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another migration January 16, 2009

Posted by Madeline in Uncategorized.

we’re moving.


happy holidays November 29, 2008

Posted by Madeline in Uncategorized.


From us to the world: peace on Earth.

bleg for advice August 28, 2008

Posted by Madeline in Uncategorized.

So, it’s not really fair of me to neglect you all for so long, and then when I give you some attention, it’s only because I need something. Sorry for that.

Really what I need is a friendly ear: it’s about H. Regular readers know she is my sixth-grade daughter, and that she has been dancing since she was 4. In fact, dance has been a regular topic for my posting here. I could link back to the many instances of recital-anxiety I’ve had, running to buy bobby pins and convertible tights at the last minute, learning how to sew ribbons and elastic into pointe shoes, and spending grocery money on tuition and gas to get her to classes.

As a non-dancer myself, but as her mom, I understand that she has a good deal of raw talent and have also watched her devote enormous time and energy to her training. 

When we moved last month, she had to switch studios. She was thrilled with finding new friends and continuing to dance; we found a local dance school and signed her up (and I spent all my grocery money again) on their summer intensive program.

Which she promptly hated. She came home pretty much every day wanting out of it. Their instructional style was far different from what she was used to, and they seemed to have a strict policy on everything (mostly prohibitions: no water bottles in the studio, no underwear under their tights, no smiling–OK, they could smile, but pretty much no one did, especially the instructors). 

B and I convinced her to remain in the intensive and were certain that once she got into the groove of the studio and made some friends, that she would settle down and fall in love with her pas du chas once again.

As the summer wore on, things did not get better. She told me tales of being humiliated by the instructor because she had learned and performed steps slightly differently than they taught them. If she left the studio for a drink of water (no bottles, remember), she was chastised. The biggest problem involved the instructor, a man, telling her (very publicly) that she was not allowed to wear underwear under ANY circumstances. (The seam of one’s underwear is often visible through the tights, as leotards tend to be higher-cut than most underwear). And when I consulted with the directors of the studio about this policy, they confirmed. No underwear, ever.

They expect my 12-year-old daughter to wear a tampon, or to sit out of lessons (which I would be paying for regardless)? The directors nodded. Yes, they did. 

This sealed the deal for me. I felt as though this was a ridiculous– outrageous, even — policy. Plus, the public humiliation was unnecessary; couldn’t the instructor pull her aside and make her aware of the “no underwear” rule more gently?

So, because H is so like me, a bad experience with something can often turn us off for good. School started this week and she’s started playing field hockey and has informed us that she really isn’t interested in dancing anymore. I’ve talked her into taking one class a week, if only to keep her connected a little, but she refuses to attend the odious no-underwear school, so I’m going to have to shop around a little to find her another studio. Plus, I’ll have two grandmothers to deal with, both of whom will be devastated if H does not continue her pre-professional program.

I’ll be honest and say that part of me feels a little relief with this. The cost of pre-professional programs, which involve 5-day a week training, is equal to that of a decent car payment. Then there’s the driving, and the costume costs, and the constant there’s-a-run-in-my-tights-can-you-stop-and-get-me-a-new-pair. And I have a whole slew of cousins, and my youngest sister as well, who danced their entire K-12 lives and then went off to college to never don a toe-tapping shoe again (as far as I know). At the other spectrum, though, is another good friend whose daughters danced their whole lives growing up and who now pretty much own and run their own dance school, something that H often talked about doing herself. 

The short of it is: what do I do as a mom? How hard to I press for her to remain the “serious athlete” that she was? And the field hockey thing could be serious, but she’s coming late to that proverbial game, whereas with dance she’d be effectively throwing away 8 years of studying and training. I think she likes field hockey because the coach is good. She is encouraging and kind — she nurtures the girls, just like H’s old dance instructors did.

there’s a bit of adeline in all of us August 24, 2008

Posted by Madeline in Uncategorized.

Requisite Disclaimer:

This vid is rough: we are bedraggled and tired from a weekend of partying. And it gets tighter as we warm up, so leave the sound down for the first 30 seconds. Oh, and I had laryngitis from a trip to Hershey Park earlier in the week (I am hoarse from screaming on the Great Bear).


Happy 60, mom. My present to her: a granddaughter who will sing barbershop.

I can do math, kind of August 18, 2008

Posted by Madeline in Uncategorized.

First, happy happy to my Momma, who today turns 60. This weekend we’ll travel to the mountain in WV with J and J’s motely crew to let our children run wild let our children chase her sheep let our children eat all her food feed our children to the bears party, hike, and bonfire for a weekend. We’ll have our own little Burning Man, with less nudity and more enthusiastic improvised sing-alongs. (Mom, make sure you find them chicken shakes!)

The business of this week, before the pilgrimage to the mountain, is making the revised dissertation a reality. I was pushing for the finished revision deadline to be yesterday, but last night I came to understand one of the mathematical forces driving my progress:

where anticipated deadline = n 

and number of days Olympics on TV plus days of the Tour de France = t

and the requisite several days of waffling and worrying = W

actual finish date = n + t + W

Since I’m in an unfamiliar town with few acquaintances and no friends, I have turned, desperately, to the television to keep me company. When we first moved in the Tour was on, and I watched it regularly, developing a decent crush on Marcus Burghardt. Now with the Olympics, I am similarly keeping myself company with the men’s indoor volleyball teams and the track and field  competitions. Also, I make the barrista in my local Starbucks make small talk with me.

the floppy cat and the tween with bangs August 6, 2008

Posted by Madeline in Uncategorized.

