Thursday, May 31, 2007

Love you too, Mom.

I've never posted an email before, but this I couldn't resist.

After numerous notes back and forth with my dearest mother, explaining summer travels, camp options, and financial needs, my mother tells me that what she really wants to get for me is a contract with the local "Merry Maids" service. Please can I send her their phone number?

So I do a web search, find their contact information and include a link in yet another email wherein I talk about this camp, this number of weeks, this is what will happen in August, and by the way, here's the contact info for Merry Maids.

Her response:

What will be the cost for the camps, and what will be the cost for Neo's round-trip plane trip?

I will try to find Merry Maids in Benicia. What is their telephone number?

Also, so that a lot of money is not wasted, could you promise me that before they come for the first time you will bundle up all the trash and take it out so that they can clean the house. The kids should pick up their own bedrooms. It would really be good for them to pick up the junk.

Thanks! Love, Mom

What is it about my mother that makes my blood boil?

Yes, she is expressing interest in the costs of the camps (which indicates that she might just see her way clear to paying for some portion of same), and she is definitely signalling that she wants to pay for Neo's plane (because she included the phrase "round-trip" which means that she'll pay for Neo even when she's traveling with That Other Grandmother).

But, here we go, she did not Click On The Link I Sent Her. The one with the telephone number.

And then we have to segue into trash collection. I do actually take out the trash. I do. Not every fifteen minutes, like some people, but I do manage to fill the outside bin to almost overflowing every week, not including recycling.

But, I need her to pay for some of this stuff, so, even though I'm forty (well, I'll be forty in a few weeks), I swallow down that ridiculous need to defend myself to her regarding household management, supervision of employees, and trash collection. Do wonder why she's focused on trash this time, rather than laundry. Wonder what it will be next time her blurry Eye of Sauron swivels in my direction.

And you know what? It would be good if my children could throw away some junk. It would be good for all children, everywhere in America to throw away crap that they do not need. But um, they do pick up their bedrooms. Neo's is spotless, Son's is a disaster (just the way he likes it), and little girl's room is clean but with a dusting of laundry spread evenly across the floor. As soon as you can convince them that their stuff is junk, rather than personal possessions, let me know. In the meantime, can we discuss the bird crap decorating your furniture, courtesy of your parrot minions? Or perhaps the *hundreds* of dolls you display in every room? One man's treasure...

Speaking of which. I have GOT to go see this pirate movie. Need a break. Really.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Steps to the Summer

1. Notice that school gets out (Good Grief! That can't be right?) next week.

2. Run around the house like a flustered pigeon for a few minutes as that sinks in.

3. Practice deep breathing exercises.

4. Acknowledge that Neo is going to Washington DC for a Leadership conference lasting one week in July. With one week on either side of her conference dedicated to visiting grandparents in Boston and NYC, she's got July pretty well mapped out. Phew.

5. Remember that you were going to sign her up for community college courses. Check the website.

6. Discover that ALL the community college courses run during June and July for three weeks, therefore completely conflicting with the Leadership conference.

7. Consider doing the pigeon thing again but decide against it in the interest of banging your head against the desk and mentally excoriating yourself for displaying such grand stupidity in procrastinating this long.

8. Remember that someone talked about classes at the art college? Do a websearch.

9. HURRAH! Look at that! California College of Art offers a two week course for middle schoolers taught by CCA instructors. And look at that! Computer art! Drawing from life! (Using clothed models. Hee.) Wow.

10. Turn to scheduling middle son. Apparently there's a summer camp program he qualifies for which runs for three consecutive weeks. OK, but I can't tell which weeks have openings.

11. Bang head on desk some more.

12. Turn to scheduling youngest child. There's another summer camp program I'd like to get her into, but I can't tell which weeks are open.

13. Bang head on desk some more.

14. Stare blankly at various webpages for various camps where it talks about visiting the facilities in February. February? Applications open in March? MARCH? Who the hell thinks about summer programs in March?

15. Shit. And now they're probably all booked up, and this is my fault for not having been on top of this. I went through this last summer too, the last minute scramble.

16. And the plane fares are going to be through the fucking roof. All three kids visit their grandparents in NYC by themselves for at least one week. Neo, no problem-- she's already headed in that direction. But for the others? I have to fly back and forth across the country. And if son is enrolled in summer camp, then I have to be here to pick him up at the end of the day, and the camp is across a bridge.

17. Remember this one? There's a bridge, and you are carrying a large watermelon, leading a wolf, and herding a pig. Only one item can go across the bridge at one time, otherwise the bridge will crack under the weight. If you leave the wolf on the same shore as the pig, the wolf will eat the pig. If you leave the watermelon on the same shore as the pig, the pig will eat the watermelon. How do you get all three across the bridge?

18. Number 17 above is how my summer travel plans look right now.

19. I cannot have son in his camp while Neo is at art class, as I will be unable to get to CCA to pick her up in time. Phebe, the youngest, can be at City camp during that time.

20. If I enroll Phebe in the more exciting summer camp (which is obviously more expensive), I cannot have her there while son is at his camp, nor while Neo is at art classes, as the programs all start and end at the same time. In different towns. All requiring travel over Different Bridges.

21. This, of course, assumes that Phebe will GO to exciting summer camp.

22. Which looks to be impossible at this point.

23. More headbanging. Why oh why oh why do I wait until the last POSSIBLE minute to set these things up? This is not fair to Phebe -- I want her to experience a traditional summer camp with horseback riding, popsicle stick art, campfires, and swimming lessons. And only because she is the youngest, I can't make it work. So unfair.

24. Recognize that this exercise takes way too many scraps of paper with illegible scrawlings all over them. Remember that similar exercises have eventually worked themselves out with little fanfare.

25. Get a call from son's summer camp program letting me know that all weeks are available, and that he is a candidate for the program, and that we can immediately set up an intake interview so that he can attend.

26. Cue the Heavenly Chorus: Sing along, won't you?

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
(This is one of two hymns that although I enjoy humming along, I sincerely cannot sing it out loud in a group of people without crying. It is just that beautiful when everyones' voices vibrate together in my chest. So far, no one at church has ever seemed to mind. FYI, the other is Eternal Father, Strong to Save.)

27. Anyway, if they have room in all sessions, then most of my scheduling conflicts are over. Whew!

28. I need a margarita. Really.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Three Books Meme

Megan some time ago tagged me to blog about three not so very well known books that mean a lot to me.

This caused something of a raging internal debate, because one book I'd love to blog about I can't. Because if you go look it up at Amazon, there, for all the world to see, is a review by my Diego de la Vega name. Sometimes this ever so attractive "scrap of black silk" gets pesky.

So let's just say that my aunt wrote a series of children's fantasy novels. Well, they were originally marketed for children, but now they would be straight fantasy or YA fantasy. And my favorite is the second one. But I can't really blog about it. Damn.

So, for the other three books, lets see...

Roustabout has to be a first choice.

Michelle Chalfoun worked at the Big Apple Circus around the time I did. Dear Butcher knew her well (and actually had a major crush on her). She left just as I was coming in. But this book REALLY gets the gritty backbone of the circus. The passive aggressive hatred of the backlot, the beauty of the circus, the strange sexual manipulation that goes on, and the wonder or the scary magic of it all. There's a description of the shower room in this book which is absolutely dead on. Great book. Try reading this right before you dive into SEP's Kiss an Angel, and you'll begin to see why that book never rang true for me.

Another book would be, um, The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue.

A very good ghost story, one that unexpectedly made me cry while I was on an airplane. Razi, the ghost in the story, is trying to discover what happened to her one great love, and bumps into a modern day couple. (I didn't like the parts about the relationship problems between the young kids so much.) There's an emphasis on the smell of a person, and hungering after a memory, and trying to work out what trust and love and memory have to do with each other that was very well done.

And for my third, I have to pick one that is probably fairly well known, but not often read. Actually, it's two books, Twenty Years After and Ten Years Later. They are the second and third books of a four part series, but somehow they get left out of most movie adaptations and discussions of the characters. I'm sure you know the title of the first, and you may know the title of the fourth, but not necessarily know that it's number four in a series.

First in the series is The Three Musketeers, and the fourth in the series is The Man in the Iron Mask (which was DREADFULLY dramatized by Hollywood in the Leonardo di Caprio version. Ugh. John Malkovich, please, I BEG you, please, use some sort of accent if you insist on showing up in these French period dramas. Please.).

