What I’ve Been Doing Instead Of Law School

I have been having a crisis of motivation. It doesn’t just extend to law school; it encompasses my job, the holidays, and the myriad household projects that have sat neglected for the last couple of months.

Procrastination is an amazing thing. It’s not that you do nothing when you procrastinate, quite the opposite actually. Personally, I find that I fill my time with all sorts of things so that I might justify why, oh say I wasn’t able to write that Civil Procedure paper on time or call the repairman about the oven that won’t turn on anymore…

I know I’m not alone. I know there are many other potential procrastinators out there and as I am beginning to emerge from the forest of sloth, I thought I would share with you a few of my procrastination techniques.

So, here’s what I was actually doing instead of everything I should have been doing:

1. May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

I read all three Hunger Games books in about two weeks. I would have probably read them faster but I delayed, knowing that when they were done, I would have to get off my ass and grade my student’s essays, or read property law.

I want to be Katniss when I grow up. I know I never will be as evidenced by my bow and arrow skills at the last Renaissance Festival I attended. I paid my $3 to shoot arrows into a target; I got ready, imagining my arrow flying straight and accurately into the bull’s eye. I pulled back on the bow, and let go…only for my arrow to fall at my feet. I think it was broken, or someone was cheating.

If only I would've had that dashing young fellow to assist me....

The Hunger Games are freaking awesome, and yes, I geek out like a tween at a Bieber concert when I talk about them. I fully admit to checking the movie sites and debating with my husband the casting choices. Love Jennifer Lawerence, but whoever the pretty boy is that is playing Gail…questionable.

Hey Baby, Wanna See My Coal Mine?

My husband tells me that I legally don’t have the right to use this Hunger Games photo, and on the off chance that one of my readers is someone in charge of such things and I am requested to remove the above picture, I have included an alternate picture of Gail that my three-year-old drew. I think it’s just as effective.

Looks just like Gail, if he were an octogon...

2. Zombies Like Brains, and Time

The Walking Dead is also freaking awesome. I know, it has some cheese; there are moments when I would really like them to stop talking and go fight some more zombies, but all my hesitation was forgiven the minute I got to see the CDC blow explode.

Generally speaking, zombies are my favorite time sucking monster. I have been known to waste an entire Friday night watching George Romero on Netflix or discussing the merits of Sean of the Dead v. Zombieland with my equally awesome husband.

If it weren’t for zombies, I would have finished law school ten years ago. Yes, I’m blaming zombies. Don’t judge.

3. A Lannister Always Pays His Debt, Unless That Debt Is Time, Then You’re Screwed.

Although my schedule was jam packed with time sucking activities I still managed to multi-task enough to watch and read Game of Thrones. The HBO series is seriously excellent, and the book by George R.R. Martin has turned me into a whole different kind of geek, the kind that is actually worried about who is going to take over the imaginary kingdom and debates with my husband the many reasons why Tyrion Lannister is so freakin’ awesome.

I heart Tyrion

I know what you’re thinking, my husband is an enabler, and if it weren’t for his enabling ways, I would have finished law school ten years ago. Yes, now I’m blaming my husband, the zombies are off the hook.

In any case, the season two is starting up in April and I’m about as giddy as a Spiderman Enthusiast the night before ComicCon.
I’ve been doing other things too, like making overly elaborate dinners.

Paseo and Anaheim chile dahl with flat bread

Obsessing over the arrangement of the front yard flamingoes.

I think though that perhaps the fog of procrastination has lifted a little bit. I did my law school homework last night. I’m actually writing a blog. I’m seriously thinking about finishing the edits on my neglected manuscript that’s been sitting on my desktop for the last three months. I’m only vaguely distracted by the squirrels in the yard and all the shiny objects…

Adorablepants, Preschool and Ensuing Insanity.

I’m back.

I don’t really have any good excuse for my absence, other than bronchitis, ear infections (not mine – Mr. Adorablepants) salmonella (not me, The Husband) surgery (not me, the kitten) and The Walking Dead (all me, zombie ate my brain).

I the midst of all this, Mr. Adorablepants started preschool. So while I hate the words ‘mommy blogger’ with the fire of a thousand flaming arrows (yes, I also read all three Hunger Games books in my hiatus), I have some thoughts on the subject that need airing.

The biggest problem with preschool is that I have come to realize that it is not aimed at the kids, but rather the parents. Preschool is a training program for parents, so we might be ready to send our kids off to kindergarten. We have to pack lunches, follow school holidays, deal with parent conferences and occasionally make a few dozen cupcakes (or in my case – buy a few dozen cupcakes….).

My son, the venerable Mr. Adorablepants, while being an angel from heaven, can occasionally be a little, um…stubborn. He likes things the way he likes them. He doesn’t like people telling him what he can and cannot do. He doesn’t like rigid schedules or agendas. He doesn’t like to wear shoes. In short, he’s a three-year-old version of me.

Here are a few discussions I have had over the last few months that I anticipate to be having with Mr. Adorablepants’ teachers for the next eighteen years.

1. Your son doesn’t seem interested in the group activities.

No, he doesn’t. He doesn’t really like group activities, neither does his mother or father. We’re a family of lone wolves. Deal with it. I would further add that if he is getting up and wandering away in the middle of your painting demonstration, story, lecture on the letter P, etc…. maybe you need to up your game a bit. Just sayin. I also refuse to believe that this is unique behavior for three year olds. I watch three-four year olds when we’re at the park or wherever preschoolers congregate; they have the attention span of well…a preschooler.

