The massive catch up post

The problem with taking so many days away from Livejournal entries is that I don’t know where to begin when I finally sit down to update again.

How about this? The worst thing that happened to me this weekend: I took a sip of cold coffee a minute ago and something tickled my lip. I looked in the cup. A fly was doing the backstroke in my coffee. Ack.

I have spent the last ten minutes gargling.

Best thing that happened to me this weekend? Going to the Syracuse Farmer’s Market with my dad. We bought veggies and sunflowers and fish and doughnuts for my mom.

So here are the details about Operation Elder Caravan.

All in all, the trip turned out really well, especially since nobody died on the road, and I did not crash the way-too-expensive rental car.

For weeks my mother had been saying “We really don’t have much, you might not need to rent a truck, all we’re bringing are my lovely glass table lamps and a few boxes.”

Allow me to translate:
A few boxes = approx. 60 boxes of books and heaven knows what else, plus enough paintings to fill a musuem, plus boxes of clothes, plus a bunch of chairs and a couple tables and a computer and medical equipment
Lovely glass table lamps = you don’t even want to know

I was a little stunned by the amount of stuff, to be honest. But I have awesome cousins (whom I owe HUGE for this, and yes, my offer to take in their teenage kids if they get too obnoxious is good for 10 years) who were incredible helps with the packing and the moving and the cleaning. The sad part of this for me was coming face-to-face with the reality that my mom is a lot sicker than I knew. Emphysema is a nasty, hideous, horrible way to die.

So we packed and cleaned. My Sainted Husband rented a truck from Budget that had a little caboose on the back so we could tow M & D’s car up, too. Remember the nightmare that was my move from Philly? That was because I used UHaul. NEVER USE UHAUL. UHaul is a rotten, terrible, company that should be charged with consumer fraud by the Attorney General. But Budget? We like Budget. No, we love Budget. The equipment was fantastic and the people who worked there as sweet and efficient as could be.

We also needed a big car to transport Mom and her oxygen equipment in comfort. I contacted Hertz and had reserved a sedan like a Crown Victoria or Bonneville. When we got there, the Hertz guy said, “Sorry, we don’t have what you reserved. You’ll have to take this.” And he handed me the keys to a drop-dead gorgeous Cadillac Seville. Yeah, Mom was comfortable. I was a little panic-stricken because the car was ginormous and I’m used to driving a little Subaru. And I kept thinking about how much the darn thing cost and how much trouble I’d be in if I crashed it. When the trucks got too close on the highway I’d chant to myself “Big Truck, go away, Big Truck, go away.” And when Mom’s stomach was bothering her I explained (politely) that she was not allowed to upchuck in the Cadillac. It was in the rental contract. That did the trick.

We drove 500 miles the first day, from Brandon, FL to Columbia, SC, and 600 miles the second day, to Hershey, PA. The last day was easy – 300 miles to Mexico, NY. I had a book on tape about George Washington in the car, but Mom made me stop playing it because she didn’t like the way the author criticized the President. Dad rode in the truck with my Incredibly Sainted Husband. They had road rage about the same bad drivers, with my husband screaming and my father beating his cane on the dashboard and occasionally using hand gestures. (My Dad is 78 years old. Road rage never dies – it just uses a cane after a while.)

I didn’t get road rage. I was too busy clutching an expensive steering wheel, explaining to my mother that yes, George Washington did own slaves, and it was OK to talk about it, and muttering “Big truck, big truck, big truck” every ten seconds.

If you ever need to use an oxygen supply company, use Lincare. This is the best company in America. Seriously – they went out of their way to help us. They had new equipment waiting for us at each hotel and their customer service people called to make sure everything was working well. They could teach UHaul a thing or two.

I had a pork barbeque sandwich someplace in the Blue Ridge Mountains that is still making me burp, five days later.

The autumn colors were just starting to turn at the higher altitudes, and we enjoyed beautiful vistas of the mountains in the Carolinas, VA, and PA. The best part of the trip was when we crossed the New York border. Mom had spent a couple hours quietly staring out the window. When we crossed into NY, she let out a great sigh and relaxed into her seat.