Anyroad, in Twenty Years and Ten Years, you follow the four Musketeers through various adventures involving Charles I of England, and various nefarious plots involving Milady and her nasty son. In these two novels, you really see how Athos, Porthos and Aramis, although they remain friends, begin to follow their inner urges and grow forever apart. When they are brought together for The Man in the Iron Mask, they do so out of extreme loyalty to each other, but for entirely different reasons. Dumas does such a great job of building those characters, tearing them apart and bringing them back together again.

I read both books during summer camp. (My copy of Twenty Years smells completely of summer camp--sort of faintly mildewed with a spruce overtone.) I wasn't getting along well with my cabin that year, but those two books saved that summer for me and created a rich fantasy life of stalwart heroes, accomplished with the sword, that carries me through to today.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Under the Sofa

When I was a kid I used to be able to sqeeze under the sofa. One day I discovered that I was too large to fit under it, but on the same day I also discovered I could go behind it and squeeze into the space between the sofa, the upright piano, and the side table. It was a little dramatic, squeezing under the furniture, and it tended to scare my Pomeranian, who would sniff at me and whine until I either moved over to let her in or came out myself.

This past week, I've been under the sofa. Possibly sucking my thumb. Definitely muttering and whimpering to myself.

My mother's been in town all week.

Dear Butcher said to me this morning, when he found me crying in the bathroom, "Once again, your mother comes to visit leaving destruction and despair in her wake. When is she coming back?"

She laid off on the laundry this time. (Thank GOD!) But, she replaced that obsession with a need to take out my trash. We had this conversation three times while I was working on the computer:

"Suisan, do you have any trash can liners?"

"In the pantry, " I call back from the computer room.

A few moments later she calls again, "Suisan, where in the pantry are the liners?"

"On the floor!"

"On the floor? What color are they?"

(Good god woman, If you just took the liner out, can you not see that they are white, and therefore the replacement ones would ALSO be white?) "White! On the floor! In a box near the dog food!"

A few moments later, "Suisan, where does the trash go?"

"Outside in the bin!"

(Swear to god. Three times she asked this:) "Where's the bin?"

OK Fine. Clearly I don't need to get any work done. Clearly I need to stop everything so that I can take out the trash which must be done at that exact instant. Excellent. So I go into the kitchen to grab the bag of trash, and she says, "Oh, don't do that. I'll get it. I'm just trying to help."

verra verra helpful. thnx so much.

Weirdest quote of the week. After we've eaten Chinese food for dinner she says (while spreading all the clean dishes on every counter top because she cannot figure out where they go. Sigh.), "That was very good. You know, I've sworn off Chinese food, but I enjoyed that."

"Sworn off? Why?"

"Well, I read about all those people in China with the bloody noses and the gluten and the pork and I decided never to eat Chinese food again."

Ummmmmm. Yeah.

"Mom. It's American food."

"But those poor Chinese!"

Is she somehow unaware that the restaurants actually cook the food here? That just because it's Chinese food that the food did not actually come from China itself? WTF? I'm still trying to work that one out. She's got a Ph.D., for god's sake.

But the thing that just drove me over the edge this visit was all about My Idiot Brother. I showed her the "Best Of" award Dear Butcher received from the regional paper. "Oh, how nice. I wish your brother could have gotten one of these for his bookstore. It might have made him profitable."

Complaining about how my brother won't leave her alone and then five minutes later getting a call from My Idiot Brother on my cell phone. He's complaining to me because she called him an hour before ("While I Was At Work!") to tell him that he should quit this job and get one which paid 30K with benefits. ("Who does she think she is? I'm worth more than 30K! I place college graduates in jobs for 70K starting salaries! What an insult!" He's a commission-only recruiter who's made one sale in about three months.) So I get him off the phone, walk down stairs to hear my mother on the phone with My Idiot Brother. She gets him off the phone and spends the rest of the day complaining about how he's ruining her vacation by calling her.

"Did you call him this morning?"

"Well. I had to check in with him. I'm the only person he has left now."

Well then, it's hard to complain when he calls you back, then isn't it? Same gerbil wheel, different topic, different year.

My extended family is very wealthy. Sort of obscenely wealthy, actually. My grandfather, up until the stock market dived in the early 1990's, was free to travel, spread cash around, and buy properties with no concerns. If you wanted money, all you had to do was ask.

Except, I have a really hard time asking. It kills me. My fingernails itch. It makes my stomach hurt. Because in our family, money was love. Cash was love. My grandfather always wore deep pocketed blazers, and when you went to visit, you were encouraged to put your hands down into his side pockets to grab the prize.

It was always a roll of cash, hundreds usually. (And this was when I was six. What six year old has a use for a hundred dollar bill rolled around six or seven twenties?) You were not to count it or open the roll--that was considerd rude. You were supposed to crawl up into his lap, give him a big hug and a kiss, rub your face against his Bay Rum neck, and say, "I love you Grandpa." When you got home, you could run up to your room and unroll the cash, count the bills, and know that this was your gift from Grandpa. My parents never would have asked for it. It was given to the kids. It belonged to the kids. Grandpa's wishes were not to be questioned.

I never spent the money. I had no way to spend it as I wasn't allowed to bring the money with me if we went out (It's too much. You'll lose it.) and I wasn't allowed to walk around the neighborhood by myself, unlike my brother who went into Boston by himself on the T and invested in magic tricks at Jack's Joke Shop. So I stuffed it into my top dresser drawer until the day a baby sitter was putting away my clothes and opened the wrong drawer. Honest woman, she told my parents that there was about a thousand dollars in the youngest child's room, although she hadn't counted all of it, and did they know about it?

I still remember my father sitting me down that evening to tell me that we were going to have to open a savings account for me. He was so stern about it. So serious. I thought I was in trouble for most of the conversation. Here's your penance, young lady. You will have to carry a passbook. A passbook savings account because you are too young to sign a withdrawal slip. You are the only member of the family with a passbook savings account. We have checking accounts. Your brother spent his money, so he doesn't have a savings account. Only you, young lady, will have this passbook account. The passbook will be dark blue and will make you nauseated when you find it in your desk drawer, peeking out from under the ribbon barrettes and origami turtles. You will have to make a Special Trip to the bank and talk to the Bank Manager, who luckily is a friend of the family, before you can get your money out. OK?

I'm not sure where that whole experience went sideways, but I am as sure now as I was then that my father was deeply embarrassed that I had cash in the house. Then I thought that he was embarrassed I hadn't spent it, but now I think he was embarrassed to have been told by the babysitter that the eight year old had an entire drawer dedicated to cash. Talk about clueless parents.

In this strange system, cash was love. It was kisses and hugs. Checks, big yellow checks, were support and admiration. You got into the best private school in the land. Here's a check. I love you. Here's a twenty. I'm proud of your A. Here's a check. I see that you're sad, and I'm scared to ask why, so here's a fifty.

And since no one ever bothered to SAY "I love you", no one except my grandmother and my aunt, I grew up feeling completely unlovable.

Not unloved. I "knew" logically that people loved me, but I felt marked and damaged as the one person in the family who could not feel love and was not to be loved by edict from on high. Ultimately I was sure that everyone in the family felt as if they were supposed to love me, supposed to say so in a polite way to make me feel better, but actually, they couldn't love me becuase I was an unlovable person. I used to dream about the mark on my forehead that labelled me as the unlovable one. It was green. It was a triangle.

(Interestingly, neither my grandmother nor my aunt ever gave me money. My grandmother had a trust fund for me, and she would pay for things for me, but she never handed me a check in her entire life. My aunt also bought things for me, but she gave the objects as gifts, not straight cash. Odd that those are the only two people whom I believed when they said, "I love you.")

So for me, to ask for money from my family is really to beg for love. (Yeah, I know that's insane, but that's the way it feels.) Please love me. Please. I'll do anything. I'll be really really good. You won't even know that I'm here. Please can I have some? About This much? Or maybe more? But I don't want to overdraw your account of love. I know how limited you are and that the overdraft protection is costly. So, could I have some? Whatever you can afford?

