Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Dear ukdvdltd (at ebay),

As a single latetwentysomething residing in a peculiar area of the world in which I am, in fact, considered to be an old maid, I only get so much pleasure out of my little life. Recently, I discovered one Mr. Thornton (played by a certain Mr. Richard Armitage) in the BBC film adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. In this discovery, I recognized that owning this particular film adaptation would be particularly pleasing in its escapist and byronic nature. And so, looking for a frugal steal of a deal, I turned to no other than the infamous ebay. At said website, I was able to locate and purchase the complete DVD set of said film from your company.

I am impressed that, in spite of holidays and weather-caused airport closures, the item was able to skip across the pond, as it were, and arrive here in a timely manner. I was not impressed, however, to discover that, without any heed or warning on your part, this item, when placed in my DVD player, was exposed for the fraud that it is. You see, ukdvdltd (at ebay), your DVD is incompatible with my DVD player due to its incorrect regional code. What is a regional code? you ask. I'll tell you what it is, it is a code that correlates directly with the DVD players of the UK and all of Europe, but not so much MY DVD player from the UNITED STATES.

Here is what I need from you, ukdvdltd: When selling items on ebay to an international customer base, do your research. If the regional codes won't match up: warn the customer. Or, if you knew this would be an issue for a customer such as myself, please clearly advertise this. Also, I really need a complete refund for the 11.70 lbs. I spent (plus shipping & handling charges). You see, I need to take this refund and apply it to the purchase of the DVD set which will actually cooperate with my DVD player.

Thank you for your time and what I assume will be your superb and reasonable customer service. If ever I am in the market for the DVDs under the UK regional code, and if my predictions about your service are correct, you will certainly be my first choice for DVDs and other media.

The Rookie

P.S. Buggar off, you bloody wankers! Who do you think you are? Don't you know how this has ruined me!?

And, because it made me laugh hysterically:

Monday, December 29, 2008

17 Miles

Growing up, we didn't travel much as a family.  In my parents' defense, you can imagine the enormity of shoving 10 yours, mine, and ours children into the family station wagon and you start to see why one trip to Yellowstone early on in their marriage (and in my young life--I was too young to remember the nightmare) was the only vacation I think we ever ALL went on together.

But one travel experience that took place several times every year was the long drive down to my grandfather's house in Antimony, Utah (pop. 122).  My dad loaded the willing into the car for a long weekend of sitting around listening to adults talk about people you didn't know and were possibly related to. People who were probably dead. It was misery, but I never missed an opportunity to go because it was a "vacation," a rare opportunity. And home was equally boring, though it had more toys. And even though the only television allowed came in the form of my grandfather watching Jeopardy, "the ball game," and the 10 o'clock news on full volume, there was something about it all that kept me coming back. Maybe it was in hopes of the slight chance that my dad would drive us the hour and a half to Bryce Canyon on back roads (all dirt, mind you-- I never knew there was a major highway that would take you here). We'd drive with stops along the way at the Antimony Merc, the ugliest all-dirt cemetery where my grandmother is buried right near the entrance, and at a condemned "haunted!" mill (the highlight) that I easily could have been severely paralyzed in had the rotted out wood given out under the weight of me (now that I think of it, my father--never blessed with the red flag warnings of a potential worst case scenario--was insane to take us here).

The drive down was equally as boring. My father didn't believe in purchasing the treasures to be found in the gas station. Nope, the cooler was stocked with homemade, soggy sandwiches wrapped in aluminum foil (my "frugal" father thinks even ziploc bags are unnecessary) and a 2 liter of Shasta. Needless to say, I typically tried to fall asleep by Provo.

After enduring the long, miserable trip, typically in the dark, watching, waiting for the numbers to shrink on the green signs reading "Cedar City 228 miles" and "Richfield 73 miles," Antimony finally showed up, glowing like a beacon, at the entrance of UT S.R. 22. "Antimony 17 miles" it reads. And though I'd been stuck in the backseat for hours as it was, those final 17 miles always took the longest. At the end of those 17 miles was my grandpa's porch light, his dog Tibby barking in the night, the blaring sports report on the 10 o'clock news, and a big, rough hug with my grandfather's gruff Hello Schweethaht! in my ear. The drive down was miserably long, indeed, but those 17 miles were torture. The longest leg of the trip.

I haven't driven those 17 miles in who knows how long. My grandpa passed away at 92 while I was still in college and I've been back to his house and Antimony only once (another post for another time). But I've been thinking lately about how most of my life is a lot like those 17 miles. I feel like sometimes I am just surviving, enduring the monotony of a long road trip. Most days I'm trudging through the 17 miles to the weekend, the 17 miles to summer/winter/fall/spring. I'm living for what is next and not enjoying what is now. And I don't think I'm alone here. Life is frequently spent in auto pilot. Endurance mode. But sometimes, you can look up in the dark night along UT S.R. 22 and there are more stars out there than you've ever seen in the city. Sometimes the moon blinks its single silver-blue eye in the dark, murky water of Otter Creek Reservoir as you pass, and it is beautiful. This change will be a challenge, but I really want to work on redefining my idea of enjoyable moments. Life is lived in that in-between time. Life is lived in those 17 miles. Rather than thinking those miles to be a monotonous torture, I want to work on thinking of those 17 miles as my life. Wish me luck!

(And, seriously, what was my dad thinking, letting me walk around in that condemned mill?)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mr. Darcy, I'd Like You to Meet the Competition

Water Bottle?




Red Vines?




Fuzzy "Monster" Socks?


Two week vacation from the adolescents?

Check (and a resounding, harmonious rendition of "The Halleluia Chorus").

The first half of the BBC's North and South?


This is what bliss looks like.

I swooned.

I haven't swooned in...well, ever, really. But swoon I did watching this. I blame it on the subtle, killer of a soundtrack...and perhaps that Richard Armitage as the haunted Mr. Thornton. I cannot wait until the second half arrives in the mail (though I may have cheated and looked ahead on youtube just a little bit). Should I be ashamed at the pitifulness of it? Because I'm not. What is it with BBC and the entirety of their female literary canon looking in on my adolescent diaries and spitting out films mirroring my frivolous young fantasies?

Yes, Mr. Darcy, meet Mr. Thornton. It is a toss up. No one can tell which of you smolders hottest with your brooding white heat. But oh the fun of comparing!