2. You need to have a talk with your son about –fill in the blank whatever incident took place that day-.

Um yeah, so as I’ve stated before, Mr. Adorablepants is three. One day after having bit another kid at school, I tried to follow his teacher’s advice.
Me: ‘Mr. Adorablepants, why did you bite your friend?’

Adorablepants: ‘Dinosaur RAWR!’

Um yeah, so he’s three. It’s pretty even odds that most questions I ask him will have a dinosaur in the answer. In any case, he’s not spilling any secrets to me. I suppose the preschool teacher would have liked the conversation to go like this:

Me: ‘Mr. Adorablepants, why did you bite your friend?’

Adorablepants: ‘Well, I’m feeling really angry, and it was very unjust that he was allowed to take my truck and I was supposed to just share it with him and somehow ignore that fact that he waltzed right up and confiscated my truck, in my face, without so much as a please. In fact, this whole sharing thing is a crock; it’s just legitimized theft. But, you’re right momma, next time I’ll try to use some feeling words and hug it out. Dinosaur RAWR!’

3. You need to talk with your son about kissing the girls and trying to hold their hands.

To be fair, Mr. Adorablepants doesn’t try to kiss all the girls, just a few in particular. I think he inherited his straightforward approach from his father. The other day Mr. Adorablepants walked up to a girl at the park, turned on his smolder and said: “Hey little girl, you’re cute.” It worked too; until he abandoned her on the see saw, trapped up high where she was left only to glower at him.

But okay, I’ll talk to him. I have a feeling how the conversation will go:

Me: “Mr. Adorablepants, you need to stop kissing the girls in your class.”

Adorablepants: “Dinosaur RAWR!”

I have a feeling that this is the best talk we will ever have about this topic. When Mr. Adorablepants becomes a teenager, we’re really in trouble.


Why The Muppets Matter

It was Jim Henson’s birthday last week.  It has literally taken me a week to articulate the impact this had on me.  He would have been five years older than my mother who celebrated her 70th earlier this month.  Therefore, it is difficult to see him as having been old.  It is difficult to articulate how much Jim Henson influenced my life.  It is difficult for me to imagine how different the world might be today if he had lived to celebrate his 75th birthday.

My three-year old has recently rediscovered the original Muppets Show.  We used to show it to him in his infancy days so as to absorb him long him enough for us to eat a meal.   Don’t judge….  The television wasn’t our babysitter, more like our live-in nanny… wait, that’s much worse. Nevermind…stop judging, at least we never resorted to the whiskey rag, everyone knows rum works better….wait, damn….can you unread the last paragraph?

Don't get all worked up, I would never use duct tape when superglue works so much better...

My point is that the quiet genius that created the Muppets and led to Sesame Street and to the modern day hybrids has maintained, almost miraculously, the same optimistic gentleness that I remember from my childhood.  There isn’t an ounce of mean in the muppets, not then and not now.  Every intention from a muppet is pure and good, even if the result is negligent.   My recent example goes to this morning’s Sesame Street wherein Elmo loses Zoey’s pet rock, it’s pretty dramatic, I won’t give away the ending.

There are more lessons than I can count to support my belief that muppets should be our moral navigation.  They are wise, reflective, self-deprecating and above all maintain their sense of humor.   While I could probably write for days, I will list but a mere three.

1.  Respect the Boss

In Season One, Jim Nabors hosts and Kermit meets the young and ambitious Scooter, who wants nothing more than to be a gopher. Scooter will continue to be passively aggressively helpful for the next few seasons as he reminds everyone that his uncle owns the theatre.

It’s a lesson for all of us.

Disagree with it, Work to change it, but ultimately, your boss, whomever that may be, is the hand that feed you.  Don’t bite it.  If Muppy wants to be in the freakin’ show, put her in.  The show will be okay, the unemployment line just plain sucks.  If you hate your job THAT much, get a new job, or create a new job and work for yourself.  Although, from my experience, I’m a much worse boss than anyone I’ve ever worked for…

2.  Don’t Diss George

George the Janitor is sick of cleaning up after those stinkin’ pigs all the way through the Season One of the Muppets.   Kermit orders him around, he generally gets the shaft.

Anyone who knows anything knows that this is the worst thing you can do for your professional life.  The last person you want to insult is the person whose job it is to clean up after you.  When I was entering teaching, I received the best advice I have ever been given from a professor:  make friends with the custodian.   He didn’t mean pretend to be friendly, he meant genuinely get to know the people who clean up your school campus and extend to them the respect deserved for such a craptastic and thankless job.

Thank Jehovah I took his advice.  The custodians at my school have not only taken care of me, they have given me advice when I was having a bad day, helped me with unruly kids (one hour of scraping gum with the janitor will cure any bad behavior) but also they have been the soothsayers of the campus.   Whenever there was something going down on campus, the custodial staff knew first and like Cassandra, hardly anyone listened.

3.  Don’t Deny the Power of Music

I defy you to watch the following clip of Harry Belafonte singing ‘Turn the World Around’ at Jim Henson’s Memorial without a little bit of choke in your throat or dare I say even a tear.  It was by all definitions an epic moment in Muppet music theatre, the song was performed at Jim Henson’s memorial preceded by possibly the best eulogy one could ever hope to receive credit to Harry Belafonte.

