Posted in A Day in the Life, Explaining the Strange Behavior, Religion

Top Hits of a Desk Jockey


myfortune

I must have saved this fortune months ago because I think Panda Express is disgusting, and only go through there when I have no other options.  I was moving a notepad, and this fell out of the back of it, reminding me of why I kept it.  I have another fortune taped to my phone, “Keep up the good work.  You will soon be rewarded.”  Never hurts to remind yourself of the endgame.  I like rewards.

I also like reminders, which reminds me (oops) that I never got around to putting up my usual mental triggers at this new office.  My old standbys and reasoning behind them follow:

James 3:17
New King James Version (NKJV)
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

That’s pretty clearly stated.  I keep that one up in front of my eyes to remind me that I always need to check myself.  I’m putting that one back up on the computer monitor frame again today because it is timely.  There is strength in wisdom, and there is strength in goodness, mercy, and in not being a hypocrite.  Lane.
Colossians 3:22-23
New King James Version (NKJV)
22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men

I used to put that one up, tongue in cheek, when I worked for a ministry that paid a pittance, but there is good wisdom there, too.  Whatever job I have, I need to work like I am doing it for the highest of purposes.  That’s the only way I have a feeling of fulfillment in routine, and it’s the only way to go to bed at night feeling good about myself.  I feel better about myself when I work hard.
Proverbs 6:6-9
New King James Version (NKJV)
The Folly of Indolence
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no captain,
Overseer or ruler,
8 Provides her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest.
9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard?
When will you rise from your sleep

Again, a reminder that I shouldn’t just be working when someone is watching me.  I shouldn’t need to be babysat in order to produce.  I should take control of my own destiny, and my own work, and be an ant on the job.  I can be a butterfly everywhere else, but at work, I am an ant.  Or a bee.  But not a grasshopper.
Romans 8:38-39
New King James Version (NKJV)
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And this is the one I never truly understood until I had Thor.  It brings me peace and comfort.  I’ve banged on and on about how I really don’t know where I stand as far as religion goes, only that I’m sure I like Jesus, and I want to do my best to do things his way.  I’ve gone from nothing to zealot, to zen, and this verse has meant something to me in all stages.  The first time I read it was in a French science text.  Yeah.  I know.  But after I had translated it, it stuck with me–maybe it was the work involved in the translation?  It was mysterious and beautiful, and I repeated it to myself all the time.  It became a tattoo on my heart.  As a zealot, it made me feel secure and it was hope I tried to throw out to other people.  In my current, more meditative state of faith, I stand on it as a promise that if I’ve strayed off horribly, not even my own best efforts can destroy what’s been put into play.  I trust that if I’ve gone wrong, I’ll come back around because that’s how I love my son.  Nothing, not even his being unsure of me, can separate him from the love I have for him.  He’s just stuck.

He could do things to make me not like him much.  He could do things to disappoint me.  He can certainly go off course, forcing me to correct him, but discipline doesn’t mean I don’t love him.  He is just stuck with my love because I grew him, and I wanted him, and he is mine, and nothing can change that.  I would fight every angel in heaven and every demon in hell, and nothing could separate him from my love.  I put it in there.  He doesn’t have to acknowledge it for it to be so.

And that’s got nothing to do with work, but it does remind me that one of the reasons I work is so that Thor will have a comfortable life.  I don’t work to serve him on a silver platter, but so that he will have the benefit of the peace that comes with financial security, and so he can take steps up from that place to do better than his father and I have done.

So there’s me reminding me of what I am doing behind a desk.  But if anyone asks, you can just tell them they hired me because I’m pretty.

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Posted in A Day in the Life, parenting, School

The Poetry of Math: Roses are Red, Violets are 4


School was pretty straight forward when I was a student.  You went to school, you sat down at your (individual) desk, your teacher lectured, you practiced running drills based on the lecture, you got food and playtime, heard some more lectures, read a book, went home and practiced running drills based on the lectures of the day.  At the end of the week, you took a test to see how well you understood the lectures.  At the end of six weeks, you tried to explain to your parents that you did really well on the tests, you just didn’t understand why you needed to turn in that stupid homework, and didn’t think it was fair that the 0s on homework made the As on tests average out to Cs on your report card.

Note to self:  Math is ultimate adjudicator.  There is no fair, or unfair, only correct.

Note to Math:  This is why I hate you.  It is also why I respect you and am in love with your sexy younger brother, Physics.  Physics, call me!

