this year that I would get my financial house in order and keep it in order.  I take my resolutions seriously.  One year it was to lose weight. One year it was to get in good enough shape to become an aerobics instructor.  The next it was to become an aerobics instructor.  You get the idea.  I have done all of the things on my lists since 1999 and the only goal that I did not accomplish was running a marathon.  I did a half marathon but had too much joint pain to do the whole thing.  Ah well.  It's a way to keep my life on track and I think I do a good job.  It wasn't always that way.  I used to make resolutions to always love fresh strawberries (I was 8, gimme a break) or to learn to power slide in a '77 Firebird.  I did and I also learned how to power slide a snow machine.  Now you know why I am so surprised to have made it to the ancient age I am now, and why all of my parts don't quite work.
I blame a car like this for lots of mis-adventures

These days I am a little more contemplative.  I sit around between Christmas and New Years and ruminate on my fortunes and fames (and misfortunes and infamies) and plan.  It's how I give myself a pep talk.  Imagine my inner old white man gym coach chewing a cigar and wearing gray sweats saying Hey Girl, quit screwing around and think about what you want to do this year.  What went well last year? What do you want to do better this year? What do you want to achieve? You can do it!  But quit screwing AROUND!

Probably more than you wanted to know about the people in my head.  Believe me, with the cigar-chewing coach there lives an inner 9-year-old who loves jelly belly's an inner 79-year-old who wants to cover the house in doilies and paisley table cloths.  They are over shouted  most of the time by competitive swimmer who can't swim, a fat fratboy who loves beer and tattoos and a Mary-Kate Olsen look alike who just wants white wine and slim cigarettes and good perfume.  Somewhere in there is a 39-year-old who should pay her bills and help college students learn to be adults.  She doesn't always get to run the keyboard.

Today, my inner 39-year-old listened to my cigar-chewing grizzled gym coach and called about her student loan payments.  I talked to them and listened and figured it out.  Oh, I was supposed to pay you guys this exorbitant amount? Uh, nope. Can't do that. I'm a public school teacher (magic words, by the way.  They also mean that I'm poor and you'd be committing sodomy if you asked me for more than 10% of my income).  Even Uncle Sam AND the State of Oklahoma give me back the taxes I pay.

Once, I had my house broken into.  The robber looked around, felt really sad, and left me twenty bucks.

That last part wasn't true, but it could be.

I get to fill out some paperwork and then in August I will start paying on my loans.  Something I can afford and live with and still make some headway on those loans. I will protect my stellar credit score because we are selling the house soon and I want to be able to get a good home loan for a new place.  Like an adult and stuff.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go grade some papers before sliding off with Grey in our adult version of the muscle car that gets good gas mileage to go have adult fun in Eureka Springs with my other grown up friends.  Maybe there will be strawberries and potato chips.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Normal Father's Day

I don't often notice that it's Fathers Day.  Third Sunday in June, some ads go out, some places advertise sales on the radio.  I don't watch tv but I remember when I did.  Lots of ads on tv about dads.  The one print ad I saw and appreciated was for JC Penney and it featured a two-dad household with their two kids having a happy day.  I liked that a lot and immediately went shopping there with Grey.  He needed some new clothing anyway.

Lots and lots of people don't know about my dad.  I keep quiet and neither say anything supportive or anything derogatory about dads on this day or any other.  I really liked my Grandpa because he was always there.  He's been gone for a couple of years now and it's not like he taught me a whole lot of life lessons.  What he did was make me pancakes and watch rodeo and boxing on television with me. It was an easy relationship for both of us.

I like other dads. I like to see them involved with their kids and their families- no matter what form that takes. Blended families can be difficult and sometimes another dad will fill in for an absent one.  Tough job, that.  My friend Bonner is a great dad.  He has full custody of his teenage son and has for a long time.  My other friend Darren just moved back to Utah to take care of his aging parents and took his young son with him.  He is always writing about junior, their adventures and similarities.  It's neat to watch from afar.  My husband's dad is likewise awesome.  He and my mother in law have raised four well adjusted and more or less happy children who all enjoy spending time with them.  Heck, I enjoy spending time with my in laws and with Stashia, my sister in law.  Johnny, my father in law, tells corny jokes and is affectionate with all of his children.  He is a part of the reason that Grey is such a loving man.

So why did I sit in a restaurant yesterday, on Father's Day, trying to enjoy lovely pastries and excellent company and all I can do is complain about the server forgetting my order and not filling my coffee cup when I wanted her to? All around us sat families eating and talking and doing the regular things that they do on days like this.  Someone's child will volunteer to mow the yard and another might have the oil changed in the car.  Someone might make dinner at home or fire up the grill and barbecue on a sultry Oklahoma night with the cicadas singing and the mosquitos carrying off smaller pets.

