November 29, 2006


It's about 40 F with a windchill that makes it feel like 30 F. I know. I'm a wimp, but I could be freezing to death. Need some long johns. Monitor the hallways between classes? Uhm, Could I get a cup a coffee to warm myself afterward?

I signed my evaluation today. It's the best evaluation I've had since working in this district, but in my mind I'm thinking, "Okay whatever. That hoop's been jumped through this year." Funny, I didn't feel that way the last couple of years.

My students have been performing horribly lately, and not just in my class, I've realized with the daily parent conferences my team is having. Last week I gave out progress reports and assigned it as homework to bring it back signed. Could there be an easier grade? I encouraged those student who had D's or F's to "be men and women" and actually show their parents. Guess what? Maybe one or two did. So I did something I haven't done with this group of students, and that is I mailed the progress report home with a nice little note. Productivity is way up this week. Hmmm. Imagine that.

Made it over the hump this week...

November 26, 2006

When I Was a Student I Used to Procrastinate, Too

I have about an hour of life left in me tonight, and I don't know what I'm teaching tomorrow. We just finished a novel in class last week, and I told them we'd be digging in deeper to it this week. ACK! I HAVE NOTHING! Since I have never taught this particular novel before I don't even have anything to pull out of my files.

Well, actually I do. I do have a ton of different ideas and approaches. We need to focus on theme and conflict.

Discussion? Reflection questions? Small group? Hands-on? Using technology? A series of small assignments? A big project? Leave it open? Set exact guidelines?

What would be the most engaging, yet the highest impact?

Don't even ask why I didn't have this all planned out before we started the book.

I've been flying by the seat of my pants.

I'm so dead. My first class starts at 7:00 am.


November 24, 2006

Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past: When It All Started

And I swear this is where it ends. I'm bored and depressed by all this talk of my worst holiday.

The first Thanksgiving I spent without my parents was when I was a student at Lewis-Clark State College. Like my current situation, I lived too far from my parents to make the trek home for a long weekend. I grew up a 100's of miles away from any extended family, so my small core family of my parents and brother were all I'd ever known for the holidays. Plus, if you're a college student and you've made it to November, isn't it common that homesickness should come along?

My extended family did live in northern Idaho, so it wasn't like I was going to be completely alone. In fact, the plan was that my aunt was going to pick me up on her way from Pasco, Washington, to my grandparents' house in Pierce, Idaho, which was about 90 miles from where I was attending college. I was looking forward to being with my grandparents because it was quiet and peaceful in their tiny little town, but most of the dinner guests who were going to be there were 2nd and 3rd cousins that I didn't know.

So, I had the morning to myself to hang out in the dorm and just relax. There were only a few girls left at the dorm for the holiday weekend--so few that we didn't even see each other. So, on Thanksgiving morning when I went down to the lobby to read the paper and then went up to the shower in the communal bathroom, it truly felt like I was all alone in the dorm. I tried not be a big boob about it, though.

The cafeteria was closed for the holiday, so meals would be whatever I could microwave or toast in the joke of a kitchenette we had. My breakfast that Thanksgiving morning was going to be Pop-Tarts. So, I put them in the toaster and stepped out into the hallway where there was a full-length mirror so I could primp a little. The next thing I knew, flames were shooting out of the toaster--my Pop-Tart had ignited! I ran back into the kitchenette and put out the fire, but the kitchen was full of smoke, so I open the window and hung the toaster out, lest the fire alarm go off. So just picture this chick frantically putting out a toaster fire and then trying to air out the room...and then picture her panic when the FIRE ALARM DOES GO OFF!

It was a handy dandy little thing at our ancient dormitory. When the fire alarm went off, the fire trucks came. And I actually knew this already because a friend of mine burned up the oven the month before while trying to roast pumpkin seeds for my Japanese roommate. Hey, it might have been our pumpkin, but we had nothing to do with the dense girl who tried to "roasted" the seeds unattended on BROIL. Same thing happened there. Fire. Alarm. Fire trucks came.

