Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Another Episode in Which I Realize I've Gotten Older

When I was in junior high school one of my favorite (and therefore short-lived) television dramas introduced me to what I later came to find out was a phenomenon known as "The Pretty Boy." Jared Leto's Jordan Catalano on My So-Called Life was swoon-worthy (think slightly-bad-shy-boy meets flawless olive skin). He was pretty before Robert Pattinson played Cedric Diggory, let alone that glittery Edward Cullen. He was pretty before Zac Efron got his head in the game. He was pretty at that perfect moment in life when hormones rage and there is no such thing as too much designer imposter perfume. Yes, Jared Leto stole my heart when I was 13 and at that young age I decided that there was little else better than the pretty boy. Except maybe Bonne Bell Lip Smackers. And Exclamation! perfume. And my Caboodle.

Scroll forward on my life's timeline and things have changed dramatically. I prefer chapstick to Lip Smackers. I find a subtle spritz of something scented in the morning hours to be sufficient for the day. And as I sat on my couch at 11 PM thinking how I ought to remove my derrier from its current location, I flipped from Jay Leno over to David Letterman. On one channel sat Matthew Fox, on the other, Eric Bana. Lovely gentlemen, both. And though I didn't really care what either had to say, necessarily, I couldn't help but think, "When was it, exactly, that I evolved from my preference for the pretty boy to my desire for the manly man?" Now, both of these men are pretty, I'll give them that. But my 13-year-old self would have shivered had you called them attractive, just as 13-year-old-me did when my mom informed me that Kevin Costner was, "one hot number" (by the way Mom, I agree full-heartedly). You see, these were men, not pretty boy-men, but Men-men. Men with greying temples and rough, rogue-ish facial hair and...metrosexual designer suits?  (Okay, omit that last one from your memories.)  

This realization first started happening while watching (and wasting $8.00 on) 17 Again the other weekend. Zac Efron had a certain appeal in the (lame-ish) movie--I will admit this.  But I felt wrong and dirty-old-womanish in thinking so. Legal or not, the boy is a wee BOY for crying out loud!  

Yes, it is true.  I've gotten older, more mature.  Healthy and normal, I know, this attraction to people within my designated legal age group.  I just don't really remember when, exactly, this all happened.

Somewhere along the way I've grown from liking this boyishness:

to feeling a bit hot and bothered whenever this man graces my screen:

*Oh, Javier, please grace my screen again. Penelope who?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Disappearing Acts

The assembly, as every high school teacher knows, is really just one very long hour stuck in a hot, dark auditorium filled with teenagers waiting to do inappropriate things and act like animals. It is a Friday afternoon migraine lurking around the corner. It is a necessary evil. Yes, there might be skits or student-made videos or performances involved--anything to up the school spirit level. But mostly, the high school assembly is an hour spent in a hot, dark room with several thousand teenagers doing anything but acting in an appropriate, respecful manner. (And here you were thinking how annoying it is when you sit near a crowd of five of them at the megaplex--HA!)

Today was the Senior Assembly: photo slide shows were shown, "Most Likelies" (those supposed futures we adults know aren't very, well, likely) were announced, PROM royalty was flaunted. Oh, and then there was The Rapper Who Fell of the Stage.

You read that right.

One of our seniors with all the bravery he could muster, demonstrated his talents in "flow" up on the stage. Now, to give you some background knowledge here: The Spotlight, if ever you've been in its beam, is a painfully blinding device. I don't mean that figuratively. (But ooh what a good post that could be!) It is so blinding that you cannot see what is in front of you. You only see light. And so today this particular "gangsta" learned about spotlights and gravity. He missed that thin line where the stage ends and AIR begins. In an instant he had disappeared into the orchestra pit.





The microphone whacked against him?/the floor? And while the polite held their breath, we have to remember who the audience was here. Hint: multiply those five obnoxious teenagers by 300. Yes, laughter erupted as his voice croaked into the microphone from the depths of the pit "I'm ok. I'm ok."

In all the assemblies I've attended over the past few years of teaching, I have been waiting for such an event to occur. It was inevitable. Probably not the first time, nor will it be the last. And each and every time something like this happens it is, against our better judgment or sense of empathy, rather funny. Because I have a theory that somewhere in this world, at any given moment, someone is experiencing what feels like the most humiliating moment of their lives. That someone could be you. And in that moment of humiliation, rest assured, someone is laughing at you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Things I Sometimes Wonder

Ina Garten, East Hampton yuppy snob though she may be, is fabulous. I don't care what you say; I love watching her cook beautiful food in her popped collars and pearls. But when I watch, I wonder things...

