May 30, 2007

It's Sometimes Crowded Around Here

She’s all grown up now, she’ll plainly show you that she’s applied her own band-aids to her own knees and she can open the frigerator and forage for cheese and grapes on her own, she can even start her own movie in the DVD player and let the dog out to pee. She’ll tell you all about the smart parts she has, she knows lots of things including her phone number and how to count all the way up to forty-twenty which comes right after forty-seventeen and forty-nineteen. (You’d think forty -eighteen would be in there somewhere but that just proves how much you don’t know.) Perhaps the best data she retains is the endless list of imaginary people and the exotic names they go by. Just the other day we had Foofala-Rose-Pretty over for jelly sandwiches. I always thought I was pretty good at putting names with faces but its extra difficult when the face is imaginary. It’s such a relief we have Ella to remind us who is here and what their names are, otherwise we’d have imaginary strangers hanging out in out bath tub all the live long day.

May 29, 2007

We survived the weekend

It's just a list ('cause I'm tired)

Skating, the UFC championship, salsa dancing, tacos, punching the punching machine game, snarky gossip, new friends, a photo shoot, scrapped knees, cupcakes, grandparents, cousins and relatives from far and wide, sunburns, cream puffs, flying kites, playing croquet, sand boxes, a parade, pizza, motorcycles, cleaning house, bonked heads, the curly slide, the beach, beer, swings, and steaks.

May 24, 2007

Gravity is fun

Tonight is our first night at the new practice facility. I am so excited to be able to suit up and show the new roller-women some falls. It’s really quite fun to skate as fast as you can and then take a dive. I’m like an albatross doing a crash landing, skidding, rolling, spinning, dancing with gravity across the floor in a semi controlled collision with earth. When you’re doing it right it looks dramatic but doesn’t hurt (much). Falling is an important thing to learn is roller derby. The fact is everyone takes hits and everyone falls down and everyone must do it safely and be able to get back up without putting hands on the floor (in three seconds). I’ve rolled over fingers before and it grosses me out every time. It feels like when your car goes over train tracks and then I get a gross feeling in the bottom of my stomach thinking about it. BLEAH! Falling is the second thing we teach roller-women, the first being how to stay up.

Next to finger painting with the kiddo it’s the best playing I do.

May 23, 2007


Dang! Rosie and Elzabeth have it out on TV. I thought soemone was gonna get their eyes scratched out!

Rosie and Hasselcrack Fight!
Uploaded by TheDlisted

The Robbery

The following story is true, it's from when I was about 16 and working part time at the arcade in this Mall out in the suburbs. It was a real turning point in my life. I'm thinking of it today because they are bringing the wrecking ball to that same mall this year. (Mom, you may wan to skip this one)

I am going to die. The robber knocked me down and now I will feel a bullet rip into me and then I am going to bleed to death in the back room on the floor of this crap ass shop making minimum wage. I feel no bullet; I feel nothing but my feet out from under me and the hard floor against my back. I keep my eyes closed in hopes that he just takes the money and leaves or perhaps I’ll wake up from this dream. I feel him climb on top of me and put his giant hands around my neck. He starts to squeeze and my eyes shoot open, this is no longer a game of cops and robbers I am participating in, it is a struggle for my life.

I see him now for the first time very clearly, he is 6’2” about 190lbs, he has strawberry blond hair ladened with dirt and grease. His chin is almost non-existent; it slopes into his neck at an angle that brings the word “goony” to mind. I am searching for a weakness, a bruise and cut, a limp arm anything I can use against him and I see none. He has dirt rings under his chin as a child who hasn’t bathed in a week would have. He has a far away look in his eyes; it’s what perhaps scares me the most and finally causes me to react. I grab his hands and pull at his fingers tightening around my neck. He says in a slow soothing tone “Shhhh, shhhh, relax.” Screw that! I will not relax!