My point is, that no matter how hopeless you might feel about life and no matter how impractical it might all be, there is power in song to even momentarily lift your spirit enough to make it through whatever rut you might find yourself in.

There have been countless other musical moments on Sesame Street and Muppet Show that have not only inspired me but also changed my perspective.   Listen without the layer of irony that separates you from your daily existence and you get it.

In short, a very belated Happy Birthday Jim Henson, may be we all go out and Turn the World Around.

Jane is Back

There are a few of you who know exactly what this blog is about just by the title.   This means you are probably female, somewhere between 30-45ish years old and grew up dreaming that you could be could be a wildly successful professional while also juggling your fantastically happy personal life with your handsome and successful boyfriend/husband or beautiful and successful girlfriend/wife while also looking eternally twenty-eight years old and never leaving the house in jeans that made you look anything short of Hawt with a capital H.

This is what Jane Pratt did for me.

Jane Who?  That’s what the rest of you are asking.   Jane Pratt, founder of Sassy Magazine and later Jane Magazine had an oddly galvanizing effect on young women of my particular generation.  Back in 2006, Jane Magazine shut down for good and with it, the core of the online community that spawned from it.

What did people do before Facebook?  Before Myspace?   Well, if you were socially competent, you probably went out with your friends live and in person.  If you were me, you joined message boards, which for you kids out there, were like a pre-cursor to Facebook.   Same concept, more anonymity.   You created a handle that wasn’t attached to any bio information at all, and posted away.

The Jane Magazine message boards were an eclectic melting pot of teenagers and twenty-somethings.   The magazine itself was akin to watching reality television.  Jane Pratt created the literary equivalent of spending the afternoon watching the flipping back and forth between the Bio Channel and TLC.

The message boards were a different animal altogether.   The original Jane Magazine message board was pretty innocuous, it attempted to focus on the magazine topics.  However, just the way you see people gripe about how Facebook is trying to censor our speech by sending out warnings for abusive posts, it got ugly fast.    If someone’s comment wasn’t posted, or if it was later taken down, people cried foul.  They raged against the message board moderators, demanding justice.    It doesn’t work for Facebook, and it didn’t work on Jane back in the day.

When you type 'Irriationally Angry' into google images search - you get this Klingon, are all Klingons irrationally angry? Or just misunderstood?

The upside to the message board society was that it was truly anonymous.  If I wanted to claim that I was a 6’4 pro-wrestler from Queens, NY who enjoyed cock fighting and went by the handle ‘Numbchucks’, there was no one to prove me wrong.  You didn’t ‘friend’ anyone per say, you just created the person you wanted to be.

Since I'm outing myself as a full on geek here, I thought I'd go all the way and include some more Star Trek images...

I didn’t go by Numbchucks, although I’m tempted to do so now.

Eventually the Jane Magazine boards birthed a bunch of ill-mannered children.   Groups of message board junkies like myself, got together and decided we weren’t going to stand being controlled by The Man anymore, we were going to form our own community, where free speech would reign.

Incidentally, I have never seen a faster road to anarchy than to declare that the cornerstone of your organization is ‘free speech.’    Free speech usually means that people will feel free to say any damn thing that pops into their head.    The truth is that we don’t really want to know all the crazy in other people’s heads.  Instead of ‘free speech’, we should be fighting for ‘sane speech.’  That might actually get us somewhere….but I digress….

The offshoot that I joined was titled ‘AntiJane.’   Yep, we were going to do it our way, no Jane Magazine moderators to censor our ideas!  We were going to live our Internet lives in a world where individuality and freedom of expression were key.

It’s a nice idea, right?

There were other revolutionary groups that grew from the original Jane Magazine message board; The Jane Book Club was another.   Like AntiJane, there was tight security to get in.  There was rampant paranoia that spies from Jane Magazine proper were going to try to and infiltrate the perimeters of our free speech utopia.   There was also talk of the dreaded spam-bots.  The computer created spam machines that join message boards with the sole purpose of shilling their crap.

You let the wrong one in, pretty soon they've turned Captain Picard into a borg.

Inside our little protected AntiJane cave, we hid and gossiped, and eventually Lord of the Flies style, began to eat our own.    Message boards are like an online equivalent of Mean Girls.   We formed little online cliques, we ostracized the ones who were considered less cool than others.   Every once in a while, you got a little glimpse into someone’s real life.   It was startling to realize that the person who had just called you a hoe-sucking moron was, in their waking life, a mild-mannered receptionist in an optometrist’s office, or an elementary school teacher, the guy who answers the phone when you have tech problems with your Internet server.

It was like a really geeky version of Fight Club.

I left the community before they started handing out the Kool-aid.  I assume it still exists, you might even be able to find it, just don’t tell them that Numbchucks sent you.

My point is this:   Jane Magazine is back, in online form.   You can find it here:


You can also like xojane on Facebook, here:


There’s probably a message board you can join…at your own risk.

I’m curious to see what effect the new Jane Magazine will have.   I’m curious to see if the same fanaticism that grew from the original will be kicked back up, or if the new generation of Internet savvy users will pass it by.

And remember – first rule of Jane Magazine is that you don’t talk about Jane Magazine.