I knew the whole time she was visiting that I was going to ask her for money. Dear Butcher and I could use some. Seriously. And she's got some. And she's my mother. And she's got enough to spend on my brother. So um, time to gird my loins, swallow back that discomfort, get rational about this whole topic, and just ask her and my Dad if maybe they could help us out. Besides, we have gone for years without asking for money. Years. Almost a decade, I think.

At one point during Mom's visit to me she said, "Your life is so stressful. I wish there was something we could do to make it easier."

(Ah HA! Perfect opening!)

"Mom. I hate doing this. I really do. But seriously, we could use some money. We're about to be delinquent on the property taxes, which we'll pay, obviously, but there's going to be a penalty. Our health insurance is really expensive, and April was a hard month for the businesses. We'd try to pay you back, if that's what you need. But seriously, it would make my life a lot less stressful, at least for the summer, if we had a cushion."

"I already do so much for your brother, you know. He's draining us dry. Maybe we can send you a check when we get home."

Which means that really, she's not going to send anything.

Which also means that I'm right back to feeling like shit. There's a small kid inside me who's squeezed behind the sofa, smelling the dry dust and the rich lanolin of the Oriental carpet, listening to the Pomeranian's nails click on the side table legs as she digs at it so that I will let her in.

Fuck. I hate being pathetic.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Neo's latest

What can I possibly say? I think she's pretty good for a twelve year old, no?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bright Narcissus

Ah, how we do love a world which revolves completely around us and our shining attributes.

Witness this little gem of a tale, again from the land of special education. Well, at least from the land of my son's educational experiences this year. At the beginning of the year, he was placed with an exceptionally clueless teacher, who exacerbated all of his anxieties, while she concurrently punished him for being anxious. (Denial of privileges, illegally preventing him from going out on recess, withholding his attendance on a field trip, manufacturing a tale of him assaulting a younger child, etc.)

Because of her behavior towards my son (and two others), and because this is a pattern of behavior over the years, the principal has made the determination that no special needs kids, whether or not they have been identified as requiring interventions, will be placed in her class. This means, of course, that the rest of the third grade teaching staff will have to take on more.

We'll call this shining example of educational ability "Mrs. P" for the purposes of this story.

The school psychologist and the president of the PTA both have girls who are presently in Mrs. P's class, where my son once was. (For the record, none of us requested her, and all three of us are pretty well horrified at her teaching skills. The two girls have each sought me out at school to say how very bored they are in class, and how is my son doing.) The psychologist told me yesterday that Mrs. P had asked the psychologist if they could go out for tea sometime, as Mrs. P needed some advice from her.

"About what?"

"Well, I know that Suisan, you, and the president of the PTA all requested to have your children in my class. Since you are all leaders within the school system, I think this has created some jealousy amongst my peers. I can't seem to break through it, and I'm having trouble working collaboratively with the other grade-level teachers. I'd like to know if you have any advice for me in this situation."

The psychologist said that she was fairly well speechless, and then told Mrs. P that her area of expertise wasn't in workplace dynamics, but in assessing and counseling young children. And then she wished her well.

(And then, of course, being a gossip, she had to tell me about the conversation. Oy. She shouldn't do that. But, hey, it made me laugh.)

Talk about needing a big slice of clue cake. Yeesh.

This morning the principal told me that Mrs. P has asked one of her peers out for tea to discuss whether there were strong reasons for her to stay at this elementary school. The other teacher didn't know what to do, but did tell the principal this morning that Mrs. P was possibly considering a transfer. Principal told the teacher, "Instead of tea, how about you two go out for martinis? I'll buy. But only if you convince her to go somewhere else." The teacher asked the principal for TIPS on how to convince her to leave! At that point the principal backed her off and had to counsel the teacher to leave everything alone.

Poor Mrs. P. No one seems to like her and her little squeaky voice and her big blinky eyes and her head tipped every so endearingly towards her right shoulder. And she can't figure out why.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tales from the Land of Special Education

I do love some of the stories which get passed around while principals and administrators are having lunch. In the course of preparing for negotiations with the teacher's union, I was telling the District team that I felt quite strongly that the entire staff needed more CPI training. My son's principal is on the negotiating team, and she was backing me up.

"In the interest of full disclosure," I said. "My son was manhandled by untrained staff, dragged through the library by three adults when he wouldn't leave the playground early. Then his teacher called the police on the day he hid under a table, because while he was under there, he told them he was so angry that if he had a blowtorch he'd blow up the school. All the staff in his grade have had CPI training after that incident, but that's only one grade level in one of four elementary schools. There are other kids like this in the rest of the District."

Yes, there are," said the principal. "Just yesterday I dropped in on a kid who was working in Resource. He's also in third grade, and he didn't have a good day. When I walked in, he was rubbing two pencils together to start a fire."

I burst out laughing. My principal smiled at me. "He was quite determined, you know. I'm not sure what it is about these nine year old boys. I didn't say anything, but all I could think of was, 'Gee kid, first you've got to wear through both layers of paint, then you've got to get a spark going. Got a box of tinder anywhere around?'"

The point being here, of course, that my son under the table did not have a blow torch (and I don't think he actually knows what one is?), and the threat was a statement of his anger and frustration. The Indian Tracker in Training over in the resource room couldn't have started a fire, and his threat was a statement of his anger and frustration. Both these kids are young and are in controlled situations surrounded by adults, and they Do Not Have Access to Weapons at that moment. If you have an iota of common sense, you'll not dramatize the frustration they are already feeling. But with my son, they did. With Indian Tracker in Training, they didn't.

And there are still boys and girls like this all over the system. Depending on what training any one person has, each child can experience a respectful environment filled with adults who have a sense of humor about the whole thing, or chaotic environment where adults are reactive, anxious, and dramatic.

I actually know who the Indian Tracker in Training is. Really cute boy. I can just see him bent over his table, tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth, pencils in a blur as he rubs them together.

In other news, one of the staff at school has gone out of her way to be mean to my son. Intolerable, really. It's been a pattern all fucking year. Once again, I've had to go find the principal, blow the whistle on one of her staff, and, after she's reprimanded the staff member in question, feel the glares of other staff members as I walk through the halls.

Some time ago, a parent told me that a staff member, unsolicited, told her that all my son needed was a good spanking. She wouldn't tell me who had said it, but she did say that it was someone who wasn't directly involved with my son. Great. Somehow that makes it worse to know that staff who don't know him are gossiping with PARENTS about him. (This goes right along with the school psychologist who talked about him in the Kindergarten yard. And his first teacher from early this year who told another parent that my son had assaulted her, but that the district had hushed it up, because, you know, I'm on the Board.)

My son's Second grade teacher was wonderful with him. Spent hours of extra time with him, developing a respectful relationship, going over work, talking about recess issues, etc. At one point she even set up a system that if he was anxious anywhere on school grounds, that he could tell an adult that "I need Mrs. Fine" and someone would come get her. A very good influence on him.

Well, Mrs. Fine is rather opinionated. My son was in the library with his aide, and Mrs. Fine told him that he was disruptive to her class. After she sent her kids to recess, she came back to the room he works in and made a big stink about the fact that he was sitting on the table doing work. ("When you were in MY class you used to sit on a chair.") So she tried to get him to sit on a chair, and he refused. Then she tried to get him to apologize for disrupting her class. At that point he refused to apologize, because she had (HELLO!) already ticked him off.

So she said to him, "That's it. I'm done with you. I've cared for you all last year, and I was on your side. But no more. I'm done with you." And she walked out.

The aide told me after she detached her chin from her chest, she had to spend the next forty minutes dealing with a huge rage. My son tore up all the work that he had done, including his research in the library, tossed chairs, etc.

I was venting to a friend about this latest insult, and she was upset enough that she told me who had made the spanking comment: the librarian.

Oh joy. So it's not a staff member who's directly involved, just one who has contact with every child in the school and a majority of the parents. Excellent.

By the time I got in touch with the Principal to report the second grade teacher, the aide had already reported the incident. But then I layered on the idea that the librarian is offering out parenting advice which includes corporal punishment.

There was a long silence on the phone.

"Suisan. I don't know what to say. I deeply apologize for my staff. I will talk to these two individually, one is getting a reprimand, and I will talk to the entire staff again about respecting our own kids."

"It's OK. It's not you. These older ladies really think they know what's best, no matter what us young whippersnappers say."

"Yeah, but: Spanking?"

