Wednesday, October 10, 2007

okay okay

I'm posting something new for you, Kory, since you're the only one who is still checking this thing to see if I've written any more. The reason I've been away is mostly that I'm busy with teaching, but also I've been scared away by the legal boogeyman. He's about 5'10, and can give a presentation on blood borne pathogens (sp?) in under five minutes. The school district's attorney came for our last inservice day before teaching began and instead of detailing all of the ways to sexually harass a coworker, he told us scary stories about teachers who have been fired for stuff they've put on their myspace accounts and things they've said while blogging. I've always been careful to avoid the really funny dating/work stories on here to avoid humiliating myself too thoroughly in front of any rogue student who cared enough to cyber stalk me, but this had my mind reeling. What if I wrote the wrong thing? What if I got blog-fired? and then the realization came on slow and heavy: I've never done anything I couldn't post on here. No beer bong extravaganzas for me. No slutty photos, etc. I don't even drink caffeine. I'd like to make some sarcastic comment here now about whether or not it's a good thing, but then again, Big Brother may be watching...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The dark side of teaching

I hate meetings. This week has been full of them, and they makes me so crazy I feel like one of the poor victims who gets stuck in my class listening to me ramble on and on. Today was a district-wide meeting, and the highlight was that I got to see many teachers with whom I used to teach. One of the teachers I encountered is one who I now really respect, but I used to refer to as my nemesis.

His philosophies on education often smacked brutally against mine and as a newbie teacher I would whimper away from meetings in horror at the atrocities I believed he must've been inflicting on his students. I was silly and green and everything was larger than it would ever be again.

After one particularly frustrating incident, I walked through a bookstore and saw a daily calendar that was on sale for a dollar. It was entitled 14,000 Things to be Happy About. I bought it, and slipped it in his box with no note attached the next day. The following year, I saw the same calendar on sale for a dollar and chuckled to myself "why not?" I bought it and put it in his box with no note yet again. He switched schools the following year, but it didn't stop me. I sent it to him anonymously. I did it again last year. Four years now. I have no idea if he knows. He has probably suspected me, but I wasn't the only one who viewed him as a nemesis. Every year he receives the exact same anonymous calendar, and every year I wonder if my little private joke qualifies me as some sort of stalker. I am so easily amused by myself.

I know that Kory used to have sneaky little things she'd do to get back at people (by the way, I wasn't trying to get back at him as much as save he and his students from a year of misery) but anyway... I wonder how many have sneaky little things we do just to amuse ourselves. If anyone is still reading this and would like to share, I'd love to hear what they are and live vicariously through your own little sneaky worlds. I am so easily amused.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Down the rabbit hole

I love childrens' stories. I think that they are more true than just about anything else I read. Alice in Wonderland has always been a great favorite of mine. A little girl who falls through a rabbit hole and pops out into a new universe (a much prettier tunnel than the way most of us got to wonderland). Soon she is greeted by various odd creatures who celebrate at arbitrary times, have serious meglomaniacal control issues, or who just can't seem to stop puffing away on a pipe. It's almost as odd a place as the one in which we all reside. Even as a very young child the world and its accepted norms has baffled me, and Alice's plight has resonated with me in an oh-so comforting way.

But all classic childrens' stories speak of truth.

My favorite one to share with my students is the one about the magic lamp. I remember as a kid how delighted I was if someone asked me what I would wish for if I had only three wishes and I could proudly proclaim "ten thousand more wishes." Pretty soon we (like all kids) all wised up. Since that was always the response, we had to include the special disclaimer that you couldn't wish for more wishes. This is necessary. This is where so much truth comes in.

I sincerely believe that we all get around three big wishes (give or take a few) and barring some impossibles (growing a foot, healing a permanent disability, etc.) we generally get exactly what we have wished for.

Wanna be rich? Done. You may not get to keep your integrity, have a family, etc., but if it's in the top three, you'll get it.
Wanna be beautiful? Have a pleasant life? Be "right"? Be deeply spiritual? Great at ping pong? Done. Done. Done. and Done.
Except that, again, you only get to secure three; others may come if you're lucky, but there are only enough hours in a day to secure three.

So....the advice they always give?
You guessed it... Choose wisely.
Choose wisely.

And for those of us who keep looking for the loophole to get more wishes before we really confirm what we want? I'm starting to think that it just might not be all that productive. Huh. Well, I was so much smarter when I was ten.

Friday, August 10, 2007

fyi. i love my job.

