Saturday, May 31, 2008

If it weren't for...

Ramen noodles I think I might have starved as a child. As the youngest of 10 growing children, I'll just say that food had its scarce times. Now, my dad typically shopped for the groceries at our house and my father, bless his heart, happens to be one of the most frugal (i.e. cheap, tight wad, penny pinching) individuals on the planet. Needless to say, I remember eating a few weird items as a kid for months on end--because "it was on sale so I stocked up." Stocked up, Dad? Stocked up? Until when? The Apocolypse? How much cheese substitute can one person possibly possess?

My parents have two extremes of cooking which match their two extremes in personality. Dad cooks things very slowly. If he puts a burger on at 7, you'd might eat by 9 if you're lucky. Mom, on the other hand, believes there are two states in which food exists: raw and burned. Carcinogens delight her. Because there is, after all, only one setting on all cooking devices: high.

The idea for this post comes from two hilarious posts I read recently, this one by Azucar and this one by Sue at Navel Gazing at its Finest. And because of these two I am left to recall the many strange food products my parents fed me over the years. I'm recalling the "food competitions" which occurred each night at the table because if you did not grab as much as you could right this instant you would not get any.

Following is a list of odd, quirky, and mostly disgusting things they had us consume over the years (with many thanks to my sisters Loving the Chaos & Somebody Told Me So for their memory input):

Corned Beef and Cabbage (gag)

Zucchini, tomatoes, and onion fried into a wilted, mushy mess (I didn't realize I liked zucchini until adulthood--who knew it came in the un-mush variety?)

Two words: FRIED SPAM

Not so de-boned chicken soup

I seem to recall stacks upon stacks of red boxes of Banquet TV Dinners

Melted Cheese On a Plate. Yup. Just cheese. Melted. On a plate.

Canned Deseret Ketchup from the early 80's (have you ever eaten this stuff? DISGUSTING! Think tomato paste with sugar and you're on the right path)

Home Bottled Trout--which looked more like lined up science projects in jars (and which I NEVER ate)

Creamed Eggs (on toast--I still love this, by the way)

Meatloaf Surprise (i.e. leftovers--which OF COURSE weren't ever covered in the fridge--molded into a loaf with a pound of ground beef)

Mystery Casseroles (this follows a similar strand of logic as that of Meatloaf Surprise, in fact sometimes Meatloaf Surprise was featured in Mystery Casserole--simply substitute ground beef with cream of mushroom soup and noodles and/or potatoes)

Label-less canned goods (they were on sale!). You would open it up and whatever was inside, there you'd have it. What is even more scary is some things you still couldn't tell what it was when the can was OPEN.

After a stint working with the Scouts, my Dad went on a foil dinner kick--only they'd come out half and half: half raw, half burned.

What about you? What penny pinching measures did your parents make in the grocery list? And does anyone else owe their survival to Top Ramen?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

White Trash Wednesday: La-Move

Meet my go cart.
She is a 1992 Geo Prizm better known as La-Move
(long story, or at least a rather boring one).

She features all the bells and whistles including:

*A billowing Maharaja-inspired drape ceiling bunched elegantly at the ineffective dome light.

*One dashboard confessional:

*A jimmy-rig-me-up misaligned driver's side window..."I'll go down but you will have to get halfway in and halfway out of the car with your booty shimmying as you shift me into place at the bank's drive-up window because that's not embarrassing at all."

*A CD/Radio combo with the potential to sometimes swallow CD's, other times...not so much. My current mix CD has been in for about five months now...and a tricky short in the air ducts (the a/c and defrost sometimes don't turn on until reaching a minimum of 65 mph with the setting at outside air):

*One dented side (who knows how it was dented, I woke up one morning and there you have it).

*Ever-so-atractive peeling lightning decals:

Fact: La-Move is my first car.
Fact: I've had her since 2001.
Fact: She is older than most of my students
Fact: I paid a mere $2500 cash money for this baby.
Fact: She's been in four fender benders since I've owned her, two of which were my fault (and one might have involved a group of students in the other car...because that's not embarrassing at all).
Factual Observation: I think she runs on tithing and regular oil changes.

