Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Monday, April 12, 2004

But, before we leave for Atlanta on Friday…

There is, of course, soccer practice Thursday night. Thankfully it was just for Bec and Catherine, Boy having gotten a reprieve. Something vague about the fields being wet, but that didn’t stop everyone else from practicing. Not that I’m complaining, ‘cause I’m not.

Got there and sat on the bench with Bec waiting for practice to start, asking her what all went on in school and the normal stuff, and then saw that her coach had showed up--he was supposed to be coaching the high school boys’ team, but the game got cancelled--and then the young lady showed up whom the team has hired to help out with practice. She seems like a very nice girl, played college soccer at UAB and even played professionally in Sweden, and the girls like having her around. And she seems to enjoy being around them. Hope it turns out to be a good thing. AND she brought a friend with her, so we got double our money’s worth!

Sat there some more on the bench and was joined by Bathmat Dad. (For those who are new to the story, Bathmat Dad is swathed in a rich, luxurious fur coat that would do a lowland gorilla proud. Imagine the most completely hirsute individual you know--Robin Williams, Sean Connery, your pastor, whoever--then imagine that doubled.) Anyway, he sat down and we shot the breeze for a bit. He’s a hard one to talk to--he has his own company, and they do manly things with dangerous stuff, and he’s brusque, and sorta loud, and always right. But I like him anyway. Anyway, we sat and talked about the girls and how they seem to be really working as a team--well, more like he would make a statement and I would agree with him--and then we’d go on to something else.

And then, to the political. I was noncommittal, mainly because it’s hard to have a conversation when the person you’re talking to knows everything and is not afraid to tell you, ESPECIALLY when it comes to politics. But he started in anyway. That particular part of our conversation has weighed heavily on me ever since, mainly because he seemed entirely unaware that there existed a group of people in this country for whom every dead and wounded American soldier is a good thing. He just dismissed it out of hand as unthinkable. I can’t even read excerpts of the Dunderground claptrap without feeling a profound sickness and sense that surely such people cannot live and breathe the same air I do--but still, I know they exist.

What is more worrisome, though, are folks who consider themselves well-informed, like my friend, yet refuse to see beyond the fast-paced scandal-mongering on CNN, et al. If my friend knew, he might not have been so complimentary of Senator Kennedy’s pandering to the Bushitler crowd (and to every masked jihadi with a grudge, an AK, and a heart-felt dream of a heavenly whorehouse) as he excoriated Bush last week. “Well, you know, Kennedy is right in a way, because we don’t want to go into something again and not win it.”

Which would be fine, if that’s what Kennedy meant. He didn’t.

Anyway, that conversation sparked a long essay this morning. But that part has been cut from here, at least for the time being. (Explaining in part why this post is so late.) It’s just going to have to wait, mainly because I do not yet know the antidote for the blind ignorance and the reflexive hatred and the self-loathing that simmers at the edges of public discourse, both on the right and on the left. It will eventually get posted, but it’s going to take some more thinking.

One thing I will say before we move on to happier topics, though. Before you start trying to make your comparisons of this war to others, at least have the courtesy, and the decency, to know your history. Military and otherwise.

As promised, on then to better things.

Finished up with practice and headed back to the house to finish packing for the trip. FOR ONCE, we traveled light. Maybe I am finally having an effect on trip planning, but Reba decided this time that she and the girls didn’t need five changes of clothes apiece for a day-and-a-half trip. We have gone before and had the back end of the van loaded to the top, but this time we managed with one big bag, one backpack, one hanging bag, a case of bottled water, and a copier-paper box full of vittles. Oh, and a few assorted tiny stuffed animals. Catherine did want to take her giant, tiger-sized, stuffed tiger but that was quickly discarded. (Not without protest.)

The foodstuffs were similar to the canned meat products variety we took with us in previous years, although this year I made a concession to trendiness with the inclusion of tortillas. Mainly because they are flat already and can’t really get any more squashed in transit, but they also add a festive Tex-Mex touch to devilled ham.

Packing complete, time for bed, then time to get up. 0430. Yikes, that’s early. MUCH too early. But we had to be at the building for the convoy assembly at 6:30, and it takes thirty minutes to get there, and hours to get the kids up and dressed and in the van. But we made it at exactly 6:30. Didn’t leave until 7, though, which meant that I missed out on thirty minutes of sleep somewhere.

Eastward Ho, and all that, and we were on the road to Atlanta. No near-misses this year with morons in my blind-spot, not getting left behind at the rest stop, and no memorable road kill. Sorry, Meryl. Managed to wrangle our way through Friday morning traffic to the Hyatt with a minimum of trouble.

