Friday, December 10, 2010

Minor vent....

When I was first teaching, I worked with a highly accomplished musician.  He had a doctorate from Julliard (I went to Juilliard, by the way- I even have a sweatshirt to prove it).  He was a phenomenal piano player, rivaling the likes of one Dr. R, my college choir director who I swear was able to play the piano while using both hands and her head to conduct us.  It's one of the reasons I am certain I will never be a college professor.  But I digress.  This gentleman was hired to teach middle and high school choir.  And while I admit being as impressed as everyone else with his PhD from Juilliard (I went there too, did I mention that?), it soon came to light that teaching was not his 'thang.'  He had never had an education course.  He had never taken classroom management or even observed a music class in action.  I'm quite certain he never read 'The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher.'  Because he wasn't.  He yelled and screamed; he threatened and stomped.  There was a lot of storming from the room, both by him and his pupils.  He didn't understand how to set reasonable expectations and then how to get the kids to meet or exceed them.  In fact, once during a fine arts department meeting, he was complaining (again) about the kids and how they didn't know how to sing.  The band teacher scoffed, "So teach them!"  To which Mr. PhD replied, "That's NOT my job!"  Dumbfounded, we all wondered who's job it was.

I never questioned my own classroom management skills after working with him.  Sure, you have days that are a little off- the kids are nosier, more excited, more animated than others.  Today, for example, the last day before winter break... oh hell, I'm a Christian and it's my blog- before CHRISTMAS break, the kids are nutty.  But I have rules set in place for how students should behave in my room.  It might take a minute or two longer for them to remember those rules on a day like today, but they do remember them and we've had fun playing two drama games without getting out of control.

Classroom management can make or break a classroom.  Heck, it can make or break a teacher.  Some people understand it and are made to enforce it.  Some people... (insert BIG sigh here)... are not.  Those people not only make their own lives difficult, they make it hard for others too.  No matter the expectations from one classroom to another, students who get worked up and riled up during one class find it hard to get control immediately for another.  They are just kids, after all.  And you know that you remember being a little naughtier than usual when you had a substitute, especially for a particularly strict teacher.  Try to imagine having that substitute every day- one who seemed to shuffle their way through each class, who's discipline was inconsistent at best, and who had no follow through except, "Go to the office!" without even an explanation of what you'd done.

It makes me tired just thinking of it... by the way, I realize this post is slightly unfinished.  I did start with a purpose in mind but then remembered that it's the interwebs and anyone can find anything on here.  I decided to refrain from the specific example that got me started on this rant in the first place.  So I apologize for the disjointed feeling and the rather sudden ending.  I guess the good Southern girl is coming out.  Because, as I learned on a TV show the other night, "If you're going to talk about people, you have to whisper!"

Did I mention I went to Juilliard?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Writing FAIL

I did not complete Nanowrimo.  Heck, I barely even started.  I think I just wasn't in the mindset, to be honest.  I wrote for the first two days and then just FORGOT.  Literally.  I went to bed on the 3rd day and was snuggling into the sheets to close my eyes before I remembered that I was supposed to have written 1,667 words that day.  Needless to say, it didn't get much better after that.  I wrote a couple of days at school (I had a few days where I didn't have much to do) but writing at home did not happen.  Last year I had an office upstairs and I think that made things easier- I could get away from distractions and focus on writing for a bit.  Now our "office" is in the living room so that didn't help anything.  I'm not laying blame- it was me and me alone that did not accomplish this goal.  But I will say that, although I set myself this goal of writing something novel-sized before the anniversary of Mom's death, it's probably not going to happen.  I'm just still not ready to tell my story.  It's in there, but it's still cooking.  I don't know when it will happen.

Stop judging me.

Christmas vacation is looming on the very near horizon!  In six days we will fly to Colorado to see Shannon and the Colorado Franks.  Then home to Georgia for the whole break.  I can't wait.  Not only am I definitely ready for a break in general, but I'm so excited to be with my family for the whole break!  The last two years, we've spent a couple of days with my family, but the majority of the vacation in England.  I love being in England in the winter, but I am just really happy to know I'm going home for Christmas... makes me want to sing a song. 

I got nothing else for today.  Maybe more later.  We'll see...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happiness is...

... boring?  Are happy people boring?  When I think about the people I like to talk to, the blogs or message boards I like to read, even the news I want to share with friends, it's usually not happy.  When something bad or irritating happens, I can't wait to share it.  Equally, I like to hear other people fuss and bitch.  When something good happens, I find it awkward to share; I always feel like I'm saying, "Hey, look at me!  Look how great my life is!"  And when you do that, it seems like people don't really listen. 

This week, I have felt peaceful and content.  I found my gratitude and, at least for now, the happiness of just being me.  I've sent out good things into the universe, without the hope of getting the back, and I find myself smiling for no reason.  Today, I saw a friend sitting outside grading papers.  It was such a peaceful picture, and, knowing this friend, I knew how much she was enjoying being outside, that I smiled.  I smiled (like an idiot, I must admit) when I saw the giant Santa hanging on the middle school office door.  It was such a ridiculous smile, that I'm almost glad no one saw it.  Hell, I even smiled at a kid that I do not, we shall say, have a particular fondness for.  Just because he looked kind of cute today. 

Does anyone want to hear about it when you're happy?  That's not to say we're awful people and enjoy the suffering of others, especially our friends and family.  But conversations about all the good things in life don't seem to take as long as the ones where we're fussing about something or someone.  People can commiserate with a bad friend or boss, a yucky situation, or something stupid that your husband did (not MY husband mind you).  But when you say, "Nothing's wrong- life is great...," it's almost a conversation stopper.  Others feel bad bringing you down.  Or they think you might not want to hear about their problems.  Or they think you're a hippie.  And people still don't like hippies.   

Tonight, I hope to be knitting with a friend of mine who I don't spend much time with.  It makes me happy to think about.  But if we don't, it's okay because I know I'll hang out with Dave and that will be just as wonderful. 

And that leaves me wondering- is happiness boring?  Would you rather read a blog about me being angry or irritated?  I don't know.  I find myself steering away from the bitchy messages on my message board- the ones with people complaining about their husbands or in-laws or kids.  But the non-bitchy ones... they're not as amusing.  They're almost... boring.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

1723 Down...

...48,277 words to go.  I can do this.

I did actually start writing yesterday and it felt good.  It only took me about a half an hour to write my daily quota (I should do 1667 a day to stay on track).  It took a few minutes for the juices to start flowing but then they did and I think that this could be easier than I was expecting... she says, full of hope and optimism at the beginning of this adventure.  I am not a 'planner' when it comes to writing- never have been.  I usually think that I've come up with a kick-ass title or opening sentence and figure it will all just flow from there.  Obviously it doesn't or I would have hundreds upon hundreds of novels completed by now.  Last year, as I was writing the other story, another idea kept popping in my head and it was so strong that I couldn't wait to start writing it, after I completed Nano.  I wanted to get to know my characters, develop them, have them live out their stories.  I actually planned.  But it never materialized.  In that case, I couldn't come up with that kick-ass opening.  It just never felt right.  And I abandoned the story.  Now I'm using the characters in this year's Nano attempt.  I hope it'll work out for me.

I think I've mentioned this before- I once heard that some crazy-famous author used to start his day out by writing a letter to someone, before he started writing on novel for the day.  He said it got his brain working and he felt like he was better able to jump right into his story, rather than sitting and waiting for the flow of ideas to start.  I'm going to try and use this blog to do that... though I suspect I am of the other school of writing thought.  I have this feeling that I might become so engrossed in my blog that, by the time I'm done, I won't want to write my story.  But I'm going to have to see- I'll give it a couple of days and figure it out. 

It might mean that I abandon this blog for a month.  Or I might be really awesome at writing every day.  Only time will tell.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The heat is on...

Wow.  I really don't know what I'm going to write about.  I'm kind of stressing out about it. 

Someone once said that you have to write like your parents are dead.  I suppose that applies to all family and friends really.  Writers tend to draw from their own experiences and sometimes that means characterizing someone close to you.  It may also mean revealing parts of yourself that you may not be comfortable sharing with Dear Old Aunt Suzie.  It's a fine line and one of the biggest problems I had with writing the novel last year for Nanowrimo-  telling the real story of my awakening was important to me... but it was just so personal! 

