Posts

Showing posts from 2012

I want to write.

I don't know how to do what I would like to see my future self doing. I like writing. I spend most of my time so caught up in my own thoughts that it seems natural for me to write. I overanalyze. Actually, I overanalyze every...single...situation...that I am in any small way connected to. I make up crazy what if horror filled scenarios that might end my life, cause me to fight for survival, or potentially maim me in some way practically daily. I create personalities and lives for people I meet in random circumstances that enable me to explain the behaviors they briefly exhibit. I constantly talk for Leah and Latimore...full conversations that enable those around us to "understand" what they must be thinking. I do all of this habitually, without trying or even wanting to in some cases, and yet when I sit down to write...I'm blank. Words flutter around. Sentences pass by. Single words plead with me to use them..."build me" they call out...and nothing.

I'm…

Story Short--Skydive Switzerland

The only time I've ever been skydiving tears saturated my eyes and blurred my vision as the plane made its way to the altitude required for the jump. My hands were so sweaty that I couldn't grip the tiny window's edge as tightly as I would have liked. Instead my fingers kept slipping off adding just one more "problem" to my current list of things out of my control, all of which began after I made my initial decision to make the jump.

I remember thinking, questioning amid the ascent, how the hell I managed to convince myself that this was in my ability range. I am one of those people who get nervous driving over bridges. Although, I don't know if my fear when driving over bridges is due to the height or the very clear images I entertain of my car driving through the guard rails and plummeting straight down. This succession of images is not wholly unlike those I face when flying. Again, is it a fear of heights or simply the constant playback of another plane t-…

Story Short-- Latimore's Sandbar

Last summer, husband and I took our pups down to the Salt River beyond the floating parties and groups of people. The park entrance zigzagged off the main road, and compared to the tubing and barbecue parking lots, it was secluded and quiet...perfect for a walk with Leah and Latimore. We traipsed along a trail that bordered between a cliff wall and the river. Even though the trail was shaded well by the tall trees growing along the river's edge, it was still Arizona hot in the summer and as the trail gained elevation, the trail rose out of the trees and the temperature rose with it into the sun.

We eventually turned around as we didn't bring any real hiking supplies nor water for the pups, and the heat was almost unbearable.  As we made our way back down to the water, we found a beautiful spot where the river had branched off from its main route. This portion of the river was a mixture of fast and slow moving water with the fast current nearest to the shore. As we stepped into…

Flowers Grow within the Shit

Image
It's been a rough week--the worst I've had all year. This will be short.

A student from my first year teaching sent me this Christmas gift: an edition of the Stranger autographed by Macklemore. Completely unexpected, it warmed my heart.  It is hard to grasp a student knowing my happiness like this. Thank you Jacob!


And then today, I received this card. I find it essential to mention that this particular student is the same one who asked my husband last year if he knew what chloroform smelled like. He is also the same student who I had to boot from class today for the first time all year (coincidentally).


Students can be such little shits sometimes...and then they do stuff like this to remind make me think I like teaching...and them. And it works.

2012 Desert Decathlon

Image
A day in pictures...


Over Thanksgiving weekend, Tyler and I had the pleasure of hosting our second annual Desert Decathlon. A 200% participant increase from our last competition (2 players to 6), definitely raised the stakes for all involved.

Event 1: Desert Run Relay--Team Cat Daddy Win


Love for my Students

Image
[Update 1/7/13--I now only need 4 more copies of The Absolutely True Diary and 3 more copies of The Glass Castle!!!]

Some of you already know that I teach at an alternative high school. The easiest, and most concise way to describe our "client base", is to say we house students who have not been successful in other schools. Detailing out how drugs, fighting, pregnancy, low- Socio Economic Status (SES) and/or super horrible home-lives stereotypically (and accurately) plague a large percentage of our students' lives might create a more vivid picture. Additionally, a high percentage of our students receive modifications and accommodations to their curriculum because they have Individual Education Plans (IEP) and/or 504 plans (providing equal education for students with physical disabilities).

I'm sure all of my teacher friends have a pretty good idea of what this population might actually look like in the classroom--what that might mean for daily instruction. Trying to …

My lil' Leah

Yesterday was an extremely rough day. When I woke up to let the pups out, Leah couldn't really walk. All day she struggled to stand, to move a few feet, and to just sit. Her legs were so weak and shaky she couldn't even lift her legs enough to climb onto her doggy bed.

