Monthly Archives: January 2014

Chaperoning a Junior High Field Trip

Never mind the Freudian typo “Junior High Fiend Trip,” that I just corrected in my title – chaperoning a junior high field trip can be fun if you go into it with the right frame of mind. Let me tell you about my trip today, in case your kids are approaching that age, or in case you just want to know what I was crazy enough to sign up for.

First of all, you kind of wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into when three of the five junior high teachers call in for subs that day. Actually two. One tried to get jury duty, but it didn’t work out.

But you get on the school bus (they have seat belts now, so you’ll be safe as long as you don’t want to jump out the window like I wanted to when we took the sixth graders to see A Christmas Carol last year) and you think you might actually have an entertaining trip when the following exchange occurs:

Bus driver, going over the safety rules: “And pulling the yellow knob will slow the bus should I become… does anyone know the word?”
Tentative voice from the back: “Angry?”
Bus driver: “Incapacitated. Should I become incapacitated.”

Now, when I was a kid, we used to sing 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, but these days there’s a much more appropriate song the kids are singing, as teachers are more strict about encouraging alcohol use. The new song goes something like this:

I sing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing all day long
I sing absolutely nothing do you like my nothing song
Second verse, same as the first
Could be better but it’s gonna get worse

When they get to “Forty-seventh verse, same as the first, could be better but it’s gonna get worse,” it dawns on me that while there are only 99 bottles of beer, this song could go on infinitely. Or at least for the entire hour and ten minute ride. Hey kids, have you heard this song about beer? Beer is fun!

I’m sitting next to a delightful boy. Junior high boys are all right, for the most part. The only problem with this particular boy is that he says he gets car sick and he’s trying really hard not to throw up. Still better than the fighting sixth graders from last year. Unbeknownst to the boy, I take my daughter’s sandwich and crackers out of her brown bag and have the bag at the ready.

We make it to the Academy of Sciences with no vomit. Here’s the trickiest part of the junior high chaperone job – they’re not babies anymore. They’re going to walk around the corner to look at the next exhibit while you’re with the stragglers. But you also don’t want to get around the corner and not be able to see them. So while you’re finally old enough to actually want to read the signs by all the exhibits, now you can’t. You’re surreptitiously keeping an eye on these kids who are taller than you just like they’re kindergarteners.

When you get back on the bus you’ll be tired, just because you’re old. At least that’s the case with me. Old and relieved that I didn’t lose anybody. And on the way back I get to sit next to my daughter. Kids these days are pretty neat, if you get assigned to the right bus. To my surprise, some girls behind me start in with “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” and to my even bigger surprise, the teacher doesn’t make them change it to Coke. They make it through all 99 bottles. My daughter and I laugh all the way home.

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What Going Gluten Free Did For Me

Have I ever told you why I chose a humor theme for my blog? It wasn’t because I think I’m funny. It was because I tend toward depression, and I knew that whatever theme I chose, I would end up writing about the most depressing aspect of it. Music? Buddy Holly. Adagio for Strings. Christianity? How frustrating it is that we don’t represent Jesus well. How some communion wafers taste like poison. Cute puppies? Parvo. Puppy mills.

But if I stuck with humor, I’d have to keep it light, no matter the topic of the day.

I have heard a lot of people say that happiness is a choice, but let me tell you how that worked for me. I could choose to act happy. I could choose to believe God’s word even though my emotions never seemed to go along with the “I’m going to heaven, and I can make a difference in the world” part of the message, but always with the “this world is full of suffering and not all my friends know about Jesus” part of the message. I did have some choice in the matter, but let me tell you, I could not choose to feel happy. I tried.

Then, last year, I developed some kind of itchy skin condition in my ear that kept progressing to swimmer’s ear. For eleven months, I couldn’t sleep or concentrate on anything except how much my ears itched. My doctor and ENT prescribed drops, creams, you name it, but it kept coming back. I tried crazy concoctions that crazy internet people recommended. If they had sworn by cat urine, I would have followed my cat around with a little jar. I was desperate. Finally, I told my doctor, in an email, that I would rather be dead.