I've always wanted to explore the mother-daughter relationship (now more than ever as I'm about to have one of those relationships).  I want to tell it from a different perspectve- the one where the mother and daughter don't have to end up friends at the end.  Where they don't recognize and forgive their differences.  Because that does happen.  It's not the happy ending that most people want from a book, but it is reality.  The truth is, my mom and I never made peace.  And I can honestly admit that it would've taken some big changes on both our parts for that to happen if she were still here.  I am, however, at peace with the fact that we never reached some huggy-kissy-BFF kind of place.  That wasn't meant to be for us.

And I think it's true for many people.  But I've always shyed away from writing about it because, even fictionalized, I knew my mom's feelings would be hurt.  I knew she would read it as a commentary on our relationship, possibly even feel embarrassed.  And I didn't want to do that.  I would never want to embarrass her.  As I've said before, she loved me the best she could and I understood that. 

But now, I can write without the fear of hurting her.  I guess I've found my topic. 

Hopefully she can be proud.  Maybe this will be my story.  Maybe...

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's almost that time...

I really expected to be a lot more ready for National Novel Writing Month which begins in all of three days.  Back in January or February, I made the decision to try and do right by my mother's faith in my writing and get my novel done by the anniversary of her death (January 10th).  I was going to write in this blog daily- or close to daily- to get me inspired and used to writing again.  In doing that, my creative juices would start flowing and I would, by November, be ready to write the great American novel.

Or at least something novel-length.

But Nanowrimo begins in three days and, honestly, I got nuttin'.  I had a couple of ideas through this year but, after presenting a synopsis and introduction on another writing website- and having them shot down- I've abandoned them.  Personally, I've been reading Harry Potter for about six weeks now, and these books, while wonderful, haven't gotten me thinking anything except I wish I'd thought of that.  Which is not helpful.

Last year during Nanowrimo, I wrote 50,000 words about me.  It was meant to be MY story- the actual story of me transforming from who I was (lonely waitress, living in other people's houses, waiting for something) into who I am (wife, soon-to-be-mother, in love with her job and life).  But it was too personal and I wasn't ready.  I just ended up piecing together the funnier stories of life overseas...  I tried to fictionalize some parts to make it feel less intrusive.  It didn't really work.  I haven't even looked at it since October 31st of last year.  It probably stinks (Nanowrimo doesn't put pressure on you to write well- they just want you to reach the 50,000 mark).  But I had an idea and I was able to sit down almost every day and pound out the 1667 words I needed, usually with little effort.

Monday is November 1st.  I have no idea what I'm going to write.  But I WILL complete this task again, even if it doesn't make my mom as proud as I meant it to.

Maybe it's just still not time...


P.S. November 1st is also the beginning of Movember - It's a good thing I will hopefully be really busy writing because there will not be a lot of smooching in the Horner house for the next month if this picture (from last year) is any indication of what's to come.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fill it half-full...

I have never been what some would call an optimist.  I come by it naturally, that is for sure.  It's not like there's a specific memory to pinpoint, but it's difficult to recall Mom ever offering up encouragement before finding the 'half-empty' in any situation I presented to her.  My grades could be better, but they're okay (I got mostly A's, with a smattering of B's... let's not talk about the two C's- I blame the teachers for those).  If you lost some weight, you'd be happier.  A box of macaroni and cheese is not dinner... wait, that has nothing to do with being an optimist, I just still remember her saying that and being shocked because that couldn't possibly be true.

Like my Mom, it is easy for me to find the negative in any given moment.  I actually have to work to find the positive first.  It's a tough burden to overcome, but one that is necessary when teaching middle school.  You can't walk around all the time putting them down.  You have to notice that good thing first and follow it up with constructive criticism.  For example:

Me: Mid-sized Johnny- I really like how creative your story is.  Next time, could you read it loud enough so that I could actually hear you.
Mid-sized Johnny: Mmshdkguash

Or something along those lines.  I can't just say, "I couldn't hear you."  That could hurt his feelings.  That technique wouldn't have worked on me, I can tell you that.  I would've heard the first part- how creative I was- and hung on to that with every fiber of my being.  The 'talking louder' (like that could've EVER been a problem for me) would've flown right over my head and out the window.  But man, I would have written some great stories.

I bring this up because, at times, it's lonely here.  I've never really belonged to any particular 'group' in any school we've been in.  Dave and I seem to be the type of people that can hang out with anyone, but don't always get invited to things.  Even at 32, I feel that being-left-out-sting.  Those are the times I try to find the half-full in the situation.  Sometimes I can, sometimes I can't.  So for those times when I can't, I'm going to make a list of half-fulls... just so I don't forget.

1.  A wonderful husband
2.  Best friends, even if they're not close by (which includes a very adorable and wonderful little Sissypoo)
3.  A wiggly baby in my tummy
4.  A fantastic Daddy
5.  The two cutest dogs anyone has ever had
6.  A fun job in an interesting place
7.  Opportunities to travel
8.  A nice house
9.  A warm bed
10.  A creative spirit

There.  That should do it.  The next time it looks or feels half-empty, I'm going to remember the good things.  We can't be encouraged all the time- sometimes we have to struggle a little.  But with a half-full glass of water (or wine in a few months), maybe that struggle won't seem so hard.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gossip Girl

Alright, it's coming back to bite me in the butt.  I cannot tell a lie- I love gossip.  I love the drama of gossip, I love knowing gossip, I love spreading gossip.  Knowing something about someone else, especially if it's juicy, gives you a sense of power.  You choose whether to tell or keep it to yourself.  You can, if you're a good story teller, hold the rapt attention of an audience if you choose to divulge your knowledge.  At times, it can almost feel like your civic duty to continue to share the information that someone has passed onto you.  They trusted you to keep the telephone lines buzzing... unless they specifically told you not to.  And even then, they can't have meant you weren't supposed to tell anyone, right?

Before you start judging me and spreading gossip about what a horrible person I am, read on.  I like gossip, but I especially like it if it comes from me.  I really enjoy being in the midst of a good drama.  I love to tell my side and make sure you validate what I did or said.  Or at least what I told you I did or said, because, as I've mentioned, I'm not good at confrontation and rarely do or say most of what I said I did or said.  Got that?  I enjoy being wronged, having others rally to my defense to stand united against a real or imagined slight.  I do, I love it.

But I also know when to keep my mouth shut.  You might have a hard time believing that at this moment... or if you know me at all.  It is the truth, however.  I rarely pass along gossip that could hurt someone.  I don't enjoy spreading others' pain or misery.  I don't relish the idea of making someone look bad just so I can get some kicks.  I don't pass along damaging information just to get a laugh.  I am picky in what I choose to gossip about. 

Even if it IS about me.  There is so much that I could say right now, but I have chosen to bite my tongue.  And in biting my tongue, someone else is biting me in the ass.  And I probably deserve that on some level.

I wish it would teach me not to gossip, but it probably won't.  I will continue to be careful in what I say, however.

And I will pick my friends a little more carefully in the future.

Friday, October 22, 2010

An Inconvenient Truth

Something I have noticed since becoming pregnant- besides the fact that people now stare at my belly constantly, which makes me highly uncomfortable as I've always been very weight conscious, especially about said area; besides the fact that some people take it a step further and reach out to touch my belly; besides the one teacher who talks directly to my belly every time she passes, but hasn't actually said hello to me in weeks ("HELLO!  My eyes are up here!" I feel like yelling at her).  Besides these things, which were really to be expected, the biggest change in my life is that suddenly, people don't seem to be able to talk to me about anything but being pregnant!

Growing this little alien in my tummy has not stopped me from being able to have interesting conversation.  I am acutely aware for 90% of the day that I am pregnant (that 10% happens at those intervals between peeing known as sleep).  I think about it constantly.  I surf websites and message boards, I look at nurseries and bedding, I poke my tummy when she's kicking and when she's not.  So when I'm around other people, I want to talk about anything but being pregnant.  People seem to doubt that I can do this, however.

The other night at a school party, friends came to me, asked how I was, told me a story about their friend or relative who was pregnant... and then we stared at each other until they walked away.  These are people I used to discuss celebrity gossip, world events, changes in education, or the latest episode of Glee with.  I can still have those conversations!  I still read Perez Hilton every couple of days and check CNN.com as much as I used to.  Dave and I watch the news every morning before coming to school.  And I try to keep up with Glee.

