Thursday, December 24, 2009

Adventures in Bad Dating: My Agony Becomes Your Christmas Gift

Remember Stare Hard? If that post doesn't ring a bell, perhaps this one will. I don't know what came over me, but the staring continued (or so I thought) and nothing happened. And finally I decided to pull on my big girl pants and do something about it. Something that would fix all of this: either be done or see if there is anything there.

Stare Hard loves hockey. So, I "came into" some tickets to the game last Saturday, invited him. He bit. And it all went downhill from there. My chicken-like ways prompted me to utilize the facebook emailing system to instigate this invitation. And while he promptly responded to the initial invitation, getting him to respond back regarding an actual plan, any plan, took nearly an entire week. And apparently asking if he wanted to do dinner beforehand was requesting too much because, "I can't do dinner beforehand. I am making cookies or something for my Home Teaching families." Hello, the game starts at 7:05. On a Saturday. You can't make cookies (or something) a little earlier in the day?

So there I sat in my pajamas reading this message on a Saturday morning dreaming up a bad case of stomach flu. Because if cookies (or something) for Home Teaching is more important, then clearly I was being used for hockey. And I'm pretty sure I was.

*No, I did not do this to my date at any point in the evening. Wanted to, but didn't.*

It was a bad date. Probably one of the worst in my oh-so-stellar dating career.

It isn't so much the fact that he was late picking me up, or that he talked about himself and himself only on the way to the game. And that he admitted he once tried his hand at improv comedy and proceeded to tell me about The Rules of Improv (because that topic is so very scintillating): is forgivable, in a way of speaking. It isn't even that he stopped me at the top of our portal into the arena with a, "Wait, it is bad hockey etiquette to enter while the puck's in play." Because, while he doesn't get dating etiquette--clearly--he at least understands the intricate workings of sports arena politeness. Frankly, I was even okay that the conversation during the game was minimal. After all, we were there for the game. And the conversation would have dwelt primarily on his absolutely uninteresting lameness. (And this is coming from a girl who revels in her own nerdery.)

No, all these dating faux pas are not what made this date worse than the hobbit who judged the size of my salad. What made this date hit a 10.0 on the richter scale of dating disasters was the following scenario which took place after the game...

We enter his car. 2 Points for him, he opened my door. I start up more conversation, assuming this will be the plan for our ride home, or to a restaurant where he maybe won't be quite so awkward (since the first part of the date is over, any way--and it is only a little after nine and he was making cookies (or something) beforehand so maybe he's hungry too).

"That's right, you grew up in Seattle, didn't you?" I say. Because, while I may not be perfect, I am a good date who still tries to make the conversation interesting.

"Yup," he grunts and reaches for the dash.

Suddenly the radio shifts into a much louder position. And on this radio is nothing other than the post-game commentary for a game we just attended. I listened to the post-game commentary on a date. He actually wouldn't talk to me as he drove me home unless it was to interject with, "What they're saying here is that the little refs gave (enter some hockey player's name here) a penalty because he hurt their little EGOS. They couldn't handle it."

It was bad my friends. Very bad. And as he dropped me off, car still running (and possibly not even in park), something about his Star Wars toy collection came out. And I laughed. In his face. Because he is 38 and collects Star Wars toys and doesn't realize that, when on a date, 99% of his normal, albeit clueless, behavior needs to be hidden if he ever wants to find someone non-klingon to mother his children. It all paralleled The 40-year-old Virgin a little too closely. And as I walked to my door I wondered if I should start a consulting business. I could charge men for lessons on what to do and, more importantly, what not to do. Because, if dating has taught me anything (beyond the fact that I usually do not like it), it is that men (or at least the men I date) are no good at this and clearly stand in need of help.

Instead of this business venture, however, the roommate and I laughed at the disaster over a Super Bird at Denny's, because I'm no Hitch, A. And B., she realizes that cookies (or something) can wait.

Friday, December 18, 2009


I like stumbling on images that just fit.

This so represents how I feel about language...and letters.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

To Whom It May Concern

As application deadlines approach, I've been writing my annual lot of student recommendation letters--which I usually rather enjoy (as long as I have something good to say about the budding adult). In this rush of letters about others, I wondered what I'd have to say about myself were I to write my own recommendation. I am, unsurprisingly, my own worst critic. So, as an experiment in positive self talk (and maybe a bit of self-deprecating humor), my letter of recommendation to the human race:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing in regard to an individual very close to me whom I've known some 28 years: myself. This woman offers the qualities of a loyal friend, a deep thinker with an appreciation for crude potty humor, a better-than-average writer, and an understanding teacher. She is an asset, except, perhaps, on her bad days. Although she has a lengthy list of faults, her sense of ethics forces her to try and make up for them in every possible way. To boot, she is well-accessorized and generally smells good.

As a friend, this fine woman is prized. She may forget to send your birthday card on time, but she comes with a listening ear and a willingness to help. And provide chocolate. Her general sense of empathy and compassion is the foundation of each of her friendships. She prefers a deeper bond than mere acquaintance and therefore may divulge too much personal information in an attempt to form said bond. And while she listens intently, she also talks incessantly once comfortable. Her tangents will take you to wonderful ideas (but forget it if you want to come full circle).

While she loves to delve into deep and contemplative topics, a good fart joke can make this lady giggle until she cries. But don't let her affinity toward the off-color deceive you, at heart she is a fan of foreign films, intelligent conversation, poetry and art.

As a writer, she is clean and precise. She views words as her friends, her best medium of self-expression. And though some hate what she writes and others love it, she feels she can't quite make it stop. Her mind works in language. Even if she is a hack job amateur writer, what she lacks in talent, she certainly makes up for in passion. She should write more often, but that would detract from her other love: the classroom.

Adolescents are not a highly regarded segment of the populace, but this woman actually appreciates them and their growing worlds. She likes to see how they think, how they blossom in that knowledge as they grasp concepts and master skills. She also thinks them entirely entertaining. If you ask her about this job, give yourself adequate time as you can expect a lengthy conversation ranging from her concerns for adolescents to her pride in their successes (with a few humorous anecdotes about the woes of 9th graders thrown in).

All in all, though I could point out each of her blemishes and weaknesses like I can pick out a type-o, she ain't that bad of a gal. And, you can call me vain all you'd like, but I would kill for her hair if I didn't already have it myself.

The One Who Knows Her Best (hopefully)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Or Do Without

My parents, bless them, are cheap. Not about everything. (This is not entirely true. My father in all actually is cheap about everything. He has been known to bring cars back to temporary life through the use of a paper clip and gum wrapper. I ordered off the kids' menu until I was 15. "Frugal" doesn't even begin to describe the man.) But there are some modern luxuries the rest of us enjoy that my parents feel can wait. A DVD player, for instance, didn't make its way into their house until recent years. My mother was amazed by the apple cutter she used while visiting my sister's family and begged me to price one out at the store for her. Some of this behavior is a direct result of my mother's absolute repulsion to shopping. She loathes it. My dad loves a good discount grocery store; but beyond getting a steal of a deal on food stuffs he'd rather gouge out his own eyes a la Oedipus.