The adrenaline kicks in and I’m not sure how it happens but I have managed to completely change places with this goon. I am now on top of his chest with my knees, our hands around each other’s necks and his wild eyes are looking around for the gun he dropped. This is not working, my hands are too small, and I don’t have the strength to choke a full grown man. I remember my father’s words and lash out at his eyes and he yells “ouch!” it almost seems comical. We roll around like cats reaching, scratching, howling, at some point I get a clear shot at his groin and I take it, it seems to only fuel the wild look in his eyes. I believe that I am fighting with insanity embodied, and it won’t end until one of us is dead.

Every muscle is aching and we are both just sitting on the floor panting now, there is blood and sweat and urine everywhere and an odd smell fills the air around me. I think this is what panic, adrenaline and insanity smells like. It’s sweet and metallic and oddly calming and caused me to hesitate long enough that he’s remembered the gun. He raises it to my face inches away and squeezes the trigger, nothing. The trigger doesn’t move. He looks surprised and stunned and I use that moment to bat the gun out of his hands with my tightened palm. Now we are rolling around on the floor again and he is trying to push my face into the toilet. I will not drown, I will not die, I refuse.

We are exhausted again, I am bleeding a lot now and he is sitting next to me panting. I look straight at him and say “Just stop it. I am going to wash up now and you are going to get the money and leave.” He backs off I shut the bathroom door and splash cold water on my face and look closely at my cuts. I consider locking the bathroom door and staying there. It’s a flimsy door and he has a host of tools and a gun at his disposal as well as his weight, I’m sure it’s not a good defense and I come out of the bathroom composed. He greets me by trying to push a knife into my ribs, it glances off without piercing my thick cotton sweater and again he looks stunned and surprised. I am tired of this fight and I say to him “Just knock it off!” He recoils at my scolding, my confidence wins. I continue “If I don’t close the front of the shop soon, security is going to wonder why and come back here to see what’s going on.” Where is security anyway, it’s clearly quarter after ten and the shop front is obviously not closed, why haven’t they noticed and where are they?

He finds his gun again and my line of cajoling is not working, think quickly. “Do you hear me? You are going to get caught! Worse yet, my Dad will catch you. He is waiting out front to pick me up and if I don’t get out there, he’s going to come in looking for me. Let me tell you guy, he’s one big biker dude and when he sees what you did to me he’s going to kill you with his bare hands and don’t think he can’t, he’s the one that taught me to fight. You've got to go!” I start shoving money into the goon's stocking hat and for the first time he looks a little panicked. I keep repeating “You gotta go! And you gotta go fast!” He leaves and I am safe.

At the hospital the nurses gather around with the police to hear the whole story. The police man writes furiously asking me to repeat certain details. Among gasps and wide eyes the consensus is that I’m a lucky girl to survive and fend off an attempted stabbing, strangling and drowning and who knows how his gun jammed at just the right moment. They agree privately I must have an angel who watches over me. I believe in angels sometimes but I believe in coincidences all the time.

In the following weeks my cuts and bruises heal but something else has changed. I am increasingly impatient with my friends’ incessant whining about this boy or that hair-do and whenever there’s a squabble that involves what ‘he said’ and ‘she said’ I have no tolerance for the frivolity. I often fight the urge to smack my friends in the back of the head and remind them of the value of their lives. I am viewing the world through fresh eyes, though also guarded ones as they haven’t caught my assailant… yet.

After weeks of me being scared to stand in front of windows and the local news paper publishing my home address, the police got him. There was no trial, he confessed. I always wanted to ask him why he did it.

May 22, 2007

Old Friend

I dropped my camera off yesterday and am awaiting quote for repairs. The nice man at the camera shop was pleased to tell me they would have to probably replace the entire lens seeing as the whole mechanism is minty fresh. They have to send it off to the manufacturer so it’ll take at least 10 days before they tell me I’ll have to decide between college for Ella and a new lens. I was having phantom shutter pains in my right finger while imagining the wonderful shot I would miss during Ella’s ballet graduation yesterday so I found my old Finepix. Even though it’s a little slow good ol’ Finepix has comforted my through this difficult period, we had a lovely afternoon yesterday, it’s just like old times.