The funniest thing about this to me is that I know I have done the exact same thing to my friends when they were pregnant.  I assumed they wanted to talk about being pregnant.  Looking back, they probably didn't.  At least not all the time.  Because the inconvenient truth is this: it's not that interesting.  Don't get me wrong- it's unbelievably amazing to feel this little girl kicking and punching and to know that I'll be meeting her, holding her, loving her (more) in four short months.  But right now, truthfully, all I can say about being pregnant is, "Yes, I'm lucky I haven't been sick/felt bad," and "She's kicking and punching," and "No, I'm still sleeping fine/nothing hurts."  Oh and "I know I'm supposed to get fat, but I don't like it."  And that's all.

So ask me what I think about Lindsey staying in rehab instead of going to jail or Obama making an "It Gets Better" video.  Or even about the typhoon headed for China.

Ask me anything that doesn't revolve around pregnancy.  Just maybe not while I'm surfing my baby websites.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Secret Language

I don't remember having a secret language with my sister.  I don't think we liked each other enough to do something that fun when we were little.  I did have a summer of secret codes with Shannon.  During the summers, both of us stayed home alone, but weren't allowed to leave our house without military cover and a police escort... at least that's how it felt.  I could RUN to get the mail when it came, but other than than, I was on lock-down.  Every now and again, Shannon and I could persuade our parents to let us go to each others house- but I'm telling you, it was like planning some sort of invasion.  We had to call each other and plan it, then each call our mothers, then our mothers had to call each other, then we had to wait for them to call us back (in my case, I had to wait for the secret telephone ring to then call my mother back), then we knew we had exactly five minutes to get from one house to the other, then we had to call our mothers when we got to the other house.  It was almost too much of a hassle to go!

So one summer, we decided that we would write secret notes to each other and leave them under the rock at the end of the street.  We would both be very naughty and run and leave each other notes.  That process went like this:
Ring, ring (if Shannon called me, I waited for the answering machine to pick up so I knew it was her and not a child-killer who somehow knew I was home alone)
K: I'm going to leave you a note.
S: Okay.
Two minutes later- ring ring
K: I left you a note.
S: Okay.  I'm going to get it.
Two minutes later- ring ring (answering machine)S: I got your note.  I'll call you back when I figure it out.
K: Okay.
Two minutes later- ring ring (answering machine)S: Haha- that's funny!
K: I know!  You go leave me one.
S: Okay.

Etc., etc.  Much simpler, huh?

Why, you may be asking yourself, are you telling me this?  Well, yesterday... every day really, I am surrounded by kids who know a "secret" language.  It's Spanish, so it's not really a secret- I think it's well documented that many, many people speak Spanish.  I just do not happen to be one of them.  It got me thinking, walking behind some kids and trying to figure out what they were saying- how crazy!  To be 13 and to be able to say just about anything you want in front of a teacher with no fear of repercussion!  They could be talking about sex, drugs, rock and roll... I had no idea!  What freedom and power!  I'm not sure it's a freedom or power that a 13 year old should have.  But most of these guys have had this their whole lives- teachers who did speak Spanish, teachers who didn't.  They know how to censor.  They also know when you start learning... and they can tell when you're faking.

The only secret language I ever knew was pig latin.  I should probably learn Spanish.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Confronting your demons

Confrontation is not my strong point.  I am, like many people I know, really good at telling the story of what I should've said or what I might say, but rarely did I or do I say it.  At least not to the face of the person who needs to hear it.  All my life, I have had this fear of being wrong and I think that, more than anything, plays into my fear of confrontation.  I also have always seemed to understand that there are two sides to every situation and I'm always worried that my side is not really what happened.  I can't stand the thought of having an arguement with someone, only to find out that what I think happened didn't happen at all.  I don't know why.  There's nothing I can pin point from childhood- no friend or relative who did this constantly and helped instill this fear.  And yet it's there.

But sometimes- and only sometimes- I know I am right.  There is no guilt, no worry about seeing the situation from someone else's point of view because I feel good about what I'm doing in that situation.  I am in that situation right now.  I have decided to end a friendship, based on the actions of the other person.  It is true- I can see it from their side- why they felt slighted or jipped or even deserving.  But nothing- NOTHING- can explain away their behavior to me.  We are adults and while I know that emotions can run high, especially where money is concerned, there is a right way and a wrong way to handle things.

And the wrong way could lose you friends.

Even in that second-guessing stage- the one after the fight or disagreement where you look back and question if you did or said the right thing or even if your response is the right one... even in that stage, I know I have made the correct decision.  It will not be easy.  I will run into this person at parties and gatherings.  People, at some point, will forget about the situation (or will never even know about it) and wonder why we don't hang out anymore or why I'm not coming to a small gathering when this person is around.  I may actually become so detatched myself that I will go to those gatherings and could even have pleasant conversations with this person again.  And if it comes down to to a confrontation, I feel like I could calmly explain my side and my reasoning with no fear of the other point of view (that's not to say the other person would behave the same- in fact, I could almost be certain that they would not).  But I'm not worried about it.  Because in this situation, it's not the side that matters.  I do truly understand why you feel the way you do.  What I do not understand is how you could think the way you did about us and then react the way you did.  And that is where my side comes in.  So tell my husband that you know how upset I am and you want to make it right.  Tell him that you never meant for it to happen like this.  Convince yourself that you are the bigger person.  The truth is- you're not.  If you were, none of this would've happened in the first place.

So we will not be friends again.  And there is not a fiber in my being that questions that decision.  Not one.  Not one regret, not one 'what-if'.  Because I have seen the true colors and I don't like them.

That is all.  Good day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The value of friendship...

Every once in a while, I have one of those days.  You know- the kind where "nobody likes me, everybody hates me" runs through your head all day.  The kind that leaves you feeling sad and lonely and wondering what you did to bring this on because really, you're a nice person.  You're a funny person.  You're kind of cute, if you do say so yourself.  And yet, on those days, you don't particularly feel that way.  It seems like everyone else did something last night and apparently, you weren't invited.  It seems like everyone is doing something tonight, and you weren't invited to that, either.  You try to remind yourself that you probably wouldn't have gone anyway and, if the truth be told, you were in bed at 9:00pm.  Happily.

But still, there are those days.  I hate those days.  I feel too grown up for those days.  I try to focus on all the good things that are in my life and the fact that I actually enjoy hanging out at my house, watching movies with my husband and throwing the ball (incessantly) for Pip.  I don't feel bad at the end of the night when it's time to climb into bed- I don't regret anything.

It's the next morning, when I see the pictures on facebook or hear everyone talking about how much fun they had that I wonder, "Hey, why wasn't I invited?"

I'm married to a wonderful man who always answers that question with, "Who cares?"  And it forces me, after a bit of whining, to admit that I had a nice evening doing whatever it was I was doing.  That is one of the many reasons I love him.

On those days, however, the grass is always greener.  At home, in my lovely peach state, I have four best friends.  And on those poor-poor-pitiful-me days, I know in my heart of hearts that if I was home, I would be hanging out with one of them, drinking wine or playing with someone's dog or kid, or making dinner.  Or just watching TV at their house.  I can picture it clearly- the smile on my face, the comfort in being with any one of those people and the feelings of love and acceptance, knowing that these people are my friends.  And they are good people.

The problem is, that's not really what happens.  There were plenty of days in the summer that I was home alone.  My dad and husband would go play poker somewhere and I would be in my pj's curled on the couch, just hanging out.  They, these four best friends, have lives and jobs and most of them don't actually live near me.  So getting together with those wonderful people does not happen as frequently as I know it would, on these worm-eating days of mine.

But I like to pretend that it does.

Today is not really one of those days.  I've got a party to go to tonight and some plans in the works for tomorrow and that makes me happy.  I know there will be other days where I feel left out and lonely, but when those days come, I will hug my husband, throw the ball for my dog and remind myself that I really do like my life.

And I won't eat any worms.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Reality...

I deleted the poll blog because it was doing something weird to the color of the whole blog.  I don't know why.  Technology.

In case you haven't heard, it's a girl!  I had the most unbearable weekend waiting to find out.  My appointment was on Saturday morning and I told the doctor I didn't want to know what it was because Dave could be there with me (he had a rugby game in El Salvador).  We, the doctor and I, saw the baby on the screen, got a few nice shots of, uh, the goods, and he printed off the results and stuck them in an envelope without telling me.  I took it home... and it laughed at me for two days.  I meant to do a million things on Saturday to stay busy... I didn't do any of them.  I did get to talk to Marissa, Jen and Rachel which was wonderful and definitely helped pass the time.  The dogs and I also went to the school (aka Weekend Dog Park) for a good hour of fun-in-the-sun time, which they loved.  Sleep came quickly at around 9pm, which was nice.