To an extent I admire their make-do attitude. Luxury items, after all, are not necessary. To simplify is no easy task and yet they've gone with the simple my entire life. While the rest of the country indulged in excess during the past 15 years, my parents chugged along in blissful ignorance of the iPod. Things have never been their, well, thing.

But our greatest strength can also be our greatest weakness. You see, about five years ago my parents' circa 1970's oven died entirely. I say "entirely" because my father kept it functioning (with paper clips and gum wrappers, no doubt) for several months. In the five years spent without an oven, my parents have discovered "alternatives" to what most in the mainstream culture deem a necessary major appliance. In those five years they have acquired rotisserie cookers, turkey roasters, toaster ovens, and much, much more. An industrial shelf to house these many appliances has been wedged into their already-cramped kitchen. In the past five years they have cooked entire casseroles on the outdoor grill, baked a mere 4-5 cookies at once in the toaster oven, and essentially driven those of us who understand that functioning ovens are neither luxurious nor excessive stark raving mad.

Now I ask you, dear reader, who does this? Who views this "little blip" in nearly every recipe as a slight challenge? For a woman who hates shopping, my mother has certainly grown familiar with the small appliance aisle at Sears! I've tried an intervention. I've tried sending her links of reasonable used and new ovens advertised on Craig's List. Still she insists on the oven-less path. My mother, the one most likely to see the possible value of a DVD player, is hellbent on not getting a new oven more than my painfully tight-wad-ish father (he misses cake).

So what does a girl like me do? I think I'm in over my head. I think I need to find an affordable oven and show up with it strapped to the roof of my car, unannounced. I think their entire kitchen needs a makeover. I think I better find a fierce paper clip and a heavy duty gum wrapper.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Singles' Ward: An Amateur's Quasi-Field Study of a Most Curious Culture

The roommate and I tried sneaking into church rather late yesterday. Sneaking anywhere in two-inch wedges (2" = my limit; 3" seems downright cruel) with two large bags in tow (my purse is big--my church bag is ridiculous) always proves interesting. Sneaking through the entire congregation to the only seats available "up front" lends its own special form of embarrassment. Anyway, the point here is that I was late. And when I'm that late I find it difficult to focus on the messages shared. And when I'm lacking focus in a room with folks to observe (say the airport, or, in this scenario, church) I tend to people watch. More than I ought. And, as a woman of some education with a brain trained for analysis, I sometimes consider that which I notice.

In the airport I make up stories about where strangers are going, who they are meeting, what they are running away from. Church-People Watching, however, is vastly different from Airport-People Watching. Because, in theory, one already knows these people at church. Or, at the very least, one knows of them: their names (if you can keep them straight), where they work (because what else do you talk about with people you share few commonalities with?), their clique (oh yes, singles' wards are nothing if not clique-ish). And one has to be careful about being caught because, well, one knows these subjects. And staring might make them think one has some message to relay. Or, even worse, if caught staring too frequently at someone of the opposite sex, it can very easily translate into one becoming the (insert any physical characteristic here--hot, fat, skinny, sweet-spirited, tall, short, handsome, old, young, blonde, ugly, pretty) girl/guy with a crush.

You see, women in the singles' ward far outnumber the men. And this disproportionate ratio thoroughly destroys all acknowledgement of male fault or folly while simultaneously accentuating every female flaw and blemish. Likewise, this numbers game (along with attitudes to be discussed later ) has ellicited a heightened competition amongst many of the females (go here if you don't believe me).

So if one looks and looks again, it surely must mean something more than the innocent curiosity that typically motivates people watching. Here you were pondering the stained athletic socks they chose to pair with their suit (Out of clean laundry? Fashionably clueless?) and the next thing you know they're trying to awkwardly flirt in the hallway as if you're both in on some little lovers' secret. You can see the danger here. More commonly, the "victim" of innocent Church-People Watching has mysteriously dropped off the "perpetrator's" facebook friends list and if said "perpetrator" so much as shares a friendly hello the "victim's" eyes get a little shifty as they duck into the nearest restroom. The "kinder" variety will simply blather on about someone from work they are interested in taking to the lights at Temple Square as a means of hinting that you're-not-that-someone-you-thought-you-might-be-based-on-the-staring-you-were-clearly-involved-in-during-sacrament-wink-wink.

To simplify that: one's innocent people watching clearly indicates attraction. Because, beyond a shared religious belief, if there is a primary commonality amongst those in the singles' ward it is this: delusion.

The delusion is palpable. Apparently happily-ish married church leaders believe that placing all single adults with a pulse in the same building together for three hours a week, and then encouraging them to come to various "fun-filled" (read: painful) activities throughout the week will automatically result in more happily-ish married couples. And the semi-young lad with the stained athletic socks and bad haircut who is, bless him, proudly employed in the telemarketing industry thinks himself the matrimonial equal of a young Marie Osmond with hints of Stepford woven in. And well-educated, career-driven, relatively feminist women in two-inch wedges (I said "relatively" feminist) such as myself actually think they will find compatibility within their own sect. Delusion is the name of the game.

Which isn't to say that coupling in one form or another doesn't occur. Hands are held, flirtations are flaunted, backs are scratched, closed-eyed swan dances are danced. The singles' ward and adolescents (yes, some in the singles' ward are adolescents) have this in common: yack-worthy levels of physical affection instigated by an abnormal spike in unsatiated hormonal activity.

Beyond shared religious belief and delusion, there is a third phenomenon particularly intriguing: pressure. Though slightly less palpable than the aforementioned delusion to the outside observer, most members of a singles' ward congregation recognize within a fairly short amount of time that there is a subliminal message much like microscopic mold spores circulating in the air. Pressure. Communication between religious and familial leaders and the single congregation is laced with this pressure: marry and be made whole. Lessons are taught, meetings are made, activities are designed all with one purpose: to get the relatively feminist career woman in two-inch wedges and the telemarketer in athletic socks to notice one another's "potential" (read: ignore all warning signs that your fiancee is really a creeper in disguise) and eventually wed.

I suppose any issues of incompatibility after pressed nuptials take place are technically no longer the responsibility of the singles' ward religious leadership. And, after all, shared religious belief and delusion have many happy-ish marriages made.

