Monday, January 30, 2006

Spastic Museum-Goers

This story takes me back in time a bit.

In 11th grade, I took the National French Exam and came in 3rd in my state. In 12th grade, I came in 2nd (only because another bigger nerd than me from my same French class who had no friends and studied all the time beat me by one question). So, when our school coordinated a trip to Paris for some of the French students, I was first in line to go! It was a blast, and I spent most of my time translating off the walls of cathedrals, trying to avoid smelly tour guides, and making sure my vegetarian friends ordered the right kind of pizza at Pizza Hut outside of the Pompidou center. I got to go to Pere Lachaise cemetary, and witnessed a super-bizarre marijuana-smoking and wine-drinking ceremony at Jim Morrison's grave (the highlight of the trip, from my teenage perspective). I saw the Louvre, the Museum d'Orsay, and the palace at Versailles, spent all my shopping money on pastries, and got to hear the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Zenith.

At the Louvre, I was busy talking to friends (like 17 year old girls do) and not paying attention to where I was going. I tripped over something, and then regained my balance and continued talking to my friends while walking along. I heard my friends shouting, "You eeeeeeeeeee-diot! Look where you're standing!!" That was about the same time I saw the grimacing security guard charging toward me. It was only then that I looked down and realized I had tripped over a small barrier edging, and was standing in the middle of an ancient Greek mosaic artwork that had been painstakingly relocated to the floor of the museum, one tile at a time.

Smooth move, right?

At least I didn't break anything.

My little girl did well in 1st grade today. The teacher said she finished her work before everyone else, picked up quickly on some of the new material, handled the 1st grade math with ease, and had to be moved up to the 2nd grade reading book because 1st grade was too easy for her. God bless private schools, because I wonder how amenable to meeting her individual educational needs the public schools would be. The school my kids are at is far from perfect, but it is perfect for us, for now. :-)

Me in the News!

The local paper did an article on me and podcasting that came out today.

Not the most flattering picture in the world, but oh well. I thought the story was pretty good, and since she was transcribing straight from an audio recording of her interview with me, you all now have proof that I speak (even unscripted) just as wordy and froo froo as I write. ;-)

Daddy-O should have his Praxis test scores back within the next week. Nail biting will continue until further notice.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Watching the news on TV about the anniversary of the Challenger disaster, I remembered that I was in 5th grade when it happened, which made me feel really, really old. But, I'm 30. It's been 20 years.

I remember sitting in my classroom and my teacher, who had wanted to step out of the room to watch the liftoff, had us all raise our hands over our heads and hold them there. "Don't move a muscle-- I'll be right back," she said, and then she darted out of the room. When she returned a few minutes later, she was crying.

Sixteen years later, the Challenger incident would take on a new and more personal meaning in my life. At church, I befriended a new family who had just moved to town from Houston. The wife became a good pal of mine, their youngest child was the same age as my son, and their older daughters were great babysitters. When I first met them, I was chatting with the husband.

"So, you just moved here from Houston?"

"Yeah. I worked for NASA."

"Oh. What did you do for NASA?" (Expecting some sort of engineer or management kind of response.)

"Well... I was an astronaut."

By this time, I was about to fall over. Somehow, I sucked it up and tried to act cool-- "Oh, well I guess that's pretty cool."

"Yeah, I guess," he said.

So much for cool, I decided, and asked the typical stupid non-astronaut question. "So, what's it like being in space?" DOH!

"Do you mean before or after you quit throwing up?" he asked.

"Haha... heh... Uh, so, where'd your wife go?" That was it for that conversation.

Over the next year or so that I lived in their town, we got to know their family much better, and actually had many more (far less dorky) conversations about the space program, being an astronaut, and aviation (his real passion). I learned (through my own snooping at the NASA web site-- not through his bragging) that he had done over 800 hours in space, including over 18 hours of extra-vehicular activity (space walks to repair the hubble, I think). Way cool.

But his wife was my real best buddy, and my partner in crime. She didn't have to work, as she had saved wisely from her many years as an executive for one of the major oil companies. Like me, however, she was an armchair psychologist who loved people too much to just stay home. So she took a job pouring coffee at a local coffee shop, and I would go by three days a week to study and chat the morning away. We talked about life, about God, about human nature, and about family.

And then Columbia fell apart, and our discussions shifted focus. She had never been scared before, she said, when her husband would go on his space missions. She'd keep her mind occupied, stay busy, and have fun with their girls. It wasn't until the Columbia disaster happened that she felt the reality of the risks he had taken full force, and was terrified of what her life would have been like without him. Each night since the disaster, she said, she had held him, often crying, as she fell asleep, not wanting to let go.

Hearing one of my closest friends at the time say this, it was very easy for my heart to just ache for what the other people had lost. No, it wasn't my friend or husband lost in the Columbia disaster, or the Challenger disaster for that matter, but it was someone's spouse, parent, child, sibling, or loved one. And having that understanding made even more real in my life, my heart broke even more for the loss of precious lives, big dreams, and determination to do more.

My former astronaut pal and I would sometimes be in the coffee shop together, visiting with his wife on the same days. When she would get busy and have to leave us for a while, we'd sit and read the paper together, and talk about the news. Reading all the reports post-Columbia that questioned the importance of continuing space travel and implied that sending people into space isn't worth the risk we are taking, my friend was not happy. Everyone who enters the space program understands the kinds of risks they are facing, and knows that death is an unlikely, but possible, fact of the job. And yet still, many continue on, pursue careers as astronauts, and take the risks that come with it. NASA is obligated to do everything in its' power to make it as safe as possible, but there will always be a risk, just as there will always be people willing to take on that risk.

I guess my point is this: Every person on those shuttles knew what kinds of things they were facing, and still moved forward with courage and determination to discover new things that could, in the end, help those of us who are not willing or able to take those risks ourselves. Honor their memory, but also their courage. They were, and continue in our memory to be, awesome examples of bravery and dedication.

In other news, I'm in a foul mood today and almost didn't even write this post. (Deleted because problem has been resolved.)

And whoever it is that found this site by searching for "strippers in san diego"-- get a life. I'm glad you didn't find what you came here looking for.

Grrrrrrr.... I'm a grouch today.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Yep. Very weird.

I am worth $2,316,044 on

When I drop the rest of this weight I've been elliptical-ing to death, I'll be worth even more. :-)

My IQ is worth significantly more than any other factor, according to their analysis.

Any takers? If my husband realized I was worth that much, he might just sell.

Skype = Disaster, and my political views

I'm on a no-Skype-interviews kick for a few weeks until I can get my head out of my rear and remember things like setting my mic to cardioid patters so I don't get booming computer hums in the background on the interviews. Luckily, my next few interviews are local (within a couple of hours drive) to me, so I will have a few weeks to get myself together before trying a Skype interview again, and perhaps sometimes in that few weeks I'll draft a little Skype interview checklist for myself to remember to fix all the crap that has made past Skype interview audio sound so crappy. Grrrrr. Anyway, if you can tolerate the hum, my latest podcast is up now, and interview is REALLY, REALLY good. :-)

My next few interviews are with someone who was adopted (to go wtih the audio I have had sitting on my computer for over a month of an interview with someone who gave up a baby for adoption), my local Wal-Mart greeter (who is a gospel preacher and VERY animated fellow), and a couple of other friends. I have another Skype one set up for February 25 (with the mother of a teen boy with autism), so hopefully I'll have it together by then. Hmmm...

And I took John's test. No big surprise here!
You are a

Social Moderate
(43% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(36% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Problem Resolved


Just a quick post to say that our educational issues have been resolved! I went in this afternoon to talk to the Principal about my concerns, and the school's owners' daughter-in-law (who just happens to be my oldest child's primary teacher, a close friend of our family, and the Elementary Director) overheard our discussion. Turns out that she and my daughter's teacher had been discussing her educational needs a good bit over the past two weeks, and were getting together some supplemental materials (chosen by the 1st/2nd grade teacher) to try to keep her occupied, since they didn't know if she would want to leave her kindergarten friends and move to the 1st/2nd grade class. But they felt wholeheartedly that she was academically and emotionally ready for that promotion, and my husband and I have to agree. Particularly since we're in a school where children are placed according to educational needs rather than simply their age, the move just made sense. It's nothing unusual to find a 12 year old in the 5th/6th grade classroom doing 5th grade language arts and 6th grade math; or to find an 8 year old in the 3rd/4th grade classroom doing 4th grade math and 5th grade reading. It has just enough of a one-room schoolhouse feel to it that every kid is treated individually, and mixed age groupings are common.

With all that in mind, my husband and I talked about it, discussed it with the Principal and Elementary Director, and discussed it with our daughter. She can't wait to move up, and starts as a 1st grader (probably in the 2nd grade reading group) on Monday. She has the option to do afternoon activities (art, music, crafts, centers) with either the 1st/2nd grade class or with the kindergarteners, and we'll play that by ear until we see how things progress. I'll meet with the 1st/2nd grade teacher after her first full week in that class, and find out what our next move will be, if any.

