Thursday, November 04, 2004

Geoff's Bungee Tree

So, I'm in here doing my homework, researching webquests and stuff, and I decide to go make a cup of tea. I look out the window to Geoff's tree, where Geoff is looking rather stuck.

He was standing on his blue bin, which he uses to get to the first branch and gain access to the limbs and sky above. He was on his tippy-toes, and had the king of all wedgies.

I figured he'd gotten the back of his pants stuck on one of the little nubs sticking out of the bottom branch and couldn't get himself undone. This has happened twice since Junior Treeboy has learned to climb, both times resulted in him ripping the seat out of his trousers. I decided I'd better go out and free him before pair of trousers 3 was torn.

Upon approach, I discovered he was hooked to the end of a bungee cord. The other end disappeared up into the branches above him.

Dude had bungee jumped out of the tree.

"Honey," I said as I undid the hook from the back of his khakis, "this isn't a good place to bungee jump out of."

"I know," he answered, "I have to put the hook up higher so it works better."

"Uh, no," I reply, "this tree is not a good place, there are branches, and the bungee cord is designed for securing camping equipment, not for holding an 80 pound body as it plunges to earth. You're going to break your head, break your face, break your back, break your neck or die if you do this again. Please don't."

"But mom," he argues, "I want to bungee jump. That's a bungee cord. I know how to jump. I'm just putting them together."

I maintained my composure as I explained the mechanics of a REAL bungee cord, the kind designed for jumping. And I explained how this one doesn't have proper hooks to keep it on the branch or whatever else it would be secured to. And I explained that bungee jumping is a very precise sport, with safety equipment, helmets, and all sorts of stuff. He told me he wants to go do it one of these days, meaning today.

Doug said recently "I have the horrible feeling we're going to outlive him."

Doug may be right.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

A Bloody Let Down

"Then it comes to be that the soothing light
at the end of your tunnel
is just a freight train coming your way."

You know what's coming.

You read the entry title. You read the bleak Metallica quote. You don't have to read any further if you don't want to.

This morning I had an interview with Principal One at one of the two elementary schools in the district that the position I interviewed for would be covering.

She and I got along well, I gave what I consider to be an excellent interview. She told me that either she or the Super Nintendo would be calling me, but that she wanted to send this up to the next level to Principal Two to have him interview me.

Cloud 9. Very happy.

The phone just rang. The Super Nintendo stated that they've decided that the double whammy of me not being certified and me not having any experience teaching really precludes them from hiring me. Even as a long-term sub. And he was sorry for that but they have to answer to No Child Left Behind and the parents in the district who would see "Unqualified" on the list and freak out.

So, I don't get the third interview. And I don't get the job.

See, the thing that bums me out the most is I'm TAKING the MTEL C&L in two WEEKS.

I'll be certified. That's 50% of the whammy right there. Aaron is a little suspicious that they may not be telling me the truth about why they don't feel it's right to hire me.

And, the other thing that kind of gets my frilly pantaloons in a bunch is the concept of "Unqualified" vs. "Qualified."

I know PLENTY of people in education who are certified, with 20 yrs experience teaching, Masters Degrees, and all sorts of "credentials" who are the crappiest teachers on the face of the planet. End. Of. Story. People who have said out loud in my presence "I hate these friggin kids, and if you think I'm joking..."

People who got into it at one point, were interested at the start, and have lost their drive, interest and passion all together.

People who are only in it because they can't do anything else, because they are used to the rhyme and the run routine (to steal from the Beasties). They are the walking dead, waiting for their retirement, sadly in 10 years. 10 more years of them teaching your kids and my kids and his kids and those kids. Kids who deserve to walk into the computer lab to ME as an instructor.

But, based upon the criteria of "No Child Left Behind" they are qualified. And I am not.


So I'm a tad blue, because I mentally was preparing for my first week. I was spiritually feeling uplifted and ready to walk in there and work with the teachers and kids. I had an idea of what would be expected of me, and I say it with more passion than John Kerry... "Bring It On!"

And, I was spending my paycheck on all the cool stuff I need in life. Cool things like a pool. Jessica's college tuition. MY college tuition. A trip to Florida at Christmastime. New Shoes. Dog food.

Bleurgh. Meh. And double poopie. Hello Freight Train.

Geoff is having his Freight Train issues today too.

We stopped in at the school today because he was worried about making sure he knew where his class is. He very much wanted to walk through where to go, and see where things are. I told him his class is up the hall from where he was last year, same hallway, end of the hall on the right.

But he wasn't resting assured.

And because I'm the kind of mommy I am, I drove him over there to take a look around. (Plus, I wanted to look at the lab there, because at that time I believed myself a shoe-in for the job, and would be spending about 3-4 days a week at that particular school).

We ran into his reading specialist, who was thrilled to see us. She informed me of two major changes that will impact Geoff to the extreme.

First, his teacher for this year upcoming was promoted to Assistant Principal. On Monday. Day before yesterday. Wham. Change.

They don't have a replacement for her. No lie. So, Geoff stood there with his mouth hanging open, stunned. He was so psyched to have this woman for his teacher, and now... who knows?

And, secondly, she herself had been promoted to the Special Ed Coordinator for the school. She wasn't going to be returning as his Reading and Math teacher. She'd still be involved in his education, but, she wouldn't be the person working with him. It took a long time for him to get used to her, and for her to "get" him, but she does. She totally does. And I'm devastated to lose her as such a person in his daily life at school.

Geoff does NOT deal well with the unscheduled, the different, the monkeywrench. Change and Geoff are not friends. Going from first to second grade was change enough for him to handle... but right now, there are two unexpected factors that could blow the lid off of his well-balanced little existence.

I'm glad I found out about this today, instead of him walking into class on Wednesday of next week and saying "Wait a minute, YOU aren't Mrs. X!!!" and him freaking out and running down the hall to Mrs. First Grade teacher for safety.

We've got some time to work on him. Prepare him. Talk about it. Work on it... I spent a good deal of time talking with him this afternoon, and he's still confused and unhappy. He was really looking forward to having this teacher. I told him that she'll still be there, just in a different capacity, and that he can get to know her (hopefully not by being disciplined!) but that he needs to think about how exciting it will be to have Mystery Teacher, and kind of look at it as a fun opportunity.

The reading specialist told me that the school is courting a former teacher to return... she went off and had a baby 2 years ago, and I guess they really would like for her to return.

Thing is, Jessica had her for 4th grade. And I have a deep and sinking suspicion that Geoff will Eat Her Alive. I found her to be mousy and timid... and he'll smell that in her, and start chomping. Not good.

So... that's still up in the air. I'm slightly annoyed that the parents in the class have not received a phone call from the teacher now Assistant Principal herself, letting us know of the change... You think we'd be the first she'd want to inform. Perhaps she still has that planned. The start of school is a full week away. There's still time for her to make that call. I'd love to congratulate her and introduce myself... I have a feeling Geoff will be in her office the first week.

We could get to know one another as well as I got to know her predecessor.

I'm back at square one for a job search. I still need to register for my graduate classes and my MAT. I may just dive head-first into all of this education stuff, and just let the situation with this district slide off to the side. I've got a ton of work to do. Better get to it.

Thanks for listening to me whine.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Vermont Cachings

Yes, we geocached this weekend.

On Saturday, when we learned the forecast would be 70s and sunny with no humidity, Doug started to plan our trip. He asked me where I wanted to go, and I answered:


"Why?" he asked.

"We've never gone there to geocache, and I'm sick of New Hampshire. I'd like to go somewhere different. Let's go to Vermont."

And because my husband is wonderful and sweet, he gave me what I wanted. We headed out to the far west, cached in NH, MA and VT, did six total, and all told, it was the BEST day of geocaching we as a family have ever had.

