#WeekendCoffeeShare: Ravioli edition

wordswag_15073188796611453091488.pngIf we were having coffee (and I feel like I need to point out that, unlike last time, I actually am having coffee while writing this) I would spend most of the conversation being interrupted by the kitten, who has decided that my feet are the tastiest thing in the universe, regardless of whether I’m barefoot, in socks, or wearing my shoes.  This started off as cute and endearing and now I’m seriously trying to think of a way to bash together some shame cones to wear over my feet whenever I’m in a room that she can get into because the assaults are constant and she’s too small to kick.

I could probably get her halfway across the house if I tried, though.

(I’m not going to of course I’m not going to Jesus but Goddammit leave my feet alone.)

Anyway.

We had Thanksgiving yesterday.  There have been persistent rumors that my wife’s family is planning some sort of extravagant event in Michigan for Actual Thanksgiving, and my brother and his wife just bought a new house, so we decided to kill a couple of birds with one stone and we all went up to his place north of Chicago for Very Early Thanksgiving yesterday.  We are mostly German and Polish with a smattering of English and Welsh; he married into an Italian family and brought all of them over as well, so yesterday was Teach the Polacks How to Make Ravioli Day, because why wouldn’t it be?  So we spent probably three or four hours making a couple hundred raviolis.  I didn’t actually make the pasta itself– my mom was handling that– but my brother and my dad and I were responsible for filling the raviolis and then covering them and, in general, finishing everything up.  It went pretty well:

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The darker ones are sausage and spinach, the rest are a five-cheese mix.

It went very well– I’ve actually never made fresh pasta before, and while I sort of wanted to be in the kitchen for the actual pasta-making part at least once, being the last person in the process means you get to pretend the whole thing was your doing, which is still kinda fun.  Dinner was delicious and I even managed to not pass out and die on the way home, which was also a plus.

We would probably start hinting around this election thing on Tuesday at some point and I would change the subject as fast as I possibly fucking could.  I have Tuesday off; part of me feels like this was a very good decision (there will be violence at polling places this week) and part of me is mourning the idea that I’m going to be home all day by myself to go crazy.  I’m going to spend the whole day playing Red Dead Redemption 2 just to keep from going insane.

The other thing on my mind: the Pegasus Author Expo coming up next Sunday in Lafayette:

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I am super excited about this event; I’m doing a panel on book production at 12:00 and a reading/Q&A for half an hour or so at 11:30.  I’m currently killing myself trying to figure out what to read (current theory: the prologue to Skylights and something funny from one of the Benevolence Archives books) and trying to mentally prepare for anything from a big crowd (a “big crowd,” in this context, means “any number of people that I cannot accurately count in less than a couple of seconds”) to my wife and my assistant (I have an assistant!) and no one else.  This is the first time this group has done something like this and nobody really knows what to expect in terms of attendance so I’m deciding to look at it mostly as a networking event with a chance to practice some public-speaking skills.  If I make some money and sell some books along the way, awesome.  If not?  That’s a whole lot of Indiana authors to touch base with.  Which is absolutely a good thing regardless.

You should come.  You should bring everyone you have ever met.

Okay, coffee’s cold so I’ve yapped enough.  How’re you?

#WeekendCoffeeShare: Guess Who’s Back edition

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If we were having coffee … well, I’d be really confused, because it’s 7:15, and what the hell are we having coffee for at 7:15 on a Sunday night when I have to be back at work tomorrow?  But I was gonna write this post this morning, and it was going to be my probably-not-actually-long-awaited return to Weekend Coffee Share, which I haven’t participated in in forever.  So it’s still a WCS post and to hell with making sense.

So.  If we were having coffee, first I’d tell you about this book I started yesterday, and the reason I didn’t get a post up this morning is that I couldn’t put the damn book down until I was finished with it.  Do you like Sherlock Holmes?  Of course you do.  So you need to check out A Study in Honor, by Claire O’Dell, which is a Sherlock Holmes story, only it’s set in the future after the Second Civil War (Watson is still a veteran, and in fact has pretty bad PTSD) and Holmes and Watson are both queer black women.

I read it in about three hours– maybe an hour before bed last night and another two this morning, and I’m already reloading Amazon over and over again waiting for a sequel.  Go check it out, it’s great.

After that we might get into talking about religion a bit, believe it or not.  One of my oldest friends was in town this weekend with her three kids– her oldest daughter is twelve, her middle child (the only boy) is eight, putting him more or less at my son’s age, and her youngest, another daughter, is five.  We went to the zoo the first day they were in town and took them over to look around on Notre Dame’s campus the next day which, believe it or not, was the first time I’d ever seen the Grotto or the inside of the Basilica despite having lived in South Bend for 2/3 of my life or so.  The Basilica is absolutely amazing even if you have my, uh, somewhat unorthodox views on Christianity and religion in general– I may be a mean old atheist with a couple of degrees in religious studies, which, believe me, is the worst kind of mean old atheist, but I sure as hell can appreciate me some architecture.

It turns out that they keep docents around to give impromptu tours to the people who randomly wander into the place, and once ours determined that the oldest of the four kids was interested in being an architect she got real interesting real fast.  And then we got to the reliquary, which contains something like sixteen hundred relics of saints, and … man, it has been a minute since I have been around seriously religious people in a context where their serious-religiousness had a chance of playing a major role in the conversation.  And I’m not enough of an asshole to start a fight about this stuff, but I’ll admit it threw me for a hell of a loop when she pointed at one particular ornate cross and stated that it contained all of the following:

  • A piece of Jesus’ manger
  • A piece of the table the Last Supper was eaten at
  • A piece of Jesus’ burial shroud and
  • A fragment of the True Cross

And I had this moment of oh, holy shit, you genuinely believe every word you just said is true, and knew myself to be wholly in the presence of someone who does not view any part of the world the way I do.  Which, don’t get me wrong, is fine.  I don’t care.  She’s explaining her faith to me and my family and my friends and she’s being very very nice about it and frankly I’m in her house and I’m not about to start being a dick about her believing stuff I don’t believe.  You do you, nice lady.  There’s no problem here.

And then my son started talking, and as it turns out Daddy’s Little Empiricist has had absolutely no religious training of any kind at all, and, well, there’s some stuff that we kinda just assumed the wider culture would take care of for us?  I mean, we didn’t tell him about Santa Claus, and he knows all about that, and …

… well, as it turns out my son doesn’t know a god damn thing about Jesus.  And I think this lady has probably been doing her job for a good long time and she’s probably been asked a bunch of stuff and she’s probably had a handful of argumentative old atheists in that basilica on a couple of occasions and she was nonetheless not prepared for my son and his we-stole-him-from-a-South-American-jungle level of Don’t Know Nothin’ Bout Jesus.

He can tell you anything about the Avengers, though.

So yeah.  That happened.  How’s the coffee?

Well look at that

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You knew there was no way I was going to be able to resist trying to figure out how many words I’d written over the lifetime of the blog.  Turns out WordPress did it for me, and I don’t have to figure it out!

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The answer is that sometime in the next day or so I will cross over 850,000 words written here, since I only need about 700 more to hit that milestone.  That’s a lot of words.

Also, I miss 2014.

In which I am dialed back

2973026I am trying– I have said this to a number of people in the Real World, but I don’t think I’ve made it clear here– to maintain a very healthy sense of what Is and Is Not My Problem in this job.  I have absolutely no doubt that I will frequently be doing things at work that are, officially at least, outside my purview.  Hell, I already am.  I did twelve of them today.  But there’s shit that’s not my problem and then there’s Shit That’s Not My Problem, if you know what I mean, and while every previous teaching job I’ve ever had has been positively riddled with capital-letter Not My Problem stuff, I am bound and determined that I’m not letting it happen here.  I need to keep reminding myself that I’m coming back to education because the last time I had a job in a school it led to ambulances taking me from the building twice and I had to go on fucking medical leave and then resign.  I am not letting that shit happen again, and one of the ways I’m doing it is by very strictly monitoring my boundaries.

Not that anything in particular happened today that’s making me bring that up.  Not really, at least; I walked away from a couple of student conferences that I might have sat in on and participated in in the past, and I got an email during dinner just now that I’m not taking time away from my evening to respond to, because here’s another rule: when I walk out of that building at the end of my day, I’m done, and barring special circumstances of some sort or another I’m not gonna be doing Work Shit once I get home.  I kind of wish I could figure out a way to tell my work email to stop pinging the server for new messages after 4:30 every day.

Hell, there’s probably a way to *do* that, come to think of it.  But seriously: I was talking about getting too much email the other day?  I got two work emails at 10:30 last night as I was going to bed, and I damn near replied to them and told the people who had sent them to put their phones down and go to sleep.  At which point I decided not to bother and, instead, took my own advice, put my phone down, and … well, okay, I read for another hour– Mira Grant’s Into the Drowning Deep is starting off well— but I did it in bed and without anything electronic staring at me.


I didn’t mention this yesterday, because I hadn’t pieced it together until today, but along with talking to Auntie No-Pants’ niece I had a bizarre moment at the end of the day where I heard someone shout “Bye, Mr. (my real name)!  I liked your book!” as he– it was definitely a boy– was leaving the building.

This was a problem in a couple of ways, prime among which was the fact that I was pretty sure there weren’t more than one or two kids in the building who knew my name in the first place, and none of those knew me well enough to yell goodbye at me on the way out the door– today was the fifth day of school, after all– and there damn sure shouldn’t be anyone who knows who the hell Luther Siler is.  The fact that the kid yelled goodbye at me as I was facing a different direction and he was headed out the door and I wasn’t able to get a good look at him beyond “one of the boys in the midst of this large group of students” wasn’t helping.  I couldn’t have picked this kid out of a lineup if my life had depended on it.

It had me a bit concerned, if I’m being honest.  I’ve never been anything other than clear-eyed about my own anonymity here; I’ve left enough clues lying around over the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of words I’ve written here in the past several years that a dedicated interloper could probably figure out where I work and even where I live within a few miles’ radius given a day or two of reading, at most.  I’m not anonymous to keep people from figuring out who Luther Siler really is.  I’m anonymous to keep kids from Googling my real name and finding their way here.

Oh God, now I want a word count for the blog no goddammit I’m not doing that.

Anyway, this story has a happy ending, of sorts: I managed to completely randomly discover that a certain 8th grade student has a rather distinctive last name that matches the last name of a couple of kids I had in my very first group of Indiana 6th graders, kids who I just happen to still be in fairly regular touch with, and I dropped one of them a quick text message and discovered that yes her little brother does go to my school, and then a moment after that I realized that I’d actually had a conversation with his mom at Open House and had somehow not connected that conversation with the fact that since she was at the school she probably had a kid there somewhere.

How her son’s existence didn’t come up while we were talking, I have no idea.  In my defense, it had been an incredibly long day and I was both 1) really tired and 2) trying to get out of the building so that I could get to my kid’s Open House, which was the same night.

So yeah.  I don’t have to shut the blog down or anything.

On new habits

article-2421505-1AA2E1E3000005DC-504_964x740First of all, I have no idea where this image came from.  I can reconstruct the original Google search but I sort of fell down a rabbit hole after that and I can’t be held responsible for pictures of dogs climbing on elephants.  I just can’t.

I completed my final act of outstanding customer service this morning, which required an hour-long drive up to Michigan to return the now-repaired piece of furniture I had picked up last week.  Everything went fine; the piece was fixed to my and their satisfaction, the drive was pleasant, everyone was happy,  and the hell-rain that filled up the entire afternoon didn’t start until after I got home.

I spent most of the drive up there listening to podcasts.  I’ve got a handful that I’m pretty fond of now, meaning that pretty much any time I have time to listen to them there are going to be a handful of new episodes on my phone.  A few notables:

  • Pod Save the People
  • Lore
  • Aaron Mahnke’s Cabinet of Curiosities
  • Nightlight: The Black Horror Podcast
  • Feminist Frequency Radio
  • Females in Fantasy
  • Mass for Shut-Ins

And just today I noticed one called Subliminally Correct, which I haven’t actually listened to yet but it’s a couple of psychologists talking about subconscious messaging and propaganda in politics, which definitely sounds up my alley.

It hit me on the way home that starting in a couple of weeks I will have no time to listen to any of these, ever, unless I radically change how I interact with podcasts.  Because podcasts are for the car, and what with my drive to work having been cut down by about 90% I’m just not going to be spending any time in the car any longer.

It’s interesting, right?  You think of a new job as just a change of job, but in this case there are all these ancillary lifestyle changes that are coming with it– and, really, it’s not unfair to say that the lifestyle changes were a huge part of I wanted the new job in the first place.  My wife and I were sitting on the couch yesterday evening after she got home from work, each of us trying to get the other one to commit to some sort of plan for dinner, when she looked at me and said “This is what our lives are going to be forever, now.”  It hit me that in a real sort of way, after two years of me working every weekend and until 8 three nights a week, there’s going to be a real element of my wife and I having to relearn how to live together again.  And to be clear, I am not not not complaining about that, and I’m looking way forward to it, because it’s what I want.  But there’s no reason to pretend it’s not going to be a thing.  I haven’t cooked dinner in a while!  Maybe I’ll start cooking again!  I mean, we’ll have to, right, what with being home together for dinner for– gulp– seven nights a week.

Crazytown.