Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'll be baaaaack...

I'm taking a little blog/ Facebook /Twitter sabbatical. About a week, I think. That should give me a little rest, peace of mind and energy for fresh ideas. I need a break. Just a teensy one, a breath of fresh air so I can come back better than ever. Catch you on the flippity flip!

Miss me? Catch up on some of my old posts. I'll be back before you know it. ;)

Love ya. Mean it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Happy Place

Can photos make you feel truly happy? Relaxed? Peaceful?

These sure did for me. I stumbled upon them in my Facebook albums the other day, and I felt a wash of calm. An immediate lowering of the blood pressure.

They're from a late-fall trip we took to our family cabin.

The cabin is ancient, but it's right on the river.

It's quite specifically my happy place. If I had to narrow it even further, I'd say it's this rock Ad's sitting on. I can feel the cool rock against my back just looking at it. I can sense the bite of the frigid water on my feet. I can see the cherry-red skin peeking back at me from under the water. I can smell the scent of earth and growth and sun. I can hear the roar of the river, the paradox of silencing noise.

Just looking at these makes me happy. It makes me want to go back. Soon.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

“Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.”

~Dr. Seuss

Why don't I take pictures? Ugh. I even came home to get my camera and I didn't remember to take pictures tonight. At all. But it was a major success. I'm emotional, proud, and really sad that we're all done. It always goes by too fast. I'm glad that this silly little staff event has turned into such a positive thing for me and the ladies. It's nice to be a part of something that brings us all together for good. For joy. For laughter. For dancing.

I'm tired, but I'm wound up tighter than Lillith's bun. (Remember Lillith?) I can't relax. Waiting for the Benadryl to kick in, mentally reliving little moments from this evening with extreme joy. Wishing they had lasted longer. Thankful for the people I work with. Amazed at how hard they work.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Useful post.

No time for a creative post, though I do have one brewing about my happy place.  And no, that's not a euphemism for a body part, I mean my happiest location on this green earth... but that's not going to happen tonight.  It's on the back burner.

Here's what I got runnin' through my mind.  Basically, this is the sched' between now and tomorrow night:

1) Double check costumes, makeup, etc for tomorrow.  Brush out fake hair.  Find earrings.

2) Decide once and for all if I'm going to cut my skirt short or not.  Pack appropriate unders and practice clothes.

3) Wash hair, air dry.

4) Sleep.  As much as possible.

5) Get up waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay early, straighten hair.  (It takes me almost an hour.)

6) Pick up test copies from copy center.

7) Give test.

8) Finish super-secret surprise craft at school.  Deliver.

9) Teach, teach, teach.

10) Get kids from babysitter.  At 2:15.

11) Think of something to do with kids until 3:45.  Eat?

12) Drop off kids with Uncle D.

13) Go back to school.

14) Rehearse one last time with the ladies.  Rehearse opening with the guys.  Double check gym setup for event.

15) Get ready with the ladies.

16) Perform.

17) Come home, do laundry for Thursday.  Repeat sleep/teach/laundry cycle.

18) Fall over from exhaustion.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Today I'm grateful for well-behaved kids and reliable babysitters.

I'm grateful for unending forgiveness.

I'm grateful for a husband who feigns blindness to idiosyncrasies and laughs at dorky jokes against his better judgement.

I'm grateful for that epic Costco bag of dark chocolate in the fridge, and the similarly colossal Winco bag of sour gummy worms in the pantry.

I'm grateful for synthetic running socks and my fuel belt.

I'm grateful for surprise presents.

I'm grateful for E's elbow in my eye every night, even though I pretend like I hate it.

I'm grateful for the shared history that I have with E and some amazing, loyal friends.

I'm grateful for homemade orange-raspberry scones and jars of peach jam.

I'm grateful for Spring Break.  I'm about to be even more grateful, REAL SOON.

I'm grateful for employment, even when that employment frustrates the beheebies out of me.

I'm grateful for my own literacy.  What a gift.

I'm grateful for pedicures.  And beer.  Oh, I'm grateful for beer.  Specially if it's a Hef with an orange in it.  Mmmm...

I'm grateful for paint, music, words and movement.

I'm grateful for towels that bleach to a clean white, and for a fridge full of clean veggies.

I'm grateful for small, everyday kindness.

I'm grateful for cheese.

Green monster, perfected.

