Monday, December 31, 2007

Resolutions for the New Year

Every year we do it. We tell ourselves, "This year, I will (dot, dot, dot)." Yes, now is the time of The New Year's Resolution--calling to us like Great Aunt Ruth's fruit cake when the best of the holiday goodies are long gone: it could be good, or it could be very, very bad.

While some of us fail miserably at those three little dots, others can reflect on our sweet success when the next year approaches. I have never been great at making New Year's Resolutions. When I do, I go all out and make multiple resolutions which I am pretty good at failing. This year I'm being realistic: one resolution--blog more. (This blog war thing is helping out royally, thanks Blackeyed Sue)!

Whatever your resolution is or is not, I hope you have a Wonderful New Year filled with all the success and good fortune that life has to offer. You deserve it! Oh, and speaking of fortunes--Confucius Say: I would stear clear of Great Aunt Ruth's fruit cake.

And for the "What About You?" ...What is your 2008 Resolution and/or opinions on New Year's Resolutions? (If you're stumped on ideas, might I suggest posting more comments on The Rookie's blog?)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Fav

This was my favorite gift for Christmas this year. I love it. Thanks, Alice.

What was your favorite gift this year? (Given or received)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I'm Special! Are You?

I've signed myself up for a once-a-day blogging duel thanks to Blackeyed Sue. I'm shakin' a little in my boots, but I really do want to post more frequently--even when school is in session. So I'm in for the challenge.

On to the REAL post, now.

I was driving down the road the other day, and I had one of those weird "Oh yeah, I'm an adult, now" epiphanies. It went a little something like this: I'm not all that special. I used to think I was the good at a lot of things--monkey bars, reading aloud, ballet, school, writing essays, singing harmony. I prided myself on this stuff. The sick part: I prided myself on being better at this stuff than someone else. Sometimes I still catch myself. But the truth remains--I'm not all that special. There's always somebody better. I'm not as intelligent, witty, I was once certain. And here's the kicker--I think I'm okay with that.

In a world where Dora and Blue's buddy, Steve, speak directly to their viewers and Brittney Spears finds her way into my television, internet homepage, and local news, I'm getting the impression that we are a society obsessed with "getting noticed." YouTube is proof of that. But is this desire for attention merely cultural? Or is everybody simply doing the best they can to leave some type of evidence that they once stood in this very spot, that they exist, they matter, they are special?

All cliche's aside, I'm thinking Maslow for a minute. In Maslow's heirarchy of needs, the basic need of every human being is physical: feed your hunger and your thirst. When that's covered, we move on to safety needs: a warm bed at night without risk of bodily harm. Beyond those two levels, we get to the kicker: Social Needs. Social needs are those of acceptance and belonging. Somebody who wants us simply for who we are. So maybe this desire to be noticed is innate. We're hardwired for it. We want it right after a full stomach and no impending doom. I wonder, however, if we are looking in the right places anymore.

Maybe "the public at large" ain't the best place to be searching for this whole social needs thing. Maybe, and I could just be goin' out on a limb sayin' somethin' a little crazy here, but maybe it is that basic unit of society that seems to be oh-so-easily forgotten. Yes, I'm saying the family. And perhaps some good, close, loyal friends who are a lot like family. Not acquaintances or strangers or someone you'll never win over because the first time you met them you might or might not have had dog poop on your shoe. But your family and close friends.

So, as I was driving in my adulthood epiphany, I acknowledged that all that stuff I used to be so proud of because it meant automatic admiration, wasn't worth beans--pinto, refried, or garbanzo (okay, so maybe I just wanted to say "garbanzo" and "pinto" because we rarely get to share these words in conversation). This stuff I did was great if I enjoyed it for the love of it. But it didn't make me more special than anybody else. Yes, I might have gained some momentary admiration, sure. But the people who sat on the front row when I did this stuff were part of what mattered most. Because those were the same folks that sat on the front row and admired me when I flopped and really sucked at something. The ones who wouldn't laugh unless I was laughing with them.

So, in coming full circle, I guess you could say that I am special. Because I'm a daughter, an aunt, a friend, a sister, a niece, an in-law...and even if Joe from Duluth has no idea how good I might or might not be on a harmonica (which, by the way, happens to be really awful), if I wanted to try to become a professional harmonica player, my cheerleading section would show up.

What about you? Who thinks you're something special? And who do you think is something special too?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Encyclopaedia of Me: C

I've fallen off the bandwagon, but I am now back again and I'm determined to complete all 26 of these bad boys!

C is for Creative. While I may not be crafty, I would consider myself creative. I love to write and decorate and dance and at one time was a stage performer (though these days I think I'd feel more silly than anything in the limelight--unless it is in front of a crowd of adolescents who potentially aren't paying attention anyway). I'm also a Cook and am realizing that I like it more and more, given time enough...and the right ingredients. And, as an educator, I must confess that this creativity has come in handy: not only can I create a mean lesson plan, but you try and give a lecture or test or assignment or class discussion that has that special entertaining factor day after day and you'll see what I mean. Whining aside, this is just the facts: teaching is a friggen' tough job--my creativity has helped out.

