Tag Archives: moral quagmires

Dorkday


NSFW

Today was one of those days too…but a different kind of one of those days. We actually seem to be making some progress with the kid. While she’s still often defiant, she spends time thinking about what she should do before she does it (at least most of the time), and that’s one of the primary lessons we’re trying to get across.

That’s a plus-even though the process is maddening.

On the other hand, I was surrounded by stupid and by obstinate on the internet. I interrupted that parade of nincompoops to watch and excellent Cubs game, but the poop is still there.

Most of us on the net belong to a hobby forum of some kind at one time or another. Involvement is cyclical and depends on time and desire. I’m not much of a joiner. I’ve belonged to seven forums in the nearly 20 years I’ve been online. Most of them I drifted away from.

One forum I’ve been a member of for nine years, first as ______________, a username I shan’t disclose, and then under my usual title moderan. It’s ostensibly a forum for writers. Most of the time it’s tolerable, and I have some good friends there. Once in a while it’s fun, and someone shows real wit and makes time pass easily.

Other times…well, it sucks. Currently it’s going through such massive suck that I’m contemplating a hiatus. Hell, I’m thinking about leaving completely, and flouncing just to make it official, before something actually blows up.

The culture of this site is such that all of these tyro writers expect candy and awards all of the time, and advice from people who have “been there”, and “done that” fall into the same category as “wannabes” with no discernible publication history or expertise.

Anything contradictory is seen as negative, as “no fun.” It’s much like kindergarten. I’ve spent the better part of three days having an argument via personal message with a moderator who cannot admit that he was wrong, and instead indulges in armchair psychoanalysis. “Skodt” is this worthy’s appellation.

The impetus for this whole thing was a poster that asked how to describe the smell and taste of pot.

Mr. Skodt chimed in, saying that he had no personal experience, but that burning weed smelled like skunk or like garbage. You know, that kinda cliched bullshit.

I basically told him he had his head up his ass, adding that I have had extensive personal experience which said that he was wrong.

He stood his ground. Still is standing the same ground, despite repeated proof. His ego cannot even conceive that he’s been schooled, and without effort.

His English usage is so bad that I could not reasonably call him a competent writer. He has no business teaching other people to do what he does.

I copied off all of the pm exchanges and sent the file to the administrators. Since I have been a longtime member, have been staff at this place, and have otherwise given my time and talent generously, I feel entitled to better treatment than writing messages to a sneering buffoon.

And not the only one. There’s a whole list of moderators and other staff who are just useless, who have no expertise in writing, publishing, or anything else, who feel free to give advice to similarly struggling people, most of them young.

From my “advanced perspective” (I’ve sold at last count one hundred and ten stories, thirty-two poems or lyrics, about two hundred news articles, and one book back in the 80s), this is maddening. It’s just clamor, and it has no direction.

I’m also tired of asking my friends on staff to mediate disputes that arise because people get their egos in an uproar when they’re hip-checked.

Another poster has a book coming out. She’s publishing through one of those pay-by-the-book schlock outfits, something that I ferreted out yesterday. She’s not good enough to publish traditionally, and apparently too stupid to do the research that would have resulted in a self or indie-pubbed volume. She refuses all help anyway. She knows what she is doing, in her own head.

Another cannot write coherently, edit, proof, or do anything resembling story, but claims that he will have a book out, has an editor and proofreader, and aspires to be an editor. I offered him a green visor I bought on eBay some time ago. Among other things.

These people need to be told the truth. I think it’s better that I do it than some editor or publisher do it when it counts. What happened to realistic self-assessment?

“Well, it has three 4-star reviews and two three-star reviews. I want to fire back at the 3-star reviewer because he only looked at the flaws and I only want smoke blown in my direction if not actually up my ass.”

I swear on a stack of Necronomicons that this is really the person’s attitude. It’s only slightly paraphrased.

I got a copy of the ebook from the publisher. Sad trash it is, about as literate and creative as Disney’s Mulan, a candidate for worst movie ever made in my not so humble opinion. Approximately as many grammarical/spelling errors per page as a Stephenie Meyer tome, and about as entertaining.

That’s the only review that will appear from this source. This party’s attitude has from the very start been so bad that I’m almost not sorry she’s being taken for a ride. And of course Moderator A refuses to do anything to help;it’s not his job.

The site almost slipped away before. I think it’s going this time. There’s no there, there, anymore. I haven’t had anything approaching an intelligent conversation since before my hernia surgery.

Sad. I know, your hearts bleed for me. I’ve pretty much decided not to go back, even if it means abandoning a couple of decent projects I have going. My former favorite part of the site, the monthly Literary Maneuvers, has been broken down by these dimbulbs and their demands also. My last entry, a first draft that I didn’t bother to edit, took the red ribbon.

It stopped being fun.

I don’t have time anymore, during those few precious hours when I can do what I want to do, to argue with people about anything. I sure as hell don’t want to be disrespected by some yutz forum mod with an ego problem.

So, in the spirit of Soundgarden’s Whitey Ford, here’s my take on the matter.

Hey, you. Yeah, you. Go fuck yourself. Do it in the road.

Hey, you, tyro writer with the gossamer skin. Fuck you too. Fuck you on wheels, with fire.

Hey, you writingforums litfic pencil dicks. Yeah, you. Fuck you with a rhino horn. When you turn to profile, I can see the sun through your ears.

This has been a recording.

 

 

names: Skodt, Lewdog, Shadowalker, Jamie. If you go there, you are forewarned of their assholishness. There Are more, but that’s a good start.

Metaphysical Wet Willie


Every so often the universe gives you a poke, says “Hi! You’re it!” You’re about to have one of those days.

You know what I’m talking about. You rip your sock while pulling it on, lock yourself out of the house, knock things over for no reason. You’re two days late and four dollars short and the coffee tastes like bleach or blech.

The universe gives you a metaphysical wet willie just to remind you that it’s around.

I had one of those days today.

It started innocently enough. I awoke, saw the girls off to school and work, and sat waiting for the oxygen tank delivery man. The oxygen tank delivery company isn’t very good at communicating when they might arrive. Typically the new tanks come at around 2 pm, on alternate Thursdays, because I only call every two weeks, and they only deliver on Thursday in this zip code.

There was this huge bulge at the top of the birdcage. That meant that I had to get up from my doze and investigate. That can be bad news sometimes, the getting up thing. I have a couple aches and pains, and the meds hadn’t kicked in yet.

I put my glasses on and approached the birdcage, which is about five feet tall and three wide. I gingerly lifted the outer and inner coverings, to reveal a large orange cat sleeping contentedly atop the cage, his weirdly crooked tail draped over the bars.

Hard to believe the birds didn’t cause a ruckus and wake me up. But okay, I knew what the hump was. I let him sleep. He doesn’t really bother the birds. Ladybird wouldn’t allow that.

I went and fixed me a cuppa, and sat back down, leaned back, and grooved to a 70s game show for a bit, the pain meds starting to creep in around the edges. I had a couple of puffs to help that happen.

Started drifting off. My sore-for-no-apparent-reason shoulder stopped hurting. I got floaty.

The phone rang.

I had to get up and get it. I brought it back with me, just in case. I answered it.

“Do your homeowner’s bills got you down?”

I hung up. “We rent,” I muttered to the air.

I sat down again, in my plush black leather recliner. I sipped just a little coffee, dropped the tv volume down a notch. The birds were still reasonably quiet. I had a puff or two.

Developed a kink in my neck. That made my left arm hurt, really sharp and somewhere around the rotator cuff. Hurt right down into my fingers. I have a pinched nerve or something. It had been hurting most of the night, most of the last two days, and for a stretch before that. I keep forgetting to call the doc because life gets busy even if you’re sitting quietly by yourself sometimes.

I shrugged and called in the reinforcements. Four ibuprofen and a percocet. Another atavan. I was damn tired and was gonna get a little rest. By now it was almost nine.

“Just another couple of hours,” I begged.

I drifted off presently. I was the last man in the universe, sitting in my chair.

A knock came at the door.

My therapist.

Hooray.

We talked in a directionless sort of fashion for an hour, just having a conversation with no real subject guidance. That was actually okay, but I’d rather have been sleeping.

I sucked down another coffee while this was going on, to keep myself engaged. So, by the time he left, I was wide awake, but still muzzy around the edges.

I decided to get some lunch, maybe an omelet. Rinsed off the dinner dishes, put them in the dishwasher, ran the machine, went back and sat down.

Started editing a recent manuscript, forgot about lunch. Finished about one, when the oxygen man finally called to say he was in the area.

Didn’t save the edit.

While I was moving the fourteen tanks out onto the stoop, the cats turned off the computer.

That was all before the girlchild came home.

Bratty doesn’t begin to describe her bahavior. She was willfully disobedient from the git-go. It took two and a half hours to make five flash cards with the words “Respect“, “Cooperation”, “Effort”, “Responsibility” and “Patience” on them.

Four of the cards had no lines drawn on them. I drew lines so that she could print on them. Unlined cards were just right out.

She “forgot” what the actual assignment was. She drew a box around “Respect” for no reason that she could tell me, putting on the pouty face and fidgeting instead.

When I opened the dishwasher to get a glass, she said “Are those dishes fully clean?” In a sardonic tone, as if she were eating from food-encrusted dishes all of the time.

This led to a discussion of what “respect” meant, in her words, with many attempts to change the subject or play with the cat or do anything other than learn.

Finally done with the first card, she wrote the second. Asked what the definition of “patience” was, she replied that it was “being patient”. This of course led to conversation, with examples, and finally to some sort of understanding on her part. It dragged on so long I started making dinner, Sloppy Joe and hand-cut fries, quick and easy.

After we finished the cards, she took a break, talked to the rabbits for a bit, and then we tried to read.

Utter disaster. She refused to sound out words, instead trying to tell me that she grew jealous when my wife and I would talk to each other while she was watching one of her Disney or Nick shows. That she felt ignored because we weren’t paying attention to her 24/7.

So completely, unfathomably, immature that I put her in the corner, which I hate to do. But it’s the only thing that’s effective. She cried big crocodile tears too.

I released her just before my wife came home, so she wouldn’t be squished in the door.

The food was on the table. We had no food-time war. The child piled sloppy joe on half of a bun, got a tablespoon of vegetables, wolfed it down, put her plate in the sink, and went to wash her hands.

The chip on her shoulder just got bigger as the night went on. More time in the corner, more crocodile tears, more pouty.

Two steps back for every step forward, it seems sometimes.

At the end of the day, I relaxed to some music. Probably up too late, but what are ya gonna do?

Here’s a selection of my things:

moderan

 

Degree of Difficulty


Second day of eight-year-old walking herself home from school. I step out onto the front porch to see her coming, wave, and then duck back in to make sure the cats, who have been bunching up around my ankles, are all still inside.
This leads to trying to silence the dishwasher, which has suddenly begun clanking. I find the lost spoon and place it in a reservoir, thinking “that child oughta be here by now”. Had an oxygen tank from earlier errands, still half-gassed, so I strapped that on and popped out to see if something shiny had happened.

Child was nowhere to be seen.

“Maybe she came in the back way,” I say, and unlock the patio door. I step out through the back and follow the sidewalk to the mailbox nook, where the open back gate is.

No child. I retrace my steps, go back through the place and up the walk toward the main drag.

I find her two doors away, facing a closed door with a blank look on her face.

“I was knocking,” she says, clutching a half-sheet of paper with our address written on it.

I indicate the paper, and then the address on the door she’s facing. “Not sure if those folks are home. Our house is over here.”

We repair to our rooms. Okay, so she flubbed. No big. Her all red-faced, clasping a giant soda to her skinny little chest. We sit down at the kitchen table-homework comes first.

“I was on “green” all day today,” she announces (she had been in small trouble the previous three days, for talking while the teacher was talking, and refusing to do the classwork).

“Very good,” I say.

She’s pulling her “agenda” notebook out of her backpack. No homework folder. I ask after that item.

“I forgot it,” she says. I’m a little suspicious. I open the agenda notebook, to see what the homework was supposed to be. Word cards, she was supposed to make word cards, like math flash cards. I smell a rat.

The girl does not like reading. She is not very good at it. But she did well yesterday.

“Well,” I say, “we’ll read some. Your assignment says 20 minutes a day. We should be able to finish your book (Good Enough to Eat, by Brock Cole) today. I started yesterday–you start today.”
She begins, haltingly, sounding the words out to herself, sort of. It takes a lot of prompting to get through the first page. Then my turn, and the next. We never finished her next turn.

She had a “make-me” fit. Gave me the face, told me “reading is hard. Things are hard. It’s too hard for me to walk home from school. I was tired before I left.”

She’s rubbing her eyes and staring at something invisible in the near distance, alternately, making the pouty face.

“Soooo, reading is hard. And things are hard. Everything is hard until you do it for a while. Then it gets easier.”

I understand what she’s trying to do. She’s trying to create an excuse, to be let off the hook, like she has some kind of medical condition. She indicates several small scratches, two on her chest and one on her thumb, that she says Buster gave her, unprovoked. “I showed these to my teacher today,” she announces.

“And why did you do that?” I ask.

Stone face. Prompting eventually elicits the “I-dont-know” response. “They hurt,” she says.

“Scratches sometimes do,” I reply, not unkindly. “So why did Buster scratch you?” Maybe I could get at the truth.

“He just did.” Buster isn’t that kind of cat. He doesn’t scratch unless he has a good reason.

“I see. So what do you suggest we do about the walking-home thing? I’m not able to come and get you. Do you want me to meet you at Main st.?” (this isn’t the name of the street, but you get the idea)

“Yes.”

Thursday is when my oxygen tanks are delivered. There isn’t any particular timetable-they’re not that organized. I wait whole days, sometimes. This is why she’s been set to the task of walking herself to and from school in the first place-I can’t leave the apartment.

“I guess I’ll just have to watch for you from the door. I can’t leave because of the tank delivery.” She knows this. “You know that.”

She makes the pouty face.

I make the pouty face back. “Are we gonna have a staredown now?”

She looks away. “Okay. So we’ve established that you don’t want to watch tv or go to the pool today,” I begin. “And we’re starting to work on the special thing (the scooter I’ve ordered for her).

“So tell me, what is it that you want to do? You wanted to learn to tap-dance, right?”

She nods.

“And learn Karate. And Spanish. Are you under the impression that these are all easy things?”

Realization waps her between the eyes.

She looks at me, with a tear beginning to form where she’s been rubbing the eye.

“Yes. To me they’re easy.”

“I see. So you don’t need to learn them then. Fine.” I sit back in my chair.

“And songs,” she continues. “I want to write songs. That’s easy for me.”

I stifle a laugh, mostly.

“Sing your song for me,” I say.

“I wrote half of one,” she says.

“Sing it to me.”

“I don’t remember it.”

“Don’t you think you should learn to read and write so that this doesn’t happen again?” She can print some, but doesn’t have any real facility.

“Yes. But it’s hard. I can play guitar, that’s easy.”

Picture me incredulous. “Cool. I’ll go get my guitar, and you can show me.”

“I can play a couple of notes,” she says.

Reality has intruded yet again.

“I can see that we’re done reading for the day. You have chores.”

She has an erasable whiteboard with two chores on it. Her job is to sweep the bunny area and under the birdcage, and to feed and water the bunnies.

“Sweeping is too hard.”

I can see where this is going. “So what task would you rather perform?”
“Mopping,” I’m told.

“You have to sweep first,” I point out.

Pouty face.

“Get the broom.” I go turn off the tv, for there won’t be any Disney or Nick Jr today. Probably no swimming. I’d opt for go to bed without dinner but that’s not an option these days.

Kids.

Wakin’ up is hard to do


We’ve been spending much time this last week trying to figure out how to best insinuate the idea for “good taste” and “taking on a little more responsibility” into the life of our eight-year-old girlchild. She’s pretty independent, definitely a bit of a dramamama, definitely intelligent though just as definitely not as book-learned as she should be.

She loves the pets…so feeding/taking care of the rabbits has become her main job task. Playing with Buster is one of her favorite things. I suspect he likes it too, but he’s still suspicious of this small interloper. He has also taken on a great degree of independence, and is very good at making his wishes known (for example, the litterbox was let go a couple of days too long. He took the paper garbage bag, tore a hole in the side of it, pissed about a quart of ammoniac boycatpiss into and onto it, and then sidled over to give me a quick headbonk.)

Took half a roll of two-ply to fix that. Hard to be mad at him though. I’d feel the same way.

Which brings us to the subject of empathy, which the child does not seem to have much of. She’s been shuttled about so much that a lot of her feelings are locked up. Eventually they’ll surface-I imagine it’ll happen when hormonal challenges start setting in, a couple of years down the road.

We’ve banned the viewing of Spongebob, which I just can’t stand, and have severley limited the viewing of “baby shows”, i.e., programs that are way below her age level. Mind you, they’re not below her reading or ‘rithmetic level-but that’s the point. The child can barely add, and hasn’t yet learned the technique of sounding out words to produce the result. Nobody has ever taken the time to work with her on these things.

At least until recently. I’ve begun working with her on reading and on math skills, trying to show the relationships between numbers and methods so that she’ll have a good overview, and alternating pages of books. It’ll be a while til there are results-she seems to enjoy the process for the most part, but gets all stubborn and pouty when pressed. She puts on the “Can’t-Make-Me” face, which some kid is one day gonna slap right off 0f her.

Bad attitude, directly inherited.

I work on a reward system. Yesterday she walked halfway to school  by herself, as the daily round trip is too hard for me. Today she went all by herself. I don’t anticipate any problems. Once she’s past our block of condos, there’s the main intersection, with a crossing guard who already knows her, and another a block away by the driveway into the school property.

For making the half-trip, she was rewarded with a giant Mountain Dew slurpee, which lasted until almost 8 pm with a trip to the fridge for a couple of hours to stay cold.

Homework and chores come first after arrival. This is agreed to by all. I try to take a little extra time to explain things, and to exercise more patience than I ordinarily would.

She’s doing okay…and the daily trip will get easier in a week or so when her scooter arrives. Provided that she continues to act like a young lady and not a spoiled brat, she’ll get the thing right away.

Brattiness isn’t treasured, nor is drama. But that’s her wake-up routine. I’m not an easy waker either-if I don’t feel that what I was awakened for is worth being awake for. Otherwise I wake immediately and head for the medicine cabinet.

The child squalls or won’t get up. We’ll work on that.

Could be way worse. She says “I love you, grandpa”, at least 20 times a day. Hard to get tired of that.

unzepped


and probably dangling. But, as the saying goes, if it’s comfortable out, leave it out.

Wait, what? That doesn’t sound so family-friendly? I thought this blog was all about the problems with raising an eight-year-old when the hill is in your rearview mirror! Gasps the (mostly theoretical) audience.

Chin up. It isn’t like that. “Unzepped” is the name of one of the musical pieces I’ve been working on, on and off. It bears a faint resemblance, in spots, to some of the Page/Plant “Unledded” stuff, which I’ve been listening to on and off lately, and maybe a passing bit of Peter Gabriel. Much more “world” stylistically than my usual things, and definitely unfinished. Has a sorta stab at a melody line in places and a kinda nice/kinda cheezy lead part that I’ll likely scrap when I have a chance to record a new one. I’d like to make it more “world” and less hard-rock, but at the same time it needs more electric guitar to make it spin. Feel free to let me know if the thing works for you, or to suggest changes.

You can listen to either of the two versions I have, on whatever sound equipment you like-here are the download links:
unzepped one

unzepped two

 

On the child front, herself was delivered yet another lecture today, followed by a brief question-and-answer period as I try to make things more conversational.

This followed a period, shortly after my wife went to take a nap, when the  kid got sent to the corner within ten minutes of dear spouse’s departure.

She’s supposed to tell an adult when she is leaving the room, and why, so that we can keep track of her comings and goings. Said notification isn’t supposed to take place in passing, over her shoulder, on the way up the stairs. There’s a reason for this…many reasons actually, but the chief one is that these little trips are often completely unnecessary.

Such was the case this afternoon…when her majesty opted to “go check on the bunnies”, which is a complete nonaction. Ideally this trip would consist of checking the things that make up the rabbits’ world, and seeing to it that bowls are filled when necessary, water bottles topped off, cages not too dirty, etc. This is after all the assignment that the youngun asked for personally. She also asked to be given a pet of her own.

My wife immediately told her that “Big Girl”, the indeterminately-sexed large and friendly rabbit, was her pet. I added that this was contingent upon evidencing personal responsibility for pet care.

A few days ago, I asked the child what she was doing that indicated that she was ready to have a pet, and to have the designation of “pet owner” added to her list of titles. When pressed for a reply, she answered that she “was thinking”, and indicated that I should wait for an answer.

Yesterday, when I filled the kibble dish for Dammit and Betty, I noticed that the water bottles were getting a bit lowish. Not empty, but lowish. During the day, the animals usually don’t consume much water unless it is very warm. Today was not so.

I made a mental note of this, and checked on it every so often, making sure that the bottles weren’t completely empty in the process.

Six or seven times during the day, the rabbits were “checked on”, and those bottles remained in exactly the same condition. The animals had water to drink, but the bottles hadn’t been topped off, and their dishes were overturned and empty, with nobody having been consulted as to when they needed filling.

Clearly, something else was going on. The child makes great show at times of stepping out to get “fresh air”, having at some times found this to be an incontrovertible excuse, an all-purpose vehicle, as it were.

Especially during the commercials.

So an eight-year-old has ants in her pants and happy feet. Woop-de-doo. Hard to have an issue with that.

But the notification becomes a formality quickly, and an afterthought almost as quickly, and we won’t have that. Not on my watch.

So today’s lesson became about personal responsibility-not the neocon version where it means you shouldn’t have healthcare unless you have enough money for someone to have a vested interest in keeping your ass alive, but the real-life version in which you are who you say you are and your word is your bond, Antiquated concepts, to be sure, but desirable in any day and age.

This is the general drift of my “teachings” anyway-think for yourself, have some sense of personal integrity, use your words properly, have some decorum.

Nobody’s asking for a model citizen or an android.

“But I’m still a kid,” she says. “Why should I have to learn to be an adult now?”

“All of your childhood is training for your adulthood,” she is told.

She is a self-possessed young lady, that’s for sure. Well-developed sense of self. The ego that comes with being bright sometimes, slightly twisted by esteem issues into a tendency to fact-spinning and self-aggrandizing behavior.

Definitely not used to something being expected of her. Common among her aunts and uncles also. Consequently they never expect much of themselves, and that is what they get-not much.

Realistic self-assessment, self-determination, those aren’t much in demand in some circles.

This isn’t one of them.

While I am not actually a harsh parent, I do expect things, and am rather strict about getting those things done.

The line between privilege and right should be respected. It should definitely be understood where that line lies.

Next week:Math Coursework. Bunny Cage Cleaning, and more music. Thanks for reading.