Heidi's totally going to gross on this, but I've been drinking Green Monsters again like it's my job.

Basically, a Green Monster is a protein shake with some spinach and blueberries thrown in for good measure.  I wrote about discovering them last summer, and subsequently drank them  off and on for a while.  Since E and I have been doing P90X every morning, we've been drinking the GMs every day.  I've even perfected a soy- and dairy-free one for him.  BOOYAH.

But I've come to discover the perfect proportions for this nutritious freak of nature, and I thought I'd share them here.  Special thanks to Liz for the idea for instant coffee... I like the caffeine kick in the morning and I like it being in something other than a $4.50 status coffee from Starbucks.

I wrote this recipe on the board the other day to PROVE to my students what was in my ugly drink.  They looked at me like I was an alien.  Around here we just call that Tuesday.  But I'm happy to report that several kids gave it the ol' high school try and were pleasantly surprised that there was nary a trace of spinach flavor.  Sneaky veggies for the WIN.  I'm converting them to the dark side.

PDawg's Bomb Diggity Greenish-Beige Monster

1 cup soy milk
1 scoop soy protein powder
2 tsp instant coffee
1/2 frozen banana
1 handful frozen blueberries
1 handful fresh or frozen spinach
1/4 cup crushed ice

I'm telling you, it's not gross.  I love food too much to waste time on things that don't taste good.  I'm also telling you that you can't taste the spinach AT ALL.  Mine tastes like a banana/berry smoothie.  I know you don't believe me, but E drinks this and he says he can't taste it.  He's, like, the pickiest eater on the planet.  And he can do it.

Photo found here.

It's not always green, sometimes it's purple or brown.  The coffee can make it kind of beige.  I don't always add coffee, but I like it.  I don't really mind the color, and I try to drink it while it's cold.  A warm smoothie isn't really that good no matter what's in it, if we're being honest.  I kind of look forward to this each morning now, and it keeps me full from about 6:00 until about 9:00 or 9:30 when I get all snacky.  No, it's not Jamba Juice, but I hope you know by now that Jamba is ice cream, and for the love of Pete, that's why it's so damn tasty.  This is going to be good for you too.

But you need an honest-to-God real blender for this.  I know.  I discovered this week that my new immersion blender is NOT SUITED at all to green monsters.  The spinach got all soggy and wound around the blades (not chopped), so drinking the smoothie was like drinking a margarita/Caesar salad combo.  I couldn't finish it.  Not up to my normal standard at all.  Little strings of spinach, just hanging between my teeth like some swamp thing... Okay, I'll stop.  When I use my normal blender, it's great.  All the spinach gets cut into these teeny, tiny, imperceptible pieces and just sneaks in there, fooling my taste buds.

Mmmm, monster-y.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Checking in...

I've spent the better part of this morning editing backlinks in my old posts.  Since my domain name fiasco blew up like Britney Spears on Cheetos, I have to go back and fix every place where I linked to an old post--they're all wrong.  It's time consuming and annoying, but it's forcing me to go back and read through my old posts.  Man, I have had a lot to say for the last year, plus!

One thing I noticed is that I haven't written in so long about my relationship with E.  It stands to reason that now that things are more stable, it's on my mind less, but it was one of the major reasons I started this blog--to be honest about what was happening between us, and I thought it would be as good of an exercise for me to give it some thought as it is for blog land.  As I tell my students, happy doesn't make great art, dance, or literature.  Angst is way more interesting... but I can stand to check in once in a while.

Last night E looked at me (as I worked on a super-secret craft project at the dining room table) and he said "you know what?  I'm really happy."  After a short pause, I answered back with a knowing "me too."  Even in the midst of the devastating news about the dogs, there's this wonderful peace on our house in knowing that we're facing things together.  Even shared pain, pain understood, is easier to bear with a healthy relationship.  Our financial troubles of the end of last year, the inevitable arguments or bickering, the big pain--all easier because we've fundamentally changed how we relate to each other.

Now I'm not saying we're not fighting anymore.  Get flipping serious.  We fight all the time.  Well, mostly me.  I disagree.  I'm disagreeable.  I'm needy.  You got a problem with that?  I kid, I kid.  And really, he's not always such a bowl of cherries.  He has his own very specific set of complications.  But E is better now at knowing when and how to respond, how to listen, how to structure what he does say to me so that I'm not going to spiral into a pit of The Crazies.  And I measure my words a little more carefully too.  I know which buttons get pushed with which words and I know when he needs room for air.  Like I said, we're not "fixed" but we kinda know when to stop now.  And we know when the path we're on is a bad one.