“I’m finally home,” she said.

What else is there to catch up on?

Movie stuff: the National Sexual Assault Hotline reported a more than 600% increase in calls after the first East Coast showing of SPEAK on September 5th. I think that is amazing. In related news, check out this awesome new rape prevention program aimed at educating young men. The DVD version of SPEAK comes out on September 27th.

Book stuff: Check out this great interview in the Journal of Reading about PROM. Many thanks to Jim Blasingame for asking such terrific questions. Also, THANK YOU, SARAH! is out in paperback!

Random stuff: If you share my love of Xena there is a great Salon article about her. Thanks, Greg, for the heads-up.

Thank you, Kaylee in NJ, and Kristen B. for the nice emails. And yes, Kristen, you should definitely visit Denmark. Awesome place.

39 Replies to “The massive catch up post”

  1. That’s so cool that your family would do that with you and such.
    I’m glad everything went so well! 🙂

    Also, the Carolinas suck right now, I’m “happily” located in Charleston, because it was like 70ish for a few days and then BAM! It’s a schorching 98 degrees with 100% humidity. Marching Band practice is not fun anymore.

    I’m in the middle of Prom right now. It’s just as good as your other ones.

    You’re seriously the coolest person in the USA, well, the coolest writer that is. 🙂

    – Spike

  2. That’s so cool that your family would do that with you and such.
    I’m glad everything went so well! 🙂

    Also, the Carolinas suck right now, I’m “happily” located in Charleston, because it was like 70ish for a few days and then BAM! It’s a schorching 98 degrees with 100% humidity. Marching Band practice is not fun anymore.

    I’m in the middle of Prom right now. It’s just as good as your other ones.

    You’re seriously the coolest person in the USA, well, the coolest writer that is. 🙂

    – Spike

  3. That’s so cool that your family would do that with you and such.
    I’m glad everything went so well! 🙂

    Also, the Carolinas suck right now, I’m “happily” located in Charleston, because it was like 70ish for a few days and then BAM! It’s a schorching 98 degrees with 100% humidity. Marching Band practice is not fun anymore.

    I’m in the middle of Prom right now. It’s just as good as your other ones.

    You’re seriously the coolest person in the USA, well, the coolest writer that is. 🙂

    – Spike

  4. Paid in Full

    You owe me absolutely NOTHING. It was a labor of love. The time with you was short and precious. Listening to your memories, family pictures, comparing white legs, negotiating “what goes/stays”, comparing 1st marriages gone asunder, celebrating finding true love, and realizing we are grown-ups was all bittersweet. Family is important. Even though we do not have tons of childhood memories, we now share a connection that transcends time and distance- we are survivors.

  5. Paid in Full

    You owe me absolutely NOTHING. It was a labor of love. The time with you was short and precious. Listening to your memories, family pictures, comparing white legs, negotiating “what goes/stays”, comparing 1st marriages gone asunder, celebrating finding true love, and realizing we are grown-ups was all bittersweet. Family is important. Even though we do not have tons of childhood memories, we now share a connection that transcends time and distance- we are survivors.

  6. Paid in Full

    You owe me absolutely NOTHING. It was a labor of love. The time with you was short and precious. Listening to your memories, family pictures, comparing white legs, negotiating “what goes/stays”, comparing 1st marriages gone asunder, celebrating finding true love, and realizing we are grown-ups was all bittersweet. Family is important. Even though we do not have tons of childhood memories, we now share a connection that transcends time and distance- we are survivors.

  7. That’s wonderful about the increase in calls to the hotline. I am so glad you helped put something out there that did that. In my few years of time as a school counselor, and as a friend of teenage girls, i had a hard time convincing girls that date rape was rape. I would hear over and over again, “It’s just something that happens. It’s no big deal.” Even though you could see it eating them up inside.

    Also very excited about the movie release date. I’ll make sure our bookstore knows.