I Am An Obnoxious American

My name is Kathleen and I am an annoying American.  I’m just going to say it upfront.  I do all sorts of annoying American things.  I switch my fork to my right hand after cutting my meat so I don’t have to attempt to deftly shovel my food in my mouth with my left hand.   I read entertainment news, a lot.   I wish people ‘Happy Holidays’ during the month of December instead of blanketing them all with ‘Merry Christmas.’   I refer to large groups of people, men and women, as ‘guys’.    I am intolerable.

This is The Husband and I in about 15 years.

At least according to a couple of British blogs that I’ve run across over the last week.

Did you know that the words ‘hospitalize’ and ‘elevator’ are like nails on the chalkboard for the British?  Okay, not all the British, just the author of this blog:


I swear, I looked for an author…couldn’t find a name.  I’m guessing he’s named Rupert or Edmund or Crumpet.

I’m kidding – c’mon British friends, stop throwing your tea and toast at me.   I come from a very British family, I kid because I love.  I’m pretty sure that ‘kid’ is a grating Americanism too….oops.

Okay, so when you type 'angry british' into google images, you get this cat. That's way more odd than our use of 'elevator'

I was also unaware that the following words are vile American concoctions as well:

Lengthy. Reliable. Talented. Influential. Tremendous.


I guess I have to stop saying things like: That tremendous elevator is most reliable, yet might just hospitalize me for a lengthy stay if it proves to not be as reliable as the talented maintenance staff claims it to be.

The author of the above blog, who for the sake of clarification, I will call Crumpet, also writes the very true statement that when America was formed, we took British English and made it our own.   We made up words, changed words, got rid of words, and mushed words together, with sometimes very offensive results.

Toby Harnden writes in his blog for the Telegraph that such simplicities as ‘Have a nice day.’  And ‘Can I use your bathroom?’  are specific to infuriating Americans.   According to Harnden, we are supposed to say ‘I would like to use your lavatory.’


More on Harnden’s list are ‘You’re welcome.’  And ‘How are you today?’   These, according to Harnden are meaningless, empty phrases only uttered out of politeness and faked interest in other’s well being.

In a way, I agree.  I have learned that when people ask ‘How are you?’   They really don’t want to know, if they do, they will actually stop you, and ask you point blank and demand an answer.  Most people use this interchangedly with ‘Hello’ and are expecting nothing more than a fine.   If you ever really want to look like a boorish American, tell people exactly how you are doing and see how that goes over.

‘Actually, not so good.  I have this growth on my ankle that had this green puss yesterday, but this morning it’s more yellowish, so I think that’s good…right?’

I want one of these. Bad.

Still though, I think labeling it as an offensive Americanism isn’t quite accurate.  The British have similar type greetings for one another, equally vacant of true meaning, such as:

‘Wotcha’ and ‘Ay Up’.  According to my source, whom I will also call Crumpet for the sake of protecting his identity – ‘Wotcha’ is used around London and ‘Ay Up’ is more of the Yorkshire thing.  Either one, however, is essentially the same as saying ‘Hello’  and much more genuine than saying ‘How are you?’

Why?  I’m not sure.  Neither is Crumpet.

Okay, so you type 'wotcha' into google images and this mouse pops up. Again, much more odd than saying 'bathroom' instead of 'lavatory'

So I looked for an objective opinion.  My mother.  My mother has lived in England and in the USA and being the wisest woman I know, I turned to her for some British oddities that would counter our American inappropriateness.

1.   Anything over 65 degrees is a heat wave:   My mother tells me that as soon as the weather got over 65 degrees (I know Brits, you use that crazy Celsius thingymagoodle) or 18 degrees Celsius…I think….  Anyhow, as soon as the sun came out from behind the British gloom, it was declared to be a heat wave and any self-respecting Brit stayed indoors.  My mother was considered a crazy lady to be walking to the store during 70-degree weather.

2.  Warm Beer: Evidently, the best way to drink your beer in Britain is room temperature if not a little on the warm side.   Ew.  My brother used to follow this standard, and still might…since we all left the nest, I have no evidence that he is still taking his beer and putting it on the heater to warm up before enjoying.  Ew Big Brother, just Ew.

3.   Root Beer Is No Drink For a Child: Evidently back in the 1970’s, they the town where my mother was living in England had not been exposed to Root Beer.  She had some in the fridge, where some workman doing some work on her house found it.  They drank said root beer and through some psychosomatic alcoholic tolerance magic, stumbled around drunk the rest of the day.  And you think our use of the work ‘Tremendous’ is crazy.

In short.   All cultures have oddities and special little quirks.  It’s a bit like that thing that makes everyone sure that they are ones without an accent and it’s everyone around them that talks funny.  But in the spirit of compromise, I propose a deal: us obnoxious Americans will stop using the word ‘Hospitalize’ if the Brits will stop heating up their beer.  Deal?

3 Tips To Prevent A Break-In

Not surprisingly, I watch a lot of crime shows. Which is why, when my neighbor knocked on my door on Sunday and told me that her house had been broken into, I was on high alert. I played out the events in my head. Had I seen any suspicious vehicles? Any unscrupulous characters? Was that kid who rang the bell selling chocolate bars for his band uniform secretly casing the joint?

Under those hats they have crowbars and stolen laptops.

Under those fancy hats they have crowbars and laptops

Now, to orient you – the house where the break-in occurred is the same place where the ex-porn star used to live. Ex-porn star moved out and Somewhat Irresponsible Family moved in. Somewhat Irresponsible Family is named as such simply on merit of their irresponsible cat that likes to poop in my vegetable garden. I don’t know if the cat represents the behavior of the family or not, but up until Sunday, the cat was the only one I had met. To be fair, the human neighbor, owner of said cat, did not look like she was prone to pooping in anyone’s vegetable garden.