Case in point:  text fighting.  I feel like it's been sufficiently long enough since this happened that I can talk about it now without using my blog to continue the argument.  He was out late with a friend, I was home alone with the kids.  This was the first night that happened since the dogs died.  I was scared.  The house was too quiet.  I was lonely.  I was still running scenarios of their deaths through my head.  I couldn't get away from the guilt and the sadness or the loss of those dogs, and on top of that I was missing the security they gave me. I texted E to see if he'd be home soon.  He didn't want me to dictate his schedule--I don't blame him.  We have a history there that came from my being young and afraid and his being young and not wanting to be tied down to someone else's rules.  But this wasn't that, this was a very specific hurt I was still experiencing related to the dogs.

So you can see why text fighting about this was the worst possible idea, ever.  It's easy to feel attacked when you're reading 120 character messages.  Nobody wants to be out with friends and have one eye to the phone to see if it lights up with emotional word barf.  Nobody wants to feel alone in their grief, either.  Things get said just to push the boundaries, feelings get hurt.  It was like walking in our old footsteps for just a few minutes that night.  It's amazing how easily we can follow an old pattern.  I went to bed and cried until I slept.  He came home, woke me up, and we worked it out.  I didn't want to even look at him.  He wouldn't let it go, and then he wouldn't let me go.  He listened about what I was feeling about the dogs, about my safety.  I reassured him that I wasn't trying to keep him from his friends.  It was tough and we were tired, but we didn't give it up until it was better.

I wrote a post a long time ago based on an article I'd read that said women's feelings are like a plate of spaghetti--everything a tangled, interwoven mess.  I might be better at working through things with E, but I will certainly always be that plate of spaghetti.

E and I are really so truly happy.  The changes I've made to my schedule in the last year have opened my life to a much more relaxed joy with my family.  His accomplishment in finishing law school and now in working a steady job have only brought more stability, more opportunity for togetherness and peace.  He doesn't even have to say it, but I know we both feel the same pride about the life we've assembled--the same rightness, the way we put things back together and made them stronger than they were before--and it's wonderful to be able to trust each other (with even our arguments and hurt feelings) and to enjoy each other's company in such a way that isn't forced or pressured.

So there you go.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ohmigod, Ohmigod you guys...

Sorry, no Elle Woods connection in this post, I just find that to be the perfect "stuck in my head" song for life lately. Appropriate, no? To be honest, I'm glad for a break from ALL THE SINGLE LADIES, ALL THE SINGLE LADIES. Oh drat. It's back. *closes eyes* Elle Woods, Elle Woods, Elle Woods. Delta Nu Nu Nu, Delta Nu Nu Nu...

Anyhoo, I really did have a sort of Ohmigod day yesterday. It's so fitting that I ended the marathon week with a marathon day. Work passed effortlessly, but this week of over-committing and under-sleeping myself didn't really leave me with much to offer. Remember the mutant zombie people in I am Legend? One of those guys on an "off" day probably had a little more elegance and patience than I did yesterday. I mean, there's toast, there's beyond toast, and then there was me crouching in a corner with a twitchy eye wishing I'd gotten a good meal or a good night's sleep in a few days. But I'm not all about complaining today. Yesterday ended well.

I picked up Sarah, a good friend from high school dance days (though that description hardly offers an inkling of a clue about what has become a lifelong friendship) who is visiting from Texas, and we drove out to see CORE Dance Collective's new show, Chambers. CORE is a contemporary dance company in Sacramento that I can say I'm so proud to have been a member of. They were phenomenal. Watching your friends dance is entirely different than just seeing a company of randoms onstage--as much as it pains me not to be up there with them, I have so much love for them and pride to see what they're accomplishing, that it is an emotionally fulfilling experience. CORE is an amazingly athletic company--a contemporary ballet/jazz/modern/pedestrian hybrid that puts its dancers through the wringer--and they were svelte and beautiful. Just amazing. Another reminder, or in case I have never posted this before: The soundtrack to Blood Diamond? Go download it right now. I'll wait. My favorite CORE piece is still the one that uses that haunting music.  I know this is last minute, but if you're in the Sacramento area and you can go see them tonight at the Benvenuti center, I highly recommend it.  They are so good.