She has been a great car but I can't help but wonder if my "No Car Payments Here!" lucky streak is coming to an end. I think I'll just drive her into the ground...or to that point where she starts to nickel and dime me.

One More Fact: I think I'm terrified of owning a new car.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Quintessential Guide to Geekdom

I could have written a book by this title in junior high. Now, I know many of you are thinking "We all could have written this." But, trust me, I could have been The Expert on all things nerdy during those painful years I spent transitioning from child to awkward adolescent. Add to the mixture that I used words like "serene" on a regular basis (I was always a book geek) and that my parents were poor/I was the youngest (i.e. hand-me-down central) and you start to get the idea.

A Testament in Ten: The Pain that is Junior High School

1. In seventh grade, still believing that proper hygiene was for sissies, I managed to go nine (yes, 9!) straight days without showering/bathing during Christmas vacation. How'd I manage this without my mother/older sisters putting a stop to "my run"? Who knows. My strongest memory of this time is the sensation of incredibly oily hair through my fingers. (No worries, by 8th grade I'd discovered the joys of a daily cleaning ritual).

2. I wore a flannel shirt with cut off, fringed arms and thought it was "soooo cute". (Hello: Joe Dirt called. He wants his shirt back).

3. My coke-bottle-thick glasses had only one inspiration: Sally Jesse Raphael.

4. During a severe bout with a nasty case of bronchitis during 7th grade, I shot off a deafening fart in Mr. Shields' Utah Studies class--I will never forget an eruption of laughter, a certain Chad G. sliding the entirety of his desk aside and shouting "WHOA!," followed by a sick and pleading "swallow me whole" vibe sent to the industrial carpet beneath my feet.

5. My athletic prowess (or the lack thereof) can be manifest in the following examples. I tried out for (on multiple occassions): volleyball, basketball, cheerleading, softball. I made...none of them. Yet I returned, year after year. I did, however, spend two weeks on the track team (no try-out necessary). I also made choir.

6. In 8th grade, my gym clothes, after a weekend of washing and a trip through the family may-or-may-not-work-dryer, returned to school on Monday with a few singed holes. Because my parents couldn't afford a new uniform, I wore the burned version for the remainder of the school year.

7. I wore hand-me-down sports bras all through junior high because regular bras "itched." Nevermind that my abnormally large C-cup should have been strapped down long before that. I didn't seem to notice much difference. (Now that I think of it, perhaps THIS contributed to me never making the team--the coaches were probably too distracted by the girls swinging).

8. I lied. Frequently. About really stupid things. I once said that I was going on vacation to Florida over Spring Break (Not entirely my fault: my mother was going to a conference and said I might be able to go too...which never panned out). I spent the entire long weekend not daring to go anywhere lest anyone saw me when I was supposedly in Utah. Furthermore, March in Utah is nothing like March in Florida. I laid out in the early spring sun to make my lie seem "authentic" and received absolutely no color.

9. In 8th grade, as a result of severe self-consciousness and adolescent hormones, my arm pits began to sweat. Horribly. And when I say "pit rings" I really mean soaking spots that ran down to my elbow. This persisted through high school and into my first year in college until discovering a certain clinical strength prescription that might potentially cause me cancer later on in life. This stuff turned my night shirts bleachy colors in the pits and eventually ATE THROUGH the material. But my pits are always silky dry.

10. I was a chubby kid. The majority of this chubbiness manifested itself in my boobs, thighs and butt. (Black boys typically crushed on me). Because of this development beyond the years of my flatboard counterparts, I became the victim of merciless teasing (Nick C. and the "Shamu" nickname were coined during junior high). This teasing included "I dare ya" butt-slappings from the popular boys my age while walking down certain halls of the school. Was this sexual harrassment? Absolutely. Did I know this at 13. Of course not.