As the handful of girls and their boyfriend (who weren't suppose to be staying there because it was an all-girls dorm at that time) were evacuating the building into the chilly November morning, they just glared at me and could not see any humor at all. How did they even know it was me? Well, if you were homesick on Thanksgiving and you'd just caused the fire trucks to come because your Pop-Tart went up in flames, wouldn't you bawl hysterically, too?

Luckily the weekend didn't get any worse than that moment, but it wasn't the best either. I had to work the day after Thanksgiving at my sucky seasonal job at Shop-ko and the only thing that was good about it was that it also happened to be payday. Unfortunately, after my eternal shift when I went to cash my check at the bank, I locked my keys in my car. I did have an extra set in my room, so I walked up the hill a mile to retrieve them--that is if I could find an RA to let me into my room. Unfortunately, the main door to the dorm was locked since most of the girls were gone, and nobody would come when I knocked, and knocked, and knocked. I went to the campus security office, but nobody was there despite the fact that someone was on duty somewhere on campus.

And if you think I took that calmly, you just don't know me. It was getting dark and cold. I was trapped outside. I just wanted a bubble bath. It was hours before I was able to let Calgon take me away, too.

Since that weekend it seems like the dark clouds that formed in the sky that bleak afternoon have followed me for every Thanksgiving since. Am I being a dramatic? Perhaps. But I'm entitled. I made the freakin' fire trucks come because I couldn't make Pop-Tarts. That's something you can never live down.

(By the way, I only eat granola bars now.)

November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006: Creating Ghosts

Several times in the past decade I have gone with my best friend to her parents' home which is just outside Twin Falls, Idaho. Originally, it probably started out of pity, and although Twin Falls was a good 5-6 drive from where we lived in northwestern Nevada, it was still a lot closer than going to my parents' home, which takes nearly 12 hours to reach. That's just too far for a 4-day weekend.

In subsequent years I've looked forward to a Twin Falls Thanksgiving. A big family dinner with some real folks. Early morning shopping for the good deals. Firework display on Friday night. Nightly domino games. Putting up Christmas lights outside. Well, the putting up the lights is not that enjoyable because it's usually "cold as a frog's nose," but we worry about my friend's parents trying to decorate outside when it's cold and slippery. Anyway, it's always a relaxing, enjoyable time.

It was in my plans to take the kids (computer tech hubby is on call for businesses that probably aren't even open this weekend) and go to Idaho for the weekend. The kids were excited because my friend has a dog and they are dog-crazy, and they were anticipating some snow on the ground that they could play in. We bought them new hats and gloves (the selection here in Las Vegas was terrible) and warned them that it would probably be cold. The kids, sick and twisted as they are, relished the idea.

And the plans were in place until Wednesday afternoon when I picked my stepson up from school and he looked like he'd been run over by Mack truck. I'd felt my holiday weekend--only the 2nd vacation I've taken out of town this year--slipping away throughout the week as I tried to nurse my stepson back from the dark side of a cold. I thought he was doing better, but you know how colds and oozy infectious 5-year-olds can be...a pain in my arse.

Not to mention, detrimental to my holiday fun.

So after a long wait at the urgent care clinic with a sniffing, oozy, swollen-eyed child, a quick trip to the local drugstore, and then the battle of the medicine spoon which resulted in us wearing $4.00 worth of medicine, I found myself at Albertson's in the 'hood at 9:00 pm with tons of other people trying to scrimp together a Thanksgiving dinner. Losers.

In my adult life I've rarely had to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner myself. I've helped. I've contributed to potluck. I've simply shown up to eat and then helped with clean-up later. Today, in a true miracle that I hope my family can appreciate, I put on the whole Thanksgiving dinner from cranberries (homemade) to pie (bakery) and set the table with fancy glasses and cloth napkins.

(No, I didn't cook a whole turkey because I may be with a legion of losers, but I'm not a damned fool who needed the hassle of thawing a 20 lb turkey overnight. We had a lovely breast roast of turkey.)