School is confusing now.  Maybe not for the kids who are growing up in the system, but for me, and for some of the other bewildered parents I know, it is convoluted and entirely not mathematical.  We’re in good company with Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, though.

[At the school open house] I felt as if I were toggling between a business school seminar and the space program; acronyms alone—seemingly random sequences of letters like MAP and SOL and EAPE—were being deployed more frequently than actual words. To be sure, the teachers seemed as maddened by it as the parents were. Even if we can all agree about the singular benefits of “project-based learning across the curriculum,” I am less than perfectly certain any of us knows what it means.

Last year, we got a letter in the mail telling us that we wouldn’t be seeing “grades” for the duration of elementary school.  No 0s, As, or Cs to worry about.  No math to worry about.  Only the wonder of still progressing toward the standard, having met the standard, or having exceeded it.

At our open house, Thor’s wonderful math teacher (and she is really a great teacher–we’ve had nothing but great teachers at this school, which is why I am not entirely alarmed by all the Big Brother Speak) was explaining how that applied to mathematics.  One father voiced my question, “But how will we know if he knows what he is doing?  Do we have worksheets or anything where we can time him, and see?  How much time should we spend on it every night?”

I knew exactly what he was talking about.  Part of my elementary school torment  drilling was the daily worksheet.  We would get 100 math questions (addition, subtraction, then multiplication, and division, then fractions–damn them to hell!) on a long sheet, and have 60 seconds to fly through as many answers as we could.  We memorized 7+2=9, and 5-4=1, and 6×2=12, and 18/3=6, and 1/2+3/4=1 1/4.  We didn’t have to sit and work the math on fingers, or blocks, or beads, we just knew.

Wonderful Math Teacher tried valiantly to explain that we no longer focus on memorization of mathematics, but on fluency of numbers.  I did not know what this meant, and neither did the father, who asked for clarification.

Fluency of numbers, WMT explained, helped a child be able to solve problems by words I had never heard put together in a sentence before and could not possibly begin to recount to you.  She did give the example that fluency meant instead of a child memorizing 7+2=9, they wanted a child to be able to look at 7+2= and say to themselves, “Well, 7+3=10, so if I take away 1, I have 9.  7+2=9.”

My question was, “How does the child know that 7+3 is 10?  Is that memorized?” Because fluency isn’t an exact science, and math…is.

I am fluent in English and still don’t understand half of what Rush Limbaugh says because his concepts and ideologies are so different from mine, he may as well be speaking a different language.  I turn on Fox and tilt my head like I’m a dog watching television.

I am terrible at math, but I know that I can follow formulas and rules, and plug variables into computations and get exact, binding, non-negotiable answers because Math is Facts.  You can add letters into math as placeholders, but you can’t make those placeholders mean anything without rules.  And the rules are not nebulous, variable things like guidelines for grammar or spelling.

If math ran grammar and spelling, it would be impossible to put an i before an e, or end a sentence with a preposition.  You just couldn’t do it.

I grew up going to school run by Math rules.  My son is growing up going to school run by Poetic License.  It seems scary to me.

When I was taking my teaching certification courses, we were told that the old school Sage from the Stage style of lecturing was passe.  We were told that today’s teachers are Guides standing Beside.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m out in the wilderness, I want the Guide out in front of me because he knows where the snakes are.  And I want that because that’s how I grew up, or I want that because it is the most pragmatic approach?

There are as many different learning styles as there are children, and as many different home lives, which factors in greatly to how a child is able to receive instruction in a classroom.  I’m on a learning curve trying to match up with what my son thinks is a learning straight line.

I still think flash cards are the way to go.

If you need me, I’ll be problematizing cross-curricular content throughout multiple modalities in order to better integrate hands-on goals within the new paradigm.

Wish me luck.

I have to say again and again that Thor’s teachers are fantastic.  

Posted in A Day in the Life, Counting Blessings, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Explaining the Strange Behavior, Friends of Mine, Lancient History, The Book, Tiara Trouble

Glenwood, Glue, and Eating Beads


You know that Gavin Degraw song, Chariot?  I always thought he was singing Carrion, not Chariot.  Changes the whole song when you know that.  I am the Queen of Misheard Lyrics.  You get one little word wrong…

Along with the marketing I’ve done, I dropped notes to a few of my former alma maters (there are nine or eleven, depending upon whether, or not you count colleges) to share news of the release.  The one I least expected to hear back from was my original elementary school, Glenwood School, in Phenix City, Alabama.  TIARA TROUBLE is set in Phenix City, and one of the tiny characters is very, very, very loosely based around my experience representing the school at the Little Miss PC pageant.  I got the happiest surprise today to find that not only did they respond to my email, but the respondent was a classmate!  She said she remembered me vividly, which is worrisome, but it is nice to be remembered at all, non?

