Why I May Have Watched Too Much Buffy

You know those ice breakers or self-awareness tests that make you choose three things that define you? My three are big sister, wife/mom (Shut-up, it is one term.), geek. You will find that most of my posts will center around the latter two, mostly because my husband as a blogger (The MisAdventures of Daddy Runs a Lot) doesn’t mind being written about and my kids can’t talk. (My siblings can and do, so I try and keep their privacy.) And well, the geek in me talks a lot and thinks a lot and imagines a lot and wastes time on zombie invasions and what rules vampires should follow (NO SPARKLING!) and what I might do with a wand and a Time Turner or a sonic screwdriver.

This week geek me had a bad moment.

It hit this sixties temperature-wise on Tuesday. That meant a trip to the park. The kids were in the wagon, the dogs on their leashes, and I was yanking everyone along. The neighborhood tot park is at the top of a hill. As we were climbing, a car was leaving. The driver rolled down her window and asks if the car at the top of the hill was mine. Because I was panting and gasping I shook my head. She said it had been there the whole time she was in the park and that a diaper bag, the keys to the car and a kid’s yogurt drink were all on the picnic table. She was concerned. I tried to acknowledge my agreement with nodding and hand gestures. She was going to call the township. Thumbs up from me.

The kids and dogs and I continue up the hill. I check out the car and the bag. It was creepily abandoned looking. For a brief moment I thought about going to another part of the park, but this one has two baby swings. And I was being silly.

The kids and I start to run around and get ridiculously dirty play while the dogs bask in the sun as geriatric beings are wan to do. I am climbing up the slide behind my daughter, my son is at the top, when Snickelfritz, the lazier of the two dogs, sits up and starts barking hysterical towards the hill behind me, the side I didn’t have to sherpa up. As I turn to try and find the SQUIRREL! (That is totally how Snick’s mind works.) that is frolicking on the grassy slope, my eyes pass over the abandoned bag. And suddenly, there are eyeballs drilling into the spot between my shoulder blades. I finish the turn. No one, of course.

You know how on shows like Buffy or the new Grimm they do a little teaser before the credits that usually involves some poor innocent getting creamed by that week’s Little Bad? People, I so thought at this moment, I was that innocent. The zombies were marching over the hill, coming into sight in just a heartbeat (Mine, not the zombies’, obviously). Can zombies climb sliding board ladders? Or a big dark blur was going to come crashing into and out of the frame and leave just one purple Converse behind. Unless this was a crime show, then it was going to be a serial killer dressed as a friendly hiker who was not going to fool me and my trusty iPhone at all.

And? Nothing.

Guess it was that squirrel.

My kids peered down at me from the top of the slide. “What gives, Mom?” They can convey a lot with a look. “Nothing,” I muttered and continued up to go down the slide with Leila which did nothing for my heart rate.

As we were leaving, the moron who left his life sitting on a picnic table showed up. He and the kid had just taken a walk. (How mad do you think his wife would have been to know he left the diaper bag and car keys unattended for at least an hour? Glad John is from big bad Jersey.) Because, of course, this is the real world which is not written in witty and dramatic Joss Whedon language or plot.

But, People, if it ever is? I am so ready.

Trust Exercise

What do you all think of my move to WordPress? So far it rocks my purple Converse off. Anyway, on to something worth reading for once.

My daughter has a new game in which she stands on the coffee table and jumps into my arms as I sit on the couch. She does this sometimes with no warning while I am doing important things like checking Twitter. I know. Parenting 101 C+.

And damn, but Leila is fearless. And trusting. It does not occur to her that I will not catch her. I can look her in the face and say, “Leila, be careful, Mommy could miss. Mommy could drop you.” In return I get blank doe eyes and probably a hug and a snotty (real mucus) kiss. Because she trusts me. I mean dog-worthy trust, people. She hasn’t figured out yet that Mommy can fuck up. When I make a parenting mistake (Usually losing my temper and doing something every book and expert says will scar your child for life.), she doesn’t realize it. I might make her cry. I might cry. But she doesn’t understand that we are crying because I fucked up. In her world Mommy is perfect because all she really needs, I provide, and the only thing that really registers is that I love her.