May 21, 2007

Stateline Roller Derby Divas

Thanks for all the support during the last month. I was amazed by all the comments, discussions, questions, well wishes and offers to help. I will take most of you up on those offers soon because I am please to announce, I and the women who left the old roller derby league started a new one. We completed month’s worth of paperwork and legal documents (in weeks), wrote bylaws, opened a bank account, found a few sponsors, designed a websites, made posters, and banners, found a practice space with a locker-room and recruited new skaters. We have enough women for one full team so far and are still looking for more motivated women who want to play. I am proud of us. I can hardly wait to get back on the track. We still have to get equipment for the new women, teach everyone what they’re doing and settle on a logo so we can get shirts made (that’s where you all come in, I’ll need you to buy some of those shirts, I promise they’ll be affordable.) Oh and we need to learn the new rules, they went from 9 pages to 20 and it’s hard for me to learn them until we are skating them. Was it all worth it? Hell yes! Even amidst all that work, my own stress level has fallen from “I’m ready to poke pencils in my ears!” to “Hey, who brought watermelon for after practice?” Skating is fun again. Karyn you were right.

Check out some of our hard work here.

Roller Derby Divas
Skater Run, Owned by None

May 19, 2007

Minty Pics

I’d like to blame my three year old for getting a junior mint stuck in the lens of my camera but I have to admit the Junior Mints would’ve been in my purse had she been with us or not. My beloved thin tiny camera that flips out of my pocket and goes from zero to sixty in less than the time it takes a person to get their butt back into their pants is gummed up beyond my ability to clean. I’d take a picture, but there’s Junior mint stuck in my camera. Sigh.

May 16, 2007

valuable web time

from Pentagon limits web for troops

"...No more using the military's computer system to socialise and trade videos on MySpace, YouTube and nine other websites, the Pentagon says...

...At the same time, service members have used the websites to chronicle their time in battle, posting videos and writing journals that provide powerful personal glimpses into their days at war..."

Again I urge you to go read The Calm Before the Sand

May 15, 2007

Go Dog Go

Every kid memorizes a book when they're about three years old. Mine was "The Cat in the Hat" and Dan’s was "Green Eggs and Ham", so how appropriate that I now present to you Ella ‘reading’ "Go Dog Go" by P.D. Eastman. (It's about 10 minutes long)

May 14, 2007


Discovery of the zero marks the decisive stage in a process of development, science, and technology. The zero freed human intelligence from the counting board that held it prisoner for thousands of years, eliminating all ambuguity in the written expression of numbers, revolutionized the art of reckoning, and made it accessible to everyone.

May 13, 2007

The Magnolia Festival

We went with some friends to the Magnolia Festival last night. The food was wonderful. Der Rathskeller offered brats, pork chop sandwiches and pretezels, Altimores had pizza, bruschetta and chocolate cannolis (slurp, I ate three), and JT's Bourbon Street did bar-b-que ribs, dirty rice and cornbread and pulled pork sandwiches, then of course there was Miller and Barefoot wine. They had a few bands and we ran into old friends and introduced them to new friends. We had so much fun I ended up in a hoola-hooping contest. Next to roller skating hoola-hooping is one of my favorite things to do. I came in second.