They probably send the cat in the window at night with a little satchel attached to his collar for all your jewelry....

It was quite the hubbub all day. My other neighbors – The Might-Be Serial Killers, were on high alert and wanted me to know that my garage door was askew, just in case I was worried. I wasn’t. Anyone who wants to steal anything from my garage will be doing me a favor, seriously.

You can take anything but the golden owl, for the love of mercy, leave the owl.

Take anything but the golden owl, for the love of mercy, leave the owl.

So, in an attempt to safeguard my house, and all my precious possessions, I looked up some safety tips, which seem painfully obvious. I thought I’d share a few courtesy of How Stuff Works –


1. Lock Your Doors: Okay, so really people? Do we really need to be told to lock the doors of your house when you leave? Really? That was my first reaction – then I thought back to my childhood in the Colorado mountains and remembered that I have never, ever owned a key to my childhood home. Not because my mom chose to lock me out in the cold with the bears…but rather because the door was never locked. Ever. If anyone had ever locked the door, the entire family would have been left to camp with the raccoons for the night. By the way, Mom has changed her habits; I think she’s watched a few too many episodes of I Survived. So, I remind you of this in honor of my naïve childhood safety upbringing – lock your door. By the way, the word on the street is that Somewhat Irresponsible Family with the pooping cat did not lock their door….if only they had checked the Internet before leaving the house that day….

2. Don’t Leave A Spare Key Out: I’ve been tempted to leave a key a few times, especially that time that I locked myself out of the house and slammed my door on my robe and had to run to the local fire station for help wearing only my nothings…wait. That wasn’t me, that was Darryl Hannah in Roxanne – for you kids out there, one of Steve Martin’s finest works from the mid-1980’s. But nevermind. I’ve never actually locked myself out, yet. And if I had slammed my robe in the door in a twist of comedic irony – I would have stayed in my robe and screamed for help from my front porch. In any case, I think it’s safer to hide a spare robe in your front yard than it is a spare key.

In all seriousness people, you really should see this movie if you haven't already.

3. Trick Your Burglars: WikiHow suggests you leave a light on, make the would-be criminals believe you’re home and they are less likely to want to break in. Malcolm X actually taught me this trick back in college. In The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Alex Haley writes that Malcolm X, back in his crime spree days would never break into a house that had a bathroom light on – Malcolm X also departs the wisdom that for the minimal cost of leaving the bathroom light on at night, potential robbers aren’t likely to risk the possibility that someone is awake and in the loo.

Yes, Malcolm X was the original 'To Catch a Thief' guide to home safety

Who knew Malcolm X was the original 'To Catch a Thief' guide to public safety?

Now, I would go a step further, if you really want to trick your burglar into thinking that you’re home at all times, what you really need to do is buy an extra car to leave in your driveway at all times. Yes, leaving the lights on in the house is a nice touch, but just think how freaked out a robber would be if you had animatronic robots – think Pirates of the Caribbean – moving about your house at all times, so when you were gone, it would create the illusion that you had a band of swarthy pirates hanging out in your living room. Your flat screen would be totally safe then.

I know, not pirates, but I think life size versions of the Rock Em, Sock Em robots would do the trick too

In short, if you can’t afford robots, or an extra car, or a spare robe, or a deadbolt for your front door – being careful goes a long way. The other option is to never own any nice things, use a really, really old television set, pull out that antique VCR and line up your VHS tapes proudly in the window to show off to the thieves. Instead of art, collect aluminum cans and carve them into interesting animal shapes. If you’re ever tempted to buy nice jewelry, buy a roll of aluminum foil instead and make your expensive looking bling. The upside is that is you get tired of the style mid-evening, you can just smoosh it into a more fashionable shape.

No one will ever steal this, even if you ask them.

Or get a security system….In any case, lock your freakin- doors people, you’re not living in the mountains in the mid 1980’s, there is danger out there, and it wants your flat screen.

There Are No Stupid Questions, Just Stupid People

I recently followed a colleague’s advice and gave my kids a ‘teacher evaluation’ survey.

It asked questions such as “Ms. Kaufman helps us to do our best and doesn’t allow us to turn in below average work” and “Ms. Kaufman expects we work to our full potential and instills a sense of confidence in ourselves” In short; it was a beautiful piece of mental-self-congratulatory-back-patting-academic self-confidence inducing bullshit. I took the quiz myself and was instructed to take it as though I were one of my students. I aced it. According to me, I am the best teacher EVER. I am thoughtful and kind to students in need. I have high standards but yet provide all sorts of varied resources and instructional strategies in order to make my students succeed.

So sensitive, yet such nice hair...

I am awesome.

How will I reach these kids?

Then I gave it to my students for real.

I sat at the front of the room, watching them fill out their anonymous surveys, anticipating how I would read the glowing reviews, a look of dewy-eyed surprise on my face, music would swell in the background, Hilary Swank would knock on the door to my classroom and ask if she could play me in the next inspirational teacher movie…..

