Happy Halloween!

My younger son, Lola, an army of one.


Running With Scissors

Joseph Cross, Jill Clayburgh as Augusten and Agnes

Ah, how nice not to be disappointed in a book-to-film translation. The last time I saw a movie that almost lived up to the book was Bastard Out of Carolina, based on the Dorothy Allison novel. All the most remarkable things about Burroughs's memoir were manifested in the movie. I'm not talking about the sensational aspects of the story, either, which are plenty and plenty sensational. I mean how Burroughs wrote his story in such a way that I could love every character even as he/she was doing deranged or despicable things. It would have been so much easier--and probably more POPular--to make things and people in the movie black and white. Great casting and performances brought the book's characters seamlessly from page to screen. Read the book. See the movie. Buy the soundtrack.


Why Thankya. Thankya Very Much

Email from PC grad:

Hey Tania!

I thought of you the other night while carving my pumpkin this year. Gourds
and knives, there's nothing like it.

Thought you'd like a pic of it.


The important things I teach them--they never forget.

What Minus-Five Accomplished at Work Today

She eliminated all lines and blemishes! What a pal.

Friday Nostalgia

Here's a little reality check from the mid-70's for those of you MTV-Yo-Momma-watchin' kids who think your generation invented trash talkin' and that John Travolta got his start in Pulp Fiction. Welcome Back Kotter was THE show to watch, back when...and we were so easy to please.


Or Shoot Myself

Because I was having a bad day, MF sent me this in an email tonight, under the subject line: "I hope this makes you laugh"--her idea of cheering someone up:

Al's Take on Misfortune--Viewer Discretion Advised.

I don't have HBO, and I didn't have students to tape it for me this time, so I have yet to learn this year's profound life's lessons from Deadwood. I can't wait until season 3 comes out on dvd!


Lo's Last Game

This time, Georgia came to the game. She hates the cold, too, but not as much as Stella and I do. I mean, she's actually looking into schools up north. I'd choose Valdosta State over Vassar to avoid the snow. In any case, George was much more useful for keeping warm than the dog or the husband. She's bigger than a Chihuahua, and she doesn't feel the need to stand by the fence to shoot brain waves at Lola so she'll hit the ball.

Those blanket-clad ladies kept looking back and staring at us, until finally they took turns exclaiming over my daughter's beauty (which I failed to capture in this photo): "Yes, we're talking about you...you are so gorgeous...great skin...hair...piercing blue eyes...yada-yada-yada..." and Georgia was blushing but really eating it up. Then one of the women says, "I'll bet your mom was a looker, too--when she was your age."


What are people thinking?

(Oh, by the way, Lola's team won, and she got the game ball.)


It's Kinda Like Winning the Lottery

Or getting Elvis' neckerchief. Check it out.

Dullest. Post. Ever.

Because misery loves company, I had the brilliant idea to take Stella with me to Lo's softball game last night. She's the only person who hates the cold as much as I do. See the blanket on the left? Every woman in attendance pulled something off her bed to wrap up in. I opted to be more fashionable, wearing Sadie's old coat from eighth grade.

The other team's third-base coach--right in front of me--was wearing Momjeans, so I had a case of sporadic giggle-fit. Between that and Stella's nervous stomach, I had a hard time convincing Biggy to sit with me. I needed him to block the wind.


All Brains, No Hammer

Georgia has to build a catapult for a class project. Here, I document her process:
From left to right: boyfriend, boy friend, stepfather


Friday Nostalgia

Audrey, from "Breakfast at Tiffany's," 1961.

This one's for my students who are graduating tonight.


This Morning, Over Coffee With Georgia

TR: Hey, have you been taking my underwear? I saw some on your floor.

Georgia: I wore ONE pair, because I needed full-bottomed, and they happened to be in my drawer.

TR: Are you sure? For the past week, I've been wondering where all my underwear is going, and then it hit me--YOUR laundry is piling up, my undies are missing...

George: Obviously, we both need new underwear. Let's go to Victoria's Secret.

TR: I'll just go to Target and buy a couple of packs of Hanes.