May 10, 2007

It's Genetic

My mother is building a new house; this involves packing up the old house and getting things ready to go to the new house. In my mother’s house is a buffet that has for as far back as I can remember contained two drawers so full of family photographs that we could hardly wrap our heads around them. Once in a while we’d open a drawer and wallow in the photos picking up a random one here of us three kids acting goofy with shorts on our heads while camping in Colorado and the next my brother at prom. With no rhyme or reason the photos randomly strewn about in the drawer await the day someone will sort them into neat little books marked Jenny, Andy and Joe. Well, the buffet is coming to my house and the photos preceded it. I committed to sorting and copying all the important photos for each family member. My Mother and I sat down last week and did a preliminary sort. We looked through photos for a whole day, tossing four garbage bags full of tax returns from the 80s, hair clippings from who knows who and photos taken of the driveway whilst starting the roll of film or blurry shoes or pictures of ourselves with one eye open. Then we made boxes of photos for my brothers. Joe gets all the ones of him and his friends skateboarding and miscellaneous blond girls and the skate ramp he built in Mom’s back yard that he must’ve photographed a hundred different ways. Andy gets the shots of summer camp and college and several group photos full of smiling faces only he’d recognize. My box contains photos with lots of big hair and enough eyeliner to outfit a whole season of Top Model. Also placed in each box are years of report cards. I pulled one out from preschool (I had to be four) and discovered why Ella may be having such a hard time learning to skip in ballet class.

May 9, 2007


10:00 am update. She’s demanding watermelon and dressed as Ariel. I think whatever it was has run its course. Sigh. It’s a beautiful day and it’ll be nice and warm. Lots to look forward to today, we’re gonna buy a Barbie and see Grandma and play outside and not worry about dehydration or the phone ringing anymore. I have the funniest video of her reading Go Dog Go I must upload and share, but that takes time in front of the computer which I am not giving today. so instead I give you a short conversation had in line at the grocery:

M: Are you pretty?

E: No, I don’t even have a long dress on.

M: Are you smart?

E: Nope, but when I’m a bigger girl I’ll be smart.

M: Oh, are you just small right now?

E: Yes, I am small

M: But are you brave?

E: Yes! I’m really brave

M: Brave is good. Are you loud?


M: Well, those are pretty good things to be darling.

E: I told you I’m not pretty today, I’m small and loud and brave.


One Birthday & One Barfday

Today, I stood on the back porch wondering when the leaves on the tree behind our house grew thick and lush and how I missed it. Amidst the politics, the last minute errands of the art show, the poison gas cloud and the friends’ calls who wanted to talk about all the controversy during the last few weeks was hidden my birthday. I don’t remember exactly what we did that day. There was no Boston creamy-cake or hats like Ella wished for me, but she did sing and that was wonderful. I believe Dan had a public hearing that night and I asked Grandma to watch Ella for a few hours so I could sit in on it (for fun – yeah that’s right – for fun). I received some wonderful well wishes and notes from friends and family and we went out for gourmet burgers that Friday. Dan and Ella gave me a beautiful new book bag filled with lots of trashy summer paperbacks and I may finish the first tonight as I sit up with Ella. She has barfed no less than 6 times today and she’s having a difficult time keeping water down. Its midnight and I’ve been in the bathroom every two hours with her since 10 am this morning holding her hair back from her face and then the cleaning up and re-hydrating her. I figure she’s absorbing enough water in between pukes to keep her going but I’m calling the Doctor in the morning. Dr. B. will nod and agree it’s the flu and it needs to run its course. I will have chapped hands from washing them so often and Ella will never eat Pink Princess Cereal again.

May 8, 2007

Get your Boots on

The developer is gone and people have stopped calling our house to voice their opinion, our town is not signing a pre-annexation with a development 26 miles away and hopefully the land it is located on has officials that will see its merits. I still think it could save their schools especially in light of their failed referenda. I hope those parents who opposed the subdivision see what the county actually has planned there instead are 13 story high rises and high density industrial. They should call their board members in opposition to that too. Ok, if you’re just walking in on this and I’m talking in cryptic bits, I’m sorry. I guess I just want to say I am just thankful that the phone is quiet today. In the last week, I’ve taken messages from developers, community leaders, Senators, State Representatives, Press from three counties and concerned citizens from everywhere. I wish all these people still cared about tiny town after the smoke clears.