I knew that I would write a blog post later and offer some insight into Father's Day.  I knew that lots of people don't like their dads at all.  Some dads have been actively abusive or neglectful or sometimes they have been assholes.  And I wanted to write something that might bring perspective or maybe bring me a zen moment.  I snorted derisively.  I snort when I laugh too much or am too angry for words.

There is no zen moment.  All I really have is a public service announcement about the dangers of drinking and driving because I am the poster child for what happens when someone makes that choice and accidentally slams into someone's dad's car and kills him instantly so that all three of his children will lose their father and that the child he doesn't yet know about- and now he will never know about her either.  Because I'm that 2 week embryo whose life was changed by other people's choices.   I would spend over 30 years of my life surviving poverty and my mother's other husbands and trying to figure out what normal was before I realized that normal is only for laundry detergent advertisements and JC Penney ads.

"You don't seem to be having a good time," said Grey.
"No. I didn't realize that Father's Day bothered me so much."
"I understand." Then he squeezed my hand.  And I felt like a selfish heel.

Here was this person who signed up to spend the rest of his natural life with me, to have children of our own and who occasionally moved heaven and earth to date me.

I had to smile at my own hubris.  My life is pretty damn good and I have nothing to complain about. My brothers-in-law are all good dads who spend time with their kids.  Nobody in my family is dead or dying and my mom even came to my wedding.  I would never have expected that to happen.

I shook my head and apologized.  Grey didn't seem to think it was a big deal.  We enjoyed the rest of meal and ran by accident in to an old friend, taking her parents out to brunch.  She's been having a rough time of it lately too, but for much different reasons.  I have always admired her.

Much later that evening, we took a cup of coffee to a friend whose mother is in the hospital right now.  Grey invited her to come stay with us, which I think is the nicest thing ever.  I hope she takes us up on it since our apartment in Tulsa is pretty close to the hospital.

I curled up in bed next to Grey last night, thinking about the past and things I can't change.  Then I thought about the right now and the things we can do to make life better for more than just ourselves.  Being teachers, doctors, engineers or social workers.  Being caring people of generous spirit and appreciative of the lives we get to live.

That's the kind of normal that I want.
Happy Father's Day

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I loved our wedding! <3 
You know what I love? Air conditioning. It is arguably the best invention after indoor plumbing and lungs.  Yes, I love A/C.  I was very glad for it during the honeymoon.

My view from Oklahoma to Louisiana

We drove 12 hours to New Orleans.  It's hot as hell in the summertime and only just hot in the winter.  It's also one of the most beautiful and historic places in the U.S. Set among the salvia, wisteria and hydrangeas, one would do well to set out early in the morning and return to the indoors from about 10 until sundown.  Then the warm evenings encourage outdoor dining and long strolls amongst the revelers, charlatans and purveyors of vice.

We didn't really follow that.

Grey is a great researcher and we picked a hotel in the Garden District.  It was gorgeous and quiet in a historic district.  There was still some reconstruction going on in surrounding streets but the Prytania Oaks Hotel was everything we had hoped for.  When I made the reservation, I let them know it was our honeymoon and they had champagne waiting for us in the room.  Nice touch!  Oh, and an expanded continental breakfast was included in the (totally affordable even for a teacher) price.

Cafe au lait and beignet at the Cafe Du Monde
We ended up sleeping in every day and taking off about 10 in the morning.  We did an awesome walking tour of the French Quarter, staying on the shady side of the street.  And we ate at the famous Cafe DuMonde.  I didn't like it as well as some other places, but I have been there before.  All tourists are required to eat there at least once.

Black coffee, spinach quiche, cheese danish and blueberry croissant
I liked the Croissant D'or better.  Welcoming, local and with pastries that Grey says rival even those in Paris.  I agree, and I have only ever been to Paris, Texas.  Way better than the food there...

We also visited some museums, taking in the only known decoded message to Jefferson regarding the Louisiana Purchase, the World War II Museum, visited a cemetery, Jackson Square, The St. Louis Cathedral and the Louisiana State Museum.  Awesome.  I had the best guide in the world- my husband armed with three separate guidebooks and our iPad.

I get to live with this guy! 

I saw this guy on the streetcar.  Kindred spirits. 