Do you think she's ever barefoot whilst cooking?

Do you really think she entertains that much?

Does she own any collarless shirts?

Where does she get all those shirts?

Do you think random residents of the East Hampton area get phone calls from Ina's "people" to appear on her show for a staged? authentic? brunch or soiree?

Do you think her food is really even as good as it looks?

Do you think she'd invite me over for one of said brunches?

How much do you think her grocery bill is?

How likely do you think it is that (in all my non-yuppy white-trashiness) I'd ask this if ever invited over?

Yes, I think it is best I watch Ina from the comfort of my couch, eating the drivel I typically eat.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Me x 2

At this particular moment in time I am recalling a certain really lame movie from my childhood: Multiplicity, starring Michael "My Hair Hasn't Changed Since 1983" Keaton. If you're not familiar with the film, seriously, don't waste the 117 minutes, just know that Dolly the sheep was probably its inspiration. Its general concept: old same-hairdo clones himself to get things done and as soon as the clones figure out the privileges of looking like the husband of a certain Andie MacDowell and the benefits of cloning themselves things go awry in predictable Hollywood craptacularity.

Anyway, I'm thinking I wouldn't mind if there were two of me. Even if Me #2 was a little slow, I could have the clone do certain things for me. Grading and cleaning would tie for first on their to do list. Showing up to things I don't want to go to would be next. On easier, laid-back days, this clone could even come in and teach for me (they'd fit in with the adolescents, I'm sure of it). I could come in later, after getting my beauty rest.

Because I am the world's ultimate fan of multi-tasking. And at this particular moment in time I should be getting a variety of things done all at once (writing these thoughts not being one of them). And frankly, on days like this, I could use an extra hand with all of this. I delegate quite nicely.

What about you? If there were two of you, what tasks would you give your other?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sucking, Marrow and Other Musings

Henry David Thoreau, in his near-perfect (and sometimes dull and oftimes perceptive and idealistic and occasionally silly) Walden said:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

I read these words from Walden at 22--an age fraught with idealistic dreams and fantastical notions. (OK, honesty forces me to admit that, like most English majors, I didn't exactly read all of Walden. Now that I've revealed myself for the fraud that I am, please do read on.) At that time in my life I licked every bit of it up. Transcendentalists were my collegiate mind's food. I wanted to suck marrow from life! I wanted to live deliberately! I recall that my primary goal for the entirety of my future was to, "live life authentically."

A college degree, countless hours of teaching, neverending student loan (and other) payments later and I sometimes ask myself this: am I living deliberately any more? Are those aspects of life which matter most to me actually a part of my daily life? And, teacher Rookie, being the assessment master that she is, currently doles out a big fat F for herself.

I am sucking it up. Big time. And I have no idea how to stop (or start) this life I'm living.

In my defense (excuse), every grown up person knows that reality and idealism do not make for good bed fellows. And while it may be fallacious in nature, it seems that either/or really is the only option here. So here I am, left wondering who do I kill off? The liberated idealist? The realistic responsible one? Slowly but surely, a bowl of Cheerios in the morning and a credit score over 750 win out. Is this what happens to everyone? Is this just the way it is-- a natural (albeit bumpy) transition into adulthood? Is it true that each day a little piece of idealism dies in the entirety of the adult human population? Because man does that just *suck!

*Dear reader, please forgive my propensity toward the word "suck" in this particular post.

And while I loved Thoreau in college, his words from a supposed simpler time nearly two centuries ago speak to me more now than they did then. After all, Henry David was in his 30's when he wrote Walden--not mere coincidence. Perhaps the late 20's-early 30's are a time for questioning ourselves, our motives, our lives. Perhaps it is not all bad to let the idealist get a dose of reality and wither into oblivion (or continue on, turning you into a perpetual bachelor (ermm...momma's boy) with a crush on your teacher's wife and nothing to your name but a stupid flute).

Perhaps I need to revisit my life's goals, redefine what an authentic life looks like.

So I'll begin again, John Lennon, in one of many perceptive musical masterpieces, is quoted as saying:

Life is what happens to you when you're making other plans.

And there's nothing inauthentic about that.