There was danger. Oh yes there was. We were in NH at Pulpit Falls, and the rocks were slippy and we had to cross the falls, and it was precarious and Kinger was scared shitless. Then, we got across and realized we didn't NEED to cross, so we had to go back. Jack ran all over the woods and in and out of the water like crazy. At one point I couldn't see him but could hear him whimpering... he had managed to get his self stuck in the bottom whirlpool of the falls, and couldn't swim out.

Stupid. Freaking. Dog.

I was about to go down and rescue his furry ass when he freed himself and ran up the cliffs like a greased nitro powered billy goat. I'm tellin' ya. That dog is The Crazy.

But, it was the most beautiful spot we've cached in a long time, and the terror factor was well worth it to me.

We did some historically significant caches, all surrounding King Philip and his efforts to rid the Pioneer Valley of settlers before he finally gave up and moved to Rhode Island to focus his efforts there.

We then crossed up into Vermont, did our very first VT cache, and spent a ton of time trying to approach a second cache on some unpaved roads... We had to give up after like an hour of driving around and either dead ending or heading to Private Roads... we came back into MA and approached from the south, up more dirt roads but to the correct end result. Doug said to me "my weekend is not complete until I find a dirt road to drive on..." So Slate Rock Road in Guilford or Vernon, wherever you are... thank you for being that dirt road this weekend.

We got to walk around a gorgeous pond (Sweets Pond) and find a really well stocked cache container, with a KANSAS belt buckle. Oh I swear I should have taken it. The kitch factor ALONE is priceless. But I left it.

We did our last cache in VT, and came back into MA and had a great pizza dinner that couldn't be beat.

Then, the drive home.

We were west of I-91, which means we were in Far Western Bongolia and it would take days to drive back here... well, hours.

It was worth the trip. I wish we'd left earlier in the day to do our excursions. We had three more caches planned but ran out of daylight.


If you recall our trip to Dogtown last weekend wherein I was enemy to the fungi and hated them, my husband, and geocaching with unrivaled passion, you'll find it amusing to know I looked forward to whatever bizarre mold Doug was finding on this trip. They made me smile, and I saw many shrooms of wonderful colors. Some big enough to put books and bookends upon to shelf up my living room.

And Jessica didn't complain once, except that she had to pee. And we took care of that. So for Jessica to be relatively complaint free, damn. That's a good trip!

So it was the best outing in recent history, recollection, memory. Yay for Team Screamapillar. Top that off with part of an interview with me and many other geocachers in the area running in the local paper this weekend, and it's kind of cool. Now that it's being taught at a local college and feature articles are being written about geocaching, it's all VH1 and it's over, like Krumping, or Vanilla Ice.


The article has only one error that I can see, she states I attribute my 50lb weightloss to geocaching. Not so. 35lbs on Atkins combined with exercise in the form of geocaching is more like it. But. That's okay.

Anyway. I'm going to go play with Geoff and his binoculars. More later.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Job Interview Roundup

I was about 10 minutes early for my interview, he was about 15 minutes late. No worries. I read a history of Scotland which was on the waiting area table. Great enjoyment in that. Lots of fun.

First thing I knew to do was dispel any doubts he had about me as someone without certification, experience and Masters. His questions were easy to answer, and I took them and ran. Spouted my desire to assist teachers in developing sound and reliable pedagogical goals yadda yadda. What I live, breathe and do well. Teaching teachers. And we talked about the kids, and what they learn during the year. I told him how I'd interviewed Jessica, and that she had no recollection of what she did in Computer class before third grade. We pondered the necessity of having K-2 computer classes at all, if not just to play games and have the children get acquainted with the use of the tool.

We talked about town politics, about the crotchety old man who will stand up at town meeting and decry the need for a technology teacher, and how I'd handle that situation. It was a great deal of fun.

He informed me that he was very impressed with me, my skill set, my knowledge base, my goal towards my Masters, and everything -- and wanted me to interview next with the principal of the elementary school that shares this position.

I am waiting to hear from principal number one at the first school. Principal number two may not have the time to meet me, as he's just started and getting settled in.

He then started talking salary. I have a personal philosophy to NEVER ask what a job pays in the first interview. He made it a point to let me know "What you'll be getting paid when..."

I'm thinking "If," but he's saying "When."

I have zero years teaching experience, a bachelor's degree, and this is my first year. Starting salary is $32,200. Mind you, that is for 180 days worth of work. Which works out in the end to $25.55 an hour.

The big issue in all of this is that I wouldn't be hired as a teacher. I'd be hired as a "long term substitute." Which means a number of things. One, I'm ineligible for insurance, retirement, short/long term disability. Okay, I can deal with that. Second, I am ineligible for the teacher's union, which in theory I'm cool with but if I ever need "protection" I don't get any, end of conversation. And finally, if the more qualified candidate crawls out of the woodwork halfway through the school year, I'm liable to be let go in deference to hiring the more qualified candidate.

It's a risk I'm willing to take, and I told him I'm fine with all of the above.


In short, I'm still hopefully speculative, wildly optimistic, and on egg shells this weekend as I doubt the principal will call me before Monday.

As usual, I'll keep you posted. I am so confident after talking to the super nintendo that I will be the perfect person for this job. Absolutely perfect. Keep your fingers crossed until they cramp, boys & girls. We shall see what comes to pass.

In the meantime, today is an icky nasty rainy day. The storms that were forecast for yesterday afternoon passed just to the south of us with their purple, red, orange and yellow echoes on the Doppler map. We didn't get anything but distant thunder.

I went to bed around 11:30 last night (more Beavis & Butthead action on MTV2, thank you very much), and at about four was shocked out of bed by a huge clap of thunder and lightning akin to a disco nightclub show in the 70s. Flashing without ceasing. It took me a long time to get back to sleep... today hasn't been thundery at all, but it could kick up again this afternoon. We may be home-bound for the day...

I may try and get some school shopping done for the kids. Then again, we may just clean Geoff's room and play Playstation.

I'll update when I can, if there's news to tell. Thank you all for the well wishes, from Sugarmelon to Jo to Annie and Gandalf. I can feeeeeel the love.

Have a nice day, in spite of any of your weather.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Ninja School

I made a phone call after I posted my last entry.

I called the Assistant Superintendent (that's Super Nintendo to you Simpsons Fans) to talk about the open Elementary level Technology Teacher position in our district. I left him a longwinded voice mail about my interest in the position.

Lo and behold, to my shock and awe, he called me back.

I really didn't expect to hear from him. He informed me that he'd met that morning with the principals of the two schools that the position services. My son's school and another school in the district.

We talked about No Child Left Behind and the expectations these two towns put on the school district to hire only those teachers who fit in the "Highly Qualified" category, long term subbing, certification, testing, my experience with small kids (for those long term readers, think back to February 2002 and the Pudding Incident).

I jumped online while I was talking to him and registered for the September 11th teacher's test instead of the November 20th. Once my confirmation appeared on the screen I let him know I'd be taking it on that date.

He asked me to obtain three letters of reference and send him my resume, and come in for an interview on Friday.

Which is today.

I've yet again talked my way into another interview. I'm incredibly excited, but totally tweaking about this. Not only have I now given myself two weeks to prepare for the teacher's exam, but I've also got to go interview and talk about my ability to teach at the elementary level.

So I interviewed my daughter.

She's gone through the Elementary Technology program. I asked her what she learned each year. Basically, I now know the curriculum expectations (keyboarding in 3rd grade, research online in 4th and 5th, PowerPoint in 6th...) and I feel I can address how I'd deal with each of these skill introductions at the grade levels in question.

She also told me that there was no computer teacher last year, that the computer aide did the work, and the teachers of the individual classes would sometimes teach their kids. Sometimes they wouldn't have computer class at all. I was surprised.

