Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Emmy Darko

We've had Donnie Darko for over a month, waiting to watch it until we felt we had time to spare to commit to a "weird" movie. One of my most passionate students in my film analysis class last year recommended it, and it finally arrived from our queue. However, with my finishing my degree and Pat finishing the basement, it's just been sitting on the shelf. My student had said it's "craaaazy", but "reeeaalllly good". And I think I agree.

It's just weird. Really. Really weird. And yet, it is beautiful, scary, and deeply thought-provoking. I really recommend it. The movie makes you contemplate death and what it can mean to others (among a host of other things), which is why I've once again realized how easily I can imagine people dying. Well, that, and the fact that we did *almost* die while watching it.

Okay, so that's a ridiculous exaggeration, but in my mind, we were inches from certain death. With only about ten minutes left in the movie, when its intensity has built and built and is exploding in a reverse montage sequence that had us thinking "huh?", we were suddenly overcome with the piercing sound of a smoke alarm. The one above our heads was not going off, so we realized it was not the smoke alarm, it was the carbon monoxide detector. This particular model also measures gas leaks, and since it was about 8 feet from the furnace and we have been doing construction down there, we had cause for concern. It didn't stop. Although we didn't feel nauseous or smell gas, we called Centerpoint, just because this had never happened before. A smoke alarm goes off, and all you have to do is think, "well, darn, I burned the cookies", but when a carbon monoxide detector's gas alarm goes off, you worry. They figured it best to come out.

Before gas man came to the rescue, I had so many thoughts and visions of our impending deaths, it was ridiculous. I even said to Patrick, "well, if the house does explode, we'd most likely both die, so it would be okay." I wondered if the dogs would die, too, and if not, who would take care of them? Who would teach my classes if my house exploded? I envisioned, like from the movies, the slow motion sudden explosion. I poured a glass of wine and ate a piece of leftover cheesecake. If I was going to die, I was going to die happy. There was no time for sex, what with the gas man on his way over and all. When I was sitting talking to Neisha, still waiting for the gas man (this all took place in about a ten minute time span, by the way), I said something like, "in case we die...", and she said, "you're a little obsessed about death, huh?" Yeah. I am. A lot. But I'm not sure it's incredibly unhealthy. Or healthy.

Like the intentions of Donnie Darko, it is an enigma. And I'm okay with that.

Of course, the gas man came and checked it out. It was a false alarm. Apparently this is common with the model we have (which I don't believe because it has never happened before...what triggered it?). Exhale, we are not dead. But we might die tomorrow. We finished the movie and went to bed. Still alive.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Master Me

A happy dance. A little kick, a little wiggle, and some jazz hands. I may have yelled “last class EVER!” more than once. Perhaps I cranked the tunes and did a little head-banging on the drive home. A glass of pinot grigio with my husband before bed. Treats for my class; a thank-you gift for my advisor; a party on Saturday.

Ahhhhhhh, celebration.

I told my students I may very well be a more pleasant person from now on (not that I’m horrid currently). I think this idea will transfer to all areas of my life, however, as I have been in graduate school now for over four years. Nine semesters. I have been in school for my entire teaching career. I have been in school during my entire relationship with my husband (which also reached a milestone yesterday: three years since our first date). I could possibly be a new person with less stress and more time. I wonder what that will look like…

See you Saturday, friends. Thanks for your support. You can call me Master.

Friday, December 7, 2007

66 years ago:

This documentary states approximately 1,000 WWII veterans die each day.

The WWII Memorial in our nation’s capital was dedicated on May 29, 2004.

The Pearl Harbor Memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day 1962.
September 11th has already started to pass by unnoticed by some a mere 6 years after the tragedy. December 7th has been significant for 66 years. We should always remember, so we never forget. We are the most powerful nation in the world, but that makes us ridiculously vulnerable as well.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

always Thankful

"You guys ever wonder why they call it THANKSgiving?" --Joey, Friends

Well, for the thanks, of course. Although I appreciate the small and large things in my life for which I can be thankful every day of the year, I do so love this one special day. Despite the fact that it's more about food than gratitude, I love the warmth and joy of the occasion. Only a small contingency of my family will celebrate together tomorrow, but the ritualistic qualities of baking pies, making the drive, and playing Scrabble with my mom and aunt are incredibly comforting. Later this evening I will roll out the pastry I made yesterday, then fill it with pumpkin and apples, both fruits hand cut and frozen earlier this year. I feel more traditional and proud of things when I make them from scratch, like these pies. Yet, I don't hesitate to enjoy convenience when necessary. I am thankful for convenience and for tradition.

Two Thanksgivings to enjoy once married. Saturday we'll venture to southwestern Minnesota for a couple of days "on the farm". The large celebrations that occur three times a year in my husband's family are still something I'm getting used to. Nieces and nephews, sisters and brothers in law, dogs, parents, and ridiculous amounts of food. Small families like mine are barely comparable to a large sprawling family like my husband's. There are no moments alone, no hiding, yet it is lovingly cozy. Families all have problems, and his is not without, but I feel honored and special to be a part of all of it.

I am thankful for my husband's family, my family. My family of friends who hold their arms open. My dogs, for they are family, too. My students and colleagues, a different kind of family, but I am thankful for their presence in my life also. Thankful doesn't begin to describe how I feel about my husband. Thankful for the (mostly) healthy life God has given me today.

Thankful to you for reading my blog.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lake Turnover

Described on MPR this morning during the weather report, lake turnover is a remarkably simple, yet beautiful, concept I had never heard of before. Perhaps I'm feeling romantic as the holidays approach, but this scientific aspect of life on Earth made me smile and give thanks.

Lake turnover is as basic as it sounds; in essence, lakes turn into themselves to rotate the oxygenated water. The beauty of design is what excites me. Water, Paul Huttner tells me, is at its heaviest at 39 degrees, causing it to "sink" to the bottom. Water begins to freeze at 32 degress, a mere seven degress fewer than the heavy water. So, the living plants and animals at the bottom of a frozen lake all year have the surface water (full of oxygen and nutrients from the summer months) in which to live all winter. If water was heaviest at 29, it would be too late, for it would already be frozen. Tough luck, fishies. But conveniently enough, water sinks before it freezes.

This is too perfectly syncronized to be a mistake.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Belated Tribute

Sunday was Veterans’ Day, a rather under-celebrated holiday. Falling on a weekend this year, it didn’t gain the periphery attention it does during the week when it causes banks to close and mail to stop. Stories and interviews all week on MPR have kept the holiday and the veterans themselves in the forefront of my mind. The lack of attention given to this day is shameful.

I’m not without guilt. When I taught writing, I had a writing assignment for Veterans’ Day. I had my students write a letter to a veteran they knew personally or just to a veteran in general. They were to give the letter to the person they knew, or I would personally deliver the generic ones to the local VFW. When I taught Sunday School, we colored flags and crosses for veterans and hung them on the wall outside the classroom. But now, it goes unmentioned in my classroom, in my entire school in fact. One of the stories from MPR gleaned mention in my lecture yesterday, but only because it was an appropriate example. But the fact that the entire school went without even a say-so is rather surprising.

We say the pledge once a week, Tuesdays as a norm, Thursdays when it was forgotten on Tuesday (yes, this has happened several times). Standing and/or reciting it is an option. An option I agree with, yet I secretly judge my students who don’t stand. I told my husband about this, and he made a wonderful point: the pledge is more than just a sign of respect for our nation (and arguably our government), it is an honor to the thousands, nay millions, of men and women who have fought for this nation in its 231 years. But even with this connection, no mention of Veterans’ Day before or after the pledge this week.

My father was a sergeant in the Army in Vietnam. Both of my grandfathers were sergeants in the Second World War, one in the Army and one in the Navy. My heart runs full of veteran blood. I donate money every few months to the Paralyzed Veterans of America (and not just because they send me return address stickers). I have a nephew in the Navy; a friend in the Marines, and a niece who at 17 just decided to join the Guard. I thank men and women I know have served; really being grateful and proud of them. Unlike my father’s tour of duty, these people are there by choice. Even if they enlisted for the money for college or a reason to get the hell out of here (wherever that may be), they knew there was a possibility they could go to war. THAT is an amazing act of bravery.

I hate this war we’re fighting in Iraq, killing so many people on so many days. I hate the Bush Administration with all of its lies, “compromises”, and ridiculously bad decisions. I hate the idea that people have to fight wars at all…can’t we just all get along? But I love veterans. People willing to risk their lives for others or for a cause are beyond brave, they’re heroes.

Despite that heroism, most people let Sunday slip by without so much as a whisper. If you haven’t lately, thank a veteran. Every day, pray for their safety.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Times I cursed my alt plan paper? Tissues I used to wipe away the tears of frustration? Dollars I paid for the credits? Cups of coffee enjoyed in the last month?

None of these. Sheets of paper printed at Kinko's yesterday. By eliminating the superfluous Appendix B (50+ pages), my APP ended up being exactly 100 pages. Title page, sign off page, acknowledgement page, table of contents (2), and a 95-page documents with all the information you would ever want to know about NCLB and more equaled exactly 100 pages. Of course, I printed five copies, for those of you who are not math geniuses. A stack of cotton paper over five inches thick, signatures at the ready, and a knowing smile from the woman at the graduate office receiving desk.

Now, it is officially done, an email of approval and acceptance to prove it. No more waiting, wondering, worrying if my committee will like it: they did. One has intentions as using it as a reference in her Comm Pedagogy class. Yay me.

I know this is the umpteenth time I've written about this in the last month and a half, but I don't care. I'm damn proud, not to mention relieved. It's my paper and I'll brag if I want to :-).

Party: December 15th.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Much like our soon-to-be Attorney General, my school condones torture. Not water-boarding, not vicious dogs, but torture nonetheless.

During passing time, Hanson's MmmmmBop is being played every hour, every day until we raise $1,000 for Toys for Tots. An effective fundraising technique or cruel and inhumane? Hard to say...

(I have already put some money in the envelope...)


