Thursday, January 31, 2008

Those Who Make a Difference

Did you miss me? I missed you all. I feel out of the loop as I've been bad at checking blogs. But I must say that five days without posting felt rather liberating. While I enjoy blogging, the pressure of once-a-day posting was getting to me more than I thought it was.

So, I'm the new blogging war thanks to Chaos.

But what I really wanted to post about all week was him:

President Gordon B. Hinckley was sustained as prophet of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on March 12, 1995, my 14th birthday. During all those important years when we figure out "Who We Are" in all our adolescent and young adult confusion, President Hinckley has been my prophet. And that is how I see him: as MY prophet.

During high school I lived in Alaska. Our small ward had a display with a picture of a temple on it and the gist of the message was to do missionary work. Missionary work brought more numbers which meant more stakes and wards which meant we might get a temple closer to home. The members of my ward up to that point had to travel to Seattle in order to visit a temple. It was always a sacrifice. I remember when President Hinckley announced his plan for small temples and Anchorage, Alaska was one of the temples he announced. This new temple, so close, was inspired. It was one of those moments when I felt that nudging that reminded me he was in cahoots with the big guy.

Flash forward a few more years. I sat in an institute building for a Sunday evening CES fireside broadcast. President Hinckley was to be the speaker that evening. It was his famous "Be" speech. I remember how touched I felt by that talk. All the love a prophet has for the youth of his church was felt in me that evening. But the part that stood out to me wasn't the list of Be's, as much as a story he told of train tracks:

Many years ago I worked for a railroad in the central offices in Denver. I was in charge of what is called head-end traffic. That was in the days when nearly everyone rode passenger trains. One morning I received a call from my counterpart in Newark, New Jersey. He said, “Train number such-and-such has arrived, but it has no baggage car. Somewhere, 300 passengers have lost their baggage, and they are mad.”

I went immediately to work to find out where it may have gone. I found it had been properly loaded and properly trained in Oakland, California. It had been moved to our railroad in Salt Lake City, been carried to Denver, down to Pueblo, put on another line, and moved to St. Louis. There it was to be handled by another railroad which would take it to Newark, New Jersey. But some thoughtless switchman in the St. Louis yards moved a small piece of steel just three inches, a switch point, then pulled the lever to uncouple the car. We discovered that a baggage car that belonged in Newark, New Jersey, was in fact in New Orleans, Louisiana—1,500 miles from its destination. Just the three-inch movement of the switch in the St. Louis yard by a careless employee had started it on the wrong track, and the distance from its true destination increased dramatically. That is the way it is with our lives. Instead of following a steady course, we are pulled by some mistaken idea in another direction. The movement away from our original destination may be ever so small, but, if continued, that very small movement becomes a great gap and we find ourselves far from where we intended to go.

Have you ever looked at one of those 16-foot farm gates? When it is opened, it swings very wide. The end at the hinges moves ever so slightly, while out at the perimeter the movement is great. It is the little things upon which life turns that make the big difference in our lives, my dear young friends.

I cannot be incredibly eloquent in all of this. I only know that those words at that time in my life have always stuck with me: a small three inches. The decisions I have made since then have at times been wise and at others have shown my pure stupidity. But President Hinckley impacted me as only a prophet can. He, along with many others, helped me to keep a steady course during the important years when one is setting up her life. And that has made all the difference.

I will miss him. I am grateful for all the years he inspired and uplifted. I know he will continue to do good things. Because that is just the way he is.

Friday, January 25, 2008

So a Screenwriter Walks Into a Bar...

Dear Screen Writers Guild of America,

Let me begin by saying that your cause was initially supported by individuals such as myself. At one time I thought--yes, yes, you SHOULD stand up for your rights. This strike of yours is justified and you deserve to be paid when someone exploits television shows that are your brainchild.

But let me just shoot it to you straight: I'm not so much on your side anymore. Which isn't to say I'm on the producers' side either. Thing is, I am sort of starting to wish you both the worst. It is true--I'm starting to sing out curses:

May we, a Joe Public now less addicted to unrealistically beautiful, uncomplicated characters and predictable plots, smarten up and forget your shows that sucked us in Thursday after Thursday. May your temper tantrum trigger a dominoing fall of Hollywood. May you resort to clipping coupons and cleaning your own houses like the rest of us. May your children attend public high schools and state universities. May actors be humbled down to two options: unemployment or VH1's "Celebreality". May people throughout America rediscover what it is like to contribute to their communities, bond with their families, read books, or discuss/worry about people they actually know.

Thing is, I saw how much you get paid for a single episode. Now, by Hollywood standards, you writers don't get your due, I suppose. I get it, you "created" this storyline, these characters. Their witty words and one-liners. You geniuses, you. Nevermind the fact that your plots have existed since Ancient Greece. (I won't say anything about how you don't see Euripides throwing a big stink). I get that YOU are the ideas and creativity that fuels Hollywood and it isn't fair that you don't get paid as much as what's-his-salary, yadda, yadda, yadda...