George: No!

TR: They're good enough for me.

George: That's because you have low panty standards.


We Pause For This Brief Commercial Break

Knowing how much I love The Be Good Tanyas, and being the thoughtful, generous galpal she is, MF sent me their new Hello Love cd. Jogging to it this morning, happy in the falling leaves, I couldn't decide which is better--this one or Chinatown. Luckily, I don't really have to choose, since I have all of them now, including Blue Horse, not as good as the other two. But still.

Perfect music for autumn, boys and girls--just the right blend of melancholy and joy.


There's a Special Hell for Televangelists

Biggy was looking over my shoulder while I was on Alena's blog this morning, and he asked me who the picture was on her I Remember post. I was amazed he'd never seen/heard Robert Tilton for real, much less his alter ego, The Farting Preacher--courtesy of some tomfoolery started YEARS ago. Just in case Biggy was not the last person alive to see this, I thought I'd post it. If you have seen it already, you must admit: It's never not funny.

What You Never Want To Hear

Because MF is on some new jacked-up sleep medication, I've been charged with the task of waking her up at 7:30 a.m. until further notice. Here's this morning's wake-up call:


TR: You up?

MF: Since 5.

TR: That sucks. I've got to go get ready. I have class this morning.

MF: All right, but call me on your way to work so I can tell you the dream I had about your mother.



I’ve finally recovered enough from the trauma of my mammogram experience on Friday to share it with you. Months ago, I felt a lump and, being a registered hypochondriac, I had Biggy confirm it. Then, because I’m an even worse procrastinator, and because—as I’ve said countless times--I’m the kind of person who truly believes if I were tested for prostate cancer it would come back positive, I chose not to go to the doctor for many weeks.

When I finally did go, on September 25, the doctor, of course, wanted the mammo set up immediately, so the lady responsible for scheduling it asked me when would be convenient. I told her any day but Tuesday, which was the day of my Tech reading. When she left the message later, telling me when to report, it was no surprise that Tuesday was precisely the day she’d put me down for. I had to cancel it. And I took my sweet time rescheduling, eventually getting around to last Friday.

When a hypochondriac procrastinator goes for a mammogram, she’s pretty sure she’s going to have a tumor. First off, she’s convinced every possible illness is lurking inside her, as latent as Lance Bass, and second, she knows she deserves to be punished for procrastinating. Such was the case with me, except, thanks to the Celexa, I obsessed about my impending doom much less than I would have ordinarily. I was able to stick that doom-bit in the same place I keep the little remnants of anger and mistrust now.

I showed up ten minutes late, because Kennestone Hospital is harder to get into than Gidget’s pants. I had to produce seven pieces of alternate documentation proving I was indeed Tania Rochelle-Catoe, as stated on my insurance card, because I never managed to get my driver’s license changed to reflect my hyphenated status. Once all the faxing was finished, I was directed to the changing room and instructed to hang my shirt and my (quietly) “undergarment” in the closet. Odd, I thought, that she couldn’t say the word ‘bra’ in the BREAST CENTER.

After that, I got to sit in the icy TV room with five other women, who actually had breasts, clearly visible beneath the wrap-around napkins we were wearing. The channel was turned to All My Children, and I was shocked to see Brooke and Erica-- characters I hadn’t seen in over a decade-- both looked as ancient as Palmer Courtlandt, who by my calculations, should have died before Rocky IV. Suddenly, I was feeling old and, in relation to everyone around me—real and virtual--robbed of boobage. I was feeling good and sorry for myself when they called me back to the machine.

The petite and perky technician tried to make the procedure as comfortable as possible, but the petite and perky part was already working against her. I wanted Aunt Bea, or, like Georgia says, someone who looked like her name should be Helga. Not the University of Florida cheerleader I got. She asked me to slip my arms out of the robe and taped those things that look like blue-jeans rivets to my nipples. Next, she motioned to where I should place my feet and asked me to lean way into the small platform they gram your mams on.