We need a sewer plant to the tune of 6 million dollars. We take in about $580,000.00 a year in revenue for the village. My water/sewer bill is $80.00 a month. There are just three of us and one of us is a mini person. The rates had to go up in January and they’ll go up again in July because the plant has to get built. Our good Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama managed to secure a small grant for the new plant but we still have to find the funds for the rest of it. The village’s elected officials have explored every avenue for revenue (including a very recent and controversial pre-annexation agreement, that didn’t go anywhere). What are they planning now? They have a couple of developments they are still trying to work the details out on and they are continuing to search every avenue.

How did we get here? Over the past 30 years most of our elected officials and residents put their heads in the sand and pretended there was no problem. This didn’t seem to work because people in tiny town continued to flush. When I first moved here we didn’t even have water meters – everyone’s bill was a flat rate $15.00. So there wasn’t much action on the situation until about 8 years ago. The current facility is rusting out. Its 40 years old and just past its lifetime. There may come a day when the EPA shuts it down and the county has to truck our waste to their facility and we will pay who knows what a month. The plant shouldv'e been replaced in 1987. What’s my point? I guess my point is this, if you continue to pretend there isn’t a problem the crap will continue to pile up until it’s a crisis.

May 7, 2007


Early Warning Signs of

Powerful and continuing group identity

Disdain for basic rights

Identifying enemies as a unifying cause

Corporate power protected

Obsession with security

Fraudulent elections

Labor power suppressed

Disdain for intellectuals and the arts

Obsession with crime and punishment

Rampant cronyism and corruption

Rampant sexism

Controlled mass media

Supremacy of the military

Religion and government intertwined


So two Sundays ago my old roller derby league had the giant meeting I’d been asking for. I wasn’t there. I’d been kicked out the week before. I heard first hand what happened. The Corporate Board Members passed two copies of the bylaws around to 35 women and told them they couldn’t have a copy and didn’t need a copy. In the face of questioning from the skaters, the Corporate Board changed the reasons for removing me from the league. I still haven’t been notified of these new reasons. A few skaters pointed out that the league is not operating within the parameters of the law and a handful of very respectable women quit and walked out at the end of the meeting.

There is so much more to say but I really want to just stick to unbiased facts. So there you have it draw your own conclusions.

I still have no way to know what is being said about me or what is being blamed on me now that I am gone and can’t defend myself. I’ve heard through the grapevine everything from tearing down the website in anger, to purposefully messing up print material to get them in trouble with the state (shakes head). I could address each accusation individually but who knows who actually said what and it’s easier to just simply say it’s not true. Besides, I really just don’t want any part of that mess anymore.

Perhaps someday I'll post it all, but not today.

May 5, 2007

Poison Gas Cloud

Poison Gas Cloud

Punky Mom calls at 8:30 and says “What’s going on in the neighboring town? I left my cell phone in my car down there and Mr. Punky went to get it and they turned him around and said the town is closed, something about a poison gas explosion.” “I don’t know let me ask Mr. Bombadee and I’ll call you back.” Moments later Dan is telling me “Aw, it’s probably just an ammonia leak, we’re fine.” and we go up to bed. Let me remind you I am not from a farm town so ‘just an ammonia leak’ still sounds kinda dangerous to me, but Dan seems totally unfazed. We flip on the TV in our bedroom and see a warning flashing across the top of the screen, IF YOU LIVE WITHIN ONE MILE OF THE SEWARD AG PLANT YOU ARE ADVISED TO GO TO A SAFER PLACE… I poke Dan again and say, I think this is kinda serious. Dan says, “Nah, the police would’ve called by now.” Then the phone rang.

Dan pulled on whatever was beside the bed on the floor and walked out the door in a crumpled pair of shorts and a t-shirt. He went to the high school where they were bringing evacuees to make sure there were enough blankets and water and whatever else they may need. There was an anhydrous ammonia leak at the ag plant in the neighboring town. They use anhydrous ammonia for a fertilizer on the farms surrounding our towns. I sat in bed watching Ella sleep holding both my cell phone and the house phone waiting patiently for my throat to start burning. I watched the news of the evacuations unfold. The gas cloud was floating south east with the wind, away from our town out into the night. Officials did have to go drive through the south end of town with Bullhorns and knock on doors to get people to a safer place they didn’t need us to leave. Dan called me every 15 minutes asking for another phone number, first the pastor of a local church, they needed more blankets and cots, then the number to the local grocery so they could get some munchies and bottled water. I sat in bed with Ella, two phones and the phone book watching the news.