But someday when she is self aware and has some control over her own life’s timeline, I am going to fuck up, and she is going to realize it. I may apologize. I may not. It won’t matter. I will no longer be an infallible force for good in her life. OK, I will still mainly be a force for good, but I will no longer be perfect. I will be human.

We’ve all had to go through that moment in our lives. At some point our parents became human to us. It’s part of growing up. I accepted it and grew as a person when my parents fell from their pedestals. (Heck, my father leapt off his and hasn’t looked back.)

But as a parent on the other side of the situation? It sucks.

Our First Snow Adventure

We have not done much with this blog. We put so much on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, that it can be hard to find more to add. But now that the kids are a little older, and we can go on more adventures, we’ll try to elaborate on them here. Hopefully.
Any snow adventure starts with the snow suit prep. This? Is a process, especially the first time when the kids have to investigate all the puffy warmness first. But within an hour of starting, we had all four of us ready for action.
The sliding glass door open, and the kids ran out in excitement. They stopped short. Walking was hard! Arms up! Mum! Da! (When it comes to calling us, apparently our kids become Irish.) Thus carrying them out of the fence to our little hill commenced.
They stayed true to their personalities. Leila thought laundry basket sledding was great.

YouTube Video

CJ did not. He liked flinging snow.

YouTube Video

It wouldn’t pack into balls. And of course once they got use to the idea, running around in the snow was great.

They both thought snow angels were lame.
Of course the best part was introducing them to after snow hot chocolate.
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

My Current Self Torture

I know most of you (if there is more than one) are fan(s) of John over at The Adventures of Daddy Runs A Lot, so you probably know about his zombie obsession. Despite my love for Zombieland, I don’t really share this fascination, especially since most modern zombie vehicles use an epidemic to depopulate the world. John and I often get into lengthy debates about this, and, yes, I know how that sounds. It’s dead muscle tissues. I don’t care how much the brain shoots out MOVE messages, that decaying, oxygen-deprived flesh is not responding. Originally, there was a magic element to zombies. To me, that is the only way zombies happen. Inferi are to be feared for realsies.

Excuse me for a moment while I get my embarrassment over that statement under control….

OK. Back.

All of that being said, I have let myself get dragged into The Walking Dead, AMC’s show about the exact kind of zombie Apocalypse I maintain can’t happen. It is in my head, People. There have been nightmares. There have been daydreams about how I would protect my family. I have opened the fridge and pantry and calculated how long we could hole up in the house. How many containers could I get filled with water before it’s shut off?

I have gotten so stressed out during an episode that I have had to go online to find out what happens before I can finish watching. Seriously. I know! Sad. I think that is why the show has gotten to me so much because it is really about family and keeping them safe. In the show, the danger is being eaten alive. Safe means running and shooting. In real life, the dangers are too numbered to count and safety comes in the form of car seats and bike helmets. On the show, the zombies just keep coming, and in life the dangers are always there. There are always new ones as the kids age, try new things, go new places, as the husband goes on earlier and earlier runs and longer and longer bike rides. If I am not careful, I will bury myself in the potential dangers of just getting out of bed in the morning. Sometimes, I start to go there and have to pep talk myself down. I don’t know about you, but I can take crisis scenarios to an obscenely detailed level in my head. The things I think when poor John is late.

The characters on The Walking Dead do not have the pinch yourself luxury as the dangers are not imagined, they are real (well, tv real). It says a lot about the human spirit that though survival is an immediate concern, the little society they have formed does still care about feelings and politeness (to a certain extent).

There are any number of shows and movies that use extreme circumstances to make a statement on the human condition. This one also scares me shitless, yet I keep watching. Because at least I’m not about to be eaten by a dead body that was once my neighbor.