So, wish me luck.

I really want this job. And the fact that he's even willing to bring in a person without her Masters and Certification means one of two things:

1. I wowed him in our initial discussion?
2. They're desperate?

I'm opting for the first.

I'm even bringing along my "Best Sudstatote Teacher Ever" paper that a girl made for me two years ago. I saved it for a reason.

The thing that now has me tripping out the most is the fact school starts in two weeks. In two weeks I could be gainfully employed. I could have a job that will run until June 17th with me going to school in the evenings. I very well could have all of our financial problems solved.

If I get this job.

It's all speculation at this point. I'm excited and anticipatory, and willing. Totally willing. Totally thrilled.

And totally terrified.

So I called upon CM and Dr. Bobby K to write me the first of my two letters of recommendation. No brainers there. The one person who truly has worked with me and knows my teaching skills, and my high-school best buddy who is King Of All Things Guidance And Education, thank you very much.


And I didn't know who to call for number three. The director of the pre-school where Geoff went and I subbed in 2003 for a while is retired. The vice-principal who was in charge of the elementary school in the town where I subbed in 2002 is retired. I was hanging and twisting in the breeze wondering who could be my third reference.

Yesterday I spent the day with the lovely C at her cabin in New Hampshire. We were down the pond, Geoff swimming and Jessie sitting in the shade to keep her white skin unmarked by the evil sun, when I suddenly hear someone call my name.

Surely, there's another Christine here...

But no, it was me, and I turn around to see Geoff's first grade teacher waving frantically at me.

Holy cow! Not only is it cool to see her, but THERE'S REFERENCE NUMBER THREE!

Who better than someone in the school? Who better than someone I chaperoned trips for, spent time in the class with, talked to all day every day about Geoff and teaching and learning? Why didn't I think of her earlier.

Her son is friends with a kid whose family has a cabin at the camp (totally a non-sequitor, but, C says they're nogoodniks that other family there). So she was picking him up and saw us. It's as if she was hand-delivered to me by God Himself. I was thrilled. Thank you lawd jeeezus!

So I asked her -- She's thrilled that I'm applying for the job and was more than happy to recommend me. Hopefully she got that letter in, and it is there waiting for me to come in at 1pm and stand up to.

We met with our financial advisor for our final meeting in the planning phase. Step one was to get our retirement accounts organized. Because Doug and I have job-hopped all over the place, we had seven different retirement plans between the two of us.

We have all our ducks in the proverbial row, the IRA accounts are open, the funds transferred from all the different locations where they were scattered across the country.

Step two was security -- we opened up life insurance policies, which is something I've personally never had. Doug has one that his dad opened on him when he was much younger. It's a relief. While I dislike the concept of either of us being dead, it's nice to know that the house and the education of both weiner kids will be secure later in life.

Funny Geoff anecdote to stick in here. Doug decided that I should bring the kids with me down to the meeting and that we'd go out to dinner afterwards.

The financial advisor asked Geoff what he wanted to study in college, and he said he wants to go to Ninja School. Garnered some good laughs. All the financial advisor guys were walking around saying hi to him and calling him "Big Guy." He was in his glory. I thought it was kinda corny. But, he loved it.

Geoff was suffering through this whole process. Meetings are boring, even for grown-ups. Jessie brought a book with, Geoff had his Gameboy, but that held his attention just so long. He was painfully bored. Can't say as I blame him... at one point he said "Can we GET THE HECK OUTTA HERE!!!??? in the middle of our advisor's spiel on retirement and what we'll have left at age 80 with the set up we have today, and how this time next year it will be exponentially blah blah blah...

Luckily our financial guy is a real doll, and was a bored 7 year old boy at one point too.

His partner financial guy was filling out the life insurance forms with us and asking us all the usual health questions. Do you have diabetes? Do you have chest pains? Do you have muscle or joint pain? Do you have... you know, all those medical questions.

As he's rattling them off, Geoff interjects "Do you glow in the dark?" in this completely deadpan, spot-on financial advisor voice.

We all busted a gut. My son has the perfect comic timing sometimes. As we were driving home we made up more questions "Do you lay eggs?" stuff like that.

It was quite funny. At least I thought so.

Step three is for us to aggressively start beating down the debt. I've got a call into our mortgage company to open an equity line and get a ton of cash to pay off all our high interest credit debt and one of our high interest car loans (our truck is at 8%, the VW is at 3.7%, so the truck loan goes).

After talking extensively with the loan guy, he can secure us an equity line of $75,000, which would do the following:

1. pay off all the high interest credit debts
2. pay off the truck
3. pay for graduate school
4. leave money left over to hire someone to fix my house

All for less than $500 a month. That versus the over $1500 a month we're paying on the first two alone. And basically, with me employed, (hopefully, speculating...) the plan would be to still throw $1500 a month at the equity line, and that would be paid off in two years.

Or, we pay the minimum on the equity line and start Step four, which is to start stockpiling money into a Roth IRA for Jessica for college. And eventually, Geoff for college.

Or Ninja School.

So I need to rework my resume now. I need to put on a load of laundry, shower, glow in the dark. More later folks. I'm sure I'll have a report back after the interview.


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

MAT scores and Grad School

My children are home. I'm so happy.

I missed them horribly. No, seriously. I did. I know you don't think so. But I did.

I had my graduate school meeting yesterday morning, and it took a lot less time than I thought it would.

The advisor told me that I need to take the Millers Analogy Test and the MTEL (Mass. Test for Educator Licensure) Communication and Literacy Skills Test, and then after a certain period of time I can take my subject test to get certification in that particular field (Educational Technology).

So there are two exams in my immediate future.

The MTEL Communication and Literacy Skills Test is Nov. 20th, the day after I turn 38. If I wanted to pay a late fee, I could take it on Sept. 11th. I don't know that I'd be prepared for it in such a short period of time. I'd have to seriously think about that. Doug thinks I can walk into it today and get a 90 or higher. I'd like to know what is being thrown my way before I take it... ya know?

I can take the MAT at any time.

I could even take it the day after tomorrow, the guy tells me.

"But don't I need to study for it?" I ask him, shocked that he'd even suggest I walk into it.

He laughs, "You need to get a 45 or higher on it."

"Out of what?"


Really now.

I think I'm going to like this. I think I can get less than half right. Heh.

As for the MTEL... I think I may need to prepare for this. I don't even know what is ON it. There are a couple of study guides out in the world, so I may have to go plunk down some cash for a book.

I don't want to walk into it blindly and fail miserably.

In the meantime, I'm wondering if I can talk my way into an interview for the Technology Teacher position in my kids' school district. With all this stuff pending, I may be able to say "Look, hire me." And make a case for myself that would have them waive the certification requirement.

The advisor at the graduate school seems to think that school districts do this all the time. It's up to the individual school district. So I am going to make a few calls and see where I get.

Wish me luck.

Seeing as the meeting was so short, I managed to grab a ferry an hour earlier than I'd planned, which was great. It was a gorgeous day, the weather was flawless. I had my GPS with me and I could see islands that seemed to me to be hundreds of miles away. I don't ever remember it being so clear on a ferry crossing.

And there on the other side was my mom and my kids, waiting for me. I had wanted to spend a little time with mom, perhaps have a late lunch/early dinner.

"I'm not hungry." She says to me.

I just don't get it. It's not about hungry, it's about spending time. Obviously, my mom doesn't grasp social situations the way I do.

So. Okay. Whatever.

We got on the very same boat and left for the return trip... All the better, it meant I'd get home an hour earlier, at least.

The kids and I had a ton of fun on the hour and a half crossing. They behaved wonderfully, and I am really pleased with how it went. Having Geoff cooped up for 90 minutes can go either way. We went on a Dog Petting walk, seeing as there were dozens of dogs there. And we did a ton of sight reading, checking out every sign on every item on the boat. We named some of the islands which didn't appear on our GPS but were out there. Dog Island and Georgetown Island are now official names in our book. Screw their real names.

