Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm infiltrating the Thomas Jefferson Education reactionary, fascist, evil training scam this week.

Gentle Readers,

There been much lip-flapping and hot air blowing on the subject of TJed and LEMI and Oliver DeMille. I'm not naming names but a certain person has been so nasty about the entire TJed community that I wonder if Mr. DeMille didn't leave said person at the altar at some point.

So, gentle readers I am going to a LEMI training Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I shall relentlessly dig out their logical fallacies and expose their illegal pyramid scam.

I still have a lot of reading to do, and so it is with regret that I must inform you that I am walking away from my computer until Sunday. It's true. Please come back next week to read my expose on the reactionary, evil, dangerous, fraud-riddled homeschool scam of the 21st century.

Most sneakily yours,
Jami La

Monday, July 28, 2008

My sister and I are morbid.

I could be wrong, but here's some strong anecdotal evidence.

One summer thirty years ago, my mother decided that she would have no summer brain atrophy among her children, so she handed us 100 Best Loved Poems and told us to pick one we liked and memorize it. We did. We can still recite both poems.

(Notice the common the common morbid theme in both poems. Pure coincidence.)

(Notice all of those stinkin' indentations and dashes. Did you know that you have to stinkin' use HTML code to make those happen? Can I get some stinkin' applause, please?)

(Go ahead read them out loud. They're kinda cool. Plus if you read them out loud, you'll feel the lovely cadence AND people will look at you funny.)

Annabel Lee

It was many and many a year ago,
     In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
     By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
     Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
     In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
     I and my ANNABEL LEE;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
     Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
     In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
     My beautiful ANNABEL LEE;
So that her highborn kinsman came
     And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
     In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
     Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
     In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
     Chilling and killing my ANNABEL LEE.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
     Of those who were older than we—
     Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in heaven above,
     Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
     Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
     Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
     Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
     In the sepulchre there by the sea,
     In her tomb by the sounding sea.

—Edgar Allan Poe

O Captain! My Captain!


O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
     But O heart! heart! heart!
          O the bleeding drops of red,
               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                    Fallen cold and dead.


O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
     Here Captain! dear father!
          This arm beneath your head;
               It is some dream that on the deck,
                    You’ve fallen cold and dead.


My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
     Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
          But I, with mournful tread,
               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                    Fallen cold and dead.

—Walt Whitman

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Life is Pain...Anyone Who Says Differently is Selling Something

In the eighties, my sister, my mother and I, separated by hundreds of miles, had a bonding ritual. Each week we would watch "Star Trek: The Next Generation" then call each other to have a little trekkie chat. My sister and I were completely unified in our mockery of Counselor Deanna Troi, an empath, a really irritating empath. She'd stand on the bridge, stare out into space and look pained. "I sense confusion [pain/sorrow/negative emotion
du jour]" We were fairly certain that a good laxative would take care of poor Deanna's constant suffering.

Recently, I've felt a bit like the well-intentioned, but infinitely mockable Deanna as I stare into the vast Internet and feel the suffering. I wander around peeking into the lives of amazing people, their marriages, children, jobs. Their tragedies. It hurts and a laxative has given no relief. The pain is spiritual: the death of a loved one, the loss of faith, mental illness, disability, unemployment, poverty, pregnancy complications, the sorrows of real people I have come to love.

I promised when I was baptized that I was willing to mourn with those who mourn, to comfort those who stand in need of comfort. When a local friend has a miscarriage, I can hold her, cry with her, bring her a casserole and some helpful herbs. When an Internet friend suffers a miscarriage, all I can do is cry and pray that someone will hold her, bring her a casserole, and maybe some helpful herbs.

Perhaps there is some wisdom in the concept of not becoming emotionally involved with strangers, but as I ponder the Savior taking upon himself all of the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain of the world, I have a have a hard time believing that emotional distance is how we become more Christ-like. So I pray and occasionally send a poem. It's really all I can do which is, I guess, better than what Deanna, the hand-wringer, would do.

Life is pain. The joy that the scriptures talks about is not smiling through the death of a child, or humming happily as someone relearns how to walk. It is an eternal joy that comes when Jesus who vicariously suffered for us, who knows and loves us, removes the pain, brings peace to the troubled, heals the scars, and makes us whole again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Our House is a Very, Very, Very Fine House...

...with two cats in the yard. And I get to keep them. Hurray! Hurrah! The La household gives an nearly unanimous cheer.

To the ever patient La Man, I love you! The La Kids love you! And just to irritate you, the cats will love you!

This one came with a name—Westley. As you wish...

And we've named this one Edward after The Edward of Twilight fame. (I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of twin puncture marks on my thumb.)
A list for my mom:

  1. They love being touched. (Kid overload occurs, frequently around here.)
  2. They are so gentle with the little ones. (A must.)
  3. They like outdoors. (Requirement.)
  4. Litter box use? Perfect. (Non-negotiable.)
  5. And they are young enough to qualify for the super-cheap neuter. (Nice. Very, very nice.)