I almost overloaded last night on good peeps that I haven't seen in a long time. It was like being at a wedding. All of the subplots of my life, converging like a rainbow of metro lines at one station. I took the Sarah train in, but we ran into Devin, another high school dance friend, and her mom, several teacher colleagues from my public school dance-teaching days, multiple former members of CORE that I danced with, former students, parents of former students, the husband of one of those dance teacher colleagues who was lighting the show, and friends from my brief brush with charter school teaching. Amazing. Happy.  Weird.

After draining every last drop of energy with mental support dance from my seat and catching up with old friends, I needed some nourishment. (Do you do this too? Do you, like, have to restrain yourself in your seat when you go watch good dance? You should see me. I'm a like a little kid who has to pee, only the twitching is coming from my soul, not my bladder. Oh, the ache to be on stage--it's so strong!) Oh, and did I mention that my diet yesterday consisted of one Venti soy latte and a fistful of Cheetos? I know, it's hard when I talk about my diet because you feel so overwhelmed by how healthful I am. Try not to compare or get too down on yourself. I shoved a sandwich in my yap before I went to pick up Sarah, but we were pretty snacky by the time the show let out.

We I drove in tentative circles of downtown Sac for a while, quoting our favorite stupid movies and trying to avoid wrong way driving or areas that looked too rapey... we settled on a late dinner at The Melting Pot. Because what says "I'm going to catch up with my friend and my healthy diet" like melted cheese and some wine? I'll tell ya. NOTHING. I'm glad we went. Fondue is always good for a leisurely meal and we had so much to talk about. Sarah is such a funny gal, and though we've both grown on our own as we've lived separate lives, those lives ran parallel tracks. I always know she's there, and there's joy in being able to see and hear someone with whom you share a formative history.

Where were my kids, you ask? The E man? E was at a Kings game. Bleh, right? But his bestie asked him, so cut homeboy some slack. He was at the game and then I think playing video games until the wee hours. The kiddos were at a sleepover at my sister, Lis' house. I am just about to hop in the car and go see what destruction was wreaked upon the house. The monkeys were so excited about this that they could barely hold still from about Tuesday, on... I hope they went to bed at some point. It was hard to come home late last night to the dog- and people-empty house... *sigh* A little easier than last weekend, but still just too quiet.

Guess what I have planned for today? N.O.THING. Glorious.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I'm talking pedicure on our toes, toes
Trying on all our clothes, clothes
Boys blowing up our phones, phones

[edited for GQish nerdy/prudish English teacher comfort in front of parents and students]

Don't stop, make it pop
DJ, blow my speakers up
Tonight, I'mma fight
'Til we see the sunlight

Tick tock on the clock
But the party don't stop, no
whoa oh oh oh, whoa oh oh oh.

So, um, I can't like, um, get that song out of my head. Even caterwauling it to my 9th graders at an inhuman pitch didn't help me get it out. I've got DQ on the brain, so everything is TIK TOK ON THE CLOCK even though I don't want to like that song or know that song, it's invaded the dewy corners of my mind like black mold.

I was at school for 43 hours today. Or something. I don't really know, but I know it was dark when I got home and that kind of day is a day I call suck and I just pre-dread tomorrow knowing that I'm not going to be in the mood for any more of their sh*t... I kind of wasn't today either, and I might have accidentally used a phrase with a student that included a certain name for a certain hooved animal, only I wasn't talking about how I was going to throw this kid's donkey outside if he made one more sexually inappropriate comment toward a girl in the room. Whoops. Don't worry, he was pushin' it, but I felt bad enough I had to apologize. And let me tell you, that was one of the more tame and ennuyeux (or is it ennuyeuse?--not sure about the gender of my franglish) parts of my day.

Other notables:

Oh-early 30 photo for DQ calendar. Not hopeful about it being my best shot evar.

Teaching. Like, a lot. Teaching freshmen how to give formal speeches. Akin to teaching monkeys to wear three piece-suits. About as successful.

Forgetting lunch. Epic cup-o-microwaving.

Telling my entire 6th period they were "grounded" because only one kid did brought his rough draft to school. Making entire 6th period work in silence and then show me a draft so they could leave the room when the bell rang. I hated when people did that "ticket out the door" BS to me. Bwah ah ah ah...

