Monday, May 31, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Ah ha! It DOES work!!!
Thank you, my blog readers, for being my test subjects in an important, groundbreaking psychological research study.
You see, I have decided to do what any loving, dedicated mother/wife would do when sick of housework. I have decided to use cheap psychological tricks on my family members to get them to do tedious, mundane chores.
The following is an announcement I plan to post around my house very soon:
Attention Husband and Sons!
Read and follow these instructions carefully!
From now on, you must never get a new roll of toilet paper (located in the bedroom closet, OR WOW! LOOK AT THAT! within arm’s reach on the back of the toilet) and place it on the roller. This is strictly forbidden. The power that comes along with this act is mine and mine alone. In many cultures the person who replaces the roll of toilet paper is the person who then possesses incredible powers. Leave this to me and I promise I will to use my powers for good.
Sliding out the lint trap in the dryer and cleaning it is a right and a privilege that I alone have. The effect of this procedure is akin to an incredibly pleasant drug high and Mama needs her weekly fix. Those persons choosing to disobey this order may indeed experience a euphoria that lasts for hours or days, but why would you need or want that? This is best left to me. Don’t even attempt this very simple and satisfying task. You couldn’t handle the joy anyway.
Given the choice between loading the dishwasher and riding my own pony while sucking on a lollipop, I would choose loading the dishwasher. In fact, I INSIST that you leave dishes in the sink and on the counter. If you were to, say, open the door of the dishwasher and place a plate between the prongs there, you would quickly grow weary of all other activities you currently think of as “fun.” It would ruin you. Leave it to me and only me. That hysterical laughter you hear that you often mistake for angry screaming as I place glasses in the upper portion of the dishwasher is a mere foreshadowing of the sheer ecstasy I will feel when it is time to load the silverware. Don’t do it. Don’t even ask.
So readers! What do you think?
Do you believe these psychological maneuvers work?
Do you think I can use shoddy, somewhat contemptible methods to get people to do what I want?
I shall let you know how it goes when you come back to my blog.
And I KNOW you’ll come back to my blog because only the BEST people come to my blog!
Yes, it's true!
Only the most good-looking, smartest, most stylish, sophisticated, urbane and intelligent people read Betty's Blog!
(Say, have you lost weight? Your teeth look so pearly white today!)
See you soon!
Thursday, May 27, 2010
It was late at night when I finally decided to go see it.
In my thinking, motorcycles were only owned by balding, tattooed men with ego problems and five illegitimate children in each state. I guess you could say I was a tad prejudiced. So, when my gentle eighteen-year-old, peace-loving, vegan honors student announced one night that he wanted a motorcycle, I laughed.
Weeks went by and we found a few signs around the house that he was searching the Pennysaver for ads. No harm in that we guessed. Used equipment started coming into the house: a riding jacket from a teacher at school, riding boots from his girlfriend's father. I imagined him returning them when he came to his senses. “Here are your things back; I don’t know what I was thinking,” he’d say with a smile and a shrug.
Our eyebrows rose when he signed up for the mandatory motorcycle safety course for $250.00. When we reminded him he wasn’t getting a motorcycle, he explained very slowly to his idiot parents that getting his license now, even if he didn’t get a motorcycle, would lower his insurance rates later if he ever did get a motorcycle, say, after my funeral.
He passed the safety course. He got his license to drive a motorcycle.
During the next few months, as he searched the newspapers for motorcycles and made contacts on Craig’s List, I began a campaign of finding articles about the dangers of motorcycles and placing them on his desk. I scanned the obituaries in the morning paper, morbidly hoping for a death from a motorcycle accident, so I could tape the obituary to his computer screen.
One night at dinner he stated in a flat, expressionless voice that he needed to go to the bank and withdraw $1000.00 and wanted to know if we knew anything about liens and incomplete titles. I looked at my husband across the table. We had kept the pact of offering no help. Now, HOB offered general information but no more.
They returned an hour later. Sonny Boy came in first. Was that disappointment on his face? It was hard to say, but I was hoping. HOB came around the corner next, glowing like an excited five-year old. Sonny Boy must have told him he was giving up.