It is the absolute worst feeling to sit next to her and not be able to help her in anyway. I cried all day wondering if I would know how bad it was going to get for her, wondering if she was able to get better from this, wondering if she was in pain...wondering if I had to take her to the vet to have her go to sleep. I know that some people (non-pet people) won't understand, but I kept thinking to myself how unfair it was. She's only 6.

Early in the day I had moved her food and water to be closer to her, and she continued her daily habits which at least let me know she was kind of okay. I blew up an air mattress last night and put it right in the middle of the living room. I helped her onto the mattress …

Mother F'ing Valley Fever

...Leah's most ruthless nemesis to date; she has once again tested positive for Valley Fever...that s.o.b.

Leah first tested positive last summer and ended up taking pills (fluconazole, an anti-fungus treatment), twice a day, for eleven months. Her overall health at onset was disheartening at best. I didn't think she was going to live, and naturally, it crushed me. She was, and is, my baby. Her movement seemed horribly arduous and her appetite wasn't good. We could barely get her to go outside, and when she did make it out of the house she would lay down immediately. However, over the months with treatment, her energy level increased dramatically and her behaviors morphed, once again youthful, as she reignited her habit of racing me up the big hill in our neighborhood.

She again started acting funny, very unlike herself, a couple weeks ago...just like she had before the first diagnosis. Her movements seemed more restrictive, like she was sore. She was acting way less patie…

Highs and Lows

Image
I'm not quite sure how I feel about charter schools. There are some fairly obvious disadvantages to working in a small, business driven, school setting; disadvantages that ironically seem to illustrate the abundance of misused resources in public schools- public schools that are functioning on very little, if that gives any indication of what we are working with.  We have such a small staff and at times, I feel like I am unable to keep up with the demand expected of us, like I am treading water with weights continually being added for conditioning--morning duty (one out of four days), lunch duty (three out of four days), after school supervision (daily). Planning time goes by quickly and Fridays have very much become a beacon of sanity enabling me to keep my head above water. 
We teach a four day school week, the belief being that a shorter school week would encourage students  to actually attend. This year, some changes are requiring students to attend "Friday School" …

50 days no drinky

This year, for my birthday, I decided to give myself the gift of sobriety. Today marks fifty days of that quest. My goal is to be my own experiment...to cleanse my body for a year...to hopefully grow some new neural pathways...to basically just see how I feel.

When I tell people that I'm taking a break from drinking, there is typically a follow up explanation that seems to be required, and so here it is.

I'm 35. I've been drinking since I was 17 when I had those two naughty wine coolers with a girlfriend. In my early-to-mid twenties, I very regularly went out dancing, and drinking...very regularly.  During my overseas lifeguarding days, drinking was the norm for me... just as normal as it was to walk around cities not understanding the language being spoken. Landing a professional teaching job with tons more responsibility than lifeguarding allowed me to basically grow up. [This may seem contradictory, but anyone who has lifeguarded knows exactly what I mean.]

When I began…

big nap = no sleep

I can't sleep. Part of me says I should just get up and start my tomorrow...walk the dogs, go to the gym, etc., but 12:30 doesn't really seem like a reasonable time for all of that (plus I couldn't convince Tyler to get out of bed, strap on our headlamps, and walk the dogs).

My nap earlier is definitely responsible, but so are the images of my students and my classroom that are nonstop fluttering around in my mind. My new position has been good to me. I love working with older students again. I don't necessarily love their filthy mouths, but I do enjoy the novelty and sense of freedom I feel being able to say the word "crap" if I want and not worry that some parent is going to complain about my vulgarity. True story.

Because my school is in its third year of a school improvement grant, all of the teachers are regularly observed, 1-2 times per week. In theory, I like this. Actually, I have always liked evaluations, even way back when during parent/teacher con…

Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer...a review

Image
I'm just going to say this quickly and get it over with. I enjoyed the Twilight series more than any other series I've read so far this summer, and because of this, I'm fairly certain that I will receive some flack. However, I'm not going to apologize for liking it, and if anything apologizing for being against it for so long seems a bit more appropriate.