C is for Camping. I love the woods and wilderness and there is great fun to be had whether I'm roughing it or "wussy camping" in a trailer. Ooh, and the star gazing by the fire...with smores!

C is for Curly. I am the proud owner of naturally curly hair. It is perfect curl (not too tight, not too wavy). Yes, I do realize I am unabashedly bragging. I know that I can make the other girls drool with envy. At one time, my hair was a barely wavy straight. Puberty brought about the usual funky changes, it also brought me a head of curly hair that perplexed me, frustrated the hell out of me, and downright depressed me. For years I was filled with an aching desire for something stick-straight. Diffusers and good mousse numbed the pain. Since that hair angst of adolescence, I've come to a truce with my hair, which has grown into true love. Part of it must be attributed to my awesome stylist, Ashley (Alice's sister). She cuts it right, dyes it right, shaves my neck, and makes sure I get the right product in it.

That is enough of the C's. Check back for more posts.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Things We Do When We Can't Sleep

If you notice the time stamp on this post, perhaps you will recognize that I cannot sleep. I mean to sleep. I feel tired. But, apparently, my brain does not. Counting sheep got boring, and I fear sleep aids because my mother has had me convinced from an early age that all drugs, from heroine to tylenol to cough drops, ALL DRUGS are addicting. So I removed myself from the comfort of my warm but sleepless bed because, as mentioned, my brain won't shut up. And--because my brain won't shut up--I started thinking about the fact that I once read somewhere that your bed will become as sleepless as Seattle if you allow it to become an area for engaging in awake activities (like reading, watching television, eating...and according to my logic lying there plagued by sleep depriving thinking). I hated the idea of turning my bed into a sleepless spot, so I went to the living room and clicked on the television. Ever notice how at 12:30 at night there isn't much on TV?

So I surfed through the late late shows. I surfed through bad reality TV and infomercials. (By the way, have you seen these? Got to admit, I'm tempted). I avoided HBO altogether. I surfed until I found this show on PBS. This particular episode took its hosts to Northwestern India, near Delhi. Many of you may not know this, but "India" happens to be my response to that silly get-to-know-you-lame-game-of-an-icebreaker question: "Where would you travel if you could go anywhere in the world?" And I really do want to go to India. And to Banff, Canada. And to Europe. And all over Ireland. And on a cruise (or two or three). And to Greece. And on a Church History tour (sorry for the Mo-mo-jargon). And to the Galapagos Islands. And to Peru. And to New York City. And to China. And to one of those massage/mudbath/facial/desert located/wheat grass drinks by the private pool kind of resorts. Point is, I want to travel. So I found this site. And I added up what it would cost to go all the places I want to go.

And I don't have enough money!

And when I say I don't have enough money, I mean that even if I moved into my parents' basement, cashed in my pitiful excuse for a 401k, if all my debt were mysteriously and magically forgiven, even if I donated my plasma every week, took on a second job, AND never purchased anything from here or here again, I'd still not have enough money.

So, here it is nearly two in the morning and I'm still awake AND a little bummed about the not enough money to fulfill my traveling hopes and dreams situation. Which gets me back to thinking. Things like maybe I should look into auditioning for The Amazing Race. Or that maybe I should email a few celebrities requesting that they refrain from Option A: buying just one little purse or handbag this week and choose, instead, Option B: sending that small amount my way for a travel fund. Or how I need to narrow it down to one choice (like, say, "India"), and make a plan for saving up the 6k plus buckaroos it'd take to travel there, and perhaps focus on convincing a travel buddy that India is The Place To Be in about five years. And hopefully in five years inflation hasn't pushed it to 10k plus buckaroos. And hopefully five years from now I'm not having a wedding or pregnant or hit by a Fed Ex truck filled with exotic tomatoes.

Which brings me to the "What about you?" Over what do you fret when the sleep just won't come? And am I the only one out there who is this neurotic? And, more importantly, do you want to go to India with me in, say, about five years?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Who Knew? Snowman Good on Crackers

Say what? Two posts in one day? You betcha. I couldn't NOT show this guy off. I took him to my family party last night. He was massacred one chunk at a time...but ain't he a beauty?

Auntie Teresa in Three Acts

This is my Aunt Teresa. Last night I went to a family party and realized I ought to write a post about this woman. Let's just say that Teresa is unique...and loud...and opinionated...and a teaser of the mean variety. But she's my aunt and you can't pick your family and frankly I kind of like the woman in all her eccentricity. So I decided to share three memories involving Teresa that would hopefully sum up the love/hate relationship I've had with this woman throughout my life.

ACT I--"And She Went Wee Wee Wee All the Way to Disneyland"
When I was six, Aunt Teresa and Uncle Willy (my dad's brother), loaded myself and two other girls she babysat in the back of their Subaru and drove us to California and Disneyland. In a tiny Utah town called Scipio we stopped to use the restroom at the local 7-11 and maybe grab a drink. I and my six-year-old bladder were quite filled up from the last pit stop and I had on a pair of overalls that I couldn't get off without assistance. As I stood dancing and asking for Teresa's help with my overalls in the middle of the "highway robbery" chips and dip/travel sized aspirin aisle, I had an accident. And by accident, I mean flood...and by flood I mean who knew my bladder held that much? The circumference of the puddle kept growing until it spread out across the aisle in a yellow sea. I was certain all pride or ego I had left was lapping on its yellow shores. I felt relieved and awful at once. Teresa refused to clean ME up until I cleaned IT up. The 7-11 employee insisted that cleaning it up was not a big deal. Teresa, on the other hand, insisted that I should be given the mop. The mop that was at least three feet taller than I was. I remember the distinct taste of humiliation as I mopped up my accident. I vowed then and there that this woman was my mortal enemy, Disneyland or not, and I would seek revenge one day.