At 10:30 the news was over and so was the coverage. I couldn’t believe it, poison gas roaming the country side in the night and Jay Leno was cracking jokes. I was up until 1:30 waiting for Dan and he finally made it home at 2:45 exhausted and breathing just fine. The next day we watched it all unfold again on AP News where Dan is standing in the background in crumpled shorts, bed head and his work jacket.

Small northern Illinois town evacuated following ammonia leak Chicago Sun Times

Up next part II to the Roller Derby Saga

May 4, 2007

Musical Misogyny

I read Twisty Faster over at I Blame the Patriarchy religiously and through her I recently discovered Sinister Girl who I immediately had to add to the blog rolls and now read daily too. About a month back Ms. Jared at Sinister girl decided to put together a feminist music exchange and asked who would like to be involved. I did, and so I sent in the promise to snail mail CDs to every other woman who wanted to participate, in exchange for CDs from them. The assignment was feminist music, defined as music by women or music for women. I say that leaves the interpretation wide open, I figured it'd be easy. The month went by and I made a mental list of songs I knew I wanted to include. Last week when I sat down to sort for those songs I can to the realization I really only had 3 songs in mind and after listening to the lyrics they really weren’t what I would consider feminist music, they were just beautifully sung by women. It’s ok that still fit the assignment, but I had to find a dozen or so more. I combed through my music collection in disbelief, no women. I could go back to my college collection of CDs in the basement and find some Alanis Morissette, but Sinister girl published a list of what was handed out last year and most of my college feminist music collection was there, I really didn’t have much to add. Tracy Chapman, Indigo girls, and Sarah McLachlan were done already and besides I didn’t even have any of that in the collection of songs I’ve listened to over the last three years. What women did I have that were recent? - Lori Berkner (which I did include on the CD) and Ella Fitzgerald (not exactly cutting edge new). I did finally dig out 15 songs from various artists I’ve downloaded in the last few years but it’s a paltry few and I am ashamed. So, with great anticipation I await the CDs from my fellow bloggers waiting to understand what feminist music is and also waiting to discover some new artist. By this time next year I swear this assignment won’t be so difficult for me.

Songs I sent:

Juliette by the Januaries
Alright by Lucy Nation
Catch the Moon by Lisa Loeb & Elizabeth Mitchell
Free Hot Chocolate by Snoozie & the Miltonics
Who’d Stop the Rain by Dressy Bessy
Half Acre by Hem
Sarafin by Celina Pereira & Ivo Pires Ban
I Really Love to Dance by Laurie Berkner
Hyperactive by The Donnas
Us by Regina Spektor*
4 Big Speakers by Whale
Portia by Throwing Muses
Edge of the Ocean by Iby
Paris in the Rain by Telephone
Speak Easy by Maria Taylor

*I did buy this Regina Spektor CD but it was for Dan not myself. (sheepish grin)

May 3, 2007

Too many

It's been a crazy little couple of weeks for everyone and I have so many things to blog about I'm overwhelmed so I'll give you a choice, what would you like to hear about first?

A. The giant poison cloud that floated over our town
B. The Roller Derby "conspiracyzing"
C. The developer that caused 40 people to call my house
D. Ella learns to read... kinda
E. The seeds we planted that will grow into a business
F. How I learned I was a sexist when it comes to music and how I'm changing
G. My birthday

May 2, 2007


I just love the spring. Shedding cold hard visages of winter and planting a seed is a fine end to a long season of torment. It's the earth's reminder that everything can start fresh and anew and be beautiful and good again.