Sunday we had doggy play date in the morning then I went grocery shopping.  I also laid in the hammock reading Harry Potter for an hour (I'm on the 4th book now).  Dave finally came home at 4pm and we found out together- and it was worth the wait!

So now the reality is setting in.  I'm going to be someone's mom.  Not just someone's mom, but a girl's mom.  A girl.  It scares me a little.  Most people say girls are easier when they're little... but then they turn into teenage girls. 

Patrick and Jaime's brother put it best: If you have a boy, you only have to worry about one ________ (insert your favorite word for male genitalia here).  If you have a girl, you have to worry about millions...

Thanks Patrick.  And Jaime's brother.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Deep Breaths...

There are bad people in this world.  There are also unfortunate people.  Everyone has their own problems and I understand that.  I once read a quote that said something to the effect of 'don't judge me until you've walked in my shoes' and it's a very true statement- none of us has any idea what is going on in anyone else's life/mind/world.  But when those people's problems start to REALLY effect me, that's when I have a hard time being sympathetic or empathetic.

Our current situation involves some big mistakes that we made.  I will not place the blame on anyone but us, to be honest.  We were eager to rent out our house before we left for Guatemala again, once we found out our last renter was moving out suddenly.  The good in me met our current renter and thought, "Hey, we can give her a leg up- get her and her family in a good house, a good neighborhood, a good school district..."  So we rented to someone on government assistance.  It's been bad from the get-go.  And again, there is no one to blame but ourselves.

I just don't understand how you can lie to someone's face and then take their money.  I work hard for my money- hell, I work with middle schoolers.  So why does that give you the right to take what is mine?  It doesn't?  All I tried to do was help you.  And now, I regret it.  Not only do I regret it, but I'm definitely going think twice before every trying to 'help' someone again.  Thanks a lot for that.

It's true that I don't know what she's going through.  But I do know that her lies and her stealing, essentially, from a pregnant woman trying to get ready for her own family, is between her and Jesus. 

I hope you get hemorrhoids.

Monday, October 4, 2010

This weekend...

This weekend was a good weekend!  There were a lot of reasons for the goodness of this weekend, and I shall now take just a minute to expand on those.  Bear with me.

1.  I felt the baby kick.  Umm... weird.  It feels like someone poking you, rather gently because the baby is just the size of a yellow onion, from the inside.  It was so gentle, I almost missed it and had to be really still and focus on my abdomen to make sure that I had felt it.  Surreal.  I want it to happen all the time.  I've read that sugar gets the kiddo moving and part of me just wants to eat bowls of it, just to keep feeling that feeling.  But I won't.  That's bad.  But I have spent more time lately with my hand on my tummy, resembling "those" women who walk around patting themselves all the time.  I can now see the attraction and desire.  It's really kind of cool that there is a person growing in my stomach.

2.  We went to Antigua.  I really do love that place.  It's so nice and it feels so safe.  We went with our friend Dave and his mom.  We shopped, we talked, we ate yummy food.  It was so nice to get out of the city and walk around outside.  And it didn't rain!  That was magical in itself.  (I'm not going to tell you the part about the room mix-up and the fact that we got put beside a gaggle of teenage girls who gaggled and laughed and slammed things until well after midnight, because that was not awesome.  But when you leave that part out...)

3.  Harry Potter.  I am a Harry Potter nerd, I won't lie.  In anticipation of the next movie, I started re-reading the series.  I'm almost through the 3rd book and am remembering how much I loved the books the first time.  Even at 22 they were magical.  So me and some friends decided that we would watch the movies again, one a week, until the next movie comes out, just so we're all caught up.  Man, I want to live at Hogwarts.  I wonder how one goes about getting a job there...?  Would I be considered an international teacher?

4.  Energy.  I feel like my energy is back.  And actually, better than ever.  I'm kind of restless and I find myself looking for things to do.  I'm hoping it stay sunny today- I'd like to take the dogs out to play this afternoon.  After I run to get a haircut and pick up a few things.  It's not exciting really, but for me it is.  After three months of not wanting to do anything more than sitting on the couch... errand-running is heaven!

Four things is good.  And today, like I said, is sunny.  That can make any Monday good!

P.S. I just went searching for Harry Potter pictures and the third one that came up was a naked-looking picture of Harry and Draco hugging.  Did I miss that in the books/movies?  And why?  No really, someone tell me why...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Following Up...

This is a spin off of my rant from Tuesday... read on if you dare (this is not directed at YOU particularly).

So maybe you're thinking to yourself, "Well, I wish my mom/dad HAD stood up for me more," and that's how you justify your crazy-parent behavior.  Let's go with that- do you really wish that your mom or dad had run into the school every time you got a bad grade?  Really?  What about if you got a bad grade because you didn't study?  Do you wish your mom had taken a flying leap across that great big teacher desk to DEMAND that your grade be higher, just because she knew you were smarter than that?  How is that okay?

Here's another secret- I teach A LOT of smart kids.  These are kids who demonstrate their abilities on a daily basis, both in and out of the classroom.  They work hard, they study, they do their homework without whining.  I also teach smart kids who do the complete opposite... because their parents enable this lazy and entitled behavior.  I can honestly admit that I never would have done any work if I had known that my mom or dad would've been at the school fussing at some poor teacher for every bad grade I made, just because they knew I was 'better than that.'  Well, if I'm better than that (or your kid is better than that), show it.  Do your work.  Hold them accountable.  If they get a bad grade, it's not because the teacher made that happen.  It's because your kid did.

I just gave a test and took up journals this week.  A whole bunch of the kids got 105's (I gave an extra credit question) on their tests and 16+/20 on their journals.  But I will tell you again- those kids who didn't do well, it makes me as upset as you.  I question if I taught the lessons effectively (which clearly I did if the majority of the kids did well).  But the truth is, I'm afraid of that first parent email demanding to know why their kid didn't do well.  Because it will happen.  And it shouldn't.

Ask your kid first.  If they say anything other than "I didn't study" or "I just didn't do my work", they're probably lying.  Sorry.  It's true.

(Kelli steps down off her soap box)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dear Parents-

Dear Parent of a school-aged child-

As a teacher I have to tell you something that you may or may not choose to believe.  I'm going to tell you anyway.  Read carefully:  I AM NOT OUT TO GET YOUR CHILD.  I do not wake up in the morning and randomly select a student to torture for the day or week.  Or month.  Or year.  I give homework because I think it's important to the learning process in my classroom, not just for funsies.  I give grades based on the effort and work that your child put into the assignment.  I DO NOT lie about what I've done or why I've done it.  It's not just your child who has to do the work.  I do not give some students help and not others.  I DO make students think for themselves at times, which is considerably more challenging for them than if I tell them the answer or do the work for them, but it is not discriminating against said child.  It is called learning.

When we, the people who are now the parents (or at least the age of parents) were in school, we did not get 100 chances to turn in something late.  If I didn't do the work, I suffered the consequences, both at school and at home.  I imagine you did, too.  My mommy didn't run to school every time I got a bad grade to argue about why I shouldn't have that bad grade even though I didn't study/turn in the assignment/turned it in two weeks late.  My mom grounded me and told me that if I didn't get myself on track, life would only get worse.  In fact, in all of my middle and high school career, I can only remember twice when my mom said something to a teacher.  Once was when I almost died in PE (nope, not being dramatic) and once was when the science teacher made me cry.  Of course, after my mom talked to the science teacher, he just made fun of me more and I didn't tattle again.  But that was it.  She never stepped in because I made a lower grade on some inferior work, because obviously I was a genius and the teacher hated me (that science teacher did).  She let me know that if I wasn't doing my best, I would pay for it.  So I did my best.

All I'm saying is- your child probably isn't a genius.  He or she is going to get a bad grade, or isn't going to turn in homework, or might actually be a total slacker.  And, as a teacher, I have to ask- believe me first.  I want your child to learn.  I want them to succeed as much as you do.  I'm just as disappointed when I have to give a "0" or fail them on some test or assignment that I reminded them a zillion times to do.

Mostly though, I hate to give the bad grade because I know you're going to yell at me.