Now, onto the important things:

Laundry completed, presents wrapped, Christmas shopping done?


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The White Stuff

Today, while stuck spinning out on a ridiculously steep incline a mere quarter mile from my school (for over half an hour until the plow truck salted the road. Yes I said "OVER HALF AN HOUR." Stuck. In my car. Trapped there because I had spun my last spin in front of some poor sap's driveway and couldn't abandon my car in front of their only access to the road/ice slide while I took the treacherous hike up to the school). Anyway, while stuck, I thought to myself how snow is sort of like a Hollywood actress. Oh, at surface value she is beautiful. Pristine. Her mere appearance makes the world quiet and lovely and soft. But beneath the perfect veneer lies an iciness that could rival Cruella De Vil. Yes, snow might look pretty, but deep down it's a B!T@#!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Because It Really Bugs Me THAT Much

I know, I already posted tonight. I need to go to bed. But I can't stay quiet about this any longer. It is late and my "you know better" censor is in the off position. I might even offend a few of you reading this. But, as said, that censor is as good as gone.

There are many things out there in the blogosphere (blegh...that word) that cause me to shake my head in shame and embarrassment. But none quite as much as the following. Ladies (and the occasional gentleman): DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, alternate between upper and lower case letters in your post titles (i.e. "fUn WiTh PiCtUrEs" or "oUr ThAnKsGiViNg"). Do not do this in the body of your posts. Do not do this anywhere.

You are no longer 14. It looks ridiculous. Not, as dubbed by Paris herself, "Hot." Please stop. Seriously. Stop.




My job grows more and more surreal by the hour. Take, for instance, these oddities on the to do list for the week:

Pick up a crown from Burger King
Find cleaning product to remove the gum from between blind slats at school
Design a costume as "Flava Flav" (including alarm clock "bling")
Pick up 6 strips of 1/2" PVC pipe from Home Depot
Purchase 200 paper lunch bags
Download & Burn CD (with: 1 Madonna song--"Papa Don't Preach," 1 Kiss song--"Detroit Rock City", the Grey's Anatomy theme, and one CLEAN song by Public Enemy--does it even matter what I chose?)
Locate Disney's Hercules (preferably at a video store I don't have a late fee with)
Create salad for faculty "Festivus" party (contemplate possible stupid human trick to contribute to the talent show for said party)

No, I'm not building a pipe bomb or having an identity crisis or attending a costume party. I just teach. And have co-workers driven to the same state of madness by the adolescents as I have been.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Adult Conversation

You know how stay at home moms long for adult conversation? After long days of little kid talk, they just need to spill what's been sloshing around in their mind all day. Though their personal space has been invaded all day long, they feel lonely.

Lately, I understand this feeling more and more. You see, I too long for adult conversation. You know, logical, rational, respectful, polite interchanges. Speech in which one does not shamelessly, miserably lie to one while looking one directly in the eye and smiling. Where one syllable really is just one syllable as opposed to a whine-ish extension (a la "Shut u-up"). Conversation without the monosyllabic grunt or the under-the-breath degradation, or the text messaging acronym ("IDK" must die, but I digress). Communication sans the defensive, the false cockiness, the hidden insecurity. In a language I can understand--no hidden meanings behind "let's dig", no "MO-ted" (is this even a word?). Oh, how I long for adult conversation.

I realized recently that other people go to work and, when not in the (angry) customer service field, receive this dignified treatment I oh-so-desire. Sometimes, my only sense of sweet revenge is the mere fact that one day these same adolescents will be adults annoyed by adolescents, hopefully their adolescent children. And hopefully I don't teach them too.

And mother's, not to slight your most noble and difficult position in any way, but count your blessings. It could be worse. They could be teenagers.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Long Overdue, Christmas, and Such

I know, I know. Post already. I've heard you all loud and clear. I've just been busy with the holidays. With family. With my job. You know, busy with my life and all that nonsense. Clearly I need to remember where my priorities should be. Because anyone with a brain could tell you that staying up until far past 11 on a school night to write a blog post, (er...create photo collages for an "easier" post) is far more important than sleep. Or my sanity. As these two things seem to be intertwined in my life (everything gets sort of hazy after a mere 4-5 hours). But I'm rambling.

Anyway, I thought I'd post a few pictures since it has been a while. The first is a medley of my Christmastime lovelies. I've downloaded some great new music to my iTunes. I've purchased cinnamon pine cones (and in the process I might have snorted their intoxication--I love coming home to it). I've been shopping. I haven't wrapped a dang thing. But the Christmas decor is up and glowing and so I believe that equates to bragging rights on the blog...

The next set is from nearly two months ago. My sister and her kiddos, brother and his boys, and we singletons (Alice & myself), headed up on the tram at a nearby ski resort to the top of the highest peak. We did this before the snow flew too heavily (after a horrible day on the slopes in 7th grade I've vowed never to ski again...but that is another post). Anyway, it was a windy day. A fun day. And lately I'm missing that blue sky and bright sun. It seems I never see the sun anymore between the daylight hours at school and my little basement hovel. So, I figured I'd better get them made into some form of documentation before I just deleted them altogether from the memory card (I tend to do that a lot with pictures--ah, the beauty of digital).

These are kind of divided by adults and kids. The kids are cuter, the adults compile a bunch of funky pictures I took before my battery died. Oh, and if you can click on the kids' collage and make it bigger, be sure to notice the look of sheer horror on the kid in the left corner's face. He didn't so much like the tram. He was clinging on for dear life, poor boy. I, of course, viewed this as the perfect Kodak moment. Afterall, what are kids for if not to provide us with an endless source of cheap entertainment?


And I hope to post a "real blog post" sometime. Soon. I swear. Maybe after midterms are over.

What about you? Are your Christmas pretties up? Are you missing sunlight as much as I am? Are you too struggling to fit blogging in these days? The comment addict wants to know...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


When I was a little girl, I would lay on the living room floor while my mom played the piano.  She didn't play piano often, but when she did, it was magical.  Her hips would sway on the piano bench, the garage sale rug would hum beneath my small body, and in pure bliss, the room would fill with the deep, rich energy of those first measures Claude Debussy's Claire De Lune.  This is and will always be one of my favorite childhood memories.

