Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Maggie started school in January. I know school starts in August around here, but I didn't feel like sending her then, so I didn't. Someone asked if I could even do that, just go ahead and pick a time and month for school to begin and I said, well I did it and no one stopped me, so yes, I can. Around here we kind of do what we want regarding the kids and really, everything else. We do this so that in fifty years parents the world over can look at our family and see what not to do. We consider it our public service to all future generations.

Maggie started school on the Thursday after Christmas break ended. Greg and I brought her in together. (The rest of the family begged to come in as well, but I refused to let them as I worried it may create a Hee Haw effect.) We hoped to meet her teacher, but she was absent.  One of the other kindergarten teachers came to greet us and she looked at me and immediately recognized me as the parent of one Anthony Hacic. I laughed and said oh yes, there's no denying it, that lad is all mine!

Greg then took it upon himself to give this teacher some random information about our daughter. He mentioned that Maggie is almost always barefoot so getting her to put shoes on this morning was a huge struggle. She's never been to any kind of school and her very best friend is an 80 year man from West Virginia, and oh, she doesn't really like to go to bed before eleven PM. I couldn't make him stop talking by staring intently at him, so I finally talked over him until I was drowning out the sound of his voice and the teacher was forced to listen to me talk about the fact that we've done some school at home, and Maggie was  so excited and eager to be here and she does wear shoes more often than my husband was making it seem, she wears shoes at least once a week for sure when we go to church. We left. I didn't cry. I felt happy knowing that we hadn't met the real teacher. I knew if I could get in there without Greg I could make a good impression and not make Maggie sound like a mountain goat.

I went to school the next day and again, the teacher was absent. I wanted to say, couldn't the teacher have gotten sick on vacation? I mean I was showered and dressed and wearing make up two days in a row now hoping to meet this woman and the chances of me being able to pull this off a third time seemed unlikely, but I left and put the whole thing out of my mind. Finally, on Monday morning I was able to meet her. She seemed nice and I made no mention of Maggie's aversion to shoes or her 80 year old best friend from West Virginia. She told me Maggie would be fine and not to worry about anything.

Every morning I drove Maggie to school and every afternoon I went to pick her up. She was always excited to tell me about her day but she always started by telling me she had some worksheets to finish because she hadn't finished them in school like all the other kids. I said, are you sad that you are the only one bringing work home and she said, NOPE! After this happened several days in a row, I wondered if maybe I should go ahead and ask the teacher if Maggie was the only child not finishing her worksheets. I sent a note in. A few days passed and I heard from the teacher, who said, yes, please feel free to come in, so that's what I did. This made four days in one month that I had showered and dressed, and put make up on, and done my hair, and worn something other than yoga pants, all before 8 AM. No matter what the teacher would tell me about Maggie I was proud of myself. School was turning out to be good for me.

I got to the class and sat down in one of those tiny chairs and waited to hear what the teacher would say. She said, "Maggie knows everything she needs to know. She is really cute and kind to the other kids. But she is slow. Not as in mentally slow, as in, she does what she wants at her own pace and doesn't seem to be at all bothered by the fact that she is slow. I tried to get her to work faster by bribing her with rewards, but she just looked up at me and told me she didn't feel like doing these worksheets because they are boring and instead why doesn't she just go and play in the centers. ( here the teacher laughed as though this was funny and not annoying. A good sign) Maggie talks about centers a lot. She puts her pencil down and wanders over to the centers and when I direct her back to her seat she says, very politely, those are boring, I think I should do centers instead.  And when she does agree to do a worksheet she is slow."  So I said, "hum, is she confused?" And she said, "no, she is not confused, she just doesn't seem to see the need to hurry and she really doesn't like the worksheets."

So then I had to do it. I had to tell the teacher about Maggie's 80 year old best friend from West Virginia. I had to tell her how Maggie gets up and walks over to Jack's house in her bare feet and goes into the chicken coop with Jack and they take several minutes to gather the eggs and then they go into Jack's kitchen and Maggie washes her hands and gets the bacon out and they separate it and fry it up and scramble some eggs or sometimes they boil them and yes, boiling takes some time, but these two have nothing but time. Sometime around two hours after they've started breakfast they are ready to sit down and eat  and that takes about two more hours. I'm really sorry about this. I think Maggie would probably be perfectly suited for West Virginia mountain life,  but I could see how her ease at letting everything happen at its own pace was probably not too much fun for the teacher and I would be willing to do whatever I could to make things easier for both her and Maggie.

The teacher seemed to be amused by Maggie and her best friend and said, well, I have to tell you she isn't even the slowest child here. There's a group of them who are quite relaxed,  and I said, so they are special like Maggie and she laughed and said, yes, I think someday I'll stick them at a table together and see what happens. I said I thought that would be a terrific idea, could I come and document it. We agreed that we were both okay with Maggie only doing one worksheet and not the five that the rest of the class was doing. She felt confident that in a few weeks Maggie would be fine and doing everything on time and there was nothing to worry about. Sure enough, today Maggie she got into the car and said she finished all her worksheets and when I opened her backpack to make sure she was telling the truth this time, she was. Success!