Carol Burnett once said, "Adolescence is just one big walking pimple." I have to agree with her. For four years of my life simply waking up each day and facing what the world had to offer hurt (except during Summer Vacation). I hate to think that in my classroom there are kids in the thick of it every single day.

The one good thing about adolescence is that it does eventually end. And for this I am eternally grateful.

Monday, May 19, 2008


I have a strong appreciation for Jon and Kate Plus Eight on TLC. It is thoroughly entertaining to me and I often stay up past my bedtime on Monday nights to watch it. Who knows the shenanigans those kids will get into next.

There, I said it. I feel better now.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Welcome, Kimmy!

You totally need to visit my good pal Kimmy's new bloggy. She is a fabulous woman and new to the blogging world. Oh, and that whole creme brulee/brussels sprouts analogy: all her own design. She's a genius, I tell you. A genius!

And she's a really good sport. This is her second from the left:

She is a true kindred spirit, that girl. She agreed with me that performing a little NKOTB-inspired dance number to "Hangin' Tough" would be purely hilarious for the Ward Talent Show. And the girl got IN to her costume--shredded jeans, tail, everything. And she got moves, people!

Check her out here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Other Home

Some days I feel like I live right here:

Doing things like this:

13 more school days until summer. While the anticipation is thrilling, insanity prevails amongst the students .

Three Conversations I'm Tired of Concealing My True Thoughts from:
Student: We should go outside today.
Me: Not today. Besides, it is always so loud outside from the cars. And the gym classes have taken up all the fields.
Student: It's soooo nice outside! We should. We could read outside!
What I secretly think: Yes, because when I said "No" and told you why we couldn't go outside, I didn't really mean it. It was a ploy to get you to nag at me and annoy me while I attempted to start class/keep your classmates from damaging property. Because I TOTALLY love when you do that.

Student: So, my grade isn't looking too good and graduation is in three weeks.
What I Secretly Think: Please tell me you don't actually believe there is anything you can do about that now.
Me: *blink, blink*
Student: So, can I talk to you about my grade?
Me: I'm sorry, I didn't know you were still attending my class.
Student: I know, my attendance has gotten kind of bad. Senioritis. Heh heh heh.
What I Secretly Think: Did you mean laziness? Because it seems that this isn't an excuse, either. Though I do see you as the type that has weasled themselves out of trouble so many times they actually think graduation is still a reality. Unfortunately for you, there actually ARE consequences for your repetitive stupid decisions to skip my class.
Me: *blink, blink*

Student: When does school get out?
Me: June 5th
Student: I'm not coming after Memorial Day.
What I Secretly Think: Great parents you've got there. Glad they've really engrained that whole good-work-ethic/value-of-education philosophy in you!
Me: 'Syour grade.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

This One Goes Out to All the Moms Out There

I read this poem yesterday with my AP classes. They grabbed right on to its message and meaning and we talked for a while about our mothers, rather than worrying about that silly old test coming up on Wednesday. "My Mother on an Evening in Late Summer" by Mark Strand is flawless in its imagery, yes, but more importantly I love how that imagery fuels the message: when mothers give up the greater part of their lives for their children, how do they ever go back? The answer, of course, is that they cannot and I wonder that they ever would.

This is to say "thanks" to my mommy and all the other mothers in the world who give themselves up for the lives of their children. It is the one great and selfless act I admire most in this world.

My Mother on an Evening in Late Summer
by Mark Strand


When the moon appears
and a few wind-stricken barns stand out
in the low-domed hills
and shine with a light
that is veiled and dust-filled
and that floats upon the fields,
my mother, with her hair in a bun,
her face in shadow, and the smoke
from her cigarette coiling close
to the faint yellow sheen of her dress,
stands near the house
and watches the seepage of late light
down through the sedges,
the last gray islands of cloud
taken from view, and the wind
ruffling the moon's ash-colored coat
on the black bay.