This was not comfortable, ladies and gentlemen. The position I had to assume was bad enough: feet spread, head far to one side, breast-arm reaching around the sharp corner of the platform to grab the handle above, shoulders relaxed—no MORE relaxed (huh?)…Then begins the cranking noise that precedes the big cold plexi-glass squeeze, and then further poking and pulling, to get “this little flap of skin…this wrinkled piece out…to get back just a little further into the muscle…” crank, crank, squeeze, squeeze…”don’t move…don’t breathe.” Now for the other breast.

Perky left the room, suggesting I just take it easy for a few minutes while the doctor had a look. Since I’d felt a lump, they wanted to review it right away. She returned several minutes later to inform me that we needed to get a few more good shots—at a different angle. I couldn’t imagine what variety of contortions were left to try. But try them we did, after which she said I could wait in the TV room. By now, one of the women was crying softly into a Kleenex, which I thought might bode well for me—you know, that whole one-in-four thing.

Too quickly, though, I was called back in for another round: “We don’t see any lumps, but there are a couple of specks we want to examine more closely. See—these tiny dots I’ve marked here with a pen? I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about, though.”

Right. And so she squeezed me a few more times—only the left one, and I was allowed to stay put to wait for the bad news—the news that would change my work schedule, keep my dogs from getting their wet food in the mornings, and orphan my children.

But when she came back in, she was smiling. “You can get dressed,” she said. “They’re benign-looking calcium deposits; we’ll want to keep an eye on them to see how they grow. Come back in six months. Have a great day.”


The New Lucy & Ethel

Lo and her best bud K entertaining themselves with Granny's wheelchair.


How We Spend Our Weekends

As I camp at my laptop (with camera handy), checking blog stats, and Biggy feeds Daisy Oreos from his own mouth, the ceiling fan continues to gather dust and filth and the kitchen ceiling remains unpatched.


True Shopaholic

This is the call I got from my mother yesterday:

Mamoo: Hey, I just wanted to let you know I checked, and that camouflage thing I bought Lo comes in boys' size 16-18, so I ordered you one too. And tell Lo I ordered her that fart book.

Friday Nostalgia

I wonder if Cher ever regrets trading in her naturally beautiful, beautifully imperfect nose, teeth and breasts. She was awesome.

No Room For Biggy

Last night.


Little Miss Can't Be Wrong

Yesterday, when I got home from work, Georgia asked me to go jogging with her. I reminded her I had to get to Lo's 6:00 softball game but I'd run with her after that. This did not make Miss George happy because, as she reminded me, it would be dark by the time I got back.

"We won't be able to see the snakes," said George.

"I'll carry a flashlight," I assured her, knowing the batteries were dead.

And indeed, it was getting dark when we began our run at 7:30 and pretty much pitch black by the time my OCD daughter untied and retied her shorts five times, relaced her shoes twice, pulled the heels of her socks tighter, and solved the complicated equation that determines whether I should run on her left side or her right.

She set the pace, which was unusually brisk, and I tried to hang in there as long as I could without complaining. About three minutes later, I said, "This is way faster than we normally go."

"Well, I'm a fat ass," she replied.

"You burn as many walking as you do running the same distance," I informed her, pretending she's not every bit the expert I am on all things calorie.

"Okay, but it's also dark and all Blair Witch Project out here. Not to mention the snakes. I keep hearing slithery noises.

"You act like our streets are infested with copperheads."

"Um," said George, "pretty much."

About this time, I had to block her with my arm to keep her from stepping on what was slowly crossing the road in front of us. Photo was shot with my camera phone. Not the best image, but you get the point:


Keep A Close Eye On Me

This pretty much sums me up lately, though I'm not quite as ancient, and I don't actually smoke. In fact, my only vices these days are too much coffee and Publix fried chicken. How do I account, then, for my dwindling memory? I used to could tell you what shoes I was wearing when I talked to you on the phone three weeks ago on a Thursday as I drove to Walgreens to pick up Biggy's Prilosec. I could report the conversation verbatim and say how many times I got honked at for drifting into the other lane.