Also, lest you think I'm entirely pessimistic on the singles' ward front, let it be known that free food that I didn't have to cook often shows up with the delusion, pressure, and general sense of awkwardness. And, might I add, I looked damn good in those two-inch wedges.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

For You, Dear Reader

My cup runneth over. Life is good--there's nothing like Thanksgiving to remind me of that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ebb and Flow

Some days I am quite certain I'm on the proverbial emotional roller coaster with my adolescent students. Earlier in the week I left you in my gloom. Today I have random joy to spread. (Yes, I know. Lately my blogging energies have been bubbling in a worn out brew of randomness, letters, and whining thoughts. Your point?)

1. I'm listening to Christmas music on Pandora while I enter my grades. Deal. I like it even if Thanksgiving isn't for another week. I might even put up my tree this weekend.

2. I'm grateful for the warm feel of copies fresh out of the machine. And their smell. Little else can match the delicious sensory overload that is warm Xerox.

3. I must have the teenagers ruthlessly fooled. A student told me today I'm one of "the rare teachers who actually likes kids!"

4. Christmas came early and delivered a beautiful LCD television to my classroom. Thank you, school district, for replacing the unworking dinosaur in here with technology I can't even afford for my own home (to go along with the view I could never afford in my real life).

5. I got a new phone cover. It is holiday bulb red. Isn't red a sublime sort of color?

6. A student wrote this yesterday and I laughed and laughed and laughed.


There once was a king who hated to stand and lay. He traveled far and wide to find a solution to his problem, but had no luck. He yelled to the gods "Do you have the answer!?!" The gods replied "We do but you must pass 2 tests. You must stand and hold the earth up for 1 day." So he did. "Now you must lay on a bed of snakes for 1 day." So he did. For his reward the gods gave him a throne of gold with silk cushins and platinum lace. As the king saw the throne he felt rejoyced and asked the gods, "What am I suposed to do?" "Sit," said the gods. And as the king sat in the chair he realized...he didn't like sitting either.

What would I ever do without my 9th graders? Greek Mythology is such a fun unit and this was his personal myth about the creation of something, anything (pretty free topic, I know--I had a bad week). Bless him.

7. I haven't had to scrape my windows once this year. Praise covered parking at the new place.

8. The Roommate and I are hosting a soup soiree tomorrow night with good people.

9. That means that in a few short hours my house will be entirely clean.

10. My grades are updated-ish. It is neither midterm nor end of term. I'm just on the ball.

11. Scarves and flower pins and head bands are my newest accessory obsession.

12. Not everyone gets a best friend for a roommate. I love you like a sister, Alice. Thanks for putting up with my mood-swinginess.

Now, I've an errand to run and a house to clean. Consider me on an upswing.

Monday, November 16, 2009


This morning I put on the color red and my new favorite scarf that I've worn three days straight now. The morning brought about many encounters with the snooze function on my phone, and a strange memory of a dream about a bewitched PVC pipe. Sunday nights never cease to offer entertaining sleep.

Yesterday I taught the adult sunday school class at church. The lesson was about self sufficiency and work and the feeling of worth that comes from such things. So when I (finally) awoke today, I said a prayer, determined to enjoy this Monday, this week. Determined to feel all the good things about work. You see, I've been in a funk about my job. This funkiness is not for me. I did go to all that trouble, after all, the anxiety and expense of getting an education in something I loved. I did experience the hassle of searching for a career I knew I'd care for equally so as to avoid such funks. But there is a difference between my ideals and my realities--another post altogether.

I can't put my finger on the source of the funk, either. It is a sense of melancholy diluted into me. Maybe it is the boy at church that flirts and little else. Maybe it is the teenagers and their adolescent stint of irrationality. Perhaps it is the weather or the light.

So here I sit, still in red and my new favorite scarf I wear too much in a cold humming office and a darkening classroom. I'm taking a short break from the grading stacks. In my hours here the sun has risen in a window somewhere away from my own western view; and now it has set behind hills across the basin, its last light filtering into a hazy dusk of approaching winter.

I still feel slumped in my own personal job funk. Adolescents do not cheerful companions make.

But I tell myself this: I did something good today for someone who will never tell me so.

If I didn't tell myself this truth each and every day, even in endless Mondays of slumping such as this, I don't know that I could carry on when I only see the sun through my windows and never feel it on my face. If I didn't believe that the students have a secret all their own, that I wasn't giving someone only the best parts of myself, I don't know why else I could stand to be here.

image by sabino

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sometimes I Ride My Broom to School

To the Student Who Manipulated the System and Dropped My AP Class Without the Proper Protocol:

Do you really think asking me for a letter of recommendation after sneaking into your counselor and stealthily dropping my AP class without my required permission was a wise idea? Seriously? Who does that? I'm not sure you'd want me to say things about you such as "quits when a challenge presents itself" or "finds every possible loophole" or "unethical" and don't forget my personal favorite "avoids confrontation when a problem arises" in said hypothetical letter. If I were being 100% honest with the colleges and scholarships for which you are applying, however, I could say little else.

That Batch Who Won't Let You Drop AP English

P.S. Maybe you should ask someone else for a more glowing review. Perhaps your sorry excuse for a salaried counselor who is too busy reading the sports section of
the newspaper in his special corner of the school library to realize that it is against policy to let you out of my class without permission.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Difference Between Pants and Scales

Dear Bathroom Scale,

You suck. I eat better, count points, ignore the existence of a love affair I'd recently begun with The Sugar Cookie of My Dreams. I sweat it out on the elliptical machine and treadmill as my shuffle's play list spins its songs out one by one. I spend my days discovering muscles I didn't know about until they fill with lactic acid after a harsh work out. I sit and stand slowly, deliberately so as not to disturb the wrong body parts as they recover; I refigure my body in strange contortions just to relieve the pain, and still, still you budge so little. I even say "ice cream" and you shift a pound ahead. What gives? You need to cooperate.

The One Who Hid You in a Time Out Closet Until You Behave Accordingly

(If my scale actually read this, dear, sweet google image, rest assured that the explanation is clearly that some large appendage--or two--has been amputated from my body.)

Dear Jeans I Haven't Worn Since I Started Teaching,

You rock. I've eaten less, counted points, sweat it out at the gym and you, you glorious things, decide to zip up with ease. You spent the day with me yesterday and didn't cut off the circulation to my lower extremities even once. I truly appreciate the gesture. Please understand, however, that our relationship can only be temporary. There are other jeans with smaller numbers on their tags in a rubbermaid in the closet, each waiting patiently for their turn in the outside world.

Who Needs a Bathroom Scale when She has You?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Free Flying Friday

Sometimes a girl just gets the urge for splattering a chaotic thought train on the old blog. A list, if you will, of what is currently on my mind:

1. I am talented at many things. Avoiding the BOX of grading (papers, essays, reading journals, projects) that awaits me happens to be my forte. Yes, a BOX. I've outgrown my bag. I grade, I really do. It just keeps growing in its overwhelmability. (Is that a word? I just made it one.) Instead of facing my problems, I choose to blog.