Scrambling to two different locations to get kiddos. Scrambling home to get Gameboys. Scrambling back to school for DQ rehearsal.

Hour of yelling over DQ ladies who I love, but still, ensuing headache and sore throat. Motrin, motrin, motrin, motrin, water.


AP meeting.

Report card pickup night, AKA the firing squad.


Okay dudes, I'm done though. For serious. Need my bed now. I'm going to go enjoy the heck out of my new Kindle for about two pages and then pass out. Totally lurve it, by the way. Lurve, lurve, lurve. Reading a few pages here and there like I'm in 6th grade again, reading The Cat Who... of the week. Sneaking pages in between work and kids and eating like I'm binging on some kind of calorie-rich secret. Loving it. Downloading Kindle on my iPhone so I can read and not appear to be reading (it's like the opposite of what my students do!) Feeling lucky, being awesome.

All in a day's work, y'all. All in a day's work.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I've been debating long enough: Kindle or Nook? The answer is *drum roll* KINDLE!

E surprised the be-cheeses out of me last night by giving me a new Kindle.  He wanted me to have it before Hawaii so I can load it up with books and junk.  Oooh, Lawd.  I's so excited.

I kind of went nuts with new books.  Some free books--all public domain books are free to download, so lots of "Classics" are $free.99, and you can get some others on a few different websites.  I got all set up, figured out how to convert free books if I didn't get them from Amazon, and I even purchased a few.

Luckily I had the morning off and then this afternoon was silent reading day in my freshman classes... lots of reading time.

Here's what I've got going in my first little Home screen:

Let the Great World Spin

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Help

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland


Pride and Prejudice

Heart of Darkness

Anna Karenina

Pretty good start, right?  I bought the first three... I am currently reading Let the Great World Spin and I really like it.  The rest I haven't read except for P&P, but I thought it was maybe time enough for a re-read of some Austen.  I might change it up by adding in Persuasion or one of the others I haven't read.  We'll see.  I might end up having to fill the Kindle up with all new books before we go on vacay if I keep up my current rate of reading.  That would be a good problem to have.  :)

So what are you reading?  Or what do you love to read?  What's your favorite book to recommend to people?  I'm amassing a large fortune of electronic books here, people, and I need your suggestions.

Nerdy McNerderson

Golf, DQ, and risk-taking

I got roped into it the same way anyone gets roped into anything: beer and peer pressure. It sounded like a good idea over drinks with friends from work--sure, I'll golf! that sounds awesome!--but as I stood there in front of God and everyone (and by everyone, I mean everyone I work with) almost shaking as I waited for my turn to tee off (is that even what you say? Do you see the depths of my discomfort here???) I just prayed that I'd hit the ball straight and more than ten feet away from myself. I prayed I wouldn't fall down. True story. I had the sting of about 20 eyes on me. I could feel them judging, scrutinizing, waiting for something to laugh at. Of course, why should I be good at golf? And why would they care? These were my peers, so they didn't really have any reason to expect I would be good at golfing. Like, zero.

So why was I almost sick to my stomach about it?

Scared.  To.  Death.
It got better as we got away from the group and as the beer wagon came around, but every time I was up, I felt like I should just crawl into a hole and die. Seriously. I had patient and helpful friends with me, one of whom is an awesome PE teacher and coach, and I still felt like a total dork. My arms and legs didn't belong to me anymore--they seemed to move independently of my brain. I suddenly forgot how to stand and how to walk and how to shift my weight. For the love of Pete, I'd been a dancer my entire life. What was happening?

Stepping outside of my comfort zone is scary. My brief brush with the golf world reminded me that learning something new can completely knock you down on your butt and steal your confidence. It didn't matter that I knew I was a capable, rational human being, or even that I knew how to apply grace and strength when it mattered on stage. In front of all of those coworkers, I felt like a three year old holding her dad's golf club. Or maybe even that same three year old getting caught doing something wrong. I almost felt ashamed. Trying something new means finding your feet all over again. It means building an entirely new foundation of confidence from nothing.