Signed,
Almost Every Teacher

Monday, September 27, 2010

Oh well...

I had something brilliant to tell you, but I forgot what it was.  And it was good.  Maybe you could just imagine that I wrote something fantastic, instead of this meaningless dribble, and comment on that.  That'd be fun.  What do you think I was going to write about today?

I will share with you my shock and amazement at this wee little fact: I can NOT get four kids interested in doing an after-school play.  Nope, not even four.  Last year, I did "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."  There were about 30 kids who showed up to the auditions.  By the time the performance rolled around, I think I still had ten.  This was after a staged mutiny, crying, eloquently worded letters and lots and lots of threats by me and the children.  It turned out to be a good show.  But a bit ambitious thought I, looking back.  So I decided to go with a smaller, less musical show, that only required the dedication of four individuals.  I held auditions last year.  Three kids came.  I tried again this year.  Five kids came.  I cast them all.  Two dropped out after the read-thru.  Now, I have one boy and two girls left and I only need one more boy... An invitation was presented to the whole of the middle school- come to rehearsals today if you're interested and I would cast that last boy part.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but I don't think anyone will be coming. 

I know I shouldn't take it personally.  The kids here are strangely over-extended, and most of that seems to happen outside of school. It's hard to get them involved in anything at school.  Also, middle school is a precarious time and it's been hard for some of the "Charlie Brown" kids because they're still being called by their character names.  Charlie Brown, in particular, finds this very upsetting.  I feel for him, I do.  But I just don't understand how there are not four kids out of 375 who want to be on the stage!  I would be in the show myself if it was a girl part open. 

You think I'm kidding...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Not complaining but...

I love to say that, or hear it even- I'm not complaining, but... Because you are complaining.  Or I'm complaining.  Whatever.  Some of you know that Dave and I struggled to get pregnant.  We were trying for quite a while before it happened and because of that, part of me feels like I should appreciate or accept everything that comes with being knocked up.  But the more I think about it, the more I have to disagree with myself.  There are things that suck about being pregnant and I don't have to 'like' them just because it was a bit of a journey to get here.

Thing #1 that sucks: I have a sinus infection today.  My doctor, who might be the funniest OB/GYN in the world, is also, uh... not as thorough as a doctor would be in the States.  I'm fairly certain that some things he does would land him in jail, or at least court, if he lived in the US... or anywhere else really.  I really do appreciate his laid-back approach to pregnancy.  He laughs off things that probably should be laughed off and will just prescribe things for me based on symptoms I describe.  The only real negative to this is that I feel a little silly asking him a lot of questions.  I told him I was having breathing issues a few weeks ago and he blamed it on anxiety.  I didn't feel anxious- I felt like I couldn't breathe.  But he listened to my lungs, said I was fine, and told me to calm down.  At my last appointment, I had a cough and my white blood cell count (is that right?) said I had an infection.  He listened, said I was fine, and prescribed some cough medicine that hasn't helped.  Now, two weeks later, I'm still coughing AND I have a sinus infection and I don't really want to bother him.  SO- where is all this going?  Well, the internet is great, huh?  You ask it a question, it gives you a million answers.  I have some Tylenol Cold and Sinus.  I ask the internet if I can take it and the internet says YES and NO!  Equally.  "Yes, my doctor told any Tylenol product was fine!"  "NO!  Only regular Tylenol is okay!"  So I took some regular Tylenol.  And my head doesn't hurt as bad as before, but it hurts more than if I could take sinus medicine. 

Thing #2 that sucks: The bloat.  I know, attractive to think about, right?  Well, it happens and it sucks.  Right now, I couldn't suck in if I wanted to.  And none of my clothes are comfortable.  And I don't look cute and pregnant- I just look fat.  And feel fat.

Thing #3 that sucks:  The exhaustion.  My friends were right- there is nothing like the exhaustion that comes with being pregnant.  I've always loved my sleep and will often choose going to bed over other, more fun activities.  But this is ridiculous!  Trying to keep my eyes open past 9:00pm... forget about it!  It won't happen!  And if I do too much during the day, i.e. more than just school, I'm done for.  Done.For.

Do not get me wrong.  I am over-the-moon excited to be pregnant.  But that does not meant that I have to love every aspect of it.  And I don't. 

So there.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dang it

I got another "coupon" for Page to Fame.  Another free submission, due by Monday morning.  Uggg.  It makes me want to try again.  Maybe third time's a charm?  I don't know.  I'll think about it this weekend.  Last time I wasn't really surprised when my submission didn't go forward.  I thought it was a good idea, but I really did wait until the last minute to write it and submit it, so I have no one to blame but myself for the 60% of people who said the writing and grammar needed work.  I could try again.  I probably will.

Thank goodness it's Friday.  I love Friday nights.  Friday nights are like that first afternoon of summer- endless possibilities lie before you.  You could do anything!  Of course, it's me, so I usually end up on the couch watching Ghost Whisperer and Medium and falling asleep around 9:00pm.  But there's always the possibility that I could do something.  That's the thing about Friday nights.

My mom was in my dream last night.  She talked to me, so I know it wasn't a visit but it was still comforting.  Thanks Mom.  I bought you some earrings and a necklace, some new sunglasses and a tank top- I'm sorry you didn't like them.  I guess I'll keep them since I already threw away the receipts. 

Thanks Lindsey for not letting me sit and wallow.  I know Mom wanted us to eat Taco Bell and Yogenfruz and buy belts and accessories.  She would've been happy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tough Day

Happy Birthday, Mom. 

I used to use your birthday as one of my banking pin codes because I had a hard time remembering it. 
I'm sorry your life didn't turn out the way you wanted it to.
I'm sorry I didn't tell you we were trying to have a baby before you died.

Mostly I'm sorry that I can't call you and wish you a happy birthday today. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The sun'll come out...

I have my momma's scowl.  Eh, I don't know if it's a scowl exactly, but I do know that whenever she was thinking about something or doing something, especially an activity that required a downward glance, a little frown would tug at her lips.  As she got older and went through a couple of big weight changes, the little frown became more pronounced.  It didn't mean she was unhappy; no, she was just doing something. 

I noticed the same little frown on my face the other day.  I was getting ready for work and had looked down into the drawer for my eye liner or mascara or something of equal importance.  When I looked back up into the mirror, there was my mom, staring back at me.  It kind of shocked me a bit.  And then it was okay.

Remember that scene in "Beaches" where not-Bette-Midler is dying and suddenly has a panic attack because she can't remember what her mother's hands look like?  I don't believe I'll ever have the problem when it comes to remembering my mom.  We have the same feet- I noticed that a long time ago.  And we sit the same way when we're reading on the couch or in a chair.  Which leads to the fact that we get up the same.  I'm not suggesting that there are zillions of different ways to get out of a chair, but I noticed a long time back that my mom and I move the same way when doing that particular action.  Our hands and nails are similar- not exact replicas, but very close.  And now I have the frown.  I am my mother's daughter.  I've never been able to deny it.

Once, when I was in high school I think, I asked my mother if there was anything about me that I got from my biological dad.  I used to joke that mom didn't "have" me- she created me like a starfish- just cut off an arm and I grew from that.  Anyway, when I asked, she replied, "Your stomach.  You carry all your extra weight in your stomach, just like him."  After a bit of a backwards glance, I wandered off and thought, "Oh really?"  I guess it was a bit of a double whammy then, huh?  It was never destined for me to be skinny.

Thanks Mom.  For the hands and feet and frown... and even the stomach (I mean, thanks Craig).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Some things never change...

I was a bit of an attention hog when I was younger (yeah, laugh it up- I know you're thinking, "When you were younger?  What about now?").  But it was much more dramatic when I was little (stop laughing- I can hear you).  I'm not sure why.  I don't know if it's a personality flaw or if I truly didn't feel like I was getting enough attention in my life.  Like, one time I remember convincing somebody in the 4th grade to let me use their crutches all day.  How did that kid get around the rest of the day?  Idunno.  And apparently I didn't care.  But I did use them all day and I let my teachers and kids from other classes ask me what happened.  I can't remember if I made something up or told them I was faking, but I do remember having burns under my arms for a couple of days afterward from the crutches.  I didn't do that again.