There's a line in You've Got Mail where Tom Hanks is excited about the fall and says he wishes he could send Meg Ryan a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils. It's the way they smell. I'm with him.

I do love my summers off (today I slept in, wrote while lying in bed, read some New Yorker, bought the most amazing veggies from Chino farms- the white raspberries are phenomenal-, played tennis, had lemonade, fresh corn on the cob, and an heirloom tomato with good goat cheese and a rich vinegarette and now I can write late into the night with only the sounds of my fingers typing and an occasional plane flying overhead.) I am very blessed, but I can't wait to get back to work.

I miss my captive audience. I miss the way they will find exactly the insight I need in life in some poem I've handed them. I miss writing new vocab words on the board and drawing little hearts next to the verbs (I do have a crush on great verbs). I miss after school chats when a few will stick around and talk to me about their boyfriends or life dreams. I don't give advice on the boyfriends, but I love the rush of strategizing how to stand out to a good school and helping them take a vague dream and nailing down the steps to getting there. I miss coaching a willing student to becoming a better writer. I miss watching my kids' faces when they get back their DWA scores and seeing how well they've done. I miss going to a place where I can hand someone a piece of candy and a compliment and have it make their day.

I'm admitting my nerdiness, I know, but man I love my job! I want my freshly sharpened pencils. I want to dive so deeply into meaningful work that I don't have the luxury of much self-centered thinking. I want to go back to the place that reminds me each day that I have to strive to live up to the ideals I spout out or I'll never be taken seriously by people I love who need to take me seriously.

Well, enough of my excitement...I've always gotten too excited about things...I stayed up all night Christmas Eve every year(sometimes even jumping up and down on my bed with enthusiasm) until I was 21. I just thought I'd put some happy karma into the world while getting out some of my passionate impatience.

PS... It's been a while since I've had a chance to share a poem I like with anyone so here's one I absolutely love by Anne Sexton. I always think of it on late nights when I can't tear myself from my computer and I wonder why I can't be content with leaving work at work and then going off and spending my life just sorta hangin' out. I can't even just do teaching; I have to push myself to write, write better, etc. It's a trait I actually kind of like about myself, but after reading the poet's bio, I hate to admit the author... Anne Sexton was one totally messed up woman (never read the bios for writers you like if this sort of thing taints the writing for you. writers are notoriously messed up and poets are the worst.) If you finish reading the poem, I'll give you the dirt on her at the end. It's really gross and juicy.

The Ambition Bird

So it has come to this
insomnia at 3:15 A.M.,
the clock tolling its engine

like a frog following
a sundial yet having an electric
seizure at the quarter hour.

The business of words keeps me awake.
I am drinking cocoa,
that warm brown mama.

I would like a simple life
yet all night I am laying
poems away in a long box.

It is my immortality box,
my lay-away plan,
my coffin.

All night dark wings
flopping in my heart.
Each an ambition bird.

The bird wants to be dropped
from a high place like Tallahatchie Bridge.

He wants to light a kitchen match
and immolate himself.

He wants to fly into the hand of Michelangelo
anc dome out painted on a ceiling.

He wants to pierce the hornet's nest
and come out with a long godhead.

He wants to take bread and wine
and bring forth a man happily floating in the Caribbean.

He wants to be pressed out like a key
so he can unlock the Magi.

He wants to take leave among strangers
passing out bits of his heart like hors d'oeuvres.

He wants to die changing his clothes
and bolt for the sun like a diamond.

He wants, I want.
Dear God, wouldn't it be
good enough to just drink cocoa?

I must get a new bird
and a new immortality box.
There is folly enough inside this one.

***Messed up and juicy dirt on Anne Sexton: She was a fashion model, admitted to an incestuous relationship with her daughter (EEEEWWWW), and like so many other poets, she killed herself.

Have a nice day, and if you get a chance, smell a freshly sharpened pencil.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Something Peppy

Many of you know I'm trying to write a young adult novel this summer (I'm currently at over 16K words- 59 double-spaced pages and kinda proud of myself in an "it's not enough nor good enough, but at least it's there" sort of way.) It's an interesting venture peering back into my own past to dig up stuff to use. My favorite story I've found as I've trudged through those bygone horrors is one that I didn't even appreciate until a few years ago. It's a little too young for my novel, but it delights me nonetheless.