Our levy was split into three questions, basically asking for a renewal of previously granted funds, an increase in student operating costs, and in increase in technology funds. Question one, the most important, passed. The other two did not. What this basically means is we will cut $1.3 million instead of the projected $7.3. This is a significant win. It is sad the other two didn't pass, especially since one was only a margin of 15 votes, but still it's progress. Hopefully, this means I have a pretty good shot at working here again next year, but only time will tell.

Thanks for your support.

Monday, November 5, 2007

One day a year

For the second year in a row, my district is one of many sending voters to the polls in hopes they will vote “yes” in its attempt to raise property taxes to fund the local schools. Last year, “no” was the answer, and we cut $7 million district-wide, resulting in the loss of 80+ full time staff (spread over 14 schools and the district office). In my department, we lost my fave, my Molly, and the loss still hurts. In addition to cuts in staff, we raised fees, cut programs, and cut staff development. This year, tomorrow, another “no” conclusion will result in another $7 million decrease in funds. I could lose my job as easily as Molly lost hers last year.

With this in mind, readers, consider this (yes, I’m politicking on my blog):
*My district is one of 99 MN districts with levies or referendums on the ballot tomorrow. Though this is an “off year” in terms of big politics, please consider the other issues and GO VOTE TOMORROW.
*The federal government provides only 9% of the money needed to fund public education. The rest comes from state and local government. In MN, we have good ol’ Tpaw in office, meaning the local government (i.e. your property taxes) funds the majority of schools’ needs.
*A house with an estimated value of $350,000 will only see a $400 increase in property taxes to support my district’s proposal. This situation is similar in most districts. This equals only $34 a month. I spend that on Caribou Coffee each month, for pete’s sake. Consider the ways in which we spend our money…isn’t education a priority?
*Until major education reform that works happens (death to NCLB), schools WILL need to keep asking citizens for more money. It is an inevitable fact.

Please vote tomorrow, and if your district has a school levy, vote yes. If you are NOT a homeowner, then you should definitely vote yes, as the tax increase won’t hurt you at all :-). For me, tomorrow will be a day of worry. My job is in the hands of the voters. Not many people other than politicians can say that. Even if I don’t lose my position, my job will change. If “no” is the vote, then my class sizes will go up again, my development will be denied again, and my students will miss out on valuable opportunities, as more programs and activities will be cut. Think of the whole (community) instead of the part (you).

(*steps off soapbox; goes back to work*)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The sky is blue again

Yesterday, I finished writing my alt plan paper. The paper itself is 79 pages. Then it has five pages of front material, nine pages of references, and 55 pages of appendices. Damn. I was shooting for around 40 when I started. Turns out that's near impossible with an eight-point analysis of three artifacts.

Now the paper will be read by my committe, as the oral defense has been waived due to my commuting, non-trad status. My advisor is nice like that. If it contains no major errors or rewrites, I will be officially finished. It has to be in the graduate office by 3 P.M. on Friday, November 16. I plan on turning it in on the 12th. Keep your fingers crossed that nothing major will be wrong with it.

Now, I know none of you want to read a 79-page diatribe about No Child Left Behind and the Bush Administration. However, I do want you to read this, my acknowledgement page, because you're all on it:

To [advisor], a supportive advisor, a quick responder of emails, a knower of
all things, and a generally wonderful man. I have learned more from you in my college years than everyone else combined. Thank you for advising me for the past eight years, both educationally and otherwise.

To [committee member], your guidance and advice in the one class I took from you helped
me to see my own potential. Thank you for supporting my wayward process of
learning, for reading and critiquing this paper, and for being a strong role model.

To my darling friends, thank you for providing advice and coffee breaks, for
putting up with my neurosis, and for being present for me in every way.

To Leslie, for being the kind of sister and friend I can look up to in every way but height.

To Mom, for supporting every decision I have ever made, both good and bad, helping me
realize I will always be good enough, smart enough, and successful enough for
you, and subsequently, myself.

Most importantly, To Patrick, my amazing husband, my personal advocate, my best
friend. No one believes in me more than you, which means more to me than any
degree ever could. Thank you for making me laugh, for holding me when I cry,
and for agreeing to spend your life with me. I love you.

So now I sit and wait for an email telling me I'm a genius and to go ahead and get that monster printed. Of course, I have a seven-page lit review to write for class on Monday, and I still have six weeks left of class, but the major hurdle is behind me.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

This is productivity

Screw you little Mac computer man.
How dare you tap your foot or
Sway your little computer tush to the absence
Of my typing.
When I pause to think or check my research
You look with your nonexistent eyes from
My document to me with an arrogance
Too bold for your pixel count.
Now you have turned your back to me.
You casually provide sideways glances
Intermittent with the typing of this poem.
You assume now, because I am typing,
That I am getting work done.
But I am not.
You have distracted me with your judgment.
So I will pause, click your red ‘x’ to send you
And get back to the task at hand,
Minus your critique.
As a hand appears on your tiny screen
To wave a fond farewell before fading into
Computer oblivion,
I curse your condescension once more
Before attempting to write chapter four again.
Go to hell, Mac computer man.
You’re not even cute like the PC dog.

I might have some writer's block angst. Hard to say...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

deflating=aches, tired

For the first time in a long time, I was dizzy and lightheaded yesterday morning. It lasted a few hours, but waned in the afternoon. I used to faint with little to no warning in high school, which, after seeing many specialists, was diagnosed as a valve malfuntion or something I don't remember exactly, but was told I would grow out of. I did. With no reasonable explanation for this episode (no, I'm NOT pregnant, as many have suggested), I think my body is just mad at me.

I don't sleep enough; I don't relax enough; I stopped working out three times a week; I stopped attempting to eat healthier; and I am severely overworking my brain. According to my email records, I finalized my APP topic on September 15. I researched for three weeks. I began writing on October 9. In two weeks, I have written and revised two whole chapters, totaling 34 pages. I have three chapters left, and certainly not three weeks left (okay, technically, I do...but I don't want to bring it down to the wire even more than I already am). Meanwhile, I am working 40+ hours a week, and taking a night class for which I also have a few hours of homework each week.

I am not losing it. In fact, I will not allow myself to lose it. Finishing this paper and subsequently this semester will complete my four and a half year journey to Masterdom. I can't give up now. I'm worried, however, that my body is giving up without my mind's permission. In addition to the out-of-the-blue symptoms of dizziness, I'm in constant pain. I have always carried my stress in my shoulders and a whole heap of it is sitting heavily on my right one as we speak. It's been there for a while now. I am uncomfortable sitting at my desk, standing in any fashion, and even laying in bed at night. I have a massage appointment on Saturday, Nov. 3. Eleven days. I hope I'll make it.

Because I fear my body is giving up on me, I'm going to attempt treating it nicer this week. I will stay at work to focus on my paper (I work best in a silent room alone, an impossibility in a house with two dogs and a basement-finishing husband) tonight and Thursday until 5. But then I will go home and relax. Tonight, relax in public, as I am going to dinner and a movie with friends. This is a rest for my brain. Tomorrow, however, will be this week's crowning glory: yesterday after my episode, I decided I needed to sleep. To that end, I'm going to play hooky tomorrow. I will sleep until ten at the earliest and then go to the library to work. My students will survive one day without me.

I am only writing about my trials and suffering to inform you, and to remind myself when looking back how hard I worked. No pity necessary or wanted. In spite of all of this, I am very confident in both the quality of my work and the time I have left to complete it. As the kids would say, "I got this." And when I indeed do have it, you will know, and you will be invited to celebrate. Last class, Monday, December 10. Party, Saturday, December 15. See you then.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Because of yesterday's post, I must share with you. I received a package in the mail today from my best friend/sister-in-spirit Jen. It had coffee, yummy chocolates, lip gloss, socks, gloves, and a nice card, your basic care package. She HAD to have mailed this before I wrote yesterday's blog about doing small things to make people happy. I do believe that is concrete proof we are cosmically connected.

Today was the worst day for reasons too silly to list (and my husband has already let me bitch about it to him), but getting this package made the day so special instead. Little unexpected kindnesses really DO make a difference. You heard it here first (or second, or third, but it doesn't matter :-)).

I [heart] Jen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Small Victories

We always celebrate large happenings in life, whether good or bad. I have a student writing her Original Oratory (persuasive speech, for those of you not part of our little world) for competition on the neglect of everyday tragedies. The outpouring of help during 9/11, Katrina, and most recently the bridge collapse is admirable, but millions of people go without food and shelter in America every day; why don't we help them? Even Angie (sorry, hon) was compelled to give blood after the bridge collapse, though she's never done it before. People need blood every single day, therefore we should give as often as possible. Same with donations to the Red Cross and others, they always need money, not just in times of tragedy. It will be an excellent speech.

Anyway, my point is that we do the same thing with victories. We celebrate weddings, birthdays, holidays, graduations: big, exciting things that only happen every once in a while. But we would be happier being proud and honored at little things, more often. Now, I know some people are authentically humble and don't like praise of any kind. I am not one of these people, as you very well know, dear reader. But praising others for small things has become a habit as a teacher, and should be more common.

My husband is putting in the ceiling in our basement; I'm proud of him. I tell him so. I finish a chapter of my alternate plan thesis (which is what I'm now calling it, as it is a mini-thesis of sorts, and will be much longer than any alt plan paper I've ever seen...Chad says, "If anyone would've turned their APP into a thesis, it would be you, Emily."). I'm proud of myself. Today, my final car payment came out of my bank account. I bought a car. By myself. It took five years, but still, I'm proud. Many people sent me cards on my birthday, but Molly sends me cards almost every week, just because. It makes me happy. I mailed my sister a gift to remind her I love her. It made her happy. Someone put up Breast Cancer Awareness Month information in the staff bathroom. Such a small effort that could really make a difference. Doing little things for people unexpectedly and offering praise for the small things often seems to make so much more of a difference than only doing things when expected.

So, I offer a challenge to my readers (a small audience to be sure, but still...): think of five things you've done in the past week that you can be proud of; think of five things people close to you have done that make you proud of them...have you told them?; and think of five things you can do for other people that will make a difference (even if it's just packing a lunch for your spouse so he/she won't have to). Then, write about it on your blog so we too can share in your small victories.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."--Margaret Mead

Monday, October 15, 2007

Yay me

I turned in 23 pages to my advisor this morning. Five pages of history and eighteen pages of criticism...that's one long lit review. This paper is going to be much longer than I expected...