Okay, that doesn’t sound funny, but it kind of is, because while I knew very well that I would never commit suicide, my doctor could legally not let me leave his office the next time I went in, because of my mental state. I tried to convince him that it was my ears that needed fixing, not my depression, but he tried to set me up with an emergency psychiatric appointment. Well, thank the Lord that I was not truly suicidal, because THEY DIDN’T HAVE ONE! Anyway, he let me off the hook with only an appointment with a counselor later in the day. (I skipped it, ha!) And as I was about to leave the office, I was like hey, we kind of forgot about my ears. He called a dermatologist, who prescribed Elidel cream over the phone, and bam, my eleven months of suffering was over.

I digress. About a week before that appointment, I cut out gluten because several friends had suggested my ear problem might be a gluten allergy. It wasn’t, but on my third gluten free day I woke up feeling like a fog had cleared. In the last three months, I have only felt depressed maybe three half-days. Two things make me feel sure that eliminating gluten was my cure. One, I was not expecting a change in my mood and in fact thought that people who recommended gluten free diets were kind of nuts, so I’m sure it was not all in my head, and two, I, former pasta salad and sub sandwich glutton, have not been tempted for one second to eat gluten since. (Okay, I was tempted for one second. I ate a Milano cookie, and it tasted like playdough to me.)

I considered titling this “The Funny Thing About Depression,” but I didn’t want anyone to think that I was not sympathetic to them. I know that many people suffer with much worse depression than I had, and I know that not everyone’s depression is solved by eliminating gluten, but I hope that this might help even one person who can be helped by going gluten free, or that I at least made you laugh one time to brighten your day.

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My Post Blog Interview If I Were a Seahawk

Marie, how does it feel to have this writing success?

I’m the best! The BEST! The best freelance writer in America. You want words like persnickety and joie de freakin vivre? You’re not going to get them from Jennifer Crabtree at elance. She’s a sorry writer. Did you SEE my last blog? Did you SEE it? So don’t talk about me. Don’t TALK. About ME.

Who’s talking about you?

Francisco at Harbaugh Publishing. Said my YA novel didn’t have enough romance. Well look who has thirty likes on their last blog post, which is like, the ‘going to the superbowl’ of freelance writing? Not Francisco. Okay, maybe Francisco does have that, too, but he said I never would, and bam. I do. Not enough romance, Francisco? Bam.

And what’s your response to your fans who threw food at writer Maddie Bowman as she was carted off to get surgery for her carpal tunnel syndrome?

I don’t condone that. It’s terrible that Bowman got injured.

Marie, your fans are tweeting right now. They have come to your defense and said that writers are sometimes so full of adrenaline and testosterone after writing a great piece that they can’t help insulting people and coming off as classless. What do you have to say about that?

Hey, Jennifer Crabtree has said stuff about my writing that no one’s ever heard, but now I say something back and I’m the bad guy? I’m not a villain. Just the best writer in America.


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To Harry Connick, Jr. From A Mom

Dear Harry,

I saw the look on your face when that American Idol contestant said “My mom loves you.” I understand that it would have been a bummer to have the kids all gushing about Keith and Jennifer, but I have some reasons for you to appreciate your momtastic fan base.

1. We bought your albums.
And that includes the one that suddenly wasn’t big band. P.S. I forgive you for selling me tickets to that show BEFORE the album came out. I thought I was going to see you with a big band, but whatever.

2. Some of us are damn sexy.
Okay, not me, but some of us. Like your lovely wife, for instance. P.S. I used to skip the song “Jill” because of envy, but I’m over it now.

3. We know what a pentatonic scale is.
Let’s face it, Harry. Most of your fans are musicians. That is why we appreciate you. Yes you are charming, and yes you have pretty eyes, but your fans are not going to be the same kids who liked Justin Bieber. Some of the kids auditioning have great voices, but most of them haven’t learned music theory yet. P.S. I have a degree in trombone if you ever need a sub in the San Francisco Bay Area.