  8. That’s wonderful about the increase in calls to the hotline. I am so glad you helped put something out there that did that. In my few years of time as a school counselor, and as a friend of teenage girls, i had a hard time convincing girls that date rape was rape. I would hear over and over again, “It’s just something that happens. It’s no big deal.” Even though you could see it eating them up inside.

    Also very excited about the movie release date. I’ll make sure our bookstore knows.

  9. That’s wonderful about the increase in calls to the hotline. I am so glad you helped put something out there that did that. In my few years of time as a school counselor, and as a friend of teenage girls, i had a hard time convincing girls that date rape was rape. I would hear over and over again, “It’s just something that happens. It’s no big deal.” Even though you could see it eating them up inside.

    Also very excited about the movie release date. I’ll make sure our bookstore knows.

  10. Begging for Books: Speak

    Hi Laurie,

    I really don’t know that this is the correct place to send this e-mail. I think this is more of a response blog than a place for a Community Literacy Center staffer at Colorado State University to request copies of your incredible novel, SPEAK. But since I can’t seem to find an alternate form of communication, I’ll just send this off hoping that the anonymous web screeners will be so kind to pass this on to the appropriate cyber place. ( :

    That said, here goes my pitch….ahhemmm….

    My name is Holly Mendel and I am an English Education graduate student at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, CO. I am writing on behalf of the new Community Literacy Center (CLC) to ask for your assistance in a pilot program called the Intergenerational Literacy Project.

    Briefly, the CLC is a new literacy research and outreach center in the English Department at CSU. The CLC’s primary mission is to confront some of the literacy challenges faced by adult and adolescent learners by creating accessible literacy opportunities for under-served, at-risk populations (e.g. incarcerated juveniles and adults, GED students, at-risk youth). In 2005-2006, we will devote much of our time and resources to the Intergenerational Literacy Project (IGLP).

    The IGLP is a project where adult learners and their children will read a novel together over the course of a month. During this month, the readers will be invited to join online discussions with other participants and also attend two or three writing workshops hosted by the CLC.

    Based on unanimous recommendations by faculty members at CSU, Fort Collins Public Library staff, local adolescents, (and myself!), the CLC has enthusiastically selected SPEAK as a primary IGLP novel.

    Since many of our participants will join us from low-income living situations, our goal is to provide them with copies of SPEAK, free of charge. To help make this possible, we ask if you might be able to donate copies of SPEAK to the CLC. Our goal is to collect 30 copies in total, but any number would be a great help. The project will kick-off in January, so we hope to receive copies by early December, if possible.

    I look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your time. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like any additional information.

    Thanks so much,

    Holly Mendel
    hollyem@hotmail
    206.909.5706

  11. Begging for Books: Speak

    Hi Laurie,

    I really don’t know that this is the correct place to send this e-mail. I think this is more of a response blog than a place for a Community Literacy Center staffer at Colorado State University to request copies of your incredible novel, SPEAK. But since I can’t seem to find an alternate form of communication, I’ll just send this off hoping that the anonymous web screeners will be so kind to pass this on to the appropriate cyber place. ( :

    That said, here goes my pitch….ahhemmm….

    My name is Holly Mendel and I am an English Education graduate student at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, CO. I am writing on behalf of the new Community Literacy Center (CLC) to ask for your assistance in a pilot program called the Intergenerational Literacy Project.

    Briefly, the CLC is a new literacy research and outreach center in the English Department at CSU. The CLC’s primary mission is to confront some of the literacy challenges faced by adult and adolescent learners by creating accessible literacy opportunities for under-served, at-risk populations (e.g. incarcerated juveniles and adults, GED students, at-risk youth). In 2005-2006, we will devote much of our time and resources to the Intergenerational Literacy Project (IGLP).

    The IGLP is a project where adult learners and their children will read a novel together over the course of a month. During this month, the readers will be invited to join online discussions with other participants and also attend two or three writing workshops hosted by the CLC.

    Based on unanimous recommendations by faculty members at CSU, Fort Collins Public Library staff, local adolescents, (and myself!), the CLC has enthusiastically selected SPEAK as a primary IGLP novel.