So, remember the story of george? He is now the world’s longest, skinniest, deaf-est cat ever. He’s actually sleeping in the above picture.

H is of an age, now, where I cannot take a pic of her without the requisite rabbit ears. Even if she’s giving them to a kitty. Or is that a peace sign? I really don’t know…she’s slowly turning into an alien tween. She yelled at me this morning for 1) waking her up too late to take a shower, 2) failing to wash her convertible tights, and 3) because her bangs would not lay down properly.

Wow. SHE yelled at ME. I stood there, flabbergasted, wondering how exactly to deal with this. I wanted to simultaneously apologize and kick her skinny fanny. Instead, I asked her why on earth she needed a shower BEFORE she spends an entire day dancing and sweating, why she couldn’t wear a different pair of tights, and then I paused. Of all the problems she had this morning, uncooperative bangs she could NOT BLAME ON ME.

Because I’d told her, when she asked if she could cut them last week, that she could, but that it wasn’t a good idea. And so I ended my retort to her, feeling quite smug:


single-minded August 4, 2008

Posted by Madeline in Uncategorized.

After about two weeks of hand-wringing, despairing the hollow pain in my throat and neck, and tossing through sleepless nights, I’ve finally found a groove in making some major revisions to my dissertation.

It’s been physically painful, these past weeks, sitting at the computer with a stack of printed chapters at my right. I’d stare from the stack of paper to my computer screen…*blink blink* a couple times, and have absolutely no idea where to start. The introduction needed complete tear down and re-build. But I couldn’t really re-write the intro before I made major changes to nearly every chapter. But I couldn’t make any major changes to any of the chapters without having a better idea of how those changes would affect the overall project…and so I needed a good introduction to tell me what the overall project would look like so I could make the changes to the chapters.

*blink blink*

And I apologize to all of you who could give two shits about my writing process. I imagine it’s boring as hell to listen to me ramble, in the abstract no less, about an esoteric project. But it is all-consuming for me. Which brings me to the title of this post: when I am in a writing space as productive as this, the sacrifices are fairly significant. The boys didn’t eat lunch today until 2:30. And all they did before and after lunch was WATCH TV. Thank god for the Cartoon Network. I have not showered today. The dishes, laundry, and bathrooms all need attention. I’m ignoring the phone and most email. I have not run in 6 days, and the marathon that I’m ostensibly training for in October will probably be another killer like Albany was for me last October: I’ll start out on the freshest legs I’ve ever had (because I won’t have run in weeks), feel great until mile 13, and then I’ll want to throw myself into the bushes with the cow patties for the balance of the race.

pony July 29, 2008

Posted by Madeline in Uncategorized.

Things are looking up. My hair, butchered into sad submission last fall, is regaining its endearing unruliness.

Since I made the cut, I’ve had many people — many of whom I adore — remark how much better it looked short. But it was simply strange looking in the mirror and seeing the coif of someone else, literally. I could never really own the short cut. I’ve never been a short-haired person. The maintenance itself is something I can’t be expected to keep up on (obviously).

The pony is a benchmark. A good one. Did I say things are looking up?

wed nes days July 23, 2008

Posted by Madeline in Uncategorized.

In York there aren’t “speed bumps.” Instead, we have speed HUMPS, which exist, apparently, in many other places besides south central PA — just so far I’ve not encountered one until here.

And hump day in York offers other new and exciting events: here, we get to watch TWO EPISODES of Corner Gas, a great Canadian sitcom our Moose neighbors turned us onto about a year ago. The Chicago superstation, WGN, broadcasts a show at 8 and 8:30.

Wednesdays are also different because B has signed himself up for banjo lessons. He’s been threatening to steal my banjo from me for a few years now (ever since I started the PhD, really) since I’ve neglected to learn. On his way home from work one day last week, he happened upon a guitar and banjo shop, stopped in to inquired about new strings, and found himself a teacher. I think what really pushed him over the edge into lessons, though, is Iron Horse, a bluegrass group that covers Metallica tunes. He’s got a dude crush on those guys, and every road trip we’ve taken this year has involved listening to “Fade to Bluegrass.”

I’ll admit that it’s a little different than what I’d imagined we’d be playing together, me on guitar and he on banjo (I was hoping for something more toward Union Station), but I’ll take it.

puff daddy July 18, 2008

Posted by Madeline in Uncategorized.

So, today I get my kitties back. Some of you know, some of you don’t, that when we put the house in Parish on the market my swell and wonderful Ma graciously boarded our three cats so that we wouldn’t have to hassle with prospective buyers about allergies or whatever.

Today, my mom is bringing my kitties back, minus one. Apparently two of them did extremely well at the Kitty Chateau De Betty, high up in the mountains of West Virginia among the sheep and other cats. George and Muff vacationed happily, but Ginger decided to run off and get herself eaten by a black bear or something. This is especially sad, since Ginger was our calico torti with 7 toes on each of her front paws. I knew going into the process that any number of them might not appreciate my farming them off, literally, but it is sad that Ginger won’t be coming home to us.

So I’m preparing for the homecoming. And as I unload the catfood and prepare the catboxes, Little J rides his bike in the driveway. And then he comes in the front door, letting a cat in.

“Mom!” he cries. “This cat likes me!!” And in comes the furriest, tail-less-est cat I’ve ever seen. I let him wander in. He wound himself around my legs and sniffed the bowl of food I’d placed in the front hallway.

Puff Daddy, as we called him, hung out in the house until I gently put him on the front step a few minutes before mom arrived. He looked at me annoyed, but I told him that I had other cats I needed to make at home before I took in anymore.

He huffed a little sigh and moseyed over to the van to, apparently, wait me out.