4. You bring it on yourself.
How can we moms not love you when you tell the kids not to get tattoos and not to sings sex songs when they’re fifteen? We can’t. So don’t blame us if we love you and our tattoo-wanting, trying-to-be-sexy-before-their-time teenagers don’t.

Anyway, don’t worry, Harry. Your time on A.I. will surely make you known to the younger crowd, and I’m happy for you. And I’m happy for them that they will get introduced to jazz and such a fine performer and man such as yourself. Just don’t forget who loved you when.

A mom

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Stages of a Cold

1. Denial
“I think it’s just allergies,” you say, because it really could be.

2. Acceptance
Day two. Thick snot, a little cough. Uh oh. Yes, you have accepted it, but you still have to keep up the allergy façade because you’ve exposed everyone at work to your germs.

3. Barry White
Or if you’re too young to know who Barry White is, maybe you’ll understand this: It’s day three, and you can now sing along with Scotty McCreery. And you’re a girl. Unfortunately, stage 3 makes the allergy façade nearly impossible.

4. Anger
“My nose hurts and has skin peeling off of it even though I’m using those tissues with lotion in them!” “My work friends made me stay home, so I’m losing money!” “The world can’t survive without me!” “I don’t sound as good as Scotty McCreery or Barry White!”

5. Euphoria
You’re better! The sky is beautiful! Birds are singing a special song just for you! The grocery clerks are smiling extra big, because you’re back, baby!

6. Acceptance, again
Maybe you weren’t better. You try to do all the housecleaning you couldn’t do while you were sick, and it exhausts you. You go to bed at 6:30.

7. Back to Reality
After a few days, you’re better for real. The world survived without you. The housework gets done. Your nose heals. You get blamed for everyone else who happens to have gotten sick at work, whether or not they have kids in germy preschools or wash their hands before eating. You wonder why you didn’t take just one more day.

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If I Die Of The Flu

When I was on a worship team with my friend Tara, she used to say quite happily during rehearsals, “Okay, if I die this week, I want this song played at my funeral.” I never understood how she could talk about dying so lightly, and it made me a little uncomfortable.

Maybe it’s that I’m more sure that I’m going to heaven now, or maybe it’s that I’ve lived ten more years and feel like I’ve gotten a pretty fair turn on this planet – maybe it’s that I’m tired of dentist appointments and not being able to find comfortable shoes and reading depressing news stories, and maybe it’s that I’ve become more controlling in my old age and want to maintain some control even from the grave, and maybe it’s because I’m feeling better today and don’t really think I’m going to die anymore, but now I can say, meaning no discomfort to you, “if I die of this flu, please don’t use it to tell other people to get their flu shots.”

Actually, do whatever you want, but know that for every time you share the status, “So sad this awesome lady was too stubborn to get a flu shot,” my REAL friends will share this blog entry (I’ll finally get some shares!) which tells everyone that several of my friends have gotten the flu even though they had their flu shot, and that I don’t believe a flu shot would have saved me, and that I am very happy in heaven.

Before this week, I hadn’t had the flu in four years, which I believe rivals the record of my friends who do get the flu shot. Of course, when my daughter was young I caught every single thing that came around, so I might just be immune to everything. Anyway, you don’t have to do what I want just because I’m dead, but just in case you feel like fulfilling last requests, and not using my death to advertise flu shots isn’t enough for you, choose one of the following:

– Name your next pet after me. If you don’t want to name your boy pet Marie, you may name it after C.S. Lewis, or a character from one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride, Groundhog Day, or Babe. Please no rats or snakes.
– Try to make a picture go viral in which you hold a sign that says “I’m trying to see how many ‘shares’ I can get so I can prove to my kids how fast things get around the internet.” But have a picture of me in the corner of the sign with a miniscule speech bubble where I’m saying, “Ha ha I got you to share.”
– Eat a bowl of ice cream (that’s the one I’d pick.)
– Visit my birthplace and tell the strangers you meet that I was born there and became very famous in the field of hemp-fuel research.
– Win an Oscar.

And if I don’t die of this flu? Well you should be so happy that you name your next pet after me! That you make a picture go viral for me! Or at least eat a bowl of ice cream with particular, thankful, joy.

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