I complained to my mother on the phone how I hate this stupid holiday and how my Thanksgivings always had to flop, but for my family I put on my happy face and sucked it up. It seems like being a mom is just one bitter pill after another. I wonder if moms who actually give birth to the children they are raising ever feel this way, or if it's just that I was rather thrown into this life.

I do know that I'm giving it my all to put a positive spin on all these constant glitches. We had all the windows and doors open today for a nice meal and a relaxing afternoon. Napping, movie-watching, goofing off...It's not what we expected, but it wasn't terrible, either.

Yea, nothing caught on fire...

Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past: Life in the Geriatric Buffet Line

"Mom, I really don't like Thanksgiving. I don't care what people say. It's a stupid holiday about eating a lot of food--well that's what is about now, anyway-- AND it never goes my way."

She chuckled, "Yea, you're right. You never had much luck with it, but that one Thanksgiving when we came down was fun!"

I'm glad she mentioned that this morning because, as a matter of fact, that was exactly the next planned Thanksgiving post.

(Mom, have you been reading my blog? At least a comment so I know you've been here!)

The second Thanksgiving after I moved to Nevada my parents and brother came out for the holiday. By then my first marriage had broken up; we were back to the the orignal family unit for the holiday--something that hadn't happened in many years.

I was all ready to welcome my family to my cute little home and cook them a big Thanksgiving dinner, but my Dad had different ideas. He thought the effort was needless and was more excited about the idea of going to the Reno-Carson City area and spending a few days checking out the historic sites.

So, off we went 130 miles from my home to Carson City where we stayed in the The Carson Nugget, in what I believe may have been the motor lodge. I must have still been in that stage of newly Nevada-ness when I actually enjoyed going to Carson City because although a quaint capitol city, there isn't much to do. That's not even to mention that there aren't many nice places to stay or good casinos to play. It IS an easier drive to Virginia City (my favorite place in Nevada) and more accessible to historic things that my family enjoy like The Nevada State Museum and The Nevada State Railroad Museum, I'm thinking maybe that's why we stayed there. Trust me, I can think of half a dozen much nicer, yet affordable places to stay 20 minutes away in Reno.

Anyway, enough of the tourist plug...

But what ever did we do for our dinner? Are you kidding? Where there's a casino, there's a good Thanksgiving buffet just waiting for, well, mostly old people who've somehow escaped having dinner with their families. My around-50-year-old parents were young compared to the other diners, and my brother and I, in our mid 20's, were simply out of place. I don't want any hate mail about been an old person hater or anything because that is so far from the truth. It's just that as a family, we had never experienced the buffet as an alternative to Thanksgiving. It was weird and everyone was moving in slow motion. I know my brother and I probably seemed like insolent children giggling and whispering all throughout dinner.

Later in the day someone won big on the nickel slots, but I can't remember if it was my dad or bro. (It as probably something like $80 since we are obviously such high rollers.) In any case I remember we went to a little lounge and bought ourselves a good drink to celebrate.

My brother and I wanted to keep the party going after my parents went to bed, but we had great difficulty finding an open liquor store anywhere in downtown Carson City on Thanksgiving night. In fact, we couldn't find anything open but a scary little gas station where we bought mini bottles of whatever there was for an exorbitant price. Then we stayed up half the night catching up on old times, trying not to get too drunk, lest we be hung over for the next morning of touristing.

Over the years my family and I have shrugged off some of the great American traditions. Sometimes we do it together, but other things I've done on my own. I suppose that my mom and I remember that strange little Thanksgiving holiday in Carson City not because it was the first time we shrugged off the traditional way to do Thanksgiving, but we remember because what's most important to our family is that we have good times together. That can be Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, a birthday party celebrating three birthdays, or just a Sunday evening hanging out on the porch in July.

We're simple people. It doesn't take much to make a good memory for my family.

So, has Happychyck ever had any traditions that stuck for Thanksgiving, or has it just been a long weekend to fill year after year? Actually, I kind of have a tradition that I had done most years in the past decade, which I had planned on doing this holiday weekend, but...