As the only girl in the neighborhood crew (Kaylene was often too young) I was in charge of baking the goods for the lemonade stand, and making the signs. I probably should've known better than to go into business with a pack of ten-year-old boys with a penchant for mooning and fart noises, but they were cute, and I'd always been boy-crazy. After six hours, twenty-three dollars split five ways, and more teasing than a prissy little white-dres-wearing pink and white polka-dotted toed girl could handle, I broke. I lit into them. Well, most of them.

As a teaching natural (ha ha) I thought I needed to be accurate and give the guys someone to look up to- someone to inspire them to be better to prissy little girls in white dresses so I singled out the only one of the pack who had not teased me once that day so at the end of my tirade I turned to Jason Conforto (who would, only a few years later, become my first boyfriend for an awkwardly glorious two weeks before I got so terrified that he'd break up with me that I broke up with him) and I thanked him for being the only one to respect me that day. He promptly turned to me and smashed a cupcake in my hair.

This was not a pleasant memory until a few years ago when my brother was visiting Jason, and the two of them were re-living old moments. Jason told the story and then when he got to the end, Jason was angry. Not because I had yelled at them, but because I'd outed him. He said he'd never have been able to live that down and so...the cupcake. Huh. Apparently he'd had as much of a crush on me as I'd had on him. Apparently ten year old boys are cruel to each other if they sense that one of their own might be at risk for cooties. Who knew?

It's funny how inaccurate all stories inherently are. How biased we are. How much my love life had still not changed sixteen years later when the story was told. How fascinating it is to have someone else tell you a story that you have been telling for years. How a good summer day can make any story feel like home. How thirsty I am for lemonade right now.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I may only have a few people reading my little blog, but those who do are fascinating! I'm astonished, delighted, intellectually challenged, and inspired by the comments people have made to my silly rants. Ange, Kory, the Chelseas, Paul, Farrah, and Thom Carter (who I don't even actually know in person) have all given me so much food for thought I'm feasting! Thanks for everything. If you haven't read the comments for the longer posts, you should. They're better than the original.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Horcruxes of the Heart

Disclaimer: This one is simultaneously nerdy and somewhat pathetic. I will write something peppy soon. I promise.

I admit I’m a Harry Potter fan. I went to the midnight party at Borders (Barnes and Noble was far better, though. They had a streaker) but I digress…I’m a big fan. I like to see good and evil battle so blatantly. I enjoy seeing the wars most of us fight internally personified by those too young to understand the concessions most of us make in adulthood. If you haven’t finished the series yet and intend to, you may wish to stop reading here because I want to talk about one of the subplots.

According to the JKR Lexicon (I am such a proud nerd!!!):
The term "Horcrux" is used to refer to any object in which a person has concealed a part of his or her soul. The object need not be inanimate;, a living creature can be used as a Horcrux, although it is risky to do so since the Horcrux in such a case is something that can move and think for itself, independently of the implanted fragment of soul.
The purpose of a Horcrux is to protect the given bit of soul from anything that might happen to the body of the person to whom the soul belongs. While the Horcrux is kept safe, the person will continue to exist even if his or her body is damaged or destroyed.

In the books, the evil villain split his soul into seven horcruxes and it left him much much weaker. This image has oh so many applications- children, jobs, objects, passions, pretty much anywhere you break off a piece of your soul and store it. Since I think that I may have just been dumped by the third great mortal love of my life (one of those "it's not you, it's me" "I love you but just need to get myself ready for you" things that are almost always lies), I’m going to rant about the soul splitting of love.

I guess that some people meet and marry the love of their lives at a young age and never know what it’s like to lob off a piece of yourself that will always live with someone not present. I’m not one of them. I’ve dated several hundred men, and am currently haunted by three mortal heartkeepers (God’s there too, but I’ve got enough to say as is). first: my father (I’m with Freud and Sylvia Plath on this one. Daddy is always the first great love and often, as in my case, heartbreak). Second: My first real deep love, Third: My most recent heartbreak. I’ve broken up with many, but I think I know which ones have burrowed in deep enough to really torturously stick; I think that this one just might have. Now I’m just left wondering about numbers.

Cats have nine lives; Voldemort got seven horcruxes; how many horcruxes of the heart are available before there just aren’t any more? How many pieces can be made? I’m not so worried how to manage the aching crew who reside now because I’ve found that it is possible to love even when I know the crew will never totally leave, but there just doesn’t seem to be that much room left at the inn.

