new year

Cartoon showing baby representing New Year 190...

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I never really left school. I went from university to teaching, so the calendar year never altered for me. August kicks off the new year in a way that January just never did.

It’s funny really that the year officially rolls over in January yet many people mark the passage of time with the school calendar or the fiscal year, which is July or October usually, depending on your occupation. January 1st is just Christmas’s less interesting sibling.

Back in the day, I would have already been in my classroom and probably completely ready to go by now. I made it a habit to crack the seal on my “office” door the first week of August. I’d spend the mornings cleaning, organizing, decorating and finally planning. I typically outlined the entire year before breaking it down by semester and then grading periods and finally daily lesson plans. I rocked really.

August, therefore, feels like the time to plan. With Dee heading back to school, I have free hours during the day that need direction.

Direction that isn’t laundry or baking or cleaning.

Briefly I toyed with applying for a job at the museum in town. They are looking for a program assistant. It’ teacher work. Organizing and brainstorming. I would totally be in my element. Curriculum. History. Teaching. Some of my favorite things in life. The work is even part-time and mostly flexible, but the bulk is Tuesday and Thursday, and I am already committed to teaching yoga at the community hall in the evenings. The potential for the whole thing to turn into long days in the hellmouth is fair to good.

I’m gearing up to have myself added to the city’s yoga teacher sub list, and I’m going to take a couple of classes to get ready to e-publish a few short works that are a bit too niche for the bigger markets. That’s enough on top of home and family though I struggle still with the stay at home thing. Four years out of the workforce is a freakish feeling for someone who spent nearly 30 years of her life working. And with the economy in free-fall again, I get itchy.

But we don’t need me working part-time for peanuts, which screws us at tax time, and me going back to teaching adds unnecessary stress to our daily lives because the juggling of household chores and kid is no small thing. The pressure to work outside the home rears up though. Not as often as in the first years and usually driven by  something coming up that my working wouldn’t fix anyway.

It’s better that I stick to my original plan, which could pan out more profitably in the longer term with a bit of luck and nose to the keyboard.

Need to put my father’s daughter to bed once and for all and concentrate on the ball in play.

Happy New Rabbit Year!

Image by jijis via Flickr

As I have totally pushed the silliness about my zodiac sign disappearing into some unpronounceable and decidedly undesirable “lost sign” out of my mind (despite the fact that my husband thinks the new one suits me better), I must confess that I much prefer the nuance of Chinese astrology anyway.

I am a Rabbit, so this is sort of my year. Born in a water year with an ascendant Dragon (that’s the equivalent of a rising sign), I have found that the Chinese seem to know me a bit better than the Greeks. Though my daughter persists in her belief that I am a daughter of Zeus when she’s not reimagining her family as an alpha wolf pack.

Alpha, not Omega.

“Omegas are just silly and play all day, Mom,” she said.

She was born in the year of the Horse. A cause of great despair to have a daughter born in a Horse year. Sis’s youngest was born in the sign of the Horse and having observed her from birth to college – I am going to have to agree. I shudder a bit at the future.

Curiously, in both astrological universes I tend to gravitate towards completely unsuitable mates., a Virgo born in the year of the Metal Ox and a Scorpio Water Ox. Oxen though are grounded, stubborn and get the job done types and Rabbits? Probably not so much. I must be pretty awesome for anyone to pick up the cross that is me.

But today is the beginning of the new year in many Asian cultures and countries. It’s so much more festive and fraught with symbolism and possibility than the staid Western new year, in my opinion. There are dragons and parades and predictions for everyone and thing.

In the West we get top ten lists up the ying-yang and drunkenness.

Hmmm. I think we get gypped.

So anyway, I read that life in the year of your Chinese sign is anything but smooth. Up and down. Conflict. Possibly pestilence and revolution. Which confuses me because these are all things that Rabbits avoid like the second coming of another Bush dynasty. But Rabbit years have a mixed history.

Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in the summer of 1963, a Rabbit year, but JFK was assassinated that November. And I was born in the last weeks of the year though that’s probably neither here nor there.

1975 saw the end of a horrific recession. Score one for the Rabbit. But 1987 saw one of the first Wall Street crashes that have plagued us ever since.

Hard to tell what might happen this year. But with fascism’s slow creep across the United States and it being the kick off of yet another election cycle (its small wonder that no actual governing is ever accomplished in a country where officials mostly run for office and never really settle in long enough to work), things look bleak. And that’s minus the Four Horsemen like weather that’s occurring at the moment.

Oh yeah and there’s that revolution thing that appears to be sweeping the Middle East.


We hates conflict. Witness my tooth issues as prime example number one. I changed dentists because I loathed the hygienist I was assigned to instead of simply risking hurting the guy’s feelings (it was a sure risk by the way because the guy is very sensitive), I tried out someone new.

The hygienist was awesome. The dentist screwed up my bottom molars and I am probably going to lose the back one at the very least.

And I am still ducking the question of having my teeth cleaned. They ask. I hedge.

This is how much of a Rabbit I am.

Rabbits look cuddly. But they are not. Although some Asian cultures refer to the sign as The Cat. I think cats are too aloof and disinterested to really convey the personalities of those of us born in those years.

Although I love that old Al Stewart song, Year of the Cat, don’t you?

I secretly like to think I am this incredibly awesome, but sadly, I think not so much.

Middle daughter, Mick, has a rabbit. Cunning and destructive. She could be a character in a Stephen King short story. The rabbit. Not Mick. However if Mick were a character in the story with the Rabbit, it wouldn’t end well.