"Well, that's a new one. I'll admit."

After a silence, she said, "You know. Correct me if I'm wrong, but by the time a kid like this is eight or nine, it's not as if the parents haven't tried every possible method to gain compliance. I'd say, if it worked, we wouldn't be talking about your son. It would have already worked, right?"

I burst out laughing. Again. Then she added, "You know, if it works, then we should be able to do that on school grounds. Maybe the librarian wants to demonstrate technique sometime in the courtyard. I'd be very intrigued. It would "Foster Innovation", right?" (Fostering Innovation is in our mission statement.)

I laughed some more. What a ridiculous roller coaster ride.

(Can I get off now? Huh?)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Let's get ready to Ruuuuummmble!!

Yes, folks. You guessed right! That lovely lady of lunacy, my mother, is on her way to visit me.

I could cry.

Here. Let's look at my schedule for the next few days, shall we?

Today I can clean the entire house and back yard.

Tomorrow I can continue cleaning in the morning, and then in the afternoon I have 2.5 hours of meetings to interview candidates for the Superintendent's position.

Thursday, I may just die. I have meetings from 11:30 in the morning straight through until 5:30. (Dinner during one meeting there) and then a public meeting from 6 pm until when ever it ends. 10 or 11 pm or so.

Friday I have a negotiations prep meeting at I think 10:00 in the morning until 11:30. My kids get out of school early on Fridays (11:40, 12:30, and 1:00), and then at 3:30 (or is it 4:30?), my youngest has belt testing for Karate.

Saturday, my mother and father arrive.

Monday I'm supposed to participate in an all-day Negotiations meeting. (I have to at least show up in the morning for a half-hour or so, but then I need to get out of there as it is. I don't want to leave my parents in charge of my younger kids for longer than I have to.)

Tuesday, I think I'm free.

Wednesday is my elementary school's Colonial Days, which means that I'm supposed to show up in Colonial Costume (HA!) and demonstrate hand spinning for groups of 4th graders. Which means that on either the previous Saturday or Sunday I'm supposed to meet with the other "spinning parents" to work out how we are going to do this.

Thursday I have a Budget Workshop at 6 in the evening until whenever it ends. We're looking at at least four hours. Have I prepared? Why no. I have not.

Friday morning I'm supposed to have a Special Meeting to take action on the items we've discussed in the Workshop so as to get them into the budget before the end of May. Did I mention that my kids get out early on Fridays? Yeah. So I'll have to pick them all up too.

Saturday I think my youngest has a birthday party to go to at a "Jump House". Those always sound like some weird euphemism for a crack house or a heroin den.

Sunday my parents leave.

Monday there's no school.

I can hardly wait. Really. This out to be a barrel of laughs.

Update: My son has started his medication. He's on a six week trial of two drugs at various levels of medication to determine what level and what drug works for him. I see some improvement at home. He's not changing his behavior THAT much at school. On the other hand, I had a talk with the principal this morning who spoke to him yesterday at my request. She said that she noticed a difference in his demeanor and in how well he took her suggestions regarding achieving the goals set out for him and respecting staff. After they talked, he said he wasn't ready to go back to the room yet, so she let him sit in her office while she finished up some work. Within about five minutes, he said he was ready to go, stood up, held the door for her, led her back to his room, held the door for her again, and then told his aide and his case manager that he was sorry for acting out on the previous day and that he was ready to get back to work. She hadn't asked him to apologize but was hoping that he would. Have I mentioned that I really like my principal?

In other news, I have learned that my son's original case manager, the one who thought it was just a peachy idea for staff to call the cops on my eight year old when he ducked under a table, the one who phrases all her conversations with him to focus on what he cannot do or on what he has already done wrong in the past, it turns out that she's working on an emergency credential which expires in June. Without her emergency credential, she is only qualified to act as a full-inclusion specialist, which is oh so ironic, since she has said a number of times that she doesn't believe in full-inclusion and is waiting for the laws to change. Special Kids need to be separated, according to her. Uh-huh.

I'm of the opinion that we should cut her loose, but then again, trying to find a competent Special Education teacher in June is, um, a bit ridiculous. So if we renew her emergency credential (Which she has had Five Years to obtain), then we're keeping her on to work with children when she's demonstrated that she hasn't a clue. Besides, why would we go out of our way to support a person who hasn't bothered to get the credential she needs for her job? AND, since I cannot stand her and have extraordinarily strong negative opinions of her, I feel as if I'm going to have to recuse myself from this decision.

In the meantime, since she job shared with another woman who is retiring, the principal does not know whether to post for a 1.0 position or a 0.5 position or 2 positions at 0.5 each. Goodie. This is going to turn out so well.

Feeling the positive energy just flow right on out of me, covering the world in a deliciously pink aura? Yeah. Me Neither.

Monday, May 14, 2007

SBD -- Reviews. Or, Plunge the Knife in Me NOW!

First off, don't forget to give me your advice here.

Second, I've really and truly HAD IT with the review whining. Completely.

Tara Marie was the most recent person to sound off on how idiotic and frustrating this spinning wheel is, in response to a not-very-annoying-RTB post. What was annoying about the RTB post was to watch the comments dissolve into "Woe is me"-dom.

Here, girls. Let me 'splain something to you. You are not your work. Your work is not you. OK?

If you are a lawyer and you lose a motion in court, your career is not over. And furthermore, the judge does NOT think you are a baby-murderer because your legal arguments did not hold sway on that day. You are not your work.

If you work an office job and you do a great job pulling together all the data you need, editing the report just so, and making the perfect presentation, this does NOT mean that you are a perfect person and that daisies live in anticipation of you walking past them. You may be a perfect shit at home to your husband or to your kids, but you may still be able to churn out the best damned report anyone has ever experienced. Your work is not you.

Here's a secret. Ready? People read books.


And you know what else? Readers form opinions OF THE BOOKS, and then, God Forbid, they go on to tell their friends their opinions.

I know. This is shocking. If you are experiencing heart palpitations about this, then why don't you go for a bit of a lie-down? We'll fill you in on the details after you've recovered.

When a reader says that s/he did not like the book, it is NOT directed to the author, nor is it offered up as constructive criticism, in general. It's simply an opinion. If it hurts your feelings to read negativity with your name in it, then I advise you to follow Kate Rothwell's lead and use Monica Jackson's "Author Visualizations." They're quite funny. And apparently quite effective.

Here's where this continual confusion just burns me up. You made the decision to go after a publishing contract. You did. Yep. YOU wanted to share this book with the world. It's not as if this qualifies as an invitation for an all out assault, but good grief ladies, grow a spine, or some ovaries or both.

If you cannot quite deal with people honestly stating their opinions about your work, or if you cannot separate your psyche from your work, then please know that you HAVE an option. Write for yourself, for your friends, for your students and teachers. It can be very rewarding in and of itself.

But for god's sake, don't ask me to play a violin for you.

When I screw up in my job, not only does it hit the papers, but it also hits the front page, the internet, the grocery store, and the playground. (Even when I'm right but stating an unpopular position.) In some cases I've been reported to the District Attorney by people who did not like me, and they have invited that very interesting gentleman to investigate me. (Fortunately he has a well-developed sense of humor and well-grounded sense of reality versus hyperbole. He also has a very pleasant chuckle on the phone.)

Ever been threatened with investigation by a prosecutor for writing a plot which was thin, although the characters were engaging? Yeah. Thought not.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Searching and Spinning.

Don't forget to give me some advice on this ethical situation.

Today I was on Youtube looking for tutorials on spinning wool with a drop spindle.

(I volunteered to help out at the Elementary School Colonial Days living history thingie in the spinning booth. Now I realize that for all the hours that I demonstrated drop spindle spinning as a young child at my grandfather's rug lectures, I have completely forgotten how to draw the wool appropriately so that the twist doesn't enter the roving -- creating a huge unpickable knot which is then wrapped around your wrist. Gah. Apparently it's NOT quite like riding a bike.) Explanation of the problem is that I used hand carved, determinately unbalanced "bottom whorl" drop spindles from Afghanistan. The coordinator of Colonial Days has invested in lovely newly manufactured "top whorl" spindles with such excellent balance that they spin a hell of a lot faster than I'm accustomed too. And I'm the lead demonstrator. Floor, open up now and swallow me whole.