I also remember when this girl broke her arm at day care.  Now, the way I remember it, it was Stephanie who broke her arm, falling off the slide on The Hill.  Marissa, however, remembers it differently.  Stephanie actually pushed another girl off the slide and she's the one who broke her arm.  I wonder why I remember it differently?  But I trust Marissa because she seems to have a better grasp on 'things that happened at day care' than me.  Anyway, when whoever it was broke their arm, I remember wanting a cast.  So I grabbed a plastic shovel, the kind used at the beach and in sandboxes worldwide, and starting hitting my own arm, in the hopes that I could break it without too much pain.  It didn't work.

Later, maybe in 4th or 5th grade, I hurt my wrist at gymnastics.  Now, I feel okay coming clean about this because I'm pretty sure that my dad already knows what I'm about to say.  Mainly, it didn't hurt that bad.  But I played it up- I couldn't do anymore gymnastics that night (we had already done trampoline and only had the vault left... and I didn't like the vault).  I somehow convinced Dad that I needed to go to the doctor.  I got a wrist brace that I had to wear for a few weeks, and got some much needed attention.  At one point, the doctor sent me out of the room to talk to my father.  I'm pretty sure the conversation went something like this:

Dr. D: She's faking.  There's nothing wrong with her.
Dad: I know.
Dr. D:  I'm gonna give her a wrist brace.  Make her wear it all the time and she'll get tired of it.
Dad:  Okay.

And he was right- it was hot and itchy and, surprisingly, I couldn't move my wrist.  I didn't do anything like that again... though there has been the occasional wrapped foot or knee, because sometimes you just need a little sympathy.

Why do I bring this up?  Well, one of my students is hobbling around on crutches right now.  She has no cast or brace, but is wearing one of those shoes that goes over your cast.  She's walked across my room a couple of times and I've seen her walking down the hallway on both feet while some friend or another uses her crutches.  It makes me laugh, thinking that her mom and doctor probably had the exact same conversation.

And that some things never change...

Monday, September 20, 2010

What's in a name?

Obviously, I did NOT get back in the saddle.  But when I don't write, I feel like something is missing.  Then I think about writing and I want to write but I can't think of what to write, so I don't write.  I also don't write when I think of all those people out there blogging about important things- issues and concerns, political or environmental, or telling really funny stories about stuff that has happened to them, and I'm just me, blogging about me and my feelings or my day-to-day goings-on.  Which don't seem that interesting in the grand scheme of things.  But here I am anyway, ready to write again.  Settle in.  It could get interesting.  Or not.

I guess first and foremost, the biggest change since the last time I wrote is that we announced that I'm pregnant.  I feel funny saying "we're" pregnant- while I get fatter, Dave is working his butt of getting skinnier.  Hmm, that kind of pisses me off.  But I digress.  This is really beyond-super exciting for both of us and I'm glad we can finally talk about it other people.  It was a bit of a struggle, but that's neither here nor there at this point.  We're having a baby.  In March.  There is a person growing in my stomach.  This week, it's the size of a navel orange.  Weird to think about.

On another, less interesting note, I got bit by something at school yesterday and my left ankle is the size of a navel orange, too.  Ironic?  Maybe. 

Nanowrimo starts in a month and a half.  I wrote a novel last November and I fully intend to do it again.  I don't know what this one will be about yet.  I'm hoping to jump-start my creative juices before then.  This year I vow to stay on top of things- 1667 words a day, come hell or high water.  It doesn't take that long when you do it each day. 

As I'm writing about Nanowrimo, it got me thinking- what do I want to be when I grow up?  I like teaching.  I really like teaching in Guatemala.  But is this what I want to do with my whole life?  I don't really think I'm good enough to do this forever (not looking for 'yes you are's', just being honest).  I'm a little too sarcastic and definitely not patient enough.  I think that, given sufficient resources, I would like to direct theatre.  A community theatre-type thing, like The KLT.  I would really love that.  Yes, that's what I'd like to do.  Anyone want to pony up the money for me to make this dream a reality?  Anyone?  Hellooo...?

I'm having a baby.  Just thought I'd throw that in, one more time. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Back in the Saddle

I wasn't very vigilant about writing this summer.  Honestly, there wasn't a lot to write about, but that isn't a good excuse.  There isn't a lot going on in my day-to-day here in Guatemala, either, but I found something to talk about before the summer break.  I think I will blame time and motivation.  It was so nice to spend the summer doing nothing.  This was the first summer in three years where I wasn't doing classes for Auburn.  I felt slightly lost and I actually got a little bored.  If you know me at all, you know that I am a great procrastinator.  The more I have to do, the more I get done, so not having anything to do meant that I didn't do anything.  One of my worst semesters in college was the first half of my last semester.  I was preparing for my student teaching but, in the meantime, only had to take one class.  One.  On Saturday morning at 8:00am.  The homework for that class took me thirty minutes to an hour each week... and do you know when I did it?  Friday night, usually around 8:00pm.  I had ALL. WEEK. LONG to get it done and nothing else to do the entirety of the week... and I waited until the last possible minute.  Because I'm a procrastinator.  But what I tell myself is that I work well under pressure.  It just sounds better.

There was no pressure this summer.  Dave watched the World Cup and golf and I knitted a blanket.  I watched a lot of HGTV and USA.  I saw friends, held new babies, patted growing bellies and hung out with my Dad and sister. And it was all beautiful and even inspirational in some ways, but it didn't light a fire underneath me.  It was just as easy to use the computer to check my email and facebook and be done as it was to be creative.

But we're back at school now.  The creative juices are flowing again and November is just around the corner (www.nanowrimo.org).  I need to get going on writing again.

It's easier because I have a quiet office to write in.  So it's back on, y'all!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Original Sin

I saw a comedian once talking about original sin (I think it was Eddie Izzard - 'Father forgive me for I have sinned, I did an original sin. I poked a badger with a spoon,'). Obviously, that is not the meaning of 'original' in that sense of the word, but it got me thinking. Regrettably, I fell into the Webook trap- again. For those who don't know, or don't remember, a few months ago a writing website that I'm a member of began a new contest of sorts. You could upload the beginning of your story- the equivalent of a first page- and have people read and rate it, based on whether they wanted to keep reading it or not. Those who received many accolades would move onto the next round- writing a full chapter- and the judgement would continue. Well, I submitted a story, thinking it would shoot right to the top of the list of amazing stories... only to have it shot down instead. Approximately 33% of the people who read it thought it was worthy of moving on and, in Webook's eyes, that wasn't enough. During the whole process, I became more disillusioned and disappointed in my writing. I also lost interest in the characters and storyline. Several other writer friends said, "You shouldn't have done it anyway," and reluctantly, I agreed. I let the story die it's slow and painful and somewhat embarrassing death and that was that.

Fast forward three or four months later. I got an email from Webook thanking me for being one of the first people to submit something to the contest and, as a thank you, they would let me submit another story for free. Well, you can't beat that, can you? It's normally $10 to submit a story (okay, $9.95, I exaggerated a bit) so free is much better than $10. And plus, I'd had this other story rolling around in my head for a few months and this was just the kick in the pants I needed to start writing it. Unfortunately, I had a deadline- I only had until the following Monday to submit it- three days. And I was doing something that weekend... I think it was the weekend we went to my BIL's (brother-in-law) parents lake house. And while the amazing house with its' fantastically gorgeous views of Lake Hartwell was an ideal setting for writing, we were busy- eating, drinking, playing in the water, riding in the boat. Plus, it was our first weekend home and I was enjoying catching up with my sister, my dad, and getting to know Kyle's parents a little better.

Monday morning came too quickly and the submission was due by 10am. I woke up early enough, grabbed the computer and got to work. Like I said, the story had been rolling around in my head for a while, so it wasn't hard to throw it down on the page. I read and re-read and it looked good. And I was confident- this one would make it to the next round. I waited a few days and then checked back to see how the ratings were going.

And, yet again, felt like I'd been kicked in the chest. Only this time, it's a little worse. Since the first submission, the website has added some new features, including the ability to say why you don't like the submission. Out of 63 ratings, nine people have said it's not original enough. Nine.

