flightless hag

A chronicle of the adventures of birdwoman: a lonely, talentless freak who wanders the internet in search of entertainment.

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Location: Philly

I'm a 40-something married white female, survivor of weight watchers, avid reader of pulp. Dogs (not cats), extreme right (handed, not politics), ENTJ, alto, wanna-be knitter.

January 31, 2015

Kids are the Most Fun Ever.

So, I don't know if you know, but we had Snowmageddon this week. Well, not really.

We were possibly maybe sortof gonna get hit by the Storm That Buried Boston. But it went east, so it missed us. Of course, it went east AFTER it stirred up a major brouhaha (and didn't I have to google THAT spelling!) amongst our local weather agents.

Monday afternoon, my school district sent us all home at noon - in flurries. By evening, every school in the region had closed, based upon the certain impending snowpocalypse. But we'd received no official word from our schools here in the dusty aviary.

So, the phone rings. Of course, it's the auto-dialer from the school announcing closure. But I answer it, interjecting a "no" or "not really" here and there. Stinks wasn't fooled until I said, "Look, please take me off your call list," well after the auto-message was over.

Then John moved in with part two of the prank. He sent me an email, subject: "Not So Fast," saying he "found" this on the local news website:

From Philly.com:

   (BlahBlah Township, PA) Most Philadelphia suburban schools will close Tuesday in preparation for a massive snowstorm that threatens to cause commuting headaches from Philadelphia to Boston.
    But one area principal is taking a stand, declaring that schools are too quick to close in inclement weather, angering and inconveniencing parents .
    Dan BlahBlah, principal of BlahBlah Middle School in BlahBlah PA, has declared that his school will be open Tuesday, even if snow accumulations reach over a foot.
    "Basically, we have faith in our township clean-up teams can keep the roads clear and make sure that our students won't miss a day of school"BlahBlah  said.
    BlahBlah's stand is not popular with the students


 (of course, I he had the real principal's name and the real school and area name)

Now, you can tell by reading this that my spouse is a journalist at heart. He's also a bigger tease than ANY Harvey. He's just quieter about it. 

We eventually, after much guffawing, did give up that we were faking it and school had called out. Stinks insisted that he saw right through Dad's email, but that I had him with the telemarketer scheme.

Next morning, when a grand total of 1.5 inches had fallen (thank the Lord), John got the kids up and said that they'd changed the closure to a 2 hour delay, because the storm missed us.

They hadn't, of course.

Whatever will we do to entertain ourselves when the grow up? Of course, if they're like us, they'll never grow up.

(*)>

December 27, 2014

Mary Christmoose

The semi-chronicles of the Rogers clan - 2014.

No pictures in this edition. Sorry. Also, not much of a year wrap-up, as we've done nothing of any note this year. Like every other year. So, dig up one of the old letters and read that if you want.

Stinks has entered the high-profile-exec-who-was-caught-doing-wrong phase: "No pictures. No Comments." He's in the 8th grade and is convinced that everyone is watching him, but no one gives a crap about him. Ah, the delusions of adolescence. Much to Dad's chagrin, Stinky has 0 hobbies except boy scouts, camping, and video games. We did send him to computer programming camp this summer, which he liked and continues to fiddle with. Maybe he'll be a little nerd like his mom? Doubtful. But he is now as tall as his dad and loves to point that out.

He's still mowing lawns and shoveling sidewalks, now to save toward a crazy-big camping excursion: Philmont scout camp. He wants to go in 2016. Mom is a little scared about sending him way out there. He might get lost, and then there'd be paperwork to fill out.

Unlike Tim, who really did get lost this year. (see october 12 blog). Fortunately, we found him before we called the fuzz.

Moth is in middle school. He likes to push the envelope. Hell, he likes to push the entire mailbox full of envelopes. If I say, "be home at 5," he's all ready to negotiate, "how about 5:30?"

To which I reply, "how about 5?"

Rinse, lather, repeat, and then he concedes, grudgingly. And he gets home at 5:00:01.