We got home at 8 and got pizza and wings. I was happy to go to bed, and happy to hear Geoff welcome Doug to the world of the living this morning when Doug got up for work.

I left all the kids' stuff and my graduate school stuff in Doug's car. Duh. I can't do their laundry or fill out forms and look at stuff online with the webpages they gave me. I can't register online or by phone for a class. I can't take Geoff to the beach because his swimsuit is in the bag in the trunk.

I hate when I'm dead to the world in the morning and Doug leaves... I always wake up just as he's leaving, spend about 2 minutes wondering what the hell I'm missing, and he drives away. Just as I sit up and say


Must make note to self -- bring stuff in house the night before. You'd think I'd have figured that out by now.

While my kids were away, I had plans. I had big plans to empty their rooms of crap and paint. But websites and meetings got in the way, and I found myself not doing anything with my should-be-productive time. My only regret is that I didn't get a coat of primer on either of their bedrooms.

I received an interesting email from a park ranger at Acadia this week. Seems our Sleestack Seastack Geocache is in park territory, and he confiscated it.

Crap. I thought it wasn't.

But, I'm not going to argue with him. I contacted Aaron and asked him to go get it. We've retired the cache, and I'm kind of sad because it's in such a cool place. Aaron seemed a bit wary of going and retrieving the cache from the guy, I think he thinks we may get fined for it. I hope not.

Well, I can't think of anything else interesting to say. I hear the dulcet tones of "Harvest Moon" coming from the Playstation 2, and Jessica is happy to be playing her favorite game. And Geoff is running with his commentary on her farming skills and Pokemon.

My kids are home. I am going to spend some time with them. And we need a trip to Sam's because we're down to our last three inches of TP.

More later.

Monday, August 16, 2004

I'm too expensive

Well, that was a complete and total waste of my time.

I just drove up to NH to meet with the guys who were hiring me to do their lesson plan for training on Outlook.

They've changed their minds, seems I'm too expensive. Or, at least, me writing the lesson plan part of things is too expensive. They may still need me to do the training, but, they'll write the lesson plan.

They wanted to pay me as a consultant, so I quoted them $50 an hour, with a cap of 15 hours development time... which I felt very reasonable. Seeing as half of what I'd get as a 1099 consultant would be going directly to my taxes, it's nice to have some actual income to put into my pocket for my efforts.

The temp agency wanted to bill them directly, and I guess I'd make around $25 per hour through them, which is fine because that's all W2 in the end.

Either way, it's too expensive for them to have me do it for them. Sucks to be me. I thought I'd get a nice paycheck for my efforts.

Drats and double drats.

So, I drove south on I-95 and dropped into Newburyport to pick up an application for the Life Is Good store. We were there last weekend and they had the help wanted shingle in the window. Well, of course, because I didn't pick up the application that day, they filled the position.

The thing that kicks me in the metaphorical nuts is the fact that they're specifically looking for someone for WEEK DAY HOURS. They have plenty of weekend/evening help.

Dude, I'm so available during the days in the week time. The girl sighed heavily, knowing I would be the ultimate perfect person... but. They have someone.

She took my name and information anyway... who knows.

I stopped by the administration building for our school district and picked up Substitute Teaching forms. I think that will be my best option for getting some money, AND the time I spend subbing will count towards the full year of teaching I'll have to do for my Masters.

Can't hurt. I wonder if they'll count the classes I've taught at the college and the subbing I did 2 years ago as part of the hours logged. I figure heck, I've got a ton of hours if I sit down and add it up. Dang.

The district is hiring a Elementary Grade level Technology teacher, but I'd have to have my certification, thanks to the "No Child Left Behind" act. Screw you George W. I'm perfectly qualified, but how do I get certification without hours of teaching under my belt? I thought in Massachusetts they were dying for qualified teachers!

I asked about provisional certification, and the secretary stated that she didn't think they'd bring me in just with the fact I'm going for my Masters in Ed...

She wanted me to talk with the superintendent (Super Nintendo, for your Simpsons fans) but he was tied up. I left my name and number. We'll see if he calls.

In the meantime, Professor CM from the College, my partner in technology education instruction, has written a grant. A big FAT grant. One that will solve ALL of our woes. It would make me the director of some program thingie which trains teachers in their own school labs on how to integrate technology into the classroom.

CM applied for this grant two years ago, and it was rejected. Since then, Gov. Mitt Romney has put through all kinds of huge technology in education initiatives, and they all have the school districts clamoring to get teachers trained in the manner we'd train them.

It would mesh perfectly with the Masters program I'm enrolling in, and he says he's earmarked $60,000 a year for the director position, over a three year period (dude. Half of that would go into taxes, but with a creative tax accountant I could totally score). He's already told me that I'll be the director. Hands down, no other interviewees. But we have to wait for the grant to be approved. There's a good chance it will be, but... When? When when when?

Grrr. That job would solve everything.

Anyway -- this has not been a red letter day for me. I'm unhappy that I spent the time driving up to the guys to find out they won't need me (dude, email? phone? smoke signals? ESP?).

But, I'll play Mary Sunshine here and let you know I got interviewed this morning by the Lawrence Eagle Tribune for a story that they'll be running this Sunday upcoming. About...


HA! yes.

I got interviewed about geocaching. And it'll be in the paper. Rock. On.

If I'm not about bellyaching, you KNOW I'm about geocaching. So, watch your paper if you live in the Merrimack Valley.

Anyway -- lunch time. I may make chicken salad and try not to burn the house down like I did the last time I tried to make it. More later.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Getting lost while Geocaching...

What a busy assed week.

My feet are wonderfully tan and super sexy right now. I just need to paint my toes to get that full and complete summertime whore look. And I'll be stylie. In my humble opinion.

Anyway -- that picture makes me smile. And sometime in the dead of December when it is a billion below zero, I'll look at it and remember the smell of the beach, the summer sun, the tan tops of my feets...

Most of that tan came from Geocaching. I wear the sandals when hiking. They're excellent all-terrain footwear. And they come in handy when you want to walk through a creek without worrying about ruining your shoes. I am not a woman who loves fashion and names (I'm no Carrie on Sex in the City in other words).

But. I love my hiking sandals. I wear them with dresses (I'm so academia, aren't I?) No fashion sense here... just happy tan assed feet. If I've got nothing else going for me, it's my happy feet.

I talked to my sister today. She took my kids to the Aquarium, and Geoff was in TSO, or Total Sensory Overload. When one has ADHD, it's hard to process stuff. So he was zinging. A woman asked Linda for directions, and Linda said that she wasn't from around there and didn't know.

Well, if you're a Barenaked Ladies fan, like my son, you KNOW what comes next. Recall if you will Ed's little anecdote from the end of Rock Spectacle, where a woman asks him "Excuse me, do you know where the Bryant Street Theatre is?" And he doesn't know because he's not from around there... so she says "Aw, fer Chrissakes!" etc.

Turns up in the end, after reflecting on her attitude towards him, Ed wanted to find her and and say "Lady, you're an idiot!"

Well, as they walked away, Geoff yelled "Aw, fer Chrissakes! Lady, You're an Idiot!"

He is no longer allowed to listen to the extended hidden track of "If I had $1,000,000". End of conversation.

What follows is complete hyperbole. Because I'm that kind of gal.

Geocaching on Saturday was an adventure and a half, and boy am I glad the kids were at the Aquarium driving Auntie Lee Lee crazy instead of driving ME crazy. Geoff would have handled things in stride, but Jessie would have wept like a whipped puppy. How do I know? Well, this trip almost made me cry. Me. The hardcore seasoned off-road bushwhacking geocacher. I almost wept and sobbed.