I'm very proud, but have no time to spare, as it is due in its perfect, turn-in-able state in exactly one month. I've already started working on the data and frameworks sections. Pretty much everything has been moved to a back burner in my life as I plug through this, but if I can write fifteen pages in two days, I'm sure I'll manage with no trouble.

MEA break is this week, so I will spend many hours with my laptop. Thanksgiving break will be a dream come true.

I repeat, "Yay me."

Friday, October 12, 2007


I don't know if I've ever meant that cliche more. This has been one of the longest, busiest weeks ever. And I've been sick. Busy and sick. This is an often deadly combination, but somehow I made it through.

Now, with two days of "freedom" ahead of me, I am foggy-headed and just dead tired. I need to work on my paper intensesly this weekend, and I am already losing my motivation. I have to finish my lit review for sure, and I'd like to get started on the data and framework as well. Not to mention reading the articles for Monday's class. I need to stop thinking about it and over-analyzing it.

Right now, I'm blogging instead of working on my paper, even though I'm still in school. My fifth and sixth periods are smaller classes, so they're done with speeches and watching a movie. Other than finding it difficult to concentrate with Mulan on in the background, I'm taking a mental break since I haven't been able to take physical breaks. My body needs some sort of relaxation.


Today is my husband's birthday. Yesterday's blog explains our celebration, but we're also going to a friend's for dinner tonight. We might get together with the family on Sunday, but it's all pretty low-key. He's good like that :-).

He is five years and nine months older than me. He is the perfect combination of mature, responsible adult and fun-loving guy. A Master's degree in science, a good job, and a house, yet plays video games, laughs at stupid jokes, and does fun, spontaneous things. Happy birthday to my perfect husband. Who doesn't read this, so it doesn't matter what I say, but still...


I don't have anything else to write about. Now I'm just killing time. Bored. Feel like at least if I'm typing at my computer, my students think I'm working. Bad. Bad teacher. Maybe I will work on my paper a little...

(Here lies the worst blog ever.)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Good luck often comes the most unexpected situations.

Tomorrow is my husband's birthday. A few weeks ago, I thought it would be fun to take him to a Wild game as part of the celebrations, since a)even though he loves hockey, he's never been to one,and b)he's not much of a birthday person, so unlike me, he wouldn't expect or want anything big. I, being a poorly paid teacher, bought "cheap seats" from ticketmaster for last night's game (they are away tomorrow).

So, yesterday we met at home at 4:30 and then drove over to St. Paul. A co-worker of his had given us the in on a great cheap parking lot about four blocks from the Xcel. We walked, enjoying the fall chill, and found a place to eat: Patrick McGovern's. We've been here before, and it was tasty then too. It was apparently the place to be for Wild fans, and it soon filled up. After dinner and a couple of beers (me, not him), we decided just to head over early. We figured we could walk around, maybe browse in the Hockey Lodge, whatever. So, in the gates, up the longest escalator ever (longer, we think, than the one at the Guthrie, though it seemed a tough call), and around the concourse to find section 215, row something really high. Because it was so early (about 45 minutes before the puck would drop), there weren't many people up there. So, we're walking, laughing about something one of us said, and a guy in red Wild sweatshirt and lanyard ID badge stopped us.

Wild Dude:"Can I ask you two something?"
Wild Dude:"Are your seats up here?"
Us: "Yeah" (thinking, um, seriously, they check tickets up here?)
Wild Dude: "Do you want to sit on the glass?"
Us: "Yes. What do we have to do?" (thinking we'd have to sell our souls or worse, fill out a credit card application)
Wild Dude: "Nothing. You give me your tickets and your names, and I'll give you these tickets."
Us: "OKAY! Really?!?!"
Wild Dude: "Really. We'll just announce your names and put you up on the big screen at some point."
Us: "Wow. Cool. It's his birthday even!"
Wild Dude: "Great. I really chose the right couple. Now what are your names?"
Etc. etc. etc.

So, yeah. We later found out from our usher that we had won the Andersen Ticket Upgrade. Won? We didn't even do anything! It was totally sweet (yes, I just said totally sweet...later I'll say "crazy cool"). Also, on the glass seats come with perks...there's a bar behind the goal called the Fishing Lodge. People with front row seats get to go in there before the game and at intermissions to enjoy free snacks and drinks. "Wait," you're thinking, "seats on the glass AND free beer? NO way!" Way, my friend. And it was...wait for it...crazy cool. At home we were joking about being so far away from the ice we wouldn't need long sleeves...then we were at the face-off circle. I know which hockey players are missing which teeth, for pete's sake! Wait until you see the pictures. (I have every intention of posting more pics on my blog, but I'm always blogging from my computer, and we keep all our photos on Pat's computer, so they are not easy to insert unless I make special effort...I'll do a fall review or something soon.)

The Wild won 2-0. Shut out. It was great. Free beer resulted in my being very drunk (I had had two at the restaurant remember...) when we walked to the car. At one point I yelled "Gophers suck!" at a guy in in a U of M hockey jersey. Pat called me Josh. I laughed. What a great fun night. And just when we thought it couldn't get any better...

My ex-boyfriend (not THE ex, but one of them) was parked right next to us in our great little parking lot four blocks away. He hollered my name to get our attention, and we walked over, and I got to introduce my ex to my husband. This was a first for me in my three and a half months of marriage. It was great. He had seen us on the big tv. I was drunk, so I said some pretty stupid stuff (and hugged him before we left), but it was an excellent way to end the night. Yes, I recognize the bitchiness of this sick pleasure, but I don't care. I rejoiced when I found out The Ex's wedding had been called off, too, so judge away.

So, good luck came to our birthday celebration last night. I will never again say, "Things like that don't happen to me..."

Monday, October 8, 2007

Snippet #2

The first day of speeches in speech class is well underway. This semester's group of kids is so far very impressive. I love being able to write 90's in the total section of many speeches (they are out of 100). The better they are, the less bored I am. The less bored I am, the better I respond. The better I respond, the better grades they get. Everyone wins. Additionally, only one student has shown up unprepared. Usually, there is at least one an hour.

I'm very proud of them. I'd like to think it's also a reflection of my teaching, but who knows:-).

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A snippet

Why are high school cafeteria cookies SO good?

I remember when I was in high school, the soft chocolate chip cookies, sold in pairs, were the absolute best thing to buy in the snack bar line. I don't remember the cost, but it was a rare treat. Completely worth it to wait in the long line, mouth watering, for those tasty morsels. Some kids ate every day from the snack bar line (here, at my job, they call it the a la carte line...ah, suburbs). This was not healthy nor economical, yet I envied them. I was on the free lunch program, and we had to eat from the main lunch line. So, I usually only got this delicious cookie when it was the featured desert in the main line. SO good.

Today, at my high school job, I eat daily from the cafeteria. I used to bring my own lunch, but I'd forget it so often, that it became ridiculous how much I went without. So, a lunch account was born. There are MANY choices, and many of them are healthy. And then, there's the cookie. This chocolate chip cookie, sold alone as it is the size of my hand, is marketed like a retail store would: right before you pay. A large tray of these cookies sits at the register. Just like in high school, some kids get one (or, sadly, two or more) every day. I wait for it to be the featured dessert in another line. Just like in high school. Today, moments ago, I enjoyed this tasty treat. It's just as good as I remember. Maybe better.

Small pleasures.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Regret, Party of One?

My darling sister, after much prodding, has started a blog. (The train of forcing people to express themselves in this matter has chugged its way all the way to Arkansas and Texas, Molly.) On her first post, the meme that has been done by all now, she mentions her ability to admit she has regrets. This has made me think myself, as I am stressed and busy, about what things I'd have done differently. Though only 26, reflection on life circumstances, both good and bad, really make me wonder how different I would be "now" if I would have made changes "then". It should be noted that I 100% believe that everything happens for a reason. (AKA: God is WAY smarter than me, and His plan for my life I'm sure is far better than any plan I could have come up with.) One simple example of that shaped my life forever: if I wouldn't have lost my last job, I would never have married the man of my dreams (we're pretty sure we weren't going to survive that long-distance thing much longer). Despite this belief, I often ruminate about my "regrets". Here, in no particular order, I have thought about a few:

1. I would have been less of a bitch in high school. I'm confident most people didn't like me. I was an over-achiever, and I had some "mental" issues, meaning I was of course smarter and more "put-upon" than my peers. They were beneath me and my extreme intellect and intense emotion. I really thought that way. I am proud of the things I accomplished in high school, but FUN was rarely one of those things. The friendships I have maintained from that time period (love you!) are miracles I can't explain. I want to be able to instill the message of my mistakes in my own students, but they will have to learn them themselves. This is often painful to watch.
2. I would have gone away to college. I stayed in my home town because my boyfriend was still in high school and I just had to be near him. As much as I loved my college (I really did; it's a great school), I never had the experience of going away and being a part of something new and scary like dorm-life, strange faces and places, and a more challenging "growing up" experience. This regret, however, is slight, because some of my closest friends and, subsequently my husband, were brought into my life via college. Plus, I don't have ridiculous school loans. Just a few grand.
3. I would've gotten out of my first "real relationship" before I was so badly hurt. Anyone who reads this knows to whom I am referring. I am proud to say I learned a lot from those mistakes, and am now able to fully love and appreciate my husband, but so many things would be better off now if he would've exited my life sooner.
4. I would have spent more time with my sister before she moved away. We are closer now than ever, and even more recently, I "get" her. We have grown up and are now best friends. If I would have had the knowledge and concern to find out who she really IS sooner, we wouldn't have wasted all those years of living in the same state, town, house. See? If I wasn't such a self-involved, egomaniacal bitch earlier in life, my relationships would have been healthier sooner :-).
5. I would have enjoyed college more. Staying in home town was great, but I worked too hard. I took overloads of credits, summer classes, just so I could graduate early. I now ask myself: WHY? What a waste! That was the time to love life, to party, to make more friends (though the ones I have are great), and to explore new things. Another message I wish I could share, but can a teacher really say, "Grades in undergrad aren't THAT important...go party with your friends all the time"?
6. I always regret little things, not offering to help, or being lazy, or not being the best friend/wife/sister/daughter/teacher I can be. These things come and go on a daily basis, and I just have to remember to keep trying.

