Wednesday, March 22, 2006

beach dreams

A pending vacation is the most amazing thing. It's like buying a lottery ticket. It sets of this wonderful spate of daydreaming. Life is full of possibility. You will be free of the mundane with the wave of a magic wand. You will sit on the beach with your toes in the sand, watching sandpipers dance with the waves. You will drink perfectly chilled margaritas, brought to you by beautiful bronzed cabana boys. You will be thinner, better looking in your bathing suit, suddenly fit and toned. You can almost smell the ocean.

The best thing though, is that no matter how fanciful your vacation daydream, the reality is always just as good. Its not the trappings and trimmings, its the gift of time. Time that's unclaimed, that's all your own.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

staples and tolerance

Last night I went to a meeting at my son's school. For those who don't know, my son goes to a special education private school for bright kids with severe to moderate learning disabilities. The meeting was with the founder of the school and two members of the board of directors.

Now, I am happy with the school. All the parents I sat with, whose kids are in the same class as my son, are happy with the school. But the meeting was to discuss how upset and unhappy parents are with the school.

A list of "issues" were presented, some major and some down-right petty. They ranged from no learning plans for some of the upper-school kids (very serious) to the fact that the handbook was not stapled. MY GOD!!! burn the principal in effigy, the handbook wasn't STAPLED. I couldn't believe my ears.

We have kids that could not be educated. Bright kids that couldn't read at age twelve. Geniuses that can't add or subtract. We have children that we were told to write off. That perhaps they might, with significant help, get through high school. Maybe. At this school, they are told to plan for college, because they are going. They LEARN. My son can do geometry, multiply fractions, when he could not learn to add two digit numbers before. He's read Dante's Inferno, and understood it. He knows who Grendel is. This is astounding!

So I really can't get worked up about staples. The folks at his school are lousy administrators. I wouldn't trust them to efficiently run a lemonade stand. And I DON'T CARE, because they are good at the one thing that truly matters, and that is educating kids that can't learn anywhere else.

So why is it some people can't see the forest for the trees? People stood up last night to say that the school had saved them and their families. One mother said they had sold their house, quit their jobs, moved their other children from schools they loved, because they so needed this school for their son. They understand what matters.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Pre-emptive self-defense?

Our dear President just re-affirmed his policy of pre-emptive self-defense. I believe there is no such thing. No mother has ever told her child, "if anyone looks like they might hit you someday, you hit them first!" Are we going to hire the Psychic Friends Network to determine if a country might someday decide to attack us? How else are we going to determine what some nation might do, if they could? Is national attitude enough? Half the world hates us. Do we really want to go to war with all of them?

To me, this is just a thinly veiled way to excuse being a bully. We're turning into the big kid on the playground that socks little kids, because secretly he's afraid of everything, and he needs to prove to himself how tough he is.

How do we get off this ride?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

work me, home me

I never realized how different my work self and my home self really are, until the gap started to narrow as my vacation approaches. Some part of my brain must normally be involved in maintaining the home me/work me split. Suddenly the real me is popping out at unopportune times.

At work, I'm Lorraine. At home, I'm Raine. Work is work clothes with real shoes. Home is sneakers and jeans and sweats. Work gets one set of vocabulary, home gets another. At work, I'm a professional. At home, I'm a slacker.

But when I'm tired, under stress, approaching vacation, the thin walls that separate the two seem to vanish. A co-worker joked about my taking too long to answer a question and I told her to "bite me". We both laughed, but she did comment that she couldn't believe I said that. Me either.

People walking outside my office are currently being treated to the Clash and the Ramones at peak volume. I wore sneakers yesterday, breaking the dress code yet again. I'm about 3 inches away from nachos and beer for lunch.

Now I'm wondering if Raine should come to work every day? what would that be like? and how did it happen that I stopped bringing me to work?

Monday, March 13, 2006

nick of time

not the bonnie raitt album (although its a good one) -- the universe. I have been working on a difficult project since October. My days are all on overload, and what "free time" I have is sucked up by errands and school appointments and, and, and.