The boys both like to take trips to the library. This pleases their father greatly, as he believes they are reading many books of an academic bent. In this he could not be more wrong. They go to the library only to play video games, as we have never allowed them in the house. And when I say we, I mean John. I'm a bad parent at best who likes to keep the kids quiet by whatever means necessary. Video games are a relatively quiet way of keeping them out of my hair while I read fanfic. John thinks we can do better. Right.

John purchased them both notebooks (computers that only allow internet access) and blocks every website except google, wikipedia and an educational (math and grammar) program. He assigns work on Monday for every night of the coming week. Every week of the year.

Except Christmas. He did give them Christmas off. See, here are Moth's assignments for the week.

The boys did not find this humorous. They have taken to singing "you're a mean one Mr. Grinch" whenever he's in the room, as he's given them HOURS of school work over the break.

Speaking of Grinch, we had no idea what to give the lads for Christmas. Two years ago, I broke the video game ban by purchasing DS's (think gameboy if you're my age, and if you're older? meh, google it). (Dad's okay with them as he can confiscate them, and does, until the extra work for the week is done.) Last year, we got them sunscreen, beach balls, travel kits, and to round it off, tickets to Curacao. It was the big family trip of the century. Seriously. We will be eating beans and weenies for approximately 2 more years, then we'll be done paying the loan shark off.

But we didn't just present these presents. No siree. Two years ago, they opened socks and underwear first, and some other ridiculous gifts, then the DS's. Stunned joy.

Last year, it was all of the silly presents. They really started to get suspicious when Aunt Mary sent them swimsuits and towels. The final present was a diving map of the place and pictures of the plane tickets. Stunned joy.

This year, we had NO idea what to get. So I got a bunch of silly stuff, and, after JOHN suggested it, an XBOX. But how do you present this?

I wrote up a letter which entitled each of the boys to a new, extra-long twin bed and one set of sheets. They've been complaining that their twin beds are too short, see. Really, it's an entree to "we need bigger beds in our own rooms!" Which will happen 2 minutes after never. I have 1 vermin-infested room. I will not have 2. But I figured they'd see the bed coupon and be like, "great."

They opened everything, including the flying monkey slingshots. Seeing all the presents were silly (except the socks, which were useful), they were looking for "the Gift." Last, with building excitement (cause they're on to me) they got to the letter. They opened it, read it. They were like, "cool!!" All smiles and joy.

They were actually excited about the fake present. Had I outfoxed myself?

Hours later, well after lunch, and after Tim had crashed 3 of his Styrofoam gliders and Sean had terrified Loki by chasing him around with the car Aunt Mary and Uncle Kim got him, I "found" a present for Dad. He opened it to find three distinctive green cases containing Madden whatever, some driving game, and some call of duty-type killer game. He was very excited.

The boys were very confused.

"Why does dad get them?"

And out came the Xbox.

Sean still doesn't believe we got it. "Mom, how did you get Dad to agree?"

"It was his idea." And it was. See, our only TV is plugged into something called a VoltBolt. They will still not be able to play games, unless the emperor puts the thumbs up (and the key in). As soon as the boys keyed in to that (ha), they lost some of the video-game induced high. But they haven't started whistling Mr. Grinch, yet.

I give it til Monday.

That's my Christmas story, and I'm sticking to it.

Wishing you a wonderful Holy-day season and a whacky new year, from bird land to your land (this land is, after all, your land. this land is my land... did I get it stuck in your head? Did I?).

(*)>

December 04, 2014

My Experience At The DMV...

Well, that title should be enough to reel in a few readers.

Sorry, it's been crazy busy this year. School is always busy, but this year, I feel like I live in Office Space. "Yeah, I'm going to have to go ahead and ask you to ....."fill in the blank with some ridiculous, time-consuming task. Several times.

So, as per usual, I do as much as I can, and do it as well as I can, which is, specifically:  not much, with overwhelming mediocrity. What can I say? Overachiever? Not it!

But I am at school, most days, for about 10-11 hours. And attempting to go to the gym 3-4 times a week in the morning. And still raising (or trying to) two sprogs.