I love what you find on Youtube. Like this "spinning video." Neo's expressed an interest in learning. I envision pens flying all over her room. Hee.

Edited to add: This must be proof positive that I do indeed have a hand fetish. No. Seriously. Watching the tendons twitch on the back of a knuckle? Or the muscles flicker on the inside of a lower arm? Yep. Very nice. I need to Shut Up Now before I embarrass myself further.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Hey Guys, I need some advice

OK. I just finished my State required online Ethics Course for Public Officials, with a certificate of completion suitable for framing, but this one situation wasn't addressed. I need some feedback from some normal folks. Normal, and intelligent folks, that is. I've got enough of the idiot types already, thank you very much.

(Oy. Did I post about the Kindergarten parents coming to the Board Meeting to protest about lengthening the day by 40 minutes? "But the learning doesn't end when I pick my child up from school. We walk home, we prepare lunch together..." I almost launched myself over the dais at one of them who gave me a snapshot of her daughter, standing on the beach in her adorable yellow boots so that I "Could hold in my heart the Image of Sarah and remember who this decision is REALLY about." Right. Did you know that 70% of the nation's households have ALL adults in the home holding down full time jobs? Maybe this is about THOSE kids. Maybe this is about the kid who leaves K feeling like a failure because 3 hours a day is not enough time to teach them all the CA standards for Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Our teachers have said that essentially they cannot teach Science appropriately because there's no time left in the day.) < /long tangent >

So we escorted our Superintendent, She Who Used to Cry In Meetings and Fudged Our Numbers, to the door in August under a settlement agreement. Then we brought in an Interim Superintendent who was a principal in the district. But we need to hire a Permanent Superintendent, so we're in a process of working with consultants, reviewing applications, setting up interviews, etc. Our Interim has put in an application for the Permanent position as well.

There are a lot of concerns about confidentiality, because your best candidates will already be hired in a district -- you don't want to bandy about names in case their home district gets wind of it and offers them a package you can't compete with. So everything is supposed to go through our consultant; our district asks questions of him, and the applicants ask questions of him.

Last Thursday the Board and the professional screeners went through over twenty applications and pulled out four people we want to interview. (Our interim was one of the four.) One got into the group who looks good on paper, but whom I did not particularly like. She used a lot of jargon and at one point said she "was a warrior for children." Ummm. Yeah. Not so much. I already worked with a Drama Queen and it didn't go so well, e.g., She Who Cried In Meetings. But that's OK, the screeners chose her and so did three other Board Members. Let's interview her and see what she's like.

So, this Thursday, I'm in the District Office participating in Negotiations. Due to the way the doors to the meeting room are arranged, I have to walk through the Secretary to the Superintendent's office every time we have to enter or exit the room. Over four trips (We caucused a lot. Over whether an aunt and a first-cousin are immediate family in the bereavement clause. I say no, they say yes. So what's extended family? Hmmm?) in and out of her office I realize that the secretary is trying to convince someone not to meet with the Superintendent. That's odd.

So I ask the Secretary, "What's up?"

"I just got a call from one of the Interviewing Candidates, and she wants to talk to the Superintendent to learn more about the district. But I was told that all questions had to go through the consultant. On the other hand, he's said that she can visit the district if she likes. What do you think?"

"Uhh. I'd call the consultant if I were you."

"Can I have her meet with other district staff to answer questions? I mean, what's the point of allowing her to visit if she can't ask questions?"

Just then the consultant called the Secretary back to say that no candidate could meet with another candidate, and that certainly no candidate could interview the Superintendent during the final screening process. She could visit if she liked to gain her own impressions, but to talk to this district would eventually tip off her own district that she was looking for work and he had advised against that. As I listened to the Secretary's side of the conversation some more, it became clear that this candidate knew that the present Interim was a viable candidate.

OK, here's the question:

Do I use this information (sharing this story with the Board first) to make a determination on this candidate? It was not part of the screening process, and I reached some conclusions by listening in on one half of a conversation. (Here's the thing -- there's only one female other than the Interim in the final four. It has to be Warrior Woman.) I'm getting the impression that she's a pushy person who is going against recommendations to get a leg up in the competition, and I'm done working with those people. I want people who are going to work together to reach a shared conclusion whenever possible.

Ethically, if I have already pre-judged a situation, and I'm sitting in a quasi-judicial capacity (a disciplinary hearing for example), then I'm supposed to recuse myself from all deliberations and discussions. So there's an argument for walking out of the room every time her name is mentioned. Except that I'm NOT siting in a quasi-judicial capacity, I'm sitting in a deliberatory capacity. I'm pretty sure that if someone called me up and told me bad or good things about a particular candidate before the deliberations, then I'd be obligated to share those with the Board too as they made their decisions.

I think I'm going to go ahead and tell the Board about this (although it just occurred to me that the consultant may do so as well), and use this episode as some sort of "tell" on her personality. It just feels kind of iffy. Because I initiated the conversation with the Secretary? Because I heard her talking to the consultant? Because she asked me what to do?

Opinions anyone?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Some People get odd ideas.

Like these guys

They have a training vehicle you can drive your horse in, well, you're sort of behind it? Go watch the videos, it's the only way to describe it.

Apparently when you interact with the horses, flaws come into being. Because we all know how very mechanical horses are, and how very much any animal would preferred to be hooked up to a Winnebago and driven around a track.

And how much does one of the monorail systems COST? Surely there are a few hundred teenagers hanging around who are willing to trot out your horses in hand? They way they've done for centuries? It's a great workout! (Not to mention the very taboo subject of illegal immigrants who work at racetracks. Is this company saying that they'll all magically disappear one day and you'll be left with only a trainer, a ton of money, and wonderful machines?)

It's a combine for horses.

The mind boggles.

(And um. Uhh. On what planet is there an economic need for highly trained racing camels? OK. They race them in UAE, but uh, the purse size? Isn't it illegal to bet? I dunno enough about competitive dromedary athletic competitions, but I can't see how this will end up replacing little teeny boys waaaay up on the top of camels.)

There's a part of me which wonders if this is all an elaborate spoof, but, um, that car looks fairly solid.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Idiot Who's Related to Me

And that would be my brother.

What a moron.

Over the past two days I have had three calls from my Dear MaMa begging me to call him. Because I am the Voice Of Reason (Which therefore means that he wants nothing to do with me). I so completely do not care at this point. In a grand and noble sense, I wish that he could get his life on track, but personally, I have no interest in helping him on the journey. I wish that he could be nicer to his children -- if you've heard the Alec Baldwin tape then you've heard my brother go after his own two sons. He used to go after me with the same self-centered spitting rage when we were kids. (Come to think of it, he's done it a few times when we were adults too. The rages didn't last as long though, because I generally can hang up on him before he got rolling.)

My mother insists that she had no idea that he was like this when we were kids. Uh huh. The story you tell that he "broke all the dining room chairs one time when he was angry" never clued you in?

This weekend his girlfriend left him, and he called my mom to tell her that he had been crying for days. She told him to suck up his pride, call her, and apologize profusely for whatever he had done, and to do whatever it takes to get back into a "good relationship" with her because she was good for him. He made some sort of comment that although she would talk to him, she wasn't going to come back because he had done something which had scared her.

Dude. In general? Scaring your girlfriend is not a good idea.

Mom keeps coming back to the idea that he has to get back with her, or at least realize that his mania or rage or Bipolar disorder or narcissism, or whatever is affecting his relationships. Time to hie thee to a therapist.

So she wants me to call him to bring that point home. Uh.... No.

I keep coming back to the fact that he admitted to his mother that he did something to his girlfriend which scared her. She has the right to walk away, and should be encouraged to do so. I've got no confidence that he'll gain much from therapy at this point, unless he hits bottom somewhere. He's 45, not 25. He really thinks the world revolves around him and that he has the right to scream and rant at anyone who doesn't agree with him. Shifting that focus which has been entrenched for about 40 years is going to take A Lot Of Work, and I can't be arsed to get involved at this point.

But The Mother. She won't stop calling.

I guess I can call the brother, listen to him whine, and then experience some catharsis by ripping him down as I point out every little way his current mode of behavior isn't working. It wouldn't be a) kind, or b) productive, but it might be evilly fun. At least then I could tell The Mother that I called him.

Sitting on hands...