Even while committing to my summer reading program of popular series books I never once imagined I'd actually like the Twilight series. In fact, I actually predicted it would be last based on everything I had tried to avoid hearing over the years. Avoiding this series, by the way, was nearly impossible. For three years in a row, female students wrote essays to me explaining why they wanted to be Bella Swan, not because she's such an amazing female character, but because, "she gets to be with Edward Cullen". Ugh. This reason as an argument is disgusting, and is the exact reason I initially avoided the …

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Series by Stieg Larsson...a review

Image
I like living under the belief that most people in the world are inherently good. I like believing that most  people are not completely despicable whose primary goal is to in someway take advantage of another human. Stieg Larsson's crime fiction series incorporates so many characters that are simply horrible people, that if I truly thought this was life, I would absolutely never leave my house...and even then I would be scared. At least 50% of the male characters within the entire series wish to physically, sexually, and mentally harm any other character, mostly females, with such intense degradation and hostility and with such little worry as to the repercussions- it is definitely concerning.

Having said all of that, Larsson's series is incredibly dark. Lisbeth Salander, Larsson's central female character, endures a pretty damn depressing and abusive life. An incredibly smart victim, Salander is socially inept, yet in a way the same ineptness that plagues her also encour…

The Luckiest

Image
Way back in 2009, when Tyler and I were first dating he made a CD for me. It included Lil Wayne, Justin Timberlake, Green Day...you know, all the greats. It also had songs that he said were some of his favorites. "The Luckiest" by Ben Folds was on that CD. Tyler and I probably weren't at a point in our relationship where we were experiencing the exact sentiment expressed in the song, but I absolutely remember thinking how beautiful it was. 


I think that tomorrow is our one month anniversary, although I'm not completely sure because it is summer vacation after all. Can I just say that I never thought I'd get married...that I wasn't the kind of girl to marry. And it is so funny, and so completely true, that I thought those things because I wasn't with Tyler. He is my perfect "other". And no, not just because he's so stupidly attractive, that even when he's hungover, or sick, or self deprecating himself in some way, he still looks good. It&…

Shades of Grey Series E. L. James ...a review

Image
E. L. James appears to be an innovator...taking the typical romance novel a whole escalator ride above the normal "vanilla" sex (to use her terminology) that most readers of this genre are familiar. My assumption, as this is not my typical choice in reading material, is that most romance novels do not include "relationships" that incorporate dominant and submissive scenarios. However, my only experience with romance novels is very limited so I can't even say that with confidence.

What I can say is... Marian Keyes is a very good writer of "women's literature". She writes with so much wit that she is easily the only "romance novelist" I've ever truly taken the time to read, and enjoy. She not only creates such wonderful male characters that upon finishing each novel it has been hard for me to say goodbye, she creates a realistic plot that a normal girl might find herself in. I imagine that this would be the goal in this type of novel.…

Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins...a review

Image
My plan for this summer's book club is to cover those books that fall into one very specific category... "popular" series books, young adult or adult; a category that I have purposefully eluded due to their immense popularity among the masses. I know, I'm such a snob. However, while I love providing reading suggestions to my students that don't fall into this category, I can now see the benefit of so many people caught up in the moment. My niece, Julia, attended my wedding wearing the Mockingjay medallion on a necklace. While Julia is a reader by nature, so many of my other students this past year were not. And yet, they urged me over and over to read the series. Now THAT is an educator's dream, no matter what the novel. 


Luckily for me, I enjoyed the entire series, because I've never before read something that so many others were reading. People, both adults and kids, stopped by to discuss the book with me at the pool as I floated around reading. I'm …

The Manly Bloody

Image
--So complete it requires its own post!

Last summer I became very friendly with THE Bloody Mary, combining multiple recipes that suited my exact needs into one delicious concoction. You can find it in my Summertime Salivations post.  This whole last year, I battled with an intense desire to test out some new ideas versus my ability to function in normal society, because as everyone knows Bloody Mary's are not an evening drink. One must commit to daytime taste testing. 