So that's it! Problem solved!

In other news, my beginning band students are starting to sound like a band of musicians! I almost started crying today in band, thinking about how this little handful of kids and teens in a super-small private school can now play pretty well on their flutes, clarinets, trumpets, and trombones, and that I brought that to them. :-) Gleeeeeeeee!

Attempts at real blogging

As much as it is one of the simple joys of my life to incessantly discuss strippers and porn, enough of that for now. If I get an interesting interview with a current or past stripper for my podcast at some point, then I'm sure we'll revisit the issue. But for now, I want to avoid giving the impression that my life is all about hot chicks.

Let's talk about something more sensible. Like body hair.

Gentlemen: If you're that obsessed over whether or not your woman shaves daily, weekly, or never, you need to rethink a couple of things. For starters, time. If a lady is running late and doesn't take the time to shave in the shower, too frickin' bad. At least she showered. Get over it. And if it's winter-- puhleeze. If she wants to run around looking like she's wearing some hairy legwarmers, she can. If she doesn't complain about your body hair, man stench, and beer belly, she can be hairy. And yes, (name omitted to protect the not-so-innocent but someone I like a lot anyway), I am talking to you. ;-)

Wait... That's not a whole lot better than talking about strippers and porn, now that I think about it.

It might even make me sound weirder. Maybe I'll go put some strikethrough on it and try again.


My 5 year old daughter has been dragging for the past few weeks, when it comes to getting up and getting ready for school in the mornings. She finally broke down this morning, started crying, and told me that she hates school. I'm sure part of it has to do with the fact that it's been pretty cold and rainy lately, and they aren't getting as much outside time at school as kindergarteners should. But part of it is that she's bored. She started sounding out words when she was 3, and finished reading all two hundred eighty-something pages of her children's Bible before her 5th birthday-- all by herself. She can do double digit addition and subtraction in her head (don't really know how she picked that up; she's been doing it for months), and loves to write letters to people (wonder where she gets that?). "Mommy, they make me do math and Ms. Debbie makes everyone count sticks, and I can do it without counting sticks. And they make us spell things one letter at a time, and I can write the whole sentence all by myself!" And the complaints went on and on.

I remember my school years vividly. Like a big nightmare.

I was a lot like my daughter, and learned to read and do math early. When I went into kindergarten, my teacher gave me a hard time. Why did your mom have to teach you to read early, anyway? Mom never really taught me to read-- she just read to me and answered my questions. In 1st grade, they realized I was drowning in my own boredom. So, worried that letting me skip to 2nd grade might cause emotional adjustment issues, they came up with a much more bizarre plan. Beginning in first grade and lasting all the way through 7th, I was in two grades at once. I would go to school with the kids my age for social studies and math (and they all thought I was the weird smart kid), and then I would go to school with kids a year older for language arts (and they all thought I was the little nerd).

In 4th grade, I moved to a school that had a good gifted program called PELICAN. It meant that several other gifted kids my age and I got pulled out for a full day one day each week to do hands-on projects, experiments, and study units, and it was SOOOOOOOOOO COOL! But my time in the regular classroom was still painfully boring, so they started pulling me out a second day each week to go to PELICAN with the older kids, too. So, I was in 4th grade for a half day and 5th for a half day three days each week, pulled out for 4th grade gifted program one day each week, and pulled out for 5th grade gifted the other day each week. That was when I was 9.

Sixth grade brought another cranky teacher who was annoyed that I needed to do a different reading level. I don't know why you can't just do the same book everyone else does! Um, because I did it last year?

Eighth grade brought band (woo-hoo!), and tracking, which meant that I got fed into all the honors classes and could finally be in one grade, with kids my age. It also meant that things got pretty easy, and I could skate by without doing my homework. That lasted through high school, and I never really developed anything that could be considered a study habit, much less study habits, plural. I rarely ever did homework, but could ace the tests if I listened even a little bit in class, and graduated high school with a good bit of AP credits and dual-enrollments and was accepted into the honors college at USC-- which I immediately bombed out of, having no study habits, no self-discipline, and having had any true enjoyment of education beaten out of me by a history of whacked out attempts at engaging me academically.

Enter the homeschooling idea. I homeschooled my children up until this school year, so this whole school thing is pretty new to me. I had enjoyed homeschooling because of the freedom to challenge my children, teaching them at an individual rate that wasn't to pushy but that did encourage self-discipline and taught my children the joy of a good challenge.

I don't want to look like a freaky parent who is controlling or delusional about my child's capabilities, but I sure as anything don't want them being bored. I have seen firsthand how boredom with the educational process can create bad study habits, instill a lack of self-discipline, and generate a general disregard and disrespect for the educational process in general, and educators in particular. I don't want my kids growing up with that. I want them to always challenge themselves, to always know that education is SUCH a gift and a blessing, and to enjoy the process of learning new things as much as they did back when we were homeschooling.

Hmmmmmm.... Not sure what to do.

See, this is the kind of wacko post you get from me when I'm sleep deprived from staying up too late to edit the podcast. I didn't quite finish, but it should be up by tomorrow, and this is going to be a good one. AND a reporter from the local newspaper sat in with me so that she can write a feature article in Saturday's paper about podcasting and local podcasters. Oh wait, I'm the only podcaster in my town (that I know of). ;-)

And I promise to those of you who listen to the 'cast that after this, I have several in-person interviews planned, so you will be spared the skype audio quality, at least for a little while.

Ho-hum. Better start my day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Good Day

Geez, now I have performance anxiety after all the responses to my last post, Acceptance and Change. And all I have time to blog about today is that yesterday was a good day.

I got a very exciting phone call yesterday afternoon, and while I'm going to wait to see how it pans out before telling more about it here, it could bring a bit of publicity and more listeners to my podcast.

I wasn't planning to work out last night, but the phone call got the ol' adrenaline flowing so freely that I went to the YMCA and did the elliptical, weight training, and the rock wall (did I mention I'm terrified of heights?), which was all exhilarating.

On the way home from the Y, with no makeup on and wearing gym clothes, I got carded at the store. C'mon! I'm 30, for crying out loud.

I spent 45 minutes soaking in a bubble bath in my lit-only-by-my-favorite-scented-candle bathroom last night, blasting my "Inspire" playlist on my iPod.

I was snoring by 10:00 pm. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh....

And I have a very good interview scheduled for tonight. :-)

Now I just have to work my rear off at work today so that I can finally get caught up from the daily stuff I let fall by the wayside while I was freaking over year-end. I. Can. Do. It.

Monday, January 23, 2006

MFP Episode One: Acceptance and Change

So, I don't do a very good job of keeping secrets about myself, particularly when I think there might be something to be learned from the experience. This has, over the past few years, led me to embarrass a few people by awkwardly telling someone something that, while not so big of a deal to me, freaked them out just a bit. It's not intentional, trust me. It's just that my experiences are, well,... just part of my life to me, and I sometimes forget that we each have our own comfort level (based on our own unique experiences) with what experiences we consider to be just a normal part of life, and which ones we consider to be pretty far out of the mainstream. But I'm rambling...

I've been thinking a bit about acceptance in how we share the love of Christ lately, and it has brought me to thinking about one of the more bizarre parts of my past that you, dear reader, may or may not really want to be privy to. So, I will start to categorize these more bizarre, possibly TMI posts under the "My Freaky Past" headings, and today, I'll start with Episode One: Acceptance and Change. Read at your own risk. :-)

The Background

There was a time, back when I was in college the first time around, when quite a few of my female friends from college decided to go get jobs as topless dancers. Over the course of a year or two, I had the chance to see how working in that kind of environment affected them emotionally, spiritually, and academically, and got more of an insight than I was ready for into what happens to girls who work in the sex industry. During that time, I had a chance to get to know several girls who worked as dancers, call girls, and porn actresses. Many of them came from rough childhoods in which a good number of them had been sexually abused, and most of them had drug and alcohol problems ranging from excessive drinking and pot smoking to doing hard drugs. And then there were a few who were really nice girls-- just very much confused and struggling with who they were. I became close friends with a couple of the nicer girls who weren't scary-- just scared, and wanted to find a way to help them out.

At the time, I was living in an apartment completely paid for by Double Agent, who was rarely ever in town. I hated living alone, and needed a roommate anyway, so I approached one of my pals who was a dancer, and made her an offer. The offer was like this: she could move into my spare bedroom, rent-free, if she wanted to quit dancing and get her life back on track. She was welcome to stay with me as long as she wanted, as long as she didn't go back to work in clubs, and didn't do drugs. She took me up on it, quit dancing, and stayed with me for almost a year before moving out to get married.

