June 28, 2006

Ink Think: New Tattoo?

I've been craving the ink and needle again. It's not like I'm an addict or that I have my whole life history inked all over my body, but I can see how people get that way.

It's been five years since I had my last tattoo, and it's not that I'm above getting another one, it's just that I didn't know what to get. It has to have meaning of course, much like ankh that reminds me to live.

Toward the end of school year, I saw a colleague of mine had a new tattoo on her shoulder. It's much larger than I would do on a visible part of my body, as the ink can sometimes draw unwanted attention. "Yes, that's a tattoo. I was young and foolish. (A lie. I was old and foolish.) Please focus on the lesson." Nonetheless, it was a beautiful piece that started up my craving for another one myself.

(If you are wondering about the number of teachers who have tattoos...most of the teachers under the age of 45 that I know have at least one. Interesting to know how universal that is.)

A few days later I noticed a sign just up the street from my house announcing the grand opening of a new tattoo parlor. How handy! And then strangely enough, a few weeks later I got into another colleague's car and found all these mini flyers announcing the opening of a new tattoo parlor--the one in my neighborhood. So then we showed off our ink to each other. FYI, I probably would not go to a new parlor. I'd go to the scarier part of town where the parlors are established.

So the seeds are there. And what do I go off and stumble across? Two things:

I'm really thinking about a textual tattoo now and even have a word picked out. It has something to do with the writer side of me. I'm not sure where I'd put it though, so obviously I'm not quite ready.

Who knows if I'll go out and get some new ink. A male friend of mine shared a bit of slang with me. Apparently a tattoo on a woman's lower back is called a TRAMP STAMP. Am I thinking about getting a tattoo there? Not so much. I already have one there and it hurt like hell. (Most people never see this ink of mine because I don't wear my pants low or my shirts high.) But you know just hearing THAT term for something I have makes me queasy. It's one thing to be a little edgy, but it's quite another to be associated with something nasty and trashy like something called a TRAMP STAMP. Ew, gross!

It curbs the craving.

June 24, 2006

Walking in the Parents' Shoes is Tight

It's my job to worry in the family. I'm pretty good at it. This week I'm worried about the educational well-being of my step children. It's not the first time, but I don't usually have much control over their education. It's not really my job and they live in a different state. And now that might change.

The kids might come live with us on a permanent basis, and now I'm not so sure about the neighborhood where we live. The elementary school we are zoned for is in the second year of not meeting AYP, the school reports that 45% of its student are LEP (limited English proficient), and last year it was a Title 1 school.

If you're a dedicated teacher, you might go running toward a school like that, but as a parent would you do the same?

June 22, 2006

A Quick Trip to Cultural Las Vegas

So I was just sitting at home today eating my leftover, meatless tostado, wondering why three days ago I thought that installing my own cable box was such a good idea because now it's not working properly. (It's not hard. Cable in. Cable out. Plug in. Now someone has to come look at it, and I should have just not been such a cheap ass because it's somehow still going to cost me $40 anyway--you just watch.) I was considering starting John Irving's Until I Find You, but I'm still kind of savoring Coupland's Eleanor Rigby that I finished yesterday.

Then my dear friend and former co-worker, Jodi, calls. Yea! She wanted to go to lunch, but wouldn't you know it? I'm eating as she's asking. But I can still go for ice tea and dessert, right? So, a little while later she picks me up and we go to our favorite place for cheap eats--seriously two people can eat prime rib for less than $15.00--drinks and tip included! But this was only lunch, so that's less than $10.00.

After we finished, Jodi got a wild hair to go to the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio. I've heard their seasonal displays are beautiful, but I generally avoid The Strip. In fact, when I do go there, I often feel like I'm on vacation visitings some strange, gawdy, touristy hell. Crazy, huh? Considering I live a straight shot 1o-15 minutes from The Strip, depending on traffic... So, uhm, yea. We go from a way-off strip cafe in low-budget casino to the Bellagio.

And it was beautiful! This season's theme is a sort of rail journey through America. It's very woodsy and folksy. It smelled nice. All green and blooming. Oh! And the building reproductions were just amazing! I could have just wandered around there all afternoon, but there are a lot of tourists with cameras, so that takes away from of the magic.

