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Jan. 5th, 2017

dino head

For LJ Idol -- Finding closure at a pub

Longer ago than I care to admit, one (let's call her "Joanie") of my friends was sleeping with her best friend's fiancé (let's use "Carla" and "Matt").

This came to light after the wedding, and a tremendous amount of drama ensued.

Before this all happened, a bunch of us (between fifteen and twenty, depending on the week) would go to a local Irish pub on Thursdays, because they had Irish musicians in every week.

After the cheating news broke (which is another painfully stupid story), the married couple stopped going for a few months. I'm not sure if they went another night, or what.

Anyway, one night, they decided that they were going to the pub, because the wife "needed closure".*

I immediately knew that this was a Very Bad Idea. Wildly dysfunctional people, Irish music, alcohol, and feelings of betrayal are not the flavors that one typically uses to make a Serenity Stew.

While most folks went to the pub, to enjoy the music/witness the carnage, I decided to stay home. I knew that I would have to deal with the trauma afterward, so I just made a lunch date with Joanie for the next day.

Well, the scene at the pub was a shitshow. It started with cold stares, and angrily-mumbled comments, but, by the end of the first set of Irish music AND lots of alcohol, the wife and Joanie started screaming at one another, and Carla slapped Joanie.

So, Joanie and I had a lot to talk about the next day.

Joanie: ... and then she slapped me.
Me: *sigh* I tried to tell them that this was a bad idea...
Joanie: And I saw how Matt was flirting with Rowan**. If he's sleeping with her...
Me: I don't think he is...
Joanie: Well, if he is, after all the Hell I've been through over him... I'd just probably go crazy and kill them both. Then, I'd go to jail and no one would ever see me again.
Me: (thinking to myself): I know I should say something supportive here, but I don't know what...
Me: (out loud): I wouldn't worry about it. If anyone can cop a plea of diminished capacity right now, it's you.***
Joanie: (stricken look)...
Me: (Realizing what I said): I mean that in the best possible way.

Lunch was very uncomfortable after that.

Joanie is now married with a child of her own. Matt and Carla are still together with two children. I know this from mutual friends, because I no longer speak to any of them.
*Honestly, in cases like this, people don't normally want closure. They want the last word, which is a very different thing.
**They weren't flirting. At the time, they (and their partners) were just spending a lot of time together.
*** Honestly, I was trying to be helpful. There are reasons why friends have told me that "No one turns to (me) for comfort."

Dec. 31st, 2016

dino head

A grave situation-- for LJ Idol

Tales of dysfunction and why I don"t forgive.Collapse )

Dec. 30th, 2016

roll eye

A discussion about family, for LJ Idol

I share a last name with a famous person from my hometown, and this led to the following discussion with my boss and a colleague.

Boss: Well, we know you have money. After all., your last name...
Me: No, I'm not related to him.
Boss: (teasing) You can tell us...
Me: If I was related to him, I wouldn't be working HERE.
Boss: Yeah, that makes sense.
Co-worker: Sure you would...
Me: No... that family has enough pull to get me a teaching position there. Sadly, my father's people are drunken white trash from New Jersey.
Co: You shouldn't call anyone trash.
Me: You're not related to them.
Co: Besides, they can't all be drunks...
Me: Man, you've lived a sheltered life.
Boss: SEAN!
Me: Though, in this case, you're right. They weren't all drunks. My Uncle John was a heroin addict. Because someone has to keep things fresh.
Co: That's probably the coldest thing I've ever heard someone say...
Me: These are people who, after my father's death, walked out* my mother and the four of us. I don't really even consider them family. They're more "people I have the misfortune of sharing genetic traits with."
Co: That's...
Me: They abandoned us when my mom was thirty, and we were eight, seven, six, and three. I will call those assholes whatever I Goddamned well please.

After an awkward silence, we started discussing plans for an upcoming conference.
*This is a massive understatement. Kitty, my father's mother, basically stalked us for about a year. Among other things.

This is for the topic Sang Froid, for LJ Idol. I decided to interpret it literally.

Don't stand out -- you're just one of us. For LJ Idol.

Family love!Collapse )
wtf, eyes

Death has a birthday party -- for LJ Idol

Death, accompanied by cakeCollapse )

Dec. 15th, 2016

dino head

LJ Idol: Brushback

When my parents got married, my father was in the armed services, so, my mom, at eight months pregnant with my eldest sibling had to move. My father's parents lived near the base, so they lived there until he could get housing.

My father's mother, Kitty, was.. um... how do I put this delicately?... a paranoid, delusional, alcoholic asshole.

That covers it.

Kitty firmly believed that my father was destined to be a Catholic priest, and kept right on believing that until after the third child was born*.

So, Kitty never liked my mother. As a result, this was going to be a tense time for everyone.

Well, Kitty walked into my parents' bedroom while mom was unpacking. At this point, mom was putting clothes away, including my father's underwear.

Kitty was horrified... HORRIFIED... that my mom was touching her son's undergarments.

At first, mom was surprised. I mean, really, of all the things to freak out about... Kitty chooses THIS?