The food was no slouch affair either.  Being vegetarians, we looked up several places to eat and picked the mostly likely ones.  This involved some travel as they were mostly in the French Quarter or downtown.  One place, the Bacchanal, was two buses and a walk through a residential neighborhood.  They were all totally worth it, with the Bacchanal being a clear standout.  But The Coops Place and The Green Goddess were also pretty awesome.  We ate outside at both Bacchanal and Green Goddess and at the latter, a little sparrow decided to join us.  She moved from begging by my feet to flapping a wing on my leg to hopping up on the table with us for a couple of crumbs.  The food was great, especially the caramelized heirloom tomatoes, though I could have done without the meth-sore waiter.  That's not hyperbole.  However, the chef himself came out to say hello and ask how we liked the food.  We had planned a special evening out, dressing up and the whole nine yards.  I was just so tired on that night that we stayed in and fell asleep early.

I was so damn tired because we walked everywhere.  Once we parked that car, that was it.  We didn't get into it until we left.  The rest was public transportation, either by bus or streetcar.  Only once did we take a cab and that was to get home from Bacchanal because it wasn't safe to go out that late in an unfamiliar area.  I loved the streetcars and the bus system.  It took us everywhere we wanted to go and there was no pain in the butt parking to do.  Just hop a bus and we are on our way.

Speaking of on our way, I wonder how I ever got married. I am terribly difficult to live with. I don't watch tv except for sometimes on my computer.  I own a giant dog and an aging and cranky cat.  I walk a lot and work too much and don't often eat meat.  I have strong left views in a highly conservative state.  I prefer pickup trucks to cars and public transport to most other stuff and find it highly entertaining to visit museums in New Orleans rather than party.

I totally scored with this guy.  He's weird like me.  No t.v., loves to read, loves to travel and use public transportation and was a little concerned that I wouldn't be interested in using it in NOLA.  And a vegetarian. And funny and he tells worse jokes than I do.  And we get each other's obscure literature references.  Perfect.

Acutally, he may be weirder than me.

We had a discussion about who is weirder to live with.  I said him because the other night he started petting me with his foot.  On my head, in my hair.  I was weirded out.  "What?", he said.
"Dude. Toes. Hair."
"I showered."

So what's weird about me? I guess I squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom up only and will fix it if anyone squeezes from the middle. But I don't complain about it.  I also let my cat drink from the faucet in the bathroom, though she isn't allowed on the counters or table.

Nope. None of that weirds Grey out.  Nor do the bales of hair that come off of my dog.  Nope, what weirds him out is that I will occasionally pet Eleanor while she eats her cat food.

That's it? Really?  Of all the personal habits a woman can have that are gross, smelly or otherwise strange, that's the one that weirds him out?

Ha! Jackpot!  This living together and being married thing is going to be an adventure...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Wedding