For some reason, in addition to not seeing any good critters on the road, I also didn’t notice any of the normal allotment of insane motor vehicle operators. Atlanta’s somewhat confusing if you’re not used to it, but it’s usually made much worse by aggressively bad drivers. Maybe they just all were on the road to Birmingham.

Our group of 48 was divided up into about ten vehicles and we swamped the parking guys, but they handled it with good humor. AND, as a bonus, the claim-check desk was once again staffed by the same two gorgeous Somali girls as last year. Rrrrowll. But enough of that.

Up to the lobby to wait and attempt to rest for a minute and keep the kids corralled, get our keys, and head for the room. And wonder of wonders, for the first time in six years of requesting it, we FINALLY got assigned adjoining rooms. AMAZING!

Time for a bit of vegetating, then the luggage showed up, which meant we could finally break out our provender and have some lunch. And watch CABLE! Finished that up, rested a bit more, then had an award ceremony (the first of three different ones) to go to. Noise, flashbulbs, etc.

Back to the room, more near-sleep, more avoidance of others in our group, then a bite for supper, then the evening award ceremony, where Jonathan got a second place award in his age group for his scrapbook. He was tickled pink. Afterwards Reba and the two older girls left me in the room with Jonathan and Catherine, while they went off to study for Bible Bowl. We watched the wretched animated sequel to Atlantis on the Disney Channel, then I tucked Catherine into bed at 9:30. At precisely 9:50, Ashley came back and pounded on the door, and came in and immediately set about waking Catherine up. Grr. Then Reba and Rebecca came in and did it some more.

I just shut the doors between the rooms, said ‘night to Boy, and we went to sleep. I vowed I was not going to wake up until noon. Obviously, that didn’t happen. But I did get some sleep. Except for that time about 4 in the morning when Jonathan blurted out with exasperation, “STOP IT, CATHERINE!” I figured she has snuck in our room and was pestering him, but he was just dreaming. I asked him what was going on, and he came to, and laughed at himself. I think that’s probably the first time he’s ever done that, because he giggled about it for the rest of the trip. (He is easily amused.)

Up not-quite-so-early Saturday, ate some of our rations, dressed, and got ready for Ashley to go to her song-leading competition. Same song as last year, Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee She nearly won it all last year, but the odd combination of adolescent hubris and self-doubt got the better of her this year. I stayed in the lobby with Jonathan and Cat, but according to Reba she had it pitched way too high. Obviously, in Oldest’s eyes, it was everyone else’s fault. She managed to make quite an ass out of herself afterwards. And proceeded to continue her performance when she got upstairs. ::sigh:: She does know better, I promise.

Some lunch, which made Boy queasy, then on for more competition. Both Oldest and Middle Girl were doing Bible Bowl at the same time in different parts of the hotel, so this time I INSISTED Reba keep Catherine (who had been a gigantic pill while we waited previously) and I stayed with Boy and Ashley. We went and found the proper room and sat there until Ashley was in near apoplexy about the fact that her teammates had not shown up. “CAN I GO FIND THEM!?”

“No, just sit down and wait.”


“Just sit down. They’ll get here.”


Always late, that’s what about her. “Just sit down and they will all eventually get here--you’re where YOU need to be, and that’s all you have to worry about. Don’t worry about them.”


::sigh:: “Just sit down and hush.”

The rest of the girls finally strolled in around starting time. Figures. And then, two hours of question and answers, and intense boredom. The kids had their backs to the audience, so there was no way of telling who was right or wrong. Boy and I halfway snoozed through the first half, took a break at the intermission to go play in the gift shop and then snuck back in later. After it was all over with, we met back up with Reba and the other girls and then wandered around for another two hours spending money. Ouch. Supper, which again made Boy queasy, then the final award ceremony where we found that Ashley’s team had come in 3rd, and disappointingly that Jonathan’s diorama sculpture had failed to get any award at all. He was very disappointed for about five minutes.

Over with at about 10, 9 Central, then the mad dash down to the motor lobby, load up with the kids (I had already prepacked the luggage sometime earlier that morning) then back toward Trussville. Home at 11:45, unpack, send kids to bed, spread around Easter Bunny surprises, go to bed, get up, console Catherine for having received a less-than-desired gift from the Easter Bunny, fill in to teach the 3rd-6th graders because both their teachers had decided to come back Sunday from Atlanta, manage to stay awake during preaching, go eat lunch with Reba’s folks, go home, do some laundry, watch a stupid video test program we had received in the mail, go back to church, go home, do laundry, make Jonathan very excited by taking off all the little people from his sculpture and telling him he can use it as a play set, then go to bed.

Boy, am I tired.

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