Over the next year or so, I had a small handful of girls take me up on a similar offer, and almost always had at least one roommate. Some of them left to return to dancing and partying it up, and others left to get back into college or some other form of somewhat normal life. Word spread.

The Story

One day, during one of my roommate-free phases, I got a call from a complete stranger. "Hi, Christy. You don't know me, but XXXXXXX (who used to live with you) gave me your #. I'm coming into Columbia for a photo shoot and need a place to stay. Do you mind if I crash with you for a few nights?" Being 19 years old and stupid enough to let a stranger come stay with me (I figured that since I was friends with the photographer, it couldn't be that bad), I agreed. We made plans, and a week later, A* was on my doorstep.

Now, A* was not doing a photo shoot for Good Housekeeping, and while I won't mention the specific magazine, it is one of the higher end, less-trashy, erotic magazines. And in line with what I would have expected, A* was a real party girl. But she was also a single mom with a sweet streak and big heart, who loved discussing psychology and human nature during late night heart-to-hearts, and who was open to new experiences. I didn't treat her like anything other than a true friend, and we became instant best buddies. A* invited me to go to a local bar to sing karaoke with her, and I did, and we had a blast! I invited A* to come to an Advent-wreath-making dinner at my church, and she did (even though she had to borrow some of my clothes to have something appropriate to wear). I also taught A* how to make these cute little craft wreaths out of fabric scraps and straw wreaths, and she LOVED it! I'll never forget how hard we both laughed when some guy who had gotten her number at the bar the night before called, and she told him she couldn't go out because I was teaching her how to be Martha Stewart (before the prison time) and she was having too much fun making wreaths to go party with him. I think he was more-than-a-little-bit offended.

To make a long story a little shorter, what was supposed to be a weekend visit turned into a 3 month roommate (with A* traveling home a few times over that period to spend time with her daughter). In a number of late night girl talks, A* told me that nobody had ever treated her like she was just a normal person before, and told me how nice it was to not feel judged or looked down on or stereotyped. The night before A* did finally leave to return home for good, we both sat up all night crying. All her friends back home were crazy women, strippers, and generally not very good people, she said, and she didn't know how to make real friends any more. But she went home anyway, and we stayed in touch for a few years after that. One year later, when I found out I was going to be a single mom, A*'s mother invited me to move to Tennessee to live with them, as they wanted to return the favor of kindness I had shown, but it just didn't feel like the right thing to do. A few years later, I heard she was married.

The Point

I think that most of us Christians (and other religious people, as well) insulate ourselves a little too well from those people we think are off the path, or led astray, or under the wrong influences, at the expense of truly changing people's lives. Granted, my life is different now. I have more responsibilities and a family to care for and help protect, so inviting random party people to come and live with me is not an option. As a dedicated Christian, teacher, and family person, I'm not really into the same kind of partying I used to do from time to time, back when my life was different. I might talk trash from time to time, but don't really have the interest or desire to do the kinds of things that would take me off the path. But I am still in contact with a good number of my old pals, and don't really feel that much discomfort or embarrassment about it.

See, A* was a big lesson for me on how a good number of people live according to the expectations placed upon and opportunities offered to them. Back in Tennessee, as an exotic dancer and model, A* had been a complete party girl-- living the life one would expect of someone in that position. But for the brief time she was staying with me, she actually enjoyed going to church, playing board games at the apartment, and getting to know my friends, who were all pretty mellow and straight-laced by that point in my life. She had a support system (me, Maher, and a couple of other pals of mine from Church) who encouraged her and had fun with her, all within the context of healthy friendships, complete acceptance, and good, clean fun. I didn't preach to her about the evils of her lifestyle, and she didn't complain to me about the boringness of mine; we just became part of each others' lives, took each other at face value, and accepted each other as humans. No preaching, no judging, no snobby lectures.

And that changed both of us for the better-- more so than anything else that we could have done together.

Here's the challenge, though: After A* left to go back home, she went back (at least partly) into the lifestyle from which she had come. As straight-laced and modest as she had enjoyed being while she was around me and my pals, once she was back around her old pals, she fell back in line with them.

Which brings me to the issue of acceptance. I am one person, and a flawed person at that-- insecure, hypersensitive, and moody. But I take people as people, usually treat them with respect, and am generally not very judgmental of the people who come into my life. Thinking of A*, and how being accepted changed her lifestyle and self-image a bit (even if only temporarily), I can't help but wonder how many more people's lifestyle and self-image could be changed if they truly felt accepted by those they consider to be normal, or typical, or mostly-good people. Granted, I know that only God can effect a true change in a person's heart, but how many people are closed off to even accepting the love of God in their hearts, when they don't even feel the slightest bit of that love and acceptance coming into their lives from God's people?

Those of us who are people of integrity know that we are humans-- flaky, flawed, and imperfect. But to someone who is now and has always felt like s/he has been on the outside looking in, we can seem a bit larger than life, and our judgments upon the people whose lifestyles we reject can do more to drive people away from God than we ever imagined.

But how do we show our acceptance of the people we encounter without giving a false endorsement of a lifestyle we may not like? I think we have a pretty good role model for that, and it sure isn't me. Jesus spent time with people that others in his day wouldn't go near, and the mere fact of his acceptance and friendship opened hearts, just as it continues to open hearts today. So, doesn't it make sense that we should follow that example, and somehow work to find that balance between honoring our own purity while still demonstrating the love of Christ?

I'm not a master at this, obviously, as I still have so much to learn and grow and live. But I think it's something that we should at least be discussing, thinking about, and praying about. What do you guys think?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Sunrise, pictures, podcasts, and yumminess

This is sunrise at the beach, photographed from our balcony last weekend. You can check out more pictures at flickr (my user name is the same as my primary email). Most of the pics of my kids are friends and family only, so you'll have to add me as a contact and let me know who you are if you want full access. :-)

In other news, my husband is a saint, and not just for putting up with me. The man realizes how the one thing I miss most about living here in a small town is the lack of places to go to get yummy ethnic foods. Last night, he prepared an awesome spread of meal and snack food for me... Mmmmmmmmmmmmm! Thai stir fry with peanut sauce for dinner, and then tabouleh and homemade hummus on pita for snack. Oh. My. Goodness!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Commonllegiate Sense

Study finds more than half of students at four-year colleges -- and at least 75 percent at two-year colleges -- lack the literacy to handle complex, real-life tasks such as understanding credit card offers.

This is news?

Don't get me wrong, folks. I'm speaking as someone who has done a cumulative 5 years of undergraduate and 2 years of graduate work, all of which greatly benefited me, as far as I'm concerned. But, here's the deal... We present new college students with all these stupid ideas, beginning with the first lie we tell them-- that college must necessarily be the next step in their education after high school. Rather than presenting a solid college education as a benefit to be enjoyed once you're at the point in your life where you are ready for personal and educational growth as well as learning new skills to improve your career opportunities, it's presented as just the next step in the imsupposedtobeaneducatedcitizen process. And so, it is taken just about as seriously as the previous 13 years of education, which usually tends to be not very.

I say this from experience. When I first started college at age 17 (almost 18), it was just like high school, except without my parents there to stop me from partying. I was in the Honors College at my university, started as a second semester sophomore due to some AP credit, dual-enrollment, and placing out of requirements through exams, and I thought it was all a big joke. I didn't think, "Hey, this school is getting my money, so I'm going to get my money's worth out of them." I just took whatever courses the HC advisor told me to take, without ever really questioning if I had any other options. After a few years of crappy performance, non-performance, and general disinterest, I dropped out of school (by this time on probation with the Honors College, and with grades that were less-than-spectacular). I had very few skills, very little real life experience, and had no idea what it really meant to take on responsibility.

Until I had my son.

When I returned to college three years later, as a single mom, I had discovered a few things about life, none of which were learned in the classroom. Among those life lessons was the fact that if I was handing someone large chunks of MY hard-earned money, they were beholden to ME, not the other way around. I was going to get what I wanted out of my education, and they were going to tailor the degree program to my specifications. I had almost all of my core classes out of the way, and knew there would be some required courses, most of which I enjoyed. But I also knew that many of my degree requirements could be met through my choice of avenues. In my entire 2nd-chance college career, I only took 1 course I didn't want to take but had to. The rest (including about 20 credit hours of directed study courses for which I wrote my own program), I LOVED.

But what does that have to do with college students and common sense? Not much, except that I don't think people go to college to learn common sense, money management (business majors aside), and life skills-- not directly, anyway. Life skills are learned in the real world, if you're actually willing to step out of your ivory tower and live in it a bit. And if you're pretty perceptive, you're likely to pick up more life skills from the process of your college education than you are from the classes themselves. If you aren't so busy partying that you completely dork out, that is.

College has its' place, but I don't believe that the organized educational system is now, or has ever been successful, as a complete and thorough reformer of a society that doesn't value intelligence in the first place. If you go (or send your kids), do it for the right reasons-- to be yet another avenue for the enrichment of an already educational experience-- and not as a replacement for a life that embraces learning.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Think'n Southerna

My blog, according to gizoogle.

