Friday, December 23, 2011

This is basically my dream come true.

Guys.  For the first time in my life, I have a car registered to my name.  In my state.  And a husband who is giving me free reign at the DMV.


I can have vanity plates.  I am literally dying over here.  I am also paralyzed with indecision as I spend hours on the MD vanity plate availability website.  What. should. I. get.  :O

Here are some top contenders, all currently available:


Votes and/or other ideas are IMMENSELY WELCOME

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Two ornaments

Total ornaments: 42
Trips out to get tree lights: 2
Minutes spent analyzing tree lights in stores: 47
Number of products of tree lights bought: 3
Attempts to light tree: 5
Outlets tried: 4
Figuring out it was your extension cord that was faulty the whole time: priceless

Friday, December 9, 2011


These three basically represent a day in the life.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Lessons

Learned the Easy Way
  1. Read your recipes a million times over.  
  2. Work backwards and plan out the time everything is going to happen.
  3. Start earlier anyway.
  Learned the Hard Way
  1.  Have backup plans for potentially significant amounts of leftover herbs and/or celery. 
    1. a. Buy the right amount of thyme in the first place.
  2. Line the bottom of EVERYTHING that goes into a heat source in foil.
  3. Make sure ALL your tupperware is clean on Wednesday.
  4. One gravy packet with four servings does not, in fact, make enough gravy for four people.
  5. Line the bottom of EVERYTHING that goes into a heat source in foil.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Numbered list, for heaven's sakes.

Gosh.  Guys.  I fell in this ridiculous loop of half-baked thoughts that went nowhere and then I worked myself into a frenzy of having nothing to say.  Well.  Here's what I've been thinking about.
  1. For a few weeks now I've watched this ^ a whole bunch.  They both seem like the coolest.  And then I sit and marvel at the fact that we as humans can distinguish "sounds like."  "Looks like."  The craziest of all, "seems like."  Isn't it crazy that we can take something we've never heard before, or seen before, and pinpoint its similarities to something we know?  Her inflections are perfect.  They obviously never sang this, but you KNOW it's that exact artist.  You've never heard this song before, and maybe no one started singing it yet, but you KNOW it's the new one by Muse.  You've never seen this painting, but look at the colors and style and subject, it has to be Toulouse-Lautrec.  Or those Jerry's impersonation commercials.  They're exactly what that person would say, and how he would say it, even though he has never talked about Jerry's Subs and Pizza!  My goodness!  Isn't that so crazy!
  2. We watched the videos we made when we first moved in.  Holy smokes.  Every door and window was always open just to air out the stench!  I never thought it would go away!  But I think it has!  I can't believe how much we scrubbed, how all our stuff filled the living room for weeks on end, how we didn't have Bellow.  Sigh!  Also, I seem to take videotaping and narration way more seriously than Justin.
  3. Every student who receives special education services does so through a 30-page legal document called an IEP, Individualized Education Plan.  Being in this business sometimes reminds you that everyone needs an IEP somehow, a relationship IEP, for example.  When you start framing out-of-context situations around an IEP, you kind of start to think about the other person's (or your!) present levels, where he or she is right now.  And as much as I hate that rhetoric, you do have to start where that person is and move from there.  Accommodations and modifications.  You adapt to what works best for that person.  You provide things you may not think need providing, but you do because the other one benefits greatly.  You go on to the service page, to explain the overall details of being together: it can be more!, but at least an hour three times a week, across content areas of home, outside, playing with dog, etc.  Goals, to remind everyone that you're part of this too, you're working on yourself as well, with your partner's help.  And then, you know, whether you're going to summer school or not.  But really.  The potential for understanding and compassion when you picture a relationship IEP is, well, above grade level.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

In which the Gym Class Heroes do it again.

Holy smokes.  In addition to the still-overwhelming schoolwork, the last twenty days have featured dancing! and ocean! and food! oh my!  Richmond.  Love.  I took the advanced track for classes for the first time ever and I am like, so happy.  Thennn I drove by myself to Ocean City for the MSEA Convention, which did not provide me with nearly as many post-its as I thought it would.  It did, however, provide me with ocean views and docks, lonely hours, strategies which are at turns invigorating or saddeningly unrealistic, several apples, and an absolutely infuriating documentary where I walked out after the first 40 minutes.  My time was better spent pacing the dock just outside the exhibit halls.  Maybe if I feel like getting super angry some time, I'll write a real post just about this alone.  THENNN I've been making food!  We do this thing where our fridge is almost completely bare, and then we'll make lots of food AND have a dinner out and bring home leftovers AND have more ingredients for food in the works.  Man.  I made quinoa!  With cranberries and cinnamon and apples and toasted walnuts!  Who even am I!  In fact, it was my SECOND TIME making quinoa!  I repeat, WHO EVEN AM I.  Another butternut squash and radish leaf soup is coming up, but this time I felt bad about the radishes, so I braised them (?!)!  They were pretty good! 


But.  When I haven't been attempting to teach the children or dance or cook, I've been singing this song.  I can't stop listening to this song.  Not since Up have I heard such professions of love and friendship that ring so true in my heart.  I want to live such that this song defines my life.

There's so much I want to point out about it, but I'll leave it at the two lines, "Appreciate every mix tape your friends make/you never know, we come and go like on the interstate."  So sad! beautiful! true!  People, guys.  Connections.  Good friends.  I'm not even going to try to form sentences about how special and important these ideas are.  Every six or eight months or so I get crazy into the idea that I have zero friends and no one but Justin would ever hang out with me.  But then.  But then!  Some way or other I settle back into reality and find and cherish all my people again.  This line epitomizes that simultaneous joy and sadness.

PS.  Gosh.  Embarrassingly enough, when I listen to a song, basically any top 40, a secret part of me listens, like, undercover to see if it has great examples of literary devices and imagines myself playing them to my awesome high school English classes and they think I'm the coolest and they TOTALLY get personification and simile AND metaphor and the difference between the two.  Then I remember where and who I teach and more often than not, something else in the song nixes it for itself anyway.  ANYWAY, this would totally be one of those songs.

PPS.  Simile and metaphor is totally coming up in sixth grade.  Oh snap.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New blog!