November 21, 2006

Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past: Mom Commands a Tradition That Didn't Stick

My first marriage was to a hometown boy. When you marry a hometown boy, there's the potential for making yourself crazy trying to balance holidays. I think it might be a little easier when you don't have families living nearby. You see, now that my current husband (the one that stuck) and I live nowhere near family, nobody expects us for any holiday.

My family is pretty cool about not spending holidays with them because my own father rebelled against everyone in the early part of his and my mother's marriage and proclaimed that they would be spending holidays in their own home--not busting their butts going from family to family. He was pretty much talking about Christmas, but it applied to all holidays.

The problem was I didn't mind going from house to house because my first husband (further known now as Ex) and I never had children and the holidays were pretty boring with just the two of us. I wanted to spend the holidays with everyone, and I didn't want to choose. Christmas worked itself out pretty easily because each family had different times of the holiday that were the most important, and those times didn't conflict. My parents enjoyed Christmas Eve as a family, and Ex's family liked for us to all gather Christmas night, and then on New Year's Eve when all the extended family came to visit.

Thanksgiving was a different story. Since the whole day is about eating, it was always an uncomfortable one by the time it was all done, too. Thanksgiving wasn't a major holiday with my family, and it was usually just my parents and brother with an occasional bachelor co-worker of my dad's. When my brother moved to the city and got a McJob, he didn't come home for Thanksgiving, so it become an even smaller event.

Ex's family came to just rely on Ex and me to show up for a huge meal, and maybe other family members would show up for pie later on.

It seemed sad to not show up to both tiny Thanksgiving dinners with our respective parents. We were often the only guest they had.

After about 5 years of that, my parents came up with the big idea that Ex and I should host Thanksgiving at our house and invite both sets of parents. Logistically it was a great idea, but seriously, could both moms give up the power of the kitchen? What's your guess? Anyone? Anyone?

I was a little nervous because I'd never cooked a turkey before, but PEOPLE, IT'S NOT THAT HARD! On television "they" always make it seem challenging. So, the turkey was easy. Put it in the oven and wait many hours.

Now, how challenging do you think it would be to put together the rest of the meal for six people? Again, not as hard as some people would make it out to be. You know, I read entertaining books and magazines--this was during my Martha-wannabe phase--and I learned the key was really in the prep work. So, essentially, when the moms arrived, there was nothing to do because I had it under control!

But then here came The Moms, invading my kitchen, taking over, treating me like I didn't know what I was doing. From the time I was in middle school, I made dinner every night so it would be ready when my parents came home from work. Did my mom think she'd trained me so poorly? And my mother-in-law, well, she was the type of woman who would slave over the stove for hours for who-knows-what-reason while I could prepare the same meal in 30 minutes tops. So, did I deserve their harassment when they came into MY kitchen and started messing with my meal? The answer is NO!

And my dad only shook his head and told me it would be okay when I begged him to call off The Moms.

How bad was it really? Here's the straw: my mother-in-law brought her potato masher because she thought I didn't have one. And how right she was! We use a mixer in my family. Even better, since I was in my era of Martha, I had a potato ricer. And you know my mother-in-law, with her beehive hairdo, had no idea what a potato ricer could do for your life. They would have been beautiful mashed potatoes. Sigh.

And isn't that how many family functions end up in brawls? Fighting over how to make the damned mashed potatoes?

Only, it wasn't worth selling my gracious soul to the devil to get sucked into that war, so I bit my tongue. I bit my tongue over everything that day. (Had we not been a "dry" family, I would have turned to the wine to comfort.) So, I bit my tongue and let The Moms take over the Thanksgiving I had been coerced into hosting.

After the meal, I excused myself and went upstairs to collapse from the emotional exhaustion.

The Parents raved about what a wonderful holiday it had been.

Good for them.

I graduated college the following year and moved to another state. That tradition stopped at the stateline.

And that reminds me of the best non-traditional Thanksgiving ritual I thought my family might start, but that didn't work out either...

November 20, 2006

Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past: Do You Put Herbs on Your Turkey?