Apparently, the concoction of garage, exhaust, gas, grease and testosterone had done its work on HOB. He was a goner.
I left the room quickly, feeling sick.
In that moment, the dim garage became a sacred chapel and I placed my hands upon the red metal of the motorcycle and said a blessing over this machine, this symbol of inevitable change.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Cats sleep fat and walk thin.
Cats, when they sleep, slump;
When they wake, pull in -
And where the plump's been
Cats walk thin.
Jump in a streak.
Cats, when they jump, are sleek
As a grape slipping its skin-
They have technique.
Oh, cats don't creak.
Cats sleep fat.
They spread comfort beneath them
Like a good mat,
As if they picked the place
And then sat.
You walk around one
As if he were City Hall
A cat is apt to sing upon a major scale:
This concert is for everybody, this
For a baton, he wields a tail.
(he is also found,
When happy, to resound
With an enclosed and private sound.)
A cat condenses.
He pulls in his tail to go under bridges,
And himself to go under fences.
In any box or kit;
And if a large pumpkin grew under one,
He could arch over it.
When everyone else is just ready to go out,
The cat is just ready to come in,
He's not where he's been.
Cats sleep fat and walk thin.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Yesterday was graduation at the community college where I teach.
Have I mentioned I have the greatest job on earth?
Our faculty always shows up at graduation to support our students and I have to say I choke up when some of those students pass over that stage to get their degrees.
As an English teacher I get to know my students well, so it’s not just Jack or Rafael, or Eliza getting that degree.
It’s Jack who started his full-time job loading trucks at 3:00am so he could get to my 10:30 Composition class on time.
It’s Rafael whose parents are coming directly from their jobs in the strawberry fields to watch their first-born graduate from college.
It’s Eliza who had a baby at 16 and decided to be more than just a statistic.
Not all my students come from disadvantaged backgrounds, but these are the ones who tug at my heart year after year AND year after year I have to separate their pasts from their abilities and look at the grades in front of me. If they don’t have the skills to go on, I can’t pass them. It would be unfair to them and set them up for failure in the next class. Sometimes it’s heart-wrenching.
Teaching is definitely not for wimps.
A while ago, I did my annual repotting of my patio plants. Every year I look around and find the ones that need to move on to bigger containers. I pull them out of their smaller pots and see their roots are wound around each other and tangled. After the initial shock of transplantation, they soon flourish and bless my patio with greenery and blossoms.
About a week ago, the wind knocked over one of my bigger plants that I had not repotted. The container was broken beyond repair. While I pulled it out, it I was shocked to see it too had roots that needed more room. I had overlooked it the first time around, but I could see clearly that it needed a bigger container if it was going to grow to its full potential.
I guess you know by now where I am going with this.
I see some of my students and know without a doubt they need the bigger container of a university and I also know that once they get there, and get over the shock of transplantation, they will absolutely flourish, blossom and make the world a better place.
I look at the California University system right now, mired in budget woes, cutting enrollments, eliminating classes and worry that it won’t have the room for some of my students who are root bound. Then what happens?
We have, through education, a chance to make our world a better place. We need provide the opportunity for growth, the chance to move into a bigger, more challenging environment for all students--including the ones who come from broken places.
A Dream Deferred
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore-- And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-- like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Before HOB became Husband-of-Betty, he was BOB (Boyfriend of Betty). We met the summer before our senior year in college.
Our courtship was fast and hot. Let’s face it: You put an restless Agronomy major and an attractive Mass Communications major together for sweltering, humid Kansas summer and, well, things are going to happen pretty quickly.
Oh, it started with just going to movies and restaurants, but soon that wasn’t enough. Around the second month of dating we got restless, so we did what any normal healthy 20 year-olds would do.
We brought out the card games.
Crazy Eights, Uno, Go Fish. Yeah. That’s right. We played for hours and hours; the competition was fierce.
Perhaps because I was winning at the intellectually challenging card games, BOB decided we should move into the physical realm. (Isn’t that just like a man?)
He determined we should find a sport to do together. That was fine with me. I had never been a sporty girl, but I had read a lot of books about sporty people.