A bizzle fo` tha southern ladies n gentlemen who aren't afraid ta think a bit `bout life, tha universe, n everyth'n. Commentizzles news, reflection, accusation, prognosticizzle n everyday shiznit frizzay a southern point of vizzy is our specialties upside yo head. Pull up a ho-slappin' chair on our digital porch, pour some sweet tea over ice in a mason jar, n let's git ta ponder'n, chill yo.

That's me, all the way. ;-)

Maybe I'll start running my podcast scripts through that before recording.

Me, the Uptight

Through clicking on a series of profiles for people that commented in a friend's blog, I have discovered that I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much more sheltered, straight-laced, and removed from what a lot of people out there are doing than I ever thought. Which is A GOOD THING, as far as I'm concerned. :-)

I may post more about this later, if I can ever get my jaw up off the floor. Or maybe I'll spare you.

In other news, someone found my site recently by searching for "unstructured bellydancing" on google. While my belly is somewhat unstructured at the moment, and I do love dancing, I'm still not convinced that they found what they came here looking for.

Lessons Learned

Figured I'd dispense a little unsolicited advice, just to start practicing so that it will come a little more naturally when I'm 50. So, read and learn, dear friends.

Gentlemen: if your lady calls you from work and asks you to bring her gym clothes when you come to pick her up from work so that she can go to the YMCA, ask a few specific questions before simply deciding to bring the first thing you grab out of the closet, which just happens to be the oldest clown-suit highwaters and too-tight workout tank top in her possession, which she really should have thrown out a few years back. And... if once you get to the gym you decide to play racquetball with her while she's still annoyed at you for forcing her to look like a fat and creepy clown around a bunch of extremely healthy and hard-bodied people, it's not likely to be a good idea to keep serving to her left, especially when you know she's not left-handed and can't return very well in that corner. Because... once you finally serve to her right, where she can aim (and with a good deal of power), she's likely to aim straight for the back of your head, just because she can. Just a suggestion, though. Do what you like.

Ladies: If you haven't worked out in a month or so, and decide to get back into the habit, an hour of racquetball followed by an hour on an elliptical machine is a good way to kill yourself. Fortunately, if you somehow make it through without severe injury or death, it is also a good way to guarantee your first good night's sleep in months.

And, I wrote a skit last night that will hopefully end up eventually being podcasted. I'm a co-leader for the 10-11 year old class in a national scouting organization for girls. They asked me what kinds of topics I could present on, and I told them that podcasting is my latest hobby. So, I wrote a skit about some girls learning what Locks of Love is. We're going to record our parts tonight, and I'm going to teach the girls how to do some basic audio editing at our next meeting so that they can edit it themselves. Then, assuming I can get parental permission to play it on my podcast, I may do one in the near future about some kids who have donated to and benefited from Locks of Love. Neat. :-) We'll see!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Reality, the Musical

I'm sitting here watching Scrubs as I write this which, while it's not one of my usual shows, is one that I enjoy a good bit when I do get a chance to watch. My warped sense of humor as well as my extremely visual sense of ... well, of everything, makes me a good fit for shows that so flawlessly blend nonsense, keen wit, good writing, sharp delivery, and slapstick to make both entertainment and a point. Currently on my television screen, the creepy janitor is dangling half naked outside a window suspended by the speedo that he's wearing, but the episode that came on just before this one actually touched on the issues of religion, honesty in relationships, parenthood, and childhood trauma. And it was funny! And not really in a sick and evil sort of way, as I really don't appreciate, get, or enjoy genuinely mean humor, but in a intelligent silliness sort of way. It's amazing that because the show engaged me in a less threatening way, through use of effective theatrical diversions, I was more relaxed, and therefore more easily receptive to the more serious messages the show had to offer.

Earlier today, I posted my most recent podcast, which was an interview with the author of Love Jerry-- the so-called "pedophile musical" I heard about just last week. The interview, while obviously about a heavy subject, was a wonderful experience for me and in the end of the interview, Megan thanked me for approaching her work with an open mind and said how refreshing it was to be able to actually talk about the play without having to constantly defend it. It's so important to me that each person who is a guest on my podcast look at is as having been a positive experience, and being 6 for 6 in that regard feels good.

Megan is heartfelt, friendly, thoughtful, intelligent, and clearly committed to being a part of the solution to end child sexual abuse, in whatever ways she can. People have made issues of three key facts about the play that could potentially be objectionable: 1) It's a musical, and quite a few people find that inappropriate; 2) Jerry is not demonized in the play, and rather than being presented as the manifestation of pure evil is offered up as a very flawed human whose horrible choices devastate his family's life as well as his own; and 3) A handful of people have proclaimed that child sexual abuse is not an appropriate topic for public entertainment.

Which brings up quite a few other elements, to my view. For starters, Megan made clear that this is not a musical in the style of Oklahoma or Li'l Abner. This is a play in which acoustic, natural, folk-style music is used as a way for the characters to express heartfelt emotions and truths that might not come out in any other way. That kind of music not only expresses a kind of emotion and sincerity that is difficult to express in any other way, but it provides a less threatening context into which to place an otherwise unsettling exploration of a terrifying social plague. It, in some ways, makes an intimate exploration of such an intense issue a little more palatable in the end.

Megan conducted a good bit of research on and interviews with actual sexual offenders and child molesters as part of her preparation for this play. One of the things that struck her was how human they seemed-- these were not creepy and sinister characters barren of emotion, living in solitude under the social radar, without family and community connections. Instead, they were people with families, dreams, feelings, fears, and worries-- people who would not stand out in a crowd as people to avoid. See, as long as we, as a society, continue to expect those who abuse our children to be dark and looming characters, we will miss out on the true threat to our children. Most sexual abuse is not by openly disturbed or threatening people. It's almost always someone the child knows-- a family member, trusted adult, or teacher. The real threat to our children isn't secretive and lurking people, as much as it is secretive and lurking ideas in our society regarding how we address sexual abuse when it does happen.

Which brings me to the question of what is or isn't an appropriate topic to address through theater. See, I am a big fan of the arts as a personal diversion, as well as of the arts as a way of working to effect dramatic cultural change. I grew up in the theater, performing on stage as a singer, dancer, actor, and musician. I understand how the experience of an artistic project, both as a participant and as a spectator, can change your heart and open your mind to new possibilities. Addressing sexual abuse as an issue, and only an theoretical and intellectual issue, it is far too easy to remove the issue from its' context, to throw away the humanity of the abuser as we address criminal acts, and to assault the epidemic with platitudes, narrow-minded (albeit well-intentioned) anger, and a completely useless rage against what is clearly an injustice. This does nobody any good, least of all the person who was abused, or whose child was abused, for whom platitudes are meaningless and the offender is often more human than their heart would have ever preferred. It's far too easy for people to theorize about what is or isn't an appropriate forum to discuss child sexual abuse when their own lives have never been touched, either through their own experiences or those of someone they love, by the personal and emotional devastation that child abuse leaves in its' wake. Those who have been through it are less likely to be interested in arguments about where and when sexual abuse should be discussed... they just want to see the discussion happening.

Megan brought up a particularly powerful point during our conversation-- a point that has replayed itself on the spectacular backdrop of my far-too-intense imagination over the last few days. We repress this, refuse to discuss it, and expect people to heal from their sexual-abuse-inflicted wounds quietly and without great fanfare precisely because it is a topic we're scared of. We can't define it in terms of genetics, microbiology, or a cure, so we are scared to stand face to face with what we can't control. If this were polio, or bird flu, or any other definable illness that was affecting one out of three girls and one out of six boys in this country, it would be on the cover of the papers every single day until we had found a solution. Sadly, I think our head-in-the-sand stupidity with regard to sexual abuse goes even deeper than that, as erectile dysfunction and frickin' male pattern baldness often get more play in the press than the violation of our children. (Of course, we plaster sexually abused children all over the media when they are killed by their abusers, which makes it easier to demonize the abuser, but what about the thousands of others who live daily with their scars? But, alas, that's another blogpost for another day.) Where are our priorities, people? Why is it that when someone makes an honest effort to address a societal epidemic, we tear her apart, assuming it's a perversion of reality, when it is sadly, horrifyingly, and inexcusably likely to be one of the most honest and genuine looks at sexual abuse to date? Sad, horrifying, and inexcusable not because she addressed this issue in the format of a musical that does not make the bad guy a monster, but sad, horrifying, and inexcusable because WE as a society have, in some way, allowed it to become (and continue to allow it to be) the epidemic that it is, through our own silence and unwillingness to be gently led out of our comfort zones.

