Monday, March 26, 2007

A house plant I haven't killed!

I would like to state for the record that the little heart-shaped bamboo plant Kevin gave me for Valentine's Day is still alive. ALIVE, I tell you! Impressive, no?

Also, I meant to add last week, after teasing Stephanie with this story, that Febreeze is not the only substance my mom sprays on her dog Sophie. Prepare to be horrified: As my mom explained it, because Sophie's long, white hair gets so flyaway, sometimes she sprays Sophie with Static Guard to tame the flyaways. Oy. I can only assume my sister the vet is ignorant of my mom's dog-grooming habits because she'd throw a hissy fit, if she knew. Maybe I should suggest my mom try using a creme rinse when she shampoos Sophie; I'm sure the dog would prefer that to being sprayed!

Speaking of pets, this picture of Cairo made me laugh because she looks so snooty and haughty:

I definitely captured her personality in that picture.


Daniel is driving (haha) me crazy about taking the test for his learner's permit. I told him he needs to study the DMV booklet, but he scoffs at how "easy" it is. Whatever. I think flunking the test would be more embarrassing than waiting a week or two to make sure he knows the rules backward and forward. I took this picture the morning of his 18th birthday, but his look of barely concealed impatience hasn't changed in the two weeks since then:

I definitely captured one major aspect of his personality in that picture.


I don't know how Kevin's going to make it through this week. He's so excited about the convention for horror show movie hosts this coming weekend in Cleveland that he can barely sleep. Ghastly Ghoul, the host of the weekend horror movie show in Dayton, Ohio, hosts a big party Saturday night and has asked him to DJ again this year. When I lived in Dayton, the horror show host was Dr. Creep, but Ghastly is his "heir." Apparently, Rob Zombie is a big fan of Ghastly's, so, uh, there you go. Last night at dinner, Kevin was telling me about his plans for music he wants to use Saturday; Ghastly had e-mailed some requests to him. I asked him if Ghastly is married, and Kevin said, "Yes, his wife goes by the name Suspira." I told Kevin not to harbor any delusions that I'M going to adopt some horror show character name. I can't even imagine what name I'd come up with--Grammar-cula? Please.

Kevin's also made plans to get together with his two best friends from his high school and early college years in Cleveland. He found one, Peter, by Googling, and Peter put him in touch with Scott. When That '70s Show first came on, Kevin was thunderstruck by Ashton Kutcher's character's resemblance to Scott, in both looks and behavior, but I understand Scott's matured just a wee bit since then. Heh. I hope so--I can't picture a 48-year-old Kelso. Well, I can, but it's not an attractive image.


Work is continuing to get busier, but the increased cash flow is certainly nice. I've been scrimping and juggling bills for months, and it's such a relief not to worry about which utility's cut-off date is coming up first. The trade-off, of course, is less spare time, but until I figure out the road to independent wealthiness, those are the breaks, right?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Now with 101 uses!

Phone conversation with my mom last night:

Me: "I bet Sophie was glad to see you when you picked her up Saturday." [Sophie is my parents' spoiled, neurotic dog; she stays at my sister's house when my parents are out of town. My sister has, in addition to her dogs and cat, two Vietnamese potbellied pigs. Sophie has long white fur. These facts will be important later--but don't worry. There's no quiz.]

Mom: "Oh, she couldn't wait to get in the car to go home! But you'll never believe what happened to her at Linda's."

Me: "The cat scared her?" [That's happened before. Did I mention Sophie's neurotic?]

Mom: "No, she got poop all over her! She was outside, and when she came to the door, she had black pig poop smeared all over her back and into her fur."

Me: "Gross. What did Linda do?"

Mom: "Well, she bathed her outside--with cold water from the hose, poor thing! But when we got home, Sophie still smelled a little, so I sprayed her with Febreeze."

Note: No animals were harmed in the telling of this story. Between guffaws, I determined that she sprayed Sophie only along her back, and Sophie didn't lick her fur afterward. Good Lord.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

What I've Learned from Crosswords: A Partial List

As much as I love words, I guess it's not surprising I enjoy crossword puzzles. In grade school, I looked forward to the Sunday paper not so much for the comics, but for the big crossword puzzle in the Sunday magazine. The solution to the previous week's puzzle was there, too, so first I checked what I'd missed the Sunday before, and then began the new puzzle. I always did crossword puzzles in pen, but not because I was confident I wouldn't make mistakes. My hatred of writing in pencil was caused by those fat, unwieldy pencils first-graders were forced to use; they were too big for my hand, and I never could write as neatly as I wanted with them. By third grade, when I started doing the Sunday puzzle, school pencils had slimmed down to the standard No. 2, but I'd already discovered the joys of ballpoint and felt-tip pens, which I used at home because my teacher, the writing-implement Nazi, confiscated them if I tried to use them at school.