Thanks to the corrupt influence of the teens I've taught over the years, when my stepson brought this picture home from school, I could not contain my giggles. All through dinner, every time I thought of it, I started to laugh. I just told the darling child that I thought it was just soooo cute! My husband was not as amused as I was, and actually I'm not sure why I am so tickled. Inadvertant pictures of ole MaryJane usually don't amuse me at all.

Even worse though, this picture has triggered a sort of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Thanksgiving walk down memory lane...

If you give Happychyck a picture of a turkey with a pot leaf, she'll think about that Thanksgiving she spent with one of her friends around 1999. She lived too far away from her own family to go home, and her boyfriend wasn't ready for her to spend Thanksgiving with his family so...

Yea, I spent the day with one of my dear friends, who just happened to be a weekend imbiber of the herb. (Actually, come to think of it, so was my boyfriend of that time--and now, we aren't talking college boys, but professional, successful men.) I'd never actually seen him high, as it was something he'd do on the weekends, usually during a good hike. So, on that Thanksgiving, he'd taken off to go hiking, but he didn't return at the appointed time.

How long did I wait outside his house while the turkey was cooking unsupervised inside? Nearly two hours.

But no worries, when he did show up, all was well that the turkey wasn't too crispy, and we finished cooking dinner. Or rather, I helped him avoid injuring his high ass while he bumped around the kitchen preparing the meal. It was just bizarre. We were kind of hopeless losers with nobody else to spend the day with, going through the motions of trying to make it a decent holiday. Thank goodness for friends, which is the theme Thanksgiving has truly taken on in my life.

The best part of the day was how we spent the rest of the afternoon kicked back in recliners, drinking some fine microbrew ale, and watching The X-Files. That part of the day made me feel much better, and not quite so depressed because while I was waiting outside my friend's house, I'd had plenty of time to take in the beautiful, peaceful afternoon at his lakeview house and meditate on the condition my life.

That would be the life with a boyfriend who, after four months did not feel comfortable enough for me to meet his mother, thus leaving me all alone on Thanksgiving. Ouch. That would be the life where living away from my family was still a hard thing to do on holidays. That would be the life where memories of my previous life with my ex-husband, who shared the same first name as my current beau, would sometimes seep in.

And you know when memories of happy times seep in, even though your ex-husband is involved, another Thanksgiving memory is triggered...

November 19, 2006

'Tis the Season for Stupid People?

I hope not.

I appreciate that in the neighborhoods where I shop people are generally friendly and patient--both customers and workers. (Drivers are a different story, though.) I've had my experiences working in retail and food, so I try not to freak out on people when service is bad; however, because I have worked in those types of jobs, I do know it's not as hard as some people make it.

Three times this weekend, while doing basically normal stuff, I met inept or rude people. Does this mean that a season of hell is upon us?

Yesterday at Target, I met the slowest, dumbest checker ever. You'd think that with her turtle speed she wouldn't have to stop after every couple of items and double check that it went through. Yo chick! Did you hear it beep when you scanned it? It went! But go ahead and search through the bag just to be sure you have the correct number. She could sense that I didn't trust her abilities and told me that I could go to customer service if I found any errors. I really wanted to take her by the hand and say, "Listen, honey, you will not make it through next week, let alone the holiday season. Quit now."

Yea, I worked retail in a big store like that when I was in college. Not that hard. Greet. Scan, scan, bag. Take money. Give change. Buh bye!

Later in the day, bless my sweetie's heart, he stopped for takeout so I wouldn't have to cook. It was around the dinner hour when we pulled into Jack-in-the-Box, but it wasn't really busy. We used drive-thru to save time dragging kids in and out of the car. Nothing special in our order, yet we were asked to pull around to the front to wait for our food. (I guess so we wouldn't keep the nonexistent people behind us waiting.) And we waited ten minutes! And then the dude walked all over the parking lot looking for us. When we found us, he just gave us our food. No apology for it taking so long or anything. Seriously. Were they not waiting for people to show up and order some burgers? And maybe some fries?

Again, been there, done that. Sucky job, but not that hard.