But times--they are a'changin':

Last week, for instance, I couldn't find my cell phone at work. I looked all over my office, in all the shelves and file drawers, under the stacks of student papers I'd forgotten to give back last quarter, and even in the trash can where, it turns out, I'd thrown away some important insurance forms. I searched Hank's office, and Claire's, before going upstairs to check the bathroom stalls and the area around the time-clock. Next, I went back downstairs, found my car keys on a stack of cd's by the stereo, then up again and out to my car in the parking lot. I looked in and under all the seats, under the floor mats, and in the side pockets. Thoroughly frustrated, I slammed the door, only to notice that the phone was in my hand--had been the entire time.

And today: I told Claire I was going to get coffee and asked her if she wanted anything. I drove the short half mile to Starbucks, where I couldn't remember if Claire had said yes or no. I called the school but couldn't reach her, so I decided to err on the side of generosity and get her a latte. Standing in line, I rummaged around in my purse for my wallet but couldn't find it. I opened it wide and looked closely--still, no. I shrugged my shoulders, returned to my car for the drive back to school. While I was at a red light, I started to put on some lip gloss and, reaching into my bag, found my wallet immediately. I almost didn't turn around, but I didn't want to disappoint Claire. So I did a big circle to Starbucks again and got my venti sugar-free hazelnut nonfat latte and Claire's plain-ol' whatever. As I arrived at school, hot beverages in hand, Claire was walking out the door for lunch, which is why she'd told me very clearly NOT to get her anything.

(It's amazing, really, how much that old woman looks like me.)


Band Parents Meeting

Tonight I suffered through one of those meetings where the info could have been emailed or put into a newsletter if it weren't for all the folks who want to thank each other publicy--Thank you...no, thank you...oh, but really she's the one who should be thanked--and those (Why are they ALWAYS women?!) who simply like to hear themselves talk. You know--the ladies who wave their manicured hands or wiggle their stubby little fingers until they're called on for the sole purpose of extending the length of the session and/or starting an argument.


Band Parent Ringleader: Now, Monday's exhibition will be at McEachern high school. It's easier to park in Uranus than it is at that school. We recommend you carpool if you can arrange it.

BP Fat Finger-Waggler: I went last year, and I didn't have any trouble at all parking.


BP Ringleader: The fruit sale starts next month, and we need everyone's participation. This is a huge fundraiser that will get us closer to our goal of buying twelve Arabian stallions for next year's half-time show.

BP with Manicure: How much money does the band make off the fruit?

Ringleader: I'm sorry, I don't understand the question?

Manicure: Is there a minimum amount of grapefruits each student is required to sell?

Ringleader: Huh?

Manicure: The reason I'm asking is, we've ordered for the past seven years, and that fruit is just terrible. It's always dry--

(Loud twittering ensues.)

Random BP: We've always found it to be of the highest quality. The pears are as big as watermelons and as juicy as Eva Longoria.

Random BP #2: Yeah, if you're having such bad luck with the fruit, maybe you should volunteer more. Help us pack and deliver it.

Ringleader: And that reminds me--before we go on to the next order of business, I'd like to thank Tina Turnipseed for collating the fruit order forms and Don Duckworth, who taped up the arrows in the halls pointing the way to this meeting. Could you guys stand up? Let's give them a hand.

(And so it went, until I wanted to blow my brains out.)


Georgia's Idea of Entertainment

While we were jogging yesterday.

Georgia: Mom, you should come to the Miss Raider pageant with me tomorrow night. It’s going to be awesome! Wait till you see the awful dresses they wear—all picked out by their menopausal East Cobb moms. It’ll be a sea of rhinestones. —And their stupid answers to the interview questions! Last year, they were asked, What is the best thing about being exposed to different cultures, and someone said, THE FOOD. The winner was a coke addict.