Hey kids.  If you like me, and you like attempts at photography, and you like people I like, then you MIGHT like our new blog, this kind of thing commutes.  Get Jimmy to explain the title to you, but it's just us and hopefully other people (YOU if you want to be that other people!) trying to not be so bad at taking pictures, with the eventual dream of owning A Real Camera.  Hooray!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Guys!  Is it me, or is EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD CHANGING.  All kinds of changes!  Here are some things that I can't believe are changing, all at the same time.
  1. WEBSITES.  All my favorite places decided to update their look simultaneously*!  The Google suite is lookin' fine (sorry Justin).  Groupon adapted itself to be more visually appealing.  I'm JUST NOW noticing Pandora's change (sorry P, I got hooked on ITunes' Genius mixes for a while!  SORRY), which is gorgeous.  Yes, the new newsfeed on FB is a tad excessive, but may I say I am totally psyched for Timeline.  It's going to be clutch.  Also mad props to PGCPS for finally hiring some sort of marketing/communication/PR/social media/website facelift team!  You guys did an amazing job!  Our new look is completely svelte and sexy without that incredibly goofy foam finger-esque KIDS ARE #1 or whatever.  And good old Citibank!  I know we've had our differences, but your website is finally leaving 1999 territory!  Good for you!!!  
  2. MY JOB COMPARED TO PREVIOUS YEARS.  Holy smokes.  Every day when I leave school, I feel like I just got there.  I spend my days coordinating meetings, having meetings, dealing with emergencies, fixing other people's mistakes, and every once in a while, making and fixing my own.  I don't mind the work!  I quite enjoy it!  But I can't do that AND teach children.  Days go by where I didn't go into a single classroom at all.  When people say they need more hours in the day, I think they mean it a little differently than I do.  I don't mind doing the (not-as-urgent) emails, logs, notes, and plans at home (for now); I need the working hours to be longer.  I need children and staff in the building for more hours!  I need everyone all together, available for longer.  Sigh.  It's like I'm the foreman, but I also have to do some of the construction myself alongside everyone else.  Also, you know how all I want to do is manage the fun and success of students?  And how I compulsively volunteer for things when no one else does?  Put those together and imagine how much I want to volunteer to be the still-unfilled chairperson for awards ceremonies, or of something called character education!  IMAGINE HOW MUCH.  The answer is SO MUCH.  But I am not letting myself!  Because that would officially be biting off more than I can proverbially chew.  And I am SO SAD.  Next year, I reassure myself!  Next year I'll have a handle and literally max out the emoluments I can get at one instructional leadership role and two clubs/committees.  One fine day!
  3. THE WEATHER.  I think I'll start fasting now to make room for all the apple pies I'm going to make Justin make me.
  4. CONFIDENCE.  Gosh.  I've gotten so much more confident in the last year or so, and it's accelerating again!  I am officially not terrified of the Jam Cellar anymore!  I am honing my 'management' skills to be pleasant, helpful, thorough, yet firm and maintain high expectations.  I'm starting to buy more real clothes instead of convincing myself I should stick with that awkward polyester blouse that was a hand-me-down from a stranger via a 50-year-old former housemate.  Not sure how I can verbalize how that ties in with confidence, but trust me, it does.  Relatedly, one of my goals for this school year is to always feel like I look good.  Isn't that odd?  Shouldn't that be a given?  Alas!  I've left the house more often than I care to admit feeling really uncomfortable with what I was wearing, like a middle schooler trying hard to believe she looked okay and not completely stupid.  And then I'd get to school and pass myself in a window or mirror and be like UGH WHY DID I WEAR THIS and it would make me mad all day long.  Well, NO MORE
  5. TASTE IN MUSIC.  Fortunately, this isn't 'change' so much as 'expand' which is obviously still change but not one in place of another.  I've started to love jazz outside of swing dancing!  Here's a track I've had on repeat for so long, I finally broke and made a Pandora station out of it.  Oh man.
  6. And finally FINISHING TOUCHES.  You'd think I'd be one of those people who made sure everything had an adorable, perfect finishing touch, right?  Every little thing in place?  Ironically, you'd be half wrong!  For my insanely awesome school projects I did up to and including age 18: totally.  For my wedding: yes, absolutely.  In decorating the office at school: not so much!  Crazy and unlike me, huh!  I'm in the process of making sure that everything I do has details to match.  The devil, they say, is in them.  So like the clothes thing above (the devil is in the ... accessories?), or when it comes to home decor, etc.  No more settling for 'good enough'!  There is time and reason to make it shine.
So, here's to changes.  Sometimes, the more things change, the more things... change.

* JUST BARELY did not make the cut to be included in 'simultaneously.'  But they still get a shout-out for joining the 21st century layout a few months ago!  Nice work!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

On marriage

"Every day.  I care about your [stuff] every day."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New leadership

Those of you playing along at home will remember that last year I was determined to repair the broken glass on the greenhouse at school and thereby skyrocket our children into happiness and success.  Those of you playing along at home will also remember that in a hundred different ways, my efforts were crushed.  Well.  Our students' test scores had been declining the last several years, and the powers that be switched our principal with another principal whose students' test scores had, in fact, been skyrocketing the last several years.

Let me list for you some of the things this new principal has independently declared we as a school are going to do. 
  1. Go to New York
  2. Go to Canada
  3. Be healthy
  4. Have a garden in the courtyard
  5. Have skating parties for students who score Advanced
  6. Have rewards for kids who improve 
  7. Dress up and go to the Kennedy Center
  8. Go to museums in DC
  9. Stay overnight in Colonial Williamsburg
  10. Have clubs
  11. Have a weekly student-run broadcast news show
Can you even imagine my joy?  I don't think you can.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Guys, my pride knows no bounds.  I read cooking blogs like there's no tomorrow, but I don't venture out on my own!  But then I did!  And it was outstanding!  With too many radish leaves to compost and a beckoning butternut squash, I googled soup recipes.  Well, first I just googled those two foods together, but got several sites for what to feed your bunny rabbit.  When I added 'soup' to the terms, I got several for radish leaves and several for butternut squash, but none I liked that combined the two!   So I went with the radish leaves one (from Epicurious, from Bon Apetit) and pretended the butternut squash was four russet potatoes and a few other swaps like that.  Here goes, for your cooking pleasure and for my ease of finding again.

Butternut Squash and Radish Leaves Soup

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and 1-inch-cubed
bunch of radish leaves, well washed (mine were all the leaves from about 8 radishes)
3 cups chicken stock
1 T butter
1 onion, chopped
2/3 c milk, room temperature
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Melt butter in large saucepan, add onions and sautee until soft, about five minutes.
  2. Add radish leaves and heat until wilted, about two minutes.
  3. Pour in chicken stock and add squash, simmer until tender.
  4. Puree squash and leaves in blender in batches, and temporarily store the puree in a different bowl or pot for a second.  You'll be left with the stock and maybe some onions still simmering in the main pot.
  5. Once everything is pureed, add it back in to the main pot; add milk and stir until smooth.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve, or serve with dollops of soft cheese, like that triangle cow Swiss cheese, because life is awesome.
Someday I'll have a real camera and take preposterously good pictures and then my recipe posts will be as sexy as everyone else's.  Until then, IMAGINE WHAT THIS FOOD LOOKS LIKE

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's that time of year! Plus, NRM update!