Next time I'll tell you about Valentine's Day and Maggie's attempt to steal the fancy chocolate I bought for her teacher.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Writing and riding and living

This blog is in need of a major update. My mood in December took quite a long time to lift, but I've been feeling relief the past couple of weeks so I will force myself to sit and write.

Although I haven't been writing lately, I have been doing a lot of reading about writing and every book says the same thing; in order to get better at writing you need to write everyday, even when you don't feel like it. This piece of advice ends up applying to many things. The more you do the thing you should do (but that you have no desire to), the easier it becomes, the better you get, the more you enjoy what it is you are trying to master. As a woman mired in mediocrity and doing just what I have to do get by, I find all of this irritating. Even though I know there are many things I should be doing every single day, it's just not going to happen because all of that doing is hard.

Writing is hard. Even bad writing is hard. I know because I've been doing it for years now. This is when you all come in with the comments about what an amazing writer I am (please!) and I fend off the compliments with my self deprecating wit. Did you know that using cheap gimmicks like I just did right there is a sign of a bad writer? That's the great thing about reading books about writing. You learn about all the things that make for shitty writing and then you become gripped with with fear to the point of not even wanting to write and then when you do decide to maybe put something down on paper, you have no idea what you are doing anymore.

So yes, I read several books about writing and the only thing I can remember is all the stuff about what to avoid and now I just want to start using bad cliches, and switching tenses, and adding useless words like very over and over, and just being wordy in general. I always feel some compulsion to do what I was told not to do. I think many people are like this. Like when people see me drinking diet coke and tell me it causes cancer. I  want to drink more and sometimes I even want to throw some diet coke in the face of the person who feels compelled to tell me how to live my life. That's  the kind of person I am. I seem pleasant enough, but most likely if you piss me off I'm thinking about ways to inflict some kind of humiliation on you. It sounds cruel and petty, I know, but really it amuses me and keeps the rage at bay.

Speaking of which, I went for a bike ride on Saturday and I was feeling ragey for a solid three hours. It was windy and grey and awful outside. Rage can ruin a bike ride. I started yelling out things as I was riding like argh, and son of a bitch, and I finally succumbed and dropped a loud  f bomb over on 561. It was so windy that it honestly got to the point where I could barely pedal and I thought about giving up and calling Greg to come get me. But that would involve admitting where I was and then he would have given me a lecture about how he needs to get more life insurance on me because I ride in places I shouldn't be riding. I would have said, please, this is perfectly safe, plenty of people ride over here, and he would have said he isn't married to plenty of people. I would have looked at him and imagined throwing a huge diet coke in his face or maybe even a bike, since I do like to keep my imaginary acts of violence related to the topic at hand. And I probably would have called him a dream killer too. Suddenly, having him come get me didn't seem worth the trouble. I finished the bike ride and ended up being happy at the end, which is always what happens when I finish a ride.

My bike ride was much like the past several weeks of my life. Things sucked and I wanted to quit, but then things got better and I was happy again. I kept calling people and annoying them. People like my sister and my dear friend, X ( not her real name), who just sat and listened to my nonsense. At one point I  told X to just go and find new friends because I was lousy and would only infect her with my lousiness. This was X's first experience with my truly horrible and immature behavior and although she was probably shocked by my awfulness, she thankfully she didn't let on and didn't run away. She will never get rid of me now. My sister, she is used to me, but still, the phone calls filled with negativity and feeling sorry for myself and lamenting every choice I ever made must have been tiresome. If you manage to find people who sit and listen to your foolishness and resist giving you unsolicited advice, you should be grateful. My sister and X are the opposite of the diet coke police. They are fully aware that I'm acting like an ass but they know enough to just shut up and listen and make some jokes now and again to try and alleviate some of the misery. They know how to avert having an imaginary diet coke thrown in their imaginary faces.

For the most part, so does my husband. He was forced to live with me and endure hours and hours of my obsessive worry. He listened and every once in awhile he would say something and I would think, oh whatever, what do you know. So I went and talked to Fr. Robert to get some expert advice and he kept saying things which sounded vaguely familiar, and at one point it hit me and I said, oh, you know what, my husband said that. And then he said something else and I said, oh yeah, my husband said that too and after this went on for a little while Fr. Robert looked at me and said, Ann Marie, maybe you should start listening to your husband. What a novel idea! Ladies, have you ever heard anything so interesting before? Listen to your husband? Who knew? Anyway, I went home and told my husband and he didn't even gloat, he kind of laughed for a second and went on doing whatever it was he was doing and I realized I really do like him of a lot. That's the thing about marriage. You wake up in the morning wanting to throw diet coke at your spouse and by the end of the day you are wondering how you would have made it through the past twenty years without him or her.

So yeah, the past several weeks were not so great and I complained about stuff a lot and didn't write anything, but then, because life is the way it is (thank you, God), something happened and suddenly things looked brighter and less hopeless and there was some relief. There was a little shift that made getting out of bed much easier and it made me thankful I had gone through some weeks of agony because what's the point of life if you are always living on a high. It gets boring. At least for me it does. And hopefully for a little while now I will I write more than once every couple of months. Thanks for listening, capicola farts! I hope I didn't lose you all in my absence.