Monday, May 07, 2007


Left on a Friday, back on a Monday. (not so much jet lag, but the last plane ride made me a touch queasy.)

Went to NYC to celebrate Mother-in-law's Birthday. She was very excited to see us there. While visiting, hopped on the ever-so-excellent MTA system and visited Megan, et alia. (Son had a great time until he became way too tired and exploded all over Megan's hallway. My. He is dramatic, ain't he? But we had a great visit up until 30 seconds before then.)

We stayed in Dear Butcher's uncle's apartment. Oh My. Manhattan living. No food. No garbage bags. Help me, I discover that his wife is a practitioner of the healing arts, complete with candles, incense, scented oils, and a copy of The Secret in the bathroom. Apparently she's sworn off caffeine, sugar, and anything that is not organic oatmeal. Which is fine--I don't mind eating elsewhere, but when I make a cup of tea, I can't figure out where to throw away the tea bag. Most nervewracking.

But we're home, both plane flights went very well, the animals survived under the care of Neo's friend, and we seem to be fairly jet lag free.

Started reading Scaramouche. Hee. Fun Book.

Neo, who had run out of books on the plane, asked me what I was reading. When I started telling her the plot she sighed, "Oh MOM! you are Sooo predictable."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Salt and Tequila

I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel again. Juuuuust barely.

We had a 2:30 appt with a psychiatrist at Kaiser yesterday afternoon. We didn't leave until 4:45.

The school psychologist had already spoken to him, and the psychiatrist essentially re-evaluated him, running through the long series of questions about pregnancy, early development, social milestones, sleep patterns, sensory markers, relationships with family and friends, history of interventions, educational assessments, etc.

(You'd think by now I'd have these answers down pat, but at one point in the interview I realized that I was answering questions about Saul by remembering his younger sister's infancy. Whoops. Wait. Go back. Wrong kid.)


We walked out of the appointment with a NEW diagnosis, one which is still related to our previous diagnoses of:

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (but not quite)
Intermittent Explosivity Disorder and ODD (but not quite)
Not Bipolar, Not ADD, but maybe something wholly temperamental
Possible Asperger's with a touch of ODD
Not Asperger's, not ADD, a little touch of Intermittent Explosivity Disorder, and Anxiety, but not ODD

Today we come to, courtesy of Kaiser, Asperger's. (But not classical Asperger's. As in, he's much more social than you would expect, but on the other hand, he doesn't have successful social relationships. Nor can he read many social cues.) Or it could be a little touch of Very High Functioning Autism (Which is really sort of almost the same this as Asperger's.) With either the AS or the HF Autism, my son also has some Anxiety, which may exist on its own or may be the result of his chaotic experiences.

And we walked out of the psychiatrist's office with PRESCRIPTIONS!!

Oh, Hallelujah, God in Heaven.

The psychiatrist would like to address Saul's impulsivity first so that some of the behavior modification techniques he knows but is unable to access can come into effect. At that point we'll see if the Anxiety lessens with therapy. If it's still affecting him, then we'll start a round of anti-anxiety medication. To address impulsivity we're going to start a trial of stimulants (ADD medication, essentially).

Dear Butcher and I went in there with the idea that if we were handed a prescription for Ritalin and a referral to Anger Management courses, we were going to tear someone's head off. Actually, it's rather amusing that we walked out of there with two prescriptions for Adderal and Ritalin and referrals to parenting groups and we're satisfied.

Because we have a long term treatment plan, specific dates for re-assessment, a medical professional who really "gets it" that this kid exists on a spectrum and does not easily fit into only one diagnosis, and a variety of drug options to explore, each drug trial presented with a rationale for its timing and use.

After we got home and instructed the neighbor kid on how to take care of the dog and the guinea pigs while we are in NY this weekend (I'm not sure she was Listening. Must write a Note to Re-explain!), I took Neo out shopping for a dress.

Good grief that kid is conservative. Neckline up to here, hemline down to there, must have short sleeves at least. Bought some pants. High waisted only. I couldn't find any that she said fit.

**hanging my head in shame** She ended up in four colors of Dockers. Ever seen Best in Show? She's turning into Parker Posey. Photo from California Brown Coats

After shopping we went to a Mexican restaurant where I had a margarita. This started a lengthy discussion about when it is or is not proper to drink. How do you know when you've had too much? Do you know that you're getting drunk while you're drinking? What does a hangover feel like? Etc.

For someone who's been posting a lot about crying and salt, it was nice to simply experience salt on the rim instead of being drowned by an ocean wave.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I have no words least any that are coherent.

This is insane. Karen Scott is apparently causing suicidal thoughts throughout the publishing industry. Karen's comments are in italic

Dear Karen

I am still in Texas at our SOS Soldiers Retreat, recuperating from the very busy and successful 24th Annual Booklovers Convention. There was a lot of warm feelings of family and good friendships this past week.

Many new "RT virgins" attended and I look forward to seeing more newly published authors and offshoot businesses spinning off of this event.

Which brings me to my concern about your blog.

I'm sitting here now with Rosemary Potter, a passionate seller of new American books, and an early promoter of Erotica and small presses. With her is Margaret Bell, another enthusiastic bookseller from Australia.

I'm sorry they had to overhear my incoming calls and become aware of emails directed to me concerning such negative nasty comments on your blog from romance book people. It was an eye opener I wish they hadn't experienced.”

I feel so honoured, people ringing RT to talk about my lil ‘ole blog? Be still my beating heart, I’ve finally arrived, now where the hell is my tiara…?

“I am very proud of Ellora's Cave and the small presses run by women. I am proud of any woman who writes erotica and gets published. I know how tough it is. I am the only woman who owns a magazine (except for Oprah and Martha) and no woman has ever owned a publishing house in New York. Be it Harlequin, Berkley, Dorchester or Kensington, it's owned by businessMEN.

This has been the situation since I started up in 1981. That is why I have been so supportive of e-publishing women and will continue to be. None of us had money to invest, instead we invested ourselves and our hearts.

Do I think we are all brilliant and perfect? Of course not. But we do our best and that's what counts. We have to try harder in publishing. Whoever thinks that anger and mean criticism helps our genre is off base.

None of our members deserve such ridiculous bloggers, especially from mean-spirited women posting notes from the quiet of their houses while those in the rat race of business life are working long hours. To think you only have time to promote personal vendettas is sad.”

Hey, I take offence at the notion that I work long hours, I’m currently sitting here, a margarita in one hand, and a J.D. Robb book in the other, a Julien McDonald scarf wrapped round my head, Jackie O-type sunglasses, and my extra comfy orange striped kaftan, wrapped round my sylph-like body…

“If this was investigated, I suspect there's more to this than meets the eye.

E-publishers had little support in the beginning. I made certain my magazine promoted them to the best of our ability. Ellora's Cave, in particular, has always been savvy and displayed great energy and enthusiasm from the very first time I encountered them. They deserve respect for l3eading the way, as does Red Sage and other erotica companies that paved the way. Attacking them is mindless. Positivity is the key to helping our genre.

Many newcomers followed them and their companies are now run by women as well, I feel we should all feel protective towards all of them. Most businesses fail in 2-3 years, people who succeed beyond that have something special.

I don't want that flame of passion for books and e-publishing to ever be extinguished for our loyal readers. If one "hurts" -- be it something nasty published towards a publisher, editor, or author. We should all hurt unless we are heatless.

Learning that so-called romance enthusiasts on your blog are referred to as bleeding hearts or an idiot, is not acceptable.”

*cue dramatic cry* “If you cut me, do I not bleed…?” I’m really getting into this tale of betrayal and deceit…

“Unless your bloggers are genuinely perverse and have no regard for people's feelings and livelihood, then I predict you all will needlessly add turmoil and discontent to yourselves. I hope you are ready to take responsibility for some of your remarks.

Writing is a livelihood and those kinds of attacks are of no value. Nor does it give your blog credibility or vital interest in the long run. Disrespect for our industry and its members reflects the dark nature of the person spewing it -- not the object of the attack.

We've never communicated, and I would have telephoned if I'd had a direct number. But I would like to nip this in the bud if it's possible. I'm told you are living in England and since I'll be there July 15, in Barrow, perhaps you'd like to meet up at our summer prom? Anyone in the romance world would enjoy it and is invited. We have a lot to discuss, perhaps.