So the calendar says summer is over, the weather is about to agree (high of 72 is in the ten-day!), and we will finally have a five-day week of school (barring, of course, tornadoes, volcanoes or the black death).  You know what that means!  I love fall as much as anyone else who says her favorite season is fall, but I AM PUMPED FOR CHRISTMAS.  Getting excited too early is par for the course, but it is kicked up a notch this year because it's our first Christmas with a house!  And real neighbors!  And our own appliances!  I am going to combine these three awesome things into one by baking tins of delicious treats for our very welcoming neighbors.  We're going to have a tree!  And real stockings!  AND A DOG OMG

But it isn't even Halloween yet, so I'm going to try to chill my gills over here.  Speaking of which, I literally realized The Greatest Halloween Costumes for Justin and me last year on NOVEMBER 1 (I'm sure you can imagine how mad I was at myself for such horrible timing, but it was a pretty sweet Halloween anyway), so we're just hanging out waiting for the Halloween party invites to come pouring in.  Any day now, that non-water-proof mailbox of ours will be bursting with them, I know it. 

For those of you keeping track at home, we are currently 11 days into another No Restaurant Month.  But!  We like to be neither insane nor lonely, so we make exceptions when we're eating out with friends, like I did with my birthday friend Kathryne the other night at everyone's favorite birthday restaurant, Guardado's!  I could eat their tapas every day and be happy about it.  In fact, I decided to recreate one of them at home, so Justin and I hit up the cheese shop in Wegman's, and, well, we may have spent some money on some cheese.  And!  Justin's been sick this past week, so sick that one day he bought a breakfast sandwich in some kind of woozy haze, completely oblivious to NRM.  Haha, oh well!  AND we're going out with MORE friends on Thursday, so this NRM is a little more lax than last year.  But for just the two of us, we're doing great!  We've had picnics with friends and packed lunches when we knew we'd be out all day, how adorable is that.  I just made this and I'm about to combine these two recipes, who even am I!  Wish us continued luck!

PS - I meant to introduce There Should Be last time.  Sometimes we have good ideas that we're pretty sure don't exist yet.  If they do exist, please let one of us know.  If they don't exist, but you can invent it, PLEASE DO SO.  Here are some more!

You know what there should be?  There should be an app that uses GPSes so precise and so powerful that they can guide you to available street parking.  Can you even imagine driving in DC or any other over-trafficked city?  It would be SO MUCH BETTER.  There should also be a function on cars where your wheels turn 90 degrees and drive perfectly sideways, and those people who are terrified to parallel park need fear no more.  There should also be an app where you take a picture of a dog, and it spits out its breed(s).  Bonus for what percentage of what breeds it is.

See what I mean?  SUCH GOOD IDEAS THAT WE ARE INCAPABLE OF INVENTING :'(  I feel like we should team up with that commercial about getting your idea patented, with the caveman and the guy who invented an off-brand slip-n-slide.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eight things a-thinkin!


Here are some things I can't stop thinking about.
  1. Our wildly successful Costco trip in which the store FINALLY had mango slices!  On G+ I said one of the truest things I've ever uttered, "costco mango slices = prodigal son. i loved them, but they left me, but now they're back, and i have slaughtered my fattest calf in celebration" AND I didn't even mention this ridiculously delicious (Costco brand, no less!) Lavash flatbreads with rosemary, olive oil and sea salt.  I don't even understand how good these are.  We also got a 30-PIECE SET OF ADORABLE TUPPERWARE.  My life is complete.
  2. I am majorly jealous of people who can just look at a camera with no expression and look super hot.  Like, when they're not making any face at all, even smiling, and they still look smokin'.  When I'm not smiling in a picture I either look confused or pissed off.  I feel like French people do this particularly well.
  3. Someone is mysteriously sending us a Newsweek subscription.  Not even kidding.  This happened a year or so ago, and here it is again.  I entered the info from the label into Newsweek, and I am like 95% sure I did not pay what it says I paid when it says I paid it.  So mysterious sender, thank you!  This is lots of fun and takes me back to my childhood of devouring Newsweek.
  4. There should be a way to find friends on facebook simply by how many friends you have in common with one other thing you know, so that if you have NO idea what a person's name is, you can use your stealth skills of knowing where they went to college and the fact that you will likely have a million mutual friends, without embarrassing yourself by asking anyone.  Except facebook, and facebook doesn't care.
  5. Bellow is getting ridiculously good at not jumping on our bed at night, but jumping on our bed in the morning; so good in fact, that we don't have to shut her out!  Her cries were devastating, but it was also devastating to get leapt on in those precious grey moments of falling asleep, and then have to shove her off.  So anyway, great job, dog!  She is also waiting for her food, even after it's poured!  What a champ!
  6. FALL.  How do I love thee!  Let me count the ways!  Aside from that ferocious hailstorm two weeks ago, earthquake last week, and hurricane this past weekend, we have had AMAZING weather, with no crazy last-ditch heat stroke.  Starts out 60, gets to maybe 87, goes back down to 73.  Gorge.  Coming up: increased amounts of tea, candles, baking, and tights!
  7. Guys, guess what.  September is... NO RESTAURANT MONTH!  Faithful readers may remember this attempt last August and its questionable success.  This year we are armed with P90X resolution, a money-sucking house, and a homebody dog!  And two more CSA shares!  And with Costco mangoes and flatbread, who needs restaurants anyway.  Cinchy.
  8. Also, if you're somehow friends with me but not with Mickey, may I direct you to this.
also, who needs restaurants when you have these two on your team.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Goodbye summer, toilet seat

Oh man, This Summer.  Everything happened!  I danced with Matt!  I made then gave away lots of bowls, we had lots of friends over, we acquired a companion animal, our cabinets got their doors, I read Hemingway with an eleventh grader, we cleaned and cleaned some more.  Pretty much everything we do now makes me feel more adult!  We got a handheld vacuum!  I bought fabric and hastily made temporary (?) curtains!  I organized my collection of hotel-stolen toiletries and am USING THEM.  I am flossing.  FLOSSING.  WHO EVEN AM I.  I can't even list all the things we accomplished in the last eight weeks.  But, you guys know me.  The things that I'm most proud of, the things that have made me the absolute happiest, were these seemingly tiny changes that vastly improved the quality of my life.  And all I can think now is of being free, being liberated, to fix the things that bothered me on such a miniscule level that it was tempting to forget about them.  But of course!  They all reached a tipping point, I fixed them, and now I am constantly filled with joy.