In turn, here is a less explanatory list of things I will NEVER regret:
1. My family
2. Callling Heather to tell her I had a crush on Pat
3. Spending money I didn't have to spend two months in England
4. My tattoo
5. Being honest
6. Being bold
7. Being afraid
8. Telling people I love them
9. Drinking a whole bottle of Pinot Grigio because I feel like it
10. Adopting puppies, even when they eat your brand new luggage
11. Getting married
12. Having a blog :-)

"Life must be lived forward, but it can only be understood backwards." -Kierkegaard

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Homework dialectic

With seven weeks until my alternate plan paper is due, I am beginning to stress about the amount of work I have to do. Often, when I am working on research or writing, however, I can't seem to forget the stress. I worry that I'm not doing it right, that I won't finish in time, that I'm not writing to the best of my ability. But I can't concentrate on working with the stress looming above my head. It's a difficult situation. I wish I could snap my fingers and "POOF!" it's December 15th and I have finished my degree. If only...

Friday, September 21, 2007

My First Meme

Molly did this meme on her blog this week, and she "tagged" anyone reading it who hadn't done a meme lately. Well, I've never done one on my blog, so here goes...

Seven Things I Plan To Do Before I Die:

1. Travel more. My small taste of international travel from college has kept me dreaming of all the many places I'd like to go.
2. Live in the country. Even if just for awhile, or during the summer, I'd like to experience the quiet.
3. Have children. I am eager to be a mother, and will adopt if necessary; I sometimes think mothering will be my greatest skill. We'll find out in a few years :-).
4. Write a book. Textbook? Novel? Memoir? Children's? The choices are many, I just know one exists in my future somewhere.
5. Donate a significant amount of money to an important cause. I volunteer and give money each year to some good causes, but I'd like to some day be in a position to make a big difference instead of a small one.
6. Learn to sew well. I am dabbling in square things, but I have the urge to do more. I have a student who makes most of her own clothes, and I am very impressed.
7. Have a vegetable garden. Living in the country will help with this immensely :-).

Seven Things I Can Do:

1. Teach a room of thirty-six students how to properly structure an introduction for a speech. (Guess what we did this week in class?)
2. Laugh at myself.
3. Get lost in good literature.
4. Say the alphabet backwards as fast as forwards.
5. Drive a manual transmission.
6. See the beauty in small things.
7. Appreciate how blessed I am to have my husband, friends, and family.

Seven Things I Can't Do:

1. Get over my sister living in Arkansas.
2. Convince my new puppy to sleep at night.
3. Shoot a left-handed lay-up.
4. Ignore people.
5. Keep my mouth shut.
6. Wake up before ten unless my alarm is set.
7. Live up to my own expectations.

Seven Things That Attract Me to People:
1. Commitment
2. Honesty
3. Work ethic
4. Motivation
5. Confidence
6. Sense of humor
7. Joy

Seven Things I Say Most:
1. I love you.
2. Listen, please!
3. (and then…) I said please!
4. Good morning, (insert student name here).
5. Jersey, come! (and now Phoebe, come!)
6. Thank you.
7. I’m hungry :-).

Seven Celebrity Crushes:
1. Justin Morneau
2. Taye Diggs
3. Angelina Jolie
4. Katherine Heigl
5. Anderson Cooper
6. Leonardo DiCaprio
7. T.R. Knight (I know he’s gay, but I don’t care. Numbers 3 and 4 aren’t gay and neither am I, but it doesn’t mean I can’t admire…)

Seven People I am tagging:
1. Jen S.
2. Leslie (so she has to start a blog)
3. Angie O. (so she’ll actually post on her blog)
4. Chad (same reason as Angie)
5. And anyone else
6. who reads my blog
7. and has one of their own on which to post!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A review

Indeed it has been a week since my last blog entry. The busy-ness of my life this week has led to the predicted decrease in blogging. For those adoring fans who have emailed me requesting a blog (okay, one, and she was kidding, but a girl's gotta take it where she can get it), here is a brief recap of my past few days. Perhaps you will realize why there has been simply no time.

Friday- The annual conference of my favorite professional organization was held in Rochester. I spent the whole day learning about speech teaching, speech coaching, and what's going on in the worlds of my friends and colleagues from other schools. This conference is always super educational and equally fun. Speech people are great people. I should be working on writing my review of the conference for my department, but I will do that tomorrow :-)

Saturday- The conference was scheduled to conclude at 1:30, but it was a simply gorgeous day, so I skipped the last two sessions and left at 10:30. I met my husband and his family at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen. It was as beautiful as ever. I try and visit this lovely location at least once a season, as they always have a special exhibit that's different each year. Last year's was "Secret Garden" and they had little artistic gardens set up throughout the property. This year it is "Art to A-Maze" with artistic sculpture and landscaping leading to a maze made of bushes. It was beautiful and fun. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law together know about everything there is to know about plants and gardening, so it was refreshing to have any questions I had answered. That evening, because the parents were in town, we went to my brother-in-law's house for a barbeque. The air became chilly after sundown, so we had a fire and sweatshirts. It was a perfectly spent, lovely fall day. I took many pictures at the Arboretum, by the way, and I intend to post several of them as soon as my husband takes them off the camera.

Sunday- Our lives forever changed. Not too much to say about the day except: we drove. A lot. To Kansas City and back in one day is not a trip I would agree to under any normal circumstances. But, dear regular reader, you may remember this was the day we ventured south to meet Phoebe. After a lunch with my sister and her husband, we quickly brought our new baby home. We were worried about her because she didn't go to the bathroom once all day. We were also quite worried about her meeting our first dog, Jersey. But there was nothing to worry about, it turned out. They were fast friends, playing in the yard until we made them come in for bed. One last trip outside before lights out to see if Phoebe would go, and she did. Ah, home. Home is where you feel comfortable going to the bathroom. We love our new darling, despite her keen ability to keep us up at night.

Monday- Back to school with VERY little sleep. Night class. Certainly no time to blog.

Tuesday- Again, very little sleep. Much rain, many things on my to-do list: lecturing all day at school, meetings after school, to the gym for a workout, baking pies for my colleagues all night.

Today, my life begins to slow down for a few days and I am looking forward to it immensely. Stay tuned for pictures and more details.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


It was 34 when I walked into school this morning. Only 45 when I left my house, but apparently (according to MPR) that's due to "metro island" heating. The sun from the previous day is absorbed into the metal, concrete, and other surfaces around the city and then released back into the night air, making it an entire 11 degrees cooler 25 miles from the city. There was frost on the football field even. Apparently, thirties and even twenties were the norm around the state. And it's still technically summer.

Fall is a time of sweatshirts, changing colors, school's return, both A/C and heat in the car, football, the season premieres of all my favorite shows, pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, new fashions in all the stores (I hate skinny jeans...when will they leave us forever?), leaves blowing in the wind, and the anticipation of the fast-approaching holidays. Time flies, and it usually takes the warm weather with it.

Four days until the new puppy comes. Here's another picture; that's her partner in crime next to her, whom hopefully Les will decide to keep.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Meet Phoebe

Les sent me this picture, so I thought I'd give you a peek. I haven't even met her, and I love her already.

I'm sure there will be many more pictures in the future, now that I know how to do it.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

We're expecting!

Husband and I have decided we're ready to welcome a little one into our home. We know it isn't the best time, it will be expensive, and many adjustments will have to be made, but you can't always plan these things. So, after much deliberation, we've decided to adopt...a german shepherd.

An email from my sister:

"Last Sunday we were mini golfing and a couple of puppies ran across the course. They were trying to get water from the ponds on the course. We coaxed them over. They were shy at first, but they came to us. They were both tired, thirsty, and thin, one so thin she seemed weak. Both had a few wounds. Well, the course is right on a major highway. We weren't even half done with the game, but I knew I wouldnt be able to let them go and watch them run out onto the HW and get killed! They were really sweet. So, in typical Les fashion, we loaded up the jeep and headed to the humane society. They were closed. Labor day weekend...everywhere was closed. Sucker that I am, they ended up at our place and have been living in the backyard ever since.

The no-kill shelters are overly full and are not taking dogs. The LR animal control shelter is a very high-kill shelter because they always have to have room for animals they pick up. They say some dogs have only 2 days. Still being really sad about losing Josie, we decided we can't let anything bad happen to these puppies.

I have checked every lost and found and placed an add. However, the condition that these girls were in, and the area of town (out in the sticks, ghetto seepage type) leads me to believe that no one is looking for them. For the first couple days, one especially expected to be hit every time we told her "no", more so by Jonathon than me. We suspect they may have been dropped off. How sad is that?

They are the sweetest dogs, and well behaved (for puppies). Both girls. One is a purebred German Shepherd. She is in that awkward ears, feet and nose are too big for her body stage, but will be a big, beautiful dog. She is really smart. I already tought her to sit and shake! The other is a true mutt! Mostly white, with some brindle patches. We think maybe some pointer or sight-hound mixed with boxer?? She'll be medium sized, probably not more than 40-50lbs. Super cute dog. Not as smart... She reminds us of Asia. She has many of the same expressions, and does the boxer "boxing". They are best buds, and I hate to see them be separated after all they've been through together but who will want to take 2 big puppies, and such different breeds. I'm sure any shelter would have to seperate them to have the best chance of finding homes.

I worry more about the shepherd. It takes a knowledgable person to properly raise and own a shepherd. They are so very smart and sensitive and need more stimulation than just a backyard to play in or they can become neurotic. They are unbelievably loyal to their family, but can be very weary of strangers if they arent properly socialized.

The other is just a friendly, layed back mutt that doesnt seem to care about anything. She's naughty and not very intelligent, but as cute and sweet as can be (J calls her Asia Jr.).

They are fun, but 3 dogs is a handful. We are in search of homes for them, especially the shepherd, spread the word...."