So, something's gonna give. I'm simply too lazy to be this efficient.

I forgot to renew my driver's license.

I was all set to go last Friday, after Turkey day. I totally forgot. As I had done for WEEKS of Saturdays before this. My license expires tomorrow. So, I had to get it done this week.

I left school with the kids on Monday (there's a shocker). Rushed home. Got to the DMV at 4:30. They closed at 4:15. What the heck kind of hours are 10:00-4:15, I ask you???

We had parent-teacher conferences for report cards this week. I took the opportunity to leave 20 minutes early. (One irate parent called me while I was running to catch a train.) So, I get to the DMV.

4:05. One person getting her picture done. Her attendant looks and sounds like Lurch. I was like, oh, man. He was SUPER slow, and I was afraid it would take until 4:15 for him to take her picture. (it did, btw).

But another clerk comes out at 4:10. He looked normal. But my clue should have been his opening line.

"Man, that potty break sure felt Gooooood!" with a big guffaw.

I smiled, trying to keep my face calm. Those pictures are always so great to begin with. I don't need an "oh my gosh you're strange" look on my face.

So, I answer the questions and fill in the organ donor thing and then he asks me to sign the signature box.

He then proceeds to critique my signature.  This doesn't look anything like your old signature. And it wasn't a second or two. He studied it, turned it sideways, upside down. Looks at me a few times like I'm trying to pretend to be me or something.

I laugh nervously/frustratedly and say that I always have a hard time with the computer sign pads, and now that I sign papers all day, my writing's gotten worse.

I do the signature again.

Same thing.

I'm getting super frustrated at this point. I go through the signature dance with him 4 - four - F-O-U-R times, and he still wasn't happy with it. Puts a demerit or some other horse hockey on my record. Then he takes my picture.

I looked a bit like a homicidal maniac. Sadly, my glasses had too much glare, so he wanted to do the picture again.

Reaching down for that one, tiny atom of Zen left in my system, I took off my glasses and attempted to "clear my mind" as Snape might say.

Needless to say, my signature is just slightly more ridiculous than my picture which, sadly, is a good semblance of my everyday visual insanity.

As the card is printing out, he comments on the fact that I'm a teacher. He states that he always hated school except math. And he only does math in his head. He doesn't like calculators. I asked if he could do trig in his head, because I was in one bitch of a mood at this point. He said that he wasn't allowed to take trig. He says he thinks the school discriminated against him. He couldn't be in sports either because they were afraid he would hurt himself. But he's had 24 fractures and none of them hurt. He doesn't even use Novocaine at the dentist. He doesn't feel pain.

He's got a rather maniacal look in his eye as he says this.

At this time, it's a bit after 4:15, and Lurch comes over and joins the conversation about pain. And they're holding my new license hostage, comparing their wound histories.

I know I should have compassion, but THAT WAS THE MOST FRUSTRATING 10 MINUTES OF MY RECENT LIFE. And I teach in the inner city.

And now, here I sit, laughing because that was such a surreal experience, how can you not? So, Lurch and NoPainMan?  Thanks for the birthday laugh. It'll be a story for me to remember, and a reason to find a different DMV in 4 years.

(*)>

October 22, 2014

Wednesday Absurdities

So, it's hump day. Now that it's done, the week is more than half done. Right? In celebration, I wore a shirt that has camels on it.

One person noticed all day. :P

To be fair, I was guiding my students through a documentary on anthropogenic climate change. It was made back in 2008 and is sufficiently scary. Not in the way you think. Taking the viewer through a history of the treaties and protocols, the PBS mocumentary blames the senate for not signing the Kyoto protocol (Clinton was pres) and the president for sticking to that decision four years later (that's Bush). There are also lots of clips about how the US attitude and deportment toward CO2 control is changing now that the house and (at that point - soon) the white house are all dem controlled.

Yeah, I've noticed a lot of hopey changey stuff since 2008. How about you?  Ummm, I think we got some new windmills. Yeah. That's about it. Still burning coal. Digging for gas now.


