Hermits Rock

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It was Saturday that mom let me in on the family gossip.

  • My grandmother has stopped speaking to mom. Most tensions with my grandmother these days are over the 15 year-old cousin my grandparents are in custody of: she has a vocabulary of 100-200 words, the agility and strength of a gymnast, hands and feet that wander. This time is no different. Mom owns an art gallery and pottery. She lives by glass. She has said my cousin shouldn’t visit there until she can keep her hands to herself. So my grandmother is angry with her and refuses to talk.
  • My great-grandmother has a tumor on her liver. Her prognosis is not good: two months, at best. Grandma refused to tell mom about this. Mom found out from a cousin of hers from Texas.
  • Grandma has disowned her sisters’ children because they became kissing cousins (or, as it’s known in our house, f——ing cousins). Apparently, she leaves the room when these cousins enter, even if their entrance is only in passing. She’s angry with one sister over this. She’s angry with the other sister, too, probably for the same reason she’s angry with mom.

My grandmother has always lived by the philosophy to repress first and don’t ask questions later (one explanation for why she’s a Republican). It makes for weird family situations like this one.

This one which we’re driving into in three days.

For the first time in three years.


Mom wants to stage a coup d’état of some sort, and she wants to enlist us in it.

We’ll be there two days; we have six babies to meet; we have one creepy uncle to ward off and another uncle with two broken heels to entertain; we have grandparents to visit; we have sleeping arrangements to worry over. I don’t want to join a coup. I just want to see my 90-year-old great-grandmother.

Why does every trip home have to be a melodrama?



My mother is a fish.

well, its best that it have some song (melos) to it than it just be drama… :)

on top of it, I go home fresh off getting fired. From a 2-week job, but fired nonetheless. f—k.

That’s the only thing I can manage to say right now. Over and over again. Without the dash. f—k.

That writing it creates a dash (as if magically!) makes me imagine I’m in the 19th century. Sent home from the iron mill.

Oh, but after 30 minutes some things are better: I just got the f——ing cutest xmas card from jeremy et alia!


dude, sorry to hear that

you thinking of staying a little longer with family and learning to throw pots…

which leads me to ask, and i know i’m a bastard (will it bleep it?) for asking and making light in this time of dark, doesn’t your mother know, in regards to the coup, when you live by glass you shouldn’t throw rocks?

Unfortunately, that’s not a lesson mom ever learned. Fortunately, no, we will not be staying longer with family: I got fired; kl did not. 2 days is enough, I think.

And FYI, I’m the only one who gets bleeped. The 19th-century magick is in my hands. You’ll have to find your own 18th-century brand. :)

at least all of the existing drama will hopefully eclipse the potential drama of g’s mom further chastising us for our lack of reproductive action.

and at least if any reproductive action ever does take place, everyone can rest assured that we’re not first f—-ing cousins.

Sorry about the cursefest yesterday. Those don’t tend to make it in writing, but I was pretty angry.

The explanation of the firing isn’t that interesting. Essay scoring for standardized exams is a game of percentages. Obviously, no matter the quality of training or the intelligence of those being trained, you can’t get two people, much less 40 or 1,000, to read the different papers the same way every time. So when you divise a scoring project, you work all readers toward a goal. The goal often looks Bell curvish, but it can vary in emphasis. (If there are years’ worth of statistics on a scoring project, then often a temptation is to make any current project resemble within a few degrees previous years’ statistics. There are good arguments for doing so, and there are good arguments for not.) If you’re a director, your work in your project is to get your readers to read in specific ways that will approximate the standards you have set.

There are a few different ways that quality is managed. First, in addition to a rubric, there is given a set of papers that are exemplars of scores. These are baselines to which a reader is ostensibly supposed to compare every paper she reads. Second, there are agreements, of which there are two types: a) agreements between readers; b) agreements between readers and clients.

Agreements between readers and clients are decided through a batch of essays that have been pre-scored—if the project’s for a state board of education, then they’re scored by the state committee, or for other projects, by whoever was originally in charge of devising the rubric. This is called assigning a “true score.” If you’re a reader and you score one of these papers, you’re in good shape if you agree with the true score, and the client is reasonably happy that things are going well. If you don’t agree, then you had better figure out why not and start agreeing, because it doesn’t matter how good a reader you are in every other respect: you have to read their way, now.

On this particular project, I was in agreement most of the time—until, that is, yesterday, when suddenly I couldn’t do anything right, and my percentages dropped like a rock. I studied, I slowed down, I did everything trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. There was no one ostensibly in charge who I could ask because the bulk of the project was managed online at some other place. We had no scoring director, no supervisor, just a “coordinator” who was reticient to answer questions: he abdicated all authority to whoever he spoke to on the telephone. At one o’clock, he announced that everybody who agreed with the client less than 65% of the time would be “set free.”

My scores had dropped below 65% at noon.

And that’s why I’m here now.

i was wondering what it was all about…but didn’t want to ask…lest i seem like my ichthyoid mother and be nosey (she must’ve been a swordfish or something…justrying to make it all work and tie in chris’ faulkner reference)

Shoot. I need to read As I Lay Dying. I was confused because by comparison with my mother, Chris’s mother is most definitely not a fish.

What happened yesterday was the first time anything like that’s happened on one of thse things. Something about yesterday just tanked me. I dunno what it was. And I had no chance to fix it.

maybe you should redirected every fertility conversation to the potential progeny of the cousins?

i am really sorry to hear about the firing. i hope that you can find something new/better.

two items:

1. we hope to see you when you get down here.

2. what is the nature of the impending coup?

that’s not a bad idea:

“So when are you guys going to have kids?”

We reply: “You think that’s the big question? The big question’s what R’s & S’s kids will look like!”

Chris & I were writing at the same time.

re: firing, thanks, and me too. something permanent might be nice…

About #1, check your e-mail.

About #2, the particulars of the coup is unknown in these parts. mom suggested that it would involve other cousins, besides the ones who are intimately entwined, from texas and georgia. these are her cousins, and I do not know them. (the one from GA teaches at a swank private school 40 min. outside of atlanta.) she intimated that she expected herself, kl, and i, in addition to these cousins and their husbands and her aunt (who drives me crazy) would be bosom buddies for the weekend, and that there might be some confrontations over the family biz. mom recommended that the weekend might take lots of alcohol. (however, that’s a common recommendation from her and should be taken with a grain of salt. she often assumes that everyone else drinks as much as she does…)

i do love my mom, i do, i do! but man! sometimes…

chris wants to know more demographics about the cousins.

i hope you guys survive intact so we can hear about the visit at our post-christmas breakfast.

also, so that kathy can be exposed to an arkansas family that has not yet exposed any ongoing incest to public view.

both cousins are white, early to mid-40s, have already been married/divorced, and both have kids. in fact, in its infancy it was this relationship that reputedly broke her marriage apart—but her ex-husband’s alcoholism had a lot to do with it, too. their marriage had been falling apart for years. i gathered early in this decade (by report of her mother, when her mother was talking to/of her, who always liked to parade s.’s grades around) that she graduated with some cum laudes from the alma mater’s business school in the early 2000s. i never knew what he did. he moved to searcy about when I was in Jr. High and is generally a really nice guy. i’m not sure what either has done/is doing for work.

i don’t really think a coup is what’s going to be in order in arkansas since there really isn’t anyone in charge to overthrow. maybe some kind of insurgency or something? i think mostly greg’s mom just wants some protection from her own mother…hate to say it, but i think the kissin’ cousins are going to be the least of our problems…but how much can happen in two days, right? right?

can we come over? because i just can’t fathom that our family gathering is going to be anywhere near as interesting as yours.

also, for some reason i find it really funny that the first adjective you use to describe the cousins (in the most recent post…not in the ones using profanity) is “white.”

you did ask for demographics! :)

And as for coming over, why not? I bet you’d blend right in. I know Rose would. There’s lots and lots of babies she can play with.