So, we're driving to Kansas City (halfway) to pick her up next weekend. Les said she'd keep the white one if we took the shepherd. We've always wanted to get a second dog. We were going to wait until we were "ready" (until the basment is done, until the yard is in better shape, possibly until we have a bigger house), but like I said before, you can't plan everything and she needs us. We're worried about how Jersey will feel about having a sister, as he is a very spoiled dog, but I think he'll be happy to have someone to play with. We figure if other people with houses in the city can handle two big dogs, why can't we? Wish us luck :-).

Saturday, September 8, 2007

One down, thirty-seven to go...

Weeks of school, that is. Now, for the first time in many weeks, Saturday is a different day than the rest of the week. I eased back into the schedule and comfort of teaching in the past four days, knowing that it will get both easier and harder as the weeks progress. I am most nervous, however, about my graduate work, not teaching. I really do love staying home over the summer, saying often to my husband that I want to be a kept woman. But when I am in the moments of my profession that make my heart swell with joy, love, excitment, hope, and sometimes sadness, I know that I really do love my job. I might claim differently in thirty-five weeks or so, but for now I am sublimely happy.

Joy: I had a freshman who was "that kid". That kid who means so well, who has a terrible homelife (I knew after two days that his father beat him, beat in the past tense, as he is gone now), and who loves to talk and participate. But, his well-intentioned comments and antics are not received so kindly by his fellows. Watching them snicker after he's embarrassed himself with too much information makes my heart ache. Why, then, is this under the joy category? Because he dropped my class. Could I have made a difference in his life? Probably. I'd like to think so. But he dropped it to take Woods with a friend of his, and I'm sure he's better off, happier working with his hands and tools than speaking in front of classmates, many football players, who could make him feel bad about himself. When I get him back as a junior or senior, I'm sure he'll be a little more prepared, and a little less "frosh".

Love: I have seven of my speech team kids in my classes this semester. Additionally, I have a group of about five speech team students who stop by regularly to talk with me: share ideas, chat about nothing, gossip about boys, share summer stories, etc. I love these kids. Truly. I am altogether eager to step down as head coach (too much work with finances, paperwork, politics, etc.) and madly in love with being a mentor, a teacher, a coach, a friend to this select group of students.

Excitement: My students gave their diagnostic speeches on Friday, and they didn't suck. Though they all have many areas of improvement, none of them were so bad they couldn't even get through it. Or couldn't be heard. Or couldn't stop laughing. These 153 students (five sections at 34, 35, 35, 30, 19) should be an excellent group with whom to experiment and try new things. Hooray.

Hope: I miss my friend Molly, who has left the halls of my high school. Though we still email nearly as often as we used to during the school day, there is a discomfort in knowing she is 45 miles away instead of two floors away. Somehow, before she left, I let her guilt/convince/rally me to take over her post as literary arts magazine advisor. Knowing the budget had been cut and the post came without stipend, I agreed. We've not yet met this year, but we had a good showing at the freshman activities' fair the second week of August. My hope for these kids is they will share their passion for arts and literature in my classroom twice a month. I hope I can help foster their love through my own. I hope I can be as devoted as their former advisor, who personally provided the beginnings of a very nice budget in the form of a check and an inspirational letter. Sharing this will make an excellent first meeting in a week and a half.

Sadness: Last May our school suffered the tragic loss of one of its own. A car crash took the first student from our new school's midst. She was a smart, kind, athletic student whom everyone loved. I didn't have her in class, but I had many friends of hers. Having gone through this myself in high school, I could feel their pain as strongly as my own. So sad. So tragic. This year, I have her little brother in class. He is a freshman who stands about five-two and couldn't weigh more than ninety. When the students did their diagnostic speeches yesterday, many of them chose to share about their families (they had to speak for one minute straight about themselves, including anything they could think of). This student seemed almost obligated to do the same. Verbatim: "My family...well, there's me, and my mom and dad. But that's it. 'Cause now I'm an only child, I guess." He didn't even mention her. And everyone knew what he was not saying. As the tears welled up in my eyes, it took all of my energy not to let them spill over. All I could do was smile and call the next speaker.

Ups and downs mark every day of this illustrious career. I hope I can maintain a sense of pride, not to mention sanity, as I make my way through this year.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

So far, so good

True to form, I am spending my first prep period blogging. Shame, shame on the teacher. Short post, to be sure, but still, someone should reprimand me. As I am well-planned and obviously have no papers or assignments yet to grade, I don’t feel too incredibly guilty about it.

I spent my last few unofficial days of summer enjoying myself. Surely, I could have been working on homework for my grad class, or cleaning my house, or organizing my life (a constant struggle), but I did not. Though I have spent the better part of the last two months doing very little, I still felt the need to indulge these last four days.

Sleeping until 11 (or later), going to the dog park, to the gym, to my brother-in-law’s. Not going anywhere but the backyard, not getting dressed until 3, having leftovers for breakfast. Hiking a state park, getting my brows waxed, going to Ratatouille, cooking dinner with my husband. Reading magazines in the bath tub, reading Reading Lolita in Tehran on the treadmill, reading the instructions on a bag of instant rice. Giving blood, going to the horse races with aunts and uncles, losing [my husband’s] money, drinking red wine with friends. Drinking white wine with friends, providing a couch for a friend (twice), praying for a friend in the hospital. Researching kidney donation, talking to my sister on the phone, talking to my mom on the phone, talking to my husband into the night. Dreaming the crazy dreams that things on this list provoke.

Dear summer, you shall be missed. School year, brace yourself, I am more than ready.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mrs. Teacher

Getting married has been the best thing ever. I love my husband, I love the security I feel in his love when I look into his eyes, and I love my new name. It's amazing, however, how much hassle this new name has caused me. Changing my ID's, my CC's, and numerous other accounts over the summer is one thing, but I didn't anticipate the school year well enough. I thought, "I'll go to the district office, do the paperwork (which turned out to be 8 separate forms...), and that will be that."

Yeah, right. I had forgotten my affinity for putting my name on absolutely everything I do. I put a heading on all of my assignments which includes the class name, my name, and the assignment name. Before I print and copy anything, I must go over it with a keen eye, making sure I don't print it with my old name. (Old name, former name, maiden name, I experiment with each of these terms, rolling them around in my mouth like different tastes: bitter, sour, sweet.) Changing signs in my classroom, changing registrations in software I use. Introducing myself to new staff members with my new name. (A term with which I am at ease.)

It's easier, I think, because I really do enjoy my name. I love attention, which you know if you've ever spent a tick of time with me. And when people hear my married name, they inevitably say, "Really? Like 'your royal'?" To which I respond, "Yes, but spelled differently." It is received with many a smile and often an additional witty comment. I love the attention it brings. I'm sure the novelty will wear off soon, as my in-laws assure me it will.

But still, when I email people, they don't know who I am now. I have to tell them. I have to re-establish myself. This will only get worse when the speech season starts. And I have a new mailbox. Not that this is a huge transition, but it's just another one of the things that is different. I've jumped fifteen letters in the alphabet, and I have to remember that when I look at lists.

Small adjustments that accompany one large one.

(Ironically, I am posting more frequently now that I've threatened myself and my readers that I would stumble slowly off the blogging mountain. We'll see if it lasts :-))

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Day Two, Year Five

My license expiring next June reminds me that this is indeed my fifth year of licensed teaching. Wowza. I'm amazed at how quickly time flies. I remember all of my fears and hopes of my first year, during this first week. I remember the spasm of my muscles of the first day. The panic that came each year, planning new lessons for new classes. Now, in my third year at one school, I am finally teaching a semester full of material I've already taught. Last year, I was assigned a new class that I had absolutely no experience in. And although I am indeed teaching a class I've never taught before this year, it isn't until second semester and it's very similar to the ones I'm teaching now. Making workshop week so very pleasant. (Except, of course, the absence of my partner in crime, Molly.) I am finally beginnging to feel confident and comfortable in my abilities. I am a little surprised sometimes at how others are born with the confidence. Maybe they know more than I do. Maybe they have better self-esteem. But I am still very much a rookie. I learn new things each and every day from both my students and my fellow staff members. And although I am happy to give advice, help, etc. when asked for it (and sometimes when not asked), I am still far too green to be considered any sort of expert. The coordinator of mentoring asked me to be a mentor for second year teachers. The responsibilities are nil, it's more of a social contact than anything, but the idea of being someone's mentor in any capacity freaks me out this early in my career. The person assigned as my first year mentor at this school had been teaching as long as I had, two years at the time. But because I was new to the district, I got a mentor. Which is fine. The meetings were more social than anything and it's a great system, but it seems there could be a better name than "mentor". Especially when there was observation involved. It felt like, "We've been teaching the exact same amount of time...who are you to tell me what to do?" Oh, well.

My classroom is ready to go, save for deciding how to rearrange the desks to accomodate the two new student table desks (2 students per table, for now...). My largest class size is 35, larger than any class I've ever taught at any school before. I think of Molly, however, and her classes of 40+ at her new school, and I don't feel quite as bad. For me, the worst part is the discrepancies in numbers. I am teaching the same class five times a day. In one class, I have 35, in another, only 21. This might be okay in other classes, but since this is speech class, it adds an entire 2 days to speech presentations. What will my class of 21 do for those extra days? Watch a movie. Is this educationally sound? No. But to move them along in the curriculum not only makes my job more difficult, but also seems like a punishment to those students who just happen to be in the small class. There are so many problems with scheduling, of course, and I understand everyone has their own preferences, requests, etc. To have them all fulfilled is pie-in-the-sky optimism that would truly be impossible.

I haven't revised my syllabus, written lesson plans for week one, or any other teaching type responsibility in the past two days of workshop. Instead, during the small amounts of time between meetings, I have first organized my room in order to feel more prepared spatially. It will help me to concentrate, I believe, not having piles of randomness throughout my space. Tomorrow, after more meetings, and then again Thursday, after more meetings, I will begin to form the schedule and activities for this fifth year. I'm both reluctant and excited. I miss sleeping until 10 already, but I enjoy the prospects of the year to come as well.