Then, she tried to reason with Kitty. Have you ever tried to reason with someone who was drunk? If so, ou already know that it didn't go well.

That night, Kitty (and my grandfather) hosted a party, so the neighborhood could meet their daughter-in-law.

During the entire party, Kitty kept making snide remarks about my mom handling dad's underwear.

Mom laughed it off the first time, then warned Kitty to drop the subject.

Kitty did not. She said it one too many times, and my mom finally looked at her and said, "I am eight months pregnant with your son's baby. I PROMISE you I've touched far more than just his underwear."

Mom said this loudly enough for everyone to hear.

Kitty never discussed the subject again.

A little public embarrassment can go a long way.

*Kitty later convinced herself that none of us were her grandchildren, but that's another story.

Dec. 4th, 2016

For LJ Idol -- That One Friend

I"ve known some horrible people.Collapse )

Nov. 22nd, 2016

dino head

The struggle is real, for lj idol

Longer ago than I care to remember, I dropped out of college. After three years, I got my life together (well... as together as it gets), applied for financial aid and registered for classes at one of the major universities in Western Pennsylvania.

About a week after classes started, I got a letter saying that the university had pulled my financial aid and was going to charge me out of state tuition because I was clearly not a resident of the state.

I was confused. No, I wasn't born in Pennsylvania, but my family moved there when I was little. So, I decided to make an appointment to see my financial aid counselor.

About a week later, I walked into the financial aid office. I was sent to my financial aid advisor's "office" (it was a glorified closet), and my advisor (let's call him "Jim"), walked in:

Me: I do not understand why my financial aid was revoked.
Jim: Well, your were born in Illinois...
Me: Yes, but I've lived in Pennsylvania since I was three.
Jim: And there were other irregularities...
Me: I graduated high school in this state.
Jim: Yes..., but...
Me: My entire work history is in this state.
Jim: And that's where the irregularities are.
Me: ... what?
Jim: You were unemployed for about six months not so long ago.
Me: Yes... but I'm not now.
Jim: Well, we think it;s odd that you didn't go to Illinois when you lost your job...
Me: If everyone who was unemployed left the state, you would have a zero unemployment rate.
Jim: But YOU were unemployed and you were born elsewhere.
Me: (starting to lose my temper) So?
Jim: Well, we think you returned to Illinois.
Me: (sarcastically) You're right. All native born Illinoians, when unemployed, return to Illinois, like salmon, swimming upstream to spawn.
Jim: ... It's irregular.
Me: How? If I lived THERE, wouldn't I go to school THERE? Why would I come back here?
Jim: to take advantage of in state tuition...
Me: You know what? You're right. You caught me. I moved to Chicago, but fly in here three days a week to take classes.
Jim: That's not...
Me: On days when the plane is running late, I have it buzz the campus and I parachute out. Perhaps you've seen me?
Jim: That's absurd!
Me: And that's my point. This whole thing is ridiculous. You need to fix it. NOW.
Jim: Your attitude isn't helping.
Me: Neither is your incompetence.* Is your supervisor available?

*Yes, I know I was not helping my cause at this point, but, damn I was angry.

I talked to the supervisor who said that he would fix the issues.

A week later, I received ANOTHER notification from the university about my out-of-state status, so I went back to the office and got nowhere. After that, I went there every day until it was fixed. I was there so often that the secretaries had my id number memorized.

It took a month, but my in-state status was re-instated.

I will say this: after going through all of that, I went to EVERY SINGLE CLASS and did all the work. Well, most of the work.

Sometimes, you DO need the struggle.

For what it is worth, the university pulled this on me every semester for two years, alhough I never had to deal with anyone quite as dense as Jim again.

Nov. 10th, 2016

dino head


I teach communication skills (usually Voice and Diction) at a community college.

I feel that I need to challenge my students. As a result, for one of my weekly recordings, I assign the St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V.

We went over the text in detail in class on Tuesday, and the following exchange happened.

Student1: Why are you doing this to us?
Me: As a professor, my job is to challenge you. This is a challenging text.
Student2: But this looks hard!
Me: That's because it is hard. That's why we're spending time going over it today.
Student3: Why can't you give us something easy?
Me: If I did that, you wouldn't learn.
St3: But I want an A...
Me: Then EARN IT.
Student1: I don't know the words... and how do you pronounce... (student mangles "Gloucester")
Me: Then look those words up. And it's "Gloucester."
St1: That pronunciation makes no sense...
Me: I know. Just accept it and move on.
St2: I think you're being mean.
Me: Okay. As long you do the recording, you can think whatever you like.
St2: I'm just giving my opinion.
Me: And I'm telling you that it's irrelevant. You have an assignment to do. So, do it.
St2: But... don;t you care about how I feel...?
Me: Nope. Like I say every semester, I am a professor in a classroom, not a counselor at self-esteem camp. Your feelings don't matter to me.

I am not saying that all or even most of my students are like this, but some are.

Oct. 31st, 2016

dino head

LJ Idol Season Ten

It's baaaa-aaaack!

It'll be my fourth? fifth? run.

Let's do this!