It made me think about what my most vivid memories of Kinder and First Grade are.  Funnily enough, my classmate mentioned a boy who plays a role in one of those memories.  As I told her, I remember that boy walking into my classroom and thinking, “Oh yeah!”  I was going to make him my boyfriend.  I thought he was adorable, and I was so glad he was in my class.  I wasn’t even six years old, people.  Turned out, he was in the wrong class, so I only got to see him on the playground.  He did not share my feelings of kinderlove, and did not enjoy being chased.

Another vivid memory is of being dropped off at the school early one morning, and going out on the playground (by myself) to find that someone had torn out the pages of what must have been a Hustler magazine and strewn photos of naked women all over the place.  I went around collecting, considering, and discarding my finds, very, very confused by the amount of hair I was seeing, but more concerned that all these women seemed to think it was fine to wear shoes, socks, and sun visors (or terry cloth sweatbands) but nothing else.  I mean, if you’re going to be naked, take off your shoes.  I spent the next few weeks doodling naked ladies in my spiral notebook, drawing them with massive afros in their crotchal regions.  My mother found my drawings and we had to have A Very Serious Talk.  I promised to stop drawing naked ladies, but was so fascinated by her horror that I kept at it until I got A Very Serious Spanking.  After that, I only drew ladies with dresses on them.

There was the glue fight, which is my greatest memory of injustice done to me, and an excellent example of just what a stubborn little thing I was.  I had to wear orthopedic shoes for several years.  All I wanted in the world was a pair of red shoes.  Orthopedic shoes do not come in red, so when I was finally able to have a pair of normal shoes–normal red shoes–I was prouder of those than I was my own teeth.  For some reason, Mrs. Barnes left the classroom while we were working with Elmer’s Glue.  The little girl who sat behind me purposefully, and with great aim squirted glue on my New Red Shoes.  I was as livid as a 5-year-old can be.  I aimed my glue at the middle of her chest and got her good.  She did the same.  I aimed for her long, red hair.  Take that, Shoe Ruiner!  She tried and failed to get glue in my hair.  Mrs. Barnes returned, and while the other girl was telling on me, I squirted glue in her desk chair.  I think things might have been fine, but when she sat down in the glue, it was all over for me.  I spent a very long time sitting out in the hall, after talking to the principal.  My little friend?  No punishment other than glue in her pants.  I also refused to apologize.  p.s., My shoes were fine.  (To be fair, I probably started it by saying something smart.  I just don’t remember that part.)

I did spend a lot of time sitting out in the hall for talking in class.  I remember thinking that if I could just get a dog costume, I could put it on and crawl out of the school, and no one would ever know.  Maybe the principal would even pat my head and try to give me a treat?  So I spent most of my hall time, trying to conceive of where to find myself that dog costume, and how to conceal it on my person for such occasions.

My last memory of First Grade happened the last day of school.  I was standing with a friend, talking about how we were leaving Alabama, and moving to Virginia.  I was sad and scared, and she was sympathetic.  She also had tiny beads on her shirt that looked like candy sprinkles.  She suggested we pick them off and eat them to make ourselves feel better.  So, we did.  That is my very last memory of Glenwood: My granny driving up to get me, finding me eating beads off another child’s shirt.

Somehow, I managed to grow up to become a productive adult.

 

 

Posted in A Day in the Life, Explaining the Strange Behavior, Howling Sea Lane, Women

Sarcasm, Slut Shaming, and Teenage Girls


I read a little article this morning and it made me very sad for girls.  You know, it’s hard enough to navigate junior high and high school, navigate puberty, sex, and sexuality among your peers.  It’s even worse when you have grown women sneering at you from the vantage of 30+ years of experience in relationships.  Do you remember 13?  13 was a beast, y’all.

