Friday, February 19, 2010

Flat Out Old Fashioned Small Town Unabashed Pride

Here's what he does for a history project. You know, He Who Cannot Be Named but is taking this to the state History competition after inadvertently turning a 'write a paper on recent history of your picking' into something really cool.

Even better? He said she could post this.

Be still, beating heart.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is It Really Getting Better Folks?

My, my, my. . . the Matron has been very interested in details at the Colony!

She read the Kevin Smith comments with a HIGH degree of interest. She chortled at Mrs. G’s temporary move from Switzerland to . . . well, at least Ireland.

But the outright vilification of flesh gave the Matron pause. Why? She’s thinking of our daughters. Yes, yes, the boys –and she has two of them—feel pressure to adhere to cultural ideals, yes, indeed. But she’s here to argue that there’s a unique condemnation of female flesh. Is there any male counterpoint to Oprah’s battle of the bulge? Starr Williams? Ricki Lake? She could go on and on and on. For every Jared, there’s a Jenny Craig, Valerie Bertinelli, Kirstey Alley and every celebrity who has ever given birth. The Matron would love to take every “how she got her body back after baby” article to kerosene and torch. That would be one big bonfire. She’d toss in a few pages on Jennifer Aniston’s abs, just to make that flame burn brighter.

Every few days, she’s reminded of how cellular these issues are to women, how this deep-tissue condemnation of female flesh is being passed along to our daughters. You see, the Matron has a good friend – a rail-thin woman who, not unlike the Matron, works toward that condition--- who cannot get her daughter to be thin enough. The daughter is not fat. Not thin. She is firmly in the middle, a 12 year old with new breasts, hips, and a little bit of tummy. The Matron’s friend, Jay we’ll say, is routinely saying things like this:

“I’m taking Kay for a walk tonight to make sure she burns some calories.”

“Do you pack carbs for Scarlett's lunch? I’m just leaving carbs out of Kay’s diet unless she asks for something like a cookie.”

“I know, I know, I’m worried about the weight. But it’s so much easier to be thin. Your life as a woman is easier.” (True)

“Kay? Do you really need to eat a whole hamburger or is half okay?”

“Girls? Can we skip a snack after school and save our appetites for dinner?”

The Matron is not condemning Jay but putting her on a spectrum, a spectrum in which the Matron herself, survivor of an eating disorder, is firmly situated. With three spindly young ones, the Matron hasn’t (yet) navigated the land of ‘watch what you eat.’ But she sees plenty of mothers, not just Jay, fretting about their daughters’ physiques.

Last week, Jay’s daughter, Kay, said this to Scarlett. The Matron overheard from her secret spot out in the open two feet away from the kitchen table:

Kay: “Scarlett, let’s go on a cleansing diet next week. No carbs, no wheat, no diary, no meat, no sugar. What do you think?”

Scarlett: “Sounds good! We can get healthy just like our Moms!”

Oh darlings. It is a little more complicated. Please don't emulate your mothers.

Move beyond us.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

She Didn't Get The Grading Done Because Her Six-Year Old Sliced Off His Fingertip?

This would be the Matron's rendition of the all time favorite COLLEGE tune: The Cat Ate My Homework.

Sung to the tune of The Beverly Hillbillies.

BUT. Really? The Matron DID INDEED get all of her grading done. And her course preps. She showed up to all her committees and meetings.

Thankfully, Merrick's finger looks pink and pretty and, most importantly, full intact. He was the Hero in school yesterday, wielding splint and bandage as Badge of Honor, and earning that most coveted Minnesota grade school privilege: he got to stay inside and paint during recess --with a friend!

His life has never been better. Next time he's aiming for a more dramatic digit.

But the Matron had her own dramas in mind this week as she contemplated obstacles faced by her community college students --AND -- the consequences of how they respond to those dilemmas.

Now, the Matron is a big believer in policy and rule, particularly at her very-well-run institution. She fills out the forms and takes the head count. Accordingly, she withdraw students from her class, should a student go two consecutive weeks without any effort at attendance or communique.