Today I helped a former student revise her college application essay.  The topic requested she write about her passion in life.  Without pause, she decided to write on her passion for music.  As I helped her re-write and restructure her essay, I kept thinking about my own passion for the most acoustic of the arts.  

I love to sing.  That, without tools or aid, I can create something beautiful with only my body as I was born with it.  I love voices in harmony, twining and braiding around each other in an intricate dance.  I love the tuning of instruments before the conductor even taps his baton, the potential in all those runs and scales, the anticipation for those first notes, of the waterfall of notes that will follow.  It is a visceral experience, the way music moves inside my skin, goosebumps rising on my arms.  And there is little else in this world that can match that.  I love rhythm and syncopation, that a good beat can sway my hips without my conscious control.  I love that a theme in a work of art can be taken in the direction of genius, echoes of it repeated in the unique and unexpected.  And so, I say it out loud.  I love music.

Music, in all its diversity, is the soundtrack of a human life.  It is a thing we feel.  We decide, almost immediately, whether we like a song or not.  When life gets chaotic or unfocused, a song reaches to us, reminding us of that summer or that day, or altering our mood completely.  It fills every corner of our memory, it jingles us to sleep at night, sometimes annoyingly so, but it is always there, moving us.  

I love music.  I miss music.  Long ago in my life I would sing in the choir, I would practice the piano (though I never seemed to improve much), and I don't anymore.  Somehow it has been relegated to the car, the shower, and hymns at church.  I'm done with all that.  I need to look for more opportunities to put music in my life.  Because I'm thankful for music, but am I really showing that gratitude?  

What about you?  How has music impacted your life?  What is your favorite song and why?  And any good iTunes recommendations?  Because 99 cents is certainly worth all that music has to offer. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where Have All the Comments Gone?

While I keep this blog for me as a venting outlet, a journal, a place to write...yeah, yeah, blah blah blah, we all know the truth is that comments are one of the, NO, I dare say, comments are THE major perk of blogging. We press the ___ Comments link and allow our praise junky selves to take over for a moment, pumping the sweetness of validation into our blood stream. And for the high that minute brings, our insecurities and self doubts slip away and we have proof: we are funny and smart and our kids are adorable and we're so witty and a great teacher and of course we're justified in stealing that parking space at Hell-Mart. Yes, comments are the methamphetamine of the blogging world.

And we are all addicted. Me included. I am a comment fiend. A comment whore. A comment glutton. I love comments. I revel in them. When my comment counter reaches the double digits I feel like I finally got tickets to Oprah and the first words I hear out of her mouth are "Favorite Things" and "You get a car! You get a car!" (hey, you may have your bucket list goals, I have mine--materialistic though they may be). Even mean comments are appreciated (lie). And yet, lately it seems that my comments have melted away. And if you didn't catch that earlier, I'm addicted.

Withdrawals people. Withdrawals. I'm missing the comments. Comments are not on my list of things I want to melt away. I want chocolate to melt away in my mouth simultaneously causing a physical reaction of melt away belly fat. I want someone a la this post or this one (either will do, I'm not picky) to stare me down in longing until I think I might melt away into a puddle of hormones and weak knees and an arrhythmic heart. But comments, not so much. Nope. My inner praise junky just wants more.

So what gives? The visitor counter keeps going up. But the comments don't correlate. Are you sick of blogging? Is everyone too busy (how could you!)? Should I stop my narcissistic sniveling and suck it up (not likely--narcissism runs in my species)? Do I stink like dog food (PLEASE comment no on that one, please)? Did I offend you? Oh, if only I knew. I'd volunteer to do your laundry (if you let me use your laundry facilities to do a few of my own loads, because this morning I realized I'm down to What Not to Wear Christmas socks--okay, really, can I just come over to your house and do my laundry because it is BAD). I'd shower a bit more frequently even though it is hard on my skin this time of year. I'd smooth over the offense. With chocolate. That melts away.

So tell me, where have you all gone? Is my blog that awful? Because I really need a fix. Or at least an explanation (in comment form, of course). Seriously. Starting now would be good.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Relationships and, like, stuff

Before class started the other day, I was, as usual, hurrying around, preparing for class before the bell rang, when I overheard the following conversation amongst a few students in my room:

Girl A:  How long have you guys been together?
Girl B:  Like, 7 months.
A:  No WAY!  I just can't do relationships.
Me:  (in my own private thoughts, of course)  You don't "do" relationships?  Dear heaven, help us all!
B:   NOT me!  I don't know why but I just have to be in a relationship.  Like HAVE to.
Me:  (private thoughts, once again)  Isn't that the mantra of 99% of women in an abusive relationship?
A: I just feel smothered, like leave me alone if I'm a relationship.  Mark, what about you?  Aren't you and Jamie together?  Like, haven't you been together for like ever?
Me:  (thoughts) How long, exactly, is "for like ever"?
Mark:  We broke up last week.
Me:  (thoughts) Apparently not too long.
A:  But I thought you guys hung out this weekend?
Me:  (thoughts) No way.  Did she even pause to acknowledge what he said?
Mark:  We did, but just as friends.
A:  Oh, that's another thing I just cannot do.  If I dated you and then we broke up, it is so over.  Like, permanently.
Me:  (thoughts) Is "like, permanently" related to "for like ever"?
Mark:  Well, we still like each other, just, we think we should date around, you know.
B:  Oh, if my boyfriend broke up with me, I would so be like don't talk to me.
Me:  Because you, like, HAVE to be in a relationship, right?
A: (noticing my amused eavesdropping) Miss Rookie, what about you?  Are you a relationship kind of girl?
Me:  Oh, honey, if only.  
Me:  (to Girl B)  Seven months, huh?  So are you in lo-o-o-ve? (because if I can't tease my students, who can I tease?)
Girl B: (shocked at the audacity/stupidity of my statement) NO!  Miss Rookie that's, like, totally serious!  We're just together.
Me:  (some mumble that sounds like "I see.")

Forgive me, dear student, for my absolute ignorance in such matters.  I am unhip in the worst possible way.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Addendum to my previous post

Also, if I had my way, this guy's LDS, well educated equivalent would show up on my doorstep and sweep me off my feet.

Just sayin'.