Ever since setting up the guest bedroom, I hated our own bedroom.  The bed left three awkward feet or so on all sides, and it felt childish and clumsy.  I talked a skeptical Justin into switching walls to leave a big open floor at the foot of our bed, and he eventually humored me, and it instantly made it mature, sleek and friendly!  Score one for the rearranging-furniture-changes-your-life argument.  It just makes so much more sense, even though I am panicking a little about when we upgrade to queen size, complete with bed frame :( .  WILL ALL MY FURNITURE ARRANGING DREAMS BE CRUSHED AGAIN

But this change, this one cannot be undone, even with certain future upgrades.  If you've been to our house, you have certainly seen, if not used, the World's Worst Toilet Seat.  I humbly apologize to everyone for its existence ESPECIALLY if you used it.  If it makes you feel any better, I used it way more than you did, and was furious about it every time.  If you haven't seen it, or if you have and would like a refresher course:  It was one of those cushion ones, except it had a slice in a side from which the yellow (original color I THINK) foam burst out, especially with shower humidity.  The foam was also dysfunctional in one side so that you felt some weird plastic grid in the seat when you sat on it.  The white was starting to fade into a weird bluish (I know) glow (?).  By this point I know you're thinking, Pam, what is wrong with you, that sounds like the grossest thing in the world.  And you would be right.  But you know what else was the grossest thing in the world?  EVERYTHING IN OUR HOUSE UNTIL LIKE THREE WEEKS AGO.  It got lost in the shuffle of the chopped-up five-layer floor, rotting cabinets, marker on the walls, chewed up bathroom door, and the various holes (ranging from scores of nail-size to 4" diameter) in bedroom walls and ceilings.  But ANYWAY.  You also probably know that this whole process is taking eons longer than we imagined, so you may not be surprised to hear that I realized this was one super-gross thing I could fix, so I bought a reclaimed wood toilet seat at 7 am one morning.  It was the best $10 I ever spent.  After some finagling with weird, cheap plastic screws and nuts, I eventually, triumphantly tore the wretched thing out, scrubbed where it was on our pink and teal (no joke) toilet, engineered some parts to fit, and screwed the new shiny seat in.  And I nearly wept with delight.  It is SOLID and REAL and WHITE and CLEAN.  I still look at it admiringly when I pass it by. 

So, another silly event, another life lesson learned.  Let your anger stir you into change.  The longer you're angry, the more time you're wasting that you could be happy.  I was limiting myself and didn't know it; this creativity and possibility with the whole house reminded me just how much power we have to make these minor adjustments that renew us.  Best summer ev-- well, since last summer.

Monday, August 8, 2011

SPT: Guest Post

Welcome (or should I say Willkommen!) to today's installment of Sad Paragraph Tutorial.  I came across a stellar example of a sad paragraph, and, with the author's permission, I have reposted it below.  (Read the rest of his irresistible prose here.)  This piece might take the classification "vignette;" it is more than just a paragraph, but it's not quite a story.  Unlike in my description, the sadness only becomes clear in the last sentence.  See, my children, there are as many ways to write a sad paragraph as there are sad authors' sad concepts.  It was written on a Tuesday, the saddest of days.

Up or Down
by Mickey Mangan
A man was walking down a road. In his hand he held a rope. The rope was very long and one end of it dragged behind him for hundreds of yards as he walked. The other end rose, gently, up from his grip and into the sky. It was attached to a hot air balloon. The hot air balloon floated delicately above him, moving across the land with him as he walked. There were many sunny, cloudless days when the balloon was the most beautiful thing in sight, and the man wanted nothing more than to climb into it and float off into the sky. Other days, however, were not so beautiful.  The man was glad to have the firm ground beneath his feet. Even so, he knew that someday he would work up the courage to climb that rope and see the world from his balloon. Eventually the ground he walked on began to slope downhill. The change was very gradual and, at first, he did not notice it. After many downward steps he was clearly able to see the road ahead.  It stretched gracefully for miles and miles and miles. He admired his view, and saw that he would be safe on this road no matter what happened. Still, he found himself looking longingly up at his balloon. He knew that the view from up there would be far better than any vantage the ground could give him. One day the man found himself looking back on the ground he had covered, and thought he noticed that the rope dragging behind him was shorter than it had been before. Looking up, he realized that the balloon had gotten further and further away from him as he walked down the slope. He tried to pull it back down toward him, but he simply was not strong enough. He tried climbing, but he knew that his arms could not carry him to the top. He knew that he might have been able to climb it before, when the balloon was closer. So instead he kept walking, and kept readjusting his grip to let more of his extra rope out, and kept reassuring himself that the balloon was still there if he really needed it, and that one day it will be close enough to climb to again. He did this for many days, until one day he didn’t hear the rope dragging behind him. He looked down and found that he was holding onto the last feet of rope. He looked up and could barely see his balloon. Was it red? Was it blue? He couldn't even remember what it looked like. If he held onto the rope any longer, it would lift him off of the ground. He let the rope go and kept walking further and further down the road.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer: So far, so good

So you may have heard that, one week ago, we got a dog!  Her name is Bellow, and she is a springer/spaniel mix who will turn two in two days.  We got her from the place I used to volunteer, until I had a run-in with a frustrated, chomp-happy dog who I think got put down for being unadoptable.  But Bellow was anything but!  We actually went to see another dog by the name of Dizzy, who turned out to be interested in anything but us.  Fine, Dizzy!  Be that way!  See if we care!  We also got The Look from this other dog, Wink, who, when outside with us in her interview, cuddled up to us as well as pranced around with a ball.  Interested in toys, the outside world, AND us?  We were sold, and her super soft fur sealed the deal.  Two days later, we went back and got her and renamed her after Justin's favorite author.

We took her home to construction of bookshelves and installation of major kitchen appliances, and she was super psyched even amid all the potentially scary noises.  She ran from person to person, totally frantically happy.  I think she sat or lied down twice that day, and as soon as someone blinked, she was up again.  We were a little concerned for her heart.  But since then!  She has calmed down considerably, except for when we come home, when she wags her tail so hard and falls into you so much that her tail actually whips her snout.  Oh Bellow!  She also doesn't eat very much, which is good for our budget and her extra few pounds for now but we'll probably want to stabilize that in the future.  We think she's learned her name, she knows 'sit,' and kind of 'stay,' and she's definitely housebroken.  In progress: Not pulling us all over creation when we walk her.
here's a pretty typical picture.
When I'm not couchin' with the dog, I'm making glass (!) dishes and throwing (!) bowls!  And also tutoring!  And, you know, dancing.  And eating copious amounts of succotash.  And trying to compost (ha, I almost wrote 'compose.'  I am definitely not trying to compose), but neighborhood animals know we don't get out the the meadow that often and they eat all my carefully saved scraps!  I hate nature.  I bought a compost crate and everything.  I should write a sad paragraph about that.  Anyway.  Here are my things so far!  Maybe I can sell them on Etsy for millions.

that hole was the fault of the person firing it, i guess?  in exchange, they gave me a free class!
group shot of my FIRST attempts at pottery!
For more, see 'sculpture' and 'other'!