I am certainly aware of the function of blogs, but Romance Books are not a Political forum. We are a fantasy business that reflects Everywoman. She doesn't want sadness, discontent, fighting and negativity in her life, for that she watches the news or reads the newspapers. Our writers and editors are sometimes fragile, as the line of our work is pure emotion.

I question if your blog today (Tuesday) is being used -- I repeat - being used -- to spread inaccuracies and ill will. It appears to be promoting everything romance books do not stand for. These personal attacks are embarrassing, hurtful, and do not reflect our hardworking community.”

Hey, that’s realllllly offensive. My blog is interesting dammit!

“You are in the position to tell troublemakers to move on or get out of the book biz, and if possible, learn who the Liars are....

Please start by asking them to not muddy our waters with ugly suppositions and invalidated comments -- and to be impeccable with their words -- this would be an excellent practice of gratitude and most appreciated.

Some of the postings are obviously from unhappy unpublished/published individuals who deem it appropriate to share their pent up angst and intensely personal attacks on your blog. I've never understood why some writers feel that other people's success affects their lack of it.

Putting down editors and writers also displays a lack of knowledge about this industry. Romance is the most successful genre of all time because people have banded together with a collective consciousness to do good not evil. This is true camaraderie. I hope it continues or we will perish.

All publishers do their best. All authors do their best. My reviewers do their best. It's a plus for our community that this is so.

I know there are small minded people who have difficulty in loving what we do, even though it's what they want to do, In the long run they are spreading negativity about themselves.

Why not realize that authors are sensitive, and so are publishers -- and inflicting harmful words does all of us a disservice. I was attacked for starting a romance magazine. I was attacked for discovering Fabio and predicting he would be a household word. I was attacked for just about every successful thing I've accomplished.

But, it wasn't the men who attacked me in this business (with the exception of one crooked literary agent!!) but the women.
As Bertrice Small says to those women who tried to put her down: "Honey, I laugh all the way to the bank, they don't even have an account."”

OK, I get it, authors are sensitive, and Bertrice Small has lots of money. I love this whole learning about the industry thing, isn’t it fun?

“It's easy to spot jealousy, it's usually against the successes of our business. Our industry has always created tremendous resentment for those with small minds. They have no idea of the complexities of business, or they wouldn't go around complaining.


There is constructive criticism and there is destructive criticism. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know the difference.

Nothing goes in a straight line -- every problem is actually a situation in publishing. And every situation is a learning experience and an opportunity to grow.

My advice to authors who appear to be on a mean streak: The big picture is -- where do you want to fit in and how do you see yourself in our industry in five years? How do you see the industry if you're causing havoc and spreading a virus of negativity?
Put your energy on what you want, and don't waste the moment thinking so negatively of others. It hurts your peace of mind and is an obstacle to your success.

I believe our books and publishers provide enough categories and reviews to please ALL the many types of readers. Everyone has and deserves diverse reading choices and preferences.

Bloggers who have no idea of the work it takes to be an author and a publisher in today's competitive market should not be welcome on board. And if you check into the sales of some of the people you're "dissing" don't be surprised to see they sell well, or is that the reason they are the object of your disaffection?

Some people in our community do make more money and gather more acclaim but there's a reason -- they are more in touch with the readers and they are more positive.

They possibly work with positive energy at what they love. Fanaticism is the key to success. Publishers support winners and sales figures determines who stays and who goes. This isn't personal, this is business.”

Hey this woman is a business guru too, I love that whole fanaticism being the key to success, that may explain why Charles Manson was so darn successful…

“Primarily, successful writers do not dwell on rage and anger and others' discomfort. Personal attacks are not fodder or successful people but spring from the opposite personality type -- the loser displaying her anxieties and insecurities, the very things that holds her back from building a strong writing career.

I've learned in the past quarter of a century that truly successful people are compassionate and helpful. We have had some insensitive people writing sensitive books, but there's a reason if you look beyond.

One writer was the child of alcoholics, another makes millions but still lurks around the Internet because she has a tremendous need to be in control. One is suffering because her child died. Their actions deserve compassion.”

Would this be a good time to mention that my daddy left the house over six years ago, and didn’t come back because some truck driver caved his car in? Perhaps not, carry on…

“That's the way of the world. But they are not muddying our waters so that booksellers from Australia and newcomers have to hear about it. Compassion does not breed contempt.

New writers and new readers have an option the old-timers didn't have -- the use of the Internet. So use it to improve our slice of the publishing industry. Together we grow, separated we cut our chances.

To learn how to be positive and attract abundance, watch "The Secret" documentary. Today there is help in showing you how to attract the success you crave. And, believing in yourself is the essential trait, not behaving negatively.

You don't have to feel confused and resentful about a romance writing career if you are truly of good heart. Occupying your mind with ill thoughts or wallowng in attracting negative people and forming negative perceptions just continues to perpetuate the cycle of feeling unsuccessful.

Emotions make things happen, and the people on your posting should be aware that everyone's words have power; they come back to wreak havoc on the speakers, be it their health, wealth, or happiness. I've never seen it fail.

Perhaps the nay seekers should read Don Miguel Ruiz's book, about the Four Statements of Life. He says simply:

Your Words Should be Impeccable (they have power, don't voice negative things)
Don't Pass Judgment (it reveals self esteem)
Don't Take Things Personally (comments to hurt you are really the speakers self-thoughts)
Do Your Best”

Shit, this woman could be our new Oprah, she’s good.

"I have heard from several people on your post who are saddened by what they read today. One person mentioned has offered her resignation. Another is contemplatiing suicide. Is that what you intended for your blog? Do you want this on your conscience?

To most of us who devote our lives to publishing, romance is uplifting and increases joyfulness. These intensely negative and vituperative postings make our role so much harder and -- most important, cause booksellers and others to doubt their own dedication.

Anyone who thinks this kind of dialogue on a blog is valuable is truly sick in the heart and the head.

Everyone reflects our genre, particularly those who are vicious. You can help by encouraging bloggers to consider the repercussions of their actions before lashing out.

This action, be it name calling or hatred, only reflects the speaker's deep pent up anger that started long before their involvement with the romance community.

All writers should know that you can lose support faster than you can build it. So why should the builders ever spawn such negativity? Do you want publishers, booksellers and readers to doubt the validity of their commitment to the romance genre?

We should be aware that giving recognition to romance bloggers who spew vindictiveness that is personal and harmful, is out of line and out of place, and out of control. This attracts more of the same for the blogger, I might add. Like always attracts Like.

Blogs of this nature are harmful when they could be productive. Giving frustrated voices a place to say outrageous things to destroy is evil. Why not encourage frustrated women to spin to the positive?

I'm embarrassed that hardworking booksellers in Australia who authentically love romance novels and the romance authors had to learn that book bloggers endorse people offend our customers -- the booksellers and readers. Someone should stand up and say: I'm not taking this anymore."

Oh the drama…..

"Everyone is on such a "high" about the world of romance books after our Houston get together.

So many people, particularly authors and publishers, are passionately devoted to writing and promoting romance. We all spend long hours at the computers, to the point of endangering our health to be part of the romance community.

The blog in question that you posted, bashing one or more publishers and authors, is detrimental to the principles of romance.
If you have influence, please spend your time helping our romance community. People are sensitive and a string of suicides is not what is needed."

Take me to the gallows now, I am a bad, bad person!

"The bashing and airing of such personal attacks is a personal issue reflective of the writer and her rage. From what I see, people with an axe to grind are using you. They sound like (according to today's diatribes) rejected disgruntled suitors in a romance novel seeking to undermine good will. Why shouldn't your blog be used for fun and joy, not hatred and harmfulness?

I'm sure you didn't intend such a sad development, and can be more aware.

This bashing is reflective of personal dissatisfaction, not our book biz. They remind me of novel and movie villains who don't know they are wrong -- they think they are just guys trying to make it. However, like attracts like, and nothing good or positive can come out of inappropriate behavior.

It's such a "low" (after a week of "high") to hear that people are attacking and causing unnecessary dissension. WE (the Australian booksellers included) ask ourselves, what is the benefit of this?

We don't have time to pay much attention to blogs, but when we hear of people are upset by inconsiderate vicious bloggers who seem committed to spreading bad feelings instead of working in harmony for the good of all, it makes us wonder about who we are supporting with our businesses!!!