I've HAD IT with the Singles Ward!

That is all.  I am done being single.  I am done with the ridiculous games and the linger longer activities.  I am done with Break the Fast.  I am done with FHE.  I am done with full-of-themselves EQP's and BFN's (sorry, Alice is probably the only one out there who will get this, but...oh, okay.  It stands for "Beer Flavored Nipples" and it is entirely inappropriate and in reference to The Ten Things I Hate About You and in every ward there is a BFN who dates everyone, EVERYONE, and people don't seem to get that they are a player and jump from one victim/conquest to another for the mere challenge of it...so we call them BFN's because there must be something there that we don't see).  I am done with pettiness.  I am done with the meat market.  I am done with the Singles Ward.

I have come to the conclusion that this is in my stars:

Yes, today I give up and resign myself to the future of a bitter, lifeless HAG.

Friday, November 14, 2008

should sleep. can't sleep. must blog.

Don't even waste your time reading this post.  Seriously, I'm warning you.  It is random.  You can expect this post to be unforgivingly, utterly, and completely random.  It has been a long week and that is about all the material I can muster.  And none of it really merits the energy of a full-blown post.  And yet, I am propelled to write something about the following:

1.  Went to Chinese and then off see Happy Go Lucky tonight with this sister and this roomie.  The sister and I thought it was good.  Alice didn't really like it.  Ever since then I have been thinking about happiness and attitude and how these two are entirely interrelated.

2. And then I thought a bit about this post. And how quickly I got over it once I had a good night of sleep and a good session of prayer. Because apparently, I forget every now and again about the importance of fitting heartfelt, sincere prayer into my busy life. It grounds me. It reminds me of what really matters. It is healing and rejuvenating and good. And I am grateful for it.

3. I worked out with my roommate/self-appointed trainer last night (okay, I better put a disclaimer in here: Alice is meeting with a trainer every week and then she teaches me everything she learns). Anyway, last night was arms and back. And today I feel like a received a thick, painful vaccination shot in every single muscle in each of my arms. Only maybe a little bit worse.

4. All this working out is good because it makes me sleep well and gives me more energy during the day (usually). But wouldn't you know it is not doing a dang thing about that cruel, cruel number on the scale. Of course, that could be the caramel sundae I ate tonight and similar cheating habits (hence the can't sleep part of the title).

5. Today, instead of teaching, I went to a conference with several students at my school. It was put on by the inclusion center at a nearby college. During this event, we talked about several -isms, but focused deeply on only two (apparently, this is going to be a repeat thing with an eventual retreat). Anyway, the facilitators focused our attention on sexism and racism today and listening to the students' perspectives on the subtle images and expectations of men and women was enlightening. It felt like college all over again. I loved how fresh and new these ideas were for them. I forget how these issues aren't brought up in high school in quite the same way. At least, I don't get those same opportunities in my class. I forget how much they all still have to learn. I forget how college changes a person forever.

6. I don't know what I was thinking (okay, maybe it is the worry of a car payment, debt, desired travel opportunities, Christmas' approach), but I applied for a part-time job last night at Lane Bryant last night whilst unloading myself of the burden of a gift certificate (it's a tough job, but someone had to do it).  I love the idea of just a few extra bucks every month to swing around.  I loathe the idea of fewer hours of my own every week.

7. I love that tomorrow is Saturday. I love that Thanksgiving is on the way and I can put my Christmas tree in its corner soon. I love that it is this time of year.  I only wish it didn't include the worry of purchasing presents and the "well, I better get one for them in case they got one for me" stress.  I don't want that present worry downside of Christmas.  I want to decorate my house and put on a wintery candle and eat hot cocoa and maybe just wrap presents of items I already own so there are presents neath the tree.  And, really, wouldn't these presents feel new again after being hidden for a month?  

8. Finally, to end this randomness with a real bang, I thought I'd include this "how's that for random?" cartoon. Why not, right?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On Beauty and Identity

Today Dr. Oz is on Oprah.  The topic:  The Science of Beauty.  As I watch, I keep thinking about this human obsession with aesthetics.  I am no different.  My eye is drawn to beautiful things: colors I that make me feel, clean lines and simple patterns.  I also appreciate the beauty of the human face and body.  Today, in my layered blue collar shirt against a yellow sweater, I felt beautiful.  My clothing was beautiful, my muscles felt aware, stronger (and maybe a bit achey) from all that work I did at the gym yesterday and that makes me feel beautiful.  On the days I feel beautiful on the outside, I am more confident, even a bit happier.

But what if I lost those days altogether?  

It happens.  People's bodies are ravaged by terminal illness, they age, they get fat, their lives are forever altered by damaging accidents.  Tragedy, unfortunately, is a part of life.  And eventually, everyone's looks deteriorate.  

So what if I never had another day to feel beautiful on the outside?  Would I sink into misery and self-loathing?  Would my inner beauty pivot into the grotesque?  Would I lose my sense of self?  I ask this because I wonder how much our sense of our own beauty is intricately woven with our sense of who we are. 

Many of my female students have not made the separation between their innate value and their appearance.  In their minds, their worth is directly connected to how they look.  I've known many grown women caught in this thinking fallacy.  And while I admit that appearance matters, anyone can tell you that it doesn't matter forever and it doesn't matter in every situation.  

I think that, like most things, it comes down to balance.  Recognize and appreciate beauty, but don't worship it.  Don't allow it to infiltrate every opinion you have of yourself or the world around you.  Don't allow the pursuit of aesthetic perfection to block your appreciation of the beauties in imperfection.  Acknowledge that our notions of what is beautiful can be fickle.  Look at cultures the world over. Look at fashion.  Look at my hair circa 1992 (and then remember that I was 11 and have mercy on me).

Because beauty is important.  But it shouldn't be everything.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Nostalgia and Melancholy

I don't know what my mother could have been thinking, but I saw a lot of PG-13/R-rated movies at a younger age than I should have. Whenever I talk to most children of the 80s, this is their experience also. Freddy Krueger and Revenge of the Nerds aren't appropriate entertainment for 8 year olds, but VCRs and cable and a naive mother made these household items. So I grew up on the slightly inappropriate.