But in the nick of time for my sanity, the universe has provided salvation. SPRING!!! Buds on the trees, crocuses in bloom, warmer days, more light. It is AMAZING the difference this makes in my attitude. On Saturday, we dropped our son off to hang out at a friend's house, and then Bill and I went for a long walk in the woods. It felt so good. Sunday, I squeezed in time for breakfast and the paper out on our sun porch.

Vacation is coming in two weeks (thanks Universe!). My project is coming along. Its not done by a stretch, but I am pleased with the work I'm doing.

I *think* I'm going to survive. And with Spring here, I might even like it.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

my house party

No, not what you think. I want to start a new political party - the My House party. I think our two party system needs some common-sense injected into it. The country should be run on the same principles as my house.

1) put a little something away for a rainy day
2) don't spend more than you make
3) credit is bad, bad, bad
4) treat your neighbors well -- you have to live next to these people
5) everybody deserves your respect, unless they prove they haven't earned it
6) all adults have a responsibility to keep an eye out for the kids on the block
7) nobody goes to bed hungry
8) education is important, and no you can't skip your homework
9) even if you didn't drop it, you can pick it up
10) turn off the lights when you leave the room

See what I mean? I think this would work...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

everything old is new again

Everything old is new again. I read yet another article praising "thin clients", which bear a striking resemblance to the dumb terminals we went to PCs to get away from. Server cluster farms aren't much different from mini computers...
We have a White House that is paranoid [remember Nixon, anyone?]. We have political patronage again. The Washington Post reports that Kendall Ehrlich, first lady of maryland, has been working for Comcast. She was hired when her husband was on a telecom committee, and then re-hired when her husband became governor. Her job? An anti-drug "talk show". Her qualifications for this? None.

And now, my favorite. Ma Bell. AT&T is re-acquiring parts that were split up in the 70s to break its monopoly. If its latest acquisition goes through, AT&T will have over 320,000 employees, and control land lines, wireless and more, in more than half the country.

Ah, nostalgia!

Monday, March 06, 2006

feeling suburban

I am feeling awfully suburban today. I just finished completing our "puppy application" and sending it off to the dog breeder. So now we have the house, the yard, the SUV parked out front, and yes, in a few months, the requisite dog in front of the fireplace.

Don't get me wrong - I really like dogs - or we wouldn't be getting one.

Its just the whole package makes me feel devoid of free will in some way. As if I am a social lemming, running toward some cliff with all the other SUV driving, dog walking, home owning moms. I swear each individual piece of the package was carefully considered. I fell in love and got married, because I couldn't imagine life without my husband. We bought a house when our tax situation got out of hand, and it just made good financial sense to do so. We bought the SUV because we occasionally drive off-road, often carry 5-6 passengers, and my low-riding Passat got beaten up by city streets.

The dog? Well my son is 11. He has wanted a dog for years. We finally said if he could show he could be responsible, he could have one. So for the last 3 months, he has gotten up every morning and fed the cats (unprompted), and every Sunday he has changed the litterboxes. No nagging necessary, no reminding. This is a huge achievement. And so, the dog.

I guess when I am sitting on the sofa, with the dog curled up on the floor and my family around me, I will breathe a contented sigh. Just like all the other lemmings, in their living rooms, with their dogs and families around them.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

bread and circuses

I heard on the radio this morning that Reese Witherspoon is being paid 29 million dollars for her next movie. Ray Lewis is complaining that his several million dollar per year football contract is insufficient, despite having had a terrible season. Parker Stevenson negotiated $70,000 per month in spousal support from his actress wife, because he needed that much to support his lifestyle. We pay our entertainers a fortune, and our policeman and teachers very little.

Do we value being entertained above all else? is amusement the key thing we have? is it a case of bread and circuses?

should we all aspire to acting careers because it is rewarded best by our capitalist system? how do you inspire a child to choose a career wisely in this climate? Money does not buy happiness, and success is not measured in dollars. But those are adult ideas. Where will the next generation of caregivers and caretakers come from?