Monday, April 30, 2012

Getting Lost in the Shuffle!

Well, my goodness, here it is only four days until the Spoutwood May Day Fairie Festival, and I haven't said a word about it! I didn't even invite Mushu and Grape, last year's most popular dragons! I haven't  gotten out my garb ... The only thing I did was to put the Mountain Tribe banner in the trunk of the car (fearing I would forget it).

Part of the reason I haven't said much about this year's Fairie Festival is that it will be very bittersweet for me. Don't tell anyone ... shhh ... but I'm going to resign as Tribe leader after this year.

You can't talk me out of this. It's not ethical to be leader of the Mountain Tribe when you live in the tidal flats and own no property in the mountains. Say what you want about the mountains being in my heart and my heritage. It's still not the same.

Also, I'm just getting to a time in life when I don't want any responsibilities outside the enormous burden of school and family. I've ranted about this before. There comes a time in the life of every sane person when they just say NO to volunteering.

Fairie Festival isn't like the Mummer's Parade, where you show up for one drunken rehearsal, pay for a costume you don't have to make, and spend a day pie-eyed in the streets of Philly.

It also isn't like Buzzard Day, which consists of renting a costume and spending three hours strutting around in it.

Fairie Festival is more like performing ... and serious performing at that. There's a deep spirit there that must be taken seriously.

Well, that should tell you all you need to know. "Serious" is not in my vocabulary. It sends me into blue screen. Go ahead. Say it. Tell me, "Anne you have to be serious about this." And then watch me curl up into a fetal position, whimpering for my blankie.

Spare has been my co-leader for the past three years. But next May she will be in finals week ... college. Wouldn't be right to continue without her.

So, if you're in the neighborhood of Glen Rock, PA, and you want to join the Mountain Tribe for the swan song of Anne and Spare, please make yourself known! Look for the neon tie-dye on Saturday and a more muted robe on Sunday. 2012 will forever be the year I lost my farm. Moving forward, I'll be in the Tribe, but it deserves a leader who walks the walk.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

The Lottery: Just For Morons

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Luck, be a lady tonight! It's time to run the numbers!

It occurred to me, earlier today, that I can continue to post about my husband's book on the same post I wrote about it earlier in the week. The Internet is a marvel. The best part about this is, we can all move along to what "The Gods Are Bored" does best: laughing at stupid stuff.

Do you play the lottery? Hand tip here: The lottery is stupid stuff. If you disagree, you may want to shuffle off to the convenience store before the 7:00 drawing.

I guess it was about two weeks ago, I went to the neighborhood quick-stop to get a bottle of tonic water. Don't know about you, but I'm devoted to tonic water. Nectar of the bored gods, and all that.

Anyway, my neighborhood 7-11 is never very busy, but on this particular night, there was no parking in the lot, car horns were beeping like crazy, and a line of people snaked out the door and onto the sidewalk of Snobville's eastern edge.

Everyone was buying a Powerball ticket. Or 200 of them. You see, the jackpot had skyrocketed. I forget how much it was. I don't keep track of such things. Apparently, a lot of people do.

While everyone else stood in line to snatch Powerball tix, I got my tonic water and a nice Tastykake to boot. (The chiefest joy of living in the Philly area is unlimited access to fresh Tastykakes.)

It was quite diverting to watch the queue (great word) of wanna be gazillionaires forking over hard-earned ducats for little pieces of nondescript paper. I mean, come on, dudes! At least the scratch-off kind are pretty to look at! People were buying, and buying, and buying, while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.

Earlier in the day, I had heard a radio news report. I may be wrong on this number, but I'm pretty sure I heard the announcer say that your chances of winning the lottery are 171 million to one.

Note I say "your." I don't play the freakin' lottery! You know what's 171 million to one? A Great White Shark leaping up and eating me, fresh off the Atlantic City Expressway, 20 miles east of the coastline! A meteor the size of my parrot, Decibel, missing me by two inches as I watch a Vo Tech junior varsity baseball game in the rain! A call from my mother-in-law, totally devoid of drama! I mean, come on, friends. Some things just. don't. happen.

If I did play the lottery, and I won, I would be afraid to step outside. The next FedEx truck I saw would flatten me like a pancake. One of those deer ticks would sneak up my leg and give me Lyme Disease. I'd blow a tire on the Jersey Turnpike at high rush hour. The odds are vastly in favor of these outcomes.