All week, I looked forward to the Sunday puzzle, but I wanted more than one a week. Then one day, during a trip to the grocery with my mom, I found whole magazines full of puzzles. After pestering my mom all the way through frozen foods until she gave in and bought it, I used my allowance to buy subsequent issues. I dabbled in other puzzles the variety magazines offered; I liked coloring in the squares for diagramless crosswords, but word searches bored me. Eventually, I discovered logic puzzles, which I love even more than crosswords, and I'm one the nerdy subscribers to a bimonthly logic puzzles magazine.

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, now I do crossword puzzles online, although I still like doing them on paper now and then. The other day, I was thinking about the stray facts and odd words I've learned from years of doing puzzles that are completely useless except in the context of crosswords. So if you ever decide to take up crosswords to ward off The Senility, here's a short list to help you:
  • edda: An Icelandic literary work
  • iter: A Roman road
  • sten: A type of British gun
  • Pele: Some guy who played soccer
  • alb: A garment priests wear
  • erose: Irregularly notched
  • Edo: Tokyo's original name
  • ogee: A type of architectural molding
  • Orono: Where the University of Maine is located
  • alate: Having wings
  • epee: A type of fencing sword
  • Ott: Baseball player Mel (and no idea on what team or in which decade he played)
  • Volga: Longest river in Europe
I've never used one of these words in conversation, with the exception of mentioning "The Volga Boatmen" song (which can't be mentioned often enough, as far as I'm concerned). If I took up fencing or remodeled a house, possibly "epee" or "ogee" would come in handy, and one day, I might find myself in Maine, asking for directions to Orono. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I'll never discuss sports, so I can't foresee using Pele or Ott's names for any reason. Nevertheless, these words and many more occupy space in my brain that could probably be put to use for, say, making sense of the stock market or figuring out why fools fall in love. Neither activity fits as well with my morning coffee, however, so I guess I'll continue amassing useless trivia and remain ignorant of other, more puzzling topics. Hey, it's the iter I've chosen!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Wearin' o' the Green

My folks just left about 30 minutes ago. I'll say one thing about them: They never wear out their welcome. They're all about the short visits, which is a sterling quality to have. Daniel was ecstatic about their main birthday present to him--the cutest little docking station (is that the right term? you know, with speakers and a recharger) for his iPod. It even has an alarm clock in it, which will be perfect for a dorm room.
One of my parents' irritating traits, however, is insisting on paying for any restaurant meals, and they always suggest going out to eat. I decided to nip that in the bud by saying I'd already bought ingredients to make my magic meatloaf. To be honest, I don't know what it is about my meatloaf; I think it's pretty good, but Kevin and Daniel go stark raving mad over it and eat like they're playing Henry the VIII in one of those cheesy Renaissance "dining experiences." It was a big hit with my mom and dad, too. My dad, who usually eats like an anemic bird, had an almost trucker-sized portion. I wish I could give you the recipe, but I can't because it's embarrassing. The ingredients are decidedly nongourmet--downright pedestrian, even--and you'd lose all respect for me.
In the middle of the night, however, I had a moment of panic that I'd poisoned everyone with the magic meatloaf. I woke up with horrid waves of nausea and spent the next hour or so getting rid of any remnants of dinner, with thoughts of food poisoning dancing in my head. Daniel and Kevin were fine, but I was an interesting shade of sage green when I got up and felt like a horde of Irishmen had been Lord of the Dancing all over me in my sleep. Happy St. Patrick's Day! I sent Kevin and Daniel out to breakfast with my parents and stayed here, sipping tea and reading People. That Sandra Bullock is the prettiest thang, isn't she?

