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.