But let me tell you a little something about the rest of us, and by the rest of us I mean me, really. I happen to be a teacher. A teacher who Monday through Friday shows up to work with individuals that the rest of society avoids and considers a nuisance. These individuals also happen to be the people who will one day take your job, and my job, and all of our jobs. But right now, because they're teenagers, nobody can really stand them. Except people like me who are either gluttons for punishment or like to think that they are doing something noble and necessary for...oh, I don't know...the community, society, future. The rest of us (meaning me), is ecstatic because, as she filed taxes, she realized that she'd actually made it out from under that whole "poverty line" thing by the skin of her teeth this past year. The rest of us can't afford to throw a "life's not fair" temper tantrum and make faces at our bosses who make more money than we do. Because the rest of us, while quite possibly protected by a union, wouldn't be able to pay our rent if we went on strike. Oh, and without the rest of us (specifically teachers), about 15-20 years from now we wouldn't have much of a work force--but, on the bright side, "the future" would probably play a mean Guitar Hero with those extra hours of practice.

So, I hope you are still feeling really good and justified in your little fight. You have, after all, made your point: TV sucks without you. You severely impact Hollywood's revenue. It is really such a travesty. I'm not saying there haven't been perks to your little hissy fit. There was joy knowing that for once the Golden Globe winners wore pajamas like normal people do during the blessed event. It's been kind of entertaining (in a slow down and stare at car wrecks sort of way) to see just how lame the Ellen show can get. And my niece really enjoyed all the primetime holiday kids' specials that aired this last December.
I am just saying that when this "huffy-bike-parade" of all-ya'lls is over, don't be surprised if the rest of us have moved on. Don't be surprised when we've stopped caring about the dynamic between McDreamy and Meredith (c'mon--get therapy already! You are a well-educated, intelligent DOCTOR for crying out loud and you haven't recognized that you might just need professional help to get through your issues?!?).

Yes, Writer's Guild, you were good, but I am hoping the rest of us have figured out that you weren't that good.

The Rookie
P.S. Way to stick it to the man. Seriously. You've been so exploited. It's about time they got their due.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Is It Spring Yet?

In case any of you were wondering...

I loathe these final winter months like I loathe an ingrown toenail. They are painful, slow to disappear, unsightly, and every step you take reminds you of their presence.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

And They Said, "Yes, Let's Make the Cover Look Like a 1985 Tampon Commercial!"

So, my 9th graders are studying short stories right now. And I, being the kind teacher that I am, like to try and find my students reading material that is, well, better than the crap they have in the ages-old textbooks at school. So I checked out what was available online and found a few promising options. One of these books was entitled Sixteen: Short Stories by Outstanding Writers for Young Adults and at 99 cents, I figured who could go wrong?

Note To Self: if a book is 99 cents online and doesn't offer a cover picture, who knows what you are getting yourself into.

This is what came in the mail today:


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

End of Term

Dear Students of ___________ High School,

In case any of you still feel the need to clarify: Yes, that IS your final grade. It is not a grade I selected for you willy-nilly. It is the grade you earned. The grade which was determined by YOUR choices. The grade that will permanently reside on your high school transcript and yes, possibly determine whether or not you get into Stanford. Let me repeat: this is YOUR grade. Deal.

Your Teacher,
The Rookie

P.S. I am sorry these years are so awkward for you, but could you please refrain from being so obnoxious so early on in the week?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Whooooo Are You? Who-who? Who-who?

There are a few of you lurking around here and don't think you are going unnoticed.

More of you are visiting my blog than the few who leave comments. I know because my blog counter tells me so. So who are you? Fess up! Leave a comment (you can leave a comment even if you don't have a blog). C'mon...let's be friends! :)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

On Compatibility

I am single. And by single, I mean I haven't had a date in quite some time; I haven't been attracted to someone or had a crush in quite some time; and I can't remember the last time I flirted with anyone. Yes, folks, I am VERY single.

So now that this fact is out there for you all, let me tell you that because of this fact I know nothing of marriage or how a committed relationship works. I'm in the dark on that one. I can observe all I want. I can make speculations. I can think to myself as I attend countless weddings: They're perfect for one another! OR I give it three years, tops. OR I think that after she pops out a few kids he's the type to cheat. (Yes, I really think this stuff at weddings, cynic that I am).

What I have observed about marriage from my outside, naive perspective can be simplified to one statement: It is BLOODY difficult!

Now that I've established my vast lack of knowledge on the subject, let me move along:
In all my single time, I've come to conclusions about what I think I want/deserve in a mate. (Admit it, people, you make lists--if not tangible lists on paper than mental lists). For instance, education/smarts is a top priority of mine. If I can't have an intelligent conversation with a guy, it is over before it ever started. Maybe it is my day job. Maybe I'm an education snob...or a snob period. But a brain matters. To me.

But part of this "making lists of criteria" phenomenon makes me wonder if we singletons really know what we want/need. I know we think we know what we want/need. But do we really? As I've aged, I've gotten more cynical (more realistic?) about relationships and marriage. I don't think I could throw myself into love like I might have been able to at eighteen. I'm grateful for that. I'm glad I know what I want (or what I think I want). But is it really such a blessing that I can't throw myself head first into love without asking questions? Because, at some point, you have to have some blind faith and just go for it.
We hear so many ideas on what makes two people "fit":

Opposites attract
Find someone with similar tastes
If you have similar goals and standards,
any two people can make a marriage work

The list goes on and on. But what is it, really, that makes two people compatible? Because some marriages last and others do not. Statistics say your chance is 50/50 here in the U.S. For those marriages that work, is it just sheer determination and a kung fu grip that says "I will not let go of this, no matter what"? Do some marriages crumble because the relationship was built on faulty ground? And who is to say that a relationship that was beautiful from the beginning won't fall apart eventually or that two people who seem a bit oddly paired end up lasting the ages with a solid rock of a marriage?