An opportunity to do this occurred this past weekend when we traveled to Bisbee, Arizona for a weekend away with some friends. In order to make The Manly Bloody, you have to be ready to spend some time preparing, but I will tell you, without any question or doubt, these are worth it. And as it turned out I had plenty of time on Saturday to take on this project due to my opting out of the Bisbee Mine Tour, after paying, because I had a panic attack 100 ft into the mine-- but that is a story for another post. I'll …

Pudding Shots Part 3- Wedding Shots

Image
A variety, or melee, of drinks were available during our wedding weekend. Pudding shots naturally made an appearance. Technically, they were to be part of the wedding desserts, intended for each guest to imbibe along with their creation from the cake pop dessert bar, but to be honest we forgot all about the pudding shots until some guests had already said their goodbyes. Sad for them.

For some reason, I made the decision to make all of the pudding shots using Half n Half instead of the heavy whipping cream I've previously used. The taste wasn't different, but the consistency was. I like when the pudding shots are more of a thick creamy pudding that when frozen appear like ice cream. What I noticed this time is the pudding shots separated as you ate them, making part of the concoction soupy. Since replacing the heavy whipping cream with a substitute was the only change I made, I won't  make that change again, and I am writing the recipe as if I had used the whipping cream.

Woman Problems

[THIS MIGHT NOT BE FOR EVERYONE]

I just had my third copoloscopy today. For anyone unfamiliar, a "copo" is a procedure that involves pap smear-like equipment to check out the cervix and surrounding areas. The doc uses some sort of vinegar solution that makes the abnormal cells stand out. Then they biopsy the offending areas to check them out further.

I have "abnormal cells". I've had "abnormal cells" show up on numerous paps, probably since I was 20. The problem with "abnormal cells" is that the virus, HPV, is sometimes the culprit. HPV is, as explained to me by those in the medical field, a ridiculously prevalent virus for females who are not virgins. For many young women, HPV is not really an issue. The body heals itself fairly easily. However, as we age, our bodies' ability to give the virus the boot is not quite as easy, I guess. Sometimes the virus progresses to additional stages that then could progress to cervical cancer if untrea…

C. D. Payne is Alive.

Image
In observance of the fact that it has been almost a year since my last book review, I feel it is only appropriate that I resurface with a collection of work from Mr. C. D. Payne.

Okay, I'm about to get real honest with you...and just know before I do, that this is me clearly showcasing my own ignorance. About six years ago, a good friend let me borrow her copy of Youth in Revolt. It is my recollection that after telling me I'd like it, she also mentioned that it was sad because C. D. Payne had actually died, and this was his only book--his mom, having discovered the book postmortem, had the work published.  I mention this little dialogue, not to embarrass said friend, but to express how sincerely bummed I was after actually reading Youth in Revolt, when I foundmyself absolutely smitten with it.

This last year I was reunited with the rest of my belongings, including my own copy of Youth in Revolt. I read it again, re-watched the movie version, and for whatever reason took my d…

On to the Next One...

I have heard from more than one person that work is...well work, and that you shouldn't necessarily expect to enjoy it. In fact, I've known some to hold the belief that it should just be assumed work will suck because...well, it's work.

But, I don't feel that way. Not at all.

Perhaps, I have the "audacity" to free myself of certain hinderances because while Leah and Latimore sure as shit eat a ton of food and biscuits, my responsibilities to provide for them are pretty much finished with their food intake. They would be content sleeping in my car, or in a tent, or outside in general--as long as they were with me. They don't need much more. I think adults with children have a much larger picture to consider before making decisions to stay or go at a job that doesn't seem to fit them.

For me, this will be my second job that I have elected to leave. On my way home today, I began to wonder what others who stay in the positions I have chosen to move on fro…

New Homeowners = Personalized Message Board

Image
In case you may have missed it, I am now a co-homeowner for the first time in my life, and now I have all kinds of projects swirling around in my head... home improvement-esque types of projects. And naturally, the first project we decided to tackle was our homemade message board, because this was quite obviously the most crucial to our daily functioning. Right? Hell yes it was!


Step 1: Supplies


We decided to make two options for our message board: a magnetic side and a chalkboard side. Home Depot and Lowe's carry the special types of paint. You will not believe how heavy the magnetic paint...nor how hard it is to get that sh*# off. Tip: do not attempt to wash the roller off using your hands. Seriously, I had a minor panic attack when the paint began spreading over my hands but not actually coming off. Not a joke, ask Tyler. 


Step 2: Choose Location




We chose a garage wall (in case it turned out like...you know).


Step 3: Design Your Design

Originally, this idea was going to happen in the…