You know, now that I think about it, she might have gotten this laissez faire media attitude from her mother, my grandma, who, whenever we visited overnight, put us in front of her home recording of the sleazy Patrick Swayze miniseries North and South for hours and hours. And Anne of Green Gables, but usually we chose North and South, especially after Patrick's Dirty Dancing days.

But I digress. And that won't be the last digression. You see, this is a meandering post of half-baked thoughts and somehow you'll manage to follow along. I hope.

Anyway, Steel Magnolias and Beaches were two of my family's favorites. We were an estrogen rich family, what can I say? These two films would devastate me every time I watched them. I would feel like my small body couldn't contain so much sadness. Every time I watched, I would hope that maybe this would be the time Shelby wouldn't die. This would be the time they'd find the cure for Hillary. And when the credits started to roll and the ending never changed, I would sulk around the house for a few hours feeling miserable about my little world.  I was a weird kid headed for adolescent depression, but what did I know about the nature of sadness or the downsides of emotionally torturing oneself? I was 9.

These days, I am hit by that same overwhelming sadness that lasts a few hours or maybe a couple of days every now and again. This strange emotion seems to hit me out of nowhere. It hides around corners and finds me when I least expect it. It isn't full on depression because it usually doesn't last for long. I can still function. My eating habits do not change.  I sleep just fine and it fades pretty quickly most of the time.  

Its just that for a small spurt I feel glum. Blue. Ho-hum about life. And this week that strange nostalgia/melancholy/exhausted with the human condition feeling hit me. I miss the summertime. The leaves are all gone now. I miss childhood. I miss college and my mom's house and nightgowns and my sister and sleep. I feel bad about my students and what some of them go home to. Winter lasts a long time and I always have to scrape my windows in the morning. I need to do laundry and don't really want to. Marriage seems like a pipe dream and sometimes I'm not sure I could really put up with a real-life man toting his many imperfections. I haven't been shopping in ages (for me) and I'm proud of that fact but I sort of want to go shopping. My calf and thigh muscles ache from this new commitment to the gym I've made and that giant walking field trip (i.e. HIKE) I went on with my 9th graders this week. I always feel sort of tired lately because I can't seem to get to bed early lately. And I just feel sort of down.

So is it daylight saving time? Is it a lack of seratonin? Is my period on the way? Did something happen that I am feeling blueish about and I forgot about it? Am I bored? Sleep deprived? Is the stress (which is actually in a temporary hiatus) taking its toll?  Is my body still recovering from cold after cold after cold?  Why do these ho-hums hit us every now and again? I'm just wondering why melancholy and a sense of nostalgia come to visit sometimes. Because the irony is that I'm trying to take good care of myself. I've been hitting the gym like a regular. I've been eating better (even sugary goodness has taken a back seat in my diet). I've been trying to read and think and clear my mind. So what gives?  Is there something I'm missing?  What body message have I missed lately?
And tell me I'm not alone here.    

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

As Nancy Reagan Says, Just Say No

While driving home from work today I saw the following license plate frame:


and I thought to myself, isn't this how we got in this (now global) financial mess in the first place?

Now, I'll be honest, I have debt (see my last post and you'll see how my debt has grown recently). Frankly, I think most of us can't survive without a little bit of manageable debt. And I fully agree that there is a huge difference between an investment (such as student loans) and debt. But as I read this ominous message today, I couldn't help but shudder. What has happened to us? Since when does want equate entitlement? Why have we as a nation become so greedy?

When I was younger, I was frequently told NO by my parents. They told me NO because they just didn't have the money. They told me NO to protect me. They told me NO even when I begged and wouldn't let up. They told me NO because they saw what a miserable outcome their YES could cause. And it is true, NO sucked for a minute, but then I was on to the next thing and clearly I survived the rejection.

As I look at the greediness that seems to plague our society, I keep thinking that maybe we need to tell ourselves NO a little more. No, you don't need another pair of funky gold earrings. No, you should make last year's coat last through this year too. No, you can rent a movie instead this weekend.

You might notice this is all directed at me and my unnecessary purchases. And so I'm putting it out there in the blogosphere. I'm going to tell myself NO just a little bit more. I'm going to start weighing the difference between want and need. I may see it and like it and even want it, but that doesn't mean that I get it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Say Hello to My Little Friend

Meet the newest addition to what I like to call my "Debt Family." I love her. La-Move, if you recall from this post, was vacillating between life and death on a regular basis.

When she started a RAAAAAAAAR mmmmm RAAAAAAAAAR mmmmmmm surge and seize cycle (on the freeway, in the city, while idling), I decided to spend my Saturday searching out a new companion so as to avoid my car literally coming unhinged while I sped through space at 65 mph. It was either her or me.

Rest in Peace, La-Move.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What is it with me and colds?

I blame it on the snot-nosed kids I teach. I have my 3rd cold this year, except this one is accompanied by fever and chills and aches and what I feared was strep throat. The doctor threw that theory out the window, so I can breath easy on that one. Except that I can't really breathe easy.

So what have I been doing because I stayed home today? Read this. And felt every ounce of her unrequited misery. And felt oh-so-smart when Sue came out with it and fessed up to writing the whole thing and here I'd suspected it as fiction all along. Because what self-respecting single female would put herself out there like that? Somehow learning it was fiction gave me permission to read it in its entirety. Fiction or not, it's a fun little story to take up 2 hours. I say read it. It kept my mind off of the aches and shivers of the day. And it took me back to the angst and injustice of all my hurtful crushes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

www.Death.com OR Further Proof That We're All a Little Insecure

When I was in college I was a poetry geek. It is true. I worked for the literary magazine my university published every year. Each week I met on the library's second floor with a group of fellow poets and friends. We even wrote a grant (well, our professor wrote a grant because let's face it I'm still not quite certain how one goes about writing a grant) to publish a volume of our work together. We thrived in language and imagery. We were cocky and young as only university students with their lives ahead of them can be. We were sort of snobby and elitist. And, to be honest, we took ourselves a bit too seriously, dropping lines like "honing our craft" and "I'm unclear on the antecedent here" like I dribble soup down the front of my shirt at nearly every restaurant between here and Hoboken.