Usually this means a lot of extra work for the Matron. Because she dis-enrolls them and they immediately get back in touch -- panicked! Asking to be let back in because:

1. You are a forty-four year old single mother of three trying to get your 12 year old son out of the juvenile home where he's been living for two years, your computer crashed and one of your other children has the stomach flu.

2. You are a 23 year old single father to a two-year old boy, recently returned from Iraq (army), unable to find a job and if your teacher withdraws you and you're not in school, all those GI benefits (nearly $4,000) go away and that is ALL THE MONEY you have. In the world.

3. You are a 46 year old, twenty-two year army veteran recently retired, sole supporter of wife and three children, returning to school and the shift supervisor for a turkey processing plant--and the plant fired the other shift supervisor (money) forcing you to work every single night of the week and THEN go to school full time and be a husband and father.

4. You are 19 years old and recently emigrated -- with your parents--from Haiti. Need she say more? You have just lost four close family members, your old home, and you are working at McDonald's as the main breadwinner for your now grieving nearly hysterical parents and helping out with the four younger siblings.

The Matron? Dear friends: she ALWAYS lets these students back in! With a plan for how to catch up and sometimes? A tissue and a conversation.

So imagine this . . . here she is in her tidy little office.

Ring, ring (this is the phone for the slower people).

Matron: "Hello?"

Kiara (so not her real name): "Mary? This is Kiara X. I'm in your Class NeverShowUp."

Matron: "Well, not any more Kiara. You haven't been there since January 19th. I just withdrew you from the class."


Kiara: "Well, Mary. I have had a bad migraine."

Now it's the Matron's turn to pause.

Matron: "A migraine? Nothing else? No jail, no bankruptcy, unplanned pregnancy, fifteen family members moving in?"

Kiara: "Actually, I've been sorta hanging out at home watching TV with my husband when he's not at work. It's just a bad migraine, that's all. I've been taking care of myself real good with movies and home-cooked meals. I think I'm on the mend."

Matron: "Have you seen a doctor? Are you okay?"

Kiara: "Oh, I will be FINE next week. When I get a bad headache I just need a break from life. Get comfy and CHILL and take care of ME, you know. My migraine is all gone and thought I'd come back to class next Tuesday, in a week, just to kick it, you know."

The month long migraine?

Sigh. This is where the Matron draws the line. Sorry, Kiara.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Good Times, Cupid

The Matron had much to say over the weekend.

But . . .

All was lost when Merrick sliced off his left index finger tip at 4:47 pm last night. The ER doctors in St. Paul are pretty cute and depressingly youthful.

The slicing was thanks to a sturdy scissors and Merrick's determination to rid his jeans of all the threads that Mama's patching created. Bad Mama.

Perhaps her favorite moment during the crisis was when she called Stryker for a medical consult. Merrick had just sliced off his fingertip. He screamed (Hitchcock would have recruited). The Matron, who had been loading the dishwasher, reeled around to the kitchen table where Merrick thrust out a finger nearly severed from the center of fingernail on up. Sly Matron, she saw that the severed finger section was a perfect puzzle match for a little pouch on the finger below. She shoved the flesh back in and thought, "okay maybe I am still going out for dinner."

But Merrick kept wailing and --because nobody else was home-- she asked Stryker to see what was what.

Matron (above Merrick's screams): "So what do you think Stryker? Does that look all good like it's going to just heal on its own?"

Stryker, calmly hugging Merrick: "Mom, that looks great. I wouldn't worry."

Stryker, then moving BEHIND Merrick to stage whisper and gasp behind his back, mouthing: "CALL THE HOSPITAL."

She did, and--crashing all those Valentine Dinner dreams--the ER nurse told her to come on in.

Turns out stitches don't work on severed fingertips. Tight bandages, hope and youthful regeneration are the fix. Every doc and nurse reassured them that all looked really good! If you're going to whack of a digit and keep it, well, your name is Merrick.

The only danger?


Everybody warned of infection's danger with this sort of thing and advised monitoring, closely.

Drama aside (and oh my Lord this child gave his sister a run for the money), all was well until just before bedtime: 101.1