Oh! And let me throw this out there since I rarely have an opportunity to rant about fast food. Well, this goes for anyone giving change, but it's really important in a drive-thru. It bugs the hell out of me when people give you your change and they put the currency in your hand, then the receipt, and finally the change. Essentially, the currency and receipt serve as a SLIDE for the coins. Why am I the only one who has it figured out that it's easier to hold it all if the coins go in the hand first?

Okay, back onto crazy people I met this weekend...

I stopped by Walgreens today to pick up a few things I forgot elsewhere. Have you ever been to Walgreens or any of those other corner drugstores (they're all the same to me) when they had more than one checker? If you have, you obviously don't frequent any of the dozens of drugstores in my 'hood. One checker. Who cares how many checkstands. One checker.

So, I'm in line behind two people and I hear a voice behind me, "Only one checker?" Duh, I think to myself. Always!

So, I go on spacing off until the line moves forward. There are still two people ahead of me despite the fact that one just left. The lady in behind me, a very little old lady dressed for church, is actually trying to sneak into the line ahead of me. She was the owner of the incredulous voice I'd heard a few minutes before. I didn't know what to do, so I decided that crowding my way in front of her to my rightful place would not make me look like a good person since she was a little old lady and all, so I asked her if she'd like to go ahead of me. Afterall, she only had two things, and I had four. Sheesh.

She thanked me and told me she was in a hurry. She was carrying bleach and a stuffed Santa. Perhaps I shouldn't judge, but maybe she shouldn't have stopped to pick out a stuffed Santa? Wanna talk about hurry? My husband was home making lunch for the kids. Using the oven. Trust me. Potentially scary situation.

Ah, how I sound like a Class A *itch. 'Tis the season for irritable people like me. Watch out!

November 15, 2006

The Good and the Bad

While I was monitoring the hallway during passing time, one of my students came up and stood next to me.

I yelled at some kids displaying some PDA right in front of my room, and she yelled at them, too.

I turned to her, "Do you want to take over?"

"No," she said sheepishly.

"Are you sure you don't want to try? Do you want to be the teacher?" My tone was playful, and the girl realized I wasn't reprimanding her.

She asked me, "What's the best part of being a teacher?"

"You know, I really like being with you guys all day. I know sometimes you might think I don't like you, but I truly do enjoy working with you crazy teenagers. It's a blast!"

It was a kind of epiphany for both of us. She saw the human side. I felt free of frustration and realized that I am truly entertained by the students I have this year. Sure, their chattiness gives me headaches by the end of the day, and I'm disappointed by their lack of performance on daily assignments, but they are really cool kids--interesting personalities. Good hearts.

The girl then asked, "What is the worst part?"

Thinking about the paperwork I had been working on all day--administrative stuff, not paper grading--I told her, " Ohhhhh! It's the paperwork! So much! I need a secretary!"

Thinking I'm talking about grading papers, she rolled her eyes and says, "Miss! That's the worst part of being a student, too!"

November 14, 2006

One Word Says It All

This is the kind of stuff I do when I am bored and avoiding work. And boy do I have work to do. Bookkeeping stuff. I need a secretary for my classroom. When will that ever happen?

Anyway, give it a shot if you like. I stole this one from Teacher Lady.

You can only type one word. No explanations.

Yourself: lethargic
Your partner: solid
Your hair: neglected
Your Mother: thoughtful
Your Father: smart
Your Favorite Item: Thumbelina
Your dream last night: dark
Your Favorite Drink: Pepsi
Your Dream Car: fast
Your Dream Home: homey
The Room You Are In: main
Your Ex: dork
Your fear: unknown
Where you Want to be in Ten Years? elsewhere
Who you hung out with last night: teenagers
What You're Not: content
Muffins: moist
One of Your Wish List Items: home
Time: lacking
The Last Thing You Did: reprimanded
What You Are Wearing: cottom
Your favorite weather: autumn
Your Favorite Book: none
Last thing you ate: cheese
Your Life: crazy
Your mood: exasperated
Your Best Friends: real
What are you thinking about right now: audit
Your car: practical
What are you doing at the moment: holding
Your summer: numbing
Relationship status: loved
What is on your tv: Oprah
What is the weather like: sunny
When is the last time you laughed: eleven

November 11, 2006

My Excuse for Getting Lost

My sweetie and I went on a quest for shoes today. The first store I wanted to go to was Kohl's because they were having this big power sale for Veteran's Day. I only discovered Kohl's about six months ago, and as pleased as I am with their selections and awesome sales, I don't go there often. The closest store is beyond my usual shopping neighborhood, but it's still in the same area of town--on the edge where all the new business and homes are.