Now this was in 1980 and jogging was THE thing to do. I bought the shorts and top, I bought the Olivia Newton-John headband—all in matching pink and white velour. We went to the park and started off at a nice pace. About mid-way around the park I sensed BOB slipping behind me. I was puzzled. Was I that much of a powerhouse that I was outpacing him?
Then I heard his hastening footsteps just behind me and heard his voice, which seemed to have dropped a couple of octaves, booming out at the back of my head. “Move it! Move it! You can go faster than that! Pick up the pace! Come on!” I came to an abrupt halt and turned around.
“What are you doing?” I asked calmly.
“I’m motivating you.”
“No. No, you’re not. You’re annoying me.”
“Well, this is how my sixth grade soccer coach motivated us.”
“No,” I said. “You have to stop doing that.”
We started up again. This time he stayed beside me, and his voice was softer, but I STILL heard him.
“Come on! Come on! Pick it up!”
I stopped again and stared at him disbelief.
“I was motivating myself,” he said. I turned and walked back to my apartment.
“Baby! I was talking to myself!” he called after me.
Jogging was out.
The next sport we tried was racquetball. BOB’s ex-girlfriend had been a racquetball champion. OK, I thought. I’ve got the sporty outfit already and I liked the bouncy ball that the game required.
We tried it.
When I die, if I awaken in another realm and am escorted to a racquetball court, I will know I have been sent to hell.
This episode consisted of BOB running madly around the dizzyingly white, enclosed court, whacking at the rubber ball as hard as he could, grunting as his racquet whizzed through the air and made contact with the ball.
The wild, unpredictable ball went every which way, whizzing right by my head. Each time it hit the wall, the smack echoed like a shot. I was stunned and confused, in the eye of the storm.
Those years of Kansas tornado training kicked in. I did what any sensible person would do in an emergency situation such as this: I crouched down there in the middle of the floor, covering my face with my hands, protecting myself. I refused to move until I was sure all activity ceased. Anyone walking by would have mistaken me for a pink and white velour bush.
Then over all the grunting I heard the most hideous sound of all: BOB’s echoing instructions to me to “Get up! Hit the ball! Let’s go!” I stayed in my crouched position, praying for a break in the nightmare, for the noise to stop, for the blue bullet to stop ricocheting off the walls in the devil’s shoebox.
So, yeah, racquetball was out.
We moved on to golf.
I can’t really talk about our golfing experience. Let’s just say that in our marriage, one of our unspoken contracts is not to talk about that day on the golf course. The continuation of our marriage DEPENDS upon NOT revisiting that day on the golf course.
Must. Not. Even. Think. About. It.
Let’s just say that on that particular day BOB decided to be an SOB (Shepherd of Betty) and proceeded to guide her around, give her unwanted, unnecessary instructions in a condescending tone, and I believe on one occasion to even use the golf club as a herding tool.
Must. Hold. Marriage. Together.
Must. Not. Go. Back. To. That. Day.
After this incident we gave up the idea of engaging in a sport together and it’s proven to have been a good decision. Just lately though, HOB has been going on my evening walks with me. We have a fine time talking about our days and our boys. I set a good pace for the walk and HOB can even keep up with me when he tries.
And when he slows down, and needs a little inspiration, well, thank goodness, I remember those valuable techniques I learned from him all those years ago. Oh, and my Nordic walking poles are handy too, just in case he needs a little extra motivation.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Crossing Kansas by Train
The telephone poles
have been holding their
a long time now
that will not
but pass with
where dark trees
a waterhole. This
is Kansas. The
mountains start here
the closed eyes
of a farmer's
in their workclothes.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Thanks to all of you who wrote me kind words yesterday. I really appreciated them all.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
We stood, talking with friends when I felt a strange sensation—a vibrating, buzzing sensation filling up my chest. It stopped and then started again. My mind whipped back to a conversation that had taken place with a friend. She said that when she started menopause, her breasts would tingle and buzz. It drove her mad, she said.
I stood, unable to carry on a conversation. Luckily, my friends and HOB were chatting away and did not notice my wide eyes and open mouth. The vibrations stopped. I relaxed. Then they started up again.