This mother was addressing little girls who post provocative selfies on Facebook, noting that while her little girl notices the background of their frilly bedrooms, her teenaged sons notice that they aren’t wearing bras.  Clearly, I am paraphrasing, but this mother asks these girls to please put themselves away so that her boys (and other boys) don’t get the wrong idea about them–she strongly, and facetiously suggests that the girls want the boys to think about their brains, not their bodies, and tells them that once a boy has seen a girl body, that’s all he’ll ever see*.

The tone is full of sarcasm and shame, and the message is clear: You are responsible for my son’s attitudes toward women**.

Can we agree on something?  Your daughter’s picture of herself in a bra isn’t going to brain damage my son, or turn him into a raging sex maniac***.  If he hasn’t already been brain damaged by walking through the mall with me, your 15-year-old’s selfie isn’t going to break what Adriana Lima and the other VIctoria’s Secret Angels have left untouched.

And let’s agree on something else:  Your daughter isn’t responsible for my son’s thoughts.  Your daughter isn’t responsible for my son’s sexuality.  Your daughter isn’t responsible for how my son thinks about, talks about, or treats women.

I am.

I am, and his father is.

We, his parents, are responsible for teaching him about respect.  We are responsible for teaching him to respect your daughter, whether she’s waving her nalgas in his face, or wearing a burka.  We are responsible for teaching him that no matter how a girl is dressed, posed, or primped, she is a human being, and she is to be treated like a person, not a collection of parts.  We are responsible.  I hold us responsible, not your daughter.

Not the media.

Not Hugh Hefner.

Not Pat Robertson.

Not Anna Wintour.

Not Miley Cyrus.

Not Facebook.

Certainly not the Discovery Channel.

I am responsible for talking to my son about what it means to look at a beautiful girl and see a person, not a chew toy.

I am responsible for talking to my son about how just because something is offered, doesn’t mean he needs to dip his wick into it.

I am responsible for making sure my son understands the difference between mutually respectful sexual relationships, and being a douchebag.

I am responsible for making sure my son knows to treat your daughter with compassion, empathy, and consideration.

I am responsible for making sure my son understands that even when a girl is showing him her breasts, she might be trying to show him her heart–and it is my job to make sure he understands how to know the difference and how to handle it.

I have a lot of work to do because sex and sexuality are complex.  I’ve been married for nearly 10 years, in a committed, monogamous relationship for nearly 12, have been interacting romantically since I was 15-years-old, and I am still figuring it out.  I still don’t know everything.  I’m still surprised by things.  Why would I expect a teenage girl to know what I know?  Why would I scorn a child who is trying to figure it out?  Why would I condescend to someone who not only has to go through puberty, but also has to go through puberty with the internet sitting right there?

More, why would I expect a child to understand all the nuances of provocative behavior?  There is a vast gulf between what it means in the head of a child who is showing you her bra, and a grown woman doing the same thing.  There is a collection of experience, education, and learned understanding that happens when I flash you–a kiddo doesn’t have that.  She might think she knows what it means to titillate, but she can’t possibly begin to know.  She’s just playing house. She’s just modeling behavior she’s been told is appropriate as she walks through the mall.

Why would I try to make her ashamed?

I wouldn’t.

Because I’m too busy raising my son.

When she comes over to my house, I am going to treat your daughter with respect.  If she’s got her bits out on Facebook, I might ask you if you’re aware because that’s what concerned parents and Chris Hansen do.  I’m going to make you aware so that you can protect your daughter from predators, but I’m not going to call out your daughter in front of the world to embarrass her into putting on a one-piece.  I won’t bully your child.

I’m going to make you one more promise, and I want you to hold me to it:  I’m not going to call any of your daughters little tramps or question their morality because I’m going to remember that puberty turns girls into little sex maniacs, too.  Boys aren’t the only ones whose brains go on holiday between 13 and 23.  I might question your parenting if Little Miss shows up at my door in a tube top and hot pants, but I am going to remember back to when I was Little Miss.

Let’s be good to our kids, and to each other’s kids.  And let’s be good to each other.

 

*This attitude irritates the bejeezus out of me.  It suggests that boys are too stupid to separate BOOBIES from anything else.  While there are certainly a bunch of morons who can’t see the forest for the trees, it’s an intellect issue, not a gender issue.  Plenty of women out there who can’t get past that hot chick’s glorious hips to see that she got her job through hard work.