Stay tuned for another post later this week, after my life will be forever changed, for I will have danced badly with Matt in Baltimore.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

One year ago

One year ago today, we were getting ready for our We Didn't Know You Party, where we invited fairly new work friends to celebrate our week-old marriage.  We were planning the lasagna, beef barbecue, pierogies, quiches (that's right, plural quiches), and desserts; getting some ribbon-y decor together; finding songs and pictures and revisiting our guest book to host this mini wedding party with people we really liked but weren't close enough with two months prior to invite them to the actual event.  One year ago, we were realizing more and more that we were together, finally, forever.  One year ago was also the last time we saw our happy friend Aundre.  We were walking around our neighborhood, our newly-wed selves, as we so often did.  And we found Aundre!  And we heard that we were an inspiration to him!  And he asked for our number so we gave him mine and he put it in his phone under Justin's name and Justin mentioned whatever game system he has or something.  We told him our address and said to come over any time, someone's always there!  And since then, I half-waited for a somewhat awkward text from an unknown number wanting to hang out.  I double checked every youngish kid with a big smile and lots of dreads just in case.  I kept my eyes open on walks, remembering the intersection we saw him at most often.  As the weeks and months went by, I stopped looking so carefully.  It occurred to me every now and again, you know who we haven't seen?  He wasn't at CVS at all anymore, not that we went there very much now that we both had jobs and a 24-hour pharmacy was way better.  Did he move?  Did he go to school somewhere?  Were we just uncannily missing him all the time?  Then.  Then, in a flash, we were talking about moving.  Then, in a much slower flash, we found a place, bought it, and moved.  A five-minute drive away, but in a totally different neighborhood with no tennis courts, no winding sidestreets that end in cuddly sacs, no foresty paths that take you to elementary school playgrounds, and no Aundre.  But, this year!  The house is coming together slowly but surely and becoming more and more ours every day.  We had a lovely time celebrating our first anniversary with paper presents and a Richmond B&B.  We have come so far from one year ago!  Who knows, maybe soon we'll meet as happy of a character as Aundre with an even bigger smile and cooler dreads and a quicker wit.  Maybe our gardens next year will be better than any foresty path, and maybe whiffle ball in the meadow will be more fun than any tennis.  But my heart will always have that proverbial special place for Aundre, one year ago.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sad Paragraph Tutorial: Overview

Hello, somber people.  Here I will provide an overview on how to write a sad paragraph in five easy steps.
  1. Think of your sad topic.  Some popular ones are death, unrequited love, cloudy days, eternity, and fallen ice cream.
  2. Introduce your topic with a hook -- perhaps via a universal, a quote, or a story about a time it happened to you or someone you know.
  3. Take on your sad topic from several perspectives.  What do other people think about it?  What have others said about it?  Does anyone find this topic, in fact, happy?
  4. Twist your sad topic.  Is there a new layer of sadness that people might not realize?  Is it connected to some seemingly unconnected thing?  Could it be not as sad as you used to think?  End with an unexpected new thought.
  5. Tie this new thought to the original hook for a bonus perspective and that nice full-circle feeling.  Close eloquently.
On the horizon: examples (both serious and less so) I've written, found examples, and maybe a sad mad-libs template (sad-libs?).  Any other ideas, o sad paragraph seekers?  Send them my way.

Friday, June 24, 2011

House and lists, you know, the usual

Whoa Nellie!  Guys, so much happened!  There was VBLX then there was the last week of school then there was Monday, the last day for teachers then there was the first week of summer and here we are.  Here is what I left before VBLX:

And here is what I came back to!:

from the other side!  IT'S SO BRIGHT
Look at that!  Half a wall gone!  Recessed lights in!  A trash can with a lid!  I have been OVERJOYED every moment since I first saw this!  I cannot even believe it.  An open kitchen is basically the only thing I've ever wanted.  Now, if those stairs to the basement weren't there on the right, it could be the most open thing ever, but I'll take what I can get.  The fridge being clear on the other side of everything makes it feel EVEN BIGGER.  But it's not all fun and games: Turns out our kitchen floor has five, count 'em, five, layers to it.  A base of plywood, followed by linoleum, then another design of linoleum, then ceramic (!), then whatever that weird wood-looking thing is on top.  So.  When that's ripped up, the kitchen will be like four inches higher.  Sigh.  The office is painted though, which has inspired me to take it upon myself to prep all the rest of the rooms for painting and start them asap.  I am just so much happier in a freshly painted room that it outweighs the risk of getting it chipped in the rest of the construction!  I will happily repaint an inch to make up for jumping the gun... months early.  We're grateful and happy and everything, but it is taking waayyyy longer than we ever imagined.  We kind of thought Rar would live here and go out for jobs for the company every now and then.  Turns out it's the opposite; he works for his other son like a regular job, and he does our thing on the weekends from around 7 to 2.  Small sigh. 

Goals for Summer 2011
  • learn the potter's wheel
  • paint the house
  • tutor!?
  • make all the sandwiches (ok, most of the sandwiches)
  • start my Sad Paragraph Tutorial.  Turns out many, many people arrive at this blog by searching "sad paragraph," for which this post is the third FIRST result in all the world, according to Google.  Said sad paragraph is about uprooting my pumpkins last year.  But why is everyone googling sad paragraph?  Do they want examples?  Do they want to learn how to write one?  Are they too happy and need to be brought down a little?  I hope to cater to this niche market by giving the people what they want.  And they apparently want sad paragraphs. 
  •  become closer to being a Real Adult
    Things I Like
    • inspiring children to succeed
    • motivated, employable children
    • smart people
    • being safe
    • my "Chamber Pop Mix" on iTunes Genius Mixes.  It's like Pandora One but better.
    • donating to charity
    • Rita's custard
    • blueberries
    Things I Dislike
    • gangs
    • people who don't try at anything
    • unreasonable people
    • cilantro

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Body Language, or, How Dancing Is the Opposite of Autism

    We've all read a million and one articles that are like "YOU SHOULD MAKE EYE CONTACT" and "DO NOT CROSS YOUR ARMS YOU WILL LOOK ANGRY" but this is something slightly different!  This is even beyond the fact that your kneeache tells you it's going to rain tomorrow.  As per usual, I noticed something I completely loved and it reminded me of something vaguely related. 