Earlier today, I did a google search to find any press or blog coverage about Love Jerry. What I found was, in most cases, a collection of the most ridiculous, misguided, misinformed, irrational, knee-jerk reactions I've ever seen in regard to a topic. Bloggers, it's just a little too easy to fire off at the mouth, or the keyboard, as the case may be, without having ANY IDEA what we're talking about. Why do we do that? I'll admit, when I first heard about this play, my first reaction was that it must necessarily be an atrocity. But the first sentence I fired off about it wasn't in a blog post; it was in an email to the author of the play, to find out from the delightfully open and sincere horse's mouth what the real deal was. Do a technorati search, or some other blog search, on "Love Jerry" or "pedophile musical." I dare you. And then prepare to cringe, as you read what would be a ridiculously funny series of idiotic tirades by people who don't know anything about it, except for the fact that real ignorance is rarely ever funny. Pull your heads out of the sand of your self-presumed righteousness, and face the facts that we REALLY need to have open and honest discussions about what is happening to our children if we are ever to have any hope of truly protecting them. And please, if you have no idea what it is like to be a survivor of sexual abuse, a parent, or a friend of one, listen in intently on the discussion, contributing only when you feel you have something to say that brings a greater truth to light for the benefit of our society. Don't pretend to speak for the little people; chances are you aren't really speaking for them in the first place. And most of the adult survivors can speak for themselves quite nicely, thank you.

In other news, south clearly trumps north, according to googlefight. So there.

Also, listenership is up, thank you very much to the nice podcasters out there sharing about what I'm doing! And as exciting as the growing stats (particularly 1st day posting stats) are to me, they are not the true indicator of whether or not I have arrived as a podcaster-- I got my first piece of slightly inappropriate email feedback over the weekend. SCORE! From a guy. Who liked my accent. (What is UP with you Great Lakes states freaks? Seriously!) Truthfully, though, it made me smile on an otherwise boring day, so whatever. Also, today I noticed that I had my first review on iTunes-- 5 stars and a nice comment. Unfortunately, the review was written by my dad, and referenced my "sultry, southern drawl."



I think I'm going to shove a bottle brush in one ear and out the other and scrub hard until that reference has been completely and totally erased from my brain.

Topless Blogging

Today is my busy day with my job(s), so I may not get a chance to make a real post of my own. But I just read a blogpost that is quite possibly one of the funniest things I have ever read in my life. Seriously. Like I'm sitting here at my computer trying to look cool while tears (and snot) are streaming down my face, breaking out in hives and having an asthma attack brought on by attempted stifling of raucous laughter.

Ladies: this is the post that made me snarf.

Gentlemen: That post might be a little more of an insight into a women's minds (and bodies, for that matter) than you are ready for at this point in your evolution. Read this instead.

In other news, my interview with the author of Love Jerry is now up at my podcast. I liked her, liked her style, and liked what she's doing, and will likely blog a bit more about her when work chills out. For now, take a listen, and let me know what you think.

Monday, January 16, 2006

ENFJ, and an update on Tropical Man.

So, I was just goofing around on my lunch break and took some online personality test. Here's my results:
Your Type is ENFJ
Strength of the preferences %
Extroverted Intuitive Feeling Judging
33 12 50 22

You are:

* moderately expressed extrovert
* slightly expressed intuitive personality
* moderately expressed feeling personality
* slightly expressed judging personality

Here's one analysis of my personality type, written by someone with a slightly more favorable than is objective perception of ENFJs.
Here's another, written by someone who even mentions being annoyed by ENFJs but who brings up some good points anyway.
And another.
My bloginality take on it.

I have a few thoughts on the nature of the test, the kinds of questions (and how hard they were for me to answer), and what this means about why I'm such a weirdo. But I'll have to blog about that later. My lunch break is.... 5....4....3....2....1.... over.

In other news, tropical man WAS in fact married, and is thus, a jerk. However, Saturday night, when my sister and I (and our brutish, grimacing chaperones) were there, he got an unsettling phone call from his wife. See, he was at the beach for some kind of fishing convention. His wife was back home, out with friends, and called him (while he was in the bar) to tell him she had gone out, was really drunk, and was having a blast, partying it up. He was freaking out, saying that he had never heard her tipsy like that before, and was really worried to not be there with her.

Talk about that big ol' cosmic 2 by 4 (which I sometimes like to think of as divine justice or karma or whatever) spinning right around and whacking him in the head! I think that made my night all the more entertaining. Does that make me a mean person? ;-)

Hope you all had a great weekend, by the way.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


In the past few days, a couple of you have told me you couldn't leave comments. Bummer. If that keeps happening, would you let me know so I can try to figure out how to fix it? Just comment and let me know. HAHA! No, really-- most of my readers know my email anyway, so just drop me a line if there is a problem.

In other news, one of the delightful people who reads my blog from time to time, and who emailed me to let me know comments were not working for her, has her own southern lady blog that I can't get enough of. Check out Empress Baggie for a good read, fabulous haiku, and creepy pictures of headless baby dolls violently seeking revenge against each other. Her Royal Highness shares her thoughts on life, soul food, and the antics and scary scout-leader socks of His Royal Heinie. What more could you ask for in a blog, or a monarch, for that matter?

Survey says...

Success! Down time achieved, stress somewhat relieved.

The girls got their night out.

The boys got to chaperone.

I'll get back to regular posting later this week. :-)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

age, or maybe growth, revisited...

From ages 18-20, I was a party girl. Not in the sense of going to bars to pick up guys or be picked up (I've never left a bar with someone I didn't go in with), or having one night stands (something else I've never done). But I really enjoyed getting lost in the intensity of it all-- the lights, the loudness, the fog... By daylight, I was rather mild mannered, nerdy, and insecure. In the right lighting, I could pretend I was someone else.

I think there's just a little tiny bit of that party girl left in me, in the sense that I'm a bit of a free spirit-- fun loving and silly-- but it's different. I'm more of a party girl in the abstract rather than in the tangible reality of my life. As much fun as I have blogging about what a wild woman I'm going to be, given the chance, it just isn't really me anymore.

In true fashion, I talk a big game, but am really a homebody. This morning, I snuggled in bed next to my husband and watched the sun rise over the ocean. My day since then was spent sipping chamomile tea while reading my Bible on the balcony of our room, and walking the beach and nearby pier with my family. I have a feeling that the rest of the day will be about the same, perhaps with a hot tub soak or pool swim thrown in. Last night hubs and I did go to karaoke, which was a blast, and I've talked my sister and her man into coming here for karaoke tonight instead of hitting the hot clubs. I guess, in spite of my grandest fantasies, that I'm a pretty simple girl, easy to please, who just wants to be with her family. Maybe, just maybe, there isn't as much in my life anymore that I want to escape, and my life is satisfying enough without having to be obscured by disco balls, fog machines, and thumping bass.

Hubs and I talked this morning about the whole protection thing... I think we figured out a few contributing factors to why we felt the way we each did-- things relating to past experiences. You know-- the baggage we tend to drag into relationships and carry with us over time. So, it's resolved. If we can both afford to go, we will. If not, I'll go. Simple. No hurt feelings, no sulking, no nightlife. I probably wouldn't really want to go out anyway, given my tendency toward talking bigger than I'd ever really try to be in real life. But I am a big girl, and could make a trip on my own if that's the way it works out, and he knows I'd spend the whole time babbling to anyone who would listen about him and the kids. They are my heart.

The whole guy behavior thing is an interesting discussion, though. I think that some guys think women are stupid when it comes to knowing what some guys are like, what they think, and how they behave. I think women get it much of the time; we just don't necessarily react the way that guys think women will react. I've said it before and I'll say it now-- the manly man national geographic strut and preen mating dance that some guys do really cracks me up! It does not turn me on or weaken my knees. It's just anthropology in action-- a fascinating display of usually misplaced effort.

Last night, I went down to karaoke, and hubs was going to join me later. I walked in, ordered a beer, and immediately picked up the karaoke song list. I'm here to sing, remember? A small crowd of sixty year old guys (late sixties would be a generous guess on my part), one of whom was extremely friendly and had an earring, were flirting with me. Old guys-- well, that's just kind of cute. I flirted back, because they were so funny, and went back to reviewing my song list. Within a few minutes, 1/2 my beer was gone, and I had found my song. I couldn't find a pen to write my song on the slip, though, and was leaning in toward the bartender to try to get his attention. After a minute, he came and sat another beer in front of me. "No-- I just needed a pen," I said. "Oh-- the drink is compliments of the gentleman at the end of the bar." I looked, and there was a forty-something guy with a tropical print shirt smiling at me. "Thanks," I mouthed, thinking about how I'll never see California after this. Less than 5 minutes in the bar, and old guys were hitting on me while some dopey guy at the end of the bar was buying me a drink.