2. Dear Self: Some guys just flirt. With everyone. Period. They're good at it. Don't take it personally, dearie. It will only end badly if you do that. Flirt back for fun and leave it at that. Think of it as practice for the big game that will some day show up in your life. Besides, are you really compatible with someone who is most decidedly a Glenn Beck fan? (No offense to my Glenn Beck-ite readers, I just don't know that I could marry one of you.)

3. Eating apple pie a la mode at 9 PM with your pals does not bode well for daily Weight Watchers points. Frankly, this whole Halloween, holidays swiftly approaching business is killing the diet.

4. I love a cloud-covered day. Sometimes you just need the gloominess.

5. I will not eat the Swedish Fish kindly provided by the PTSA. I will not eat the Swedish Fish kindly provided by the PTSA. Repeat.

6. Mmmmm, Swedish Fish.

7. I really need to purchase a replacement ink cartridge STAT. This hussling about the school during prep period in search of a printer is no way to live my life.

8. I need to send some new pictures to be printed at Costco. I have an empty frame in my office and old photos scattered in frames about the house.

9. I need to do a lot of things.

10. Alice and I were discussing just this very topic: we each would fully appreciate one week from work on a "vacation." As in, we're out of town and can't do anything with you that week, sorry. But really we spend that week getting everything done for which we never have the time. A giant Checking Off the To Do List Celebration Week. Can you imagine how glorious it would be?

11. Praises be! Ashley, Alice's sister, is coming to town tomorrow. Do you know long it has been since I had my hair cut. July. Early July. Nearly four months! My naturally curly hair grows into a triangle if left alone. A triangle! Not flattering. Oh, how I adore me some Ashley. And not just because she cuts my hair and shapes my eye brows to perfection and...

12. Okay--confession time--she also waxes my chin. I don't know what has happened other than genetics, but I'm developing something resembling scruff. I swear it to you all! This is SO not cool. My entire life I have sat in the back seat of my parent's car watching my Mom "pluck" (tweeze) her chin on the way to every social event we attended in my childhood. My father always had to drive so Mom could tweeze away. I'm her now. I'm her! And I totally get it: the car really is the best place for such an activity--perfect lighting.

13. Grading is waiting. I better leave it at 13. Besides, I'm boring you poor people into a coma.

(Thanks, google, for the image that is as random as this post.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Overheard at School Today

Friday marks the end of term one in Ms. Rookie's class. In celebration of one of my least favorite weeks, I thought I'd share with you all what it is really like to be a teacher.

(So much for my positivity-fest. Yes I really do get paid to spend the day with these people.)

"What's my grade? Am I passing yet?"
If you aren't the type to keep track of this kind of thing on your own, I'm going to guess no.

"That's not middle awged! Middle awge starts at like 30!"
Nice. Talk about life coming at you fast!

"Can I turn this in late and still get full credit?"
Because you didn't understand my 50% off late work policy that is posted and has been covered just about every day since the beginning of the school year?

"'Dude' is such a sweet word."
Great, and they've given you a driver's license.

"What's my grade?"
Comin' right up! Just let me check my ULTRA-HUMAN MEMORY DATABASE because I actually do have the remaining mental capacity after dealing with you people all day to memorize all 160 students' ever-fluctuating letter grades.

"You mean double spacing isn't just pushing the space bar twice?"
Sometimes there are no words.

"If I do this assignment, can I pass your class?"
Oh, absolutely. Because all those assignments and projects you haven't done this term were absolutely meaningless.

"But I'm like seventy-two ounces of sexy, Teacher."
(WTF?) No, no. Let's clarify some things for you: you are about 117 pounds of awkward freshman pubescence.

"Just think, we may have F's now. But by Monday we'll all have A's again!"
Way to look on the bright side of your failure.

Have a happy Tuesday. I've grading to accomplish and some ibuprofen with my name...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Further proof that I am in want of a husband

I recently Netflixed (yes, it is a verb now, like "googled" or "texted") the Masterpiece Theatre production of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit. I love Netflix. It has made my access to such period dramas possible. Whilst watching said film it occurred to me that a letter must be written. Rie, wherever you are, I blame you for teaching me such filthy yet hilarious language.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In All My Contradictory Glory: A Manifesto of Sorts

"Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater."
~Gail Godwin

"I celebrate myself;
And what I assume you shall assume;
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you."
~ Walt Whitman

I've always had a secretly flamboyant side. I certainly behave in a more reserved manner most of the time. In fact, childhood shyness kept me from voicing my true self in situation after situation when I was young. But deep down, I'm a ham. I find that talking in silly accents for effect is liberating. My hands (and arms) don't know how not to flail, talking their own language right along with me. And I have never had an issue with not being heard. "Your voice naturally carries," a choir teacher once used tactful euphemism to inform me of my loudness.

Blame it on genetics--I come from a long line of loud, outspoken people. My mother, if her mood is right, will do everything within her power to convince you of just how hilarious she is--usually with complete success.

The more you ease yourself into that place of comfort found best with friends, the more you realize how extremely animated I can get. Alice (the best friend/roommate) knows me best and has, bless her, been driven to shush me in many a public setting.

I celebrate this part of myself. The loud, unfrightened me. The girl all ease in her own skin, unconcerned with the volume of her voice, the space her waving hand-speak takes up. I love the energy that me has, the kinetic vibrancy of her. It is the me that once had the courage to dance and sing and play like she was someone else up on a stage. It is the me that can stand in front of 35 high school freshmen and know she owns the room. She has presence.

Ani DiFranco voiced it perfectly, "I like to take up space just because I can." The animated me lives by that mantra.

For all that is wild and frenetic in me, I have another side too. The side that curls into a book, into her own quietude. The youngest child of the flamboyant family still processing her world, unseen in a corner. The poet that observes from afar, disconnected and imaginative. Head above clouds.

I sometimes wonder if this is my father's genetic code insisting I am his in every way. If it is the shy part of me finding ease in being just what it is.

I celebrate this girl in me also. She is both thoughtful and wise. Her peace and quiet bring a sense of clarity to my existence. This side recharges me, prepares me. This is the self that grounds me, humbles me, ties me to my faith and spirituality with firm and nourishing roots. She is the mellow one and, just as I embrace the boldness, I too must equally grasp tightly to this hushed self.

I am all contradiction and today I celebrate that fact. I celebrate myself today because I have a new goal. It is, quite simply, this: be positive. That is all. No more slanderous gossip or eye rolling. No more dreading of work or dishes or bill paying or unwanted obligations. No more self-deprecation or sarcasm or dark and self-cruel wit. Today is mine. My mind can alter my perspective. So I'm working on celebrating what I do have. No easy task, this one. But this life is mine and I intend to laud every detail. Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rookie Recommends

I went with the kindred spirits from my writing group to dinner and this film. I can only say this: see it. It is still smoldering and stretching inside of me with all of its tragic beauty. Much longing, pining, writing and losing will ensue. I love John Keats. I loved this film. I hope you do too.