What's really sad is that all these people who are railing about climate change want to blame Americans. They want to blame us because we use too much stuff. Great. I'll admit it. I use too much stuff. Now, who's up for pulling an "Into The Wild" life, where you just dump everything and live off the "land" Little House style? I can bet none of the ppl behind this mocumentary are. It's good enough for you and me, but they're IMPORTANT people. In fact, the show went so far as to say that the only good change in attitude about global climate change has been caused by the morons in Hollywood. Hell, if those people, who have footprints 1000times mine, tell me to change my life? I'm going to ask them to LIVE my life, then tell me how to change.

Hypocrites drive me bananas.

And yet, I'm spewing this to my students.

The fact is, I do believe in anthropogenic climate change. I do believe that we need to seriously think about how we spend our resources and I do believe that I need to get that idea across to the next generation. It's important. It's a big thought that will haunt future generations.

I just wish I didn't feel slimy when I use these pre-produced republican and american bash fests. Sad thing is, straight up science will not convince anyone. People care more about Kim Kardashian and that rap dude she married than about climate change. So we need to sexy it up, make a villain of the piece. The unwary will look at this video and say "It's all the Republican's faults!" not realizing that who is really being blamed is the viewer, the slobbish, selfish, greedy American viewer.

Enough. I'm gonna go eat a pizza, throw out half, play the TV, radio, keep on the lights, heat the house but open the windows, and leave the car running in the driveway for a few hours. I need the guilt for the penance I'm paying.

(*)>

October 12, 2014

They Mysteries of Mothman

Tim continues to confound us.

A few weeks ago, he missed his bus home from school. To be clear, his school is about 2 miles from home. But it's horrific miles with highly trafficked roads and no sidewalks.

So, I got the call but had my phone off (on a precious day off, I had gone to the movies with a friend). For some reason, toward the end of the movie, I turned on my phone to check the time and saw the missed phone calls and texts. This was about 3:15. He missed the bus at 2:45.

I "rushed" home through Friday afternoon traffic, but the fastest I could get to the school was 4.

He didn't wait.

I looked for well over an hour: at the school and through its grounds, on the most likely route home, through our neighborhood. No moth. I was now completely freaked out and had been texting/calling John. We decided to call the police. I headed back toward the school with the idea of "one more try" and there he was, stomping down the road, crying.

He'd gotten lost trying to find his way home.

We came up with a plan if this ever happened again. The key component to the plan is "stay.,"

Fast forward a week. John is late picking him up from soccer. He didn't wait. He walked home. John freaked out because he couldn't find him. Lather rinse repeat except this time, Moth didn't get lost. So we gave the "hug a tree" lecture again.

Last night, when I had the boys out, we stopped at a rest stop and hit the bathrooms first. Our adventure had left us grimy and I wanted them to wash up before we got food. Well, I said wait outside the bathrooms. I come out, and he's nowhere to be found.

Sigh.

He likes to flutter. What can I say? He's a moth.

Last night's adventure was a local spook-fest called Field Of Screams. I took Stinky and the Moth and a friend of Mothy's as this is a part of his birthday present late. (we like to go places or do things instead of giving presents). Anyhow, we went through the Den of Darkness which was creeptastic. Then we went through the Asylum which was also terrorlicious. The boys were sufficiently startled, scared, and just plain excited. We stopped for a snack so it could get dark enough to do the outdoor activities. There were a bunch of yellow jackets at the picnic tables.

I think that the swarming bees scared them more than anything else last night.

Speaking of scary, Sean is now almost 14. He's actively talking about driving. Crazy, right? He's a good kid, pretty responsible and respectful. I think he'll be a decent driver -better than I am anyway. Not saying much. But he has a bit of an appearances issue.

He is totally embarrassed by his parents and our circumstances. In fact, he won't go to the eighth grade dance - the big social fest for his peers - because I said he could only go if I took him.

Now, if I were my mother, I'd be upset that I embarrass him. Instead, I like to use it. Oh, yes, I'm Sean's weird mother. Embrace it.

