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.