The Conservatory is right off the main hotel lobby which features Dave Chihuly's Fiori di Como. Now, flowers and plants are nice, but I could look at some pretty, shiny glass--especially Chihuly's work--all day. More like gawk is what I'd do, though. So, while people are busy relaxing and checking in at the lobby, I am just standing there trying not to look like such a dorky, gawking tourist. I don't know why, though. Probably because others weren't. I don't know why. It is just so...so...I can't even describe how wonderful his work is, and Fiori di Como is freakin' huge!

After I did some nonchalant gawking, we wandered on down to the art gallery to see what was going on there. Ansel Adams: America. Jodi wasn't too thrilled by Ansel Adams, but she decided it might be enjoyable after all. I was quite pleased because I love photography, and he's like a god! It was inspiring to see his wide range of work, and now I really want that new digital camera I've been hinting about for my birthday. It was kind of funny--I'd look at some of the pictures and think, "I've been there." One picture I thought, "That looks like Mono Lake." In fact it was Mono Lake. Oh how many rolls I've shot at Mono Lake, and none of them look half as beautiful. Man! He had the magic! In the end, Jodi did enjoy the exhibit. It's very meditative.

This lovely, relaxing, cultural afternoon might float me through some boring days this summer. And I am just pleased as punch that I learned something new in this crazy city that I usually hate to admit I live in.

June 20, 2006

The Effects of Television

There's a good ole standard, dull essay topic for ya. It's usually about the effects on children, but how about the effects on, well, people my age--GenXers?

I am getting cable at my house tomorrow. Not only cable, but digital cable. It's a big step. Here's what people have to say:

Dad: (silence) "Are you there? I just fell out of my chair."
Friend: "Welcome to the 21st century!"
Husband: "Whatever you want, hon."

It's kind of a big deal to me because I haven't had anything except the basic 5-6 channels since 1996. Yes, lack entertainment has been by choice. The story about how all this started is based on a stubborn point I was trying to make with my first husband, but that point became irrelevant after we split up. (No, it didn't have anything to do with TV.) After that, I simply realized that I could live without cable television. Plus it was a good workout trying to position myself and the rabbit ears so that I could actually see a picture on my 20-inch TV.

At times I guess I could say that I didn't need to waste my money on it since I was working all the time, but then I wasn't really saving much money shooting pool and drinking G & T's with my friends down at the Idle Hour, was I? I found time and money for that quality entertainment. However, since moving to the city where my cost of living has doubled, it kind of has been about the money. Things are getting a little easier, though, and I've decided a little luxury is deserved. More importantly, I'm tired of watching Everyone Loves Raymond reruns (I don't even like that show) in the evenings, NOTHING on the weekends, and city council meetings when my husband can't find anything else.

Over the years I've had the sense that not having cable, thus more choices for entertainment, hasn't really saved my brain from turning to mush. In fact, I think I've missed out on broadening my knowledge base. Sure, I am pretty much culturally inept now, but that was bound to happen with age. Unfortunately, I'm culturally inept with my peers. You know, I heard that MTV doesn't actually play music anymore? I remember when MTV was born! What has happened to the world? I guess it's okay because I'm looking forward to the History Channel, Food Network, the Discovery Channel and other channels in that information/entertainment realm. Maybe I'll even be able to participate in conversations in the teachers' lounge.

I know that from visiting my parents, who actually have satellite, that you can have 200 channels and still not be able to find anything to watch. In those cases, I still always have a good book nearby and somewhere out on the 'Net someone is blogging about something interesting. (Yea, I know that's not me. Thanks to the rest of you, though!)

June 17, 2006

Wakin' Up Youthful

Every morning my sweetie wakes up a bright, youthful man.

I'm thinking of one age 5.

He says weird stuff--the same thing over and over. This morning he imagines that I am writing this: "Gooooooood MORNING bloggin' buddies!"

So he keeps saying it over and over.

He often whistles. It's kind of nice, but rather high pitched. Then he'll stop and say, "Do you like my whistlin'?"

I don't want to hurt his feelings, but I it seems that no matter what I say I'll be tortured with more.

(But sometimes it really is a nice tune that makes me want to hum.)

I try to turn a blind eye to the coffee mess he makes on the counter. After four years, it's just one of those things.

But this morning, from what I understand from my position in the living room, if I'd like to add water to the kitchen floor, I can have myself a nice floor of sweetened coffee.