And in case my word isn't enough for you, go ahead and read the NY Times review here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

In Which Oprah Reveals the True Extent of My Neuroses

As many of you already know, NieNie was on Oprah yesterday. Nie was, of course, simply amazing. And she looked beautiful.

I got to thinking about Oprah. I've watched Oprah off and on since I babysat two boys from the neighborhood every day after school in junior high. Sometimes she miffs me into madness, but usually I think she's good people. For whatever reason, I thought about being on The Oprah Winfrey Show. More specifically, I thought of all the reasons I would rather not appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show:

1. A decade makeover. Now, a makeover is grand, but if I'm on for a decade makeover it means I have given up. Oh, may I never be the equivalent of that sickening combination of bad mom jeans and feathered hair.

2. From prison, on Skype for being inappropriate with a student. Let me be honest here, I've never, not even once, been attracted to a student. That is the "no duh, you simply don't do that!" cardinal rule of teaching. The key here: they're adolescents. Children. And everything about them screams that pubescent fact. Which simply isn't tempting to me at all. Is that clear? I have no intentions of ever, ever going there. But before I started teaching it seemed a special on Mary Kay Letourneau and her counterparts appeared in the news every other day. So you become paranoid that you'll one day lose your mind and think that sick, predatorial kind of thing is okay. They didn't go into teaching with that intention, either. So I guess my paranoia leads me to secretly fear I will, like Mary Kay and her Crew of deviants, lose all touch with reality and find that option worthwhile.

3. We really should just combine this one with #2: basically, I don't want to be on Oprah's for anything in which I appear in the headlines. I like my privacy.

4. To ask Dr. Oz an embarrassing question. I don't think my pride could ask what some of those people do.

5. For any kind of furniture jumping.

6. To have my book, reputation, pride, and integrity slaughtered and hung for the world to see. I can't believe James Frey sat through that a few years ago.

That's pretty much it. Frankly, I just want to be invited to an all-teacher audience favorite things show. Is that so much to ask? Oprah, are you listening? I'll wear something bright and pretty.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Yes, this image is totally in homage to and in mourning of an excellent, and thus cancelled, television show.

I have an aunt. Wait, I have two aunts. (Technically I have more than that but this post happens to be about these two particular aunts.) One is my aunt by marriage. Aunt Teresa. I've posted about her before. The other is my dad's sister. Aunt Gayle. She is generous and good. She teaches special education on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona. She sacrificed much to serve a mission for my church. She spent the first decade and a half of her adulthood assisting my grandfather as Alzheimers knotted my grandmother's mind and eventually took her life. Aunt Gayle has also, in all her (polite people do not reveal specific numbers freely) years, never married.

Now, if you noticed from the post on Aunt Teresa, she has mastered the art of the mean-but-loving tease. But what you may not know about her is that she also lacks tact. Really, she doesn't think before she speaks. She can be quoted as saying at more than half of my siblings' weddings that "it won't last." When my brother started preparing for a mission, she said of his goal, "I'll believe it when I see it!" She doesn't mean it with cruelty or ill-intent, she's just says things to say things. I learned long ago to take what Teresa says with a grain of salt, because five minutes later she is bragging about how wonderful you are. Five minutes later she is giving you a handmade gift. Teresa, I suppose, is as contradictory as the next person.

Well, today she outdid herself. I called her to ask some travel advice--which of course grew into a full-on catch up conversation. Which then drifted into her telling me she had a handmade gift waiting for my next visit. The conversation drifted and somehow, as it always does with my relatives, my singleton status came up. Now, most people have well-intended but rather useless advice: "Have you tried online dating?" "Maybe you should try a new singles' ward with a better selection of men." "Have you looked into dating younger/older men?" But not Teresa, no advice on this matter was offered. She simply stated, "Oh, you're not getting married. You're just like Aunt Gayle. Some people are just meant to be single and you're one of them."

Come again? You did not just say that. First off, I found it funny. Because, like I said, Teresa is to be taken with a grain of salt. Then I felt kind of relieved--her predictions (like failed marriages or the unlikelihood of obtaining goals like serving a mission) are swinging one of the world's worst batting averages. She strikes out. A lot. But overall, I was shocked. Who says that? Seriously. Only she would say something like that so off-handedly, so nonchalantly, so cluelessly.

Ultimately, I decided to feel flattered. If I'm just like Aunt Gayle, then that means I am self-sacrificing and good. If I'm like my Aunt Gayle and remain unmarried with the upbeat, positive attitude and class that she has, so be it. If I'm like my Aunt Gayle, then I'm okay with that. Because there are worse things to be in this world.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Things You May or May Not Care to Know

I don't feel like I have time for a decent blog post lately. I should really remedy that, but instead I'll just give you seeds of what I could go off on, but don't have the writing energy in which to fully invest myself:

I'm leaving town tomorrow. To this place to see my sister and her loverlies that just keep growing. I can hardly wait. And yet my homebody self can't help but feel the slightest itch of anxiety over what I'll miss on the home front.

One of my two favorite weekends out of the year (and weekends, as you probably know, are already up there on my happiness list) is coming. General Conference for my religion of choice is a time of renewal, a time of strengthening. I can hardly wait.

It might be my own short/chubby/shapeless gams, but I've found myself attracted the male variety's legs lately. Specifically long calves and good knees. Weird? Perhaps. But I'm appreciatin' over here.

The air that stagnates before a storm system moves in is absolutely disgusting.

Preparing for vacations can be overwhelming and yet so worth it.

What is it with people and cell phones in inappropriate places? I read today that during a LIVE theater performance, a cell phone went off in the midst of an intense scene and Hugh Jackman had to break character to ask the person if they were going to pick it up. Seriously?

What kind of styling product do you think Conan O'Brien uses? That thing on his head has some serious volume. I'm just saying.

And I'm spent. Peace out blogosphere.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Nice Neighbors

do not fry up a large vat of something smelling much like this:

and then let that stench float into the neighboring apartments. I'm gagging here!

In honor of my neighbor's olfactory cruelty, I'm posting some Robert Frost.

Mending Wall

SOMETHING there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
He is all pine and I am apple-orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down!" I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

And to this I add: impermeable walls, doors, and windows make good neighbors!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I started this last night

So far I'm equally in love with Gwenni and Strachan's exquisite prose. I'm trying to save the best of it for my upcoming flight to North Carolina (to visit one of my favorite families). Nothing's worse than not loving the book you brought on the plane.

Up next...