This image has very little to do with much of anything, other than it made me laugh and described how I feel most of the time whilst figuring out my life.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

April 15: Eventually, I Get Things Done

It was tax day yesterday. I may have taken a trip to the post office at 10:30 pm with the roommate to file her taxes. And maybe, just maybe, I logged online to pay my $17 to the State of Utah at 11 pm.

When did we become procrastinators of this kind?

In other news, I'm in the ward *road show (GOOOO...learn to say NO, Rookie!) and have to get my many lines memorized by 5 pm today. I've been on Spring Break all week and I'm just getting around to that today. Yes, today at 11 am. I had nightmares as I slept in this morning that it was all of Juliet's lines in Romeo and Juliet that I had to memorize, however (I'm in the middle of teaching this with my 9th graders), so I'll take the road show any day.

*A road show is a strange Mormon custom in which small plays or skits are put on and performed by each ward (small congregation) for the members of the entire stake (collection of congregations). Usually these plays revolve around a similar theme. At one time the shows "went on the road" traveling from one church to another in the stake. Almost always it is a rather lame-o (did I just admit this?), but entertaining, event. There is rarely green jell-o present.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Vulnerable and Raw and Open

I am on Spring Break this week. No school for an entire week is a blessing indeed. Yet here I sit feeling less than blessed, feeling lost and vulnerable and raw and open. And so I spent the day stealing the roommate's Easter candy piecemeal, un-showered, in my pajamas, napping and doing not much of anything. Besides feeling downright depressed. Because of a 38-year-old boy who stared and stared and did nothing about it until I made it blatantly obvious that it was OK and he could perhaps even push it beyond staring. And that was too much for him and so he ignored me, quite rudely, in fact. I scared him away. And that pisses me off. So I ate too many peanut butter eggs.

I do not know what is going on with me lately. I never wanted to be the mopey single girl. The girl who longs to be married. NEVER. I was going to be happy with my single status. I was going to be independent and liberated. And yet, somehow, I've slid off that slippery slope. I feel that pitiful. Perhaps it is that I had a different plan for this age. Perhaps it is that I've entered this new phase where I see a baby and it feels as though two hands are squeezing my lungs, ringing out an old, weary sponge. Perhaps it is all those damn Jane Austen film adaptations.

Today I am honest. Today I am lonely. Today I am weak. Today I am single and rejected and it makes me mad and mopey. It isn't so much that I'm mad at him--he can't help that he is a scared little boy trapped in an aging body. It isn't so much that I'm mad about my life, either. Life is actually very good to me. Good job. Good friends. Good faith. Good family. I'm just mad at me, I suppose. I should be enjoying my single-hood and this time for freedom and travel and blah blah blah. Even my mother (bless her!) tried to tell me how I should enjoy this time, that it "isn't THAT bad" (which leaves me to infer that it is bad at some level).

I am tempted to never post this, but I think if you read all the words I punch out week after week, if you've bothered to stick it through my long-winded rants and ruminations, then you deserve to know the ugly truth: I have my off days. I am petty and weak (see previous post). I am human and learning and this is who I often really am.

Hell Hath No Fury: Stare-Hard Part Deux

The first text messages I sent this morning read as follows (to Alice, of course):

"I am SO done with men. Done. Finito! They are mean and they stink. And (insert stare-hard's name here) thinks he is too good for ME?! Hello, (insert stare-hard's name here)! You are a poorly dressed, pinky class ring wearing, bad haired, Star Wars obsessed VET TECH (as if that is a real career)! What, too lazy? Not ambitious enough or smart enough to achieve the REAL thing by the time you're 38 years old? I am just saying that I was willing to lower my standards. Give you a chance. Maybe even help you and give you some pointers in the disaster area that is your appearance. But off you went to be a balls-less, 38-year-old virgin. So be my guest: stay that way! Moon after your white trash (insert stare-hard's unrequited love interest's name here) forever for all I care. Because the truth is that few girls are as decent, intelligent, and kind (I know, I know readers--I actually said this in the midst of this message) as I am. The truth is that I am better off. P.S. Dry clean your suit. It stinks of stale food and cat litter."

This is how I get over crushes. Clearly, CLEARLY, I need help.