So is that my excuse for leading my husband down the wrong street for miles and miles until we ended up on an unpaved road that went straight into a hill? No. Mine is much better.

We were on a major street called Green Valley. The major street we needed was parallel and about a 1/2 mile to the west. It's called Valle Verde.

It's the same freakin' name, just in a different language! Who thinks up these names? It's totally justified that I was lost and confused, don't you think? My Spanish skills are, at best, rudimentary. I'm sure there is some Spanish speaker (of which we have lots) whose English is rudimentary, and is just as confused as I was.

Life Inventory: Things I've Done Meme

Check out this meme as seen performed by Graycie, Science Goddess, Ms. Cornelius, and many others! To get your own, simply copy, paste, and bold away!

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone (Besides that 6th hour class in 2004?)
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours (From sickness)
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach Or one touched me.
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (fish--yes!)
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

November 10, 2006

My Favorite Veteran

It's been a while since I have posted anything about my favorite veteran: my husband. Sometimes I forget he's a veteran because he did the majority of his service long before he met me. He's been in the National Guard, Army Reserve and enlisted Army, and throughout his life did end up serving 20 years, including a tour in Desert Storm. Sometimes he'll tell me about the years he lived in Germany or some philosophy in life he acquired from years of military service, but other than that, his other life is quite distant from our current life.

I'm proud to tell anyone that he is a veteran, and even a veteran of a foreign war. My sweetie, though, is quite humble and nonchalant about everything. Serving in the military is just something he did. No big deal. If you didn't know him, you may not even know he is a veteran. You might guess that he was in the military because he does still have some of those mannerism that one might associate with military and he does have this unidentifiable dialect that one would not expect from a small-town Nebraska kid. (I call it his Army dialect.) But he is not one to live in the past, so you probably would think that he had done a few years in the military and then gotten out pretty early on.

It might seem kind of weird to say this, but it is because of 9/11 that we met. Right after the attack, his reserve unit was called to duty to do a transportation mission. (He had been out of the enlisted Army for about three years.) He was the supervisor for his team, which was stationed in my town, a large ammunition depot. Now, I know there's probably some military jargon that better describes this, but I never caught on to it. Our sweet little story is one for another time, but I would say that his participation in the military brought him within my radar, and of all the military bases he should end up on...

So anyway, on this day as we remember and thank all our wonderful veterans, I just need to look at the man sitting next to me to express my gratitude. But while I'm at it, thanks to the rest of you all, too! No, I haven't forgotten my other family members (3 uncles) and former students who have served and are currently serving our country. Thank you!

November 8, 2006

My Reoccuring Thought:

It's a bummer having to grow up and be responsible and not be half as selfish. Just sucks.

November 6, 2006

The Custody Battle

I try to ignore a lot of the adolescent shenanigans that go on in my classroom. When I think too closely on some, I think to myself, "Why the *%&% am I teaching middle school?"

There was some sort of "legal document" floating around one of my classes today. It had some sort of statement that so-and-so would do something or another. There were signatures. It looked pretty official-looking for being written on notebook paper. (Funny someone didn't type it up since they all have laptops.) I don't know what it was. Don't really care. I just saw it on various desks throughout the period. I didn't confiscate it because, quite frankly, if they weren't trying to hide it from me, it probably wasn't that interesting.

At the beginning of the class, I confiscated a teddy bear. I had half a mind to do it when I saw it come in the door, but I let it go until I saw it go flying through the air just before the bell rang.