But it's not just my strangeness that embarrasses him. It's the house we have. The clothes we wear. (though this is the child who has 3 shirts he likes, and he wears them over and over again.) The cars we drive.

So, anyhow, he's talking about how, when it's time for junior prom, he'll be old enough to date (16 in our house). I said, "yeah, and you'll be driving, too! I won't need to take you!" He smiled. I then added the sauce to the pudding:  "And you can drive the Prius to pick up your date. It's a total chick-magnet kind of car."

Smile erased. Instantly.

Poor stinky. He's going to have to swallow the idea that he's not going to be Prince Charming. He's just an average joe, and trying to be something you aren't is a key ingredient to being miserable. But I guess he'll learn that in time. Don't we all?

I'd love to add a picture of the big galoot here, but he has become allergic to getting his picture taken. If I sneak one in, maybe I'll edit. Instead, picture what he used to look like, only 6 feet tall now. :)


August 05, 2014

Give it all to charity?

I am a selfish person. I know this. I am also judgmental. These are two of my major flaws, and I do try to work on them. (Laziness, I just accept and go with).

A friend posted a link to this video - of course it's only on Facebook, so I can't put a link here. The summary: a dude goes through a rich, suburban foodcourt asking for food. He's clean, polite, and everybody says no. Cut to a park where a homeless guy is sleeping. Dudes 2 and 3 offer said homeless guy a bag of food - not a huge amount, but a good sized meal. Dude 1, from the food court, comes along and asks homeless dude for some food, which homeless dude happily shares.

Lessons?  I guess there are a lot of them. Mostly, though, I think, is that having stuff makes you afraid of losing stuff. We're afraid to share with the beggar because we're afraid he has an ulterior motive and will try to take us for more. That's usually the reason people say no to beggars. It's not usually judgment, though sometimes it is. It's fear.

I have three examples in my past that I remember where I tried to be generous.

The first was when I was accompanying some of my dorm-mates to the Owl's Nest. I went to Temple in the height of the crack epidemic. It was a rather... interesting time to live on a middle-class island in the middle of North Philadelphia. So, crossing Broad Street at night in winter to go to a pizza joint was not something this farm-raised girl was used to. Also, please note, I was just going. I had no money to spend on pizza.

So, we're jay-walking across the 4 lane road. On the median, there was a woman, shivering and crying. Her heat had been turned off. Her kids were cold. She needed help.

I had no money, but I gave her my only scarf and gloves.

The next night, I was coming back from the library, or someplace... I don't remember where. But she was on a different corner, shivering, crying, scarfless, gloveless, begging for money. I was also shivering, scarfless, and gloveless. And I felt like a complete rube. It was the last time I gave anything away when I was in college. I remember feeling justified in this selfishness when I was walking down broad street to my home in South Philly (LOOOOONG walk, but saved me the SEPTA token) and I saw the woman who begged for quarters at the SEPTA stop getting into her car. Her car.


Years later, I was in the UK with my husband. It was our trip for ourselves - we had saved, we hadn't had kids yet. One of the things we did was stay in Birmingham (a total pit) because it was a train hub and we got trailpasses. Next to the train station was a Burger King. Outside the BK was a girl - probably my age at the time, maybe 5 years younger. She had a dog with her. She was hungry, wanted a milk shake. Now, I had been burned before. But the dog looked hungry. So I said, yeah, I'll get you a meal. What do you want? Fish sandwich and a milkshake, please, she replied. So, I went in and got her a fish sandwich and a bottle of water. Because I figured the dog could drink the water, but milkshakes are bad for dogs.

She yelled at me that I couldn't even take an order, then tried to go in and exchange what I had gotten for a milkshake. The BK manager gave me a very dirty look, as though it was my fault this woman was making a scene because I had purchased food and given it to her.



The last incident was the only time I did direct charity was through my church. We have this thing going with a bunch of other churches. Interfaith Hospitality. One of the churches donates the building - a former rectory. The rest of us provide chaperones and food. They invite families who are down on their luck. Missed a rent payment, had an unexpected bill, whatever the situation. They are families with young children who are temporarily homeless. We provide food and shelter for a few weeks until they get on their feet.