    Since many of our participants will join us from low-income living situations, our goal is to provide them with copies of SPEAK, free of charge. To help make this possible, we ask if you might be able to donate copies of SPEAK to the CLC. Our goal is to collect 30 copies in total, but any number would be a great help. The project will kick-off in January, so we hope to receive copies by early December, if possible.

    I look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your time. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like any additional information.

    Thanks so much,

    Holly Mendel
    hollyem@hotmail
    206.909.5706

  12. Begging for Books: Speak

    Hi Laurie,

    I really don’t know that this is the correct place to send this e-mail. I think this is more of a response blog than a place for a Community Literacy Center staffer at Colorado State University to request copies of your incredible novel, SPEAK. But since I can’t seem to find an alternate form of communication, I’ll just send this off hoping that the anonymous web screeners will be so kind to pass this on to the appropriate cyber place. ( :

    That said, here goes my pitch….ahhemmm….

    My name is Holly Mendel and I am an English Education graduate student at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, CO. I am writing on behalf of the new Community Literacy Center (CLC) to ask for your assistance in a pilot program called the Intergenerational Literacy Project.

    Briefly, the CLC is a new literacy research and outreach center in the English Department at CSU. The CLC’s primary mission is to confront some of the literacy challenges faced by adult and adolescent learners by creating accessible literacy opportunities for under-served, at-risk populations (e.g. incarcerated juveniles and adults, GED students, at-risk youth). In 2005-2006, we will devote much of our time and resources to the Intergenerational Literacy Project (IGLP).

    The IGLP is a project where adult learners and their children will read a novel together over the course of a month. During this month, the readers will be invited to join online discussions with other participants and also attend two or three writing workshops hosted by the CLC.

    Based on unanimous recommendations by faculty members at CSU, Fort Collins Public Library staff, local adolescents, (and myself!), the CLC has enthusiastically selected SPEAK as a primary IGLP novel.

    Since many of our participants will join us from low-income living situations, our goal is to provide them with copies of SPEAK, free of charge. To help make this possible, we ask if you might be able to donate copies of SPEAK to the CLC. Our goal is to collect 30 copies in total, but any number would be a great help. The project will kick-off in January, so we hope to receive copies by early December, if possible.

    I look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your time. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like any additional information.

    Thanks so much,

    Holly Mendel
    hollyem@hotmail
    206.909.5706

  13. loved hearing your elder caravan story. Hurray for your dad, his spirit, and his cane. yeah, trucks, get out of the way. It must be a relief to have them close to you.

  14. loved hearing your elder caravan story. Hurray for your dad, his spirit, and his cane. yeah, trucks, get out of the way. It must be a relief to have them close to you.

  15. loved hearing your elder caravan story. Hurray for your dad, his spirit, and his cane. yeah, trucks, get out of the way. It must be a relief to have them close to you.

  16. Ahh, how I love the burning tire smell, the paranoia of damaging a rental, and road rage.
    How I DON’T miss it. 🙂

    But what your mom said at the end — AWWWW. ::hears audience awww::

  17. Ahh, how I love the burning tire smell, the paranoia of damaging a rental, and road rage.
    How I DON’T miss it. 🙂

    But what your mom said at the end — AWWWW. ::hears audience awww::

  18. Ahh, how I love the burning tire smell, the paranoia of damaging a rental, and road rage.
    How I DON’T miss it. 🙂

    But what your mom said at the end — AWWWW. ::hears audience awww::

  19. I set my coffee down a couple days ago to walk my fiancee out and came back and thankfully looked and there was a moth. I felt bad for it!

    Oh, dvd already! YAY I can’t wait to watch it! And thats awesome that more people are calling since! (Not that they should have to be in the situation, but you get that lol)

    (whom I owe HUGE for this, and yes, my offer to take in their teenage kids if they get too obnoxious is good for 10 years) haha!

  20. I set my coffee down a couple days ago to walk my fiancee out and came back and thankfully looked and there was a moth. I felt bad for it!