Rarely do I go wrong with a Pulitzer winner and I heard her interview with Diane Rehm--can't wait!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Things I'm Not OK With

The roommate and I took ourselves to Subway last night for dinner. Night one of parent teacher conferences were over for me, our favorite sandwich was the Wednesday special, the kitchen (READ: bomb site of many dirty dishes) reflected our busy week, and cooking just wasn't in our cards. Subway was a welcomed easy meal. Until we witnessed the following scene in line behind us:

BMW Mom: Choose some chips, guys.
9 Year Old Daughter: I want these.
BMW Mom: Those? That kind is greasy and fatty and bad for you. You should get this baked kind like Mommy.
Daughter: I like this kind.
BMW Mom opens her bag of baked chips. Tells kids to open their chips.
BMW Mom: Oh my gosh! I feel like I haven't eaten in a year! Why am I so hungry? (Starts eating.)
BMW Mom takes 9 YEAR OLD Daughter over and compares calorie counts between baked and fried potato chips.
BMW Mom: See honey, that's like three times as much fat and calories as what I'm having.
Daughter looks crushed.
BMW Mom (not phased, still chomping on her chips, stepping up to the counter): Okay, what do you guys want to order? Oh, I'm so hungry!
Daughter (heartbroken): Ummm, I think I want a flatbread sandwich.
7 Year Old Son: I want pepperoni, bacon and cheese.
BMW Mom: Okay, flatbread turkey, I want turkey on 9 grain wheat, he wants a kids sandwich with, well you heard him.
They proceed through the line.
Subway Employee: What do you want on these?
Daughter (terrified): I'll just have that.
BMW Mom: Don't you want some yummy tomatoes or healthy cucumbers?
Daughter (still terrified): No, that's...that's okay.
They finish building their sandwiches, pay and leave.

Roommate: Could you please explain to me why, exactly, that woman gets to have kids and I do not?

I'm sorry, but does anybody see something wrong with this? I'm okay if you teach your kids to listen to their bodies. I'm okay if you expose your kids to healthy foods. I'm okay if you encourage healthy family activities. I'm even okay if you try and subtley, secretly do something about your child's weight. But teaching your 9-year-old daughter to count calories? What the hell is wrong with you, lady? She's nine! She's not even fat. What the hell? And we wonder what is the matter with girls' screwed up body images these days. Am I alone here?

P.S. BMW Mom, if you're reading. Eat a friggin' cheeseburger once in a while. It won't kill you. I promise!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Can You Feel It?

Autumn is making her slow and quiet approach. The air feels different, the leaves on the mountain trees are haloed with new vibrancy. I love this time of year. What follows it, however, will never be my cup of tea.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Never a Dull Day

Lately I've been wondering if I'd rather be stuck in a cubicle answering complaint phone calls about the Kinoki Foot Pad sham than deal with what's been going on around here. I think I'm cursed this year. Perhaps the insanely good view of park and the city and everything west of me is too good to be true.

Two weeks ago a bird of an unusual size (okay, it was a magpie, but a magpie with an insane bladder capacity) flew in through my classroom window. It scared me and I squeeled like a girl. My squeeling provoked a defecation debacle of epic proportions. Thankfully my office door shuts and I could watch out the window as the bird finally figured out how to EXIT through its unwelcomed entrance. Even more blessed: the kids were all gone.

Last week, running a bit behind, I began sprinting to catch the elevator up to my room. Acceleration was apparently a bad idea: the same calf muscle that had been a sore, tight ball for weeks made a wretched popping noise, gave out on me, then swelled with an unbearable ache. My google diagnosis leads me to believe it is a slight tear on the calf muscle. It is feeling much better now. The "injury" did allow me to move from the stair-stepper at the gym (Personal Trainer Toothpick Heidi's idea) to the bike while it heals.

Yesterday, only 15 minutes into first period, and a student went into a full seizure. It was both frightening and heart-crushing. Being the one person in the room who supposedly knows what to do made me acknowledge my adult-ness in new ways.

Today there was a fire alarm during first period. While lining up classes down on the field, a fight broke out. It was the scary kind of fight. The kind of fight where lanky math teachers trying to do the right thing fall victim. The kind of fight that's been going on long before the school year, a rivalry between impoverished boys of different colors that never seems to end.

I can't help but wonder what is coming next. Am I being prepared for something even worse?

I'd like to call this one "Irony".

Monday, September 7, 2009

I ♥ Words

I believe we're all sensitive to certain things. Mathematicians think up equations, artists notice color, parents recognize potential danger anywhere near their children. I'm an English teacher and I notice words. Not only do I notice words, I revel in them. I find words to be splendid beings unto themselves--little existences of meaning and purpose. The truth is, I have words I love, words I like to use over and over again because they please me endlessly. And I have words that make my body crinkle with discomfort. (For example, I will never like the word "crotch". Ever.) Words, their connotations and connections, are loaded with emotion.

Some of my favorites (off the top of my head):


The list goes on. What is it that you notice? What are your favorite words?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sometimes Shakespearean Captures My Emotion Best

Tonight I'm going to a viewing (wake) for a friend's mother. One month and three days from her shocking stage IV gastric cancer diagnosis, she passed away.

Today I found out a dear friend at work has ovarian cancer. Luckily chemotherapy is still an option. Devastation abounds, it would seem. Both are too young for this. Forgive me while I write a letter that needs writing.

To Cancer:

I loathe you. You ravenous beast. You thief. You villain. You putrid spawn on the human condition. Not only do you take over the human body, sucking it of all want for living, but you reach your corruption into the body of families, of friends, of coworkers. You ruiner of lives. I hate you more and more as each day passes. You are the loathed enemy, the furies collected, all wicked personified.

Not a Fan

In my mind, cancer

is equivalent to (=, if you will)

The worst of Shakespeare's villains combined. The correlation of grief and devastation left in their wake is just too uncanny to not notice a connection.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

180 Instruction Days to Go

I just finished my first class of the school year. (Confession: yes, I'm blogging during my 2nd period prep instead of tackling the world's largest to-do list.) So, indulge me. Let me just rant randomly about the things on my mind at the moment.

1. I love everything about my new classroom: the divine view, the large tables instead of miniature desks, the storage space with room to grow into, its close vicinity to the faculty restroom. The chalkboards, on the other hand, could go far, far away and I wouldn't miss them. I hate the gritty feel of chalk, the dust of chalk, the smell, the sound. Oh, how I loathe waiting on the carpentry department to install white boards (six months of waiting).

2. Freshmen get younger and younger yet try to look older and older every year. I swear by this.

3. I'm never going to memorize all of these names.

4. I adore my old students that came to visit me today and can't possibly see how I'll like these new ones just as much. I go through this every year, however, and somehow it just happens.

5. It amazes me how the first day of a class reveals what will be experienced for the entire school year. So far, I'm thinking I'll enjoy my A-1 Language Arts 9 class.