Friday, April 3, 2009

River of Thought: My Stream of Consciousness Friday

I am tired tonight. I should just go to bed. How many hours did I get last night? Not enough. But I feel like 9 o'clock bedtime on a Friday night reveals something about me that I don't want to admit. Kind of like that reception I went to tonight. Yeah, the one where the bride threw the bouquet and it landed ON my feet and I didn't pick it up because I thought that someone else would appreciate it more than I would--like one of the little flower girls. When I was a flower girl I always wanted to catch the bouquet. Now, I think it makes me look desperately pitiful. Yes, folks, 28. I'm 28 and still single. Deal with it. Or rather, I have to deal with it and the fact that Mormon men ("Mormen") do not date. Or ask girls out on dates. Or maybe they just don't ask ME out on dates. Even when I attempt flirting (badly). Even if he stares at me like he might be interested (maybe I had a booger dangling?). Apparently asking someone to eat dinner with you is the new version of "Popping the Big Question." It's just dinner.

Oooh, What Not to Wear is on! What is Stacey London wearing? Sometimes, though it is rare-ish, I think they need to change their clothing before giving fashion advice. Especially when Clinton looks like a 1950's golfer. I wish I could go online shopping right now, but I promised myself I'd pay off that credit card. Ugh, commercial break. Why are commercials always so LOUD? Like the Oxy Clean guy--good night man! Pull yourself together. Ooh, but I love this commercial:

Super delicious! THAT is funny. That little girl is adorable. Little girls in glasses are somehow heartwarming to me. Except me. When I was a little girl in glasses Mom put me (and herself) in identical Sally Jesse Raphael red glasses that were, oh, 12 TIMES TOO LARGE FOR MY FACE! Thanks, Mom. When is Mother's Day? Probably in May. Wonder what I should do for her? She'd probably be happy even if I gave her gift certificates to Sizzler or something--my precious mother! Freaking Sizzler! Or rather, the freaking patrons of Sizzler. Seriously, who steals an entire to-go box filled with fruit from a salad bar? There is a produce section at the grocery store for a reason. You can buy avocados on your own.
You don't have to STEAL your 5-a-day from Sizzler! Those are the same people who think a $2 tip is all you have to leave no matter what the bill is. 20% people. Double tithing. 20%. If you're going out to eat out plan on paying the tip! And don't get me started on those people who rip off the cash left on tables. Come on, folks. You're not stickin' it to the man, here! These are hardworking waiters and waitresses just trying to earn some cash money for survival just like the rest of us. Special place in hell. That is all I'm going to say. Special place. Oh, I really need to grade those place assignment essays. I'm so over grading. Too bad I signed up for a life of it.

You get the point. I'm going to bed. Once What Not to Wear is over, of course.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Weird Stuff I Think About

I’ve never been that great at saying “sorry.” I don’t mean the sarcastic “sorry!” I don’t mean the offhand “sorry” because you bumped into someone. Those small, accidental blips make for easy apologies. It is the big one’s I struggle with. The fighting sorrys. The offensive sorrys. The sorrys that feel unfair and filled with injustice. While I may feel horrible, every emotional nuance of that word raging through me, self-loathing sinking in, I sometimes can’t get that one out of my mouth. It is a strange paradox: I believe in the power of the word. I believe in meaning it when you say it. I believe it is one of the most important words we frail and faulted human beings utter. But I’m not always the best at saying it when I’ve really, truly messed up. In spite of what I know, swallowing my pride, my hurt, my offense can be very, very difficult. And I hate that fact about myself.

Last weekend I taught the lesson in Sunday school. It was about a lot of things, but what stood out to me were the sections about meekness. I’ve thought a lot about meekness lately. As a culture, I think most believe meekness is not an attribute to be valued. In fact, meekness spends much of its time mistaken for passivity. But I think that meekness is much different than being the doormat. For one thing, the response of meekness is consciously decided upon, it is an active state of being. Passivity requires nothing beyond sitting back and feeling victimized as life happens TO you. Meekness requires turning the other cheek. It requires forgiving, apologizing, letting go of one’s hurts, one’s pride, one’s own ego. It requires apologizing even when it doesn’t feel fair or just or easy. It requires actively putting the needs and emotions of another before your own. And, oh, how painfully impossible that can be!

I mean this jabber more as discussion-starter than as a complete and absolute thought I have. This is all more of rumination and meditation going on in my little head. These days it seems as though my life runs in winding circles of unanswered, incomplete and unsettled. This post is more about the things I want to improve upon. So what do you think about all of this? Are you meek? Do you swallow your pride? How does one say sorry for those big goof ups? Even harder still, how does one say “I forgive you” and mean it completely? And does anyone feel like they’re improving at any of this stuff? Because lately I feel like some of my weaknesses will never go away