As you can see, I have quite a few questions about this whole marriage/compatibility bit. I think that throughout the ages great thinkers and artists and poets and musicians and playwrights and therapists have been trying to figure this stuff out. We humans are tricky beings.

So, here are my confessions on this business...I sit here, singleton that I am and the truth is I don't know what to think. There are days that I sort of long for marriage while at other moments I feel this overwhelming sense of gratitude for my "lonely," "menace to society" "marriage impaired" state. We all know why I long for marriage. That's simple: BEING SINGLE JUST PLAIN SUCKS SOMETIMES. Sometimes I wish somebody else would shovel the driveway. Sometimes I want somebody bigger and/or stronger to carry in heavy items from the car. Sometimes I want my honor defended...or some other sappy romantic notion. But my sense of gratitude often outweighs those moments. I'm grateful for the perks of singlehood. My bed is mine and mine alone and there is nobody snoring/drooling/breathing on/farting beside me ALL NIGHT LONG. I bought two pair of shoes (on credit) that I really, really didn't need, but really, really wanted and I have no one to answer to for that venture. Except, perhaps, Visa.

But one day, I know that I have to give up my plush life and let somebody else carry in the heavy groceries. And when that happens, I'm just wondering if I can ever let go of my cynicism and reservations and my list and just. Let. It. Happen.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

For Your Reading Pleasure

I've always liked David Sedaris. I thought today you could all use a good laugh and this essay, "Me Talk Pretty One Day," is one of my favorites. Enjoy!

Me Talk Pretty One Day
By David Sedaris
From his book Me Talk Pretty One Day

At the age of forty-one, I am returning to school and have to think of myself as what my French textbook calls “a true debutant.” After paying my tuition, I was issued a student ID, which allows me a discounted entry fee at movie theaters, puppet shows, and Festyland, a far-flung amusement park that advertises with billboards picturing a cartoon stegosaurus sitting in a canoe and eating what appears to be a ham sandwich. I’ve moved to Paris with hopes of learning the language.

My school is an easy ten-minute walk from my apartment, and on the first day of class I arrived early, watching as the returning students greeted one another in the school lobby. Vacations were recounted, and questions were raised concerning mutual friends with names like Kang and Vlatnya. Regardless of their nationalities, everyone spoke what sounded to me like excellent French. Some accents were better than others, but the students exhibited an ease and confidence that I found intimidating. As an added discomfort, they were all young, attractive, and well-dressed, causing me to feel not unlike Pa Kettle trapped backstage after a fashion show.

The first day of class was nerve-racking because I knew I’d be expected to perform. That’s the way they do it here – it’s everybody into the language pool, sink or swim. The teacher marched in, deeply tanned from a recent vacation, and proceeded to rattle off a series of administrative announcements. I’ve spent quite a few summers in Normandy, and I took a monthlong French class before leaving New York. I’m not completely in the dark, yet I understood only half of what this woman was saying. “If you have not meimslsxp or lgpdmurct by this time, then you should not be in this room. Has everyone apzkiubjxow? Everyone? Good, we shall begin.” She spread
out her lesson plan and sighed, saying, “All right, then, who knows the alphabet?” It was startling because (a) I hadn’t been asked that question in a while and (b) I realized, while laughing, that I myself did not know the alphabet. They’re the same letters, but in France they’re pronounced differently. I know the shape of the alphabet but had no idea what it actually sounded like.

“Ahh.” The teacher went to the board and sketched the letter a. “Do we have anyone in the room whose first name commences with an ahh?” Two Polish Annas raised their hands, and the teachers instructed them to present themselves by stating their names, nationalities, occupations, and a brief list of things they liked and disliked in this world. The first Anna hailed from an industrial town outside of Warsaw and had front teeth the size of tombstones. She worked as a seamstress, enjoyed quiet times with friends, and hated the mosquito.

“Oh, really,” the teacher said. “How very interesting. I thought that everyone loved the mosquito, but here, in front of all the world, you claim to detest him. How is it that we’ve been blessed with someone as unique and original as you? Tell us, please.”

The seamstress did not understand what was being said but knew that this was an occasion for shame. Her rabbity mouth huffed for breath, and she stared down at her lap as though the appropriate comeback were stitched somewhere alongside the zipper of her slacks.