6. I'm exhausted and already my feet hurt. Between moving this weekend (more on that later) and setting up class and planning ahead for school I am worn out. I think I need to install a hammock in my office. I miss my bed.

7. I've already got grading piling up. I love teaching. Grading, on the other hand, can go the way of the chalkboard.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Today's the BIG Day

And I'm on the verge of melting down altogether. Melting, really, should be a theme today. You see, the forecast is for a million and five degrees (anything over 100 is automatically placed in that particular category).

And then we get down to the nitty gritty (the nit and grit in which I self-absorbedly vent about my life, abandoning decorum entirely): I have multiple meetings to attend this morning at an inconveniently located school other than my own. I'm currently late to one of said meetings so what the heck, right? Why not blog while the internet is actually available. Because, you see, I wasted an hour on the phone with the devil (COMCAST) last night, trying to arrange an installation appointment at the new place. Appointment is yet to be set because the devil (COMCAST) couldn't understand that I need a modem that can hook to a wireless internet adaptor so that we're free to roam with the laptop. We CANNOT seriously be the only people in America with this situation! My classroom is in no way prepared for the students' happy arrival on Tuesday. Beyond my classroom, mentally and materially I am entirely unprepared for their swift approach. People are arriving here at six PM to haul our boxes of stuff to the UHAUL I'm picking up at five PM--and let me just say the living room does not look ready for that particular event. But I'll enjoy my pointless and frustratingly inane meetings in the meantime. I'm exhausted after a week of waking early and staying up late so I'm kind of at that sleepless, angry zombie state in which crying at the slightest provocation occurs quite frequently. The roommate and I fight, bicker, snap, or argue EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. WE. TALK.

My life feels like an ever-lovin' disaster. What about you?

I want my bed safely tucked away in an upper bedroom at my new house along with everything else of mine...and for someone else to come clean the old place...and for it to be some relaxed Saturday in the not-to-distant future when all of this is over. And I'm sleeping the sleep of someone situated.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

finally, a radio station I like almost as much as NPR

Thank you, thank you, whoever you are. Inventors of Pandora Radio, you've made my life at work so much more endurable.

Monday, August 17, 2009

This Is Your Life

This move, I've made the wise decision to purge. My philosophy runs something like this: the more I recycle/donate/throw out, the less I have to move and find a place for next weekend. It is kind of like my own personal episode of Clean House on Style Network, except there's no Miss Niecy and really it's more like Clean Storage Closet (while the rest of the house becomes a disaster).

This act of purging has been a visit to my former selves. Days of sorting through old letters, journals, birthday cards, arrow-folded high school notes, concert and musical programs, essays and tests and pictures--the stuff my life is made of--have blown on the embers of the past, firing my memory. It is interesting, visiting your life. The feelings of it all, nostalgia and gratitude spread wild and running across the living room floor. The angst-ridden residue of each letter's subject like a smooth burn scar inside me I like to run my finger over every now and again. I keep coming back to this thought: I've lived a good life. So far.

Purging has been a concrete lesson in that which matters most: material things I once thought I needed are hastily discarded, forgotten. But the sentimental pieces of my life still feel critical, my life's scaffolding, without which I might crumble. Value, when attached to all this sentiment, has become something entirely new. With the excavation of my life's artifacts, I'm realizing my own definitions of need and want.

I challenge you, look in your old boxes, in storage. See what you can rid yourself of, see what you cannot do without. You'd be amazed what it might teach you.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rookie Reads

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who sneak ahead to the last page of a book before finishing, and those who do not. 

I'm of the latter and my greatest pet peeve are those of the former.

And now, a few summer reading reviews.

This one, An Abundance of Katherines by John Greene, you need to read it. Seriously, if you want/need to laugh. If you share my appreciation for young adult lit. Read it. Seriously, read it. The characters do pay homage to Norman Mailer with excessive use of the word "fugging" and I literally mean "fugging" and not what Mailer replaced with "fug". I enjoyed it thoroughly, the clever footnotes especially. It was one of the option for our department's summer reading and I'm ever so happy it was on the list.

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie was quick and lovely. It reaches into the human quest, desire, need for creativity and imagination. I loved it. I only wonder, as with anything translated, what was lost in translation. This was also on our school's summer reading list.

The great surprise of the summer:

Whirligig by Paul Fleischman. I can't say much about it without giving it away, but the chapters that veer from our protagonist were my favorite. Quick, adolescent loveliness. Also got this one from the school's list.

Now, I feel divided about this one:

Niffeneger is a talented story teller. Much of the prose was exquisite. The concept itself was intriguing and how it played out in the texture of the story itself was quite brilliant and seamless. But the sex was, well, excessive in my opinion. I believe a marriage should have that kind of passion, absolutely. But it seemed like we just kept going back there.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is now in a box somewhere. It just didn't catch me and keep me soon enough. It spent the summer living at my bedside beneath other books. I hope to return to it eventually and give it another go-round when I'm not distracted by all the other reading to be done.

And this little piggy (Edgar Mint) has been interrupted by packing and purging. I'll come back to it later.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

addendum to my previous post

ODA is no longer a dream. She is a reality
We got the place!

Now: packing and moving and deposits, OH MY!

This would be Barbie's Dream House via google images...
And in case you don't see the connection--
this feeling of joy reminds me of my 7th Christmas when 
I awoke to find Barbie's Dream House under the tree.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sometimes You Need to Be Nudged

It is simple, really. I'm moving. Again. I don't know where yet. I find myself to be, once again, the transient single girl in her not-so-early twenties.

I found out on Sunday night that I had to be out of my apartment by the end of the month. The landlady's daughter has gone bankrupt and has to move back into the basement. Landlady felt terrible. She apologized profusely and admitted to crying half the night she felt so awful about it. But her daughter has a 3-year-old and is expecting the next in October so what's a woman to do?

The roommate and I took it swimmingly considering the shock. One, well, we sort of expected it to end this way eventually. (Though, my money was on a divorce between landlady's daughter and her wanna-be rock star husband.) And, two, we've lived here over two years and during that time have often fantasized about living with natural light and decent cell phone reception and central air. But the dread of finding an apartment and packing and moving and unpacking and finding the quickest commute routes kept us rooted.

Sometimes you need to be nudged. And this was the nudge we needed. We're choosing to look at this as a blessing. A blessing with scary, stressful, sort of terrible timing as blessings go. But then, when is moving ever convenient? School starts for me next week. The roommate just started a stressful new job in a new department last month. I've been meaning to do a major sort and purge all summer, sending a million and one things to goodwill. But I hadn't bothered yet. And financially we hadn't planned for this (after all we had a dandy vacation a little more than a month ago). But this nudge is necessary.