So, we volunteered to do a meal. It was December,  and it was really, really cold. I remember being pregnant for Tim. Sean was 2 years old. He "helped" me make cookies and homemade bread. John made a huge lasagne and a big salad. The lady from church who had done this before and was going to show us the ropes made a big ham and green beans. It was a good spread for the 2 or 3 families who were in residence.

We got there, and the one mother proceed to sneer at our food, saying she was Muslim and didn't eat no pork products. She then went over to the thermostat and turned up the heat to a very high temperature, saying she was cold. Except, it was at least 75 degrees in there already, because it was a lot warmer than my house.

The families eventually all came in, ate the lasagne (it had sausage in it, but the other two families were ok with that), the first family heated up frozen entrees in the microwave since they didn't eat no pork, then they took all the cookies, took the bread, and left the room. We were told we were supposed to encourage socialization - eat with them, watch television or play games - but they didn't want anything from us. Not really. And they really, really didn't like us much. I guess they felt we were judging them, and to be truthful, I was. I didn't fault them for bad economic luck. I faulted them for bad manners and lack of respect for what they had been given. I was mostly angry because they had been so rude to that little old lady from my church.

I guess what it comes down to is that these folks all acted as though they were owed a certain something, and when I tried to give them something, they were angry - not necessarily with me, but just angry. I took it personally.

Mostly, now, I've stopped giving directly to people because I don't like feeling foolish. I don't like feeling that I've been somebody's mark. I'll take being called a selfish white bitch (that happened twice this school year alone) because you know what? I am.

Sadly, I'm more okay with being called that than feeling like I've been used. Sadly, I am surprised when I say hello or good morning to the folks in the soup kitchen or free breakfast line say hi back, with no ulterior motive. Sadly, I feel like I have to justify to myself that I do give away blah blah blah as I sit in my nice house on my personal computer with wifi.

Guess I have some more work to do.

July 28, 2014

My Dog, the Nut

My dog is nuts. He wants to play ball or frisbee ALL THE TIME. Yes, he's a Border Collie.

I think they're all nuts.
 
But he's so sweet, such a nice little thing. Doesn't bark (unless he wants to play ball and you don't... err....), doesn't run away, doesn't jump on people, and is house trained.

Or so I thought.

You see, we have a basketball net at the end of our yard, on the street. It's kid bait. Most of the kids on our side of the block, at one point or another in the week, come over to shoot hoops. Sometimes with my kids, sometimes without. It's all good.

But not for Loki the Dog.

See, they're all playing ball. Yes, it's a really big ball that he can't catch. Could probably get really hurt if he played with them. But it DOESN'T MATTER. They're Playing Ball. Without Him!!

No matter that this has been happening for the better part of 2 years now, he still, as my husband says so eloquently, "loses his shit:" every time kids are ballin, he's bawling.

Cut to yesterday. I chased him out of our side room - we used to have a useless garage; we turned it into a suite for my mom when she stayed with us. Now John mostly uses it, in his big-honking chair next to the windows he reads the internets. The windows look over our driveway, toward the street court. I got home from my Long March of the day and wanted to sit and play video games there. It's a comfy chair! Loki was in there - I usually don't let him be in there because his hair stands out even worse in there than in the rest of the house. AND he'd been in John's chair. Sheesh.

So I sit down, and I notice a wet spot on the arm of John's chair. The chair Loki had been sitting in. And the wet spot on the carpet, next to the window. Great. Now, he's peed in the house.

Benefit of the doubt, I call John in. Were  you drinking in here, and your glass either condensed on or spilled on the chair and floor? No, he says. And he looks at the chair arm in disgust. Then Loki comes into the room and stands at the window, crying.

While I'm down sniffing at the stain, figuring out it's NOT pee, Loki's going nuts at the window - and drooling on the spot on the floor at his feet. The boys playing ball got him so excited, he DROOLED enough to leave big marks on the floor and the chair.

Now, that's what I call obsession.

He's a good dog, truly. But don't get between him and spherical objects. The results aren't pretty.