    Oh, dvd already! YAY I can’t wait to watch it! And thats awesome that more people are calling since! (Not that they should have to be in the situation, but you get that lol)

    (whom I owe HUGE for this, and yes, my offer to take in their teenage kids if they get too obnoxious is good for 10 years) haha!

  21. I set my coffee down a couple days ago to walk my fiancee out and came back and thankfully looked and there was a moth. I felt bad for it!

    Oh, dvd already! YAY I can’t wait to watch it! And thats awesome that more people are calling since! (Not that they should have to be in the situation, but you get that lol)

    (whom I owe HUGE for this, and yes, my offer to take in their teenage kids if they get too obnoxious is good for 10 years) haha!

  22. the National Sexual Assault Hotline reported a more than 600% increase in calls after the first East Coast showing of SPEAK on September 5th.

    I think that that is honestly amazing. I am just in awe.

    In related news, check out this awesome new rape prevention program aimed at educating young men. The DVD version of SPEAK comes out on September 27th.

    That reminds me of these commercials that we used to have. One of them was this kid walking up to his basketball coach and saying, “Can you please teach me how to respect women.” and then that voice said something like, “You can’t expect them to ask for it on their own. Stop violence against women.” something like that. But now they’re gone… I liked them.

    The DVD version of SPEAK comes out on September 27th.

    I am so excited! I saw it on my amazon.com recomendations and i think i squeeled out of excitement.

  23. the National Sexual Assault Hotline reported a more than 600% increase in calls after the first East Coast showing of SPEAK on September 5th.

    I think that that is honestly amazing. I am just in awe.

    In related news, check out this awesome new rape prevention program aimed at educating young men. The DVD version of SPEAK comes out on September 27th.

    That reminds me of these commercials that we used to have. One of them was this kid walking up to his basketball coach and saying, “Can you please teach me how to respect women.” and then that voice said something like, “You can’t expect them to ask for it on their own. Stop violence against women.” something like that. But now they’re gone… I liked them.

    The DVD version of SPEAK comes out on September 27th.

    I am so excited! I saw it on my amazon.com recomendations and i think i squeeled out of excitement.

  24. the National Sexual Assault Hotline reported a more than 600% increase in calls after the first East Coast showing of SPEAK on September 5th.

    I think that that is honestly amazing. I am just in awe.

    In related news, check out this awesome new rape prevention program aimed at educating young men. The DVD version of SPEAK comes out on September 27th.

    That reminds me of these commercials that we used to have. One of them was this kid walking up to his basketball coach and saying, “Can you please teach me how to respect women.” and then that voice said something like, “You can’t expect them to ask for it on their own. Stop violence against women.” something like that. But now they’re gone… I liked them.

    The DVD version of SPEAK comes out on September 27th.

    I am so excited! I saw it on my amazon.com recomendations and i think i squeeled out of excitement.

  25. Education Posters

    “That reminds me of these commercials that we used to have. One of them was this kid walking up to his basketball coach and saying, “Can you please teach me how to respect women.” and then that voice said something like, “You can’t expect them to ask for it on their own. Stop violence against women.” something like that. But now they’re gone… I liked them.”

    These posters take that one step further: each one tries to teach a message. Maybe commercials like these are the next step…

  26. Education Posters

    “That reminds me of these commercials that we used to have. One of them was this kid walking up to his basketball coach and saying, “Can you please teach me how to respect women.” and then that voice said something like, “You can’t expect them to ask for it on their own. Stop violence against women.” something like that. But now they’re gone… I liked them.”

    These posters take that one step further: each one tries to teach a message. Maybe commercials like these are the next step…

  27. Education Posters

    “That reminds me of these commercials that we used to have. One of them was this kid walking up to his basketball coach and saying, “Can you please teach me how to respect women.” and then that voice said something like, “You can’t expect them to ask for it on their own. Stop violence against women.” something like that. But now they’re gone… I liked them.”

    These posters take that one step further: each one tries to teach a message. Maybe commercials like these are the next step…

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