Let me 'splain.

We headed back out to Dogtown in Gloucester (really, if you live in the area, you SO have to go visit. The boulders rock. HA! funny). There are dozens of caches hidden in this relatively small area. We did some with Geoff a couple weeks ago, and we figured we'd head back and do some more. We were looking for "body count" on this trip. We had hoped to hit 11 or more caches in one trip.

We got five.

After our fifth cache, Doug and I took the main trail to the south and East, which was an excellent walk, but kept moving us further away from the cache we were looking for. It was Africa hot in the woods, with the remnants of the hurricane to the south pushing tropical air up our way. We came into this really cool area, where we took a trail up over a ridge, and back down the other side...

and the trail vanished beneath our feet. We're suddenly trail-less in this heavily leaf laden boulder complex, heading downhill to a creek. According to the GPS it was the Old Alewife Brook, and if we followed it back to the north we'd eventually hit Common Road.

So we found what used to be a trail, a sad excuse for a trail, miserably under maintained and over grown, running beside the creek.

Doug in these situations turns into Mary Fucking Sunshine. "Oh, honey! Isn't the brook lovely?"

Die. GPs misusing get me lost bastard, Die.

"Oh hey! Look at this crazy mushroom! I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this. It's purple and translucent. Honey, look at this, isn't it amazing?"

Yeah, amazing. Get out of my way so I can fucking STOMP the living hell out of that fungus shit. Die, mushroom! I don't care if you're the last mushroom of your species on earth, DIE! [insert stomping hiking sandal noise here]. Way to grow out here where no one could see you. What, are you some sort of endangered mushroom species? An heirloom shroom grown here in the 1800s by stupid idiots who tried to settle this granite forsaken shithole? Die! Did you think you'd be safe forever?! HA! Die. Die. DIE! I hate nature. I hate hiking. I hate trees. I'm a homicidal nature hating, mushroom stomping, geocaching cursing bitch. Get out of my way.

"Well, the GPs says we're only 300 feet away from the geocache. Straight up that rocky and dangerous impasse. Isn't that great?!"

Sure it's great but does that piece of shit GPs tell you how far away the damn TRAIL is!!!??? No. No it doesn't. Because it and you suck. I hate both of you. I'd throw it in the Damn Old Alewife Brook if the damn thing wasn't indestructible and waterproof.

After a discussion as to whether or not we should continue to follow the orange dot sad excuse of a trail, or head up to where the cache is, thinking there may be a nicer trail up there, we opted to climb the rocky and dangerous impasse and head for the cache. Orange dot trail wasn't really getting us in the direction I felt we needed to go. One last serious push and we'd be where we needed to be.

We climbed up the rough hill with Mr. Mary Sunshine finding more purple mushrooms and greatly enjoying himself with me behind planning his demise.

Where's the biggest boulder that I can push him off of?

At the top of the little scramble, we found a nice little trail, blaze marked with tennisball yellow/green paint. Our bug spray had worn off at this point, and the deer flies were starting to bite Doug on the head. He started to lose his luster and fall into unhappy mode with me.

"This is starting to not be fun anymore."

Starting!? Jebus. No shit, Sherlock.

We got to within 100 feet of the cache, but the hider had placed it in the middle of a ton of thorn bushes, with no good trail approach. Kinger and I sat by the trail waiting as Doug attempted to retrieve the cache. He came out a few minutes later, willing to give up the hunt. The bugs, the heat, and the fact we drank the last of our water, combined with the fact that we were about a mile away from our truck and still had to get out of there finally convinced him we were done.

Not having a trail map of this area (none are available online, you have to go to a bookstore in Gloucester and purchase one. I swear to God himself I am going to do just that and scan the mofo so other people can benefit. Screw anyone who wants to profit off the damn map. Maps should be free and plentiful online. And curse anyone who has not yet decided to post one on an official Gloucester website) we had the choice of going right or left. In looking at our position on the GPs, we picked going to the left. That was west. I knew our truck was west of where we were, and heading to the east could probably take us a huge ways away from the main trails, and we'd still have to walk back west eventually to get to the vehicle.

After about a half mile, Doug lets out a chuckle. "Do you recognize where we are?"

I didn't, but within 10 more paces I did. We'd come full circle to the spot where we found the fifth cache. Son of a bitch. We'd come in a huge circle, wandering 39 miles in the middle of nowhere in Boulderville, and we'd simply gotten back to where we started. 39 friggin miles of Israeli style lost in the desert blaming Moses for our woes style wandering.

The dogs were thrilled, they immediately knew the way out from where we were. When all is said and done, it wasn't as bad as I make it out to be. I was whiny and bitchy but not to the homicidal extent I play up there.

But, it's been a long long time since we have had to do the extent of off trail walking that we did this past Saturday. I am glad I now know where the cool trail brings us out into, and will gladly return to get cache six on our list, as well as many others.

Welcome back, those who have skipped the geocaching adventures.

I was talking to Aaron last night about the Hurricane Devastation. And in general, the way we as a nation react to disasters. Sure, 16 or so people died in the hurricane. But, that many or more die every summer from the heat in Chicago. Or from the cold winter in Chicago. We as a collective nation have a penchant for over-reacting. It rains 10 inches in Malaysia, 10,000 people are swept away in mudslides, we get 10 seconds of news on it on TV. Every other Thursday there is an earthquake in Iran that kills about 20,000 people. Yeah, whatever.

But a hurricane comes through a small town where people decided "Well, the weathermen say it's going to pass well to the north of here, let's stay put" and their trailer gets lifted and dumped and ripped to shreds, 11 billion dollars worth of damage gets done (wow. That's not a fake and totally inflated figure) and we turn into this huge rescue nation.

16 dead when they could have left town or not walked out and stepped into the puddle with the electrical line in it, VS. 20,000 people under a pile of rubble in an already destroyed nation.

Aaron gave me the greatest line describing our national reaction to our own natural disasters. I share it here with full agreement. "We're like a jappy teenager with a hangnail."

Best Summation Ever.

Yesterday Doug and I sat around the house wondering when the remnant of the aforementioned hurricane was really going to show its colors. We got more rain last Thursday in a regular normal summer thunderstorm than we got on Saturday night.

We drove over to Salisbury Beach to go see the waves, of which there was nothing incredible to speak of. We were somewhat disappointed. Didn't stop us from taking a nice long walk on the beach, kid free. Had Geoff been there we would have been powerless to stop him from running headlong into the water. He's iron to it's magnetism. It made me miss him a little bit, but I was relieved to not have a sopping wet 7 year old getting loaded into the nice VW Passat.

Alright. That's the extent of my entry for today. I was going to rant about the Olympics Hype, which makes my head explode and blood shoot out of my eyes (thanks Nance, I use that all the time and it cracks me and others right up). But I've gotta get ready to go. I've got to grab a shower and go up to a day of work for a company that wants me to write a lesson plan for some corporate training they're doing in September. I basically have 2 weeks to master Outlook 2003 running on Exchange Server 5.5, and write a training plan to teach its masterful abilities.

I have to go do this in their office... I don't have it here so I can't do screenshots/take notes without the software. Wish me luck. I only have 2 weeks to pull this together. Not sure if I can pull it off, but damn I'm gonna try.

Tomorrow I have an interview with the graduate school in the morning. After that, I'm driving down to get my kids. I'm hoping the weather is nice and I can sit on the deck of the ferry and get a jumpstart on re-tanning my feet. They're a little fadey.

More later y'all.

Monday, August 09, 2004

I'm Grandma, Bitch!

My kids are gone.

