Thursday, June 23, 2011

30 things I learned by 30.

1. The book is always better.

2. Chips and salsa might
feel like a food group, but in all actuality are not. Same goes for Diet Coke.

3. Freckles, curves and naturally curly hair make for a unique kind of beauty. I prefer unique beauty.

4. Loving your job is only possible when you make sure to love your life as well.

5. No one is all good. No one is all bad.

6. Good friends are precious and rare and happen when you know how to be one in return.

7. My parents are wiser than I ever gave them credit for.

8. True charity isn't merely dropping something off at good will or the occasional service project. True charity is loving unconditionally even when it is hard to do so.

9. A good teacher ends up being more of a student.

10. Laziness is usually just a mix up in one's priorities.

11. Life hurts. A lot. And then something miraculous happens to remind you how very good it all is.

12. Every baby is pure and perfect. A miracle. Everyone was once a baby.

13. Harboring feelings of offense or anger or vengeance hurts me more than anybody else.

14. I'm terrified of losing and grieving someone, anyone who is close to me--someone who fills my life with joy. I know I'm blessed that I haven't had to yet.

15. Time is very easily wasted if one isn't mindful.

16. Some so-called "time-wasters" are also those moments you grow closest to people, including yourself.

17. Some of life's most spiritual moments happen in quiet, outdoor places.

18. The first time holding hands carries so much more weight than anything that falls after.

19. Education happens everywhere if you pay attention.

20. It is important to know how to decipher between that which is arbitrary and that which is a true measure of value.

21. Some of life's best experiences happen outside of one's comfort zone.

22. Failure isn't really failure if you gave all of yourself over to the attempting.

23. Prayer is real. Someone
is listening if you are sincere about it.

24. Mediocrity in one's efforts leaves one unsatisfied and empty.

25. God, Life, The Universe, call it what you may--s/he/it knows what we need more than we do.

26. Painted toenails and mascara will always make me feel feminine and pretty--even when I'm 90.

27. I am loved because I see myself as someone worth loving.

28. Curiosity and imagination are the true ingredients for intelligence.

29. I'd rather be considered a smart woman than a hot woman.

30. There are times for acting like a grown up and times for acting childlike. It is important that I coordinate my behavior with the appropriate occasion.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Letters that Need Writing

Dear Summer Cold,

You stink. At least I think you do. I can't really smell at the moment. But if I could, I'm quite certain you would stink.


Dear Garden (specifically the tomatoes),

Please grow. I'm begging you here. What's it going to take? Need I open a vein a la
Little Shop of Horrors?

A First Timer

Dear Cardigan Sweaters,

Without your loveliness I'm quite certain I'd go naked--or at least have more morning "I've nothing to wear!" tantrums.

Your Biggest Fan

Dear Pinterest,

You're sucking more of my time away than necessary. I can't say I mind all that much.

The one who can't help but smile and celebrate

Dear Best Friend,

Happy 29th Birthday this week! I'm happy you were born. I might be a hot mess without you in my world.

"Little Pinch"

P.S. I dare say it is time for a new blog post in your neck of the woods. Just a (kind of pushy) thought.

Dear Snow in the Mountains,

You're cramping my hiking style. And I hear you're going to wreak some serious flooding havoc down in the valleys.

Not a skier, not a fan

Dear New Second Job,

You're really not all that shabby as long as I don't think about missing out on my lovely summer. Nonetheless, thank you for helping me pay off debt. Thank you for making my travel dreams seem like a possibility. Thank you for not being in retail. I'll hope my appreciation lasts even as school starts up again (eeks!).

The New Girl at Work

Dear AP Kiddos of 2010-2011,

I kind of miss you. But in order for me to bid a gleeful farewell to my obnoxious 9th graders, you and I had to part ways as well. Bummer. Please don't forget me.

Your favorite English teacher of the moment

Dear Body,

Take this plateau and shove it. No, really. It is rather frustrating.


Dear Target,

It is a love/hate thing with you and me, isn't it? Why must everything about you be so tempting?

Weak to your wily ways

Dear Writing,

It has been far too long. I miss you. Let's change that, shall we?


Dear Chris O'Dowd,

You're giving Javier a run for his money. Good boy.

A Bit Smitten

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sol y Soul

“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness
the astonishing LIGHT of your own being.”

- Hafiz

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

To You, Cheryl

Last Friday, a dear friend lost her battle with cancer. I posted about it once upon a time here.

It came as a shock. I was reading
Oh, the Places You'll Go! to my AP students on their final day of class when my co-chair came to the door to tell me. We looked at one another and there weren't any words. What can one say in a moment such as this?