I salute those who say "I won't condone such viciousness about publishers and writers". And I warn all to be aware of hearing more pent up rage comments; the good will attract someone's wrath as this site has attracted a strange frustrated breed of bloggers.

If this kind of negative mood and behavior is allowed to spread, I predict that no one will care or dare to support romance in the future.

It will set us back years if we are portrayed as a bunch of jealous females baring their claws, upsetting our colleagues, and seemingly approving of a small group of savagely narcisstic women who can't stand to see other people succeed.

We know what to do: support our editors and publishers, support our booksellers and authors, or -- if you can't say "nice" -- say nothing. Your words have power, use them appropriately and you will benefit the romance book biz and be a standard bearer. Also, you'll benefit from peace of mind as well.

I wish you all peace and bliss....and the enlightenment to pass over a rough patch and avoid this ever happening again.

Kathryn Falk
CEO RT BookReviews Magazine
Rosemary and Margaret Booksellers”

OK guys, you can all come out now, she’s done. Wasn’t that an eye-opener? Hehehehehehehe…
Holy fucking fuckety-fuck.

Karen wrote an F review and is now making people kill themselves? We have to be constantly supportive to all people who are emotionally tied to their work, and if you are not supportive I have the right to call you a killer of people? If I didn't like a book I am jealous of the entire industry and am conspiring to bring it to its knees? If I didn't like a book written by a woman, and say so, then I am a hater of all women?

Internal inconsistency anyone?

If I had a way to type the outraged scream I delivered as I read this dimwitted letter I would type it all in capitals and in bold right here. But "AGGGHHH!" doesn't seem appropriate.

You know what really steams me about this, is that it's all couched in super emotional terms about the needs of women and how we all need to support each other because we aw week wittle women who neeeed to be huggled and kissled and babied into producing anything of merit.

Fuck you too. I work goddamned hard at my job wherein I represent the public as a woman, a mother, and a smart capable person. I do not cry in public meetings. I do not expect people to cajole me into agreeing with them by giving me back rubs. I do not make decisions which will benefit only my family because I'm a mommy.

How DARE this woman say that any criticism levelled against me or a friend of mine will make them consider suicide. How DARE this woman imply that I need to be protected from myself. How DARE this woman say that she represents businessWOMEN competing against big baddy businessMEN. You don't represent ME. How DARE you say that you do.

When my mother became a lawyer in the early 1970s, she always went to court wearing a suit with a skirt. She was told repeatedly that to be taken seriously in a Man's World that she should dress like a man and wear pants. (Remember those Annie Hall ties?) Judges would say this to her. Opposing attorneys would say this to her.

She made it a rule for almost twenty years in her office that no one in her employ was to wear pantsuits. She was to be respected for the intelligence of her arguments and for her ability to advocate for her clients' needs. And women were perfectly capable of writing an excellent brief, researching the law, and presenting a case in open court. They were not to be coddled. Therefore, she was going to dress as a professional woman: in a skirt, with pantyhose and spectator pumps.

I just want to punch women who come to Board meetings and cry. We had a business officer who would wipe away tears if you questioned her numbers. What? You aren't ready to defend your numbers? You want me to go easy on you because you're a fragile young thing wearing mascara? The State doesn't care that your mascara is running when they analyze the budget, why should I care that you're upset?

And this bit REALLY pisses me off: I am certainly aware of the function of blogs, but Romance Books are not a Political forum. We are a fantasy business that reflectsEverywoman . She doesn't want sadness, discontent, fighting and negativity in her life, for that she watches the news or reads the newspapers. Our writers and editors are sometimes fragile, as the line of our work is pure emotion.

If you are so fucking FRAGILE then don't enter the workforce, and don't expect me to lay down and make life easy for you. What about women lawyers who represent a mentally ill client who has been tied down in four point restraints for Three Weeks because she fought back against an orderly's sexual advance? My mom represented such a woman. Do you think she just turned around and left her client to stew in her own urine because it was sad to see her treated so? What about female doctors who have to go through medical school? Or female Ph.D. candidates who have to defend a thesis? Think there's some anxiety and discontent there? Should they not be allowed to achieve these goals because the "Everywoman" doesn't like strife? Are they not CAPABLE of achieving these things?

Should I as a politician limit myself to discussions of the Kindergarten day because I'm a mommy? Am I not capable of discussing larger issues? Am I not capable of saying, "That is the stupidest idea I have ever had the misfortune to be asked to consider, and I will fight you tooth and nail to ensure that it never comes into this District." Would that hurt the presenter's feeeeelings? Am I a mean lady for saying so? Would I cause that person to consider suicide? Is it MY fault if the person does?


This post is waaaaaay too long, but obviously this crap set me off.

How DARE this idjut go after ANYONE for stating an opinion and then make it seem as if women are only capable of fluttering around in pretty dresses at a tea party, discussing the positive benefits of their works of charity. Damn.

Must. Go. Calm. Down.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

More Salt

I had about five conversations about my son yesterday with various people who have been working with him. I cried very early on in all of them.

So Professional.

I really fucking hate crying. Hate it. Makes my voice all squeaky. But giving anyone an update makes me cry because I'm just that worn down.

OK. But the good news is that after talking to the Sup and the Director of Special Ed, they are going to go pull some strings with county public health services to get a doctor to write a prescription for this kid. (Wanna hear the latest hurdle? Before Public Health can write a script, the child is supposed to have been in therapy with a school psychologist for Six Months. Watch Suisan start racing around the room screaming.) They're going to try to knock down that latest hurdle by saying that he's been in private therapy that long and The School now faces a crisis situation by virtue of the fact that he's not meeting his IEP goals and is acting out on the playground.

Also, the school psychologist (who's something of a gossip. Damn.) is going to simultaneously talk to the Kaiser case manager and the Kaiser psychiatrist to get them off their butts. I have an appointment tomorrow at Kaiser psychiatry.

When I first spoke to school psychologist she told me that Director of Special Ed was looking to place my son in a County special ed class about two hours away. My heart sank. This class is set aside for seriously disturbed or traumatized kids--the violent ones too. Oh great. THAT's what my son needs.

So when I spoke to Dir of Special Ed later in the day, I brought up the County classroom and asked, "Is that the next step for him?"

"Oh, No! I would never send him there. No. That's not for your son. He's sweet." She went on to say that she had been looking for an alternative placement for him, but that programs which concentrated on the bright children were not interested in kids with behavior problems, and that programs for anxiety-prone kids, at least in our county, were not going to meet his needs academically. Sort of what I found when I was looking for straight private school. Then she said, with her cute lisp, "What we need is a Sweet Anxious program. Just sweet. Calm, you know. Not a DRAMA Anxious program. No drama for your son. Sweet kid."

She's widening her search geographically. Which could mean a lo-o-o-ong bus ride if he gets a placement, but if it works, then who am I to argue?

Personally, I'm still feeling like shit, but logically, it's good to see so many people pulling together to help me out through this.


You hear funny stories when you're meeting with the Director of Special Ed and the Superintendent. Apparently there's a mother in the District who's an expert at diagnosing her child off the internet. She has written a letter requesting that no one on staff touch her child (for what reason I'm unclear). BUT, she has also determined that he had a seizure while at home one afternoon. No one has any proof that a) it happened or b) it was a seizure, as she did not call 911 nor did she take the child to the doctor after the seizure was done.

So she goes on the internet, diagnoses seizure, and then to her health food store where she picks up some concoction in a suppository format. Drops the child off at school with instructions that if he seizes that the staff is to administer the suppository.

Ummm. Without touching him? The child's a first grader.

The Director of Special Ed starts the pantomime. She crouches down and puts her arms out to the side as if she's trying to herd cats. "OK, Johnny. Now pull your pants down. STOP SEIZING! That's right, pull them down. Now your undies. STOP SEIZING! Now bend over." She puts her hands on her knees, drops her chin to her chest and starts giggling at this point, "Oh no. We're not going to get into any trouble at all doing this. What is the mother THINKING?"

The Superintendent says, "Well, since we're not sure that he actually seized, can we just stick these chamomile things up her butt? Maybe it will calm her down."

They made me laugh. (OK. At someone else's expense, but hey.) And that's always a good thing.