Which got me thinking- what constitutes original? Are there any original stories out there? As writers, we all think that our story is original... but it's not. If I want to tell you about moving overseas to teach, well, guess what? I work with about 150 people who have also done that right now. And have done so with about that many in the three other schools I've worked at. So is that original? Not exactly. Are there other people who were escaping bad relationships or dismal job prospects? Yep, I'm sure there are. What about people who met the love of their life because they left the US or Canada or wherever? Definitely- I know a lot of them. So truthfully, even MY story isn't original. There are parts of it that are different and are specific only to me but that doesn't even mean that those happenings are original.
Where do you find 'original' anymore? Poking a badger with a spoon- well, I'm sure not many people have done that, though probably far more have now that Eddie Izzard brought it up. I'm reading a hilarious book right now called "Sh*t my Dad Says." It feels original- I doubt many people have heard a lot of the things this guy's dad has said (and here's a plug- if you want to pee yourself laughing, seriously go get this book). I just finished a book called "The Imperfectionists" which was told in an interesting way. I guess it could be classes as somewhat original. But all stories boil down to love, loss, growth, stagnation, and death.

After thinking about it long and hard, I don't feel bad about what those people said. I mean really, if you think about it, how can anyone do anything original nowadays?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Of all the Publix in all the world...

I am 94.7% sure that I ran into my ex-boyfriend last week in Publix.  Let me set the scene- me, in my workout clothes and sweaty hair walking down the frozen food aisle in search of something vegetarian for dinner.  Dave was around the corner picking out some beer.  Coming towards me is this guy, who is staring intently and kind of looks like he wants to say something to me.  I stare back, mostly because I can't actually see him very well but also because if he's staring at me, then I should be staring at him.  Just as he gets close enough to to actually say something, and he looks like he's going to, it registers with me who he is and I scowl and turn my head and keep on walking.  I swear, I didn't mean to scowl.  I don't actually have anything against this guy- it was just a reaction.  Dave came around the corner not long after that, calling my name.  I turned and noticed 94.7 ex looking at me, in the ice cream section (which he had quite an affinity for, if memory serves).

Why am I only 94.7% sure it was him?  He was way skinnier and his hair seemed like it might've been a different color- what there was of it.  The last I'd heard, he'd bought a house and I thought I remembered it being in Marietta or something, so I can't think of a reason for that particular ex to be in my neck of the woods.  But it really did look like him- a skinnier him- and he seemed to want to talk to me... but who knows, really.

I cannot look back on the time I was with the Publix ex with any sort of fond memories.  He was not a nice guy- eh, that's not true.  He was a nice enough guy, but he didn't treat me very well, and I let that happen.  There was not much good happening in that relationship for either person involved.  Not one of my friends liked him.  I'm not sure I even liked him that much.  But I almost have to be thankful for the whole situation.  If he had been nicer to me- if he had not gotten other girls' phone numbers while we were out together- I might not have taken the job in the DR.  I wouldn't have met Dave.

I do wish I'd had my sassy new haircut and not been sweaty when I did see him, though.  If it was him...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Paradox of Summer

I enjoy doing nothing but I don't like being bored.  I have a hard time making plans because I'm always waiting for the last minute to decide if I should be doing something else.  I usually end up doing nothing and then I'm bored.  This is a problem as the summer in Georgia draws to a close- so many people still to see and not enough time.  The hardest thing about time and summer is that I don't have many teacher-friends.  Most people work during the day, so I have this limited window of time to visit.  A typical day, at least this summer, has been waking up around 8am-ish (sometimes 9am), having breakfast, watching TV, running errands if I can think of any that need to be ran, waiting for someone to come home from work, then going to their house.  It makes the majority of the day feel wasted, though I am NOT complaining about my summer's-off job!

This summer has been amazing so far.  Last weekend we had a sorority reunion.  Not everyone could make it, but there were a lot of girls I hadn't seen in 10 years or more there and it was a blast!  We laughed like old times and caught up on each others' lives.  Of course we ate and drank, but we watched the kids play and the husbands talk sports and it was a bizarre place to be- obviously, we were all adults now, but I think that we all felt 21 for the afternoon.  It's so amazing to be with a group of people, in this case beautiful and amazing women, who you can share memories with- who have memories that you've forgotten or vice versa.  I have never ever regretted or even questioned my decision to join Alpha Gamma Delta, and last weekend only solidified that.

I've met up with old friends this summer- friends that I haven't been able to see or wasn't in touch with.  Friends with exciting new adventures and "regular" ol' lives, as they put it.  This always makes me laugh.  I met up with a friend who began an amazing adventure in Australia this year and, about five minutes into the conversation I told her that I wanted her to talk because I was tired of talking about me.  We talked about how our lives are just 'regular' lives but in a different place.  Yes, we live in interesting places and get to have different adventures, but we still go grocery shopping and cook dinner and take showers and watch TV.  As my friend in Australia just wrote in her blog, not only is there pressure to only tell the happy stories of our adventures, but it's also hard to make it exciting every day- because it's just not.  Your life is exciting, too.

We've got a little under two weeks left and we'll be spending half of that in Philly with Dave's brother.  I've never been to visit them and I really like them, so I'm looking forward to it... but I'm also sad to lose that time here.  It's that paradox- seeing one person means not seeing another.  And seeing no one leaves me feeling guilty.

Phew, summer's hard.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Different levels of torture...

People said I should've known, and maybe they were right.  After all, I married a physical education teacher- a gorgeous man who plays rugby, soccer and has enough swimming trophies to make even Michael Phelps jealous.  But we met in Kuwait- there were no bars in Kuwait so there was nowhere to go to watch sports, except to the local rugby pitch.  The local satellite company rarely showed sporting events and if they did, they were few and far between.  The first summer he came to visit me in Georgia, there was no golf channel... or if there was, I didn't know about it so neither did he.  I thought I had found this perfect man- a sporty guy who didn't watch sports...

In Shanghai, there were a few more sporting events shown on TV, but not usually our TV.  A fellow American owned a bar/restaurant on the Hongmei Lu walking street that showed various things- the super bowl, soccer tournaments, rugby games.  They were always shown live, which meant at 2 or 3am, Shanghai-time.  So my wonderful husband would wake up in the middle of the night and go and watch those things there.  During the Masters last year, he set an alarm for 1:45am and took himself to the couch to watch hours of golf before school.  Sure, I woke up to an empty bed, but I never had to endure an afternoon of golf coverage on the local channel.

Now, however, we live in Guatemala.  We get a CBS station out of Pennsylvania.  They show football and golf.  We get ESPN in Spanish.  They show all manner of soccer games, all of them equally as important as the last.  And now, in the summer, it's golf and the World Cup.  I think, if I speak the truth, that my wonderful husband has only missed one or two of the games since the start- and that was on the day we were traveling home.  Our activities for the day are planned by who is playing when- can we make it to our destination and back before the next game starts?  And when there is no soccer, there is golf.  All day, everyday, on a channel devoted entirely to golf. 

People have asked, when forced to listen to my whining about all the golf, football, basketball, and soccer that is constantly on my TV, "You're suprised?"  And I have to admit that, while not surprised that he enjoys watching sports, I am flabbergasted by just how MUCH he can watch.  As soon as one game/tournament is over, he finds another one.  I'm convinced that if someone delcared grass-mowing to be a sport, he'd watch it. 

I suppose if I try to find the good in this situation- the one I should've known about, but didn't- it's that I find myself being a bit more active, spending a lot less time in front of the TV.  Because I don't like watching golf.  Soccer's okay, but that stupid off-sides rule is, well, stupid and it makes me angry that I really don't understand it.  So I find ways to amuse myself or say yes a little more when invited out.  So that's a good side effect.

The bad side effect is that we finally broke down and became a two-TV family in Guatemala.  Dave has one in his man room and I get to use the one downstairs... sometimes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Damn you, Jillian Michaels!

I hate exercise. 

I like the idea of exercise- cute little clothes, comfy shoes, working up a sweat, tight, flat abs.  I like carrying around a yoga mat and saying, "Yeah, I practice yoga," whether anyone asked me or not. I like standing in the fitness section at Wal-Mart, trying to decide what new workout video to get or if I need some wrist weights or hand weights.  And did I mention the cute little workout clothes?  I L.O.V.E workout clothes!  When you wear workout clothes, people assume you're going to workout or that you have already worked out and they respect you more.  Or they're jealous.  Either way is fine with me.