One of the contestants is in my English class--Crazy-Lisa. You’ve heard me talk about her. She’s the cheerleader with the bad learning disorder that all the teachers just ignore—I mean they pretend she doesn’t have one and just pass her. We were on the computers last week, and she was asking everyone for gum, in her high, valley-girl voice: “You got’nee gum? You got’nee gum?” She asked every single one of us individually, even though we could all hear her at once, and nobody had any. So this freshman comes in to use the computer, and Crazy-Lisa says, “Got’nee gum?” and the girl gives her a piece. Crazy-Lisa tells her, “I LOVE YOU!” then starts chattering away with someone else before turning back to the freshman and announcing, “You’re my BEST friend….What's your name again?”

I’m fascinated by her. In fact, I’m going to room with her on our trip to Spain. I don’t know how she survives a day; she’s that dumb. Yesterday, she asked if I’d listen to her practice her speech for the pageant. Well, I wasn’t gonna pass that up! So she starts, and it takes her about eight times just to get the first line out:

My favorite memory from high school is…

My favorite high school memory is…

I remember my favorite high school memory….


It was a gray and rainy day on the day of my favorite memory…

I’m serious, this went on for about 10 minutes, her trying to finish the first sentence.

Anyway, by the time the bell rang, all I had figured out was that her favorite memory had something to do with Walton winning a football game.

TR: Who is in the pageant?

George: Anyone who wants to be.

TR: Why aren’t you in it?

George (gawking at me like I’ve lost my mind): Are you kidding me? They have to do a DANCE routine. You know—like the Miss Universe pageant. But guess what the theme is? Georgia on My Mind. I would have been a shoe-in.

Oh my god, this is gonna be so great. Awesome, really. You've GOT to come.

My Work Is Done

Last night, Garey arrived to take Georgia to dinner just as Biggy and I were getting ready to go grab a bite ourselves:

Biggy: Do y'all want to go with us?

Georgia: I thought you two were going on a "date."

TR: We can make it a double date.

Biggy: That means boys ride in the front, girls ride in the back.

Georgia: That's fine with me. Or Mom and I can take a separate car.


Friday Nostalgia

A couple of days ago, I was listening to a new playlist I made of old movie stars, such as Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Bette Davis. Shirley Temple was singing Animal Crackers when Claire (Hank's assistant, who started at PC around the same time as I did) walked into my office:

Claire: I love this song!

TR: Me too. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Shirley Temple.

Claire: Really?!

TR: True.

Claire: I wanted to be Timmy.

Worth Staying Up Late For


Some Stories are Timeless

The image above is from Foley's 'Action Center' web site. Are you laughing yet?

I've been obsessing about this for a few days now, because it's a story that hits close to home. I'm particularly disturbed by these excerpts from a NY Times article from Monday:

"At the White House, Tony Snow, President Bush's press secretary, initially characterized the scandal as 'naughty e-mails,' drawing a blistering response from Democrats who said his words suggested that Republicans did not understand the gravity of the situation....

"'...The first three questions I was asked when I arrived in Peoria,' he [LaHood] said, 'were not about immigration, the war or taxes. It was, 'What are you going to do about the page program?' ...

"...The Foley case also drew criticism from conservative groups. 'It's one of the worst Congressional scandals ever,' Cliff Kincaid, editor of the conservative Accuracy in Media Report, wrote Sunday in an editorial circulated by Gopusa.com, a Republican Web site. 'A top House Republican who denounced sex predators as 'animals' stands accused of acting like one.'
At the news conference Monday night, Roth, Foley's lawyer, denied that Foley had ever had inappropriate physical contact with minors. 'Mark Foley has never, ever had inappropriate sexual contact with a minor in his life,' Roth said. 'He is absolutely, positively not a pedophile.'"

I'm equally disturbed by some of the "Conservative" bloggers' sites wherein the bloggers accuse the Democrats of changing the definition of 'molestation' to suit their political agenda. {This link redirects to townhall.com, so you have to click on 'Hugh Witt' and scroll to October 4.}

There's so much I could say about this--so many aspects to address, but I'll just cull it all down to a personal anecdote. As usual.