Some minutes into the class I asked the girl who was trying to catch it whose bear it was. She was not the one who carried it into class. It was a boy. She told me it belonged to another student--a female. Whatever. Who knows how these bears get passed around?

At the end of the class, I told the supposed owner of the bear to get it from under my desk and to make sure I didn't see it again. She didn't seem relieved or highly attached--just okay with it.

The boy who had brought the bear to class in the first place walked back into the classroom and saw her with the bear. A little argument ensued about who should get "custody" of the bear. Then she threw it in his face that he was a child abuser. Or rather a bear abuser.

It seems there was a divorce going on with my students today.

It also seems that I was unwittingly an agent of Child Protective Services.

Just another damn thing, aye?

November 3, 2006

Behold: The Cake

I'm a teacher. Not a pastry chef. Especially not the Ace of Cakes. I'm also not a professional castle builder. I just do it on the weekends with Legos. Taking this into consideration, I think it's a pretty cute castle cake.

November 2, 2006

Dia de la Poor Representation

For the last two years our Spanish teacher--and my dear friend-- has had the students create ofrendas for teachers at our school. She used to have the students make one for themselves, but then she decided to turn her little project in to a school event. It's a great idea, and she has planned it very well with clear and precise instructions and rubrics. Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, the group of students who chose to honor me have done a crappy job. I thought last year's was pretty bad, but at least one could get a sense of who I was.

This year my ofrenda had about 8 pictures on it--pictures printed from the Internet to represent things I would like. No captions. One of the pictures, which happens to be a focal point picture, is particularly troublesome. It is a picture of a teacher leaning over and helping a student. Yes, I am a teacher. Good symbol. Only, through this picture is a big red X!

When I asked the students what the heck that was--and these "accelerated" students are in my class--they told me they chose that picture because when they asked if I'd always wanted to be a teacher, I told them I hadn't. Well, considering I've been a teacher a lot longer than I considered not being a teacher, that isn't really a main detail of my life. Whatever, though. It's the way they represent it that is just WRONG!

Nearly all the teachers and administrators and at a couple hundred students saw that ofrenda displays. In the short time I was in the room to view the displays, I had several people ask me what that picture with the big red X was about. Well, wouldn't it have been nice if the students who made it had bothered to include some captions with my pictures? I suggested it, as did their Spanish teacher, but they still thought it would be fine.

It's fine that my ego is a little dented because it's really not a huge deal. It's a stupid kid thing, and they truly didn't not mean to be malicious. I can tell you though, that they won't think their grades are fine. Too bad they couldn't do a little thinking or take any advice from their teachers.

I'm just shaking my head. Merely another crazy thing in the crazy life as a teacher.

November 1, 2006

I'm No Martha...

...but I think sometime in my past I used to aspire to be more creatively domesticated. I distinctly remember actually attempting to decorate my house. Little Home Interior-like groupings. Matching knick-knacks and whatnots. It's hard to believe, but I used to live like that. Now, though, If it weren't for my interest in photography and the fact my brother is an artist, I'd probably not have anything at all on my walls. It's l modern minima, yo!

And I remember in my days of creative domestication--in my 20's while I still lived in Utah, where everyone is quite good at craftiness, homemaking, and other domestic issues--that I used to decorate my own birthday cakes. Buy one from the bakery? No way! I'll decorate one up! And never fear, my darlings! I have even taken some decorating classes.

So, I took a trip down this memory lane when I told my husband that I would make our daughter's birthday cake. Somewhere along the path I may have stopped to take some hallucinogens when I actually let the birthday child pick what kind of cake she wanted.

Today was day one in the making of the great and beautiful castle cake. Castle. Cake. A cake shaped like a castle. What the hell am I thinking?

I already screwed things up pretty well when the BASE split right in half and I had to "glue" it back together with frosting.

Don't worry though, I was a Girl Scout in the decade before I was a Martha wannabe, and during those years I learned all about making do and Plan B.

And tomorrow afternoon I might take a walk down memory lane to my college days where I learned that rum makes everything a little happier.