The pearls give a sense of vulnerability, but underneath she's a teaching machine

I totally forgot about the day before when I had passed out their totally easy (to me) final exam and announced that if they asked me any questions about this final then they didn’t deserve to graduate from high school. I also forgot about last week when I told them I would hunt them down and extract the money for any lost copies of The Color Purple by force if needs be if they didn’t behave in a responsible way and just return it on their own. I also forgot about that day when I told them to stop asking clown questions and think…..

Yeah…I may have forgotten, but they most certainly did not.

Oddly, my scores on my survey were significantly lower than what I gave myself….. It was most evident on item #4: “Ms. Kaufman welcomes questions and offers a variety of explanations in order to best explain a concept.”
Uh yeah…. I guess ‘read the freakin’ book’ doesn’t qualify as a ‘good’ answer. Huh.

I am currently studying for the FYLSE. That’s the First Year Law Student Exam for you laymen and layladies out there. I go to an..ahem…somewhat untraditional law school and get the privilege of jumping through a few extra hoops in order to obtain my JD. Where isn’t important, suffice it to say, if you are ever in trouble online, I’m your girl…er…super girl attorney…in a few years…

I’ve been sitting through a three day study session for this major exam which is reputed to actually be harder than the actual bar exam, as its purpose is weeding out the unworthy. I have been sitting as a student in a conference room at the Marriot for three days listening to all variety of questions, most of them stupid. What has surprised me most, however, is how many times I have had to stifle my own stupid questions.

Yes, I know my professor just told me that malice is not a factor in an attempt crime. Why do I want so badly to raise my hand and ask him if I could have checked C on the multiple choice question #57 because I determined in my first year law student brain that the hypothetical guy had malice in his heart when he tried to scare the other hypothetical guy by shooting a gun through hypothetical window and scaring hypothetical guy #2 and hypothetical girl. Why do I want to ask this question? Professor just gave me the answer, yet I am calling upon every morsel of self-control not to raise my hand and ask.
Then I remember Dr. Phil.

The wise Dr. Phil said on one of his Emmy nominated talk shows that the teenage brain is not quite formed. The last part to form being the impulse zone that stops us from being a dodo and asking the question that was just answered…or car surfing on a boogie board precariously balanced on top of your friend’s parent’s Volvo while your girlfriend drives down the 405 at 3am…..

I realized that I, at age 35, barely have the necessary control over my lizard brain to stop asking redundant and stupid questions. Some of my classmates have not yet mastered that……

How can I possibly ask my students to do something that I have a tenuous at best grasp on?

What will I do in the future? I will try not to slam my head against the whiteboard every time a kid asks me what page we’re on. I will try to stop throwing erasers at the kid who asks me which character was named ‘protagonist.’ I will try to stifle the urge to staple a sticky note to the forehead of the kid who seriously had no idea that Siddhartha and Buddha are the same person.

I don't really think this happens....at least I hope not...

I will try. And I will pass out the evaluation next year, and I will learn something else from it….and so it goes.

Movies That Make Me Yell ‘Hooker!”

It’s well known around my house that I tend to overanalyze movies. I find it difficult if not impossible to properly suspend my disbelief when faced with absurdity. For example, my son, Mr. Adorablepants, insists on watching Cars at least once a week. It raises a few questions for the astute viewer. For one, the cars in Radiator Springs are worried about going out of business because all the traffic has been diverted from Route 66. How exactly do cars handle financial transactions without opposable thumbs? If it were a barter economy, than they wouldn’t need worry about the big highway stealing their business, the needs of the community would be met by trading services. Right?

And where do baby cars come from?

When a mommy and a daddy love eachother very, very much....

Questions like this will keep you up at night.

Most recently though, I had a nasty bout of insomnia and stayed up too late watching HBO. I was pretty psyched when I found Indecent Proposal playing, mostly because I like me some Robert Redford. The Husband, however, was kept awake along with me, as I took to randomly yelling ‘Hooker!’ at the television. It’s not the only movie that drives me crazy, so starting with the most recent, here are a few that have failed to create sufficient movie magic to stop me from yelling ‘Hooker!’ at the television.

1. Indecent Proposal: In short, for those who haven’t seen it, Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson are having money problems. They go to Vegas to try to gamble enough to make their loan payment. Robert Redford is a fabulously handsome and wealthy billionaire who offers to pay the couple 1 million dollars if Demi Moore will spend one night with him.

Okay, so this is more of a Butch Cassidy Redford...but nice nonetheless....

I suppose it was supposed to bring up issues of whether you can buy people, and the lengths that people in desperate financial straits will go when pushed, the essence of true love….blah, blah blah. There are a few issues here. First, their financial straits weren’t so dire; they were just in danger of losing their big mansion on a hill, not the perfectly reasonable house they already lived in. I’m so sorry you don’t get a mansion, boo hoo. Then, they spend about four hours contemplating Robert Redford’s proposal before they make the heart wrenching decision to sell Demi off to him for the night. HOOKER! Granted….it is Robert Redford, but she’s still a hooker. And I might add, that there are plenty of actual hookers in Vegas, I fail to see how spotting Demi from across a crowded casino drove Robert Redford to such distraction that he went to such lengths. He’s Robert Freakin’ Redford, c’mon people, c’mon.

Okay...so this is Gatsby Redford...but still nice.