  1. I owe my man a serious concession somewhere down the road.
  2. I hate the litter box.

Why, it would appear that the positives outweigh the negatives! Woo-hoo! If I could make my blog do a little happy dance, I would.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Most Embarrassing Combo Purchases

The previous champions were a pharmacy combo: birth control pills, migraine meds & anti-depressants. (No really, Ms. Pharmacy Tech, I am perfectly normal. It's all under control, really. Stop LOOKING AT ME!)

Yesterday's contender: the mega pack of toilet paper, antidiarrheal medication & saltines. (I chose the self check out, but I still think the person behind me in line might have been looking at me.)

And you? What have your red-faced purchases been?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Three Miscellaneous Thoughts in No Particular Order

1. I hate my pop-up blocker, but if I don't use it my computer begins chanting dirty limericks at me while chorus lines of leprechauns high kick their way across my screen. Very scary. But it is also very scary that I am developing unsightly muscular bulges in the fingers on my left hand, from having to press Ctrl & Alt to override the stupid pop-up blocker every time I want to make a comment or click a link. So here's a little plea...for the sake of my poor children who have to appear in public with me and my weirdly muscled Pointer and Tall Man, please make it so I can just click on your links and have my browser just magically go there. Pretty please.

2. I brought home two little kitty brothers tonight, because I'm a softy. I'm banking on my husband being a softy too. Not about the kitties (no chance of that), but about the kiddies, begging to keep the kitties. Perhaps I'm being a teensy bit over-optimistic. I hope not.

3. I've made part of my decision about the homeschooling issue. V-Girl and L-Boy will most likely be going to school. My middle school kids, N-Girl and J-Teen, will be homeschooled. E-Teen remains in limbo. Four out of five decisions ain't bad. Especially for indecisive me.

Hey, I promised miscellaneous and I delivered. Impressive, aren't I?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I Stink...

...when I don't use deodorant. But I've noticed I'm a little less...um...smart than I used to be which gets me to worrying about getting Alzheimer's which gets me to thinking about how autopsies reveal unusually high levels of aluminum in the brains of Alzheimer patients which gets me to worrying about putting aluminum under my arms every day to make me not stink which I know has not been shown to have any link to Alzheimer's (or breast cancer or dandruff) but just to be on the safe side I decided to switch to a natural deodorant which brings me back to the problem. I stink...when I use natural deodorants too.

I've tried Tom's. Two varieties. Um, not so helpful. I've tried a lovely lemony one from Avalon. No dice. I've tried Melaleuca's mega-magic-mush. Sorry. No helpy. I was getting desperate.

So one day when I was over at Diaper Swappers—a great resource for all things frugal and natural, by the way: although whatever platform they are using takes a flippin' millennium to load—and I came across a great discussion of natural deodorants for the truly stinky needy and funk butter came up again and again.

Raves for something called funk butter? Give me a break. It's just baking soda in a cream to powder base. Baking soda is nearly free. Several people reported getting great results from a light dusting of plain ol' baking soda. So I tried it. Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, it worked. With one unfortunate side effect: a bright red raw rash. I had the best smelling sores in town.

So I bit the bullet and ordered two little tins of funk butter: one scented, mango-yum (or something), and the other unscented (you know just in case the mango made me gag or break out). It took a while to get it, because I guess they make their stuff up fresh as the order comes in, but then they used super-duper fast shipping (which explains their shipping charges). When it finally came it was: THE BEST DEODORANT EVER! (Sorry to get so excited. I'll try to keep it under control.)

It was better than any mass produced deodorant I have ever used, including all of the aluminum and petroleum based ones. I waited until summer to make my final decision. It does not stop sweat, but odor is gone, gone, gone. And if it gets to be a day and a half between showers, it is still a-working. As it turns out the mango-yum (or whatever) really is yum, so yum that my teenager stole it. Thank goodness I bought two. Wish they had both been the mango though.

Oh, I almost forgot. You can use it on your feet too.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

And on a lighter note...

The Hippopotamus

Behold the hippopotamus!
We laugh at how he looks to us,
And yet in moments dank and grim,
I wonder how we look to him.
Peace, peace, thou hippopotamus!
We really look all right to us,
As you no doubt delight the eye
Of other hippopotami.

Ogden Nash

[My older kids and I used to recite this to the hippo at our zoo every time we visited. Great fun! Sadly, our hippo moved away and the younger children have not had similar opportunities.]

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I should have been a Libra.