Did he really spill coffee and Splenda in two separate incidents?

I don't want to know.

Well, at least he tells me he loves me a gazillion times in the morning. If it comes with the other stuff, I guess his youthful behavior is okay.

June 15, 2006

Okay, So Mom Was Right...

One summer a few years ago, when I went home to find that my mother was on some mad cleaning-with-vinegar phase. I think there may have been baking soda with that, too. I thought she was a little nutty because, well...Mom can be a little nutty sometimes.

But you know, I've known most of my life that vinegar is the only thing that gets rid of hard water build-up because our well water (for outdoor use only) had extremely hard water and the city water we used inside the house was pretty hard, too. I've done a few cleanups scrubbing windows with vinegar.

I have known for just about as long that baking soda kills odors and when made into a paste, cleans silver jewelry quickly.

The coolest, weirdest thing I have known since college is that if you massage baking soda in your hair and then rinse it with cider vinegar you have bright, shiny hair that is free from styling buildup. Yea, I love that little chemical reaction on the top of my head! It's better than a nice beer rinse, I promise.

So, I really had no reason to roll my eyes at my mother as she was extolling the wonders of vinegar and baking soda on her already sparkling countertops. It makes sense and other people can attest to it--especially those frugal and natural homemakers out there.

I'd forgotten about vinegar and baking soda until a few months ago when I was cleaning the guest bathroom and noticed that the sink wasn't draining very quickly. I didn't have time to go to the store and buy drain cleaner before my company (it just so happens it was my parents) arrived, so I dumped some baking soda down the sink and chased it with vinegar and some boiling water. Some yucky stuff temporarily came back up during the chemical reaction. Ew! I'd love to describe it, but I don't even want to know what it might have been. But then the drain stopped spewing its cloggage and drained quickly. I felt like such a hero!

So, MY bathroom drain has been slow, which is no wonder considering the amount of beauty supplies I use, so today I tried the ole low budget base and acid cocktail to clear that drain right up. And while I was at it, I cleaned the sink and wiped the countertops with that same combination. Oh! My sink is so shiny that the Flylady would be proud! I thought it was old and beyond hope, but I guess not!

So guess who is going to be spiffin' up everything with soda and vinegar this week? That's right--Happychyck the Wannabe Homemaker! (Yea, it's not going to last. We all know that I'm not built for this.)

Oh, and in case you want learn more household tips today, there's a whole website that has all kinds of unexpected and creative uses for other various products. I bet my mom already knows about them. She's nutty like that--but in a cool way.

June 13, 2006

Can't Be Bored--It's Wrong!

Since summer started I have
  • done my normal weekend errands and chores, plus some gift shopping for family members
  • watched a brainless blockbuster for full price at the theater (that was not cheap date)
  • read a brain candy book and its sequel
  • taken a quick trip to California for family business where I thought I was going to die on I-15 at least 4 times
  • kept closer tabs on my blog feeds than any normal person should
  • Weighed myself and then dusted off my work-out DVD's
  • sorted socks, and then threw out a bag of mateless and worn-out socks
  • attended a end-of-year celebration where I drank a bottomless tumbler of margarita and learned things I didn't know about my co-workers--like the counselor works weekends at a local bar and makes a good margarita. And more interesting stuff, too. Hopefully the only thing they learned about me is that I can't drink a bottomless tumbler of margarita without slurring my words.

And then...on day four of my break, I was bored out of my mind.

Luckily on day five I have to attend a short training at my school and then will spend several hours afterward planning an interdisciplinary project with half my team for next year. Not that my brain is really in tune for this, and in fact my biorhythms are all headed south. The magic 8 ball isn't workin' with me either. What exactly does that mean? I am bored but still brain dead.

But I welcome a diversion from staring at the walls all day. Thanks to my minimalist decorating style (intentional) and the fact I rent my home-sweet-home, the walls are stark white and mostly unadorned. Well, except for that cobweb above the patio door that sways when the air conditioner kicks on. Yea, it's gross, but I gotta save something to do later this summer.

June 10, 2006

Just Breathe

Now, don't laugh or send advice after I say this...

Sometimes I forget to breathe. Sometimes when I'm in front of the classroom and I get really excited about something, I forget. Most the time when I forget to breathe is when I am stressed, and then I guess I am really just holding my breath.