The second Anna learned from the first and claimed to love sunshine and detest lies. It sounded like a translation of one of those Playmate of the Month data sheets, the answers always written in the same loopy handwriting: “Turn-ons: Mom’s famous fivealarm chili! Turn offs: insecurity and guys who come on too strong!!!!” The two Polish Annas surely had clear notions of what they loved and hated, but like the rest of us, they were limited in terms of vocabulary, and this made them appear less than sophisticated. The teacher forged on, and we learned that Carlos, the Argentine bandonion player, loved wine, music, and, in his words, “making sex with the womans of the world.” Next came a beautiful young Yugoslav who identified herself as an optimist, saying that she loved everything that life had to offer. The teacher licked her lips, revealing a hint of the saucebox we would later come to know. She crouched low for her attack, placed her hands on the young woman’s desk, and leaned close, saying, “Oh yeah? And do you love your little war?”

While the optimist struggled to defend herself, I scrambled to think of an answer to what had obviously become a trick question. How often is one asked what he loves in this world? More to the point, how often is one asked and then publicly ridiculed for his answer? I recalled my mother, flushed with wine, pounding the table top one night, saying, “Love? I love a good steak cooked rare. I love my cat, and I love …” My sisters and I leaned forward, waiting to hear out names. “Tums,” our mother said. “I love Tums.”

The teacher killed some time accusing the Yugoslavian girl of masterminding a program of genocide, and I jotted frantic notes in the margins of my pad. While I can honestly say that I love leafing through medical textbooks devoted to severe dermatological conditions, the hobby is beyond the reach of my French vocabulary, and acting it out would only have invited controversy.

When called upon, I delivered an effortless list of things that I detest: blood sausage, intestinal pates, brain pudding. I’d learned these words the hard way. Having given it some thought, I then declared my love for IBM typewriters, the French word for bruise, and my electric floor waxer. It was a short list, but still I managed to mispronounce IBM and assign the wrong gender to both the floor waxer and the typewriter. The teacher’s reaction led me to believe that these mistakes were capital crimes in the country of France.

“Were you always this palicmkrexis?” she asked. “Even a fiuscrzsa ticiwelmun knows that a typewriter is feminine.” I absorbed as much of her abuse as I could understand, thinking – but not saying – that I find it ridiculous to assign a gender to an inanimate object which is incapable of disrobing and making an occasional fool of itself. Why refer to Lady Crack Pipe or Good Sir Dishrag when these things could never live up to all that their sex implied?

The teacher proceeded to belittle everyone from German Eva, who hated laziness, to Japanese Yukari, who loved paintbrushes and soap. Italian, Thai, Dutch, Korean, and Chinese – we all left class foolishly believing that the worst over. She’d shaken us up a little, but surely that was just an act designed to weed out the deadweight. We didn’t know it then, but the coming months would teach us what it was like to spend time in the presence of a wild animal, something completely unpredictable. Her temperament was not based on a series of good and bad days but, rather, good and bad moments. We soon learned to dodge chalk and protect our heads and stomachs whenever she approached us with a question. She hadn’t yet punched anyone, but it seemed wise to protect ourselves against the inevitable.

Though we were forbidden to speak anything but French, the teacher would occasionally use us to practice any of her five fluent languages. “I hate you,” she said to me one afternoon. Her English was flawless. “I really, really hate you.” Call me sensitive, but I couldn’t help but take it personally.

After being singled out as a lazy kfdtinvfm, I took to spending four hours a night on my homework, putting in even more time whenever we were assigned an essay. I suppose I could have gotten by with less, but I was determined to create some sort of identity for myself: David, the hardworker, David the cut-up. We’d have one of those “complete this sentence” exercises, and I’d fool with the thing for hours, invariably settling on something like, “A quick run around the lake? I’d love to! Just give me a moment while I strap on my wooden leg.” The teacher, through word and action, conveyed the message that if this was my idea of an identity, she wanted nothing to do with it.

My fear and discomfort crept beyond the borders of the classroom and accompanied me out onto the wide boulevards. Stopping for a coffee, asking directions, depositing money in my bank account: these things were out of the question, as they involved having to speak. Before beginning school, there’d been no shutting me up, but now I was convinced that everything I said was wrong. When the phone rang, I ignored it. If someone asked me a question, I pretended to be deaf. I knew my fear was getting the best of me when I started wondering why they don’t sell cuts of meat in vending machines.

My only comfort was the knowledge that I was not alone. Huddled in the hallways and making the most of our pathetic French, my fellow students and I engaged in the sort of conversation commonly overhead in refugee camps.

“Sometimes me cry alone at night.”

“That be common for I, also, but be more strong, you. Much work and someday you talk pretty. People start love you soon. Maybe tomorrow, okay.”

Unlike the French class I had taken in New York, here there was no sense of competition. When the teacher poked a shy Korean in the eyelid with a freshly sharpened pencil, we took no comfort in the fact that, unlike Hyeyoon Cho, we all know the irregular past tense of the verb to defeat. In all fairness, the teacher hadn’t meant to stab the girl, but neither did she spend much time apologizing, saying only, “Well, you should have been vkkdyo more kdeynfulh.”

Over time it became impossible to believe that any of us would ever improve. Fall arrived and it rained every day, meaning we would now be scolded for the water dripping from our coats and umbrellas. It was mid-October when the teacher singled me out, saying, “Every day spent with you is like having a cesarean section.” And it struck me that, for the first time since arriving in France, I could understand every word that someone was saying.

Understanding doesn’t mean that you can suddenly speak the language. Far from it. It’s a small step, nothing more, yet its rewards are intoxicating and deceptive. The teacher continued her diatribe and I settled back, bathing in the subtle beauty of each new curse and insult.

“You exhaust me with your foolishness and reward my efforts with nothing but pain, do you understand me?" The world opened up, and it was with great joy that I responded, “I know the
thing that you speak exact now. Talk me more, you, plus, please, plus.”

Sedaris, David. “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” Me Talk Pretty One Day. New York: Little,
Brown, 2000. 166-173.

Friday, January 18, 2008

My Favorite Heifer

Dear Skinny Cow Mint Ice Cream Sandwich,

This is just to say I love you. Thank you for being you.

No one will ever take your place.

The Rookie

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Welcome, "Spoons/Indian"

She's been featured on my blog before. And now she's joined our blogging ranks. "Ramba" AKA "Spoons" AKA "Indian" now has a blog and I couldn't be more excited. Stop by and see what she has to say:

I also added her blog to my "Folks I Know" section in my sidebar.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Meme for Writers

Lanie Painie recently tagged me for this meme. So here we have it...what once seemed an easy post (c'mon, I love memes during a blog war), has actually posed to be a bit of a challenge.

The Rules:

1. List three things that make writing good and powerful.
2. Link back to the person who tagged you.
3. List three things that you believe are necessary to make writing good and powerful.
4. Tag five others and comment at their blog informing them that they’ve been tagged with this meme.

Three Things:

1. An authentic and singular voice. Great writers have a flare or simplicity that is uniquely their own. Hemingway is Hemingway for a reason, kids. (I know, Lanie, you already said this basically, but it is true as true can be).

2. A good ear. Good writers listen to all of the intricate subtleties within language. Good writers "hear" the natural cadences and rhythms within language. The sounds of the words are often what make them so beautiful. Take, for example, W.S. Merwin's poem, "Separation"


Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

(the th-th-th sound is repeated again and again, then the i-i-i: "is stitched with its," lines 1 and 2 collectively are close to equivalent syllabically--both stressed and unstressed--to line 3.)

Good writers listen, as well to spoken language and create dialogue which reflects the way people actually speak. Think about it--when dialogue is forced in anything we read, we take notice.

3. And last, but not least...Good Writers "Show Up." What I mean by this is that nobody wrote anything by chance. You have to sit down and you have to write day after day after day. Your writing will never be good if you don't try at it again and again and again. The material won't come if you don't meet it when it is ready. It takes determination and dedication and carving out a piece of time for your writing to reveal itself.

That's all. Class dismissed. Sorry about the English lesson (can't help myself sometimes, can I?). I know I veered more into the writer, not just the writing. But, it's all intertwined, afterall, isn't it?

Oh, and I tag:

1. Alice

2. Blackeyed Sue

3. Mrs. Dub (whom I hardly know and she may or may not participate because she is, like, only a BLOGGING ROCK STAR...seriously...37 comments!?! Who gets 37 comments?!? Mrs. Dub, that's who!)

4. Mrs. Bennett


5. My Chaotic Sister (it's okay, well-written screenplays count too, sister...hehehe...don't be offended)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Here's the thing...

Today my blogging juices just ain't a-churnin'. Sorry.

It is official, however, that I am still in the running for the blog war.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Bucket List

This past weekend, Alice and I went to see The Bucket List. For those of you not familiar with the concept of the movie, know that a “Bucket List,” as the film coins it, is a list of things one wants to accomplish before “kicking the bucket.” It was a heartwarming enough movie, but that’s not what I want to focus on in this post.
I want to focus a bit more on those things we want to experience and accomplish in life.

The summer after graduating from high school, at the suggestion of a friend who’d also graduated that year, I made a “bucket list” of my own. I might still have the list around here somewhere. I remember finding it a few years ago and checking off a few items, laughing at the ridiculousness of others. Anyway, the point is that I never go back to that list unless I randomly come across it when I'm moving...again. All those well-intentioned goals that my 18 year old self could muster just aren’t at the forefront of my mind, anymore.

Which isn’t to say I don’t have an informal bucket list mulling around somewhere in my brain--things I never write down--other things which I am sometimes painfully aware I desire. But somewhere along the way I’ve become more laissez faire about what happens in my life. It's as if I've said: Education. Check. Landed the job. Check, check. If an opportunity happens to nudge me, I typically bite. But this "something’s rotten in the state of Denmark" kind of feeling has been nibbling at me since finishing college, and I think it might be that I’m no longer actively going after goals with a specific game plan. These days, my life functions in routines. And so the week goes on and Monday bends into Tuesday which slides into Wednesday and so on. I spend my days yearning for weekends or dreading the ends of weekends. And one day looks not much different than any other.

Now, thanks to the late, great John Lennon, we all know that life is what happens to us when we’re busy making other plans. And old Johnny boy nailed that sucker on the head if ever something were nailed on the head. Because, plan as we might, life is what it is. And sometimes that means sacrificing that list of goals we wrote when we were 18.

I have a friend in her late 30’s that never married or went to law school like she wanted. She currently is guardian to her niece and nephew; and she, along with her sister, cares for her elderly parents. Yes, it is not entirely too late for her. But I see this kind of thing happen all the time. Priorities shift. Sometimes, the people in our life need us more than our dreams do.