We looked at Our Dream Apartment (ODA) last night. ODA has a newer kitchen and new carpet and fresh paint and two covered parking spots. ODA is a townhouse-style with an upstairs. ODA has a half bath more than our one bath now. ODA has central air. ODA is on the corner across from my great-grandmother's house. ODA is the first place we've looked at in this house-hunting round. I feel it in my bones: I want this apartment. Strangely, the past two spots we've lived felt right. And, for whatever reason, I think that we were intended to stay for a time in those spots. I am praying they call us this week to say they want us. It just feels right. And it would make this nudging feel so very worth it.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, August 10, 2009

For the Girl Who Knows Who She Is OR Male Bashing at Its Finest

A friend recently had a bit of an embarrassing debacle involving none other than her long-time crush. It involved sending a text message (intended for a close girlfriend) about a certain crush of hers (and her possible frustrating feelings for said individual) to that person in a Freudian slip up of the most humiliating kind.

She informed me that she feels like the earth did in fact swallow her whole this time, but sent her through, "a nightmarish tube into junior high school all over again. I didn't like this when I was 13!" She said. "At 27 I'm supposed to be done with this crap!"

In her honor and in a gesture intended entirely for support during her time of humiliation, I post the following messages of encouragement. (Google search kindly provided all images.)

First off:
Juvenile as that image may seem, sometimes it is what it is.

Secondly, the Farside has guided us through many of life's obstacles. Once again, it did not disappoint in reminding us that we've all been there:

Thirdly, boys have no room to judge our silly ways.

Only an individual of the male variety would think this was a great idea:

And do you notice any females in this particular cast?

I didn't think so.

And, lest we forget, only a man would honestly see nothing wrong, unethical, or flat out disgusting with the following scenario:

So you see, you-know-who, the truth is that you are far better than this loser.  If he doesn't recognize you for the brilliant, beautiful, independent, kind and spiritual catch that you are, it is his loss.

The Rookie

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

it's that time again

(I'd like to thank google for the image)

160 single-subject notebooks
80 magic markers
40 glue sticks
16 dry erase markers
6 mini white boards
a pack of perfect list-making post-its
white-out tape
multi-colored felt tip pen pack
and a recycled materials pencil pouch

Teaching has made me a woman out of control. All those bins of cheap school supplies and school starting in less than three weeks means that I'm already in possession of receipts far surpassing my legislative supply budget (during a lean funding year). I've always had a thing for school supplies, my profession has now given me a legitimate excuse for office product gluttony. My car's trunk is quickly filling. And I'm still hunting for the cheapest colored pencils and maybe a bulletin board design or two.

Monday, August 3, 2009

10 Years

Later this month, up in Kodiak, Alaska, my 10 year reunion will be going on. I'll not be attending for various reasons. Primarily, the fact that said event is taking place in Kodiak, Alaska (and purchasing airfare just isn't in the old budget). And then there's the little bit about having attended at KHS only two years. Not to mention that I've somehow managed to remain in contact with anyone who is/was my friend during that time. But mostly, I have no desire to drop $1000 on a plane ticket to go and watch people I don't really know or like get sloshed all weekend.

It seems a strange phenomenon, these reunions: popping in every 10 years to get an update on people's lives, remembering our awful hair and fashion choices, listening to the old bands we still love. The truth is we go for one primary reason: curiosity. We need to know what happened to the rest of them. Perhaps it is because the social stratification of high school was much more condensed and obvious. Forced into one building together for three to four years, we shuffled out into a Social Darwinian food chain. We can't help but wonder if the structure of that chain remains intact.

This weekend, I bumped into this movie:

If you've never watched it, do. Though, for those with a sensitivity for language, try and find the version edited for television as the "F-bombs" abound. Essentially, it is about a hired hit man returning to his 10 year high school reunion. It is dark and slightly twisted but oh-so-funny. And, now this is important, it features John Cusack, who has captured my heart ever since he played Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything. Beyond the brilliant concept, however, it hits on this idea that we all come from somewhere. And we're all still carrying around a little baggage from adolescence.

And perhaps that is why we really go to high school reunions: to drop off some of who we used to be so we don't have to carry it around anymore.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I've My Work Cut Out for Me

Only three weeks left of summer and I haven't cleared time for lazing about and watching some of my favorites. Am I missing anything?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Themes on a Vacation

I have several hundred pictures from the big vacation. I've been debating how to organize all of this while avoiding one giant bore-fest of a post and not taking it to the extreme of only posting about the vacation for weeks on end. But it is my blog; and my posterity (if they ever get here) may appreciate it one day. Plus, I might like to look back and remind myself of one of my favorite vacations so far.

So I'm going thematic. Today's theme: Art. The Chicago Institute of Art (July 3rd) and the Kansas City Art Festival (June 28th). Totally out of order, but I hope that this way you get a sense of my vacation. And really, chronological isn't always my thinking style.

So, I've always, always, always, always wanted to go to all of The Big Art Museums of the World. The Met, Louvre, The Guggenheim. The Art Institute of Chicago was my first taste of this goal and it did not disappoint. Mostly because I got to see a couple of originals that I've only dreamed about.

1. Georges Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Thank Ferris Buehler. Thank the Steven Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park with George. I've always wanted to see this in person and it is magnificent.

2. Georgie O'Keefe's Sky Above Clouds IV, 1965

This doesn't do its size justice. Maybe this will give you an idea:

Joan Didion has an essay about O'Keefe and she references this painting. To see it in person was simply moving for my geeky self. The essay begins,

I recall an August afternoon in Chicago in 1973 when I took my daughter, then seven, to see what Georgia O'Keefe had done with where she had been. One of the vast O'Keeffe 'Sky Above Clouds' canvases floated over the back stairs in the Chicago Art Institute that day, dominating what seemed to be several stories of empty light, and my daughter looked at it once, ran to the landing, and kept on looking. "Who drew it," she whispered after a while. I told her. "I need to talk to her," she said finally.

My daughter was making, that day in Chicago, an entirely unconscious but quite basic assumption about people and the work they do. She was assuming that the glory she saw in the work reflected a glory in its maker, that the painting was the painter as the poem is the poet, that every choice one made alone -- every word chosen or rejected, every brush stroke laid or not laid down -- betrayed one's character. Style is character.

O'Keefe is forever intertwined in this Didion essay for me. Seeing this painting taking up "several stories of empty light" made me understand, once again, how art begets art.

Away we go with images, images, and more images coupled with a bit of travelogue.

Next in the thematic post: the Kansas City Arts Festival. On Sunday, June 28th, before driving across Missouri into Nauvoo, we spent the morning driving into Kansas City and tracking down something fun to do. We bumped right into this arts festival which included interesting goods to look at, excellent people watching, a delicious lunch at a brewery, and the cutest little frozen yogurt bar I've ever seen. Some highlights:

That took way too long to create. More vacation posts to come (slowly but surely).