You know that can't be good for my brain.

Schools out for the summer! Wahoo! Now I feel like I am remembering to breathe a lot more regularly. I feel like things are starting to clear. I'm not as foggy or clogged.

Summer vacation and oxygen. It's all good.

June 6, 2006

Why You Make Me Hate?

I'd rather spend my last few days of school reflecting on how well things went this year, but mostly I'm spending my time just surviving. I'm just so grumpy about everything.

So, it's the 18-point checklist I have to complete before I can leave Friday. It's more like a scavenger hunt. I have to run this paper all around campus to get signatures. (I also have to turn in things and paper work to get signatures.) Along that same line, it's the packing up of my room as if I am leaving--but I am not. I wonder if the office staff has to pack up their offices?

It's the stupid kid tricks like the kid who finally turns in two weeks worth of work--and he puts it in the OUTBOX. He's lucky I found it as I was getting ready to throw out unclaimed papers. It's the anonymous student who doesn't put his/her name of the final exam that is worth 10% of the semester grade. What the hell?!

It's even the littlest of things like the scantron machine that kept insisting on eating students' tests. Uhm, should I just roll some dice to come up with a grade? My 10-sided dice tend to roll high, so it might be in their favor! OY!

Today, most of all, it's the damn heat in my old school down in the 'hood. And heat in general. There's an excessive heat warning in my county because it's already 105 F, and it's only June. And wouldn't you know it? The air conditioner takes a dive in our school except for in a science classroom and the offices. (Of course.) I was so hot at times today that I wanted to cry and had to talk myself out of it. What a baby would I be? Not to mention I, unlike my melty students, didn't have to take final exams today.

I'll reflect next week in my nice air-conditioned home with an icy blender drink. But I might be pretty busy reading some brain candy...

June 2, 2006

C & K's Excellent Quest for a Hot Dog

It did not seem like Friday at all. I asked several colleagues if they also thought so while we were chaperoning the 8th grade dance. We all agreed that it did not. Newbie teacher might be on to something: "Yea, it can't be Friday. I have too many frickin' things to do."

Yea. That's about it. And I am bone tired.

So, after the dance ended (afternoon dances in our neighborhood) and I made it home, it was already 7:30 pm. It's not terribly late, I know, but tomorrow isn't going to be a leisurely day, so it's early to bed tonight. Anyway, we'd already decided to eat out because it was one of those days, and I kind of needed a date night. So, we're driving down the road, and we are trying to decide where to go.

Me: "So, what do you feel like? Something quick? Are you really hungry?"
Him: "It's up to you."

I could go on going back and forth, as it's our little going-out-to-dinner banter that goes round and round until one of us gets a revelation.

I saw a 7-Eleven. An idea struck.

Me: "You know what sounds good? A hot dog. And nachos!"
Him, laughing: "That DOES sound pretty good."

Since I have vegetarian tendencies, eating a real hot dog is the last thing I ever want to do. If I do want one, there is no way in hell it's anything but a veggie or tofu dog. But tonight, we were seriously in the mood to throw caution to the wind. I was anyway. My husband would not have vegetarian tendencies if I weren't the one feeding him.

Awesome! We're eating junk food on our date night, but where? We drove around for 45 minutes looking for a hot dog stand. We never found one. We found a Sonic restaurant but opted to not stop there because we didn't want to eat it in the car. (It was still over 100 degrees outside so eating at a table outside wasn't a pleasant thought, either.)

I suggested we just go back and visit our neighborhood convenience store, which makes the hot dog meal an even scarier thought.

Finally we went to a station casino (way off the strip) because we knew there was a food court that would likely have hot dogs. But it didn't.

We considered sneaking into the movie theater just so we could buy a hot dog, but that didn't seem easy to do. Could we really convince the usher that we only wanted hot dogs? Yea, if we were 20 years younger.

I remembered that there was a new bowling alley in the casino, so we wandered over there to find the snack bar.

Score! We found hot dogs. And nachos!

Unfortunately, they were disappointing. Lukewarm with a dry bun.

But still, it was kind of fun hanging with my sweetie on a totally lame quest for a hot dog, as if we were college students with no real purpose in life.

We're dorks. What can I say?