This has been a heck of a week. I'm sitting in the Prytania Oaks Hotel in our room, typing in the semi-darkness while Grey sleeps in for the first time this week. Everyone should sleep in on their honeymoon and I got a good night's rest last night. I'm also the early riser between us and got up at 7 to go get coffee, juice, bagels and yogurt for breakfast. Still sleeping. It'll wait since none of it is on fire. The wedding... wow. The wedding was awesome. I have never been the kind of person to be comfortable with highly traditional sorts of ceremonies. They feel wooden and sometimes contrived. I know other people really enjoy the time-honored traditions and I'm not bashing that. I have seen some gorgeous weddings with pomp and circumstance and lots of tradition. It's just not me. And I guess that it's just not Grey either because we agreed right away to do things a little different. To begin, we shopped for my dress together. We met my friend Cathy at a shop and I picked up a spaghetti strap ankle-length gown with tulle and a fitted bodice. It fit perfectly. Yes, first dress. We bought it. And so right off, the groom saw the bride in her dress before the wedding. Somewhere, an etiquette maven is sighing. We were going to run off and get married at a justice of the peace, but to be honest, Grey wanted his mom to be there. To be more honest, I think that having an actual wedding with people we invited and care about is more meaningful than going to a JOP. Again, just my experience. I have never been to a JOP. Grey's mom said that she would be happy to fly out to wherever we were getting married and then leave but I am glad that it didn't work out that way. The way it worked out was pretty darn grand. We booked the train depot in Norman, Oklahoma. There isn't a whole lot of room for a bunch of people so we kept our guest list to mainly family and a few close friends. Forty people and that included children, the photographer and minister. My sister Patti (who shall forever after be named Saint Patti) and my mom both flew in for the occasion. My cousin Christian was there as well. For much of the affair, that was the end of my involvement. My friends Cathy and Charlotte had been waiting for years for me to get married and they contrived to put on the whole she-bang. It was quite a production, with magnets with out picture on them, sparkling wine and white linen tablecloths. Charlotte loaned me her Mikimoto pearl necklace and earrings. There was even green punch and gorgeous wedding cake. Grey picked out the cake. It was the tres leches cake from Whole Foods. It's delicious, has fruit on it and has no hydrogenated oils. And it was gone before it had a chance to make it home from the party. Seriously good cake. It looks festive but not like a wedding cake. I loved it and so did everyone else. We did marriage counseling with my friend Anna, who is also the minister. Anna is a UCC minister, graduate student, theatre patron and performer, musician and all around jack (jane?) of all trades. I like her. We met with her together and individually and she pronounced us ready to get married. On the day of the wedding, once I had hair, make up and groom together, we went to the train depot and did all of the finishing touches. Grey's sister brought purple nail polish to paint my toenails. My other sister sent a 1973 penny for my shoe and a garter, birdseed wrapped in tulle and bouquet holders. Cathy made the bouquets. By hand! Holy crap! That girl can work. Anyway, just before the ceremony, Grey's mom pulled me aside. She gave me a book of poems that her husband had given her on their wedding day, with the date on the inside cover. It was a tiny thing and didn't take much room so I thanked her, sucked up the sweetest tear in the history of crying for joy and went forth. I carried the book of poems in the bodice of my gown. Veronica calls it the indian purse. I'm good with that. Instead of a traditional guest book, I bought ink, pens and a poster board with a tree on it. Each guest put their thumb in the ink and pressed it into the poster board on the tree, making a leaf. Then their signed their names by it. It was pretty cool. Grey and I seated our own guests. Yes, that's right. We were our own ushers. It was his idea. We figured out the room configuration and had the seats made up that way. As each person walked to their seats with us, we held their hands, or arms or whatever seemed appropriate. It was Grey's idea and I loved it. It seems that once the confusion abided, the idea was well accepted. I sat my mom, my Charlotte, Patricia and Carter and my little flower girl- who was so cranky that her mom took her out as soon as the ceremony ended. Then Grey and his brother Tate made their way to the front and waited. Saint Patti went on up and then Christian escorted me in. I hugged him and thanked him and met that groom in front of God and everyone and Anna holding the sacred Kindle. Grey looked a picture. It was an afternoon wedding so he chose a dark suit rather than a tuxedo. Nice tie. Boutinier. And a big smile that matched mine. I know that Anna said some stuff. We had rehearsed. Grey didn't particularly love the first paragraph of the ceremony so he rewrote it and Anna liked it just fine- well enough to keep it for use in other weddings. It was beautiful and meaningful and was written just for us. After that first paragraph I stopped listening and just stared at Grey who was staring right back at me. For a few froze moments there was nothing else. No audience, no minister, no sister standing ready to hold onto a bouquet. Just this look on my face and a contemplation of spending the rest of my life attached to someone I really like, care for, love having sex with and who I am pretty certain won't let me down when I need him. And someone I won't let down either. I did not cry. I did not cry. I did not cry. Somewhere in there, Cathy read a Shakespearean poem for us. Fortunately, she had that one memorized. Yeah, she's pretty great like that. I love English teachers. Then Anna said: You may kiss. We had practiced this moment. Grey and I leaned in towards one another and he wrapped his arm around my waist. We kissed and turned at the same time so that he dipped me in front of the crowd. I dropped my arm dramatically. We had practiced well. There was genuine smiling and applause. And off we went to the party. But first we snuck in the back and kissed awhile longer. Best moment of the day. Pictures, kissing, toasts, cake and visiting. It was fun. I had painted a bunch of birdhouses for the occasion and the guests took them home. And we had pictures with Jon Inglett, who introduced us in the first place. I got to visit with Chelle, his wife, whom I had not seen in too many years. Ok, two years. But that's a long time. Finally, it was time to go. We went home and that was kind of it. We took an extra day before traveling to New Orleans and relaxed, ate cake and barbecue potato chips and eventually got to drink some of the sparkling wine. Now, there were things I didn't get to do. Charlotte wanted a chocolate fountain pretty bad. Grey did not. I'm not sure she will ever forgive him. I wanted to have my dog there. And as open-minded as my husband is, he nixed the idea of a dog or even Eleanor at the wedding. Party pooper. As much as we did not follow etiquette or even many of the time-accepted moors of wedding ceremonies or receptions, we did have a wonderful time and we did get married in our own fashion. It felt sincere and genuine. It was not stressful and I had no fear that we were doing things wrong. It was, for the first time in my life, a fun wedding. Eventually, we left on our honeymoon. Cathy (once again to the rescue) is watching Big Dogg and Eleanor and watering the plants in our absence. And New Orleans might not be the same once we leave.

Monday, June 4, 2012


So I married him! I am the luckiest woman in the world!