I am a Virgo. This fact alone should be enough to completely destroy anyone's faith in astrology. Virgos are hyper-neat, uber-organized and smell vaguely of Lysol. Pas moi. Virgos are also decisive. No, no, no. I think not. Except maybe sometimes. Anyway, this post isn't about bogus fortune-telling inspired by stars. It's about how I cannot make a stinking decision to save my life, which as my sister and my good friend La-la tell me is a defining characteristic of Libras, always weighing things in that charming little balance of theirs.

The current indecision? Should I put the kids in regular public school or continue to homeschool them?

Why would I even think of doing such a thing? I really love having my kids home and getting to be a part of their discovery of the joy of learning, but...capitals, please...BUT my man is working night shift and the children can not for the life of them be quiet. And I'm beginning to feel bad for my poor sweet chronically sleep deprived zombie of a husband. (Coming soon to a blog near you...the amazing cruddiness of night work.)

I have chosen Fall curriculum and have committed to teach in the homeschool co-op. I have bought the Wal-Mart sale school items as if they are going to day school. I purchased school clothes at the Goodwill half-off sale. I am firmly in one camp on Monday and just as firmly in the other camp by Friday. Soon I will look like this.
My mother always says, "Make a list." It rarely helps, but I am in such a quandary that I'll try anything at this point.

Positives of the La Kids in Public School

  • Comparative silence.
  • Sleep for my sweet zombie husband
  • Cleaner house
  • More free time for me
  • Gives my kids someone else to fight
  • Gives my kids accountability to other adults
  • Encourages kids to get along with kids and grown ups
  • Free lunch (I know-TINSTAAFL-different discussion)
  • I might be able to talk E-Teen and J-Teen into sleeping at night. (What a novel concept!)

Negatives of the La Kids in Public School

  • Three teachers for the little monkeys. Ten teachers for the older monkeys. (Shoot me now. Please.)
  • Seminary 6:15 (4 miles), High School 7:15 (2 miles), Grade School 8:00 (2 miles), Middle School 8:45 (5 miles)
  • A similar pick-up schedule
  • Loss of my daytime babysitters
  • Bullies
  • Surenos and Nortenos, aka Toss every blue or red thing you own into the garbage.
  • Vermin
  • Peer pressure
  • The baby will be lonely.
  • I LIKE teaching them.
  • Regular day school (our Montessori charter school experience) taught my younger children that there is a designated time for learning, and conversely that there is no learning during undesignated times.
  • We will spend every bit as much time doing homework as we spend homeschooling.
  • Much less free time for the kids
  • Less extra curricular activities
  • No more homeschool co-op kids
  • No more homeschool co-op parents

So the nays seriously outweigh the yeas. OK, decision made. They're staying home. Except...there's my squinty-eyed husband coming down the hall having achieved four hours of cruddy sleep. OK, decision made. They're going to school. No wait. Bullies. They're staying home. But think how much how much easier it will be to keep the house clean! OK! Regular school. Lice. Arg! They are staying home. School! Homeschool! Arg!

I'm not feeling so good.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Remind me again why we're in Hell.

My brother is going back to Hell at the end of the month. He'll be stopping by New Jersey and Kuwait on the way.

I'm thirteen years older than he is; we weren't raised together. I don't know him very well. Still I love him, and when my brother is in Hell, the war turns into THE WAR. I always feel sad when a soldier dies, but when he's in Hell, I ask: WHICH soldier died? Was he mine?

During his last tour through Hell, while driving oil from North Hell to Hell's capitol, he was hit. Bad things happened to the other guy in the truck, but my brother only suffered hearing damage and a badly tweaked back. He was lucky. Lucky to have only witnessed a really bad outcome. Lucky to only have permanent hearing loss in one of his ears. Lucky that he's got limbs attached to that tweaked back of his. Lucky to be alive to go back and do it again.

Getting out is not going to be easy, but I am beginning to think that everyone in power should have one person they love in the heat and misery, in danger, so THE WAR could never be in lowercase again. So that each time a soldier dies in the war, every leader must ask WHICH soldier, was he mine? So that each leader and each citizen of the United States of America says, "Remind me again why we're in Hell." So that someone finds a way to get us the hell out.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

This one's gorgeous.

Love Is Not All

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

WHEN, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands, which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's GOD entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their CREATOR, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that Governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shown, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.
HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodations of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyranny only.
HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.
HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining, in the mean Time, exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.
HE has endeavored to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone; for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.
HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.
HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the Consent of our Legislatures.
HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:
FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
FOR depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:
FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:
FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection, and waging War against us.
HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with Circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
HE has constrained our Fellow-Citizens, taken Captive on the high Seas, to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
HE has excited domestic Insurrection amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes, and Conditions.
IN every Stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every Act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.
NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them, from Time to Time, of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the Rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of Right do. And for the Support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
John Hancock.
GEORGIA, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Geo. Walton. NORTH-CAROLINA, Wm. Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn. SOUTH-CAROLINA, Edward Rutledge, Thos Heyward, junr. Thomas Lynch, junr. Arthur Middleton. MARYLAND, Samuel Chase, Wm. Paca, Thos. Stone, Charles Carroll, of Carrollton. VIRGINIA, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Ths. Jefferson, Benja. Harrison, Thos. Nelson, jr. Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton. PENNSYLVANIA, Robt. Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benja. Franklin, John Morton, Geo. Clymer, Jas. Smith, Geo. Taylor, James Wilson, Geo. Ross. DELAWARE, Caesar Rodney, Geo. Read. NEW-YORK, Wm. Floyd, Phil. Livingston, Frank Lewis, Lewis Morris. NEW-JERSEY, Richd. Stockton, Jno. Witherspoon, Fras. Hopkinson, John Hart, Abra. Clark. NEW-HAMPSHIRE, Josiah Bartlett, Wm. Whipple, Matthew Thornton. MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, Saml. Adams, John Adams, Robt. Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry. RHODE-ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE, &c. Step. Hopkins, William Ellery. CONNECTICUT, Roger Sherman, Saml. Huntington, Wm. Williams, Oliver Wolcott. IN CONGRESS, JANUARY 18, 1777. ORDERED, THAT an authenticated Copy of the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCY, with the Names of the MEMBERS of CONGRESS, subscribing the same, be sent to each of the UNITED STATES, and that they be desired to have the same put on RECORD. By Order of CONGRESS, JOHN HANCOCK, President. BALTIMORE, in MARYLAND

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Just say no.

This is a story of bad boundaries, bad manners and bad poetry. You may have noticed that I like poetry. Plenty of people have noticed. One of the consequences of people noticing that you like poetry is that they give you their poetry to read. (Do I do that to you? No. I have a deep understanding that amateur poetry causes hives in many people. I have mercy.) I find these requests to be far more painful than the "will you edit [write] my paper for me" requests. Bad prose is one thing, bad poetry is another. I don't like rhymes under the best of circumstances, but bad rhymes inflict migraines.

Once upon a time (while I was pregnant and whatever normally passes for Jami's commonsense had gone bye-bye) a human acquaintance (hereafter referred to as H.A.) begged me to go over this ream of poetry, to "correct the grammar and punctuation." I reluctantly accepted. Really the H.A. is super nice, and it would have been rude of me to decline.

Once I got home, I began to read. They were (God forgive me) crap. Trust me. So...did I hand them back? Did I try to convince the H.A. to take up knitting or golf? No, the H.A. is a nice person who had obviously invested a great deal of self in the poems. I did the only thing a cowardly former English major could do. I avoided confrontation.

Unfortunately, one can only duck into empty classrooms, claim non-existent stomach ills and headaches so many times. Eventually, the H.A. cornered me. Had I read them yet? What did I think? Were they ready? Which one did I like best? When would they be ready? I prevaricated. I'd been busy. I pretended to have had a bout of false labor. (I'm so ashamed.) This went on for months before the nagging finally got to me. I felt bad. I was holding the poems hostage. I needed to keep my commitment, give my opinion, and let them go home.

So I bit the bullet and began making comments. At first, I attempted to fix the poor mutilated words. Wasn't going to happen. I could rewrite them entirely, but that was a horror to which I was unwilling to subject myself. I gave up and plunged the knife in deeply: I told the truth.

After about ten poems, I was forced to write a short piece of marginalia on the fact that the ends of rhyming words are supposed to sound the same. (Action and magazine, while both ending in the "N" sound, do not rhyme. In fact, the more ending sounds that two words have in common the better they rhyme.) It was an insulting thing to tell someone, but I didn't see any evidence that the H.A. understood the principle.

I also informed the H.A. that the sentences in poetry should resemble English. It is unseemly to torque the words to get the rhyme. (The avoidance of orange to rhyme is not a reason to turn your words to slime-or-Orange to rhyme I must avoid, thus my syntax becomes hemorrhoid.)

I tossed in as much "that's a nice image" as I honestly could, just to soften the blow a little. Then under the cover of dark, I bravely doorbell-ditched the packet of doomed poems.

The friendly H.A. did not speak to me for a year. The spouse of the H. A. gave me dark looks. At the end of my year long silent treatment, H. A. cheerfully came up to inform me that one of the poems had won a contest and was being published in an anthology (available for purchase for just $39.99). Shortly thereafter, I was informed that a collection of H.A.'s poetry was being published by Publish America.

So what would you do? Tell your happy human acquaintance the truth? No way, dude. I tried that. It worked out poorly. So I smiled and offered congratulations.

Guess what I have sitting on my shelf right now? Yep. At least the rhyming has improved—be, me. rock, stock, cast, morass—some. Luckily, I visit an older lady who LOVES rhyming poems and have I got a book for her!