That is the nice part about college. One can be peacockish there and everyone else reinforces the behavior. Preened by professors, praised by parents, one grows certain that they are the deepest thinker, the most sophisticated, and that the world is waiting for them, bachelor degree in hand. Perhaps it is because I belonged, full-bodied, to the generation of praise junkies. But, then again, maybe this was all just me (I've always been prone to delusions of grandeur, though, "one possessor of an overactive imagination" is the euphemism I prefer).

But I've gone on an unnecessary side trip. Back to The Poetry Geeks. We geeks meshed together when invited to a special week-long daily seminar and workshopping session with Robert Dana. Now before I go into the gory details of our week with Robert Dana, I must first say this: Writers, like most artists (and the vast majority of people, really), are full of themselves. They come to these literary and writing conferences as nobility. They come as guest writers at universities and, for a week, they live the life of a minor celebrity. Throngs (slight hyperbole there) of writing and poetry geeks trail behind them, hoping for that holy grail word of advice which ensures their shot at geeky publication. I won't get started on the boundary-crossing, student/guest writer romantic interludes that frequent these week-long visits, because I never crossed this boundary, one, and more importantly I find no reason to dwell on middle aged men's obsessions with the barely legal. It gives me the shivers. 'Nough said.

Now, when it comes to swollen heads, Robert Dana was no exception. I guess he had a right to it. He, with a few key individuals, built the powerhouse that is the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He was Iowa's state poet laureate for a time. He is known in literary circles throughout the US. And, to his credit, Dana, to my knowledge, never took advantage of a poor co-ed. But the man was ever-sure of himself. He lived life with the firm knowledge that he had "it." And, looking at much of his poetry of the past, he did have "it" at one time.

This attitude of himself carried into our workshop sessions. We scrawny, sniveling college students knew nothing and he knew everything was the basic theme of the week. This treatment tainted our view of his greatness. His new volume (the most recent collection of his poems we had to purchase in order to attend his seminar, of course) lacked that certain something one would like to see in poetry. And, feeling insulted as we did, we poetry geeks spoke mercilessly at his expense and the expense of his rather bad poetry when he wasn't in the room. Afterall, we were nearly as big-headed as he was just without having earned the right.

The last straw of his conceit was our culminating project: a Friday night reading. We'd each taken a brief five minutes sharing our work, when the star of the show took the stage, er podium, for a while. Somewhere in the midst of the reading, he set up his next reading, a poem about the death of a neighbor. He shared with the small audience that this poem had his favorite line he had ever written in a poem in it. He thought himself so clever. He read it with all the drama and histrionics and cheesy seriousness that only a poet can. His favorite line? You guessed it.

www dot Death dot com

We couldn't control ourselves, some of us might have vomited a little in our mouths, others may have even snickered a little (because we were so mature, afterall). This was his crowning glory? Poor Robert Dana. Poor Robert Dana's dead neighbor.

Now why do I tell this story? Frankly, I started to write it because it makes me laugh, and I got the obligatory thank you card in the mail for attending a poetry geek's reception last month. But, always the English teacher, I can't leave this post without a conclusion. What's the point? I'd ask my students. I guess the point is that we are all a little cocky and conceited. We all are a bit too full of ourselves. And we use this to compensate because deep down we all are a little insecure. Even Robert Dana. The nice thing about life is that eventually we get knocked down off those pedastals. Eventually life teaches us that we aren't peacocks, but people. Eventually we learn the graceful art of humility. And as much as it hurts to feel like a donkey's hind quarters, isn't it great that sometimes we get that humbling opportunity? And, I say it again: www.Death.com is THE WORST line I've ever read in a poem. Ever.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oh to Be 14 Again...

If my students are any gauge, there is no hope of their teacher marrying.  Ever.  I shouldn't even bother. Because, according to the following, I must be in the dry spell of a life time.

To Ms. Rookie's Students:

Today's Journal Topic?  Pick your own!  Write about anything you want 
(school appropriate, of course). 

Little did I know that this little prompt would result in the following journal (edited so as to prevent the agony you all would feel reading just one of these babies).  Enjoy.

"Mr. C" is in my biology class.  He sits at the next table kind of behind me and he is so...soooo...yeah!!!!  YUM-MY! 

(Rookie here, preserving you from the yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah, superfluous exclamation marks, some bit about his hair and eyes and tight girl pants, and a run down of all their awkward interactions a la "and he was like, 'hey' and i was like 'hey.'"  So now you can feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude because I wish a summarizing voice of adult sanity would interrupt student essays and do the same for me).  

Anywayz, i really think that maybe i should txt him, you know?  But I'm trudishenil and he should totally txt first, NA WHAT I'M SAYIN?  

(Are you ready for the finale?)

(You sure?)

(OK, but you asked for it...)

And it is weird because I haven't felt this way in like for so long you know! 

Say what?  Did I just read that right?  Honey, you're in 9th grade.  "In like for so long"?  Seriously?  

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Hidden Life of the High School English Teacher

The English Teacher, in her natural habitat of lounge pants and a ratty t-shirt, brings home her fresh kill.

With anticipation she picks up her first essay, ready to be wowed.

But wait! Something is amiss. Whatever could it be?

Is that disappointment? Frustration? 
Oh, dear English Teacher, tell us what is wrong.

What's that? You aren't sure what, exactly, "This iz 4 REEL" is supposed to mean. Silly English Teacher, everyone knows that!

Don't get angry, English Teacher, anger is like a stress. It can make us throw clots and stroke out. 4 real.

We know, we know. But anger only makes matters worse.

Oh, that's really mature, English Teacher, REAL mature!

Oh look, the English Teacher is bored with her students' mediocrity.

But...but...she never finished reading! Should we wake her up?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Taste Test

I like to think I have good taste. All of us do. I like the way my house is decorated, the clothes in my closet, the "stuff" I am drawn to at Target. I go through life quite certain that my taste is the best taste. Contemporary, but not too trendy. Classic, but not archaic. Clean, but not unliveable. Yes, I am quite certain that my taste is anything but tacky.

But someone out there clearly doesn't feel the way I do. Someone out there is buying the elastic-banded, gag blue denim capri pants at the store (which, I might add, do nothing for your tush--and are they REALLY all that comfortable?). Someone is drawn to mauve and forest green wallpaper borders (the commitment-less wallpaper) to match their Deep Forest Dupont Stainmaster carpet. Someone out there decorates in several shades of my-worst-nightmare! And this someone is every bit as convinced as I am about their taste: it is good.

And I think I know who this person is. My landlady. "Crazy Pat", I'm quite convinced, is growing something illegal (for personal use only, of course) in her greenhouse in the backyard. "Crazy Pat" loves all things tie dye, including her hair which has ranged from a vibrant orange to a vibrant gold to a medley of brown, grey, yellow and orange all at once. "Crazy Pat" has a soft place in her heart for chihuahuas. Currently, we are up to four of the yappers. "Crazy Pat" expressed sorrow of the worst degree after a Jethro Tull concert because her one and only grandson will never have the blessed opportunity that is seeing Jethro live.

Yes, "Crazy Pat" is that special kind of eccentric you can appreciate having in the neighborhood, but living in such close proximity (as, say, her basement) is sometimes a bit much. I can forgive her many yapping chihuahuas. I can forgive her odd conversation. I can forgive her bra-less gardening. But I must express that there is one eccentricity that does me in.

Alice and I lovingly refer to it as "The Gypsy Cart."

Behold, what is only the tip of the iceberg in tacky lawn decor:

It is everywhere. Every nook, every cranny has a little sumpin-sumpin besides organic matter. The tree branches sag under the weight of dangling trinkets, rather than pears or plums. I would find it entertaining, if not for the fact that I live here. The path to my basement entryway is lined with all things tacky.

And so, I have three key words for our kindly (though eccentric) "Crazy Pat."

Less is more, Patty. Less is more.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It Is True...I Miss Them AND Another Self-Portrait

This kid has a serious love for bananas, his silky black security blanket (an old pillow case) and my blow dryer:

And there's nothing quite like having your big sister around...

I miss you all, "TAGJAM FAM"!

Oh, and since it has been a while, another Self Portrait Challenge installment:

(Because I just love autumn, the rain, rain in autumn...).

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hukeb oN fonix, Communication, and Other Thursday Night Musings

Recently I tested my 9th & 10th grade students for grade level reading skills... Wait, perhaps, I should go back further...

Reading. All my life I have heard that reading matters. For me, always-the-reader, this message from educators and NBC service announcements was a white noise preaching to my lone little alto choir. I didn't need someone to sell me the benefits of reading. I enjoyed reading. I consumed books as a Fahrenheit 451 fire. But clearly, my story is not everybody's story. And certainly, reading doesn't even fit into the life stories of my students.

So how did Ms. Rookie's students perform on their reading placement tests, you ask? Low. Lower than they should have. Some are in the third grade still. Let me say that again: I have students who have made it into their sophomore year of high school reading at a third grade level. Their vocabulary is lost in a wasteland. Their comprehension isn't just failing to mention the elephant in the room, NOPE, my students, when reading, don't notice the part about the elephant even being in the room.

Now, this isn't everybody, a token few are even at a post high school level, but the majority of my students are reading below grade level. And I'm disheartened and angry and hysterical and disappointed and overwhelmed and frustrated and ill about this fact. You see, I teach Language Arts, the skills of reading and writing and recognizing the art and nuance of language, to people who are essentially illiterate.

Why are they illiterate? For some, English is not their native language. Some do not have a single book, excluding religious texts, in their homes. Some have learning disabilities. Some have never been to the public library. Some were never read to when they were little. And some just do not like to read. And Mom or Dad don't like/value reading. Or Mom and Dad or Great Aunt Ruth buy them books, encourage them to read, but their kid just won't do it. Their eyes scan the text, but their minds drift to other worlds like HALO or the skate park or Jessica Alba.

And it all makes me sick. You want my honest opinion? I believe we are becoming illiterate as a nation. Oh, we may be literate, even sophisticated in technology. Our minds may consume information at a rate so rapid we're left feeling drained by nightfall. But we are becoming a nation who cannot communicate effectively. And when communication fizzles, how do we express ourselves?

Listening to the candidates debate, drifting over blogs in the blogosphere, perusing the words my students write, I am weary. Our ability for communication seems to be waning into an abysmal future. Call me a language snob. Call me full of crap. Call me Ishmael. Call me Jonah. I don't care. I am worried about the diminishing face of literacy in our culture and society.

I write and I read because I want to connect with the essence of humanity. What does it mean to be human? What is the secret landscape of the mind? Effective communication turns the deepest fruit of who we are inside out, leaving the shining membrane of us as evidence: I feel, I think, I am. Language is what separates us from the animals, and somewhere over the past few decades, we've thrown that ability aside piece by piece.

And our next generation is worse off. Text messaging lingo consists of a rudimentary abbreviated vocabulary. What are we? Cave people?

I meet u

I know, I know, I'm ranting and I'm raving and my soap box is groaning under the weight of my intensity. My linguistic-guru brother might even tell me "Dear Rookie, language is always in flux, this is natural." But I am uncertain how to make up for years of illiteracy. I worry that without the language available to express the thought fully, the thoughts themselves might die away too. I worry that, when it comes to language, this generation gap is too wide. I worry that one day I will start talking, expressing the inside of myself, and no one will understand what I am saying.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CRACKlin' for a Reason: An Ode to Breakfast Cereal

While it may look like dried cat food, this particular breakfast cereal, I'm quite certain, possesses crack-like qualities. (And apparently, based on my google image search, it can be purchased in a 4-pack from amazon.com...who knew?).

And I might be placing myself in the 80 year old with a colon problem category, but there's something about Grape Nuts that draws me in. Unlike most, I just don't equate this cereal with rocks.

That's all.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

General Relief Society Broadcast

Last night I had the opportunity to attend General Relief Society Meeting Broadcast at my local stake center. I am sure many of you reading this did the same. I enjoyed the Relief Society presidency's addresses, Sister Allred's really spoke to me simply because of how recently I attended the temple for the first time.

But beyond that, I wanted to mention here how much I appreciated the words of Elder Uchtdorf. The concepts and ideas he taught were inspiring. His words about our innate desire to create and be creative simply because we are children of a Heavenly Father who is, by His nature, a creator--our creator--touched me deeply. This isn't something we generally hear about from our leaders in this exact way, to hear that we are to beautify the world around us, to take disorder and chaos and form it into something that did not exist before, is, while not an entirely new concept, certainly put into a new perspective. We are to create (and that doesn't simply mean in artistic endeavors) because our Father is creative.

He then spoke about the need for greater service. We've heard this time and time again, I know, but I love that he mentioned that offering more service in order to relieve the tension and trials of life may seem counterintuitive. Indeed, it is just oppposite of what the rest of the world says. How often have we heard, "Your children cannot be happy if their mother is not happy." And, "If it makes YOU happy, then by all means, do it." This self-centered line of thought is, ultimately, destructive. However, by offering more service, by sacrificing more of ourselves, we come to fill more at peace. This is true. I've seen it in my own life, in my line of work. On days when I am exhausted and my students annoy me and I just want a moment of quiet and everything seems to be going wrong, it always seems that an opportunity to be of help to one student presents itself. Usually this student will come to me at the exact moment that I feel I can finally sit and relax and take a breath. And when they come in, I'll be honest, I cringe a little. But when I throw myself into helping them with whatever is going on, giving them that one-on-one attention that they need, I feel re-energized. I feel good. I feel like I was of value.

If you missed the opportunity to watch it, go here. It was edifying. It was good. Amen.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Economy and My New Collection

So, apparently my bank (Washington Mutual) was forced to close its doors and sell itself to J.P. Morgan/Chase/some other mega-merging-conglomerate-company-thing yesterday. On the bright side, all 27 of the dollars in my savings account are FDIC insured. Thank heavens for that--because that totally would have been a disaster! At least a half a tank of gas.

So as I drive to and from work, listening to my NPR and its incessant coverage of this economic nightmare over the past few months, I can't help but think about my half-siblings' grandmother, a child of the depression era. When she passed away, among other odd items in bulk, they found a large collection of used cheap plastic laundry detergent scoops. Stacks and stacks of the things. And sometimes when I hear all this business about the economy I feel like maybe that is the only thing I can do to save myself and my sanity.

What about you?

Monday, September 22, 2008

I Don't Really Like Listening to Whining, Either

Every school year when I get to my unit on Overcoming Indifference, I assign a service project to my students. And every year this happens I think about Jessica, a student I had my first year of teaching.

Jessica was, I am quite certain, the most angry adolescent I have ever taught. Perhaps it was just me she hated. Afterall, my first memory of her involves a tennis ball bruising my ribs as it spiraled through the air during an innocent icebreaker followed by her wickedly delighted smile at my reaction (the only smile I ever saw on her face). She was one of those kids I wasn't quite certain what to do with all year long. She was quite bright, but didn't want that information to be let out. And, like I said, anger was her middle name.

Well, Jessica, to my surprise, opted to visit the elderly at a nearby nursing home for her service project. As part of the assignment, she was required to keep a running log of her visits and write a final reflection paper.

Her reflection paper was good enough, but her visit log. Oh, her visit log. Never have I read such an honest account. Never have I heard such a sardonic voice. Never have I laughed harder. Picture me in a mind-numbing mad-dash to finish grades at the end of a term, coming across the following:

11/18/05: Visited Earl today. He likes chess but I don't know how to play so we talked for about 43 minutes about how many new businesses there are now. It was ok, I guess.

11/23/05: Visited Clea today. She can't hear very well so I had to talk really loud and then she heard me wrong I think. Talked to her for like 33 minutes.

11/30/05: Talked with Vern today. He was nice, I guess. He grew up in New York City and told me all about that. I thought that was kind of cool. I was there for an hour and 12 minutes.

12/5/05: Met with a guy named Frank. All he did was talk about how his wife died and that is sad but annoying. Left after 26 minutes.

12/12/05: Today I met with a lady named Marcene. She whined all about how teenagers are all hoodlums and up to no good and we don't have respect and complained some more about all sorts of things. I wasn't very nice to her. I left after about 17 minutes because I was sick of listening to her bitch.

Thanks, Jessica. I needed the comic relief.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I Love to See the Temple...

Last week I had the opportunity to go to the LDS temple for the very first time. It was a wonderful experience for me. I felt so blessed and filled with gratitude for the covenants I was able to make there. I felt such a powerful sense of peace and wholeness in this sacred building.

(Yes, these mediocre at best pictures are a result of very bad lighting)

I am so lucky to have such supportive family and friends. I especially want to say thanks (again) to my sister, Amber, who left her kids and husband (except the baby) at home in Virginia in the midst of a possibly approaching Hurricane Ike and came all the way across the country to be my escort for my first time through. I felt so loved by all the people who came to support me on this big day.

I always feel a little uncertain when it comes to things like these as far as how much of my belief to bear in such a public forum. Afterall, one's spirituality is a very personal thing. That being said, this is not only a blog, but a journal of sorts and I can't help but share what I feel and know and how that impacted my decision to go to the temple. I know the gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. I know who I am and who it is my Father in Heaven wants me to be. I feel His influence in my life and in my progress. I feel a true sense of peaceful, contented joy knowing that I am living my life in the manner He would approve of, that I am moving in the right direction. I feel that this was a natural and timely step for me. Having the opportunity to attend the temple as yet another means by which I might grow closer to my Father in Heaven and progress as a person is one of the best blessings I've ever received.

That's all. Amen. :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dear confessionsofarookie.blogspot.com,

You know how when you were a little kid and you'd go through "toy stints"? Sometimes you'd go for a few weeks where you'd only play house with your Cabbage Patch Doll, then it was a Barbie phase, and then maybe you thought playing in the sandbox with cars was the coolest thing ever.

Well, apparently, I've been on some sort of stint lately which doesn't involve you, dear bloggy o' mine. I'm sure you are feeling a little left out, kind of like Woody in Toy Story when Buzz Lightyear comes to the toybox. Except I can't really say a single Buzz Lightyear took your place in my agenda. Instead, it was probably several Buzz Lightyear-type characters.

So I'm writing to apologize. Clearly, I stink at making you the priority you deserve to be. But I'm a new woman. I've turned a new leaf. I've recommitted myself. I've gotten back on the horse. I'm back and better than ever. I've sewn my wild oats. I'm homem again. And, at present, I've run dry in the cliche department.

The point is I am sorry. I was out living my life and you sat waiting patiently for me like the perfect blog that you are. Please forgive me and my neglectful tendencies.

The Rookie
aka that "busy" schlub who owes the world a blog post (or two...or three...or...)