But see, here's the thing. I'm guessing (because I'm not a man) that tropical man thinks, "Hey, I bought this chick a beer. She smiled at me. That must be because she wants me. Maybe I'll get lucky." And as far as I'm concerned, I don't really care if that was what he was thinking. I was thinking, "Kind of dweeby, but seems harmless. Free beer-- not bad. If that guy is married, he's a jerk. Maybe he's not, though, but what do I care. When's hubs coming to the bar? I can't wait for him to get here. I'll drink my two beers and sing love songs to him all night."

A few minutes later, hubs arrived to find me with a beer in each hand (not a normal thing for me, just for the record-- I drink a couple of beers per month when I'm on a roll). I smiled at him, kissed him, and then gestured down the bar-- "The second beer is compliments of the gentleman at the end of the bar." Hubs looked, and tropical guy smiled at him. Tropical guy then walked over, play slugged my husband in the arm, and said, "Hey, man, I was just getting her another beer so she'd sing-- haha!" Hubs smiled, because truthfully he's not a very jealous kind of person, recent hooha aside, and slugged tropical guy back. "Yeah, she's a keeper," he said, and laughed. I then spent the rest of the night singing country music to my man (with my voice, everything is country when I sing it), and dancing with a group of forty-something women who were there. We really had a blast, and before long my husband was even chatting with the old dudes, even the one with the earring. They really were friendly guys, and had neat stories to tell (old guys usually do).

So, here's the thing. I think some guys are pigs. Back in my party girl days, I had plenty of married guys offer to meet me for flings, and brazen single guys who expected me to be something I wasn't. I've seen men at their worst, trust me, so much so that I went for years thinking all men were horrible. But truthfully, most of the guys I know now are pretty good guys. I think guys put on this silly show because they think it impresses other people, and who knows?-- maybe sometimes it does. But most men I know now, deep inside, just want someone to talk to, to listen to them, to believe in them, and to cheer for them. They just usually don't expect that other person to be a guy, because it might violate the man code, which really is a silly thing to begin with. And guys, most women are smarter than you think. Even when they go along with your manly man act, it is usually with the awareness that you are in fact doing the manly man act, and that they are doing the easy female act. Don't flatter yourselves too much!

This vacation is a nice thing. Time to chill out, time to reflect, is rare in the daily grind. It's nice to get away from it all for a while. I feel good.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Holy moly beach madness

So, I guess that most of you guys were too chicken to comment in public. My hubs and I had a little bet going as to what kinds of comments my last post would get, and whether or not they would be divided along the gender line. So, you peeps are costing me a full body massage, I'll have you know. Go back and comment, darnit!

We drove to the beach today (5 hours), through thunderstorms and tornado warnings, but it is BEAUTIFUL now. This is the place we stay every time I come to the beach (I worked here in high school-- Chubby Checker, remember?). Usually, I'm rushing in during the busy season, for a high school reunion or quickie visit, and we get stuffed into whatever little room they have available. And when the Christy family stays in other hotels, it's usually on a long road trip, when we're just too tired to drive anymore, and it's a crappy four-hour-sleep kind of hotel. So, since I've been out of the business world where I traveled, we haven't done nice hotels very much, or at least not nice rooms in the nice hotels.

And it's free, right? And I'm the kind of person who is simply grateful for whatever I get, so I wasn't expecting much... Just a couple of beds, a TV, and a bathroom. We walked into our 12th floor room today, and my 9 year old grumbled, "Oh, great. No beds." That was when we realized we were standing in the living room. We're in a super-fly suite that has a living room, dining room, and kitchenette, and hubs and I have our own room separate from the kids. Yeah, baby! ;-) And we have TWO-- count them-- 1, 2-- balconies overlooking the ocean. Holy snot, folks-- I'm overwhelmed. I think maybe my old friend heard my desperation yesterday morning when I called to ask for a room-- "I need a break, really bad. We just need to get away..." He certainly delivered, and it will take everything I have not to throw myself at his feet when we get to see him tomorrow.

So, I'm sitting here at the hotel business center, just because I wanted to tell my blogpals that I am the happiest and most relaxed I've been in a long time, and that it will only be getting better over the course of the weekend. Fifteen feet away from me is the hotel lounge, where some drunk weirdo is singing "Strokin'" by Clarence Carter-- heck yea, KARAOKE, baby! I'm in weirdo heaven! After I go back upstairs and get the munchkins to sleep, I might be down here singing "Strokin'" before the night is over. Or "Like a Virgin." Or "Lady Marmalade." Or any number of my karaoke standards (yes, I am that big of a nerd). And tomorrow during the day-- little sis is taking me shopping to buy some sexy club clothes for our dance outing tomorrow night (she's taking me to the hottest new clubs here). DO YOU PEOPLE REALIZE HOW LONG IT'S BEEN SINCE I BOUGHT A SEXY GARMENT OF ANY KIND?!?!?! HMMMMMMMMM?????????? And then hubs and I are going to spend the day playing on the beach (the weather is gorgeous), playing laser tag with the kids, and generally having a better time together than we've had in a long time. And then tomorrow night-- GIRLS' NIGHT OUT. My little sister's man might come over to knock back a few with hubs, while the girls are out cavorting all over Myrtle Beach. I'm giddy like a schoolgirl, if you can't tell. I need to get out more often, yeah, I know. But three kids... Priorities shift.

I may not be able to do this very often, but you better believe I'm going to get enough of it out of my system to get me through to the next time, just in case it's another 2 years. ;-)

Later, gators. Clarence Carter is calling out my name... He says Christy... Christy... Christy... LOL

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Dweeby Married Guys

So, I've been thinking that this fall, I need to go to Podcast Expo. For starters, I could use some guidance, ideas, and networking to help me improve and promote my podcast. Secondly, it would be fun, particularly since I've never been to California. I experienced it indirectly, through all my sister's Tahoe snowboarding videos, showgirl stories, and inability to speak the English language without excessive word ups, gnarlys, and peace outs (P.S. I found a pic of her to link to with clothes on). And I was at least close when we went to Sedona, Arizona, on our honeymoon. But I've never been there. Finally, I'm such a people person that it drives me ABSOLUTELY INSANE that I don't know what half my podcaster acquaintances look like. Grrrrrrr! (If any of you are reading, email a picture, just so my mental processes can be a little more well-rounded when I'm listening to you.) It drives me just as nutty when I don't know what my blogger friends look or sound like (skype, anyone?). I'm the kind of person who as I'm reading or listening to something, develops an intricate accompanying experience in my mind, complete with sound, visuals, and emotions. And I'm not much for mysteries. So, finally meeting some people I've come to like, admire, and enjoy having as a part of my life would be pretty cool.

However, the Christy family is not particularly wealthy, and I wonder if we'd be able to afford to get both me and my hubs out there. So, last night, I brought up the possibility of me going it alone, and the ensuing discussion was an interesting peek into the bizarre dynamics of my relationship with my husband. Here is my retelling of the incident. It isn't particularly accurate, partly because I can't remember word for word, and partly because, hey, it's my blog. I'll tell it how I want to.

I don't like the idea of you going out there alone.

Why not? What's the deal?

I don't know. I just don't like it.

So, you don't think I'm capable of going somewhere without you, successfully navigating the city, and not getting mugged, killed, or seduced in the process?

No, it's not that. It's just... just... I don't like the idea of you out there with all those computer geek guys.

It's not just guys, you know.

(glares at me) You're the one that told me the other day that you got an email from one of them that he sent to the podcasters in his address book, reading "Lady and Gentlemen."

Well, if you think they're all computer geeks, then what are you worried about?

You like geeky guys, for starters. (Faking a girly voice:) "Smart guys turn me on, ooh ahh," remember? Half the guys you've ever dated have been 34 year old geeks, even when you were 18.

So, you don't trust me?

No. I trust you.

Most of the podcaster guys I know are married anyway.

So. You know as well as I do that being married doesn't always stop guys from being stupid.

Apparently not.

Shut up.

I can't believe you don't trust me.

I DO trust you. I don't trust THEM.

You don't even know any of them.

No, but I know YOU. And I know geeky guys. And it just doesn't sit well with me.

What do you mean, (faking my best dorky man voice:) "I KNOW YOU"?

You're hot, for starters, easy to talk to, sweet, friendly, thoughtful, loving, lovable, beautiful, voluptuous, gorgeous, a genius, with irresistible blue eyes and keen wit to spare. (Okay, so I made up part of that. But he really did say some of it.) You make people feel special, and that really plays well to the geeky guy crowd.

Okay, what if I got V-dogg (my sister) to go with me?

(*crickets* *crickets*)

Seriously, hon. What if V went with me?

That's the making of a reality television special, there.

Don't be an ass. It would be fun. You don't even like going out, dancing, any of that. At least if I took V, I'd have someone to go out with. I haven't been out dancing in years (this is, sadly, a true statement). Hey, I haven't even been to karaoke in over a year, now. If V went, I'd have someone to go enjoy the nightlife with.

That's what I'm afraid of. I love your sister, but you going to California with her makes me even more nervous than you going alone.

Old fart.

Party animal.