Soon the house, with its shades drawn closed, will send
small carpets of lampglow
into the haze and the bay
will begin its loud heaving
and the pines, frayed finials
climbing the hill, will seem to graze
the dim cinders of heaven.
And my mother will stare into the starlanes,
the endless tunnels of nothing,
and as she gazes,
under the hour's spell,
she will think how we yield each night
to the soundless storms of decay
that tear at the folding flesh,
and she will not know
why she is here
or what she is prisoner of
if not the conditions of love that brought her to this.


My mother will go indoors
and the fields, the bare stones
will drift in peace, small creatures --
the mouse and the swift -- will sleep
at opposite ends of the house.
Only the cricket will be up,
repeating its one shrill note
to the rotten boards of the porch,
to the rusted screens, to the air, to the rimless dark,
to the sea that keeps to itself.
Why should my mother awake?
The earth is not yet a garden
about to be turned. The stars
are not yet bells that ring
at night for the lost.
It is much too late.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!
I love you and am so grateful for everything you are and have ever been in my life.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Swell Season

I saw these two live last night. It was a perfect concert. Perfect sans-annoying guy on his cell phone, yes his cell phone, front row during the concert--and his entire party, really. No lie, they were the most obnoxious people I've ever been in proximity with (and I teach teenagers, people).

And now for the "Are You Freaking Kidding Me?" moment of the evening:

Guido Annoying Guy #2 (to Glen Hansard): Dude, nice boots. I'll pay you 20 Euro for those boots.

Glen: T'anks (gotta get the Irish accent in there). I think I'll keep them, though.

Glen & Marketa begin playing

Guido Annoying Guy #1 (who happens to be standing DIRECTLY in front of the performer in the middle of a soft and quiet number): I'm at a concet. A concert--can't you hear it?

Sonia (in her "I'm gonna go Puerto Rican on you!" voice): You are being extremely rude. Turn off your cell phone. Now.

Fast forward to the next lull between songs.

Guido Annoying Guy #2: Really, dude, your boots. 50 Euro? 75 Euro?

It kind of went on like this the entire evening. Seriously, people. Seriously. What cave did you just crawl out of? This is NOT okay. I was embarrassed to be in their proximity.

Other than these two freaks of nature, however, it truly was a perfect performance. I have loved The Frames for a few years now, but when Once came out, I was in heaven. Marketa & Glen have this symbiotic musicianship between them. Flawless harmonies, true craft, and a chemistry on stage that made the room filled with that warm-hued glow that only good music and good people can create.

Here are a few pics from the evening:

Sonia & Shelby (I owe Sonia big time, the girl stood out in front of the venue for hours so that our General Admission tickets wouldn't suck. She delivered. We were front row-against the stage!)

Me & Janna

The Talented Mr. Hansard (sorry about the blur--unlike front row cell phone guy, I didn't want to be rude snapping flash pictures the entire time--so this is the best I could do--whatever though, the front row was, obviously, totally worth it!)

And the best part of the evening--I got a set list!

Check out this spot to hear some of their tunes and read up on the band.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I'm Still Here

It has been a while since my last post. I'm posting to say I'm still here. Still alive.

So bring on the long list of excuses (because, yes, I do want to bore you all with the reality of my monotonous existence).

The AP Exam comes but once a year. May 14th is the big day. This has sucked me away physically, yes, but more importantly my mental energy is depleted. I have holistic scoring guides and rhetoric on the brain ALL THE TIME. I wonder who is more worried: my students or me. Let us say that we took a full length mock exam this week and the preliminary results aren't as pretty as one would hope.

And then there is the ESL (English as a Second Language) Endorsement class. The Big (and might I add Worthless) Project was due yesterday. My final torture session is next Wednesday (until "It" returns next year).

Oh, and midterms were this week. Last minute grade entry always makes for a thrilling, white-knuckle hobby for the life-less.

On the bright side, I am so exhausted that the anxiety of it all melts away. And for our "Light at the End of the Tunnel Moment:" I have a mere 23 teaching days remaining on the calendar. But who is counting? Me. That's who.