So this was it! I thought. This is where it all begins (ends?)! This clear and distinct message—nature’s Morse code—sent to me at this EXACT moment in time. I knew I would never forget it.
We were called into the restaurant, seated at the table and given menus, but my mind remained on this incredible signal from my body—this bookmark, this rite-of-passage. I had just received a missive that one phase of my life had just ended and a new one was beginning and I was supposed to just sit there and choose between a veggie burger or a salad? I could barely breathe.
Just then HOB’s cell phone beeped. “It’s Evan,” HOB said, “He’s been trying to get through to you. Where’s your phone?”
“It’s in my purse,” I said, digging around for it and then stopped.
In my backpack purse.
The one that had been strapped tightly to the back of my ribcage.
The rib cage connected to the ample, apparently overly-sensitive, vibration-amplifying breasts.
I admit it. I am a cell phone dork.
Really, I am.
When your phone rings in Target, I am the woman on the other side of the aisle you see slapping my purse upside my head to see if that’s my phone ringing.
Other people are so cool, so graceful with their cell phones. Like expert dealers in Vegas, they move their electronic decks in their hands, flipping this, snapping that, their hands flying across buttons, tapping out messages, quickly displaying colorful messages, things brought up out of the mysterious Ethernet.
Meanwhile, each time I have to make a call, I hold the phone at arm’s lengthy, squinting at it like it the first time I’ve ever seen the device. When I go to make the call, my movements are exaggerated and jerky. I resemble the old man in the nursing home who has the sleek new TV remote in his hand. He repeatedly slams his thumb down upon the same button over and over again, as if by doing so, he can drill down under the sea of plastic faces that pass in front of him. He longs to get past the garishly colored, busy screens, news items scrolling across on both the top and bottom, to finally find that crisp black and white image of Walter Cronkite who will just talk to him in simple, clear terms.
I understand him completely.
The fact that Betty is a phone dork may be hard to believe since Betty is so darn cool in other areas of her life. She drives a snazzy car with a personalized plate. She has a Mac, she teaches on line, she is a snazzy dresser, AND she goes Nordic walking with her poles every morning. Being un-cool with my phone is messing with my carefully-honed image. Something must be done and soon.
Therefore, I present my four-step plan:
Stop announcing to the world when I receive a phone call. This is particularly hard for me. When I wear jeans, I put the device in my front pocket and when I get a call, I can’t help but call out, to no one in particular, “I’m buzzing! I’m buzzing!” while grabbing through the fabric, to grasp on to the phone that is atop my front groin muscle. I look as though I have a hernia and must immediately prevent it from popping through my abdominal wall.
Stop making a production out of making a call. Again, I do not need to make an announcement, nor do I need to stand stock still while I dial. I must also stop hunching over the device, slowly punching on the buttons, concentrating on each as though the combination of numbers is the secret code to a bank vault or the cancellation code on a bomb in a highly-populated area.
Stop mistaking my very large cat’s wheezing for my phone vibrating. As she naps on the bed, Mabel often makes rhythmic, vibrating sounds causing me to leap for my phone every time. If I can’t find it, I immediately and frantically call for my family’s assistance to find the device I am sure is lost in the covers somewhere. “It’s. The. Cat. Mom,” is the phrase I hear a lot, always delivered in a clipped, staccato. I will leave the tone of voice this is said in to your imagination.
Stop calling my phone “my device.”
Now, these steps may not make me the nimble-fingered, glossy-lipped, chick at the mall calling three people at once, I think they might just pull me out of the dork category and when Mother Nature does send that inevitable message I hope to receive it with grace and dignity, no yelling out, no grabbing of body parts, no slapping of my purse against my head.
I just hope she doesn’t send a text because those things always freak me out a little.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
A Few Facts to Ponder on this Mother's Day from the World of Hummingbirds website:
"At three weeks of age, the little baby hummingbirds are now looking more like a real hummingbirds. They are testing out their wings more and more in preparation for flight. In the next few days, these little baby hummingbirds will fly away as real adult hummingbirds, never to return back to the nest."
"The mother hummingbirds will still feed their fledging for two to three days after leaving the nest. During this time, she will show them all the good places to catch bugs and get nectar. Then she will chase them off to live on their own."