    Something that stuck with me after play therapy with autistic preschoolers was the idea of "body."  The language used was always very careful to distinguish a person from his body -- for symbolic purposes as well as literal, practical ones.  "Mitchell, tell Alice you don't want her touching your body."  "Peyton, how is your body feeling?"  ("Crazy!!!")  We were attuned to the needs of each individual's body -- for instance, if the child('s body) felt threatened by hallways and other open spaces (Alice) or needed vestibular input, ie, squeezes, firm hugs, or bouncing (Graciela) in order to be regulated.  It brought a reality to the phrase "uncomfortable in one's own skin" that I could have never considered without experience with little ones with autism!  The communication associated with these principles astounded me for a very long time.  To think that a mysterious sensation in one's body needed closer boundaries or even pressure in order not to go completely haywire was so strangely validating to the human condition!  Unfortunately, in these examples, the body was communicating its needs because frequently they weren't met -- how can we know unless through frustrating experience that Zahara would only calm down in a pogo swing? 

    In loving a flagrantly opposing means for body language, I decided to get hooked on So You Think You Can Dance this year.  I consider myself a dancer -- a very niche dancer, but a dancer all the same -- and more importantly, I love dance as an idea and I love even more to watch people dance.  And I did get really into American Idol last year and found out I cry at the drop of a hat on these shows (seriously; I cry when people do really well, when they win their ticket or whatever, when they cry, when their family hugs them, when they win but don't have any family or friends there to hug them, when they win but don't have any family or friends there to hug them but then they call out to the lounge outside auditions "Quick! Someone come be my family!" and a herd of strangers run to hug them and jump and celebrate, etc).  Put all that together and I knew I would have the best time watching this show.  And I have.

    My favorite part of these two shows, even more than the dances or songs, is when people are told they're moving on to whatever next round -- and they celebrate.  Somehow.  Many cry, many laugh, many are in disbelief, many have that face where they look like they're hardly reacting at all but really they're taking it the most humbly and joyously.  I cry love when the contestants hurdle over various stages or stairs or equipment to hug the judges -- but far and away, the best reactions are from the dancers who dance in celebration.  That's what they do!  In an uncannily similar way to children with autism except with the exact opposite need, their bodies are overcome with a sensation that they can't get out and they don't know what to do with.  Both populations are unaccustomed to using words to express emotions, both understand an ethereal component of existence, not by choice.  Both experience feelings, states of being that transcend language -- but sadly, it frequently manifests in a negative way for autistic children, often involving angry tears, flight, or physical harm.  In stark contrast, for these winning dancers, this overwhelming urge happens to be a happy one!  We should all be so lucky that our speechless moments are due to joy.  As sad as I am for the helpless communication these children must employ, I am equally delighted at these winning dancers.  With conventional communication insufficient, they naturally default to what they do best: when they hear the good news, they dance!  Some leap.  Some jump, spin, kick, dougie, etc.  But the way they move is always tinged with dance, and that the joy inherent in that makes me tear up too. 

    Sunday, May 29, 2011

    Not homeless.

    So.  We own a house.

    Rather, we own 20% of a house, and The Bank from Hell owns the rest of it, and we are paying them in increments to slowly own it.  It is the dirtiest, grimiest thing anyone has ever laid eyes on.  (The two Mexican families that inhabited it now rent ... two doors down, and my pity for them decreases with every piece of gum or bird poop I scrape off of the floor.)  We have way more stuff than we ever imagined, but unpacking takes a back seat to cleaning and remodeling, so that adds a new reality to "living out of boxes."  It is an intricate shuffle between unpacking, cleaning, and moving.  You need to move in order to clean, you should unpack in order to move... it's like that farmer and rowboat problem. 

    We adorably realized that the house is to Justin (slash, dudes in general) what the wedding was to me (ladies)!  I am happy and chill, I mean, I know it's super great and all.  But Justin.  Justin!  Justin is thrilled to pieces every moment.  Our roles have even fallen similarly into place!  Justin is in charge of the whole thing in general, and of overseeing most of the aspects, and I have claimed/been delegated certain areas too.  It is the wedding reverse!  Or, reflection!  Also in the same way, we are divvying up fees and charges ("I'll take DJ, you take cake" has turned into "I'll take mortgage, you take bills," "Alright, fine, but you're doing Netflix"), not that it matters.

    Now that we're not begging for a single blade of grass anymore -- now that it has all worked out for real -- we can sit back and fume at the whole process even more.  I saw Citibank's mortgage page today, if you don't sign papers when they predict you'll close, they give you $1500!  We would be so rich right now if "Prosperity Mortgage" had employed such a tactic!  We try to minimize our outrage and maximize our joy.  Rar has set to work replacing doors and rewiring plumbing and electricity.  I have set to work cleaning floors, and Justin has set to work mowing his meadow and grilling.  We realize it a little bit more every day -- we have a house!

    this land is my land, this land is Justin's land

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    Night of homelessness

    Friends.  Romans.  Countrymen. 

    If you read this blog, we are probably facebook friends.  I probably then don't have to go into how Friday was NOT actually closing, that we were told of totally new (and, incidentally, nonexistent) problems that canceled the whole ordeal, that we started investigating lawyers, that we had to have a new letter from a contractor issued over the weekend for this all to start again on Monday.  Needless to say.  Friday was basically the worst day.  Also, Verizon had also cancelled itself despite my (at the time) successful phone call to extend the service til Tuesday.  So we've been to Panera a whole bunch the last couple of days, and here we are at our friend Eric's so we have a roof to sleep under tonight.  Thanks, Eric!  All of our earthly possessions are currently in our (old) living room, and Justin's going in to work super early to take care of business things while we wait for drama to unfold our mortgage to happen and then he'll come get me from my station in Panera when the A-Team over there gets all our housing documents together, and we will sign all sorts of closing papers and move all our items from old house to new house.  I'll then be home to field appliance and Verizon delivery on Tuesday.  Someday I'll go back to work!

    Before all this ish hit the fan, I went to Camp Schmidt.  And boy did I love it!  I learned how to use a compass and hung out with all sorts of fifth graders.  I also hiked many miles of trails!  I leave you with a picture of our campfire at which I told the Greatest Scary Story.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    House reflections

    Another post, so soon?  What is this, Gawker?  I know.  I'm feeling crazy, okay??

    I am just, like, brimming with excitement.  For James Tate.  For Camp Schmidt.  For closing on Friday (!!!) and move-in on Saturday (!!!!!!!).  For summer.  For my ceramics class.  For my last seminar class, EVER (for now).