Bottom line of this sermon: If you're an unbridled optimist (or a moron), you play the Powerball at 171 million-to-one odds. If you're a diehard pessimist, you buy tonic water and a Tastykake.

And, boy, does that Tastykake taste good going down ... especially after a long, hard day.

I think this little column falls under the category of free advice. Remember that, in this economy, everyone must make sacrifices. So I'm paying you to take my free advice. Email me.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Restorative Moment

Today was a particularly trying day of teaching. It's getting late in the year, and as usual my students are not terribly smitten by Romeo and Juliet. To make matters worse, I'm battling a really nasty virus that has taken my voice.

Ah, but at the end of the day I paused to check in on my favorite web cam buzzards...

http://www.sandiegozooglobal.org/video/condor_cam

Just in time to see mother and chick preening and bonding with each other. Oh, blessed mystery of life, at last I've found you!

The baby Condor now has a name. So the family consists of Sisquoc (the father, I met him long ago in San Diego), Shatash (the mom), and Saticoy (the chick). The names are all Native American.

I don't know about you, but I think "Saticoy" is a lovely name. It's too bad I'm too old to have more children.

Perhaps I'll suggest it for a grandchild.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Going Out Tonight...

... to the Oxford Valley Mall for my husband's first-ever book signing. Bless his heart, he's been rehearsing in the garage!

Tomorrow or the next, I'm going to write a few posts about my experiences with the characters in Like Any Normal Day. I've met some of them, and they really are wonderful people. The mark of a good person is when life tests you to the max, and you stare it in the eye and don't blink. The Miley family has more non-blinkers than I've ever met in one household.

The previous post was visited, quite unexpectedly, by my one-and-only troll. I've flung the gauntlet at supporters of Cindy Jacobs, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, DC40, the Tea Party, Rush Limbaugh, and the Westboro Baptist Church. Only once, long ago, did I get a tepid response from someone who approves the messages of these pustules. My troll seems to have no political allegiance, but he holds a damned good grudge.

This is my favorite bridge, Troll. Do not collect toll at this bridge. The ghosts will kick your butt.

This is my second favorite bridge. Knock yourself out.

For the curious: The first bridge (yes, Iggy) is Burnside Bridge on the edge of Antietam Battlefield. The second bridge is (yes, Iggy) the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, mid-span.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

To the Pole and Back

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on April 24, 2012 -- the official publication date of Like Any Normal Day, by my husband, Mark Kram Jr. It's very surreal to think of his book being unpacked from boxes and placed out on tables in Barnes & Noble and fine independent booksellers like http://www.jacksonst-books.com/?page=shop/privacy Jackson Street Books!

Writing this book, for my husband and me, was kind of like setting out on a journey to reach the North Pole. We didn't know if we would ever make it, and we weren't prepared for the ordeal of getting there and back again.

I like to use metaphors, and this is an apt one. Extending now:

Let's say Mark was an explorer who had done Arctic expeditions before, but never all the way to the Pole. And I was confident he could make it, but whoa. What a trip! We have both come back changed. Not for better or worse. Just changed.

Like a wilderness sojourn, this story tested our bond and our resolve. Mark had to immerse himself into other peoples' lives and try to understand the thoughts and dreams of a quadriplegic man. I was just starting a brand new job too, with a steep learning curve and no margin for error. Some days it did feel like a teetering sled, pulled by poor, exhausted, under-fed Buck ... just trying to get us there.

While he worked on his book, Mark kept his day job in the dwindling print journalism industry. He also wrote a monthly column of 2,000 words for a magazine in South Africa. Another metaphor: If he was John Henry, he would have beaten that steam-driven hammer by a country mile. I never saw anyone work harder, keep more balls moving in the air.

Sometimes we ask the rhetorical question: If we knew then what we know now, would Mark have embarked on this literary challenge? Whenever we are tempted to say no, always in the back of my mind comes the thought that it's better to get frostbite on an epic journey than to stay and stagnate in your comfort zone.

And so we have come to pub date. The journey is not over. It's just entering a new phase. My guess is that it will never really end until we do. Writing is like that.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Bored Gods Have To Stay at Home

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," not looking for any trouble on a beautiful spring evening! I'm just back from watching the j.v. baseball game at my school. It was very touching when my students smiled and waved at me as they waltzed around the bases, time after time. Yes, it was a rout. Go Tech!