But the actual act of exercising- I don't like that.  I have been known to spend twenty minutes getting ready to exercise- putting on cute clothes, finding a towel to wipe away the sweat, getting a cold glass of water ready to rehydrate my parched body- only to make it through less than ten minutes of a workout before getting bored.  I regularly take cute workout clothes to school with the full intention of getting in the gym or going around the track a few times at the end of my day, only to lug the bag back to the car, unopened and sweat-free, whining to Dave, "I'm too tired."  I do envy those with the discipline to go to the gym or worse- RUN every day.  We have lots of those people at our school.  One girl in particular runs every day and she's beautiful and it looks effortless and every time I see her sail by I think, "I could run."  But I never do because in my heart of hearts, I know I don't actually like running.  When people tell me they're going to run, I use the old, "Why?  Is someone chasing you?" line.  Every time.  And I really feel that way.  I keep saying that I'm just waiting for an activity that I like then I'll do it all the time.  Even that isn't true, though- because I really like rock climbing and I've only been twice. 

I promise this, though- next (school) year that will change.  I will rock climb at least twice a week, if not more.  Dave and I bought a new Jillian Michaels' DVD and, even though I haven't been able to move for the past three days, I'm going to do it every day- before school, even.  I'm going to go to the yoga and pilates classes after school and I'm going to learn to like exercise.  I'm going to be healthier and have more energy and buy lots and lots of cute workout clothes!

Or I won't... whatever.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Have suitcase, might travel

Dave and I do not travel well together.  We would NOT do well on Amazing Race.  Well, maybe we would do okay, but we would definitely end up divorced afterwards.  And I think it's not only important to know that, but it's also okay to admit it. 

When I say we don't travel well together, though, it's less about the arguements (and name-calling and crying and shouting) that would arise should we participate on Amazing Race, and more about the fact that together, we seem to have really bad luck at airports.  Yesterday, for example.  I started Wednesday out by making a list so we didn't forget anything.  I was very proud of myself for being so prepared and organized.  I wrote out all the notes to my maid, called and booked a taxi for 4am (well, I had someone who spoke much better Spanish than me do it- thanks Darryl!), and started packing.  When Dave came home, we packed the rest of our stuff and did all those little things that we usually put off until the morning before we go, and went to bed.  The alarm was set for 3am, taxi at 4am (even confirmed), airport by 4:30, flight at 7:15am- no problems, right?  Wrong.

First, the alarm went off.  But apparently at 3am, the radio station plays some delightfully quiet eveator music that no one can hear over the fan in their room.  So we woke up at 3:48am, with a giant curse word being the first thing out of my mouth.  We rushed around like crazy people, brushing teeth, scaring the dogs and generally resembling headless chickens.  The taxi was already outside so we practically threw ourselves out the door, sweating all the way.  I didn't get to hug my puppies goodbye (the maid is staying at our house with her kiddos all summer- they'll be fine) so I was a little sad.

But alas, we were on our way!  We made it to the airport in record time and it was practically deserted at 4:30am.  We filled out the endless exit/customs forms and made our way straight to an agent... only to be asked if Dave had filled out his form.  "What form?"  I asked in my cute little Southern accent which was emerging of its' own accord, knowing we were just hours from being home.  "The ESTA.  Online,"  the agent replies, kindly.  "Uh, no.  I didn't see anything anywhere that told me we needed to fill out something," I replied, still sweetly.  It was a bit of a lie, though.  At Christmas, a customs' agent in Miami had mentioned the form.  But he said it would be at least two years before it was required.  Dave sporadically mentioned filling it out since then, but he never did and I wasn't worried about it.  After all, we had two years.

Apparently not.  The guy says Dave can't fly into the US without filling out this form.  I asked, not-so-sweetly now, all traces of Southern-belle quickly fading, "Where can he do that?"  To which the agent replied, "I don't know.  We don't have internet here."  "You don't have internet here?"  I practically screamed, incredulous.  "In the airport?"  He looked slightly startled and said, "Oh, no we have the internet in the airport, just not up here.  But they won't let you down into the gates without a ticket."  Teeth barred, I asked as politely as was still possible, "So.What.Do.We.Do?"  To which we got the helpful response, "I dunno."  Thank you, helpful man.

I marched myself, my husband and our bags over to the security guy at the gates and told them our situation.  He had to ask someone else but eventually they agreed to escort Dave down to the gates to the internet cafe.  He was able to fill out the form and was back upstairs abotu 20 minutes later.  During this time, I was making very stunted conversation with a very nice black police (he wasn't black, but there are two types of police in Guate- the black-uniformed police tend to be a bit corrupt and scary; the green-uniformed police are nice and helpful).  But this one was young and cute and very patient with my limited Spanish.  We taught each other some phrases in our native languages and he asked if I had a sister and if she was beautiful.  I said yes.

Back up at the counter, the new agent asked for Dave's printout, proving that he had filled out the form.  Dave looked shocked saying that nothing on the page said he needed print anything out.  She said, "Sorry, he can't fly unless he proves he's filled it out."  I am, at this point, about to break down and cry.  Luckily, right then, her boss came over and said that it sometimes takes 24-48 hours for the form to show up in the system, so it was okay.  And she printed out our tickets, took our bags, and off we went.

If this were the first time something like this happened, I would not be so sure of our travel-demons.  But it's not the first time.  And unfortunately, it probably won't be the last.

(If you made it this far, I'm curious what you think of my writing style?  Could you leave a little comment or two, maybe telling me if I give enough detail or too little?  Does the story make sense?  Did you skim?  What could I do to make it better?  Any editorial feedback is appreciated!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So long, farewell...

In high school, I was friends with a girl named Melody.  She was my best friend for a very brief period in ninth grade.  Not only was she smart and beautiful, she had this voice- it was amazing!  I loved listening to her sing in choir and was kind of jealous because she was in the mixed choir that school year which was usually reserved for eleventh and twelfth graders.  I was only in the women's choir- anyone could be in that.

The best part about Melody, though, was her love for Dax.  Because I loved Matt.  And they were friends.  The four of us were in geometry together (Aaahhh!  Freshmen in a sophomore class!).  Melody and I nicknamed them Barney and... oh, I can't remember!  I don't even remember which one was Barney.  But we nicknamed them because we were constantly passing notes back and forth about those two boys and we thought it best if we didn't write their actual names, just in case. 

Melody and I went to a lot of Dax's soccer games.  He was good and I remember thinking he had cute legs.  Matt didn't play but he was always at the games, too, so it was a win-win situation.  It's a lot easier to stare, whisper and giggle about boys you love at a soccer game than in geometry class.  Neither of us understood soccer, but that didn't stop us from begging to go to every home game that some parent or another would take us to.

Early in the school year, a few months after our friendship started, Melody told me she had a secret.  But she couldn't tell me for a couple of months.  Oh, the things that ran through my mind!  Did she know that Matt did like me?  Well, why couldn't she tell me?  Were she and Dax secretly dating?  No, she couldn't even talk to him.  Most of my speculations on this secret centered around boys.  For months, I begged and pleaded with her to tell me the secret.  I would wait a few days and then ask, "Can you tell me yet?" and then wait a few days more and ask again each time she said no.  It was killing me!

Finally, sometime in the spring, she told me her secret.  She and her family were moving away.  Her dad, a minister of music, had gotten a job in a church down South.  They would move that summer.  Melody would be gone.

I remember her being excited about this- telling me this secret as if it weren't the worst thing in the world.  Meanwhile, I was crushed.  In my anger and hurt, all I could do was push Melody away.  I didn't even realize I was doing it until years later.  We still hung out, but I was always mean to her.  I was snippy and sassy and got angry with her for no reason.  At one point, I think I went a couple of days without even talking to her.  That sweet girl, though, she kept coming around.  I doubt she realized what I was doing or why, but she didn't give up on me.  She was my friend, right on until the day she left. 

After she moved, pre-email, we wrote letters to each other for a long time.  I still have them somewhere... maybe.  Melody was enjoying her new life and making new friends.  I was making friends, too.  She asked about Dax and Matt occassionally and told me about boys she met.  I told her when I started dating Eddie and what plays I was doing.  Eventually, we both went to college.  She got married and invited me to the wedding.  My sister and I drove all the way to Jasper, GA just to say hey and give her a hug.  Then we drove all the way back.  I kind of wanted to tell her I was sorry for how I treated her.  Her wedding probably wasn't the right time to do that, though, so I didn't.

We're friends now on Facebook, but we haven't talked much.  She's married with a couple of kiddos.  I live in Guatemala.  I don't know what we'd have in common now.

Why am I thinking about this?  Because the goodbyes have started here and it always makes me a little sad.  I'm glad I can handle myself better, not push people away because they're leaving.  But being a grown-up doesn't make it any easier to say goodbye.  Facebook and email do...