Despite my "easy" teaching schedule, I worry I will lose my sanity this fall, as I am finally finishing my Master's Degree as well. Between a Monday night class and the writing of my alternate plan paper, I have a lot of outside work to be doing. I have asked my husband to help me stay focused. He adorably responded, "" I told him just to remind me to be productive, check in with me about my homework, and when he sees me watching Sex and the City reruns on Wednesday night instead of researching, tell me to get off my ass and get to work. "Okay, I think I can do that," he said, and we kissed. I really do love being married.

It's odd how I feel like there are hundreds of other things I should chronicle as I begin this year, but I know I will begin to bore myself quickly. In general, in case anyone asks, I'm feeling positive, hopeful, and more worried about stress than actually stressed as I begin this school year. I leave you with the quotation I put on my "Staff Yearbook" form under "yearbook quotation" (lame, I know, but I participate in all things lame, usually): Always say please and thank you.

I think it's good advice, and never gets you into trouble.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Three topics, One post

(This is my laziness of posting...instead of writing three posts, I'm writing about three separate things within one post. Bah. Who cares ? :-))

Though planned for about ten days beforehand, I was unable to share my plans of a vacation to Arkansas with you, dear blog readers, because the point of the trip was to surprise my sister. Mission accomplished. The hardest part of surprising my sister was not telling her myself. The plan was to drive down with her best friend, Bonnie. Bonnie told Les her own sister would be accompanying her, so Les wouldn't be suspicious about Bonnie's decision to drive instead of fly (tix were expensive, but she was still planning on it until I told her I would come too). So for many days of phone conversations and Gmail chats, I had to pretend I was jealous of everyone going to visit Leslie this month. I had fun with it from time to time, giving her hints that wouldn't be at all obvious until she looked back at them later. But despite my acting abilities, I came very close to slipping up and mentioning it in passing. I didn't, however, and the look on everyone's faces was totally worth it.

When we were about halfway there, I almost gave in and told her when she called. About five hours from Littel Rock, Bonnie's phone rang. We both assumed she was calling to see if we were almost there. Bon and I got giggly and I was all quiet, not wanting to ruin it. But as Bonnie began listening to Les, I knew this was not an ordinary phone call. Les was calling to tell Bonnie that their dog had just died. This was not the news we were expecting. Les and Jonathon's darling Saint Bernard, Josephine (AKA Josie), suffered bloat while they were out and about, and by the time they were home, there was nothing that could be done. (FYI: If you are a dog owner, and do not know what bloat is, look it up now and learn, because if it happens and is caught quickly, the dog's life can be saved.) This is especially sad and unfair for Josie, because she had all sorts of health problems including Lyme disease, arthritis, hip dysplasia, and allergies. Les and Jonathon took very good care of her, doing for her everything her special circumstances required. They are the most responsible and loving pet owners ever. It was just a tragic thing that happens sometimes. When Bonnie relayed the message to me, I wanted to yell through the phone, "I'll be there soon, sister! I love you!" But we decided it would still be a nice surprise, even though it would be shadowed.

Bonnie and I stopped at a store on our way to buy a plant for Les to plant Jo's ashes under. Bonnie picked out a beautiful azalea named Autumn Sweetheart, because they adopted Josie two years ago (in the autumn) and she was the biggest (literally:-)) sweetheart there was. When we pulled up to their house then, Bonnie led the way to the front door and I walked with the plant in front of my face. Jonathon answered the door when we knocked, and Bons walked in and I walked in behind her, still keeping my face hidden in case Les was right there. I glanced sideways at Jonathon and he smiled really big and said really loudly, "What!?!" I hushed him and asked in a whisper where Les was. He pointed down toward the sunken living room. Bonnie again walked in first, then I pulled the plant down and yelled suprise. Les just stopped in her tracks and stared at me for a few seconds. No smile, no nothing. Then she walked up to me and hugged me, and we both started crying. So did Bonnie and Jen. Jen had driven over from Dallas the night before, so she was also surprised to see me. Having the people who love her the most around her on this very difficult day was special, I know. She was pretty impressed we managed to pull off the surprise, too, as she is a very smart girl.

The next day was her birthday, and we celebrated in small ways, remaining subdued from the day before. Their house is beautiful and they finally have friends (not to say they're not awesome people, but it's hard meeting new people in a new town). The week was spent mostly chatting, drinking, swimming in their magnificent pool (it is VERY hot in AR), shopping, and having a good time. Girls spending time together doing girly things. Oh, and Jonathon was there, too :-). It was a great vacation, and I'm glad I got to see my sister. I will see her again in October, when my mom and I fly down over MEA break. This living nearly 900 miles apart is taking some getting used to, but it forces us to appreciate the time we do have together.
Miss you already, Les!

"Minnesota, Minnesota, we are south of Manitoba, we are east of North Dakota, we've got something truly rare. It's fulfilling, entertaining, it's true culture you'll be gaining. Accept no immitations, it's the fair!"

This is a song. If you've never heard it sung to its adorable little jingle, ask me to sing it for you the next time you see me. I believe every word to be true. I love the fair. It is a once-a-year indulgence into a day of foregoing diets and wandering aimlessly over 310 acres of "stuff". Our niece joined us this year for her very first fair experience. Back in June, she told me Colbie Callait was going to be opening for someone, and she wanted to go. I looked it up, and she was opening for Lifehouse and Goo Goo Dolls, so we bought tickets. She asked, "What do you do at the fair?" I answered, "Eat and look at stuff." And that's exactly what we did. Items consumed: fresh-squeezed lemonade, pronto pups, cheese curds, french fries, Sweet Martha's Cookies, and funnel cake. Stuff seen: piglets being born, lots of other livestock (we enjoy walking through all the barns), tractors, The Eco-Experience (stopping to harass Pat's co-workers, as Pat himself opted out of working their booth this year), the art show, tractors, wood-cutters, family (Brian and family just happened to be there as well), the fair from above (we rode the Sky Glider), tractors, Canadian Royal Mounted police (I don't know why they were there, but the horses as well as the mounties were worth looking at), seats for the new Twins Stadium, a Great Dane that could be Jersey's dad (I love the Pet Center), and a concert followed by fireworks that made the day complete. It was a beautiful 75 degree day, a wonderful relief coming from the excruciating Arkansas heat.

Conclusions: 1. Eating fried foods is naughty, but quite enjoyable. 2. I love my husband, but the lead singer of Lifehouse is hot.

I found while cleaning today an old notebook that had very few used pages, less than twenty, I'd say. So, I decided to purge it and use it for my fall grad class which starts tomorrow evening. Before ripping out pages willy-nilly, I read them, and I found something I wrote over two years ago. It's a reaction to the book The Kite Runner I wrote while on vacation in Colorado with Pat and his family. Have you ever forgotten you've written something, come across it later, and thought, "Huh. That's not bad"? I guess that's pretty much the case here, so I decided to chronicle it by typing it here, verbatim, my scribbled reactions written immediately after finishing this book:

"Few things compare to the feelings that run through me upon completing a truly good piece of literature. Nevermind that the cover proclaims "#1 NYT Bestseller". Forget what Diane Sawyer and The San Francisco Chronicle have to say. A book that can cause me to weep so frequently at not only atrocities of humanity, but also at its wonders can only be thought of as great literature.

Such is the case in Khaled Hasseini's The Kite Runner. Hasseini has given his readers the gifts of a gripping and emotional plot, dazzling verbage and imagery, and staggering reality. As I read the story of Amir and Hassan, I wished only that it were indeed a story. And though it is a tale of heritage, family, and the ties that bind, it is set in a background that is all too real. The episodes in the book that cause us to gasp in horror are the portions that are not fictionalized.

The brutal force with which Hasseini describes the state of Kabul and other Afghani cities shows no mercy. It is nothing but painful to know that the things in this book are not things of the past. Here, in the saftey of an SUV traversing US Highway 83, I struggle to comprehend any of it. How could I possibly? Overwhelming feelings of guilt, pity, shame, sadness, and anger encircle my heart. But what good does that do? I know I will do nothing differently. I can try my damnedest to at least remember the plight of others while enjoying my vacation, but nothing will come of it. Ignorance, even when feigned, is bliss. I am a lower-middle-class American. Always have been and most likely always will be. Is it my job to try and atone for the sins of others by simply acknowledging that they exist? This, I don't know. All I can do is thank God daily for the gifts He has given me, right? No. Of course, there is more I can and should do. But what? Send money--to whom? Protest--how? Deny my own happiness to try and "even things out" a bit--? It's all too much to ponder."

Now I can throw the pages away. They were pretty sloppy anyway. I haven't yet read Hasseini's next book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, but I look forward to it affecting me in the same way.

Thanks for sticking it out for all three topics :-). It's back to school tomorrow for me, with the kids joining me next week. This summer has been the best of my life, as I've hopefully adequately recorded here. With finishing my Master's, teaching, and continuing to try and lose weight, blogging will more than likely take a backseat. Although I've only posted 18 times in the last 11 weeks, expect it to fall off even more in the coming months. It has become a form of expression and therapy, however, so perhaps I will find the time. Stay tuned to find out :-)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I (heart) TV

Judgment be damned, I am willing to admit it: I love the black plastic and convex glass box in the corner of my living room. I am angry when my cable fails. I am excited when my shows come on. I am on the edge of my seat in the bottom of the ninth. I am saddened when a show calls it quits. And I will be just as joyful as my husband when we buy an HDTV that will hang from the wall in our new basement hideaway (mere weeks away from completion :-)).

This does not make me a bad person. This does not make me a stupid person. This does not make me a person with "too much time on her hands" nor a person "who lacks the intellect for more important forms of entertainment". Pooh on the people who think that way. Despite the intimate parasocial relationships I have developed over the years with television personalities, both fictional and not, watching TV is a hobby, just like any other. Like my other hobbies (reading, knitting, cooking, baking, sketching, etc.), I do it because it's fun. Like reading a book, it allows me to escape the day, the thoughts of my own reality, and the all-too-familiar notion that I am boring. I can spend a funny evening in NY with my "Friends" if I am sad; I can enjoy the spoils of LA and celeb life with Kathy Griffin when I'm bored with myself; I can relish in the joy of serving others on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition when I am in the mood to cry.