I'm disappointed that American Idol is underwhelming me so far this season, but of course I won't stop watching. The top 12 is such an odd mix, with Melinda and Lakisha standing WAY out from the rest of the pack in talent. The rest can be lumped into fair-to-somewhat-good, with a few "what the hells??" in there. That little Sanjaya is just pitiful, and the sooner that poor kid goes home, the better. I'm worried about the next atrocity with his hair. What's next? Corn rows? Blonde extensions? I suspect the AI stylists gather backstage and hoot "I know! Let's try hot rollers on his hair this week!" "Ha, that's perfect! Let's suggest that dangly earrings are the latest trend for men, too!" STOP IT, you hateful stylists.
Next week is British Invasion music, and normally I'd be excited about it because I love that music, but if Chris Sligh (or anyone else) slaughters "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter" the way he murdered a Diana Ross song this past week, I'm going to be pissed. Now, I know you lovely people who have fine musical tastes know better, but I heard, to my dismay, that teenagers on the AI message boards were all excited because they thought "British Invasion" meant Oasis and the like. I'm scandalized, I tell you!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Noel Coward would have been proud

I'm rushing to post something before my parents get here because I have approximately 4,372 things to do before the white-glove test, er, my parents arrive. Also, I should pick up my panties from the bathroom floor, no? Kidding. Kevin's the only one who leaves his panties on the bathroom floor.

ANYway, the experiment in Noel Coward Levels of Civility and Sophistication went quite well Wednesday night. We arrived at the same time as the Ex's Wife (hereafter referred to as EW because I am a lazy typist) but before the Ex, who was driving separately from work. The Ex is chronically late, too, although that's not the reason I divorced him. (It was just one of the many reasons I wanted to kill him occasionally.) The time flew by while we chatted and perused the 47-page menu. Man, Japanese menus are detailed and wordy, aren't they?

Finally, the Ex arrived, and Daniel opened some cards from the Ex's family and presents from the Ex and EW. The Ex had bought Daniel's iPod a couple of months ago as an early birthday present, so he got Daniel an iTunes card and an armband holder Daniel can use when he goes for walks. He kept referring to Daniel's "ih-pod" (short "i" sound) because he enjoys jokes that make him sound like an old fogy, and Daniel was kind enough to crack up every one of the 32 times the Ex did it.

Going back to the menu for a moment, I haven't seen so many phonetic misspellings since I tutored in the ESL lab in college. For example, next to one item, the menu said "Ask the Waitless about this Special!!" I kid you not.

The food was great and much less expensive than the sushi restaurant Daniel and I love. This restaurant has the unfortunate name of Ocean World, however, which prompted Kevin to keep making remarks such as "I'll have the Shamu tempura!" or "Is the porpoise sushi good?" Hee.

I had so much sake that at one point, I was standing up acting out a story from the days when Glenn and I ran a dinner theater. Trust me: Telling this story without acting it out is much less funny. If you could see me, I'd act it out for you, too. It was so funny that we spent the next 45 minutes telling old theater stories. (All four of us have done theater, so we could have spent far longer trading stories, believe me.) Poor Daniel was appalled by some of his parents' past antics.

I realized something odd about EW while we were telling theater stories. I really do like her, but she is the worst, most long-winded, boring storyteller. She includes way too many details and explains things that aren't essential to the crux of the story. However, she seemed to think I was the one most interested in her tales and addressed most of them directly TO me, so I had to keep a fascinated look pasted on my face, even though I could feel my eyes slowly glazing over. It was like being hypnotized v-e-r-y slowly. No, the sake had nothing to do with it. Hush.

I think Daniel had a good birthday, though. By the way, he was surprisingly thrilled with the new clothes I bought him. He must be growing up because normally, he reacts to clothes as gifts the same way Ralphie and his brother reacted to getting socks in A Christmas Story. He even wore one of the new shirts to dinner that night and looked quite handsome (mom bias aside). Here's what I was most proud of, however. The waitress gave us comment cards to fill out that said "Thank you very mach!!" at the bottom. So on his card, Daniel wrote "I liked our waitless very mach." Have I mentioned how much I love that boy? His snotty humor fills me with pride!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I'm Twitchy, the Eighth Dwarf

I should learn how to write shorter entries so that I can post more regularly, I think. Work has been so busy lately that I don't have the time I'd like to write. Besides, I'm far too long-winded. Editor, edit thyself, right?

So here's what's been happening the past week or so: I spent an inordinate amount of time fussing over Daniel's application for federal financial aid and finally got it submitted in the nick of time. Have I mentioned my hatred of paperwork and applications? OH, THE HATRED AND LOATHING. I wouldn't survive working for a government agency.

Also, I gave Daniel his first driving lesson and have developed a new twitch in my right eyelid that hasn't gone away yet. Apparently I didn't explain the concept of power brakes clearly enough, and the first time he stopped, he stomped on the brakes so hard that I nearly went flying through the windshield even with a seatbelt on. I think I have a permanent scar on my neck from the seatbelt cutting into it, and I'm positive I can see finger impressions in the dashboard now. On the outside, I remained remarkably calm, however. Maybe the bottle of rum I had tucked under the seat helped? Heh.

I've also been preparing for Daniel's 18th birthday TOMORROW, OH MY GOD, MY BABY IS TURNING 18, WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?? In a burst of Noel Coward-esque civility, my ex, his wife, Kevin, and I are taking Daniel out to dinner at a Japanese restaurant. If the conversation gets stilted, I plan to quiz The Ex's Wife on his bad habits and quirks. "Does he still take 6 hours to balance the checkbook because he thinks calculators are newfangled inventions?" "Hey, how many times has he gotten lost between your house and the grocery store? Ha, ha!" That should get the conversational ball rolling, right? I'm the Socializer! Invite me to your next party to get things going!

Oh, for Daniel's birthday, I decided to add him to my cell phone plan and get him a phone. He's mentioned wanting one a few times, and I can get a good deal on it. Also, I got him a sturdier leather case for his iPod, a nice hardback paper journal, some new shirts because his current ones are hanging on him like giant sails flapping in the wind, and the movie Borat. Sacha Baron Cohen makes him helpless with laughter, so I guess he's a typical 18-year-old boy in at least some ways. Besides, I need to make sure I maintain my status as Mother of the Year by buying my son a movie filled with ribald language and crass humor, you know.

The rest of my time has been taken up by fretting about increasingly convoluted work projects that refuse to go smoothly and the disorganized mess my house has become. "Has become." I snort in my general direction. Like it's usually a model of organized cleanliness. I usually do maintain some sort of system to the chaos, but it's gotten way out of hand, and I'll be agonizing over it all week because my parents are driving here Friday to visit for Daniel's birthday. You're looking forward to hearing more about that, I can tell. Awww, aren't you sweet?

Monday, March 5, 2007

For Karen

I was reading a summary of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking at Amazon last night to figure out whether I wanted to read it. I suspect that book would turn me into a puddle of tears, but I'd still like to read it--or one of her novels--someday. I've read only a few essays of hers here and there. I started thinking about the first time I heard of Joan Didion, the summer I started graduate school, which inevitably led to thoughts of Karen. She was in my class on Southern women writers, one of the best classes I ever took.

I was a little intimidated by some students in there who had majored in English as undergrads; I'd been a communications major, so although I'd read a wide variety of authors on my own, I wasn't as knowledgeable as they were. Consequently, I kept my mouth shut during most class discussions. Not Karen, though. She had something to say on every topic, and her comments were usually contrary to the general consensus and often involved Joan Didion, her favorite writer (whether Joan was pertinent or not--and she usually wasn't because she isn't a Southern writer).

Neither factor was what made people in the class nervous, however. Karen's contributions to discussions were usually in the form of outbursts: She interrupted, loudly and insistently, and always peppered her remarks with several "fucks" or "fuckings." I've been known to swear like a sailor at times (ahem), but I never thought that was appropriate in a classroom. I wasn't alone, either; you could see other students, and the professor, flinch a little every time Karen let a "fuck" fly out. What made me more uncomfortable, though, were her mannerisms. She was so jittery--constantly twitching and shifting in her seat, jiggling her foot, throwing her hands around while she talked. Sometimes she talked so fast she almost tripped over her own words, and the longer she talked, the louder she got.

The way Karen interacted with people was odd, too. After class, she'd usually run out the door, tossing papers into her backpack and scattering books and pencils in her wake. I overheard her once telling someone she rode her bike five miles to school, but she never looked tired or winded at all when she arrived. On the rare occasions she did hang out with some of us after class, she was given to abrupt announcements that never had anything to do with what we were talking about. Out of nowhere, she'd blurt out "Yeah, I had sex for more than two hours last night!" or "You were so full of shit about that essay." I developed the habit of veering away from groups she was in or making an excuse to get away fast when she approached me. Even when I agreed with her opinions in class--and she did have a good point sometimes, despite her lack of finesse in expressing it--I never spoke up to support her lest I be painted with "The Crazy" brush, too.

Every now and then, I wish I could be 21 again: young, with no real responsibilities but full of possibilities. And then I think about how I treated Karen. I mean, it's clear to me now that she had ADD, hyperactivity, or maybe mild autism. I'm pretty sure that if I met her now, I could react with a little more understanding and sensitivity; I'd like to think I could make the effort, anyway. Back then, I thought I was Miss Open-minded, a model of tolerance for different lifestyles and viewpoints, but I was so full of shit. I couldn't handle someone being the slightest bit different behaviorally, and instead of trying to understand her, I freaked out and avoided her. I don't understand now what I was so afraid of. That her behavior was contagious? That other people would assume I was nuts, too, if I showed her any kindness? I wonder how often she must have felt alone and isolated. How many times was she hurt and bewildered by the way other people treated her? No wonder she usually raced to the door after class was over.

Sure, I'd love being 21 again in some ways. Having my breasts in their original location--very nice. Being able to run up two flights of stairs without breaking a sweat? Great! Not having to worry about bills, empty nests, and gray hairs--yes, yes, and yes. If it meant going back to that level of ignorance and uncertainty, however? No, thank you. I wish I could tell Karen that--and tell her how sorry I am for being so self-involved and afraid that I couldn't put myself in her shoes for one minute.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Mr. COI must die

I am livid. Mr. COI finally got on my last nerve. I got up this morning to find an e-mail from him--which was unusual in itself because he rarely e-mails or answers my e-mails--and I'm reproducing part of it here with some explanations from me:

This all worked better when the worked/edited copies were emailed back and forth and ALL the authors were cc'd...
[That was never the practice. Files are always posted on the FTP server. Occasionally, I've e-mailed files when authors had trouble connecting to it--because I'm a nice, helpful editor.] ...the FTP server is/has been a pain in the ass. The FTP link that was provided does/has NOT worked from the very beginning. I've sent several emails about that, yet the issue has not been corrected and no one has sent me the edited versions until this week. [BUZZZ! Wrong. He never said exactly what problem he was having, despite my repeated e-mails asking him to clarify. And for the record, no other authors have problems with it. The "edited versions" he mentions have been available since December 20 of last year, yet he never asked me to send them by e-mail until now.]
What's humorous here is your willingness to accept my changes/submissions via email if I'm having problems connecting with the FTP server. [Yeah, being helpful--that's funny, funny stuff! I told the putz I'd e-mail them if necessary, but he NEVER RESPONDED. I'm supposed to read his mind?]
That said, when I don't get a copy of the edits/comments, I am working blind. As was the case for this chapter. If I see no need for changes, due to a lack of comments/edits in the first submission, I don't make any. [This makes not one whit of sense. I told him an edited version had been posted. How could he possibly assume there were no edits or comments? Pardon my language, but he's a fucking idiot and a liar. He tried to turn in last year's chapter as his author second submission, and the only place he could have gotten it is from the FTP site. And although I'm repeating myself, I think, this author second he turned in didn't even contain HIS OWN CHANGES to the draft he originally submitted last November--which was more than a month late, I should point out.]
I have about 3-4 hours this weekend to work on Chapter 6 & 7. I'll send what I have, by email, Sunday night. [And it will be promptly returned to him as unacceptable. Three to four hours won't even begin to fix the sloppy crapola he turned in.]

Want to see my response? It's not nearly as snotty as I wanted to be:

[Mr. COI], it's a [publisher] guideline to post all files on the FTP site, which provides a more objective record of when files were submitted and serves as a backup in case someone loses files on his or her system. Chapters were supposed to be posted to the FTP site when we worked on the previous edition, too; it's not a new guideline, and the other authors have been following it with no trouble.
What I find humorous is that I e-mailed you about the files being ready on 12/20/06 and offered to e-mail them if you had trouble with the FTP site, so you had more than two months to request I e-mail the files to you. You never did. I'm glad you find my willingness to be helpful humorous.
In addition, your AU2 submission did not contain [other author's] edits OR your own original Ch. 7 changes. It's exactly the same as the version from the previous edition--which was, by the way, posted on the FTP site.
Three to four hours isn't going to be enough for AU2 passes on Ch. 6 and 7. Had the chapters, particularly Ch. 7, not been submitted in such rough shape for AU1, that might have been enough time.
Hugs and kisses, [OK, I didn't really say that]

Stephanie commented that chronic hemorrhoids might be a suitable punishment for Mr. COI. I agreed before I saw today's e-mail from him, and now I don't think that affliction is severe enough. Any thoughts y'all have on what he does deserve would amuse me and perhaps keep me from killing him. ARGGHHHH.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Mr. COI strikes again

Whew, busy week. I've been working like a dog on that four-author book, but there's no way it's going to be published in time to hit the sales cycle for fall college classes. The authors have been dragging their collective feet and turning chapters in late AND in rough shape, and permissions for software they'd planned to include on the book's DVD are turning into a nightmare. Even with open-source software, they have to get the software creator's permission to distribute it on a CD or DVD. Have they done that? Don't be silly. So Kid Manager and I have been trying to track down that information.

To make matters worse, Mr. Conflict of Interest (the author who can't be bothered to show up for conference calls) said he was dropping off the project because he was having surgery for "an old war injury." FINE WITH ME! For a few blessed weeks, I didn't have to deal with him or his sloppy work. However, when author seconds of his chapters were due, suddenly he was back on the project and claimed he'd have the first chapter done by last Friday. Keep in mind he's had that chapter with my edits and reviewer feedback since December 20, OK? That will be important later.

Naturally, I assumed he wouldn't finish by the date he gave, but when Friday came and went with no chapter, I started e-mailing to ask for updates. Finally, on Tuesday, he e-mailed the chapter files because he said he couldn't access the FTP site to post them. I opened the files and discovered, to my dismay, that not only had all my edits--10 hours worth of work--and the reviewer feedback disappeared, but the chapter didn't even have the original changes for his author first draft! I did some checking and realized he'd gone to the FTP site and downloaded the previous edition's chapter, and submitted that version. So he did NOTHING for his author second pass, and he lied about not being able to use the FTP site. I was livid, I tell you. I wrote a terse e-mail to him, stating what he'd done, and copied all his co-authors, Kid Manager, and the acquisitions editor (the big cheese, in other words). Do not fuck with me, Mr. COI. His co-author tried to apologize for him, saying Mr. COI couldn't get to the FTP site to download my edited version, but I told him that excuse didn't wash. Mr. COI had been notified on December 20 that the chapter was ready and had plenty of time to try to download the files, and I'd specifically told him I'd be happy to e-mail the files to him if he had trouble with the FTP site. Take that, you putz. Gah! Do these people think I'm stupid?

OK, enough about work. I think I mentioned Daniel's Brain Game team was done for the year, but he joined the science AND social studies academic teams, which also have quiz matches with other schools. The kid went for three years refusing to participate in extracurricular activities, except for occasional French Club meetings, and suddenly, he's signing up right and left for activities. I think the Little Red-Haired Girl is on the science team, and I'm sure she's a partial motivation. I'm delighted he's having fun and getting involved in something with a social component, though.

For the past few weeks, he and a few other seniors who have been taking French the past four years have been going to local elementary schools and teaching French to third graders. I thought Daniel might not have the patience to teach young kids, but he loved it. He even asked me for ideas on lesson plans! I'm still useful! Whooo! The last day of teaching, he came home looking exhausted and said he'd learned a valuable lesson. "What's that?" I asked. "Never, EVER, give candy to third graders," he said grimly. He and his partner decided to take in some candy for the last day as prizes for a game they'd devised, and apparently the kids were bouncing off the walls in a frenzy of candy greed and sugar rushes by the end of the lesson. Heh.

Kevin's art class went well last Saturday. Not as many students as he'd hoped for, but the five who showed up had a great time and asked when he'd be teaching another class. He met with the art center's director, who asked him to teach at least one class a month, preferably two. His next class will be on making art dolls, loosely based on the faux voodoo dolls we made as a craft project at our last Halloween party. Mayberry's on the cusp of the Bible Belt, so Kevin's promotional materials for the class have to include a disclaimer that the art center doesn't endorse voodoo, and the dolls aren't meant to be used for actual voodoo practices. Because that's SO likely to happen, you know. Without the disclaimer, who knows what people might try to do with these potent symbols of evil!

Kevin made a big deal of saying he wanted me to attend this next class, too. He's been making an effort to take the iniative more on finding things for us to do together, bless his heart. We had a little talk about some of his recent behavior, but I didn't accuse him of having irritable male syndrome or anything. I figured that would put him on the defensive. I are so smart sometimes! One decision we came to is that we need to spend more time together doing things we both enjoy, and art and crafty pursuits are definitely interests we have in common.

Sometimes it seems as though we go for weeks in which our conversations consist mostly of details about picking up milk and stamps, figuring out what to make for dinner, discussing whether shampooing the couch will get rid of the smell from Holly throwing up on it, and other fascinating topics. I guess other couples fall into similar ruts, but with an impending empty nest, I don't want to become one of those couple who go out to dinner and have nothing to say to each other. That prospect terrifies me. My theory is that spending more time together to remind us of what we saw in each other when we were falling in love might help both our irritable moods. And if it doesn't work, I can always make a voodoo doll of Kevin to make him behave. Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!