2. The Big Chill: The Husband, in our young and wooing days insisted that I see this movie. Now, if we’re just talking soundtrack, got it. If we’re talking movie…I’ve got to label this a HOOKER movie. This infuriated me beyond measure. So, in nutshell, group of college friends gather for a reunion after the funeral of one of their friends. Much drama ensues and Glenn Close ends up loaning her husband, Kevin Kline for the night to their very best friend Mary Kay Place, who desperately wants kids but has no one with which to have kids. And yes, purists, more than that happens, there are reconciliations, dramatic moments, looks of great longing, sigh…sigh…bleck.

I’m sorry Glenn Close, but what??!? First of all, even if it were a sure thing that Mary Kay Place would have become pregnant from her one night of borrowed love, there are other ways to do it. I would have maybe called a freakin’ doctor before I sent Kevin Kline in to do the deed. Hooker! As in Indecent Proposal, I just don’t feel like they sufficiently explore their options before jumping to the absolutely most dramatic option. They could have introduced her to a nice single guy, they could have bought her a male hooker, they could have all chipped in for a nice sperm donation. Options people, options, options that don’t involve Kevin Kline.

A good soundtrack nonetheless.

3. 2001: A Space Odyssey: I’m about to get tarred and feathered for this but….does anything happen in this movie? Really, please tell me. I have tried so very many times to appreciate it. And yes, Stanley Kubrick is a genius. I’m sure I don’t like this one because I’m too dumb to understand it. Thing is, I do understand what’s going on, I just don’t care. I feel like Simon Cowell sitting on a judging panel:

“I see your maniacal artificial intelligence, I just don’t care.”

And while this certainly doesn’t make me yell “Hooker!”, it does make me want to yell “Will something please for the love of grilled cheesus happen!! Anything! Order some food My Dinner With Andre-Style!” Even that snore-fest had an action scene when the food was delivered and Wallace Shawn commented on how small the cornish hens were…

But I digress. Every science fiction writer or reader worth their grain will at one point claim they were influenced by 2001, at least that’s what I’ve been told. That’s why I’ve started telling folks that I write romance novels, it’s stopped all the blank looks and questions about 2001.

three hours of this....over and over and over and over....

Okay so there’s three, I haven’t even started on the conundrum that is Ice Age Three: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. At one point the girl mammoth asks for a pineapple. Am I crazy but she would have no earthly idea what a pineapple was. They only grow on Hawaii.

If this doesn't creep you out, I don't know what will....

I know…suspend the disbelief, suspend. Rinse and repeat…suspend.

Questions You Should Never Ask

Recently, a good friend told me that he had learned a valuable lesson from Tina Fey.   In short, he learned that you never, ever ask a woman about their reproductive prospects.   Meaning, you see a woman with one kid and you ask ‘So, when are you having another?’    Or you ask the married woman with no kids ‘So, why don’t you have kids?’

It’s no secret that I think Tina Fey is a comedic god.   And the fact that she has imparted this knowledge onto the public makes me love her even more.   She’s right.  This might be one of the most annoying questions in the history of annoying questions.

Personally, as the mother of one child, I get asked this fairly often, and I never understand people’s investment in me having more than one child.   Strangers and distant acquaintances will ask me this and argue with me:  “No…you want more than one, of course you do, why wouldn’t you?”  Subtext:  What are you?  Some kind of monster to deprive your child of a sibling?

I find myself wondering what exactly is the questioner’s investment in my answer.   Are they midwives trying to drum up business?  Do they run a school and they need more future students?   Are they terrified that my child will grow up without the benefit of a sibling to torment them?    Why exactly do you care?

It’s not the only annoying question that women get asked though.   In no particular order:

  1. “Where is your son during the day?”

I get asked this fairly often by probably well-meaning co-workers.    It really depends on how the question is asked as to what the level of annoying is.  A truly innocent ‘I’m looking for options for my own kid’ type of query is one thing.  The raised eyebrow, slightly suspicious query is entirely different.   I’m not sure what the asker expects me to say.  “Huh, not sure really…I guess he could be anywhere by now.   I’m pretty sure I locked the front door, but wouldn’t bet on it….”  Or “Closet.  I leave water and goldfish crackers, it’s fine.”   

He’s at daycare genius.  And it really is fine.

  1. “Have you ever thought of getting a nanny?”

Yes.  And until that bag of cash appears on my door on a monthly basis, it’s not happening.   Oddly, I get asked this question fairly often by co-workers as well.   What I really want to say is ‘We’re teachers, we make the same amount of money, we’re both wearing last season’s Old Navy Clearance clothes and I would bet neither of our cars have had more than a quarter tank of gas in the last six months.   A nanny?   Why don’t you ask me if I’ve ever thought about hiring a butler?    It’s just as likely to happen.

  1. “Bet your husband was glad it was a boy!”

If I had a dollar for every time someone said this to me when I was pregnant and immediately following Mr. Adorablepants’ arrival, I really could hire a nanny.   While I tended to nod politely and smile, what I was thinking was:  “Why yes, we needed a male heir to pass on the family bloodline and inherit the kingdom.   Those good for nothing girls are nothing but dowry suckers and breeding chattel for the neighboring fiefdoms.”   Seriously people, it’s 2011.   Does it matter if you have a girl or a boy now?  Really?      My husband and I were happy Mr. Adorablepants was healthy, as long as he was healthy he could have been a little of both and I would have been thrilled.

  1. “Why isn’t he potty trained yet?  My daughter was potty trained at 18 months!”