Now, I happen to have a couple of favorite shows that I know so intimately, fun is made of me inevitably every time I quote one of them. I find myself quoting them so often, even, that I feel the need to say "Oh, that's not my humor; it's from such and such". These two shows, so near and dear to my heart, are both now off the air, allowing me complete access via DVD whenever I please (like, um, right now, for example). They are, of course, Friends and Sex and the City. Perhaps I harbor a longing for an apartment in New York City, who knows, but I believe these shows appeal to me for the same reasons they appealed to millions of viewers in their collective 16 years (10 for Friends, 6 for SATC): although completely unrealistic (I haven't completely lost touch), the characters are entirely relatable to the average American. As a communications student and teacher, I could wax on for days about the social messages, the idealistic goals, the interpersonal dilemmas (always solved), etc. ad nauseum. I won't, however, because even though these themes run rampant through these shows (I use a couple of episodes of Friends in my classes at school and a friend of mine even wrote a graduate paper on SATC), they are not the reasons I watch them. I watch them because they're fun. They make me laugh. They speak to me personally. They introduce me to ideas and trends and quirks and food. I cried when they went off the air, and I am not ashamed.

So, whether or not you believe the rise in television viewership is in distinct correlation to the decline of American intellect (yes, we are, as a nation, getting dumber every year), dear reader, I am here to tell you that, critics be damned, television serves a purpose in the lives of many. In fact, if you don't watch TV in America, you, my friend, are the exception to the rule. At my lunch table, those that aren't anticipating who will get "voted off the island" next are the ones left out of the conversation.

Live from Minneapolis, it's Thursday evening.

(Although friends of mine who "judge" me for watching too much tv do read this blog, this post isn't directed at anyone. It's just a general message to the masses. And by masses I mean the approximately 15 people who read this blog :-). That, and of course, the running theme of this here blog...memory. I must remember not to torment my own children for watching too much telly. You know, when I actually have kids.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wedding so Beautiful; Lund's so Uncomfortable

In lieu of writing a post about Molly's wedding that rivals the post I keyed about my own, I will simply link you to her words, as they are better than mine. I will, however, say a few things that truly express the beauty of the day through my eyes.

1. It was adorable watching Molly "rehearse" her wedding. I say it in this way because she was unable to have a real rehearsal, as her officiate couldn't make it. So, we all stood down by the river at the ceremony site listening to Molly ramble through the program, quickly introducing (having us raise our hands) us to the person with whom we'd walk down the aisle. She made it her own by saying things like "boogie down the aisle" and then "she'll announce our getting hitched". Then, we went up to the Barbados Ballroom (who knew it was so close?) to enjoy a feast.
2. Never again will I get to see Molly sitting patiently as a woman curls every strand of her extremely long and thick hair. Then, later, something I don't need a picture of, as it is in my mind forever: Molly, in sweatshirt and cords, hair done up fancy for the wedding, perched on her couch looking out the window at the rain with a pout on her face. She looked about four years old. Joy then, as the clouds parted right after the bouquets arrived, and she danced around the room. And really, it was just a blessing, because right after the reception began (and we were back indoors after hours of heat) thunder and hail pounded down from above.
3. I cried harder than I have at any wedding, standing in front of people nonetheless, when Molly's dad sang a song he wrote for the occasion. Although it was a beautiful song with personal touches, yet universal meaning, I cried because the relationship Molly has with her dad is so sweet, so affectionate, like mine with my father was. My father was also a musician, and although he more than likely would not have written a song for the occasion of my (or my sister's) wedding, it would've meant the world to me for him to be there. I hope everyone who had the pleasure of having a father to walk them down aisle at their weddings appreciates it.
4. The cake was delicious. (I'm lightening the mood:-).)
5. Molly's friends are very fun, as you may have read in my post about her shower and bachelorette party. Although I am lucky enough to have a husband who loves to dance with me at weddings, it was fun to dance with her friends as well. The storm raging outside only made it more exciting.
6. Molly and Ryan were both so happy, all day, from the moment they saw each other. Witnessing love like theirs makes everything so much sweeter.

It really was a very fun weekend. I'm so lucky to have been a part of it. Oh, and they already sent their thank-you cards. I got mine in the mail today. And I thought I was pretty good by getting them out within the month. Efficiency. Wednesday they head to Alaska for a week on a ship. Enjoy every minute, kids, it goes by quickly.

The second half of this post contains the rest of the weekend. When we got home from the wedding, I laid down for a nice little nap before doing the things I needed to do. Four hours quickly slipped by. When I woke up, it was already 5:30, and I had to go to the gym yet (I have started working with a personal trainer, and I am very committed to going the same three days a week every week to stay consistent). I was going to pick up dinner on my way home from the gym.

Now, there are two grocery stores about equidistant from my home. To the north, a Rainbow foods that is notorious for understaffing, long lines, and crabby people (not to stereotype, but it is on Lake Street). To the southeast, a Lund's that is notorious for being more expensive, of course. Well, the gym is south, so I was already halfway there. Because I was just going to pick up the makings of dinner, I didn't really care about the extra dollar or so it would cost me. But when I got there, I found myself in the mood to grocery shop. This feeling is rare and fleeting, so I jumped at the shot and bought groceries for the next two weeks. I shopped the deals (they had some really good two-for-ones) and just didn't find myself caring too much that it would cost a little extra. When I got to the checkout and didn't have to wait even a minute, I knew it was worth it, considering the checkout line is usually the longest part of a trip to Rainbow. What I had forgotten, however, because I have ever only bought a few items at Lund's, was that they don't let you take carts to the parking lot. They offer "complimentary carry out service", meaning a nice young man loads up your groceries into a special little cart, then follows you to your car and then loads them into your car. How nice, right? Except, that it wasn't nice; it was weird. I felt like I should talk to him during the walk to the car (which was long, as I'm trying to be better to myself by taking a far away spot at shops), help unload the groceries into the car ("Sokay, sokay" he said as I tried to help), or at least give him a tip (not allowed).

It's such a nice service, yet it really was just weird. Ultimately, I decided I should be happy with the fact that my new comfort in the lower middle class hasn't ruined my sensibilities. And that I probably would never shop at Lund's again. At least not for more than I can carry.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Right on...

We should be getting a thank-you card any day now. Few people, I believe, have ever spent as much money in one weekend at Target as my husband and I did these past three days. With two coupons for 10% off our entire purchase, we filled two shopping carts easily on Friday night. One coupon was for our registry, specifically. Our "wedding gift" from Target was 10% off anything remaining on our list. Of this we took great advantage. That was one cart. The other cart was everything else, as I have a Target Visa, and had my 10% off reward coupon. Then, on Saturday, we realized there were some things we had forgotten, so we went back. From dinner to new sheets (600 thread count on sale for $18.88 a piece, baby!) to two microwave carts to dishes and silverware to towels, we cleaned that place out. Not a single aisle remained unturned.

From those purchases, we have continued to make our life together in this small bungalow we love so dearly. Cleaning, rearranging, and replacing the old with the new occupied the rest of the weekend. What a thrill to walk in to my bedroom and see matching sheets, bedspread, shams, and throw pillows. "It's like a real bed!" my husband exclaimed when he saw it. Towels that match the decor of both bathrooms, kitchen appliances that aren't harvest gold, silverware that wasn't forged in the 70's. So wonderful to have things that are "ours" instead of "his and hers". And what's best: we did it all together. And it was fun. Organizing and cleaning and laughing punctuated nightly with dinner and Netflixed movies and sex. (The niece is out of town, giving us the rare opportunity of a house to ourselves. She is having a different kind of fun altogether: a road-trip to Lollapalooza in Chicago with a friend. Ah, to be twenty again...)

Tomorrow holds the prospect of a very large trip to Goodwill. My car is already full, and tomorrow I will add even more, as I purge our clothes closets as well. The amount of things we are getting rid of seems crazy. Nothing wasted, however, as all of it is still in good enough condition for someone else to enjoy. The next generation of college students needing pots, pans, and dishes for their first apartments, no doubt. Tomorrow will also include, sadly, another trip to Target, because of course we need an oversized Tupperware container in which to store the dogfood.

Tonight, as we looked around at all we accomplished together, we realized that our blessings are great. How fortunate to be able to have all this and love, too. We also realized we had sore muscles from the scrubbing, lifting, and running up and down the stairs. So, before bed tonight (yes, I am up without sleep again), we drew a bubble bath. Candles, rubbing each other's feet, and conversing about family, friends, work, current events, and darn-near everything else. This weekend was marriage. No houseguests. No obligations to anyone but each other. No worries but where to put the new spice rack. In the wake of tragedy last week and a month of chaotic plans ahead of us, this weekend was truly wedded bliss. God blesses us daily with many gifts...and stuff from Target.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

August: Always so far away...

Here it is. Three weeks until school starts up again, and the time has gone by so quickly. Although getting married and going on a long honeymoon is nothing to sneeze at, sometimes I feel a little like I haven't done much. I'm pretty sure it has a bit to do with the fact that I sleep until 10 or later most days. But lately, I've been staying up very late (hence this post) with thoughts charging through my mind at speeds my heart cannot keep pace with.

Sometimes there are so many things flooding my mind all at once that it seems impossible to sort through each thought and make any sense. My husband has the ability to quiet his mind and drift easily off to sleep. Literally, "Good night, honey; I love you"...snoooooore. So jealous. When I'm so irritated with my inability to even get tired that I begin thrashing about in anger, I come upstairs to distance myself from the blissful sleep of my partner. So I sit on my couch, watching Friends, and typing. So little to say that makes sense, that would be coherent on the page (screen?). The jumbled thoughts of my attempting-sleep mind do not translate into words. So much that needs to be said aloud, therapeutic to speak things that have never been spoken, but it's too hard.

Writing is good. It doesn't necessarily matter if I'm writing about the things I'm thinking about, I suppose. It's the same as watching tv; it keeps the mind elsewhere.