I guess that this is one of those questions that really has no answer. I know I’m weaker now, but aching weakness seems to be far more representative of the human condition than anything else. It’s why I’m a sucker for the arts- I love how beautiful our pains may become under the hands of someone talented. So I’ll leave it hanging out there as an unanswerable question and do what I tell my students to do in the dark moments of their lives (and they have some serious dark moments- not this pansy little hearbreak stuff): Hope. Just hope. It tends to have a remarkable capacity to open up spaces when it doesn’t appear that there are any left.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Miss M went to Washington

As many of you know, back in 1998 I went to Washington D.C. An eager young pup, I wanted to watch history in the making- Clinton was going to be impeached over a scandalous encounter with an intern. As I have always been a slave to the trends, I hopped right on board and became an intern myself, albiet one who only dated powerful men close to my own age (but that's another story. or several other stories) and a prudish one by almost all standards.

In order to be an intern (so as to have good seats for the public scourging of a corrupt politician), one must select an office to intern for. I chose Randy "Duke" Cunningham, my local representative. It was a ton of fun. Despite spending my first day accidently dropping half of the flood of incoming calls regarding an incident where Duke gave the finger to an elderly cancer-surviving constituent, the experience was positive. Duke wasn't the most intellectual boss I'd had, but he did seem to have heart. He called my Dad at work with assurances that I'd be well taken care of, allowed movie Fridays in the off-season, took the staffers out on his yacht, and generally seemed to care a lot about all of his constituents. If you could win him over in his heart and gut he'd fight like crazy for an initiative. Texans loved him. So did his staff.

Last year, he made public headlines when he pleaded guilty to accepting bribes- he even admitted to having a "bribe menu." I was devastated. After reading the expose on the scandal (its title called him the most corrupt congressman ever caught), I realized that the corruption had started while I was there. Bits of memory began to align. I remembered the assurance I'd had that Duke had no part in something a reporter questioned; maybe I was naive, but I don't think the office manager who told me believed it, either. Duke's little dog, Kelly, had just peed all over the office (as she was prone to do) and the Press Sec. had picked the dog up hoping to stop the urination, but ended up just shooting dog pee all over the fancy schmancy carpet and furniture as the Sec. ran nervously around the room. The office manager and I scrubbed at the pee and laughed at the notion of Duke, former Top Gun, man who'd risked his life protecting freedom, being that unethical. There was still a faint stink of the urination when the reporter arrived.

So... I met today with a small committee at the school where I teach. The committee's goal is to introduce some much needed character education. I've been thinking about character a lot lately. I'm definitely not perfect. But I am striving to live an honorable life. I think that most people would like to be honorable, but all too often we get side-tracked and sometimes those tracks lead straight to the Tuscon correctional facility where my former boss is now hanging out. Late late the other night I had one of those crazy pie-in-the-sky 2 am epiphanies that Duke would want to use his trademark candor to talk to the youth of his former district to help them as they start putting down their own train tracks. I wrote him a letter. I'm going to mail it tomorrow. I doubt that he'll read it. I doubt even less that he'll respond, but I'm hoping. Not that I need him to confirm my faith in mankind, but it sure would help. I'm hoping that all of you (ok- my mom and kory- the only two who are probably still listening to my ramblings) will pray or send good ESP messages his way that my idealist bubble won't get burst again.

I'm posting a copy of the letter under the comments section if anyone wants to read it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

my brothers are so freakin' hilarious

they have a new website perfect for killing time. GO SEE IT! Better yet, send them your best.

The pleasure cruise

A hypothetical question:
If one were to go wakeboarding with those she loved on a very fine summer day, would it be more dangerous to
a) cruise gently back and forth and back and forth-never falling. OR
b) try to jump, do tricks, etc.- wiping out most of the time.

If you chose option B, you're wrong. Yesterday I went out wakeboarding with my dad, brother, and friends, and it was a very fine summer day. and I took what my brothers have affectionally dubbed "the pleasure cruise" (a long- 30+ minute ride where I attempt no tricks and just enjoy floating over the water. I don't like to do tricks, and I don't want to waste the time of starting and stopping). I admit, I'm boring. Hypnotic, even, perhaps. But I'd always assumed that those in the boat would stay awake, or at least that the flag person (person who holds up a flag when there's a fallen person in the water so said fallen person won't be eaten up and dismembered by passing propellers) would. But alas, assumptions always tend to bite me in the arse.