This morning, my parents left and took them in tow. They'll spend the next week in NY with them, much to my sister's horror and at times chagrin. Linda was spoiled rotten, she had the house to herself for a whole couple of weeks. But her la-di-dah dreamland now shuts down. By the time she gets home from work tonight, her fortress of solitude will have been invaded by my kids, and her mother.

My mom is great -- I love my mom. But with any human being, there are idiosyncratic quirks that just boggle the mind. I won't bad mouth her here, mostly for the following reasons:

1. she could be reading this,
2. she could call me on the phone and say "I'm Grandma, Bitch! Come pick up your rotten kids!" And/Or,
3. it could really hurt her feelings if I say anything negative, not that I haven't said it to her face and it would be back-bitey or anything, but because the long and the short of it is that it's not any of the rest of the universe's business. And me sharing my detailed feelings would basically betray that.

Suffice to say, I sometimes shake my head and just don't get her... but... it is what it is and she's Grandma, bitch!

And I'm very glad she's got my kids this week. Thank you grandma!

We made it through an entire weekend without doing one geocache. Our dogs are desperate to go out for a good hike. But it wasn't to be on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday during the day we went to Newburyport with my folks, to have fun at the Yankee Homecoming they do every year. The place was packed. It was insane. Crazy insane. But we had a nice time shopping, and my mom bought deadly delicious fudge, and we had a great time hoofing around checking stuff out.

The "Life is Good" store is hiring part time help. I may have to look into that. I wonder if one gets a discount. I'd gladly work there. It'd be fun.

I think.

Doug's boss got married Saturday Night.

It was an evening wedding, civil ceremony, and they did some interesting and peculiar things that I've not seen done at weddings before. After the public ceremony, they were spirited away to do a Buddhist thing (she's Chinese American, her husband's a white boy) and so there was a huge period of time when we stood around at cocktail hour waiting... waiting...

The reception was fun, the DJ was incredibly insufferable. As DJs usually are. I went up and requested "One Week" by BNL (I figure that's the danciest thing they have) and he said he wasn't sure if he had it. So he asked me if I wanted to have him look up something else.

"How about some Metallica? You don't seem to be playing enough of that." I got a blank stare back from him.

He played all kinds of shit that no one on this holy good green earth ever EVER needs to ever EVER hear again as long as they live.

"Celebrate good times, c'mon!" Choke me with your bare hands, please.

"We are Family, I got all my sisters with me." Puh-lease.

I love how DJs play Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll" song, because it's a song about hating all that kind of music. It cracks me up.

Oh, and the funniest thing in my mind was someone requested the Pina Colada song "Escape". That's great at a wedding. It's about infidelity, straying to go see if someone other than your lady is right for you... and then having a good time laughing about how you almost went off and cheated, and boy weren't you lucky it turns out that you really DO have lots of stuff in common! Yay! Happy ending!

I hate that song.

I had a great time at the wedding. And one of the reasons I married my husband, and one of the reasons why I love him to death, is because he loves to sit back and mock with me. We mock without mercy, and laugh and laugh. Good times, good times. It was nice to meet his co-workers for the first time... they were all pretty cool and we had a fun table.

Sunday morning we got up and took my parents out looking for a possible place to live. I researched some mobile home communities around the area, and found a couple on that suited their needs. My mom isn't really ready to talk to a real estate agent, so it is hard to get her motivated and looking. We went up into New Hampshire, the seacoast area, snooped around neighborhoods, parked in driveways wherever we saw a for sale sign. Neighbors came out and talked to us, everyone seemed really friendly.

Doug started to see dollar signs in his eyes as he imagined us buying this nice triple wide with huge deck for $120k after selling our P.O.S. house for $400k (yeah, right) and paying off all our debts and putting money aside for Jessica for college.

I'm not motivated to move at all. Damn, I'm barely motivated to take laundry downstairs. I am sure we'd be living debt free for 500 bucks a month lot rental and mortgage rolled together, but I'd lose things that I like. Such as the laundry facility in my basement (I'd have to go to the laundry on the premesis) and my fire pit and dog pen for my pups. Not interested in moving, even if the place that we looked at is 1000 times nicer than the house we live in right now.

We found some cool places that my parents should really check out. I hope they pursue them. We shall see.

Our VW is back in the shop. We just bought it, and it had the "Check Engine" light on, so Doug brought it in this time two weeks ago and they said it needed a new vacuum line. So they fixed it. And two days later the stupid light came back on again.

So we dropped it off last night, and it looks like I'll be driving him to work and picking him up daily for the next couple of days, at least until they fix the damn thing. My husband has been infintely patient, but I swear to heaven itself that he's gonna snap. Pray for him, or better yet, pray for the VW dealership repair guy.

Today I spent some time looking into high speed internet.

DSL still isn't available in my area. Verizon sucks. How an area like ours is not yet covered is beyond all imagination to me. What the hell are they waiting for?

Cable is $65 a month if I don't sign up for cable TV service. Thing is, I don't want friggin' cable TV because I have the world's best service in DirectTV. No lie. I love it. But, they can install the cable line, I sign up for the basic package and cable modem and one cable TV hook up are $45 a month. I may have to do that and maybe put a TV in my room or something.

And I looked into DirectWay digital sattelite service. Meh. Too damn expensive, even though I have DirectTV. They aren't the same company, it would be $500 for the equipment and like $60 a month for the service. No. Thanks.

All I have to say is Meh.

I have a shit ton of stuff going on this week, more so than any week yet this summer. I've got projects, I just got a call from a company that wants to do training classes for one of its clients. I've got forms to fill out for graduate school, and classes to enroll in. Damn. I gotta talk to the program advisor, seeing as it's like T-minus 14 days until classes start or something like that.

I'm busy, bitch!

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Rick James, Bitch.


Rick James died. We're fans of the Dave Chappelle Show, and I enjoy the Charlie Murphy/Rick James stuff that Chappelle does.

I wonder when he films his new season now that he's signed the 50 bazillion dolla contract if he'll do a nice homage to Rick James... a man whose career has seen highs (figuratively and literally) and lows.

Rick James, Bitch! DAMN!

In honor of him, I give you a download from the official Chappelle Show website at Comedy Central. Here's an AIM buddy icon of Rick James. Just for you.


Finished the class yesterday. I loved every blessed minute of it. The students did a fabulous job on their powerpoint presentations and their webpages. They really impressed me with what they were able to pull together, and I would give them all A's. I know CM will be more critical. He is "Simon" to my "Paula Abdul" if you get the reference. He's not brutal, but he will look at their content and rip it to shreds over pedagogical goals and content.

I am just proud of them.

And I wish every week was this good.

Which leads me to think I need to be doing something better with my time and my life. I have decided to enroll in the Masters of Education, Technology in Ed. Program at Salem State College and get my M.Ed. and get into a school system so I can focus on working with people like these students. And perhaps even get to be a faculty person in the capacity where I would teach this class across the curriculum. The students in this class were all M. Ed. History Grad students, and each academic department with an M. Ed. focus needs this class, English, Art, Science...

and I should be the person teaching it. With a faculty member in the discipline.

I feel like they walked away with so much.

This particular week of class is an "Institute" week, where a full semester's worth of class is crammed into a week and you get the same amount of credits. CM told me it is criminal what passes for classes in these institutes. People will meet like three times, discuss a book they read, and then go home and get an A and 3 graduate credits. He said that our class is probably the hardest class ever. I know I've had students tell me that they've taken classes with him and those classes have almost ended their academic careers due to the amount of work and how hard they are. So the students this past week got a lot more than the average bear, erm, student, at the school.

Wish me luck. I'm not sure how we'll afford this. I know we can defer Doug's student loans while we send me, but I have to talk to Financial Aid and see if there is any chance they can give me assistance.