You see, Cheryl was a feisty, charismatic, ethical, and entirely beautiful human being. Every teacher who has ever worked with her can only say all that is good about her. She was only 62. She'd taught in our district for nearly 25 years and she was really, really talented at it. Those who CAN teach. She was to retire at the end of this year. And then the ovarian cancer we thought she'd beaten last year returned. Everywhere. And suddenly time seemed to be of such import to all of us who were touched by her.

Today, after her husband had a chance to take what he wanted of his wife's career, several of us went to help clean out some of her things from her classroom. And still, the space smacked of Cheryl: the posters, the unique and quirky teaching aids, the videos and beautiful volumes of poetry. The treasured mythology projects of bygone students. I teared up to see her handwriting still scrawled on the calendar--the little reminders we teachers give ourselves.

It felt healing, spending some time in a space that was so uniquely Cheryl just as I knew her. To be in a room that she designed, in a space that had soaked in her energy day after day. Sometimes I feel as though a teacher's classroom is a statement about their personality and teaching style. With Cheryl, this was true. As I worked, it struck me what a beautiful life she's lived. Until the end, she loved teaching. Her students adored her, trusted her, felt safe in this room because she was there. She was wise and gracious and funny. She taught them the double entendres in Shakespeare's plays and made them act out balcony and fight scenes. She took them out on the back lawn under the trees and made each one lay stomach-down and stare at the blades of grass when they read

Her death is a tragedy. But her life, her life is just as I think she would have wanted it. She raised three kids. Had a happy second marriage. She loved a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with friends. She read--oh, how she read. She was the best at suggesting good, entertaining books. She spent each day of her life imparting only the most important gifts to the future. Her life was a good one.

Henry David Thoreau, whom Cheryl adored, once wrote, "...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."

Cheryl LIVED. Fully. I, like so many others, will miss her. I only hope that I can live my life in a way she did.

Friday, June 3, 2011

On Cooking, Booking, and Other Good Things

Recently I read this:

Not only did Bard's sweet and simple gem convince me that I don't REALLY have what it takes to live abroad--other than in my imagination (let's face it: American convenience can be nice), but it made me want to cook. It made me want to cook and be really good at it. It made me desire to share recipes I've mastered. I've long enjoyed watching Food Network--especially that Hampton Yuppy, Ina Garten. But this gem of a memoir made me long to walk to the farmer's market hosted at my local park and let its wares create my week's menu. It was entirely entertaining and I can't wait to try some of its recipes.

I warn you: if you do read it, please do so on a full stomach (or at the very least with a full refrigerator)!

Next on the docket:

Major Ernest Pettigrew is that old fashioned sort of British curmudgeon that brings me nothing but delight. Simonson's novel is witty, sharp, perceptive, and includes a bit of romance. (C'mon--who doesn't like a little romance?) Pettigrew's inner-monologue won me over. He's human through and through. Read it. The end.

And, finally, this fun escape:
I love rockin' book sales. The Borders near my house went out of business recently and this cover caught me--it was one of my lucky sale finds. Beginner's Greek is chick lit at its very heart, but chick lit with decent prose. Peter and Holly and their delayed love made me swoon and ache and long just a bit. The plot has moments of shock but the main characters' story remains delightfully predictable. I argue that sometimes this isn't a bad thing: these well-carved rivers of story are necessary, comfortable, and entirely entertaining. Even as an English teacher who forces the tragic on my students (Cold Mountain, anyone?), I like a happy ending as much as the next gal.

In other mediums of loveliness--

I've fallen hard for some new (to me) cosmetics & beauty products:

ULTA makes a mean eye shadow.

I love the shade "Twilight" and, on my flashier days, a shimmer of "Envy":

(as an aside, I want the job in which you name the various hues of cosmetics)

Next up:

Shellac nailpolish is pretty much amazing. I've long adored a crimson splash or shocking shade on my nails, but longer loathed the chipping and purely craptastic appearance it gets after one day of teaching or a single load of dishes. My life doesn't allow for upkeep of such things. But along came a solution: gelish, shellac, call it what you may. This stuff is a hybrid of gel and nail polish. It lasts up to 14 days (though I can't handle the length my nails get to by then). Alice and I tested it out when we went to Cancun. It made it the entire trip and then some. It has altered my world for the better.The roomie got a "little" kit with UV light and the rest of the products for her upcoming birthday from her rather awesome momsy. Life is good when one's polish plays permanent. (And when one's best buddy come with polish perks!)

As a teaser: I also "re-did" my bedroom. Photos to come soon. I hope. No, really.

School's out next Wednesday. I'm back. Promise.