I guess that is the way it is with dreams. They are of a fickle stuff and accomplishing them requires a desire stronger than any other distraction.

I am still not sure which camp I reside in—if I am pro-bucket list or pro-living one day at a time. I think I teeter somewhere in between. After all, if I remember anything about that first list I made the summer after high school, it is this: the last goal I wrote on that list read, “Allow this list to change as I do.” Perhaps that allowance for life's everpresent change is the trick.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Rookie as Designer

If you are wondering if you are in the right are! Yes, the header/color scheme of my blog is new. I am into the chocolate and deep red thing lately since I've redone my bedroom.

And going on with the design theme of today's post...I've found this fun new spot on the web. (Think paper dolls for big girls). You can create fun stuff like this:

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Encyclopedia of Me: E

is a tricky little beast of a letter. It took me a while to figure this post out as my brain kept churning: " the heck is E for?"

So, E...E is for Echo by Davidoff (my favorite perfume, not the repetitive kind).

E is also for E___________________, the high school I work at. And E is for English, the subject I teach, or attempt to teach, anyway.

E is for Elizabeth Bennett, a woman whose wit I envy. While she can immediately call up the perfect retort, my tongue grows thick and I end up saying something prolific and stunning, such as: "Yeah, you too!"

E is for The English Patient, one of my favorite books. Ondaatje is a genius of a poetic writer.

And finally, E is for Edward. Edward Abbey, one of my favorite authors. You gotta love that Desert Solitaire!

And Edward from the Twilight Series...those of you who have read it know exactly why.

So there you have it, I'm still in the running for the Blog War. And I WILL triumph, ladies! :)

Friday, January 11, 2008

It's more about the anticipation...

Today is a glorious day. If only for the mere fact that it is Friday. I love Fridays. I know I'm not alone in this, but I do, I really, really LOVE Fridays.

Which might seem odd. I still have to wake up early on Fridays. I still have to go to work on Fridays. In fact, I'd dare say the kids behave worse on Fridays than most days of the week (with the exception of Monday because they're typically comatose or potentially hung over).

I've decided Fridays are the pinnacle of my week for the mere fact that there is that excitement for the weekend in the air. I wake up and think to myself: Okay, so maybe it is painfully early right now...but TOMORROW at this time, me and this comfy bed of mine are going to be spending an awfully long morning together. (Did I mention I'm not much of a morning person?)

Yes, Fridays. I love you. Always have. Always will.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Because High School's Never Over

Blog hopping. We all do it. We get online and creep from one friend's blog to another and before we know it we are on a complete stranger's blog--or, even worse, someone we knew in a former life. And that, my friends, is where all my insecurities came unraveling at my fingertips.

A few nights ago I came across a blog circle--web, really--of the high school "It Girls." You all know the ones. Pretty. Popular. Perfect. I hadn't thought about these people in years, yet I was riveted. It was the same kind of compulsion that makes you pick up People while waiting in line at the grocery store. These "love to hate 'em" celebrities of my awkward years had their lives displayed before me. I had to read on. What were they up to? Do they have kids? Who were their husbands? Are they even all that witty and brilliant?

Yes, many of them have kids, nice houses, husbands I'm not surprised by. I logged off later that night with that same feeling of insignificance and insecurity that plagued me during junior high. Sometimes it can't be stopped--I was making tally marks in my mind: I am single and live in a basement apartment with a crazy woman for a landlady. They are married and live in beautiful houses. I am in student loan debt up to my ears and chose to work as a teacher, for crying out loud! They get to stay home with their babies. They are still beautiful and radiant. I look like a tired new teacher that should lighten up on the carbo-loads.

I slept that night with one phrase on my mind: They. Still. Win.

Of course, the next evening I determined to return and read a little deeper, think with clearer eyes, and I came to the conclusion that they are just people like the rest of us and, frankly, several of them aren't witty at all. And I am an accomplished, beautiful, intelligent, witty, funny gal who is okay with where I am at in life, regardless of them. And when I was in high school, though plagued by self-doubt, I was far more fabulous than I thought myself to be. Those experiences, however painful, made me, well, me.

It all leaves me wondering "Is high school ever really over?" And where did this strange emotional phenomenon come from--this notion that someone is better than you because of who they were in high school. Or the car they drive. Or the size of their house. Or how talented they are. And why does this plaguing insecurity come around the corner and bite us every now and again?

Some part of me will never feel on equal footing with the "It Girls" if I came into a room with them. I'd probably blunder over my words, trying to prove to myself? To them? that I am every bit as good as they are. I hope one day soon I won't really care.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Just Plain Jane

This is starting on Sunday. This Sunday. WOO-HOO!

That is all.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Why Teaching Has Severely Warped My Mental Stability


"I want to use a bad word in this--but I don't know how to spell it."

"This is boring."

"After Gina, Molly, and Willy can I use the hall pass?"

Me: (After observing student's behavior for a few seconds) Please stop talking/throwing crap/hitting your neighbor/text messaging/doing that.
Student: (Dead faced) I wasn't talking/throwing crap/hitting my neighbor/text messaging/doing that.

"This is boring."

Me: Turn to page 35 (as I point to "PAGE 35" written on the whiteboard).
Them: Where?
Me: (Still pointing). Page 35 .
Them: Where are we?
Me: We're on page 35.
Them: What page?
Me: 35.
Them: Page 5?
Me: 35. Now let's begin read--
Them: What are we doing?

"This is boring."

"Can't we just watch a movie or something?"

"What time does this class get out?"

"If I do this assignment, what will my grade be?"

Student: Can I have that pencil, teacher?
Me: You mean the one I'm using to take roll?
Student: Yeah, can I have it?

"This is boring."

A List of Old School Marm Things I Catch Myself Saying to Students at Least Once a Day which I then Respond to in My head as a Smart Ass Student:

"Are you a part of the solution or a part of the problem?"
Problem. Why else would you be harrassing me?

"Why are you talking?"
Because I like to talk. I can talk. That is what I do. Talk. And ignore you.

"Mr. ___________ is unprepared today. Does anyone have a pencil for him?"
Yes, I do. But I don't want to lend his mooching, unprepared butt a pencil anymore than you do, lady.

"Where are you supposed to be, gentlemen?"
Where are any of us supposed to be? Is this where you thought you'd end up in life? Back in high school?

"Let's get to class, people."
(In my best mimicking voice). Let's get to class, people.

"We leave our areas better than we found them."
Our areas? What the hell is an "area"?

"Why are you not working?"
Because it'!

"Do you want me to take that away?"
No. That's why I was attempting to hide it from you.

When did I become this person?

Monday, January 7, 2008

I always wanted a younger sibling

I am the youngest in my family. And by youngest, I mean of 10 total (your's, mine, and ours). I think I might have been an "ah crap, didn't mean to do that!" kind of baby. I'm okay with that. Great people were oopses--Abraham Lincoln was an oops baby. Okay, I just made that up.

As the youngest sibling I filled many duties: an automatic replacement for any room-share arrangement, errand girl for the older kids, dumping ground for all things hand-me-down, that kid with the forgotten name at the end of the list of names my mother spieled out ***"Christy, Ronald, Sandy, Camber...WHAT IS YOUR NAME?"

Being the youngest of the family means you're never cool enough to "hang with the old kids," Santa Claus' true identity is exposed by Kindergarten, your parents' camera was either broken or lost by the time you came along so your childhood isn't documented, and nobody wants to play Barbies or babies with you because it is just so juvenile. Yes, being the youngest isn't all it's cracked up to be--especially when you're left as the only kid in the house with two adults suffering from the widest generation gap known to mankind. (Think hanging with your retired dad all summer long during high school).

But the most frustrating aspect of "baby of the family" status: the stereotypes. Youngest children are only one small step above only children in the hierarchy of that whole birth order hoax. I've actually heard before, "Ah, you're the youngest...that makes sense," spoken much in that same tone as "Ah, you were a cheerleader in high school...that's why I hated you immediately."

So, yes, I am the youngest in my family. And you are?

***Names have been changed to protect the "innocent."

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Give Me 20

Alice and I worked out on these yesterday:

with this dvd:

Gunnar, I did give you 20. I felt the burn. It hurts.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Confessions of a Rookie: Confessional Edition

20 things I'd rather you didn't know...but I'm fessing up anyway (shhhh, don't tell!):

1. I still have my Christmas tree up and I have no intention to take it down any time soon...that would just require work. (work=meh!)

2. I have enough underwear to last me over a month.

3. I don't do laundry a lot.

4. My closet still looks full when I have an overflowing dirty laundry basket.

5. I spend far too much time blogging.

6. I'm late to almost everything...a lot. (Strangely, I'm rarely late for work).

7. My files at work have no real order, alphabetical or otherwise. I usually just mull around in them until I find what I want.

8. I don't file much at work or home so I end up getting lots of piles of papers I don't want to deal with.

9. I keep my checking account balanced to the penny.

10. I like to align my Diet Coke cans, Alice's Diet Dr. Pepper cans, and the water bottles in the fridge.

11. When other people load the fridge it wrong it really bothers me.

12. I probably drink too much Diet Coke (with fresh squeezed lime...yummy!).

13. I can blow dry my hair and put on my make up at the same time.

14. I do this naked every other day.

15. I don't wash my hair every day.

16. I once dated a male stripper.

17. I haven't had a date in nearly 2 years.

18. I push snooze so many times I'm not sure how many times I've pushed snooze.

19. I send and receive upwards of 50 text messages a day.

20. Most all of these are between Alice and my sister.

Friday, January 4, 2008

A Special Place In Hell

Dear Computer Hackers and Identity Thieves of the World,

Today I am dreaming about the scorching fires of your own personal "on hold, every possible hassle available will, well, hassle you" hell that you will live through in the eternities to come. You know why? You royally piss me off. Royally. That's why.

You add needless hassle to my life. Because of you I'm considering getting tattoos with a list of things like passwords, sign in names, security codes, and the appropriately punctuated and capitalized answers to "secret questions" I can't remember all the answers to.