Act II: "The Salt Block"
This story is family legend. Teresa's favorite about me. Memorial Day. I was 12. I had earned myself a spot in Teresa's back seat again. Destination: A cabin in Southern Montana on the fringes of Yellowstone National Park. The area was absolutely beautiful and I immediately understood the logic behind her yearly journey up here. City girl that I was, this wasn't the kind of "getting out" to which I was accustomed. I loved it. The area was stocked with wildlife. Moose, bears, eagles. The cabins we stayed in had a clearing with a giant salt block which attracted the moose and deer in the area. The first morning, Teresa dared me to walk out to the Moose which was enjoying its morning ceremony at the salt block. (I said she was a teaser, right). The moose looked so harmless out there that I slipped on my shoes and headed for the spot in my nightgown. Teresa laughed on the porch until the moose noticed me staring at it. I'm not sure how close I got, but it was too close because the thing seemed suddenly wary, possibly a bit unhappy. Teresa called me back, laughing all the while. I escaped unscathed. If my mother knew, she would have croaked.

Act III: "Nothing in Moderation"
During college, Teresa and Willy headed for Europe to visit my sister living there at the time. She needed her condo and her dog, Cassidy, watched. For two weeks I moved in with my best friend, Alice. And this is when I got an adult perspective on the workings of Teresa's mind. Beyond the over-the-top 4th of July decor which found its way into every nook and cranny of their home, beyond the limitless collection of DVDs, many unopened, beyond the EIGHT wind chimes that would clang mercilessly at night as the mouth of the canyon 1/8th of a mile away released the wind, beyond the Smorgasborg array of doggie snacks available for Cassidy, let me first of all describe "The Beanie Room." First of all, Utah summers are hot--melt your face off, singe the backs of your thighs on the leather car upholstery hot. And July's in Utah are hotter. Teresa's condo had only two window a/c units. One of which was located in "The Beanie Room," as it came to be known. A second bedroom which housed the computer and Beanie Babies--Beanie Babies in large rubbermaid bins, Beanie Babies displayed on Beanie Shelves along the walls. Big Beanies, Little Beanies, Beanies, Beanies, Beanies. It was a little frightening, in fact, as Alice and I lay on the empty carpet basking in the cool 68 degrees pulsing out of the window unit, staring up at the years of collected Beanie Babies. I'd been threatened before Teresa left for Europe that she knew exactly how many Beanie Babies she had and that if I were to take one, she would know. Because apparently hippie-esque college students obsessed with feminism and Freud had a hankering for Beanies?

Was she a kid at heart? Probably. Was this a bit too much? Definitely. Some women like Anthropologie, Teresa prefers The Disney Store. But I guess this sums up the psyche of Teresa. She doesn't know moderation and she is slightly childlike in her loud, unabashed demeanor. She is also sometimes generous, sometimes stingy and about as contradictory as the next guy. This winter she cut out scarves, bought hats and gloves for all 65 kindergarteners she works with. 65! She is a woman who could never have children of her own yet she has surrounded herself by children my entire life--nieces and nephews, babysitting, volunteering to read to kindergarteners at a local elementary, playground aide. Faults and strengths aside, this is my Aunt Teresa in all her loud, embarrassing, over-the-top-ness. I love her. Even when she drives me nuts!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

My Alternate Ego

Acoustic guitar. That's my favorite instrument. I want to learn to play but never make it much of a priority. I also want to write a book one day and learn to speak another language (Spanish seems practical, Italian more romantic). The world offers itself to me--a million lessons I want to learn. But I really long for that acoustic guitar. I want to write mellow, poetic lyrics and form an alt-folk band that plays in coffee houses, though I don't drink coffee. I'll sing lead vocal for most songs and sometimes harmony with my smoldering-with-his-own-angst-and-depth band mate. I want thick, dark-rimmed glasses, a bob, two vintage cardigan sweaters I rotate between, and a decent pair of trendy yet unique mary janes.

That's what I sometimes think about on days I listen to songs like this one.

Who is your alter-ego?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

From "Mary Jane" to "Magic Brownies": Confronting the Myth and Metaphor of Marijuana

When I was a junior in high school, I found out what a bong was. It was while socializing with a group of acquaintances after class at my new school that I realized their joking and pantomime meant that they intended to make a McDonald's Happy Meal figurine into some kind of drug paraphernalia. Later, with a trusted friend, I asked for more specifics because I was in the dark. Naive and in the dark.

Fact: I've never smoked, injested, or been around the drug commonly known as "pot." And while most people can recognize its scent at concerts or catch it wafting out of the neighbor's open window, I honestly have little recollection of what that smell is. I take others' word for it.