    I've really been thinking about The House and This Process in so many different ways.  I will start with the awful way and then end with the delightful and romantic way.  In the depressing and terrible way I've been considering this whole ordeal, I'm comparing it to the most similar journey I've undertaken so far: wedding!  Now.  Both involve so much money, you're kind of in denial about the whole thing ("Monopoly money," Justin termed it.  Where $3,000 is a ridiculous sum any other day, but not when you're about to get hitched OR purchase a place to live!).  Both involve many, many people and professionals.  Both industries are known for being a little shady.  Both involve updating all your friends, family and coworkers about the hilarious and/or horrendous stories for their entertainment and sympathy!  Both involve plenty of advice, solicited and otherwise.  But they differ in drastic ways.  In one, everyone is catering to your every whim.  Your opinion can change on a dime, and the people you have working for you will accommodate.  Everyone who's a part of it wants everything to be perfect and fairytale.  Your team of recruited friends get to throw parties and wear (usually) pretty dresses.  Here's probably the most important one: If the people you are paying are not totally awesome AND amazingly competent, you get to pick other ones.  Everyone is at your mercy and super nice.  Now to describe the wedding industry.  Ha!  That was a joke.  The house-buying industry.  The house-buying industry is the opposite in every one of those ways.  You're at everyone else's mercy, and, in our situation, they have been the least competent people I have ever heard of (with the exception of our termite guy!  Thanks, termite guy!).  You can't change your realtor or your mortgage people.  Once you're knee deep, you can't change your house or the bank or anything they say.  The rules in the contracts everyone signs apply to you and you alone -- everyone else who signs them can do whatever they want.  You have to accommodate their every whim, even if it's 10:30 pm on a school night, those papers or that check needs to be somewhere NOW.  And then you get to wait five or six business days while someone does something necessary with it.  Your team of recruited friends now have to do physical labor for at least a full day, and if you can trick them, more than that.  And in the end, only you care if you actually get the house or not!  Sigh.  When you look at it that way... yikes.  But then, but then!  You remember that it's (going to be) YOUR HOUSE.

    In a practical and imminent way, The New House (especially with its summer timing!) represents such newness, such possibility!  It's a crazy feeling knowing that we're going to redo the whole thing to our exact specifications.  Kitchen, living room, bathrooms -- they are ours!  I can't grasp that yet!  Of course, I'm probably most excited about the decor and paint and the return of a basil plant, but those are details compared to everything else we're fixing too!  Those would be a huge fun deal in any other circumstance, but in this situation, they are the icing on the enormous cake!  I'm going to be at Michaels every other day, I can feel it.  Everything is going to be so beautiful!  Such a refreshing chance!  And this is just getting added to my fantasies of being super healthy over the summer.  P90X!  Whole Living recipes!  LivingSocial-provided CSA shares!  And Justin and I -- we'll be married and by ourselves for the first time ever!  We've been talking recently about how everything's going to be so quiet.  I'll probably have a lot of music to drown out the silence this summer, I'm not gonna lie.  Dog will add some activity, but certainly not at the level of three housemates and their friends (hopefully)!  Our own refrigerator.  I am so, I don't even.

    etsy, by way of regretsy

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    Another roller coaster week.

    Guys.  There were seriously days this past week where the house was not going to happen at all and I had to sit and think about how I was going to break this atrocious news to all of you.  I don't mean, like, Justin and I were preparing for the worst -- I mean that for hours and days at a time, it had legit fallen through.  But by the skin of our teeth, sanity prevailed.  Recently we've had to rush-order a termite treatment and pray like crazy that the rain held out (it did), prove that shelves were not, in fact, load-bearing (they weren't), buy appliances and have them scheduled for delivery on closing day or after (they will be), and get all our friends to come out and help us that day (some are).  (Stay tuned for the world premiere of the Move-In Day 2011 Music Video.)

    Rar and a notice to PLEASE cut the grass

    Thanks for the windows and doorknobs, Rar!
    Drawing I, check!  The last class I basically spent on my portfolio -- ironically, on the other portfolio than the one I spent the rest of the classes drawing for.  Paul was so nice all semester but pretty adamant that we show up, even if we'd already had our portfolio review (I had mine last Thursday.  It went well.).  So I showed up, hung out with my drawing friends, ate cookies and analyzed teaching then drew a super old typewriter just in case he checked up on us.  (It's not that great, so I won't waste your time posting it :/ But my painting final is now up! :) )  I totally loved a few people from drawing, but none of us went through the motions of being facebook friends or getting numbers or anything.  Sigh!  Sometimes it's a relief of reality but also a spark of sadness that you're not even going to pretend to want to read sporadic or constant updates about their vacations and their cousins.  Even though I do want to read those!  I totally do.  Up next, Parks and Rec ceramics. 

    Also, in celebration of having finished this gargantuan teaching portfolio, let me take a moment to reflect on my reflections.  I turned a corner at some point with this crazy thing and actually got excited to make it all fancy and thorough.  It's really reminded me that even though there's all kinds of things wrong at that school, there's all kinds of things right too.  It's been an inspiring reminder.  Whenever I've done assignments for it at school (meaning, there's been tons of things I have to do in the classroom before I write about it and submit student work samples for the portfolio), I feel so ... sound.  Doing those things made me feel like such a good teacher.  Sigh!  Someday I'll teach in the right capacity.  Certificate available 7/1!

    Today we stopped at an Open Barn.  We drive past this stable all the time and wave to these happy horses who wear coats too far into the year.  The lady was so animal-intuitive!  She talked to us for a solid 45 minutes about her horses.  She said, "I can tell the kind of day you're having by the way my horse reacts when you're on it."  Isn't that incredible!  I know animals know auras and storms and cancer and everything else but to hear such evidence (she provided examples!) was so astounding.  I was astounded! 

    I leave you tonight with Braeden's reflections on how he has grown in the subject of reading:

    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    It was the best of times, etc.

    Well hello friends!  I'm sure many three of you are wondering what in the world is going on with Our House (in the middle of the street).  To explain, let me start with The Worst of Times and copy and paste a portion of an email I had to write to our realtor, mysterious mortgage lady #1, and mysterious mortgage lady #2 (believe it or not, in the middle of the gmail conversation, we were informed that MML #2 would not be working with us anymore because we're switching loan types from Man's Worst Nightmare Loan to Conventional); enter MML #3):
    "3. Anyone, please, please please tell us if we can buy appliances and get termite extermination to install/service before whenever closing happens.  We are more than happy to pay for them out of our own pocket.  The logistics of installation/termite service are what seem to be the problem -- can someone open the door for Lowe's to put in a refrigerator and oven?  Can someone let the termite guy in?  These problems seem far too simple to solve to prevent us from purchasing a house.  In case it matters, the homeowner's insurance that I have already paid for is starting on Thursday. 

    4. And MML #1 and MML #2, please tell me if these conditions happen before closing, if we can just for goodness' sake have a conventional loan. 

    I expect answers to these four items before the close of business today.  We have been more than compliant, and these problems are way too last-minute for my taste.  The fact that closing needs to be pushed back should have been brought up weeks ago.  The lack of communication here is profoundly disturbing, and we still want in plain English, a straight and reasonable answer about the status of our purchase of this house.  I've noticed throughout this process that we will ask a question, and in the response emails, it hasn't been answered -- hedged, if anything.  That is so not acceptable, it's not even funny.