Once upon a time I had one password for everything. Mind you, this password required no additional numbers. Every letter in this password was lower case. In fact, this password was an actual WORD. (A little etymology lesson for you: "word," believe it or not, is actually a root word of the word "password").
Once upon a time I sat down at the computer to sign in to my email and I didn't hesitate and doubt myself, waffling between possible options of what to type...just to sign in.
Once upon a time, I didn't have to remember 12 different passwords, 14 different sign in names, 87 varying security questions, and a partridge in a pear tree.
And once upon a time I might have made a list of this information and had it saved in my computer or by my computer or something, oh, I don't know...CONVENIENT!

But you--you (extensive text omitted)--you have ruined this all for me. In fact, because of you I have to call one of my billing companies which has routed its calls to India as to save money from the serious financial loss you've caused, wait on hold for 45 minutes listening to music elevators are embarrassed to play, and talk to a man who works under the pen name of "David" (which he doesn't know how to pronounce) because otherwise I couldn't possibly repeat his real name (which I don't know how to pronounce) back to him about how my account has been locked FOR THE SECOND MONTH IN A ROW because I've misspelled, miscapitalized, or just plain forgotten who the hell I am this time.

So thank you, hackers and identity theives. Way to stick it to the man...and the busy, society-contributing, productive, hard working, rest of us. We really, really appreciate you and all you do. Next time I'll just send a DNA sample and my left ovary. That way you can just clone me.


The Rookie...I think, but maybe it's that other sign in I created...

P.S. I'm switching back to the U.S. Postal System!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Encyclopedia of Me: D

is for Drama Queen.

Every one of us has a secret former life we hide from the world. Perhaps you spent your adolescent years bald and gothic. Maybe you were a cheerleader or a band geek or a quarter back or a teacher's pet. In high school, it's all about identity. And I found mine in the Drama Department.

An excerpt from The Unwritten Rules of Being a Drama Queen:

1. Serve in some leadership capacity with the Drama Club. (I personally served as Vice President and the Head Cheese Prez herself).

2. Act dramatic...especially when not on the stage. If you fail a test, play the part as if life itself were ending. If you were asked to the dance, act as if you'd just won the lottery.

3. Think like a winner: that lead role in the upcoming play belongs to you and you will have it and if you don't get it: see rule number 2...and talk viciously behind the back of the girl who did get YOUR role.

4. Have at least one on stage kiss. (Mine was earned while playing Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun my senior year. Junior year I almost got there with an on-stage hug).

5. Develop a crush** on the individual you share your on stage kiss and/or hug with. (Yep, both guys could be added to the crush list). **Note, this crush need not be requited.

6. You must live by the philosophy that Shakespeare is matter how much you don't understand his words.

7. Character shoes are a must. All true actresses own a pair.

So there you have it. The secret is out. Confessions of a former Drama Queen. These days, I think I'd feel just silly up on the stage...but in high school I lived for it.

What about you? What secret life are you trying to cover up?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Snug as a "Bug" in a Rug

This is "Bug." She's my sister's eldest and I absolutely adore her. She's funny and silly and creative and, I know I'm rather partial here, but so friggen' smart it is almost intimidating. So this post is dedicated to "Bug." I hope you enjoy the pictures and anecdotes of the cutest kid in the whole wide world. Oh, and purple just happens to be her favorite color so we're writing it in purple today.

If ever there were a camera hog...that would be Bug. The girl loves the camera and I've dedicated myself to teaching her the delicate art of posing. She's a quick study.

Her last birthday party was a Surprise "Dress Up" Party (she specifically requested the surprise part...tee hee hee). She came to the party in black velvet and a boa. I gave her the dress below because, as her favorite aunt, I'm entitled to spoil her, dangit!

Dancing with Bug guarantees fits of laughter...and maybe a short a dizzy spell or two...

The night before Thanksgiving, we had a "slumber party" at my house. Bug needed help with something and went between her mom, Alice and me asking for help. We were all cooking. Bug stormed off down the hall in frustration, exclaiming: "You all say 'not I, not I, not I.' So I guess the little red hen will have to do it herself!"

Did I mention this girl loves the camera?

Bug also likes to go out with the ladies for lunch and order an ice water with lemon...just like the big girls. She just has more fun with hers.

At an Italian restaurant a few weeks ago she informed us that Bon Appetit meant "Enjoy your meal" when the rest of us were debating its meaning.

She insisted Princess Jasmine be in on this picture.

Vocabulary words Bug uses frequently that the average 5/25 year old does not:

"We need to cooperate with one another"

"Santa has strewn presents in our living room"

"Grandma is a little slow today, you need to use simple language"

"I have a question regarding..."

"Perhaps we could watch Ratatouille instead of doing my homework."

"Good evening."

"Pardon me."

"I would prefer ..."

Famous Bug Quotes:

"Please put my baby brother down. He's not your's."

"Will you count to three while I decide? I need more time."

Exasperated: "You don't have ROOT BEER?!? Why would you do that!?!" Pause. "That's okay. I'll have Sprite."

At McDonald's we heard her voice echoing from the play area: "Be kind to the little children. The little children are angels!"

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I Stye with My Little Eye

My Bassett Hound called, he wants his droopy eyelid back.

In other news. This is my 50th post. Woo. Sorry it isn't more exciting. I have work tomorrow, and my eye hurts like son of a twitch...nothing is exciting.