Well you get the cookie.   You have a girl… parents of girls are eternally dumbfounded that I haven’t succeeded in completely potty training Mr. Adorablepants yet.   He’s working on it, and I’m pretty sure he won’t go to college in diapers….but even if he does…they make really big diapers and presumably he will be able to change them himself by then.   So, I think we’ll be fine.   Don’t worry about it.

  1. “So, how was your labor?”

I got asked this little gem quite a bit by total strangers right after Mr. Adorablepants was born and I was pushing him around in his stroller.   I’m not sure what I was expected to say to these strangers:  “It was so awesome, you should have seen the size of my cervix!  Here, I have a pic on my phone, wanna see?”   Really people, how do you think it was?  It’s LABOR.   It sucked.  It probably sucked more than anything has ever sucked before.  It felt at times like my belly was going to explode Aliens style and keep in mind; I was under heavy use of painkillers. I don’t even want to know what it would have felt like otherwise.

I'm not sure what's going on here, but I'm pretty sure that deer needs an epidural.

In short people, unless you’re a close relative, a close friend or a doctor – most women just don’t want to talk about their reproductive cycles, fertility patterns or childcare decisions with you.   Most of us are responsible, mature grown-ups.  We got this.  Don’t worry.

How To Survive The May 21st Zombie Apocalypse

Everyday I drive past this giant billboard that states with all sorts of confidence that the world will end on May 21, 2011. Tragic, right? And also a little hopeful. Speaking as one of many who filed for an extension on their taxes, I’m pretty psyched at the thought of never having to deal with that mess. I’m also pretty stoaked never to have to actually deal with the flaming bag of crap that is my work situation right now. I also have to raise a glass to never having to actually having to worry about how I did on my first year law school final exams. It simply doesn’t matter. The world is going to end.

Do we really need to 'save' the date? Wouldn't all other plans pretty much be cancelled if the world ended?

Of course there are some serious downfalls. My in-laws will be in town for the end of life as we know it. When my in-laws are in town The Husband and I get a date night, a date night where we don’t have to pay the babysitter, and don’t have to worry if the babysitter is quietly judging us for coming back from our date a little silly on margaritas. There’s also the possibility that I actually passed my first year law school finals, in that case I’m going to be pissed if the world ends…I studied for over a month for that damn test, I’d like to revel in it for at least a week.

I suppose it brings up the question of who exactly is behind those billboards and leafleting campaigns. Answer: Harold Camping. Proud subject of his very own wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Camping

Camping is a radio bible show host, fundamentalist member of a reformed Baptist group, who has previously preached that the world will end in September of 1994. As we can see…it didn’t. But he’s really sure this time. Really. So sure that he evidently invested a small fortune in billboards and fliers. Personally, in September of 1994, I was just starting college. I would have been pretty bummed if the world had ended then too….good thing he was wrong.

Okay...hold up...this says 1992...something's fishy...

To be crystal clear. May 21, Saturday, will not be the end of life in totality. According to Camping, it will merely be the day when the righteous will be lifted up to Neverland…I mean Heaven, and the rest of us…I mean them….will wallow in our…er..their filth until October when the Earth will be annihilated by The Great All Powerful Grilled Cheesus…I mean God.
I feel sorry for those poor bastards left here on Earth. I’m banking on Heaven being pretty kickass…I mean really, really righteous and holy.

In honor of the end of the world, I wrote my own personal bucket list, and granted..seeing as I only have a week, it’s a little truncated. In light of that, I’ve found some wisdom to see those of us who let’s face it, probably won’t be raptured through the pending months of hellish darkness till the eventual zombie apocalypse in October.

1. “Who died and made you king of the fucking zombies?” Shaun of the Dead

The takeaway here is that in the event of hell on earth, there’s no one who can boss you around. You don’t feel like signaling before you change lanes? Don’t do it. Carpe diem your freeway driving and cut some people off, show ‘em who’s boss. Don’t feel like recycling your plastic bottles? Screw it. The world’s ending anyway. I personally plan on just driving around aimlessly burning up those fossil fuels while spraying cans of Aqua Net out the window.

2. “This isn’t the Republicans versus the Democrats, where we’re in a hole economically or… or we’re in another war. This is more crucial than that. This is down to the line, folks, this is down to the line…” Dawn of the Dead – 1978 version

I will use this quote as an excuse to never vote again, for anything. I believe in voting, I vote in every possible election, but it’s undeniable that it’s a pain in the ass. As the end of the world steadily approaches, I will not be hunting down the local elementary school or searching for the entrance to the Methodist church rec room just to vote in the special election for representatives to the Mayor’s advisory board. I won’t vote on judges and I won’t vote on school board members. To tell you the truth….I hardly vote on judges now, I usually vote for the one that has the nicest sounding name….no wonder I won’t be raptured on Saturday.

3. “My momma always told me, someday I’d be good at something. Who’d have guessed that something would be zombie killing?” Zombieland

Everyone is good at something. Personally, I will be really, really good at building a zombie proof bunker in my backyard by the time October rolls around. I don’t know what I plan on doing in the event that my bunker makes it past the hellfires of October…but I would really like a fighting chance. Maybe I’ll get myself some Bob Marley records and go crazy I Am Legend style. Maybe I’ll just curl up with my solar powered (given that the sun still exists) DVD player and watch Audrey Hepburn movies till this whole end of the world thing blows over.

There you go people, go out there and carpe yourselves some diem, live big. Here’s some parting thoughts that speak to the rapture far more eloquently than I ever could: