Monday, October 27, 2008

Rama-lama-lama, ka-dinga-da-dinga-dong

I’d like to send out a little thank you to all of the visitors that I’ve had in the past few weeks.  I am so blessed to have such a wonderful circle friends … your visits remind me of just how lucky I am.  It’s easier for me to live in a city where I hardly know anyone when I have so much love coming my way.  Thank you.



Thursday, October 23, 2008

Meet Chairman Bob

This installment of Things That Keep Me Up at Night is brought to you by Copps Grocery, Roundy's Supermarkets Inc., and my fascination with minutiae.

I first noticed Chairman Bob last week while I was unloading my groceries after going shopping.  How odd, I thought as I lifted the first bag out of my car, there's a man on my grocery bag and he's ... is he? Yes, he's giving me the thumbs up.  After I got my groceries inside I examined my bags more closely and found out that the creepy man heartily endorsing my produce selection was Chairman Bob.  According to my grocery sac, "Roundy's products are approved for quality and signed by Chairman Bob himself."  After high tailing to the kitchen to ensure that my squash did not in fact bear Chairman Bob's signature, I decided to do some investigating.  Who the hell was this Chairman Bob? Why was he so chuffed with my purchases?  Who decided to run with an advertising campaign featuring a leering middle aged man displaying a forced gesture of goodwill?  I was determined to find out.

Lucky for me, Roundy's had anticipated my interest in all things Bob and printed a web address directly underneath his faux signature. told me all I needed to know.

Robert Mariano, a.k.a "Chairman Bob," is the CEO of Roundy's Supermarket Inc., one of the Midwest's largest and oldest grocers.  The group owns and operates grocery stores across the country under the Pick 'n Save, Copps, and Rainbow banners.  If you go to the website, Chairman Bob himself will tell you about the superior foods he personally endorses.  Nestled in a grove of orange trees, the Chairman gives it to us straight in a 5 minute interview.  He uses phrases like "taste profile" and confesses that "no less than 15 formulations" were rejected when they were developing Roundy's fresh bratwurst.  Towards the end of the interview we come to find out that Bob is nothing more than a med-school reject who clawed his way up the grocery sales ladder.  After not getting into medical school, Bob's first job out of college was as a "Food Service Salesman" at Oscar Mayer.  Sure Bob.  And my first job out of college was as a "Clothing Technician" for Steve and Barry's.  Bob ends his interview with the compelling statement "once you get food retail in your blood, you don't get it out."  WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, BOB? And can I catch this food retail from your carefully selected products? Because I'll sue.

In the end, all that I found out about Chairman Bob did nothing to alleviate how creeped out I was when I realized that he was staring staring staring at me from every one of my grocery bags.  I think a lot of it has to do with the blank expression on his face.  There's probably not a lot one can do with a plastic grocery sac as a medium, but his blank stare coupled with his upturned thumb make me uneasy.  I don't need your approval, Chairman Bob, so STOP LOOKING AT ME.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Princess? Oh I'll Give You a Princess

One of the things that I think about constantly as a teacher of young children is the influence that I have on my student's lives.  For many of my kids, I'm the person they see most consistently outside of their immediate families.  In addition, most of my students are having their first "school" experience when they enter my classroom; it's a responsibility that I take pretty seriously.  One of the interesting aspects of teaching preschoolers is that a lot of the instruction I give them is social; my job is to "prepare them for kindergarten," which has more to do with appropriate peer interaction and socialization than academics.

My job is to socialize these kids.  Me, a woman whose most significant social outlet at present is my weekly Scrabble Club meeting.  When future generations experience a spike in social awkwardness and book lovin', I'll take full responsibility.

I try to be really respectful of where kids are coming from; what their families believe and what they might be learning at home.  When a conflict arises between what I'm trying to teach and what they've heard from their parents I can usually clear up any confusion by helping my students differentiate between "home rules" and "school rules."  Gun play is an area that benefits from this delineation; you may be able to play pretend with guns at home, but at school you can't "shoot" your classmates when they won't share.  Kids are surprisingly good at adhering to these boundaries once they're drawn.

There are some issues, however, where I believe that one of my duties as a teacher is to widen my student's horizons.  The societal enforcement of gender roles is something I feel strongly about, and something that I constantly take pains to subvert within my own classroom.  Highfalutin language aside, I'm creating a voting bloc of feminists, once princess-loving preschooler at a time.

I was never a princess kind of a girl.  I split my youth fairly evenly between playing sports and reading any book I could get my hands on.  The closest I ever came to wanting to be a princess was my preschool Halloween costume; I dressed up as She-Ra, Princess of Power.  If I'm going to be a princess, you had better fucking believe it's going to a be princess of power.  The enormous popularity of Disney and their all-powerful marketing department have combined to create a cult-princess following in the preschool crowd.  In addition to the princesses characters themselves, Disney in it's infinite wisdom has created all manner of Disney Princess products, a series of horrifying items ranging from dolls to CDs to a Disney Princess TV/DVD Combo.  There is nothing inherently wrong with being a princess, I suppose,  but my students aren't able to grasp Disney's half hearted attempts to empower its princesses.  Yes, Jasmine longs to experience life outside of the palace.  And yes, she is looking for a prince that loves her for herself an not just because she's a princess ... but all of that pales in comparison to her shiny clothes and pet tiger.  Plus she's weirdly thin and her overarching goal is to get married.  Woo-fucking-hoo.  My kids need real role female role models ... women who define success without reference to sexual relationships.  Women who go off on adventures and come home with treasure and unkempt hair.  Unfortunately, those types of role models are (literally) less sparkly than Disney princesses, and their dresses don't twirl as gracefully. Which is where Ms. Marie steps in.

The other day I was drawing with several of my three year-old students.  We had just finished listening to the Disney Princesses sing the ABCs, a CD "Susan" had brought from home.  Susan walked up to me with a crayon and paper and asked me to draw a princess for her to color.  So I drew a princess.  My princess was wearing jeans and holding a pumpkin (she had a crown on over her pony tail).  Susan was not happy.  "She not a princess," Susan said.  "She doesn't have a dress and she's not pretty."  So Susan and I had a conversation.  I explained to Susan that my princess was a pumpkin princess, and that she had to wear pants because she worked on a farm and her pigs stepped on her dress if she wore it to do chores.  I further explained that I thought my princess was pretty and that people think different things are pretty.  "I think spiders are pretty," I said, "do you think spiders are pretty?" Susan's answer was an emphatic "NO."  Then I told Susan that everyone could be the princess of something if they worked hard and were nice to people.  Susan seemed to buy it; we decided that she could be the princess of dancing and she spent the next 20 minutes drawing pictures of herself spinning in circles (with a crown on her head.)  I don't know if it will stick, but I did hear Susan telling some of the other girls that anyone could be a princess ... I count that as a successful lesson.

I drew other princesses throughout the day for myself and for other students; princesses of food, and gardens, and football, and a nice fat princess of baking, which inspired a whole different conversation (WHY IS SHE FAT!?!?!?!) I got inspired and drew my friend Greta as the Princess of Paint.  I think she'd be kind of a great role model for my kiddos.

Yours in princess power,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Convo With a Preschooler

The conversation always goes a little something like this:

Small impressionable child: Ms. Marie? What's THAT?!?! (points to my wrist)

Ms. Marie: That's a tattoo.

Small impressionable child: Why did you draw on yourself?

Ms. Marie: I didn't.  A special kind of doctor put it on me.  Tattoos can only go on grownups.

Small impressionable child: (rubbing my tattoo furiously) IT'S NOT COMING OFF!

Ms. Marie: It doesn't come off.  It's there forever.

Small impressionable child: He made it with a marker?

Ms. Marie: He didn't use a marker. We never write with markers on our bodies, do we?

Small impressionable child: **solemnly shakes head**

Ms. Marie: Markers are for paper.

Small impressionable child: **solemnly nods head**

Ms. Marie:

Small impressionable child:

Ms. Marie: 

Small impressionable child:

Ms. Marie: Give me the marker please.

I like to think I'm expanding their horizons.  


Friday, October 10, 2008

SC247 Goes Public

Another night at Scrabble Club 247, another lesson in humility.  One of the things that I've appreciated about SC247 is its relative anonymity.  You have to go in search of the club, the club does not come to you.  Only, every first Wednesday of the month, if you happen to be at Barnes and Nobles on the west side of Madison, the SC247 does come to you.

The first meeting that I went to was held in the basement of a local assisted living center; Attic Angels.  Nobody told me that Attic Angels was an old folk's home; for some reason I thought that it was an antique store.  I imagined that I would begin my foray into competitive Scrabble cozily ensconced in a Chippendale chair, surrounded by moldering first editions and an assortment of tchotchkes.  Instead I had to wend my way through a labyrinth of stairwells that smelled faintly of chamomile tea and Vicks Vaporub.  My journey ended in a room that was empty except for a few plastic folding tables and chairs; nothing to distract us from the task at hand.  Despite the lack of fine antique furniture, I was happy to be playing Scrabble in a room that could only be happened upon by confused octogenarians.  

The second meeting I attended took place at Covenant Presybeterian Church, where once again we were safely tucked away in the basement.  I spent SC247 meeting #2 kicking butt and dropping bingos*, once again secure in the knowledge that nobody would stumble into our meeting and discover my secret shame.

Which brings us to my third meeting.  Last Wednesday SC247 met on the upper level of the west side Barnes and Nobles.  When I arrived at SC247, instead of parking in a nearly empty lot next to my co-Scrabbler's Yugo, I had to park in the mall lot and carry my Scrabble box past gawking evening shoppers.  I held my head high as I walked into B&N and silently wished that I didn't own the gigantic, turn-table version of Scrabble.  Now, I love a good book store and could happily spend 4 hours browsing and reading books I would be embarrassed to display on my shelves.  Spending 4 hours sitting at a table playing Scrabble while B&N patrons walk past and judge me in whispered voices is another matter.  It was a long night.  

Public display aside, I whooped Gloria in my first game!  It was sort of anti-climactic (although I'll take the win).  Let's face it; at the end of the game, she's still a 90 year old woman who should be proud of the fact that she's coherent enough to string letters together, and I'm still a 27 year old woman who drives around with a turn-table version of Scrabble in her back seat.  Well played, Gloria, well played.

My next goal at Scrabble Club is to throw a little Marie flava' in the mix.  I'm going to try to work the phrase "hate the playa', not the game" into Scrabble convo.


* A "bingo" in Scrabble is a word that uses all 7 of your tiles, thus earning you 50 bonus points.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Caption Challenge

Guess who learned how to shoot a rifle?  
  I call it "Why is she smiling?"

Monday, October 6, 2008


Stop the presses!  Call the police!  Alert the Better Business Bureau!  

I've been bamboozled!  I've been hoodwinked and flim-flammed, duped, conned, and taken for a ride.  Chicanery has taken place.  

It happened just so:  on Saturday morning I headed to the mall, in search of a pair of work pants that don't make me look like I'm smuggling play-doh home with me at night.  The mall is never one of my favorite places to be, but on Saturday morning it becomes its own small circle of hell.  Families with screaming kids, bewildered elderly people, college students trying to bleed mom and dad dry before they head home from their weekend visit; these are your Saturday morning shoppers.  These people and me; still half asleep and fighting through the residual haze of a few too many vodka Redbulls.  

I got to the mall and began to wander aimlessly around, which is how I usually shop for pants.  I got a cup of coffee and sat on a bench near some fake palms.  I watched some kids run screaming by, and I smiled because they were not my responsibility.  I stared at my legs and cursed their length, a length I knew would cause me to reel from store to store, trying on pants that made me look as though I were unusually proud of my collection of socks.  I girded my loins and went to The Gap, where the assistant I spoke with told me that they only carried "normal" lengths in the store, but that other lengths could be ordered online.  I somehow managed to shuffle my gargantuan limbs out of the store, when it happened ...

I made eye contact with one of those kiosk salesmen.  You tell yourself it can't happen to you.  You tell yourself that you would do something different, something that wouldn't attract attention, something dismissive.  You practice kiosk safety by walking quickly and having your cell phone handy at all times.  You tell yourself these things, but the next thing you know some Italian man named Guillermo is strapping an herbal remedy pack to your back while he stares into your eyes and whispers "eet ees good for cir-coo-lation of the blued."

Since when do I have blood circulation problems?!?!  I let Guillermo wrap a hot, sweet smelling packet of herbs around my neck and all of a sudden I was standing in the middle of the East Towne Mall with this man rubbing my shoulders telling me that I looked "How do you say? No more of thee tension?  Ree-lax-ed?"  Then he told me that he would throw in the mint pillow for free and that it could be used to stop my "huzband" from "doing the snore."  Damn those sexy Italians with their mixed up words and adorable inability to grasp English idiom.  They get me every time.  

Guillermo's salsemanship didn't rely on sexiness alone.  He pulled out all of the stops, telling me that he would give me a discount because I was cute, and two free products because I work with kids.  My favorite part was when he told me that people in California bought his product in droves because people in California "know thee healing of thee flowers."

What?! People in California buy your little herb packets?  Then I'm sold.  I've always wanted to be like one of them ladies from Hollywood.

In the end I bought the Nature Creation Upper Body Reusable Hot/Moist/Cold Wrap both because I was hungover, and because Guillermo was sexy.  The man clearly took advantage of me; I demand a full refund!  And a pair of pants that reach my shoes.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Miss Marie vs Party Marie

I love kids, and I love working with kids.  That being said, the line between "Miss Marie" and "Party Marie" (OK, "Party Marie" is a stretch, but go with it) is sometimes blurred in odd ways.  When I was a teacher in Iowa, for instance, I had a toddler car seat in my back seat.  I often come home with used kleenex in my pocket and graham cracker crumbs in my hair.  I know an embarrassing number of lyrics to Wiggles tunes, and I can sing the ABC's in 13 different voices.  These are all skills that come in handy in the workplace, and, once I have children of my own, I'm looking forward to being the goofiest mommy ever.  Sometimes, however, Miss Marie needs to take a rest and stop stepping on Party Marie's toes.  I don't have kids!  I'm a single young woman with 5 tattoos and a well developed tolerance for alcohol.  A working knowledge of breast pump technology isn't appropriate bar talk for someone in my situation.  Today I found myself making diaper rash cream recommendations to a parent, and  a little piece of Party Marie died.*  With all of that in mind, I bring you the Top Ten Things I'm Spending my Money on Instead of Diaper Rash Cream.

 Top Ten Things I'm Spending my Money on Instead of Diaper Rash Cream 

or Marie Asserts her Single, Childless Status in the Face of Her Job

10) Hookers and blow

9) Rated R movie tickets

8) Breakable, decorative objects that I plan to place at floor level around my apartment.

7) Porn.  The dirty kind that you have to throw away once you have kids because they'd be scarred if they stumbled across it.

6) Toys for my cat.

5) Another cat.

4) Frames for pictures of my cat.

3) The rights to the domain name

2) Non-Wiggles, Disney, Raffi, etc. music.

1) Sexy clothes that will help me land a baby maker. Ahemm, I mean loving life partner.


* Boudreaux's Butt Paste! It's the best!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fat Butt Pants

I started my new job yesterday; I'm working at a preschool as an "athletic specialist."  It's a private preschool, a fact which should be obvious given my job title.  I don't know of many public preschools that can afford to entitle their staff with made-up honorifics and a bonus package to match. In addition to my bonus package, I get benefits, overtime, and an hourly wage higher than the one I requested.  Chances are the school is a front for an illegal money laundering operation.  If so, they hired the right person.  I'm no whistle blower; I'm one ramen dinner away from being a lady of the night.

That being said, the job is fine, with the potential to be great.  I got hired to improve the little rug rats' large motor skills and to teach them how to be active and healthy.  So far I've been running around trying to meet all the teachers and get the lay of the land ... I've also been smelling babies.  That's the unspoken perk of the job, I get to huff baby whenever I want.  Have you ever smelled the back of a baby's neck?  Don't knock it until you've tried it.  

I've worked with children in a variety of settings over the course of my life.  This job varies from other experiences I've had in two significant ways.  The first one is the money issue, i.e. the fact that they have some.  The second is that I can't wear jeans.  One of my favorite things about working with kids, aside from seeing their little eyes light up when they find their bellybuttons for the first time, is that I get to wear jeans.  I'm a jeans and sweatshirt kind of girl, and I've chosen a line of work that embraces my lifestyle.  Why did you have to go and mess up a good thing, Fancy Pants Preschool?  Why on earth do I need to wear khakis while I'm changing poopy diapers?  Do you know how well poop shows up on khaki?  Really freaking well.  Finger paint? Ditto.

After wearing both pairs of non-jeans that I own, I headed to the store to buy some pants after work today.  I was not in the mood to shop, which is my excuse for coming home with fat butt brown pants.  While I admit that I need these pants in the short term, as in tomorrow, I am still disappointed in myself for giving up the fight.  Instead of upholding standards for preschool teachers everywhere, I'm throwing in the towel and embracing unflattering clothing in neutral colors.  I'm on a slippery slope - I might as well buy some sweater vests with Christmas flair and call it a day.  The next time I post a picture of myself I'll be wearing a muumuu and Keds.  

To top it all off, I had to skip Scrabble Club today so that I could go buy the damn pants.  Welcome to my world, darling readers.  I'm missing Scrabble Club to buy fat butt pants.  I need to go now.  I may have just shared too much.