My fourth (and fifth) grade history teacher, Mr. Massey, who had a daughter a year ahead of me in school, loved to fondle little girls at his desk. He'd groom us by acting like Mr. Rogers, then he'd gradually venture fatherly pats on the bottom, which eventually turned into his hands in our panties. He could pick out the girls with "issues," too, those of us whose fathers, for instance, would throw us across the room if we brought home a less than perfect report card. Or those who'd already been raped by our uncles or friends of the family. He could identify the perfectionists, the girls who were sure to ask the questions, and Mr. Massey would make sure we had them. Not one of us, though, realized there were others--until later.

Who knows how long this had been going on when I got my turn, but I know for a fact it hadn't stopped by the time my sister came along two years later. So I started talking. I told a couple of friends about my experience, and I came to find out it had happened to them also, and a couple of their friends, and so on, and so on. Finding our strength in numbers, we eventually went to our parents. We were so relieved. It would all be handled.

Here's what happened: Mr. Massey, being a fine, upstanding member of the community, churchgoing Republican, husband, and father of two, was forced to put a piece of masking tape on the floor from the outward corner of his desk to the wall. The students were instructed, "Do not cross that line or whatever happens is your own fault."

I know you think I'm making that part up, but I'm not. It was more important to protect him, his job, and his reputation, than it was to protect us. Our principal, who masterminded this plan, was the father of four girls himself, friends of mine. We had our seances at their house. His wife made me waffles on the weekends.

I guess it wasn't so bad--that little slide of the finger, and the years of shame that resulted. Or the idea we gals got that we were responsible for it. It must depend on your definition of molestation.

When I read that people want to know what's going to be done about the page program, it makes me livid. That program is NOT the problem. Those young people are NOT the problem. The problem is and always has been adults who choose to make sexual partners of children--in whatever form that activity takes.

Whether it's inappropriate touching, the sharing of explicit images or text or audio, or intercourse--if it robs a child of innocence, if it takes away their right to explore their sexuality gradually, in age-appropriate increments--it is dead wrong.

Foley's attorney can maintain that Foley "never had inappropriate sexual contact with a minor in his life," but I think asking a boy (whose mom is in the next room and who signs off the computer because he's got to go do his reading for his AP class) if he masturbates face down and where he "unloads" it is inappropriate sexual contact.

And I think dismissing this kind of behavior as just some "naughty emails" is exactly what keeps these folks in business--the teachers, clergy, scout leaders, politicians...(Men AND women--I had a perverted gym teacher, also, in the long list of my fondlers and sodomizers.) Over thirty years later, the story's still the same. Only the pervs have more hunting ground.

Frankly, I'm more interested in (and angered by) the public's response to Foley's behavior than I am in/by what he did. Pedophiles are nothing new. They aren't going to go away. They are born and made every day. Lots of them are wealthy; lots of them have power. Lots of them have families and give to charity.

When are we going to start calling them what they are and punishing them accordingly?


Two Losers Talking

So yesterday we were in the car, where all our deep conversations take place, and Lo starts in on me the way she has every minute of every hour of every day since Sunday when we stopped by Ken Stanton music store to buy Jack new drum sticks, "Mom, are we going to get my guitar today? Mom. Mom. Can we get it today?"

(I give Biggy a pleading look.)

Biggy: I can't believe you promised her that to begin with. What were you thinking?

TR: I was THINKING she was looking at violins, which START at $500, and that they had children's guitars on sale for $50. I was also thinking she and I could learn to play the guitar together, because I saw this beautiful pink acoustic guitar on sale too.

Biggy: Why don't the two of you learn to play the mandolin, since you already have one of those in the top of your closet. Or you could both learn to sew on the sewing machine that's still up there in the box after three years.

TR: That's not fair. You start things all the time and don't finish them.

Biggy: Name one thing.

TR: Two tables you built the frames for, sitting in the floor of the garage, a bench you never got around to painting, and--oh my god--Lo's playhouse!

Biggy: I'll give you the playhouse, but I'm going to finish it.

TR: And I'm going to learn to play the guitar.

Guard Dog

I stopped by my friend Dianna's house this afternoon. She wasn't home, but her hundred-year-old bassett hound, Lady, was minding the premises.


About Me

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Writer, teacher, student, mom.

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