Me and My Fiction

I have set a goal. I want to finish my… for lack of a better word… novel, “Oops,” said God, by the end of 2012 along with finishing my MLS and being a half decent mom and wife. Go crazy, or go home. I have put the first half on this blog in a couple of installments, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. That is not quite half of what I have written, but I am a little tentative about posting anymore. It’s a rough draft. I don’t even want to qualify it as a first draft, and that’s fine. It is part of the writing process. But along with the heavy revisions that will eventually need to be done, there are lots of typos and other copy-editing issues as I am, after all, a human being. I am also a former editor and English teacher. I have grammar issues. I am a grammar snob. I proofread tweets. If a mistake gets by me, it takes quite a while for me to get over it, if ever. I will never get over my recent Oval House tweet.

This makes it hard for me to post anymore of my fiction. The amount of problems in the parts already posted haunt my nightmares. I want to proofread it before posting. If I start to do that, I start to revise and edit, and that is not where I am in the process. I need to pound out the rest of the rough draft before I start any rewrites. I need the whole arc in front of me before I start twisting it into knots and then cutting them out.
Thus, I am torn. I want to share, but I don’t know if I can share when the writing is in this state. There is a part of me that kind of wants to delete the other posts, but my poor blog is so pathetic, I can’t afford the lose of five whole posts.
So, my reader(s), what do you think? Am I being overly snobby or justified? If I do post, I need a favor. I need help reaching my goal. I need people breathing down my neck about my goal. I need the goal turned into a deadline.
And now I shall fear hitting the PUBLISH POST button because I know there’s a typo or grammatical problem in here somewhere.

We Are…

I am a Penn State Alumna. For the first time I just read every article in The Penn Stater, the alumni magazine. The latest issue was completely devoted to the blast zone that surrounds the abuse of innocents. Every piece of writing in the issue was done by someone who feels connected to Penn State. Their words made me want to share some of my own.

I bought football season tickets each of my four years at Penn State. I used most of them myself, and if I couldn’t, I sold them at face value. It wasn’t just watching a game. It was an experience. From the moment I walked out of my dorm room and joined the throng heading toward the stadium, I became a member of a community. We goofed around in line and laughed as we hoofed it to the nosebleed seats in the freshman section, knowing that those better seats in the senior section were only a couple of years away, and enjoying them when they were ours. I screamed Penn State at the top of my lungs when the other side yelled We Are. And I liked watching football. A good game could build dramatic tension just as well as any scripted play. Throw in hot chocolate and French fries, and it was a no brainer.
But to me, that was only part of the experience of Penn State; a fun bonus that comes with attending a college with a AAA team. University Park and State College are where I started to become an adult. My time there significantly shaped the person I am today. Most of the family I have chosen, I met in the dorms. A lot of my ideals and political expectations began developing because of classes and conversations that took place in those four years. Outside of my family, nothing has influenced my life more than Penn State. Football games were part of that, but only a part. To me they were a fun way to spend a Saturday feeling I was a part of something. The current team was always a great way to break the ice when I meant another alum for the first time. But never have I turned from fan to fanatic. But even still, I turned a blind eye to issues. Whenever the topic of Big College Sports came up, I thought, not my school. Yes, ridiculous money was spent on football, but it made ridiculous money in return. Yes, the public face of my university was The Coach of the Football Team, but that was OK. He was a good guy. The team had one of the highest GPAs and graduation rates in the country. There were teams of lesser sports, of womens’ sports, that would not exist without football money. I don’t think I ever opened a library book that wasn’t contributed by the Paternos. Heck, I remember a game in which Joe bench one of our star players because he skipped class. We were a football school, and that was fine with me.
Until November 5, 2011.
Power. Power is what allowed Jerry Sandusky (Side note: In our courts you are innocent until proven guilty, and Mr. Sandusky will be given that opportunity. But that is the courts. I have read as much of the grand jury findings as I could stomach. I believe him to be guilty.) to abuse those children. Football gave him that power. Or more accurately, the over-importance given to football made a sport more powerful than any one thing should be. The obsession with a game shared by thousands of people willing to spend millions of dollars gave others the power to cover up, justify, misinterpret and ignore what they knew to be wrong.
Being a football school is no longer fine with me.
Do I want to see the end of Penn State football? No. Do I want the program put into a more realistic perspective? Yes. The reputation of an institution for higher learning should not rest on the shoulder pads of a few athletes. I am sorry I did not see the real danger in that before.
Is this just a Penn State problem? No. This could have happened at any of hundreds of universities across the country. It happens in professional sports even more often.
Money is power, and we allow sports to be big business in which bad behavior and crimes are tolerated, justified by talent. The balance needs to shift if we want to keep predators like Jerry Sandusky at bay.
I do not think Penn State football will ever again reach the glory it once had. I used to lament this as we had mediocre season after season. Now, I’m fine with it. I went to a football school. I want to be an alumna of a school where there is also a football team.