Fact: References to cannabis as a psychoactive drug can be found in a limitless number of songs spanning across nearly all genres--folk, jazz, rock, alternative, rap, metal, R&B...

Fact: If you google the term "marijuana," over 2.5 million websites pop up.

Fact: Marijuana is the most widely used drug among America's youth.

Fact: I frequently have students show up to my class under the influence of the substance known as THC, which is found in marijuana. If they do not have evidence of the drug on their person, there is nothing I or my school can do about it.

Each of us holds one opinion or another on the use of marijuana. I know some who are fully in support of its legalization. Others are leading a fight against the use of this drug, especially among adolescents.

Any way you slice it, both sides have strengths and flaws in their argument. I frequently hear from the legalization side that it is far less dangerous than drinking alcohol. Whether that be true or false--what does this have to do with justifying the use of marijuana? Isn't this like saying "Well, technically, this double chocolate fudge chunk ice cream isn't quite as bad for me as the triple chocolate fudge chunk ice cream--so this justifies my eating an entire gallon of it in one sitting."

With careful analysis of the statistics given by those on the opposing side, however, you get the sense that marijuna is taking the blame for social problems that could or could not correlate. Take for instance, this fact posted on a website for the National Youth Anti-Drug Campaign Marijuana Prevention Initiative:

"In 2002, approximately 21 percent of youths (5 million) engaged in serious fighting at school or work, almost 16 percent (4 million) took part in a group-against-group fight, and almost 8 percent (2 million) attacked someone with the intent to seriously hurt them during the past year. Nearly 5 percent of youths (1.2 million) stole or tried to steal something worth more than $50, more than 4 percent (1.1 million) sold illegal drugs, and more than 3 percent (800,000) carried a handgun during the past year. The percentages of youths engaging in delinquent behaviors in the past year rose with increasing frequency of marijuana use."

I guess I bring all this up because, frankly, I'm growing weary of the subtle message that is sent out which whispers "pot ain't all that bad." Many of my students have heard the soft voice of this message and marijuana has become their drug of choice. Watch any movie geared at an audience ranging from adolescence through mid-20's and I would pose that at least half of those films make humorous references to marijuana. Talk to many adults and soon enough confessions of their relaxing weekend drug of choice are allowed to slip. While the law says one thing, society says another. This is made evident when you acknowledge that the number of 8th graders who had at least tried marijuana doubled between 1991 and 2001.

And this all has me worried, because I see students every day who frequently injest or smoke the drug known as marijuana and feel that it is one of the safest recreational activities they could engage in. It concerns me because while many of my students have little to know recollection of what the Holocaust was or why, exactly, we celebrate the 4th of July, nearly all of my students express a strong desire to visit Amsterdam one day and see April 11th as a cause for celebration. Furthermore, it worries me that messages like the one touting the harmlessness of marijuana seem to be the only messages some of my students hear. And these messages are just plain false.

This has me worried because the truth is that pot is physiologically dangerous, especially when used by adolescents. Marijuana is more likely to be highly addictive the earlier you start using the drug. Marijuana causes similar changes in the brain to that of cocain, heroin, and alcohol. Marijuana, when smoked, contains the same cancer-causing chemicals as tobacco. In fact, the tar inhaled by marijuana smokers and the level of carbon monoxide absorbed by those who smoke marijuana, regardless of THC content, are three to five times greater than among tobacco smokers. Furthermore, marijuana users experience a higher rate of anxiety, panic attacks, depression and other mental health problems.

But does giving this message to my students who may or may not be addicted to marijuana even really make a difference? Let's face it, it is adolescents who wear their jeans either too tight--and possibly purchased in the department store section intended for the opposite gender--or too baggy, resulting in a need to both walk as though they have wet their pants AND show their vast collection of undergarments. Apparently this is a population highly uncognizant of the influence media, society, and fashion have on them. So, do I as a mere dorky, annoying, unhip teacher stand a chance against all the glitz, glamour and justification behind marijuana usage?

Those are my thoughts. Comment as you will.

Monday, December 10, 2007

IKEA: Swedish for High Speed Internet

Okay, first of all that title makes no sense whatsoever unless you are in on a little inside joke that probably is only friggen' hilarious if you are "on the inside" with "Alice" and myself. Okay, basically, the joke is lame. It all comes down to those La Quinta Hotel billboards "La Quinta: Spanish for High Speed Internet" and how lame Alice and I think them to be....but I digress.

I hit up the IKEA recently in search of the perfect bedding "ensemble" for my new bed. IKEA delivered...this is a picture of what I found:

And in other news: I rarely blog anymore. Which is upsetting to me. I typically think of three to four things on a daily basis that I'd like to blog about, but I never get to them. Blame it on school. Blame it on the holidays. Blame it on La Quinta and their high speed internet.

Since I can't take the time to blog about everything my heart desires, here is a summary of what I've wanted to blog about in the past few months but haven't gotten around to. Think of this as a blog spew--it's a blast from my past, kind of messy, but it makes me feel better to have it out there.

It snowed on Friday night. Heavy Snow. A lot of it.Reminding me how much I loathe shoveling snow.

So Alice and I made Hot Cocoa and stayed inside.

My most recent guilty pleasure: The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer

I'm sick of wrapping Christmas presents. Are you?

I love her. She's Alice's, but I claim her.

I recently met up with two of the Three Fierros for a girl's lunch. Kariann was in town and as it's been over a year since we've seen her last it was, of course, great fun. Lili is the happiest baby I've ever met. I wanted to take her home with me. If only she didn't live so far away...(hint, hint). :)

I am a little freaked out by my singles' ward (eh, what else is new?). This awareness has come since being called as half of the dynamic duo of Gospel Doctrine teachers. Were people always making that weird of comments and I just wasn't paying attention?

Just so you all know--my messy fingers resulted in several beautiful cheeseballs that I never showed off...

I love Christmas trees in general, but I especially love MY christmas tree (technically Alice's, but I help decorate).

I went trick or treating with my niece and nephew. We maybe got to five houses, but aren't they cute? (Confession--I still need to send my sister these pictures).

Over a long weekend (way back in October)...Alice and I headed to a Bird Refuge a couple of hours away (part of the "Extra Credit" homework I gave my AP kids). It was a beautiful day. Here are a few shots:

And finally...I miss blue skies. And summer. This place is covered in snow and skiers today. Five months ago it looked like this:

That sums up the highlights of what's been on my mind lately. My chest feels suddenly memory card too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pillow Talk

Once upon a time there was a bed. This wasn't just any bed--it was a twin size bed with bookshelf headboard. It was firm (maybe a little too firm). And best of all, it came at the basement bargain closeout price of $100 (okay, so it maybe was advertised in the local paper and maybe it was slightly used by a little kid who, luckily, didn't have a bladder problem). That was in 1999.

For the past eight years that bed was my bed. I put my chapstick and set my alarm clock on that headboard each night. I put on my shoes each morning on the edge of that bed. I changed its sheets. It has seen different comforters and color schemes, but the bed has remained the same. Sturdy. Or at least kind of sturdy. It has watched me transition from an awkward eighteen year old, fresh out of high school, to an (I hope) slightly less awkward adult, back in high school all over again. For eight years this bed groaned with me as my alarm went off. And it has been a good bed. Or at least kind of a good bed.

And here is where our story shifts. For the past eight years my body has carved a bit of a groove in one side of the bed--the side that was away from the wall for years. So the firm bed has become a bit lopsided. I even tried wedging a flat pillow between the mattress and box springs--which only switched the side of the lop. Then its springs started springing where they shouldn't have sprung...specifically my ribs. Between feeling like I might topple off into the dark oblivion of night and fearing death by springing, sleep has been more and more restless in the past months. And, while no pea hides beneath my mattress, I awake feeling a bit beat up.

So, I decided that the time for change has come. And change did, indeed, arrive today in a delivery truck carried in the hands of two mullet-sporting men.

This, dear friends and brethren, is a Bountiful Rest "Serenity" featuring a 1" Body Comforming Latex Pillow Top, Queen size. And I am beside myself. Now, I just need to look into bedding (this is my old twin size comforter). Although the night I purchased this bad girl of a bed that stands at about the height of a large Saint Bernard, I sprung for these babies. And they are SOFT!

And that's all I wanted to say. Happy sleeping to all, and to all a good night! I've been looking forward to this night for eight long years.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

How I Spent My Time Off

So Thanksgiving weekend worked a little like this:

Wednesday Night: The roommate, Alice, baked pies. I made cheeseballs and rolls. Basically, I made the hugest batch of cheeseball-goo (yes, that is the official term) ever and it ended up being enough for a cheeseball at home, a massive cheeseball for my parents' Thanksgiving dinner and a more reasonable sized cheeseball for Alice's parents' Thanksgiving lunch.

My sister, W, and her two kiddos "Bug" and "Bud" spent the night.

Thursday we made breakfast then headed first to Alice's parents. You can see pictures and a post here.

Then we headed to my family's party. Now, let me preface this by telling you a little bit about my family. First of all, you know how most people have the good sense to say "It starts at 6" but everybody really knows that things start cracking around 6:30-ish. Well, not my family. In my family if they say it starts at 6 two of my siblings show up at 5:30 and if you aren't there until 6:30 then you've missed the whole thing. Well, my absent-minded-aging-I'm-hoping-she-didn't-have-an-agenda-with-this-action-mother informed both my sister, W, and me, that the thing started at 6. And she told everybody else that it started at 5. Lucky for us they at least didn't start putting things away until after we ate something. That was nice of them.

At 12:01 AM Friday morning, a local mall opened its doors for the start of black Friday. First off, let me tell you that I don't trust in "crowd mentality." By crowd mentality I mean that COMPETITION + SALES + SLEEP DEPRIVATION + ADOLESCENT "WHERE ELSE CAN I GO THANKSGIVING NIGHT" LOITERING = PANDOMONIUM. MAYHEM. CHAOS. My niece and sister joined Alice and myself for a night of sale shopping. We thought it was a great plan. We thought--" fun, lots of crazy sale-shopping moms in their cozy public pajamas getting deals." Wrong. What were we thinking--I'm just saying that the least common denominator tends to come out after midnight. I'm just saying that after the late movie got out, Aerpostale and American Eagle Outfitters were maybe thinking about hiring a bouncer for the holidays. There were lines to get in to the stores. It was crazy.

So after all that craziness and making our purchases at the fabulous "buy one get one free" Lane Bryant sale, we thought maybe a quiet sit down girl talk session at the food court was in order. Afterall, that 5 (or maybe 6...jury's still out) o'clock dinner was hours ago. Chick-Fil-A sounded in order. We wove our way through the crowds to the food court, clinging to one another's coats. We sat down with our chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. And what do we witness at the table RIGHT NEXT TO OUR OWN--

Thug #1: #@$! #$**#% **!)#!# @$% #^$%& %@# BLEEP your BLEEP @!#$# !@#@$%#@%@ ~!##%@#!@# BLEEP

Thug #2: (As he holds Thug #1 by the throat into the fake topiary display) You wanna look at me that way again you !@#@! !@#$#@%@&&%##@@! @#$@%!#$#@$@^ BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP!?!

And the "conversation" went on from there. W, the sister, panicked and called 911--which only resulted in a failed call (that doesn't seem safe). Alice went and grabbed security who was possibly a bit overwhelmed and focused on potential shoplifters. The "conversation" was broken up and taken into custody. We finished our waffle fries and decided that our lives were more valuable than cheap anti-bacterial soap from Bath & Body Works.

Proceed to a 2 hour nap at home. Then at 4 AM we hit JC Penney. Okay, so I did find some cute stuff at 50% off. But after standing in line in the lingerie department for 25 minutes staring at the same santa-inspired negligee, including hat, only to be told that the register was having trouble and I should possibly find another line, I put my stuff down, told my shopping party this was ridiculous, went and dropped the sister, W, off at Toys R Us so that she could stand in line for nearly 2 hours, and headed to the 6 am opening of Target. Which leads me to this conclusion: Target has the good sense to open at an hour at which most hoodlums are either asleep or too intoxicated to make it. Target has plenty of its sale items on display in fire-inspection-safe spaces sans potential death by trampling. From now on I'm sticking with Target on Black Friday...after a decent night of sleep. Target also had these little items on sale:

Which between catching up on sleep and doing laundry, has been pretty much what I've done with my time since the sleep deprived, confusing dream that was Black Friday. Here's to Target and The Office. Oh, and MY LIFE which has been spared for now!

What about you? Any adventures in Black Friday shopping? Anybody else witness a fight or perhaps get in one themselves?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Just Thought You'd Like To Know...

This is my least favorite part about winter.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

B is for Books

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.
~ Groucho Marx

What am I without books? Books that have changed my life:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
"Why?," You might ask...Well, it was the summer between 8th and 9th grade. I'd devoured The Babysitters Club series left lying around the house. My Jack Weyland collection had been read and re-read twice that summer. I was out of Seventeen magazine articles. Worst of all--nobody could take my license-less booty to the library for a few days--and my mother always told me public transportation was out. All that was left in the house was a ratty old copy of Jane Eyre left over from an older sibling's high school days. I picked it up, started reading, and I have never been the same since. It was my first "classic" (i.e. "old") novel.

My Antonia
by Willa Cather

Why not. It is my favorite novel. I've already posted about it. Simply put--the woman makes my heart swell about a Nebraskan prairie I've never even seen before. And that, my friends, is good writing.

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams

It is about the landscape in which I was raised. It was one of those books that entered my life at the moment I needed it to. Sometimes that is all it takes. And her prose is exquisitely perfect.

Dream Work
and/or A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver

As a poet, Oliver is my hero. Her Handbook was my textbook for my first poetry class in college. She dared me to try it. I did and now "novice/hack job of a poet" skims that list of titles I hold.
Oh, and how could you not love something like this:

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Don't bother with the movie. The book is the thing.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
One of my all time favorites. I never was a fan of sci-fi, but this was perfect for my 4th grade self.

I could go on. A true confession would reveal that every book I read changes me in one way or another. Each time I slide the bookmark from its page I am given a gift. I slip into another life, another skin for a brief time. Whether the book makes me think or simply entertains, each book I read seems to come to me at the exact moment I need it to. Every book I've read has changed my life. And isn't that the beauty of it?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Everybody's Doing It...

And so it begins. Every blogger I know well is starting these "Encyclopedia of Me" posts on their blogs. And so I have decided to start one too. Maybe I will have more time in my life dedicated to blogging if I do this? Who knows--maybe it's a half-brained idea that I will begin with the best of intentions and never complete (like that novel or the poetry collection or cleaning my house).

So on with the A's.

It took me a while to realize that not everybody had an Alice in their life. Some women go through life without many female friends, some women have a handful of girlfriends they hit the town with but never confide in or show their ugly side to. I have a best friend. And I don't mean best friend as in we have matching bracelets or two-halves of a heart charm necklaces. I don't call her my BFF. I do text message her more than I ought. But I mean best friend as in we watch out for each other. We listen when the other is talking. We laugh. We fight. We each pay the other half of the rent. We are one another's favorite movie/dinner/lunch/shopping/video night/pedicure/facial/gym/and-so-much-more date. We agree on everything (except the things we don't agree on). We are like-minded enough that we get along swimmingly and yet we celebrate our differences. I like to curl up with a good novel or poetry collection, she likes to dabble in the memoir of someone with a troubled past. I love period pieces and French cinema, she humors me and goes to some of them as long as I'll hit an Adam Sandler flick now and again with her. She has been my friend since the summer after seventh grade. I am lucky that while many singletons my age and my religion ache of loneliness, ache for companionship--I've got a built in buddy for life and I can always rely on her to be there when my day sucked, my hair sucks, or my feelings were hurt.

Other A's that matter:

Aunt. I am the proud aunt to 6 nephews and 13 nieces ranging in age from 11 months to 18 years. I try and fool myself into thinking that I simply must be their favorite aunt. Isn't the single, childless aunt always the favorite? This fantastic title gives me the chance to sometimes give advice on boys (because they actually think I know this stuff better than they do--although telling my niece that if anybody at the LDS Institute of Religion sauntered up to her proclaiming that he was divinely inspired that they belonged together she should, and I quote, "Run like hell!" I think this was a pretty good chunk of advice). At other times it has me playing red rover or singing bed-time songs. I love each one of them, near and far. I even have a name sake (her middle name is my first name--see--favorite, favorite, huh!?!).

Art. I love the arts: performing arts, visual arts, literary arts. I am intrigued by whatever it is which compels us to create--and why do some of us feel that need more than others? I appreciate that art is an expression and interpretation of what it means to be human. I love that whatever medium it might be--if it is art it is intended to connect to me in some way--even if that connection is to leave me alienated and thinking.

Adolescents. I spent a few painful years in adolescence. But I'm talking about adolescent people. I am a high school teacher and my life is surrounded by their flamboyance, energy, and emotion. Most people go to work and their co-workers are all adults. I go to work and, other than meetings and passing periods, rarely see my co-workers. Instead I spend my days amongst the mood-swinging, awkward, falsified-confidence of adolescents. I cannot help but smile and approach it all with care and a good sense of humor. I cannot help but talk about "My Kids" when the topic comes up. They are enjoyable and entertaining and sometimes infuriating and frustrating. And on days they really annoy me I remember that my life could resemble The Office. Adolescents bring me joy and allow me the chance to nurture and share my love of language.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

That Bling Thing

Hello. My name is "The Rookie." And I am an accesoriholic.

I used to own only one pair of earrings. One. They were simple and small wooden studs I picked up on a vacation in Oregon. I wore them with everything because my theory was that wood went with every kind of home decor--it could certainly go with my tevas/jeans/free-t-shirts-clad college wardrobe. So I went through every event in life wearing the same pair of earrings.

I don't know who introduced me to the miracle that is jewelry. Perhaps it was when my parents got the big screen tv and cable--What Not to Wear episodes still follow me into the dressing rooms of major department stores. Perhaps it was growing up and knowing that "professionalism" included my wardrobe. Perhaps it was realizing that no matter how my pant size fluctuates, my earrings always fit. Perhaps it is that deep down inside of me I have a weakness for shiny, bright things. All I know is that the words "moderation" and "jewelry" do not belong in the same sentence together. (Yes--that is a close-up of my "necklace rack" you see in the photo above).

I love chunky necklaces. I seek sleek necklaces. I adore dangles. I hope for hoops. I need beads: black, white, crimson, cobalt, lime. I search for silver. I love gold, bronze, copper...I think you get the point. But my favorite type of "hoop-lace-dangle-bead-shiny" is "hoop-lace-dangle-bead-shiny" on clearance.

So, here is to all those small, spinning racks in the department stores of our world. Here is to making an ensemble complete. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is to jewelry.

Oh, and about that one pair of wooden earrings. Well, two became one during a seemingly typical day on the job at the lumber mill during college (another story in and of itself). The left (or was it the right?) earring it fell out one day...and we all know that "needle in the haystack" cliche. I finally parted ways with the single earring a couple of months ago.

What about you? What are you simply obsessed with? Do you prefer to bedazzle your wardrobe or simplify it sans-accessories?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Spilled Popcorn

The thing about movie trailers: they're cunning and deceitful. And I am a sucker for a good movie trailer. If a movie trailer does its job right, I wish I were watching the movie behind the trailer instead of the one I just paid for. I usually nudge Alice in the ribs and tell her "We're going to go see that." She usually agrees.

So we wait a few weeks. The preview inevitably pops up on commercials or the internet again and again. By opening weekend, we are both really pumped to see the show and, hey, we have no plans for the night. A movie would be the perfect anecdote after a long work week. So we go. Popcorn in hand. Our little hearts expectant for a few hours of escapism. A while later we sulk out of the theater, disappointed. Disappointed about the mediocre hour and a half we've spent. Maybe we should have hit Barnes & Noble or Target for a while and looked at books or sweaters or something, afterall. We are disappointed about the mediocre eight bucks we've spent. We could have put that money in savings or sent it off to Darfur or AIDS research or the Perpetual Education Fund. We leave the theater with an empty sense of deflation.

And yet we keep going back. Because every once in a while the movie machine comes through for us and gives us something other than a complete dud. And, when it does throw us a complete bomber, we have to remember that there's no use crying over spilled popcorn.

Tonight Alice (the roomie) and I went to a sneak preview of Dan in Real Life, a movie we've been looking forward to for quite some time. This preview didn't set us up for disappointment. We laughed. We gasped. We were fully entertained. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night with your best friend. Why can't all movies come through for me like this one?

What about you? What's a good flick you've seen lately? Which movies do you love? Which movies do you hate? Which movies surprised you--good and bad? Which movies are out lately that I should avoid? Not miss?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


F-A-T. Since when have these three little letters become the other f-word? Chubby. Heavy Set. The Big One. Shamu. Call it what you like, fat is feared. And I am a fat girl. I confess. I can admit this not because denying it would be a lie nobody believes, but because it is a part of my life experience. I know it is not who I am. It does not define me. It does not stop me. It does not cause me to loathe my body or refuse myself ice cream. It is a fact. But I'm also a sister and I snort sometimes when I laugh. I'm a teacher and my hair is naturally curly. And I'm an alto and a friend and a hiking enthusiast and a writer. Not to mention that I'm religious and a size 8 shoe.

And I keep wondering why being fat is always the first focus. And why is it such a big damn deal? Are health issues a concern? Absolutely. But is every fat person in poor health?

This is what I've noticed as a fat person: assumption is instinctual. I've been told "You really don't eat that much" and that "Your energy level surprises me!" I've heard it mentioned that I hide my weight well. I've been 'comforted' with "at least your face is pretty." I've been the target of not-so-subtle hints. I've been teased. I've been rejected. And why? Because I shop in the fat girl section at all major department stores (hate to tell you, folks, but that whole "Plus Size" euphemism ain't foolin' nobody). Because it is instinctual in humans to poo-poo the uncommon or unique. Because we write children's books that say people come in all shapes, colors and sizes; but we spend the rest of the time pointing out the differences between those shapes, colors and sizes and creating a hierarchy of which color is best, which shape is most desired, and which size is acceptable. And if you don't fit that mold, people make assumptions.

And fat is cream-filled with negative assumptions. Especially for women. The check-out aisle is lined with Snickers and M&M's on one side, and 12 glossy magazines guaranteeing the secret to kicking those last 15 pounds and the other 6 promise five simple steps to flat abs. And chocolate never made anybody feel worthless. Women are under pressure to be thin. Period. The message is not embracing and we all know it.

If your body/hair/nails/skin/makeup/clothes/shoes/accessories/teeth do not look like X, you are a failure and a disgrace to womanhood, you should attach yourself to a treadmill and eat nothing but 25 points a day for the rest of your life, or end your life hiding in your parent's basement ordering takeout and eventually Dr. Phil-Oprah-Tyra might rescue you. If you are fat, somewhere it is stressed that these are your only two options. There aren't any others. You shouldn't view yourself as sexy. You shouldn't teach aerobics. You shouldn't participate in swimming because your body, stretchmarks, and cellulite are best kept hidden. You shouldn't ever, ever, ever even think about thinking about eating chocolate. You shouldn't be an athlete. You shouldn't fall in love. You shouldn't try water skiing. You shouldn't have children. You shouldn't go into Public Relations. You shouldn't wear pumps. You shouldn't bake cookies. You shouldn't wear horizontal stripes. You shouldn't join a yoga class. You shouldn't get a massage. You shouldn't be an actress. You shouldn't be fat.

Being fat means that, if you listen to everybody else, you have boundaries and limitations and until you are no longer fat, you can't do anything fun. Because you're fat.

Nobody ever really looks at the up-side of being fat. Santa is fat. Babies are fat. Grandmas are fat. And all three of these love milk and/or cookies. So what is so scary about a 26-year-old fat woman? What is her crime against society? Why do some of you squirm in her presence? And why do you live in fear of getting soft around the edges?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Walt Whitman Was Here

Those of you who know me well know that poetry is my first love. It is one of those gifts of language that leaves me aware only of my breathing. A good poem is felt in that hollow space below the heart. It is a thing known the at the moment your mouth reads that last word. Call it instinct, call it grace--a good poem is felt, not thought.

I've decided to start a new segment on my blog:
Walt Whitman Was Here. Each week I will post some of my old favorites and maybe some of the new poems I come across.

Enjoy this week's poem: "At Great Pond" by Mary Oliver.
Feel free to comment on your impressions, or simply soak it in.

At Great Pond
by Mary Oliver

At Great Pond
the sun, rising,
scrapes his orange breast
on the thick pines,
and down tumble
a few orange feathers into
the dark water.
On the far shore
a white bird is standing
like a white candle ---
or a man, in the distance,
in the clasp of some meditation ---
while all around me the lilies
are breaking open again
from the black cave
of the night.
Later, I will consider
what I have seen ---
what it could signify ---
what words of adoration I might
make of it, and to do this
I will go indoors to my desk ---
I will sit in my chair ---
I will look back
into the lost morning
in which I am moving, now,
like a swimmer,
so smoothly,
so peacefully,
I am almost the lily ---
almost the bird vanishing over the water
on its sleeves of night.