August is the time of year when the heat is peaking, when the mercury will soon begin to fall. Days before school begins again, the same patterns repeat as they have many years before: banners hang in stores advertising "Back to School" and all variations, children count down the days with dread or excitement, teachers start stressing over another new year with new students and ideas and challenges, and ripples of sadness echo over everyday things as we tick down the days of summer. This year's August began with new sadness, a tragedy close to home that made a city stop. Hearing the news, knowing I was there hours before it happened, feeling morbidly closer to death than I ever have before. The beginning of the aftermath with cranes brought in to remove debris, names of the departed being released, taking a detour for the first time. Surreal has been the only word that seems to adequately describe all this happening. It will be days, maybe weeks, before the recovery effort stops. Months, maybe years, until a new bridge is in place. Probably never until things are "back to normal". We will never be quite the same here in the city of lakes, and never before have I understood so clearly what a statement like that can mean.

Prayers and hope; faith and love.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"You can't just run out into the world willy-nilly, expecting dessert!"

I said this today. Upon reflection, it has deep meaning. At the time, I meant it for what it was: we (David, Nicole, Chad, and I, as I ventured to Kato for a visiting trip) were at Green Mill seeking dessert after a lovely meal, and they have a terrible dessert selection, causing us to decide to go elsewhere for the closure of our meal. So, Dave said, "Well, let's go," to which I responded, "Well, where are we going...(you know the rest)". It really made us laugh.

I enjoy spending good times with all of my friends, but I don't think I laugh as hard with anyone as I do with Dave and Chad. And, if it's possible, it's like their humor rubs off on me, and I feel funnier when I am with them. I miss them. I'm pretty sure the people at the table next to us at GM wanted to move. Chad guffaws with the strength of many men, yet he is just a dark-haired replica of Niles Crane.


We went to Culver's, by the way. I had blueberry cheesecake custard. It was tasty.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I was spooned by a woman without underwear...

Nothing allows you to be ridiculous quite like a special occasion. No time other than a friend's bachelorette party, for example, can you wear a necklace of candy penises out in public and not feel completely humiliated (only about 30% humiliated).

Last night was Molly's last hurrah. It was an incredibly unique day of "sending forth" our single friend into marriage, complete with a "shower" and a party. But, it was so much more than that. We began our day at Color Me Mine, a pottery-painting shop, to express our creativity (or frustrations) by choosing from a variety of pieces to apply as many of over 80 colors as we liked, however we liked. I made a necklace and a tile, that will serve as a trivet. This was not the "typical" Midwestern shower with finger sandwiches, pastel dresses, and silly games (like, um, my shower...which I loved, by the way), but it served the same purpose: for the women closest to our friend (who lived near enough) to "shower" her with love, affection, and of course, gifts. From there, we went to the Green Mill to eat, open presents, and have cake. Butternut squash ravioli with asparagus and sun-dried tomotoes=fabulous, just so you know.

The rest of the night took a turn for the raunchy, as we headed Downtown to a hotel. We played silly games involving nuts and bending far over (I could describe, but it is much more fun to let it dance around erotically in your imagination). A hotel room (suite, kind of, as it was quite nice) filled with women drinking, laughing, sharing, being silly, and ultimately having a splendid time in each other's company.

A tour of Irish pubs in the area, moments of embarassment during some "required" rituals of the bride-to-be, and lots of conversation totaled a night of FUN. Arriving back at our hotel room at 2:30, some of us drunk (myself included), some of us on the edge, and others who managed to completely sober up, we actually went very quickly to bed, but not to sleep. Conversations turn a little weird in the dark, a phenomenon I had forgotten from middle school sleepovers. But soon, the giggles and stories subsided to silence, and we slept.

The whole day was very fun, but not because of all the fun activities. (Is there a better word to use than fun? It seems like one of a few words that although used in many contexts, it just has no equivalent to perfectly express the joy of the moments.) Mostly, I enjoyed being with my friend Molly and her friends from the ages. This was the first time I had met her "other" friends, and it was so refreshing and not at all surprising that they are a wonderful group of women. I am honored to be in Molly's "group". Kelly, Molly's Matron of Honor (married just in April), planned the whole party and radiates energy. She and Molly smile and enjoy each other like comfy clothes. Chris, another bridesmaid and friend from high school, is beautiful and fun, enjoying (it seems to me, anyway) her recent single status. She laughs easily and pokes great fun at the annoying men who bother us during the night. Angie, wife of Molly's husband's dear friend, is down-to-Earth with her wine-making stories and comfortable, practical clothes, yet altogether intriguiging and inspiring with stories of nude beaches and nipple-piercing. She and I very much enjoyed people-watching together, finding flaws to giggle about in many of the passersby. Yvonne, a friend of Molly's also through a friend of her husband's, is spunky and sexy, muted only by the joy with which she speaks of her 3-year-old son, Brody. (Herein lies the title of this post, as she was my bed buddy, who had admitted previously to never wearing underwear, and I woke in the middle of the night to her arm wrapped around me, spooning me from behind. If I weren't so hot, I would've enjoyed the cuddle.) Jen, another high school gal, didn't spend the night, but enjoyed the night out with us by roping in most of Molly's "victims". She is fit and gorgeous, and the kind of woman you could hate easily if she wasn't so darn likeable. She is also self-admittedly blunt, which is so refreshing when so many people never speak the truth. Eireann, a friend from college I believe, was only out with us for a short while. She is a poet, and a teacher, and adorably coy. She blushed at the penis necklaces that the rest of us ate with fury. She was out of her comfort zone, I believe, and that made her presence there so much more special, because she was there to support her friend Molly.

Good friends. Good times. I look forward very much to spending another important night with them all in a mere 13 days. Congrats, Molly. We all love you.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Another year older...

"Birthday, it's your birthday; One year closer to death!"

This is a song one of my college "friends" used to sing. It's quite funny if you know the tune. There's more, but I don't remember it all. It's kind of how I feel this year. People who are older than me, including my husband, think turning 26 is nothing. However, I disagree. I would rather stay 25. It is my "Golden" birthday, which was supposed to be a big deal when I had someone to share it with, but my kindred birthday spirit moved to Ohio. Ew. Ohio. But being "closer to death" is going to be okay...

Anyway, I am 26 today. Actually, I will be in four hours. I was born at 5:05 A.M. I am home now from a dazzling night at Suzanne's house discussing Harry Potter among eight dozen other things. Good times had by all. I wanted birthday sex early, but alas, my husband sleeps. So, I blog.

Because I suffer deeply from parasocial relationships, I feel the need to reference "Friends". Recently, I watched "The One Where Everyone Turns Thirty". Although I'm not yet to that milestone, I think of Phoebe above all others in her thirty-year-old plot. Phoebe had goals for turning thirty, one of which was to do a mile on a hippity-hop, which is a little outside my own goals, but I digress. I am a very goal-oriented person. In my previous life (which is how I refer to life before Patrick), I had my whole life set out for me: marriage at 23, first child at 25, second at 27, etc. At 26, having just married a month ago, I'm a little behind that schedule. Of course, that schedule no longer exists. My mother always laughed at my "goals", because she said that no matter what I planned, it wouldn't happen that way. She was right, of course. Damn mothers and their being right. This is now sage advice I try to pass on. I try to plan as little as possible now, especially because that is how my husband prefers to live our life. I am learning. Phoebe finds out that she isn't thirty, but is instead 31. A whole year of her life lost! She hasn't done any of the things she wanted to do by the time she was thirty (have the perfect kiss, meet a Portugese person, go to sniper school), and gets quite depressed. This also makes me think of my best friend Jen, who isn't 100% sure how old she is, as her birth certificate says one thing, and the rest of her life and her driver's license says another.

I think, if I woke up tomorrow (that's assuming I'll actually fall asleep at some point tonight), and found out I was 27 instead of 26, I'd be okay with it (despite being even still closer to death :-)). Here's why:
1. A little under a month ago, I married the most perfect man in the world. I enjoy the proof of this (my wedding album) at least twice a day. I can't think of anything that makes me happier than my husband. He is everything I ever wanted, and so much more.

That's it. I lecture my students on having a 1 without a 2, but despite the other blessings in my life, he is the thing that makes being 26 fine. I love my family, my friends are an absolute dream, and my job is, for the most part, fulfilling. But having him makes life everything I want it to be. It's a little ridiculous, actually, how one aspect of my life can make me so happy.

I recently blogged about HP. Still no spoilers, but ultimately, the message one should glean from Harry is love conquers all. It's crazy how true that is. I really feel like everything else in the world could be toppling in on top of me, and having Patrick would make it all okay. As much as I was eager to get married, I know that I would've waited forever for Pat. He's that wonderful.

My thoughts are random and disconnected because a) it's almost 2 and b) I'm slightly inebriated.

Those are my thoughts on my current state of being. Here are some thoughts about how much I love the other people in my life, and how I plan to spend my birthday:
1. My sister sent my first birthday card. It came on Monday, which is 4 days early, because she didn't want it to be late, and mail from Little Rock has been known to take up to ten days. I know this, because we chatted online for about an hour, then spoke on the phone for over two. A day well-spent.
2. I got two birthday cards today (yesterday) from my in-laws (which was signed "Love Mom and Dad" and included a nice check...yay for being married) and from my Molly (which included a whole package, consisting of a beautiful paperweight and an "E" stamp; plus the most perfect card ever: yada, yada...Happy Birthday, Your Highness!!!...get it?)
3. Angie is here. She came for HP discussion and for my birthday. She baked me a cake. A yummy one with Bailey's and nuts and chocolate and all sorts of goodness. We are going to eat it for breakfast.
4. Husband bought me a pink iPod with my name engraved on it. It hasn't come yet, but he has a knack for telling me what he's bought me for gifts before I get them. I've very excited to finally jump on the iPod bandwagon, and only slightly embarassed that my niece will have to teach me how to use it.
Aside: No matter how blaze' (sp?) one pretends to be about her birthday, getting cards and gifts is just special.

I invited peoples to come bowling tonight in honor of this day. Friends, beer, heavy balls. Sounds like a celebration. I'm sure I will feel the need to blog about it tomorrow.

(I recognize that this is a terrible sample of writing, but I will embrace it for what it is.)

Happy Birthday to Me. A pinch to grow an inch...