No Backsies.

What I want to say is hard to put into words. Mostly, because I feel like I come off sounding like a pompous philosophy PhD student. (Note: I do not think all philosophy PhD students are pompous. Or useless. At least you are putting money into the higher education economy.) So I have started and deleted a couple times, but I really want to write it, even if it means using three conjunctions in one run-on sentence.

There are moments when I am struck by the permanence of life. I know that mostly poetry and priests will comment on the little time we have here, so sin wonderfully or live like a saint, depending on whether you take the poetry or priest more seriously. But the things I have done, the choice I have made, the things done and the choice made that impact me, will forever be solid events in history. My footprints are not impressions in the sand, disappearing under a wave. They are crushed into granite by the pressure of living. I stop and marvel at that. This is my life, unchangable behind me, nothing but change ahead. It is not what I imagined for myself at fourteen or eighteen when I was going to be a veternarian with a independent practice attached to my house, so I could be home with my two kids I had with my college sweetheart. I was going to be the Dr. Huxtable of the animal kingdom. (Of course that is the way it should be. If your life is what your fourteen-year-old self imagined, I don’t know whether to envy or pity you.)

No matter how much I protested it, I really did eventually become a teacher like I was meant to. I live in my hometown willingly, happily, which my twenty-three-year-old self would never believe for any amount of money. I really am that person who adopted a kid days after finding out I was pregnant. I am that person no matter how many times I denied the possibility before it happened. I do drive a minivan. There is no erasing that from my exisitance.

This is my life, no backsies. I’m glad I wouldn’t take them anyway.

How to Scare Away Ducks

My iPhone is currently residing in a bag of rice. Why? Well, it got wet, and the hope is that the rice will draw the moisture out of the phone. What? Oh. How did it get wet? Fine.

First you have to understand the daredevil to whom I have given birth. I wish I could put into words Leila’s level of fearlessness. I think if the boogeyman showed up in her room she would squeal, clap her hands and give him a kiss on his nose. At 16 months, I think she would bungee jump.
Today at 11 AM, we met some moms and kids from the Carlisle chapter of MOMS Club at Boiling Springs Children’s Pond to feed the ducks. Ducks like Cheerios. CJ likes throwing Cheerios. It’s a win win. Leila loves to watch the ducks eat Cheerios. Win win win. Only she really wanted to get up close and personal with the ducks. We played a game of move-the-toddler, but she really wouldn’t stay away from the edge. I decided to pick her up and hold her. She resisted and slipped from my grip. Her escape route? Over the edge into the water two feet below. Now she was in there for less than 30 seconds. Probably less than 20 as I was right behind her. I had her out of the water and back up on the shore where the moms (THANK YOU) had her wrapped in a blanket before she could start crying (which she did a lot and loudly). I had to wade to a boat launch to get myself out. Seriously, the whole thing lasted less than a minute before I was holding my wet baby trying to comfort her, but people? The image of my daughter lying on her back completely under water is not going to leave me any time soon. I still feel extra adrenaline in my system, and while I am dry, I feel waterlogged. Leila? She’s enjoying Lion King and trying to climb the pub table’s stool so she can play with the light switch.