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Reposted from 3/16/09
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
It was 6:00am and I had barely opened my eyes when I heard HOB’s (Husband Of Betty) solemn, wide-awake voice.
“There’s something we have to discuss."
Now I don’t care if you have been married for a long time, a short time, no time, or just sometimes, this is NOT a phrase that you want to hear from the person beside you in bed, especially at 6:00am. I tried to rouse myself. I sat up halfway and looked his way through squinted eyes.
“It’s about how you load the dishwashing powders into the dishwasher,” he said.
I looked at him with disbelief, my morning mouth gaping open, my face still crinkled up from being on the pillow. “What?”
“It’s been a problem for awhile,” he said. “You have to admit that.”
He proceeded to give me a tutorial—right there in bed at 6:01am about how the hard water additive goes in first, in a thin layer, in the left hand compartment. “The key is to spread it uniformly,” he said, using his hand and making a leveling motion right in front of my eyes. He went on, “Then you add the detergent, sifting it gently over the first powder in another thin layer. The operative word here is thin....”
This went on for a good three minutes, followed by a recounting of how, in addition to throwing dishwashing powder around willy-nilly, I am also guilty of overloading the dishwasher. “You know you do. It’s a real problem.”
He then patted my thigh, rolled over and went back to sleep.
This method of conversation is a very bad habit of HOB’S.
We had only been together a year or so when we attended the wedding of some friends. Mendelssohn’s march was playing; the bride and her escort were poised to walk down the aisle. We, as a congregation, stood up and HOB, in a low voice said, “Did I ever tell you I once broke my coccyx?" I stood, watching the bride walk down the aisle, my mind racing. What was a coccyx? Where was the coccyx? Why was he telling me this now? Would this injury affect our having children together? If I had married a man with a broken coccyx, shouldn't I have been informed by the man with the broken coccyx before marrying said man?
These questions rattled around in my brain like change in a tin can during the entire ceremony. After the wedding I asked him why he had chosen to tell me this fact at that time. “Oh, well, I was just thinking about it,” he said.
Over the years, I have tried to explain to him in my English teacher way, that just like a good essay, topics in conversations have to have context. Ideas need to be introduced, then developed, logically.
“Think of it in outline form,” I said.
Here is Betty’s suggested informal outline for the dishwashing powder discussion:
I. General, pleasant remarks about household.
A. Compliments to Betty for all her hard work in household.
B. Acknowledgement of Betty’s prowess in all things domestic.
C. Apologies for lack of assistance given to Betty in this area.
II. General, pleasant remarks about the kitchen.
A. Compliments to Betty for all her hard work in household.
B. Acknowledgement Betty’s prowess in all things culinary.
C. Apologies for lack of assistance given to Betty in this area.
III. General, pleasant remarks concerning dishwasher.
A. Subtle, well-worded question concerning possible problem with dishwasher.
B. Rhetorical question concerning the application of dishwashing powder in general.
C. Acknowledgement that Betty has demanding, full-time job, is an incredible mother, and may not have time to obsessively measure, level, and ensure that every grain of powder is properly placed within detergent receptacle.
A. General apology for bringing issue up.
B. Recitation of phrase, “I’ll take care of it from now on, honey. Sorry to have bothered you and by the way, you look incredible right now. I am one lucky man.”
C. Offer to take Betty to restaurant of choice.
Now, HOB’s job involves selling large quantities of vegetable seeds and apparently, in the seed world this type of outline is not necessary. When unloading pounds of onion or tomato seeds, perhaps you can just blurt out the terms of the deal. Not so in marriage, as I have explained to him many times.
Ah, but at least I think I may be getting used to it.
One night when I was halfway asleep, I felt him get into bed with me. He held me close and said in a dreamy voice, “You know what I can’t believe?”
“What?” I asked, knowing I was going to hear what every woman wants to hear from her love in that moment before sleep—that deep, passionate profession of deep affection and disbelief that one person could be so incredibly lucky as to be beside her in bed as well as in life.
“I just can’t believe the size of our company's pickling cucumbers,” he said.
“Good night, HOB.”
“Good night, Betty.”