Mick’s rabbit “escapes” periodically and disappears.

Nothing could induce me to drop an animal out the window of a moving vehicle on a deserted Range Road faster than a bunny that occasionally turned up missing and then just as creepily – reappeared.

But despite the bunny’s destructive ways and eerie vanishing acts, Mick believes that one day it will come to love her.

If it doesn’t dispatch her one night as she sleeps and then opens the window to let the magpies in.


But back to the Year of the Rabbit. Don’t get comfortable. Don’t imagine Peter Rabbit. Think something along the lines of fur balls returning from the Pet Semetary. And you’ll probably be okay.



Postcard picture for New Year's; eBay store We...

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I bring this up only because I was recently reminded that the last decade was fraught with “two-thousand this and that year” as people balked about the “aught” they ought to have employed.

For the fourth year running, we did nothing at all to mark the change-over. I haven’t gone out on New Year’s Eve since 2006 when I ended up at a local restaurant with a couple of girlfriends, one of whom – my BFF – tried to pick up strangers for me.

I had a little black dress for the occasion that I ended up not wearing because the evening was bitterly cold and icy. I think I was in bed by midnight and if I remember correctly, I chatted via email a bit with Rob. He’d gotten a midnight phone call from some widow on the board, who was stalking him with increasing intensity.

Aside from that low-key ringing in of 2007, the Aught’s weren’t noted for festivity on New Year’s Eve for me. I think 2000 was the last party I attended and I am pretty certain I haven’t had a raucous birthday celebration since that year as well.

Oh, I am dull.

Being stricken with colds from the depths of Tartarus, Rob and I cuddled up and watched the last few episodes of season four Tudors and then listened as the neighbors ran up and down the back alley blowing paper horns and shouting.

Fortunately, there were no gunshots trumpeting the new year as well. Back in the day, when I lived in Valley Junction, shotgun blasts cracked the midnight hour along with illegally obtained fireworks from just over the Iowa-Missouri border.

Sleep eluded me a bit due to congestion and an overall inability to find a non-awful position to sleep in. About five or so, I stumbled to the bathroom for pharmaceuticals to relieve blocked airways and some ibuprofen for the aches and pains and then slept til nearly noon.

It’s 4:38 as I type this and very little has been accomplished by me though Rob is grimly stripping sixty year old goo off the stud walls and wiring the front room for future awesomeness.

For Dee I created a knife and a lightening bolt out of paper towel rolls. She got the latest Rick Riordan novel from her great-auntie and we’ve been burning through it every evening before bed. The child desperately wants to be a child of a god and fight monsters. She’s torn between Zeus and Hades – don’t ask me why.  She’d rather be a child of Athena, I think, but she can’t bear to give me up as her mother.

I did manage a bit of online shopping for proper wedding wear. Though I prefer to try things on, between the driving and dealing with humans, online is easier and quicker.

We are flying to the Okanogan in a few weeks for Rob’s mother’s nuptials.

The Fiance is a nice man. Retired Air Force. Former drag-racer. Current collector of coins. Both Rob and Silver got on well with him as they found that easy language of men who reno and tinker. I noted that he and MIL don’t have many shared topics. Whenever one was talking the other’s eyes glazed, but what brings people together and holds them goes beyond laundry lists and hobbies – in my opinion. They held hands, shared knowing looks and somehow weathered a few revelations that I imagine would have torpedoed a good many couples when combined with family meet/greet and holiday stress.

Last year, aside from Spring Break in Iowa and a couple of camping weekenders, there was precious little vacationing. This year there is the upcoming wedding jaunt followed closely by Spring Breaking w/fam in the States and not long after – a week at the time-share in Fairmont. And all before summer, with its camping, arrives. Bounty indeed.

But I went casual for the wedding with Dee and I in a tunic and shirt dress respectively paired with leggings. MIL’s first wedding to Rob’s father was a Protestant church affair, so she is going all out Catholic with the trimmings this time.

“Have you ever been a to Catholic wedding mass?” I asked Rob to which he replied with a “have we met?” look.

“They can be … lengthy.”

He grimaced but with a “I’ll man up” undertone and I have to admit, I am less than enthused myself. I haven’t been to mass since dad’s funeral and before that I hadn’t bothered with church for several years.

For Dee the exotic nature of Catholic mass has worn off. When she was wee, she loved going with her Grandmother and cousin, but that was when wiggling, non-attentiveness was cute. At nearly nine, she can’t roam the pew, climbing and scooting without irritating or reflecting poorly on our parenting skills. Would her DS be beyond bounds of acceptable distraction or would a book be better?

I sometimes tried to sneak a novel along when I was in my young teens. Mom wasn’t that observant but Dad was a hawk. Most of the time, I read ahead in the missals. As a result, I am extraordinarily well versed in the bible for a Catholic.

As a treat, we’ve booked a suite at a resort hotel on the lake. Dee is elated. I am a bit paranoid about bedbugs and lice, but there’s a saltwater pool at least. We swam a bit at the Hampton, where MIL and Fiance stayed this last week. The water was so heavily chlorinated it gave me a semi-rash on my legs and scorched my sinuses. I haven’t tried saltwater and am hoping for the best.

Rob’s sister and her fella might be at the wedding too, so it has the makings of a family “do”.

The older kids would have a hard time getting time off and throw church into the mix – not much incentive to try.

Off to gag down  a cup of herbal tea and find a sweater, ironically, the warming trend here makes the house colder.

It’s twenty-eleven. Remember that now. No good to look stupid in the opening days of the new year after all.