I let go because I wanted to re-adjust my gloves, and while adjusting my natty and busted old gloves down in the water waiting for the boat to return I realized that it wasn't. It just kept going and going and going. My dad estimated that it went for about a mile. As I fruitlessly screamed and scanned the horizon for boats, I had some time to think.

Pleasure cruises are dangerous. Not just the kind of pleasure cruise where you're strapped to an Air Nautique, enjoying a pretty view and the only ones around are the occasional big belly up gray fish, but the metaphorical life kind of pleasure cruise. (spending your summer off on the couch watching Food Network and savoring really good chocolate. Barefoot Contessa just ended) They are delightful on occasion, and I am a big fan of floating right on over life just looking at the pretty stuff, but if they go on too long, you could end up like one of those belly up fish floating in the water hoping that someone from the big boat will remember you before another boat comes and turns you into buoyant road kill. It's like in all the numerous investing books I've read (as I tend to like to understand what makes the men I'm dating tick and I've dated more than my fair share of men whose internal clocks seem to be fueled by CNBC)- not investing is far more risky than, well, taking risks. Hmmmm...(I still am yet to actively invest any of my savings sitting stagnant in an account somewhere)......

That's about as far as I got- it was the usual carpe diem epiphany that comes when you realize that there's a chance that death or dismemberment is a real close possibility. I used to feel it all the time in high school whenever I stepped in Amy's car. Then, the boat came back and I was fine- the only fallout a twinge of guilt as I sit here in my pj's at 10 am.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

my first time trying to share youtube video. i only got a link you have to cut and paste. it's a start.

So... on a scale from 1 to 10 (1- would proudly broadcast to your boss, grandmother, and favored orphaned children) (10- would feel very uncomfortable viewing alone from a secured room in your remote bunker of choice) how offended are you by this video?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Italy and Spain pics are in! More to come.

stop having children

ah I remember the good ol days when the summer months meant up to three wedding invitations per week that I would shove under my bed in the feeding box of all my boogeymen and monsters. I remember the way that an engagement ring on a friend's finger was the equivalent of lymphatic cancer- not a certainty that someone would bite the dust, but a pretty sure sign of their eminent demise. Now that my commitment phobia has allowed me to accept friends from the "other side" (the married world), my friends have all decided to turn their bodies into human vending machines cranking out blended DNA replicas of them. My brother and his insanely fabulous wife have produced a beautiful little girl with my coloring and whose expressions occasionally bear an eerie resemblance to my perpetually suspicious maternal grandfather. One of the founding members of the "Uncommittables" (I am the only true remaining member) is on her second (thanks amy). I've been in contact with three of the wee ones today alone, and I agree that they are adorable. I'm not saying that I don't want my friends to abandon the great joys of parenthood forever, but I hate the gap.

My old roommate and good friend, Abby, came into town with the lovely Chloe and I have to say that it was awkward. I always feel like my old married friends running ahead are looking way back over their shoulders feeling sorry for me, or that I'm the last kid on the field when everyone's picking teams (coincidently I was that kid back in elementary). Only recently, though, have I realized that those on the other side are looking at my life as more fabulous than it is (I really do love my life, but there are only short bursts of fabulousness) and feel awkward as well. I think that men probably feel something like this too, but women seem to have a harder time with gaps. In a post-women's lib world we lack clear direction. It's nice to have choices, but it does seem to make things awkward when there are so many stigmas attached to our decisions (stay at home moms, old maids, career women). No matter what the choice we make, someone somewhere is sneering as they name the choice.

My brother has always claimed that men have traditionally ruled not because they are stronger (and definitely not because they are smarter), but because they don't turn on each other as easily. I know that I need to keep my insecurities in check or I'll be friendless pretty soon- Kory's the last of my really good friends who hasn't had a child yet (although according to her site she'll be joining up as soon as there's a harness strong enough to contain the child she's bound to produce). So anyway after my very long rant I should say that only my immature self wants others to slow down to my tortoise pace in the game of life (I keep cruising the board with wind blowing through my hair sans the blue pin and a whole back seat of empty holes). I don't really want that. What my more mature self wants is just for the strength to hold onto everyone I love without anyone hearing the haunting sneering voice in their head questioning their choices.

Monday, July 9, 2007

first entry

My oldest friend in the world has so little faith in my technological abilities that she thinks that I would miss a chance to spout off my views about the most inane aspects of life simply because I am techno-phobic. She has severely underestimated my need to have people listen to what I have to say. Hundreds of former students would never make that mistake.