**Meanwhile, after calling out girls for posing in towels, she has posted several pictures of her sons in various states of undress, flexing on the beach.  Because if you post beautiful, half-naked pictures of your toned, tanned, attractive children for public consumption on the world wide web it is okay.  That’s art.  But if you post beautiful, half-naked pictures of yourself on your own private Facebook page, that is not okay.  That’s dirty.  Or, am I misunderstanding?

***Puberty will do that whether, or not he ever sees a nipple.  Trust.

 

Posted in A Day in the Life, Beauty, Inside Lane, The Book, Tiara Trouble

Destinee’s Destiny–Never Was Mine


I’ve had two parents enjoying (ha!) brief hospital stays this week, but am happy to report that all parties are home and accounted for, neither needing any radical surgeries or treatments.  Still kicking–as they should be.  I got an email of clear health from the one who was leaving the hospital (in another state), while sitting in the emergency room with the other.  My mother said to me, the next day, “I felt so sorry for you, sitting up here with me.”  I said, “I’d have felt a lot sorrier for me if I didn’t have you to sit with.”  She considered and nodded, then said, “You win that one.”

Working to help my mom get some things in order, I’ve come across some old pictures.  Notably, I came across a stack of photos from my Little Miss Phenix City days.  They run the gamut from hilariously confused to hilariously stoic.  It appears that I was not the smilingest of little pageant queens.

To wit:

lmpc

This is the night after I had been crowned.  I walked the runway at some point before the crowning of Miss Phenix City.  I had been completely confused and bewildered by winning, and was even more confused and bewildered by having something else to do the next night.  In my mind, I won, I was finished, and that was that.  Sweet tiara!  Now, let’s go dance to the music coming out of the transistor radio shaped like a can of RC Cola that I won.  (It didn’t work well, btw.  Mostly static.)

Given that I had really not understood the whole process, I certainly didn’t understand why people were cheering for me.  I knew why my family was happy, but I didn’t know any of those other people, and couldn’t figure out why they would care.  Also, it took a really long time to get my hair to do that, and it was not done without tears.  I did not think anything in the world could be worth all that time getting my hair done.

My family, especially my mother, had been very clear with me that winning the pageant wasn’t a big deal.  If I won, that would be a fantastic honor, but if I didn’t, that was fine.  I was still Lane, and no tiara could make me any better than I already was.

I’ve written before that my school entered me in the pageant.  I had no idea I was up for consideration until the school called my mother and told her to get me ready to compete.  I think she had a week?  So, we ran down to the Kiddie Shoppe in Columbus, GA and she bought me two dresses that were on the sale rack.  My favorite was the one pictured above–it was a chick yellow, dotted Swiss, with a crisp white pinafore.  I wore a floor length, white cotton sundress, with horizontal seams for the pageant.  It had pockets.  I loved the pockets.

I love how confused I am.  Like I'm wondering what in the world I am doing holding a bouquet.

I love how confused I am. Like I’m wondering what in the world I am doing holding a bouquet.

What I did not love was having to have my hair styled on a daily basis.  I did not love having to stay clean.  I did not love being kept out of the yard for a week.  I was a play-in-the-dirt, rip my tights rolling on the ground, black-edged fingernails kind of girl.

I do remember being excited and happy about my win, but I also remember being quickly disenchanted.  I didn’t see that I had done anything special to win, so I wasn’t sure what the fuss was.  All I did was walk up and down, and answer a few questions.  Nobody had asked me to sing, or to tell stories, or show them stuff I could do…what was the big deal about me just walking around?  (I didn’t understand that 90% of the competition had to do with what the judges saw when they took the little contestants out to lunch, out to a playground, and what they saw when they did little group interviews with us.)

Nothing about me had changed, but suddenly I was getting attention from people who hadn’t bothered with me before, and even at 6 years old I recognized it had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the tiara.  My parents had done a good job making me believe the tiara didn’t make a bit of difference, so I was suspect of people who seemed to think it did.  And there was that one rotten boy, who threatened to break into my house and steal it.

When I started writing Destinee, I was trying to imagine what it would be like for a little girl whose world was founded on pageants.  I was wondering what that little girl would grow up to be–that little girl whose mother had made her looks what mattered.  That little girl whose family put value on her face, her hair, her fingernails, and not her heart, her mind, and her behavior.

But I wanted Destinee to have a happy family.  They might not share my values and they might not have expected much from their daughter, but they love each other, and they stick together.

Tell you what, Destinee wouldn’t be looking like a deer in headlights on a runway. She’d look like she belonged there.