(crickets chirp outside, as we both sit there, staring away from each other, like a couple of two-year olds in timeout for fighting over a toy.)

Tomorrow, I'm going to blog about what a dork you are.

I don't care.

(More silence...)

Seriously, man, you can't really be this big of a dork!

Well... I guess if you had to go alone, or if you went with your sister, it would be okay. I wouldn't like it or anything, and I'd worry about you while you're gone. It's a man thing, you know, and I can't protect you if I'm not there with you.

One wrong move on the part of anyone out there stupid enough to mess with me, and I'll break out some of those martial arts skills-- a bit of Pitida Fu would put him soundly in his place.

Now who's a dork?

Whatever. Anyway, it's still several months away...


And that was the end of the conversation. So, if any of you have any ideas for comebacks, pleading my case, or whatever, should the issue be addressed again in the near future, send them my way. :-)

*Edited 2:00 pm to add: In his defense, we've never really been much for doing things that aren't family-oriented. Homeschooling hippies, remember? Anyway, I spent my first night away from my children EVER in June of 2004, and have only done it twice since then. And my first night away from everyone-- kids and family-- was in October of 2004, when I went back down to Florida for a quickie visit to perform a funeral for a good friend's grandmother. My friend's mom had specifically requested me, back before I left my ministry position, to do the funeral for her ailing mother, and I also married both of her children, so it seemed the right thing to do and I kept my commitment even though I had moved out of state in the between time. I spent 17 hours traveling by bus to get there, about 4 hours there, and then another 19 hours to get home. I haven't spent the night away from my husband in our entire marriage, except for the two nights I spent sleeping on that bus. So, for all you well-traveled geeks out there wondering what the big deal is, this isn't a typical thing for us.

In other news, it's amazing what a good night's sleep can do for a foul mood. I need to get away this weekend, and since the convent wasn't an option, I went to plan B. An old friend, mentor, and previous employer from my childhood and teen days now owns a good number of hotels, timeshare, and condos in Myrtle Beach (where I grew up). I have an open invitation anytime I want to go visit to stay, for free, in one of his properties. So, I called him this morning, and my family will be checking into an oceanfront hotel tomorrow evening to stay for the weekend. Excellent. ;-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I had written about 6 paragraphs of a post, and then realized it was going nowhere. Usually, this would not stop me from foisting my blab upon you. But, for some reason, I just deleted the whole post.

I was up until after 3:00 am recording and editing my most recent podcast episode, goofing around to produce a short audio feedback/promo bit that I am reeeeeeeeallly hoping to get played on DSC, rubbing the back of my very sick 4 year old, and cleaning up puke. You know how you feel better right after you throw up, and use that window to nibble on saltines? My son didn't want saltines, but we wouldn't let him eat anything else. So, while we were in the other room, he took advantage of that opportunity to sneak into the kitchen, hide in a cabinet, and eat many bananas. My carpet may never be the same again. I couldn't get in for my much needed downtime this weekend, because the retreat at the convent was filled by the time I called. I have been a cranky turd all day long, with a headache to boot. There's really not much more to blog about, at this point.

Maybe, we'll take a day trip to Charleston this weekend. Yeah, that would be nice. Now to try to convince the hubster...

Want to cheer me up? Add yourself to my frappr map (see sidebar), and when I come into the office in the morning and open up my email, I'll feel like the belle of the ball. Maybe. But it's worth a shot.

In other news, while teaching a unit on Baroque music to 1st and 2nd graders yesterday, one of the boys asked me, "When did Bach die, again?" "1750," I responded. "Oh yeah," he said. "I think that's when my dad was born."

Thirty-somethings-- we're getting old.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Love Jerry

In response to my recent post, openness, secrecy, and shame, I saw that Kordalian linked to an article about a play, Love Jerry, that's about to be done in Atlanta. It follows the story of two brothers after one discovers that his brother had sexually abused his son. It has sometimes been referred to in the press as the "pedophile musical," giving an air of flippancy about it. After reading the article, and then reading the information at the production company's web site (which, of course, is extremely sensational to try to get the audience numbers up), I found the author's web site, and emailed her asking about the actual content of the play.

She seems like a very sensitive and heartfelt person, and bristled at the media dubbing her work a "pedophile musical" simply because she incorporated some of her own musical talent, composing a few original works as part of the play. Child sexual abuse is an issue close to her heart, and I get the impression that she truly intends it as an in-depth exploration of the issues families face when things like this happen. Mike (a character in her play), like all parents who discover sexual abuse by a much-loved family member, is forced to try to reconcile a lifetime of loving his brother with an absolute dedication to protecting his son and the horror of discovery of the abuse.

It could go either way. But, if she handles the issues as tenderly and with the same level of integrity and sensitivity that she responded to my email, this play might actually be a good thing. I'm even looking into performance dates to see if we can scoot into Atlanta to see it during its' run.

In any case, she has agreed to allow me to interview her for an upcoming podcast, assuming we can find a mutually agreeable time, and I would be honored to hear her perspective.

I guess my questions would be:
*What motivated her to write this kind of play, to choose this topic?
*Did she feel like she had to take certain precautions when writing, due to the subject matter, and if so, what kinds of things was she particularly careful of?
*Does she worry that this kind of a play might perhaps be a negative trigger for those who were sexually abused, or for families in similar situations, bringing up emotions and reactions that might not be healthy?
*Reviews note that she does not demonize Jerry, the abuser. Was it a continual effort not to do that? Does the play, even if it does not demonize the abuser, adequately express the absolute wrong nature of these kinds of acts?

Please feel free to comment and leave me a few more suggestions for possible lines of questioning that would be helpful or interesting. I'm actually looking forward to talking with her, and hope we can somehow bring our schedules together. :-)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I need more down time...

(edited 01/09/06 to add some stuff at the end.)

It's amazing how when you stay as wound up as I tend to stay on a regular basis, it is a painfully deliberate and conscious effort to just chill out. Remember what Ferris Bueller said about his friend Cameron being wound up so tight? When I first watched that, as a teenager, I thought, yeah, that Cameron, he's a nerd. Now, I'm searching for my own rare gems. Let my people go.

Yesterday, my husband took his teacher certification exams. For those of you that don't know, he had a massive stroke 11 years ago, when he was 22. He's had mild aphasia and limited use of his right side ever since, and his work history has been sporadic, at best, since then. He began walking and talking again within a few months of his stroke, and lived with his mother during his recovery time. A year later, he could read children's books and speak in longer phrases. Two years later, he got his driver's license back, and the year after that, he moved back out to live on his own. That's about when we met. We were both in college at the University of South Florida, and I was envious when he beat me to a B.A., shortly after our marriage. In spite of his academic achievements, finding a job where he stood a chance to excel was tough, and I've been the working parent for much of our marriage.

Last fall, when our children officially went from being homeschooled to private schooled, I overheard the principal mentioning a shortage of strong teachers. As my husband had done much of the homeschooling for our own little ones, was college educated, and looking for opportunities to get out and do things, I volunteered him, and set up an appointment for them to work something out. Since then, Daddy-O has taught intermediate social studies for the school part time in exchange for tuition. It was only after the first month at the school that he realized how much he enjoyed teaching, and discovered what could be a lifelong career. If he could teach part time in exchange for tuition, he could teach full time as a career. We began researching certification options for non-education majors in our state, and discovered the PACE Program, in which people with degrees can get certified to teach in their field by passing the Praxis II exams, getting hired, and completing a 3 year program while teaching in public schools. He began studying for the exams, and felt pretty good about his level of preparedness.

So, on the test results (which we won't have back for approximately four weeks) rides in part whether or not we become a two-income family, or remain a single income family of five. Granted, he can always retake any particular exam he did not pass, but I really think he will do it this time. After testing from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm, he was ready for a break. And seeing as I won't take time off for myself to chill, I was more than happy to take that time for him! So, Maher drove up, and we all went bowling (I beat the snot out of everyone else, of course!), and then came home for a Trivial Pursuit: 90s Edition battle royale. Beer was consumed (by me and my husband, at least), competitive insults were hurled, and a great time was had by all. Nice! Why can't I do this when I'm feeling like I'm about to crumble? Who knows. Maybe it's a mom thing.

And then today, I spent from 9:30 am until noon fighting with Skype to see if I could get it to record calls, checking on my children (who were climbing all over pallets of vinyl siding in my warehouse) every few minutes. //Blech//

Then I took them home, and came back to fight with Skype, Audio Hijack Pro, LineIn, and Wiretap from 1:00 pm until 2:30 pm, still with no success. //Ick//

Then I typed up some quick notes, and shoved my headset mic into the computer to do an interview with another podcaster who had asked me to do a bit for his show, and his internet connection crapped out in a painfully frustrating way. //twitch twitch//

So, I went back to fighting with Skype to try to record, and (angels singing, heavens opening), got it to work around 4:30 pm. //sigh of relief//

Jason, with History Podcast had been sweet enough to offer to be available for some practice Skype recording, and we had a great chat. What a nice guy! //Ahhhhhh... this day's not so stressful after all...//

So, at 8:30 pm, after feeding, bathing, and tucking in my darling little angels, I went online and attempted to purchase Skypeout credits. It indicated that a confirmation code was sent to my email address. It is now 10:10 pm. I have clicked on "get mail" about three million times in the last 100 minutes. //eeeeehhhhhhhhhh//

I think that my head is going to explode if I don't wrap it in duct tape immediately, or maybe I just need medication. Either way, the twitching is slowly returning, and going to bed now may be the only way to make it stop.


10:40 pm
And now, after realizing that it's too late to call my stepdad, taking down my entire recording setup, shutting down my mac, blogging for the past who knows how long, and deciding to give up and go to bed, I check my email. There are a zillion confirmation codes from the ass-clowns at Skype, and I'm homicidal. Happy new year.


Edit Monday, January 9:

So, after a bit of reflection, and after carefully retrieving my head from my rear, I realize that yesterday was not all bad.

1) The conversation with Jason was nice.
2) Matt added a link and nice words about my blog, which I'm sure he regrets after reading this load of crap.
3) An old college pal of mine now living in Seattle left me a comment on one of my MySpace pictures: "I forget, sometimes, how really foxy you are. Rawr!" Yeah, baby. You got it. Getting virtually cat-called by a gay guy rocks, because I feel no disloyalty toward my husband for enjoying it so much, plus Q-boy has STYLE with a capital S, T, Y, L, and E. Bam! And he called me foxy. It's been a few years since I've thought of myself as foxy, but I guess I am a little foxy in a Mae West sort of way. Va, va, voom, baby!
4) The 4th nice thing about yesterday is not blog-friendly. But it was nice.
5) I emailed libsyn support last week complaining that I couldn't give separate titles to my category feeds, even though my listeners could supposedly subscribe to them separately. This morning, I got an email from libsyn telling me what a great idea it is, and that they'll be adding it in as a user menu in the next few days. I'm a genius! Really, I'm just amazed that I'm the first person to ask about that. Can I really be the first to want separate titles listed if I list several feeds separately but under one umbrella site? Amazing. So, all you libsyn podcasters: you're welcome.
6) And today, I am registering myself for a retreat next weekend at the convent. Smooth. Next weekend will be nice. I'll get my down time, after all!

Friday, January 06, 2006

openness, secrecy, and shame

As many of you know, I have a podcast in which I interview different people who have something about their experiences that I find interesting. My theory, though I will never have the chance to put it to a scientifically solid test, is that just about everybody has something in their life stories, experience, past or present, that is incredible, fascinating, inspiring, or otherwise unique. We just don't often hear about it, which sucks, really, when you think about it. So many little lessons of how humans can overcome great tragedies, come up with grandiose ideas, or generally experience life in a wide-open, fun-loving sort of way, and most of us are missing out on them.

For as long as I can remember, there has been a stigma attached to certain kinds of situations-- disability, adoption, abortion, child abuse, rape, sexual abuse, disability, gender and gender identification, and a million other things to which we, as people, are often exposed. Someone doesn't want to admit they were abused as a child because they love their parents and wouldn't want to embarrass them; as if we expect all people we encounter to be narrow-minded idiots who don't understand that most parents do the best they can, and that however small or large their failings may have been at different times, people change and grow. Someone doesn't want to say that they were adopted; as if that somehow makes them less of a family. Someone doesn't want to discuss the fact that they or their child was sexually abused; as if it is somehow their fault, their child's fault.

It's sad, really, the way we all censor ourselves in the name of not making anyone else uncomfortable, preserving the peace, or whatever reasons we tell ourselves we have for stuffing all of our potentially negative experiences deep down inside where they can't be of use to anyone. As if someone who has experienced a disability, adoption, physical or sexual abuse has something to be ashamed of. That's quite simply a load of crap. If there is any shame to worn, it belongs elsewhere.

Shame belongs on the person who can't seem to believe that someone with a disability has genuine human feelings and can contribute meaningfully to the world. Shame belongs on the one who refers to "real" kids and "adopted" kids, as if there could ever be a difference in a healthy parent's heart between love and love. Shame belongs on the unrepentant abuser, the rapist, the pedophile. Don't ask the victim to stay quiet to keep those around him or her comfortable in their ignorance. As long as we have that expectation of those who have been exploited or abused, there will always be an undercurrent that somehow blames the victim and shames him or her into silence.

If anyone should retreat into silence and shame, it should be the offender. As for the people who have been abused, if speaking out gives them a feeling of strength and courage, of power over the situation, then they should speak out when, if, and however they please. No place is more lonely and frightening than the silent place in your heart, where few people hear and nobody cares. Just reaching out-- it's often enough, even if those to whom you reach out never reach back. And if you happen to be one of the ones someone trusts enough to reveal a darker place in his or her experience, don't worry if you don't know what to say. Chances are they don't expect you to say much; just to acknowledge what they are dealing with, continue with the friendship, and be at least vaguely aware of the pressures they're facing in their lives.

I'm tired. Very tired. I'm tired of looking around and seeing a culture in which we really don't give a rat's rear if children are being abused and violated, if women (and men) are raped, or if people's pain is incredibly immense-- as long as that pain doesn't reach into our own lives. I'm tired of having a culture of acceptance-- "these things happen," so it must not be that big of a deal. It is a big deal. It's a really, very, incredibly big and rotten deal, and you never know what cards are coming up in your hand next. Until we have a culture that embraces a zero tolerance attitude toward innocents being violated, we will continue to see Samantha Runions, and Carlie Bruscias, and Jessica Lunsfords, and thousands of other little boys and girls whose parents, thankfully, can still hold them in their arms, but whose lives have been forever altered by someone else's selfish, destructive, disgusting, and offensive acts.

People who haven't been there have no idea how it affects a person. They don't understand the lifetime of self-doubt, fear of relationships, and emotional struggles that the abused child faces. They can't understand what it feels like for the woman who has been raped to anxiously look for well lit parking at night, or be afraid to go jogging, or be scared- really scared- on a date or at a party. They don't have any idea what it feels like to question if you fit into your family, to wonder if you're fully accepted as a person, or to live daily with common societal misconceptions and fears. They can't understand the amount of courage it took for the person who just had a stroke to speak publicly in front of one person, or a million, knowing that his recovery is not, and may never be complete. They don't understand... until they're faced with it themselves.

A few unsettling statistics:
1 in 6 American women has been raped. 67% of them were raped by someone they knew.
1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 or 7 boys will be or have been sexually abused.
8% of all Americans report a disability that interferes with work. Many of them became disabled unexpectedly during the course of their adult lives.

Long story short: If it hasn't happened to you or someone you love, it will. Unless we start working, right now, to create a culture in which the victims and survivors are encouraged to speak out until society can't stand the horror of it any more, and does something about it.

I'm tired. It's been a long week, and my patience is wearing thin. Maybe tomorrow... maybe this weekend, I'll post something fun about doing the robot, wearing silly clothes, or playing board games. Maybe, over the weekend, great silliness will ensue in the Christy household, and I'll barely be able to contain myself until Monday, when I'll tell you about it. But for now, this will have to do.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006



Today, we had a big appointment in Columbia that we've been putting off for a little over a month now. Having it done is like a big weight lifted off our shoulders, and it's amazing how slap-happy one gets when a giant stress is no longer there. Not just normal happy, but really freaky happy. My son and I are in Columbia now and aren't heading back home until later this afternoon, and are having a BLAST! We had a fun lunch together at Moes, and then headed over to the USC bookstore to pick up a few things. He got the new Lemony Snicket book, and I got Ar'n't I a Woman?
Female Slaves in the Plantation South
. Good reads, I anticipate.

Anyway, things are bit busy, having to take a day off in the middle of the year-end madness at work, but we had to do the appointment, and I guess we needed a day off anyway. I will absolutely be writing a few real posts and getting back on the blogging thing within the next week.

Katharine Hepburn
You scored 14% grit, 38% wit, 47% flair, and 9% class!
You are the fabulously quirky and independent woman of character. You go your own way, follow your own drummer, take your own lead. You stand head and shoulders next to your partner, but you are perfectly willing and able to stand alone. Others might be more classically beautiful or conventionally woman-like, but you possess a more fundamental common sense and off-kilter charm, making interesting men fall at your feet. You can pick them up or leave them there as you see fit. You share the screen with the likes of Spencer Tracy and Cary Grant, thinking men who like strong women.

Find out what kind of classic leading man you'd make by taking the
Classic Leading Man Test.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
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You scored higher than 10% on grit
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You scored higher than 83% on wit
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 75% on flair
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You scored higher than 6% on class
Link: The Classic Dames Test written by gidgetgoes on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test