Well, Geoff wants me to come pitch the ball to him so he can hit it, so I will go do that. Doug and I are going to a wedding tonight, so it's a busy day here... more later!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Geocaching and Dogtown

You know we're all about the geocaching.

But just the other day, birongirl posted a comment in my journalspace journal stating that they had no idea what the hell I was talking about. Sometimes I forget I pick up a new reader once in a while.. so, in case you haven't gone all through my archives back to the beginning of time immemorial to find out what the hell I'm talking about, I'll educate you briefly.

Geocaching is sort of a "treasure hunting game" that one plays with a hand-held GPS receiver (or if they are too smart by half, they use maps and a compass and their own smarty pants intuition).

You get the clues and the global coordinates off of the internet at the Geocaching Website, and you program your GPSr with said coordinates. You go to said coordinates. And usually you'll be successful in finding a little box, or some sort of container, with a log book inside. In addition to the log book, there will be trinkets, toys and perhaps some change. You swap trinkets. Geoff likes matchbox cars. Jessica likes finger puzzles. We leave play-doh, little American Flag pins, anything we come across in the store that is a buck or less. We're cheap that way.

You then go home, get back on the Internet, and you sign the online-log stating that you found the cache.

We have cached in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New York and Pennsylvania. We have found 216 caches and hidden 9.

And we've been doing this since June of 2002. Doug read about it online on, and I learned about it in Wil Wheaton's blog. Wil Wheaton geocaches, but I don't think he goes out too much. Thank you Wesley Crusher for telling me about this.

When I read about it, and went to their site to learn more, I thought it was cool but there was no way in hell I was going to spend 300 bucks on a GPSr.

A few days later, Doug comes running into the bedroom and says "Dude! I just read about this cool game online!"

"What, geocaching?" I replied.

He was crestfallen -- "Yeah, how'd you know."

"Wesley Crusher told me."

And then I told him I thought it was hella cool, but didn't see the point in spending the money on a GPSr. Well, he already bought one after doing some research (Magellan SportTrak Pro in case you are wondering, and we swear by it).

Turns out I was mad at him for like a minute. It actually is the best $300 bucks this family has spent.

Without Geocaching, I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs, much less climb huge ass hills that three years ago would have put me in my grave. Geocaching has gotten us out of our seats and into the world, has shown us cool parks and places right near our house that we never knew existed.

Including one today... we've driven past this place a billion times. And I had no idea about it, and it was GORGEOUS.

So, that's what geocaching is. If you're at all curious, go to the geocaching website and in the top right corner, punch in your zip code (if you are in the USA. If you're international, pull up your country and you can search that way). See how far the nearest Geocache is to your front door. Let me know if you want more information on anything, and I'll do my best to educate you.

Saturday we set out minus Jessica, who was invited to a friend's house for the day. She won't see her friend for a full week due to sleep over camp, so we let her off the hook. She hates Geocaching. But Geoff loves it, and it is one of the few activities that he takes great joy in. He has classified himself as "A Professional" and will often say when we get to the tops of very high things "Dude, I'm hardcore. High five." And he gets the high five because really, he's hardcore.

We first visited the Stavros Reservation in Essex to do cache number one. Gorgeous views, quintessentially New England. We were the only people there. The dogs ran all over, enjoying the outside. We caught the cache, a very easy find.

On to the next at Agassiz Rock in Manchester, where we got to do cache number two, see amazing vistas and huge ass rocks. Damn. They were huge. One was so big, I couldn't even take a picture of it, because it didn't fit in the camera screen. Damn. big. rock. This hike was a bitch. Rocky terrain, and the heat was at its highest when we were up in here. I felt sick from it, but by the time I got back to the truck, a cold bottle of water and the AC revived me and it was time we were off to number three.

Rafe's Chasm is a little area in Magnolia, near Hammond Castle where I worked as a tourguide in college. The views were outstanding, and Doug and I both were kicking ourselves for never knowing about this place, even though we've been living in the area for a billion years. Thank you Geocaching for showing us the coolness in the landscape.

We found that cache easily, lingered for a long time, let the dogs wade in the tidepools but didn't let them down to the very rough ocean. The tide was way low, and I want to go back and check it out when it is up high, and makes the thunderous crashings described by the cache hider in his cache description (follow that link if you didn't already, and learn about the area).

We then went to Dogtown in Gloucester. There are dozens and dozens of caches that a person has put out there in the past several months. He kind of went haywire, hiding stuff all over the place. It's kind of overkill, and there are some caches that cachers cannot find... and these are people who have found hundreds of caches.

Dogtown is a once settled but now preserved wilderness area of Gloucester and Rockport. There used to be a settlement here but farmers couldn't make a go of it on the rocky soil, so they returned to the coast and coves to set into fishing instead and Gloucester became a fishing mecca instead of farming Mecca The old roads and trails and foundations of buildings are still there. In the early 1900s Mr. Roger Babson, wealthy philanthropist, commissioned people to carve sayings on the boulders throughout Dogtown with uplifting comments and sentiments.

We tried the first one at the start of Olde Rockport Road off of Dory Street in Gloucester, but couldn't find it at all. I had a sinking feeling we were going to strike out like Nomar over and over again because this guy's caches are either not there or badly hidden... but we proceeded to the next cache and found it, along with some of the uplifting sentiment rocks.

And this is why I love my son. He was upset that the rocks were carved.

"That makes nature cry!" he said.

He was indignant and upset that someone would mess up nature with words. Doug and I both tried to stifle laughter, because hell if it isn't cute that a 7 year old should find graffiti offensive. We explained that Babson intended for the sentiments to uplift, not offend.

So we asked him if nice thoughts carved with good intentions made it acceptable, and for a while he was still angry. It hurts the boulders. What if no one is there to see them wasn't it a waste of time...

...and then he started to come up with ones of his own like "Be nice to people" "Help Friends" "Pick up your room" "eat your supper" and stuff like that. So for the whole rest of the walk he came up with great boulder carving suggestions and it made the time pass with laughter.

We found the next four caches, Get a Job, Old Alewife Mill, Cape Ann School and Pirate Deathmatch.

We returned home sweaty and tired. Inspired by boulders. Slept like the dead.

Sunday, we did not geocache. The kids had to be to camp at 3pm to take their swimming tests and get registered, and we left Jessica there with her cabinmates to spend the week. It has been quiet and peaceful here without her, but I miss that kid.

On Sunday Night, Doug's aunt called from Connecticut. She was driving to Maine and wanted to stop by and visit us. We figured she was 3 hours away tops, so meeting her for dinner on the highway would work out well.

She didn't call again, and at about 9pm we called her to find out she'd gotten out of Connecticut, gotten onto the Mass Pike going the wrong way and was headed to NY State. So she was pissed (she kind of blamed Doug for not giving her the right directions once she got onto the Mass Pike, but, Maine is North and East of Connecticut, so why on earth would ANYONE go west... but I digress) and she was really tired. Can't say as we blame her.

So we ate a quick dinner home, wondering how anyone can go traveling anywhere without a map, and went to bed.

This week I'm teaching.

I'm working at the college with Ole Prof. CM teaching Powerpoint and Web Design with Netscape Composer to graduate students in the Masters of Art in Teaching: History concentration department. Nice. It's going incredibly well, the students are very smart, talented and they know what they want to do with their projects. So much so I have to make them stop and listen to me instead of listening to half of what I say and running with it.

Their enthusiasm is refreshing. Today it was 4pm and we hardly realized it, we had to shut down the lab and kick them out, and it felt as if it was 1pm. A breeze of a day. Tomorrow and Thursday will be the heavy crunch days. The kids who are tech savvy will want to insert video clips and mp3 clips into their presentations. There will be kids who want their webpages to appear more robust than the free tool of Netscape Composer can make them. They will be looking for that one really important picture that will make or break their powerpoint on the French Revolution and Gender. And CM and I will be running around, helping out, making sure they save their files to the right directories and do so often lest the lab PCs crash out and erase all their work before we get them backed up to the network.

I love what I'm doing this week, I wish I did it every week. Every day.

My parents are visiting. I need to go fold out the couch for them. I've avoided for a tad too long this evening. So. More later, if not next week after the kids leave and I get my sanity back.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Rescuing J, and the aftermath in my heart

It's true. I'm not. I tried. I'm tired enough. I feel like I'm still in the ocean. I'm still moving. I feel waves. I can't quite get it to stop. I took one of the anti-vertigo pills that I had prescribed to me earlier this year when I had a serious bout with the dizzies that just wouldn't or couldn't quit.

(You know the vertigo is so dangerous you'll have to sign a waver).

But I can't fall asleep yet. It'll be about an hour before the pill itself renders me unconscious, part and parcel of dealing with being dizzy is a pill that knocks your ass on its ass and makes you sleep long and hard. Doug's asleep, Jessica won't paint my toenails for me, so, I journal the day's events.

There's an event I'm still mulling over.

I was at D's beach house today. Her friend P has a little 5 year old boy who's name begins with J.

J and Geoff got along pretty well. We all played like mad together. At one point, D. asked me "How'd you end up with all the kids?" I usually do end up with all the kids. And it doesn't bother me in the least.

We flew a kite. We went tide pooling. P. came with us for a long walk. It was nice to spend time with someone and get to know them. J. told me how when you crash your dirt bike you say "I got busted" and I told him I was so proud to learn something new today, and thanked him for being my teacher. He was thrilled to be a teacher.

Like me with Geoff, P. rolled her eyes at her son's ridiculousness, but I ate it up. Geoff's my kid. He does the same shit. And other people eat it up while my eyes do the rolling thing.

Later in the day, Geoff and J. were using a boogie board to desperately try and catch any possible tiny lump of a wave. The tide had gone out hugely far, and unbeknownst to me, the current is a bitch when the tide is full out.

Geoff wanted to get ready to go inside to watch Pokemon at 4pm, so he gave J. the boogie board. All the moms were on the beach, but me and my little foldy chair were right in the tide, all the way in at the water's edge.

Geoff started out of the water and I took one look at J. He didn't look very... confident in his solitary position.

"Do you need a hand, buddy?" I asked him.

Had he said no, I probably would have walked away, knowing other mommies had an eye on him too. I would have thought nothing of it.

"Yes, I need some help," he answered in this very scared little voice.

I didn't jump. It seemed routine. Pull a kid back to where he feels safe, encourage him to stay there. Yadda yadda ya. Piece of cake.

I got up out of my seat, and walked into the unbelievably Oh My God It's Freezing cold water. I took three steps and the fourth put me in over my head. I had no idea the channel dropped off right there at low tide.

Suddenly, I had a mouthful of water, and my hand was still about 5 feet away from the edge of the boogie board, and J... I recovered from the sudden shock of submersion in ice water, hit bottom with both feet and launched to J.

I grabbed the end of the boogie board with my finger tips, knowing that if I didn't I'd probably sink from the shock of being so damn cold, and he'd be floating out to the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant while I waited for someone to come rescue me, too.

When I spit out the mouthful of water I'd just about inhaled, and started to paddle and kick back to the shallow ledge, J. told me that spitting was disgusting.

It made me smile, that in this instant of impending doom, he'd see the one thing that I did that was "Eww, gross" instead of "Yay! You're saving me!"

"That's the least of my worries right now, buddy," I answered. "My biggest concern is getting you and me to a place where my feet hit the ground."

A few kicks later and I was there, the water was suddenly 2 feet deep again, crisis and near death averted, and I stood him up and took the board away. I encouraged him to stay out of the water until the tide came up, and I was bricking as I totally realized,

I saved his little life.

No lie.

Totally and completely, I saved him. And it overwhelms me. What if he told me he was all set, and I turned and walked away? How quickly would he have been out in the channel, a little 5 year old peanut boy unable to swim, float or anything. No one else would have been able to get to him.

Holy shit. I stopped in my tracks, board in hand, noting Geoff's location up the beach. I looked J. in the eye.

"Dude, do you realize I saved you?"

And his short little blonde hair which blended perfectly into his pretty white forehead, and his bright shiny eyes looked at me.

"Yeah," he answered and then he threw a handful of sand at me.

Praise the Lord.

I had a wonderful time at the beach today. I realized today that there are so many smells that I forgotten from having not gone to the beach in an incredibly long time.

I forgot what the smell of certain suntan oils mixed with salt water and humid air smells like. The smell of someone smoking at the beach --- it's probably the only place that the smell of a cigarette doesn't entirely gross the hell out of me. How books smell when you're reading them at the beach.

And how little blonde haired boys smell when you get home, get showered and cleaned up and into a little skin lotion to soothe that sunburn on the lower back where you missed putting on sunblock.

I let P. know what happened with J. today. She was thankful and said that she saw him looking not too comfortable and had just stood up when she saw me go out and in to grab him. Glad all eyes were out on alert for the boys today.

I'm glad that P. gets to bring him home and smell what he smells like after a day at the beach, because Holy Mother, it would so suck to have lost that for good.

I smelled Geoff good and hard this evening.

He will NOT let me kiss him. "Kisses are for babies," he tells me. Once in a while I squeeze one in, but boy does he get mad.

So we do this new thing. We put our faces near each other, usually cheek to cheek, and we make this puckery sucking noise into the air together. He counts it off, One Two Three! "Pop!" And it is incredibly funny. Not as good as a kiss on his little blonde head, but hey. It's a good time.

And I'm so thankful for it.

Another thing that overwhelms me about today is what if I wasn't there and it was Geoff who was 10 feet over his head and out into the channel. He can hold his breath. He can be in over his head with the boogie board and damned if he doesn't hold onto that thing as if it is Odysseus' garter. He is two years older, a foot taller, and a lot stronger.

Would another person have jumped in? I think in this group of women, yes, absolutely. Someone would have jumped in. But would they have done so quickly? I don't know. Everyone was so mellow, and I don't think everyone knew about the evil drop off into the Mariana Trench right there in the middle of playtime.

Could I have lost the boy?

I can't bear to imagine such an instant in my life where voom, he's gone. I can't bear to even ponder what my life would be like. It paralyzes me, it makes me...

unable to sleep.

I bitch about the little brats, sure I do. This journal is mostly my opportunity to vent when they get under my fingernails. But oh my God. What joy they bring, and how much fun I have with them. And I would cease to be the person I am if I lost one of them.

Which, I think, is more the reason I cannot sleep tonight.

Do me a favor. Go in your kids' room, if you have a kid. Smell him, or her.

Yeah, I'm totally serious. Smell them. Smell what they smell like. And try to never forget it. Do you remember what he smelled like when he was a baby? A toddler? It gets harder to do this activity when he or she is older. 10 is one thing. 18, well... your 18 year old may not appreciate the smelling, but tell him it's an experiment in parenting and bonding and you're not looking to see if he smells like pot (if he does, kick his ass? maybe?).

Tomorrow, ask him or her to teach you something. If you get the "Mom or Dad, you're a friggin' psycho" look, just ask them to humor you and tell them you sure as hell humor them more than they can imagine and they'd better frigging get busy and teach you something, damnit!.

If she wants to teach you the intricacies of "Harvest Moon" for PlayStation II, pay close attention.

If he wants to talk about some friggin' Pokemon they like, find out its stats, it's weight, whether it is water, rock, earth or fire type.

And smell him or her again. Kiss him or her if kisses aren't for babies, and if kisses ARE for babies, just make a funny noise cheek to cheek.

You'll never regret it.

Much love and now off to try and sleep.