    Keep in mind that these aren't numbers and issues to us, this is our
    house.  We need to move.  We've already made and broken plans with each other, friends, and family to pack, renovate the kitchen counters, and move in and clean the whole place this Saturday.  One of our housemates has taken to smoking inside the house despite emails to her and the landlord, and it gets vented literally into my face all night long.  We're relying on the kindness of our current landlord to put up with these back-and-forth issues on are-we-aren't-we, and when.  We haven't gotten the sense from you that you appreciate what this is to us.  This is your job, and this is our life."
    This email sent a swift kick in the pants to the various ladies involved, and better approximations at answers were sent.  So that morning (Tuesday morning, no less), we pretty much gave up on the whole endeavor whatsoever.  I was thinking about how to gracefully and embarrassingly end it on here, and resign myself to staying in this house or finding an apartment or whatever.  It was a pretty awful, dire situation.  But now, now!  Now we have people vaguely making things happen.  Unfortunately, Someone Important didn't get back to Someone Else Important and then took most of Friday off, so we don't have actual permission to do anything yet.  But we are expecting this permission, and the necessary changes are so reasonable!  Wish us luck, three readers.  And keep your fingers crossed for May 22.

    Now.  The best of times.  I went to my first (!) lindy exchange and almost died of love and joy.  Made so many friends, was such a better dancer.  Someone please tell me how to get Justin to start dancing (read: please hook him up with private lessons), and my life will be even more complete than it already is.

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    Why can't my kids be this awesome

    So many times I look around the world (or, you know, internet) and I think to myself, "Why can't my kids be this awesome?"  Why can't my kids see the value in being this creative, articulate, and self-motivated?

    Jezebel showed me this darling nugget, with all the familiar fifth-grade earmarks ("Well let me give you a quick lesson") but with all the unfamiliar comfort and suaveness that I never see!  She uses the word "despise"!  She says "give it a ponder"!  She has all kinds of delightful reasoning and flow and argument and logic and ugh it just makes me so happy.  As Mom notes in the comments, daughter writes way better than she does, which is odd, but okay.  The day any of my kids would take it upon themselves to react to anything like that is the day I know I have succeeded as a teacher.  Until then, it's fail city for me I guess.

    Then I found this character, with whose writing habits I am unfamiliar but with whose dancing skills I am overjoyed.  The few seconds he speaks are articulate and a little hilarious, and even though I'm usually all about behaved kids, I am also all about dancing and public displays of joy.  And, he knows all the words.  And, when he kicks, it's totally safe for all people and computers in his range.  In this one, he wears awesome glasses and actually gets shut down by an Apple Store Guy.  If you keep watching them, not that I did, you'll see that eventually, an Apple Store Guy (a different ASG, I assume) dances alongside him for a second as he passes by the camera.  Oh man.  My heart!

    And then, speaking of gimmicks that I love, I saw this trailer for this movie about a day in the life of Earth.  This kind of thing makes me so happy.  Yeah, I know it's self-selecting, that most of our lives are super boring, and they are filled with anger, jealousy, hatred, and unrest in general.  I know this probably doesn't represent the millions living in hunger and destitution.  It might actually depict war zones though.  But, without having seen it, who can say!  All I know is that these snippets of everyone else's secret lives thrill me.  Justin hates them; he says it's a bunch of YouTube clips.  He's right.  So, who will come with me?!

    Thursday, April 21, 2011


    Things I Recently Declared Were Going to Be My New Thing*
    1. homemade scrubs
    2. pretty mugs
    3. jewelry somehow incorporating prior "love" stamps
    4. plantains
    5. teaching grammar
    6. H&M

    Things That Inadvertently Became My New Thing**
    1. eating like crap
    3. panicking about summer
    4. ~5 hour car rides
    5. ignoring my students' friend requests on Facebook

    *carried out with mild to moderate success
    **carried out to an unreasonable degree

    Monday, April 18, 2011


    Favorite Places: North Carolina.

    We're all surrounded constantly by the idea of place.  It's coming up a lot in the Race (and 'friends') household, what with the new digs ever nearer, and it's coming up in my friend's blog, and it's coming up in basically anyone who's going, or who has ever gone, anywhere.  And here, furthermore, my very own Christmas present took the distinct form of place!  It was North Carolina.  Greensboro, specifically, for Cirque du Soleil. 

    Justin and his leaves.
    After an 8pm - 2 am drive, we crashed in our swank hotel in preparation to live it up the next 24 hours.  The hotel room is its own "place" microcosm; it tries to be your home away from home, with your hair dryer and your ability to have milk and cookies whenever you want, while stepping it up a notch with a pool and a gift shop.  In the second floor restaurant the next morning, Justin and I were both just so calm and happy; somehow, North Carolina afforded us a sensation of pure delight.  We have talked about NC for years.  We idealized it!  And now, after a long and stressful journey, we were there.  Was it that we were removed from house drama -- both the housemates and the buying process?  No, it was still very much on our minds, and we're not out of the woods from it yet.  Was it the weather?  No, it was nice in DC too that day.  Was it different, in some way?  Not really, it mostly looked like any other darling town with a historic district that we love to visit.  The breakfast, the acres-big farmer's market overflowing with flowers, the shops along the main street, the people were all the same!  We were just experiencing them in Greensboro, and they were unmistakably lovely.

    I love my North Carolina flowers.  The same as, but way better than, Lanham flowers.
    After we had done the whole literal side of place, we went to that symbolic side at that crazy show, Alegria, where the ringleader marched around the crowd, pausing at parts of the overture to cry, "Alegrrrrrriiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaa!!!"  Luca's question is about your sacred space -- where do you go when you need to calm and just be?  I don't have a good answer yet, but something always in the running is theater.  A theater, a (live) show in a theater, etc.  Maybe because that arena formed me in high school, and is forever filled with those most important memories; maybe because my soul just jives with the idea of plays and performances in general; maybe because when you go, your job is to suspend disbelief and be with the scenes.  I firmly believe that an unspoken implication of theater (really, of books, television, paintings, movies...) is that the audience, ideally, is supposed to believe that they're just glimpsing these people's lives, that when the curtains close, the characters just go on being themselves, just not watched anymore.  You know, when they come "on stage," they're not coming from "backstage," they're coming from another room in their house or field or whatever.  We're supposed to be getting that one tiny window to see what their life is like, and when all those crazy acrobats are done flipping around for you, they go back to wherever land they came from and they keep flipping around there, for each other, because that's what their life is.  How magical of a sense of place is that!

    Just another Tuesday afternoon, hanging out

    PS, Speaking of flipping, I hope you will flip out just as much as I did when I discovered this friendly notepad in a gentle basket at one of those independent, local-artist-supporting stores (appropriately titled "Just Be") in Greensboro, NC: