The Atlantic Ocean has moved!

(Please click on the image to see what I mean.)

Wow, I need to update my geography skills.

Thanks, Dad, for pointing this out!


I was a substitute detention room monitor for an elementary school yesterday. It was an odd position to be in. Mostly, I could not fathom why any child there would listen to a word I said,

“Yes, I am the substitute detention lady. It is likely that you will never see me again after today. Nevertheless, you should do exactly as I say. Yes, I may look sweet and docile. That’s because I mostly am, but never mind my demeanor. You must respect my authority. Be a good child and don’t ever do that nasty thing again. Be quiet and obedient. Do what your teacher says. Now go back to class and be good!”

The notes said to have the child write an apology as “retribution,” before returning to class. That seemed like a good idea, until the kids started coming. Every situation was so bizarre and complicated, I couldn’t even figure out to whom the apology would be addressed. And could the children even write? Who knew?

Two little kids came in, for example, screaming at each other,

Shut up!”

“No, you shut up!”

Shut up!”

“I’m gonna slap you if you don’t shut up!”

Another random child came in and automatically went into this little "time out" room with a window in the door, shut the door, and started screaming through the door,

“Stupid head! Stupid head! Who’s a little stupid head? Stupid head!” [The "stupid head child was older, and apparently had nothing to do with the other two.]

While the other two sat down at opposite ends of the room.

I asked the kid nearest me his name and his “friend’s name” [the other one yelling, “shut up”]. They were apparently coming from art class, the very same art class that I have so enjoyed teaching in the past. Interesting. “So,” I asked, “what happened? Do you know why you were sent here?”

“I told him to shut up.” [The other kid says, “You better shut up!”]

“What did he say before you told him to shut up?”

“He said, ‘shut up’, and the teacher was talking.”

“What did you say before he said to shut up?”


“I mean, were you talking about something? Why would he tell you to be quiet?”

“I was telling him to be quiet. And Jose [not his real name]. I was telling Jose to be quiet.”

“What did Jose say?”

“He told me to shut up!”

“But what did you say, for him to tell you to be quiet about it?”

“I just said to shut up, because the teacher was talking.”

“And what was the teacher saying?”

“I don’t know. She was just, talking. She told us to be quiet.”

“But what was happening before she told you all to be quiet?”

“He was telling me to shut up!”

“But I mean, someone was talking about something, first, right?” Blank stare. “What were you doing in art class? Were you-”

“I mean, like, he just told me to shut up!”


“And you were all sitting together?”


“Were you all sitting at the same table?”

“No, no. I was sitting at the blue table. Jose was at the red table. Bill was at the purple table.”

“So, you were all sitting at different tables, yelling at each other to shut up- but who started talking first?”




Okay, I didn't really say that.

I paused. ["Stupid head! Stupid head! Look at the stupid head!" in the background.] I really said,

“If you all sit at different tables, do you think you could just ignore him?”


“Why not?’

“’Cause I don’t like him.”

“Why not?”

“Because he’s always telling me 'shut up' and stuff.”


And then the other kid started laughing at the kid behind the glass door, yelling, “stupid head”.

P.S. Jennifer: I'm sorry there are no zombies in this story. I will try to do better next time.

The End- Or, Perhaps the Beginning

I work occasionally at a gigantic high school, with three and a half floors and several stairways that lead to some floors, but not others. There is also a giant indoor mall type area for kids to hang out and eat lunch, and on the other side of that are several gyms. I usually go early, because I always get lost.

The other day, on a quest for "Room 30," I descended a stairway and found myself between two sets of large locked doors: one set in front of me, one behind me. I probably didn't have time (well, I know I didn't really have time) but I took a picture of them:

These doors and the way I came across them took me suddenly away from myself. There was such mystery to them. Why a stairway to sets of locked doors? What a concept. Large, imposing, almost religious in their grandeur, these doors made me feel like I was on the cusp of something magical. I was small and powerless compared to their large, pointy lockedness.

I have, on other occasions, taught on the "Second and a half" floor of this building, and once also found a stairway leading up to a door leading up to a hallway leading through another classroom finally to the classroom where I was to teach!

Time not being on my side, I ran back up the stairs. And then the bell rang and I found Room 30*, discovered my sub keys didn't work in the door, had to find the office again, they had to call someone, get the right key, I went down again, opened the door just as the tardy bell rang, no clue what was in store for me for the day... and it all went perfectly fine, of course.

* I finally found the classroom with the help of a kind teacher who explained that I should "just think of this building like a "U" shape" - although I only realized later it's not a U shape at all, but more like an irregular Lego building that Little Zelma would build, with several layers jutting out in irregular patterns.

"Did I say that out loud?" is the new end of not saying things out loud

Conversation with my husband in the car:

Me: "I think if we get the blinds, we should get two, because it would look weird to just have one."

Brian: _______ [Silence with a devious look.]

Me: ________ [Laughing, because I think I know what he's thinking.*]

Brian: "Oh, did I say that out loud?" [Laughing.]

Me: "No, you didn't, actually."

More laughter.

Me: "You really didn't say anything."

Then, it dawned on me, that was perfect! How confusing! How amazing! How ridiculous!

The next time you're quiet for a while, just wait a bit, and then say, "Oh, did I say that out loud?" And then let your dear friend wonder what horrible thoughts were going through your mind that you didn't actually say.

Minions, it's a tough job, but you're up to it. You have the patience, the stamina, the temperament, the keen social skills. Go forth and befuddle!

* "Worst dinner ever," that's what he was thinking. That's a Buck Dollars joke. Don't pay any attention. Sorry.

The Flasher

This is a really crappy picture of my dad carrying his pedal steel guitar down the street in downtown Greenville, South Carolina. I thought it was a funny thing to do, but I only had my phone to take a picture, and the lighting was poor:

You can see a bit of Aunt Lou carrying her guitar, too, if you look really closely at the left. Just after I took this picture, we rounded a corner and right there in front of us was a guy with his penis out, peeing on a fire hydrant, and a girl standing next to him saying, "Don't look." [Kennywood was TOTALLY OPEN FOR BUSINESS!] I still had my phone out and considered taking his picture, but thought better of it, he being obviously insane or stupid. I did, however, take his picture from behind, and it came out even worse than the picture of my dad, but you can just make out the fire hydrant:

Three days later, we were driving home through the Blue Ridge Mountains, and I saw yet another unfamiliar penis. It was a teenaged boy peeing by the side of the road. I'm not against peeing on the side of the road per se, but this guy was facing the highway. I didn't get a picture of him.
I somehow doubt this is normal, even in The South. Strange karma. I must have urinated in public a lot in my last life.

Uncle Buck's Cabinet of Player Piano Rolls

The Closet

No comment from Grandma Ruth. She wasn't as snoopy as I was, though I imagine she might have said, "You have a lot of piano rolls and records in there!" had she looked.

Uncle Buck's stage name (he sings and plays guitar) is "Buck Dollars". I don't know where that fits into our narrative, but I thought I'd share, because it is so freakin' awesome.

Uncle Buck's License Plate Is Just A Little Out of Date

"Your license plate is getting rusty!" said Grandma Ruth to Aunt Lou.
[I've been reading too many children's books lately!]

The Swimming Pool

"Your swimming pool has trees growing in it!" said Grandma Ruth to Aunt Lou.

Qualifications and Bears

If you are a relative reading this, you are probably somewhat silly and obsessively musical. This entry has to do with the somewhat silly portion of your character (the obsessive musicality will be illustrated later). If you are not a relative, you are undoubtedly a person of highly refined tastes.

Lou had previously taken this picture with a bear:

Then, while visiting, we all found it necessary to pose with the bear (the bear who had magically moved, in spite of apparent lifeless qualities):

Scruffing Around This Here Great Land

I spent the last week on vacation with husband and baby, on a road trip to The South, where we visited the home of Aunt Lou and Uncle Bucky. I would like to tell you the whole story, but, like most of real life, there wasn't a real cohesive narrative to the whole matter. I think I'll just give you the highlights, in words and pictures, over the next week or so.

Homemade gifts are the best gifts: Gina's Box

Gina made me a box for my birthday. It's a beatle box, with a silver beatle named George inside:

True fans of The Beatles know that, before they were The Beatles, they were The Silver Beatles (at least three of them were).

So, it makes a kind of sense to have a silver Beatles box.

I will treasure it.

More Van Gogh Inspired Art from Children

A painting by a first grader:

It's fresh and new, and yet it's a copy, in a way. Lovely.

It's odd to me how, when people make drawings that are supposed to look like they are by children- like for logos and cards and such- they're always crappy stick figures and goofy things, but actual art by children is so often very sophisticated.

My Life as a Runaway

When I was six, I ran away from home.

It happened like this: I got really mad at the grown-up peoples, always trying to control my life and stuff. I'd had it. That was it. "I'm running away!" I declared.

I hopped on my ride:

A tricycle much like the one above.

My blood surged with excitement as I mounted it. My feet delicately touched the pedals, and I was off!

I pedaled and I pedaled down the seemingly endless white concrete sidewalk. I came to a cross street.

Now, something should be said here about my upbringing. I may have been running away, but I wasn't taught to be stupid! I knew that crossing a street without holding hands with someone was akin to suicide, or at least a deadly crime, and I was having nothing to do with that. So, when I came to a street to cross, I did the logical thing: I turned right.

And I pedaled and I pedaled and I pedaled.

I turned right again.

And I pedaled and I pedaled.

I turned right again.

And I pedaled and I pedaled.

Things were starting to look very unfamiliar to me. It was getting a bit scary. I considered turning back. But I was tough! They'd be sorry when they found out I was gone!

I turned right again.

And I pedaled and I pedaled.

Suddenly, a road block. The Enemy [a group of grown-ups] was standing right in my path! What to do? They blocked the sidewalk completely. I couldn't storm through them- no, that was too risky. I would surely be reported, or worse. Drastic action had to be taken.

I stopped pedaling. The grown-ups glanced my direction, but were still involved in their heavy conversationing. I had to act fast, before it was too late.

I did the unthinkable. I crossed the street.

My heart was thumping so hard, I could hardly breathe for it coming up in my throat. Surely, a life of crime was my lot now. There was no turning back. Sadness overcame me as I mounted the other sidewalk via a driveway.

But- wait- was there still hope for me? What if, after averting The Enemy, I went back to the other side? Wouldn't it then be like it never happened, like I never crossed the street without holding an adult's hand?

Another split decision, and I crossed the street again. The Enemy was behind me. It was smooth sailing, now. The sidewalk was mine! Joyfully, I pedaled. I turned another corner, and...

How was it that two streets could look so similar? Why, this looks like my street, I thought. Bizarre. That looks like my Daddy's car in the driveway of a house that looks just like my house and...

Clearly, a breach in the space-time continuum had occurred. I had been gone a lifetime, it seemed, so that it was actually with much relief (and a good deal of confusion) that I pedaled up to my house, from the opposite direction from where I left it- like a mirror image or something. So strange.

All thoughts of running away had left me, now. I was hungry. Carefully, I opened the front door and slipped inside. My step-mother was cooking dinner. After a little bit of lurking and waiting for punishment for my sins, I realized- although I could barely believe it- that no one had even noticed I was gone.