I don’t like failing. No one really does. It’s required for human growth. We cannot truly succeed without having tasted failure at some point. You cannot know a fine wine without tasting your fair share of boxed atrocities.

But the boxed atrocities have their purpose.

more wine

One of the classes I teach is a dual enrollment class. These are high school students taking college courses. I did this as a high schooler. It was fantastic and free and I learned a lot–mostly about what not to do when I got to “real” college. So when a parent of a student emailed me after I alerted her child’s academic adviser to his poor attendance and participation and she requested to meet with me, I had the most massive of eye rolls. I wasn’t required to do it, but I could if the student agreed. The student did. When we met it was clear that he wasn’t invested in the courses or, potentially, in his college career at all. I can’t fix that and I don’t have the energy to try.

But his mother really wanted me to.

Her questions ranged from

“How do we get Joey here to come to class?” I don’t know. 


“How can we get Joey to care about this?” You can’t. 

The entirety of the conference, as it was, turned out to be a mother confirming suspicions about her kid. He didn’t have the book (semester started seven weeks ago). He doesn’t attend class. He never does any homework. This didn’t require a meeting with me. It required a meeting with a young priest and an old priest and some holy water. Or a new set of goals.

lower your expectations

When I got in the car after, I was immediately relieved that my parents never did what that parent did. I know her heart is in the right place. She wants her kid to succeed. But success is not something that you can teach either as a parent or a college professor. If the kid doesn’t care, he doesn’t care. I can’t fix that.

There are times where I wonder if my parents did not get me either as a kid or as an adult. Therapy sessions upon therapy sessions have been spent on this. But there are a few things that my parents did so right that I worry about how I will follow that up with my kids. In that column goes the structure and incentive to succeed in school and career without the ever-hovering presence of mommy and daddy nearby. Yes, my dad tore up my paper due to poor penmanship in second grade and told me to redo it. Yes, my mom helped me navigate a bad teacher in middle school. But if the question had to be asked if I was or was not doing the work and it was largely rhetorical…well, they wouldn’t ask it.

I hate getting into conversations where I denounce Kids These Days (TM) because I think that’s the kind of conversation where there aren’t any real solutions to real problems being discussed. I really do. As much as I want to point to this as a fact supporting a theory of societal devolution, I am well aware of peers whose parents did similar or worse things in the 80s and 90s. I know how screwed up we all are. I know my grandparents and their peers didn’t exactly make my parents and their peers the paragons of virtue either.

Richard Nixon wasn’t exactly a Millennial.

Ken Lay wasn’t a Gen Xer.

I don’t know what the answer is. I just know I have a call to make tonight to thank my parents for not trying to make me commit to things that were “good for me” in school because they wanted me to do them.

That seven dollars my dad borrowed in Disney World in 1988, though? That is still high on my shit list.

whats the opposite of thank you




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Trophies for my Mental Mantle

by kim on January 30, 2015 · 1 comment

in All About Me


Sometimes the least impactful accomplishments mean the most to me. I’m weird like that. What can I say? I have three degrees and never got a thrill from any of them. But I sure as hell can vividly recall jumping off a cliff in Jamaica, walking a 5k in the midst of infertility drug haziness. Hell, I still make sure The Mister knows that I remember that he bet me that the nearby Chuck E. Cheese’s would close within six months. 6+ years later it is still busy every damn day.


Last night I had one of those milestones that only I appreciate with such vigor. I finished reading all of the officially published books from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (aka Game of Thrones source material). These are dense books that also happen to be ridiculously long. They’re daunting. So daunting, in fact, that the first time I tried to read them I gave up.

But last year when Season 4 of Game of Thrones ended on HBO, I started itching a month or two into the hiatus. I needed more Daenerys. I needed more Arya. I needed more Tyrion. (I could do with less of the damn Greyjoys…borrrrrrring…..) So I picked up the books again and started reading.

more wine

And reading.


And reading.


I got a bit excited in December when I finally got past everything that has happened thus far in the show. And when I wrapped up last night I almost felt ripped off that there wasn’t a balloon drop and confetti blast to greet me.


It seems lately that I am more inclined to needing this kind of victory. It’s concrete. I can explain it in less than ten seconds. Its meaning is fairly well known. It’s hard to explain how I’m progressing at work, even though it’s all good, because it is also so nebulous. It’s difficult to detail the ways in which my research for my PhD is going, because it’s in a state of flux, which is actually a good thing. How are my kids doing? Fantastic…but they’re also enormously exhausting and its hard for me to mentally detangle the two when I describe it. Plus, the daily changes aren’t as fascinating as the ones that people see for themselves when they deal directly with the girls. So in all of these instances if I only have a couple of moments, I just say “fine” and move on to other topics.


Often the most important things are the hardest ones to summarize. But these little victories…they leave me feeling accomplished. So, yes, finishing five dense-as-fuck books about a world that is not our own where everyone dies and you will never have a happy ending is a big deal for me…because it’s charted territory that I can display like a trophy. I think we all need a few trophies on our mental mantle to help when times get tough to describe.

And, yes, now I am one of those smug people who is going to insist on telling you how it was different in the books.

Deal with it.



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I Can Write a Book

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Kids, amirite? Since the girls started daycare this fall, we have been exposed to a myriad of viruses and bacteria. Pink eye, sinus infections, ear infections (aplenty), hand foot and mouth, and, or course, the stomach flu. When I heard that Ellie threw up at my mom’s house I felt horrible for her. It must […]

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Ban This Feminist?

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In the grand scheme of pop culture, nothing has the power to be more mind-numbingly asinine than the end of the year wrap up. Don’t get me wrong, there are some awesome ones. I love doing my Top 20 Songs of the year. But when we start playing off the Culture Gods with a sacrifice […]

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Evil Mom

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Songs in My Head

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Yes, it’s multiple posts in one week! Let’s hope it starts a trend. Speaking of trends (see how I did that…genius…), here are some songs that have been in my head lately. I am a sucker for listicles about artists I should know. I feel like it’s part wanting to prove them wrong (Yes, I […]

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The Nick of Time

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Let me be brutally clear–time has not been friendly lately. I have been swamped in a way that is even heavy for someone who can usually handle a busy life. I knew it was coming, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. And what I need more than anything is the ability to […]

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My Life Lately…A Tale of GIFs, Part 10

September 26, 2014

I have to apologize to the three people who still read this blog…I’ve been beyond lax. And it’s not because i’ve been lazy in life. It’s because life is a bag of dicks when it comes to allowing me time for this very important space on the internet. So I’m going to attempt to kick […]

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Dear Roger Goodell

September 10, 2014

Dear Roger Goodell, You don’t know me. You likely never will. But your idiocy has me considering a Kickstarter account to buy an football franchise just so I can mess up your meetings and start a campaign to openly overthrow you as commissioner of the National Football League. You are an egotist, no doubt. It takes […]

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