I lost my last contract as a writer in 2005, and so I wandered into a thicket called teaching. If you haven't tried teaching, let me just say that there's a lot more to it than you'd think if you watched Welcome Back, Kotter. It wasn't like I transitioned from writing to, say, editing ... or medical transcription ... or anything involving typing. Oh no, I did a complete and utter career change. And for a long time it seemed to me I didn't have the chops to pull it off.

Yesterday the principal came into my room, shook my hand, and confirmed that I have been hired for the 2012-13 school year. This means that I have tenure.

And Chris Christie, if you mess with my tenure, so help me I'll buy every Hershey bar in the state ... starting in Trenton and moving through the wealthiest neighborhoods first.

I want to be a good teacher. I want to see my students succeed. I also want to abide by our U.S. Constitution. Ergo, when I go to school, the bored gods stay home.

I have pledged allegiance to the flag at the Vo-Tech more than 600 times. Never once have I said, "Under God." God does not belong in public schools. And if he doesn't belong, then Mannanan Mac Lir will have to stay outside too.

I feel very strongly about this. If I have Christian students who write religious papers or express religious opinions, I encourage them to be proud of their faith. But offer mine up for inspection? BAAAAMP! Not even if I taught World Religions. Which thankfully I don't.

So, here's to a public school teacher, earning enough to be self-sufficient ... finally ... at age ... oh, snap, never mind!

Don't forget to pick up your copy of my husband's nonfiction book, Like Any Normal Day. If you go to his site, he'll tell you a story ain't got no moral.

http://www.markkramjr.com/

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mark Kram Jr. and "Like Any Normal Day"

My daughter wasn't even born on the day when my husband, Mark Kram Jr., drove out to Warminster, PA to meet a gentleman named Buddy Miley. Buddy's life, death, and legacy are the subjects of Mark's book, Like Any Normal Day, on sale now at Amazon.com and many fabulous independent bookstores near you.

Okay, I'm the dude's wife, so do you really expect me to say mean things about his brand-new book? Of course not! But you probably also would think that I might embellish the greatness of the tome in the interest of grocery money. Therefore, I yield the floor to a few reviewers, first among them Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Ford:

"Like Any Normal Day looks piercingly beyond the moment when the lights dim and the crowds go home in any young athlete's life. Kram's acuity and sympathies stretch far beyond his sportswriter's practiced gaze -- indeed, all the way to the realm of literature. It is not a happy story he has to tell us. But it seems to me -- perhaps for that very reason -- it is an essential and cautionary one."

And O, aka Oprah Magazine:

"Whether you agree or disagree with their decision, you'll be unable to turn away from the heartbreaking true story of a paralyzed man and the devoted brother who helps him die."

Also, Kirkus Reviews gave the book a star. If you're a librarian, you know how hard it is to get a star from Kirkus. I've seen claw machines that were far more generous.

Another review can be found in the April 20 issue of Sports Illustrated. Yeah, well, I know, I know ... SI ain't Oprah. Except that long-time readers of SI will recall Mark Kram Sr. and perhaps give an approving nod to the next generation.

As an assistant to my husband,  I read that book in manuscript at least three times. I still cried when it went into final pages. Don't get me wrong: This isn't a book that's going to leave you with a bad case of the blues. Oh no. It's touching. You root for the hero, and he doesn't let you down.
Bookmark this page if you want more information and updates on Like Any Normal Day. I'll be keeping a diary of the book's progress, posting photos, and sharing interesting commentary on Mark and his book. Here's Mark's website:

http://www.markkramjr.com/

And here's a really wonderful extended conversation with Mark, complete with a fabulous portrait done by his daughter:

http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/2012/04/24/bronx-banter-interview-mark-kram/
  

If you are anything like me, you hate giving your hard-earned largesse to the big box booksellers, so here's a nice review of Mark's book and a link to a wonderful independent bookstore, Jackson Street Books.

http://jacksonstreetbooks.blogspot.com/2012/04/like-any-normal-day.html

Jimmy Miley has put a poster of the book on every side of his moving van. The large and lovely Miley family turned out for Mark's first-ever book signing on April 24, 2012. After decades -- I mean decades -- of attending other author readings/signings, it was surreal to actually see Mark in the author's chair. He handled it well, having practiced in the comfort of his home office.

Reviews are trickling in, almost all of them overwhelmingly positive. If you liked the book, please post something nice over at Amazon.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Odd Thing To Pay Forward

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Wow, what a busy week! It's so nice to get a spring break. If I hadn't had one, I would have had to create it.

One of the highlights of this week was the visit Spare and I made to the special Van Gogh exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The exhibit focused on Van Gogh's nature paintings, and it was amazing. "Starry Night" was not there, but there were several woodland vista works that reminded me of home. And one haunting canvas of a rainstorm, painted while looking out of the window of a mental asylum.

Van Gogh was also in the mental asylum when he painted this beautiful canvas for his brand-new namesake nephew. It is Spare's favorite, and she spent quite a long time gazing at it.

I know fashions and tastes change, but I just cannot imagine how this artist was overlooked in his lifetime. Maybe if he lived longer, like Walt Whitman (both alive and working at the same time, different continents). Maybe he lacked Whitman's self-assurance ... certainly lacked Whitman's mental health. Say what you will about Walt Whitman, he was supremely happy in his skin.

The same day we saw Van Gogh, Spare and I visited the Magic Gardens on South Street in Philadelphia. This is an art installation created by a local man named Isaiah Zagar. Words and pictures do not do it justice. It's as if the artist went to a landfill full of old bottles, plates, coffee mugs, tiles, and a zillion other things, and just waved a magic wand and turned it into a gleaming, mirrored palace. Here is a place you could go 30 times and never see it the same way twice. And while it was a daunting $25 per person to see Van Gogh, the Magic Gardens (probably same square footage or larger than the Van Gogh exhibit) was $5 per person.

Ha ha! Some day the Magic Gardens will be as famous as "Sunflowers in a Vase," and it will cost $75 per person to get in, after waiting in a long line and being issued headphones so you can hear famous critics talk about it! Yay! Spare and I got there before the fashions and tastes did!

The best part of this week, though, was the magick I performed for my late grandfather.

Granddad spent his entire working life creating machinery that worked on a microscopic level. He must have wondered how he came upon such a fascinating occupation, having grown up on a piece-of-nothing mountainside farm. In his spare time he fixed timepieces of all sizes, from little wristwatches to great, big grandfather clocks. He was an early browser of yard sales, and from them he procured many pocket watches that he fixed and doled out. I have one. Sometimes I take it to school, just to feel its warmth against my hip.

While Granddad was still alive, he kept his watch repair books on a shelf in the family farm house. After he died, my uncle moved the books in order to have room for his own library. I thought the books had been lost, thrown away. But when my cousin cleaned out the house in preparation for sale, he found the watch repair books. I asked him to send them to me.

The books were a motley lot, smelling moldy and broken at the spine. But I could see that they were really great how-to manuals for watch repair. Two of them were published in 1922.

It happens that there is a watch repairman in Snobville who has been in the trade for a long time, certainly as long as I have lived here. I once had him "tune up" my pocket watch, which he said was a good one, well cared for.

Yesterday I walked into the jewelry store where the watch repairman works. I gave him all of the watch-making books. He was like a kid in a candy store. He pointed to my grandfather's name in the front of one of them and said, "Is this the man who owned the books?" And I said yes, that was my beloved granddad, and I know he would want useful books to be paid forward into the right hands.

The repairman said he was in the process of creating a workshop in his home. I told him my grandfather had a table where he kept all his watch books and supplies, and people used to give their watches to him to be fixed.

The only request I made of the watch repairman was to keep paying the books forward, to be sure that someone who worked with clocks would always have them. He said, "No problem!" Then he added: "Wait until my wife sees these!"

It's such a comfort to me to know that those books are in the hands of someone who can understand them, use them, and appreciate them.

The moral of this sermon: Holding onto certain things for sentimental reasons robs them of their essence. Pay it forward. Tick. Tick. Tick.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rare Post about the Busy God: Did Jesus Exist?

Every now and then someone flings a book at me that is kind of out of my regular line of reading. This is how I came to read Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, by Bart D. Ehrman.

Had to ask myself two questions about this tome before I even opened it:

1. Why should I read about the historical existence of Jesus when I already believe it, and

2. Should I waste my time reading about the busy god?

Just goes to show you ... move beyond those pesky, nagging questions sometimes. This title turned out to be very interesting, and one of those rare books written by a scholar for a lay audience that is actually understandable and accessible.

Apparently there's a largish movement underway to cast Jesus of Nazareth as a mythical being, totally made up from the fertile imaginations of ancient people. Well, as we all know, the best way to discredit a deity is to stick the "m" word onto His or Her exploits.

Bart Ehrman takes on these mythicists and discredits them ... actually trounces them soundly, using logical, fact-based arguments. But in doing so, in establishing the existence of a real historical figure named Jesus of Nazareth, Professor Ehrman doesn't do the Christian religion any favors. As the author notes, "Jesus would not recognize himself in the preaching of most of his followers today."

Actually, the historical Jesus wouldn't recognize anything about himself in the actions of his followers today, because (as this book explains in refreshing detail), Jesus didn't anticipate the future lasting longer than his lifetime. He was an "apocalypse now" preacher who saw himself as the head of the table in the aftermath of a Rapture that was scheduled to occur before he died. Then, counter to all expectations, he died.

Like many a stripling before me, I used to sit in church, through long, boring sermons of which I can remember nothing. I used to wonder how much of the Bible was real, and how much was made up. (Most of it is made up.) But I never doubted that Jesus was a historical person, mostly for the same reasons that Professor Ehrman discusses in his book: There are just too many sources of somewhat-overlapping data about Jesus, from too many different individuals.

Turns out I was pretty good at honing in on the human Jesus, even as a kid. It seemed to me that Jesus held a high opinion of himself (in my view to the point of megalomania), and all that humility and suffering to save the world was grafted onto a slender stalk of reality at a later date. Did Jesus Exist? may not arrive at this conclusion out-and-out, but the scholarly parsing of the oldest texts does give us evidence of a charismatic human being who came to believe his own press releases to the point of reckless public behavior.

So, while Did Jesus Exist was out-of-the-box reading for me, it was a worthwhile endeavor. I'm not surprised that this author has drawn the ire of the fundamentalist movement, because he has discovered what's really fundamental in Jesus' ministry ... emmm ... awkward.

As a postscript I'll add that I also believe King Arthur was a historical figure, or at least a series of historical figures from a particular moment in the history of the British Isles. Believing as I do in King Arthur, I'm glad there aren't texts like The Gospel of Lancelot, written within a century of Arthur's passing and then revised by hidden hands here and there as fashion and necessity dictated. A little knowledge is not always a bad thing when it comes to poking holes in your heroes.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Frank Talk about Sex between Teachers and Students

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," turning to the tricky subject of teacher/student relations of a carnal nature. This will be one of our series of frank talks, so if you're a stripling, go play in the sunshine.

Like it or not (and most kids don't like it even a little bit), teachers are authority figures. Let's see if we can rank teachers in the hierarchy of authority figures:

EXHIBIT A: AUTHORITY FIGURES IN A YOUNG PERSON'S LIFE

1. Parents
2. Law enforcement
3. Pastors
4. Teachers

If a kid doesn't get much notice from #1 above, he or she may or may not wind up tangling with #2 or #3 above. But regardless of whether or not parents care, kids absolutely must deal with teachers. They can avoid cops or preachers, but not teachers.

This is a very, very slippery slope for both student and educator, especially young educators who are only a handful of years older than some of their charges. We hear all the time of newly-minted teachers being respectable and then marrying a student who they have taught for a year or two.

We also hear of teachers of both genders who do the deed with their students.

Go into any high school anywhere and look around. The students there are at a beautiful age. They look great. The boys are handsome, and the girls are pretty. It's very easy for a teacher (who, after all, has the authority) to compliment, charm, and seduce a student. Very often when these relationships are uncovered, the relationship is considered to be consensual. In other words, the student is loving it as much as the teacher.

We at "The Gods Are Bored" don't necessarily discourage sexual relationships between older men/women and younger men/women. It's just the teacher thing that's problematic.

Teachers who become overly romantic with their students are taking advantage of:

1. Their authority over a largish population of people
2. The pool of beautiful youngsters at their disposal
3. The need for young people to attract adult attention, and
4. The many nooks and crannies in every school where trysts can at least be verbally arranged, if not out-and-out consummated.

I'm a school teacher, and let me tell you, even the most rebellious kid on campus, even the senior about to walk out the high school door, yes, even that senior, has a little bit of fear of teachers. Even the students who love you to death and bring you cookies at Christmas still have a sense that you have control. Therefore, as a teacher you should never:

1. Over-exert that control by being authoritarian, manipulative, or favoritism-prone,
2. Under-exert that control by chillin with your pupil-peeps, even to the degree of off-campus friendship,
3. Get romantic with someone whose essay you'll have to grade on the weekend.

The teachers at Snobville High School have their students as Facebook friends. They go on lunch dates and travel together. They talk on the phone at night.

BAMP! Wrong.

Teaching is a profession. Teachers should be professionals. Would you think of friending your dermatologist who you only see for your pimple medicine, or your accountant who does your taxes?

Teaching is a profession. Students are clients. They are sweet, needy clients, but clients nevertheless. A true professional knows there's a line, knows not to cross it, and knows in his/her heart of hearts that when it is crossed, it's wrong.

Guys, you want a young, peppy girlfriend? Go to Wet T-Shirt Nite at the sports bar and fling around some bling. Girls, you want a solid, dependable older guy? Good luck with that. Most of them are married. Which is a whole separate kettle of frank-talk fish.

Teacher, leave those kids alone.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Good Friday

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," celebrating the very-widely-observed seasonal festival of Eostre!

Here's an important philosophical question that I hope to pose to Eostre after the holy day. Is she bored (because her holy day has been usurped by another religion), or is she busy (because people dress up and celebrate Her holy day each year on the appropriate day)?

It's way past time for another "Gods Are Bored" interview, so hopefully we can get Eostre here next week.

In the meantime: Good Friday.

When you are a public school teacher who hasn't had a break since President's Day, Good Friday takes on a whole new meaning. Sorry for your suffering, Jesus ... really ... but having today off was WAY PAST FABULOUS.

No Stations of the Cross, no hours of mournful Bach cantatas. We at "The Gods Are Bored" slept until 9:00, prepared a simple breakfast, read Time magazine (Santorum: The First Amendment's best friend), and browsed the thrift store for candles and tablecloths. Accompanied by daughter, The Spare.

The sole black cloud on this day was a literal one, from a forest fire in the New Jersey Pinelands. Otherwise, again with apologies to the busy god, this day was good.

I've got my desktop computer back, it's purring like a kitten, and next week I'm OFF EVERY DAY!

Good, Good Friday! My Friday is like a red, red rose that newly blooms in April...

(Sorry, Shakespeare, but global climate change is upon us.)

Happy Eostre! Gods Are Bored busy blogging next week! LUV IT!

So nice to have the computer and the fabulous, wonderful artwork of Thalia Took!

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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Very Tragic Tale of Poor Sad Tom

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm here blogging at school today, so this sad tale will be brief.

Both of my daughters attended Snobville High School, a bastion of cutthroat academics and one-upsmanship. The goal of almost every Snobville High student is to be accepted into multiple Ivy League schools. Just for backup, many students also apply to prestige universities like Duke, Stanford, and my alma mater, Johns Hopkins.

Rare is the student who fixates on one particular university and bends all of his or her accomplishments toward admittance to that institution. Poor Sad Tom did just that.

PST has spent the last ten years lusting in his heart for Princeton University and only Princeton University. He was class president all four years at Snobville High, did community service until he dropped from exhaustion (literally he was dazed at last year's Snobville Community Book Sale from stacking heavy boxes of books in the hot sun). He took the requisite accelerated and AP courses and did well on them. He aced the SATs after much diligent practice. He's a polite, sincere young man with just the slightest pinched expression to indicate his obsessive ambition.

Admission letters went out last week. While a few other Snobville High students made the grade and got into Princeton, PST did not. He wasn't even wait-listed.

PST only applied to one other university, the lowly Rutgers, seen as a venue of last resort for Snobville's Ivy-bound egotists. (Can you imagine not being happy about getting accepted at Rutgers University? Me neither.)

Apparently, PST is overcome with grief. He is literally re-living his past four years and looking at the places in his life (sparse though they are) where he wasted time that he could have spent studying. Literally, as Spare recounts it, PST is berating himself for watching some t.v. series that he liked. And he deeply regrets the dating he did. Could have been home studying.

I don't fault PST for this tragedy. It's bigger than him. It begins with the idea that some universities are like diamonds that, once obtained, assure you a magical ascent into the one percent. It extends to the despicable notion that affordable state colleges are beneath contempt because, oh gosh, they admit lots of normal people. It morphs into the idea that your identity is the college you attend, your standing with your peers rests on acing the SAT and pulling in that "on behalf of the ... welcome to ..." letter.

If I knew PST well enough, I would have this sage advice for him:

In two weeks a major publishing house will release my husband's nonfiction title, a real, live book for which he was paid an advance.

My husband has so many award plaques that we have nowhere left to hang them. He's also gotten tropies, framed artwork, been collected in anthologies, and received an effusive blurb for his book from one of the major authors of this era.

Any Princeton professor of writing would cut off a finger for this kind of success.

My husband dropped out of college after two years in which what he mostly did was fail his courses.

PST, weep no more. Life begins at 18. Watch some t.v., take that girl out for an ice cream, and then find yourself a bored deity who will inhabit you, shower you with worth, and help you discover the special you that you've stuffed in some drawer in your bedroom. Don't sit in the lecture hall listening to the Learn'd Astronomer! Get out there in the mystic night and stare at the stars.

Monday, April 02, 2012

What the Frogs Said

What did one frog say to another?

"My, how time is fun when you're having flies."

The faeries love that one.

I pose this silly joke because this week marks the seventh anniversary of "The Gods Are Bored." I can hardly believe it myself.

Seven years ago I was an unemployed ex-writer whose beloved father had just died. I was already a Pagan.

One morning I sat reading the newspaper, and I saw a story about a woman who had gotten her vet bills paid by her blog readers. This blog stuff had already filtered in to my not-so-computer-savvy radar. So I went into my home office, wandered onto this site, and found it unreasonably easy to set up a blog.

What to call it? Would you believe that I didn't even have a name planned out? "The Gods Are Bored" just came to me from ... hmmmmmm ..... oh, golly, it must have been the bored gods themselves! Finally, the voice They needed to get a little buzz on Their sadly downsized Existences!

I've written over 1700 posts. Excuse me if I repeat myself.

Navel gazing, daughter stories, Pagan stuff, politics, rants, revenge, humor. This place has been my funhouse. Wheee!

Tonight my home computer returns from a long stay in the hospital. This means that I'll be posting more pictures again, as always blithely disregarding intellectual property.

It's a special week. Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!"

PS - I don't own a dog.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Room for One, Room for All

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," democratic deity worship in action! If you've got the God, we've got the seer! Remember Miller beer?

Lots of cheer here. Yesterday I had a lovely lunch with Maebius and Nettle, two dear friends that I rarely see. Proof that you can continue to evolve as a Nature Girl even after leaving the mountains: Maebius taught me how to make a really loud whistle from an acorn cap. Who'da thought? I could have been bouncing shrill whistle sounds off the Allegheny Mountains for decades. Alas ... but never too late to learn a new trick.

Maebius and Nettle and I had a little chat beside the Shrine of the Mists. (It was a misty day, interestingly enough.) Needless to say, the conversation turned to the bored gods and our responsibility towards them.

Recently I joined a national Druid group called ADF. The main reason I joined was to undertake its scholarly program, which is intended to be rigorous and thorough.

One of the things ADF asks its members to do is to choose a pantheon of House Gods. These would be the deities to whom you give honor inside and outside your home.

Actually I had already done that by having an altar to Queen Brighid the Bright in my house and a shrine in the back yard. But the "House Gods" idea is somewhat perplexing all the same.

To me, all Gods and Goddesses are my House Gods. The most ancient deities that have long been forgotten are my House Gods. Sometimes I feel the name-forgotten Ancient Ones stirring around, especially by the shrine, but also indoors. When history forgets groups of people, it also forgets their deities. This is a sad and sorry thing.

What will history say some day about our society and our busy God? Will archeologists find multiple relics depicting a man nailed to a tree and say, "What a barbaric culture that was!" And would they be wrong in making that assumption?

Who has the right to declare one deity better than all others? What egotistical deity would make such a claim and require it to be believed by His or Her followers? Isn't this all a construct of human nature?

An atheist would tell you that all deities are constructs of human nature. I don't buy that, but I do believe that we humans sense a Higher Power and then endow It with all sorts of human characteristics (including gender) that It might not have at all.

Therefore, while I will honor Mannanan Mac Lir as my House God of the shrine, I will still invite each and every bored deity to feast at my table, to marvel at my refrigerator (They can't get over frozen food on a hot day), and to inhale the fragrant steam of a cup of tea.

To my friends far and wide, I say ... bring back the Bored Gods! Those whose names are known, and those who have been relegated to the mists of time. How very sad it is to be forgotten.