Dancing Queens, 2008 (That's me in the blue and white fringe! LOLs)
I see this kind of risk-taking almost every day at work, lately. The staff GQ event I've been choreographing and teaching for is about to happen next week, and we're in crunch time for rehearsals. I have almost 30 non-dancer female teachers (The "Dancing Queens") who have learned two four-minute dance routines and they're going to perform them next week. I'm in awe of these ladies. Almost none of them have any kind of dance experience, and I know they're finding their legs and arms just as unruly as I was on the golf course. I'm really asking them to do a lot. I know they feel the same desire to be good at something that is entirely new to them. I know some of them feel bad when it takes them a while to learn something. They shouldn't, but it's part of the deal when you're taking a risk. But they push through the difficult moves with laughter and enthusiasm. They're truly inspiring to me. It doesn't matter what it is that they're trying, the point is that it's miles from their comfort zones and they're going to get up in front of hundreds of their peers and students to do it.


It's nice to have something positive at work. Ordinarily teachers are so disconnected from each other, and for the last three or so years, it's been an ever increasing barrage of bad news. By sharing this challenge and meeting it with such a spirit of lighthearted camaraderie, these ladies really make me smile.

I feel lucky to be working with them today.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Have I mentioned lately that I love you, Pandora?

Nope, I'm not talking about that Fern Gully/Smurf hybrid society that was in this year's must-see kid movie for grownups, I'm talking about my favorite internet radio station,

One thing I'm not loving as of late, are the incessant ads. I don't really remember Pandora having quite so many ads when I started listening to it. I use it at work while kids are working or taking a test--primarily Pandora acts as my audible sniff screener so I don't sit here and go nuts while they all sniff the hour away. Drives me crazy. But ads or no ads, I'm going to keep playing it. I love not having to listen to the same thing all the time. Plus it's funny when a cheeseburger commercial comes on during an AP practice test. Right?

Some of my favorite stations to play at work:

Speaking of Shine, it's a pretty good song for the day. I was introduced to this song through my friends from CORE Dance Collective (who incidentally have a show this weekend--check it out if you're in the Sacramento area!) and it makes me warms me from the inside out. Good song. Give it a listen and have a little dance in your head. Here ya go.

David Gray

I can see it in your eyes
What I know in my heart is true
That our love it has faded
Like the summer run through
So we'll walk down the shoreline
One last time together
Feel the wind blow our wanderin' hearts Like a feather
But who knows what's waiting
In the wings of time
Dry your eyes
We gotta go where we can shine

Don't be hiding in sorrow
Or clinging to the past
With your beauty so precious
And the season so fast
No matter how cold the horizon appear
Or how far the first night
When I held you near
You gotta rise from these ashes
Like a bird of flame
Step out of the shadow
We've gotta go where we can shine

For all that we struggle
For all we pretend
It don't come down to nothing
Except love in the end
And ours is a road
That is strewn with goodbyes
But as it unfolds
As it all unwinds
Remember your soul is the one thing
You just can't compromise
Take my hand
We're gonna go where we can shine
We're gonna go where we can shine
We're gonna go where we can shine

(and look, and look)
Through the windows of midnight
Moonfoam and silver

Monday, March 15, 2010

Work with no discernible output

I wish I knew more about website design. I've wasted away several hours tonight trying to mess with my blog, only to put it back to what it was before because my skills as a web designer don't quite match up with how I see things in my head. I'm learning, but it's a slow, confusing process. I think I have more work to do before I make anymore major changes to the blurg.

I always feel bad when I spend hours on that kind of thing rather than writing, because though it might end up looking a little better, that kind of work has no discernible output. I can grade papers or clean a toilet and see a difference right away, but web design is one of those oddities where you can work and work and not really much of anything shows up. It makes me feel like I've wasted my life away three hours at a time. It's interesting to me, though. I guess I'll keep learning how to do things as necessity warrants it. There's certainly a lot more power in knowing how to design something the way you like it. For now I'll keep what I have--clean and simple and it makes me happy.

I'm so tired. I'm just beat. This week is going to be a real bear with all the rehearsals I have for our staff dance event at school. I'm loving my time with these ladies, but it's wearing me out to do all that dancing/teaching on top of my regular teaching and workout routines. E and I are still hanging in there with P90X (I'm on doubles) and though I'm not seeing any results (see a parallel?) I'm hopeful that they're coming to me someday.

I'm off to bed. Peace out.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


So... I'm at Blockbuster. Why? So E can rent a movie. Why? Because he got a new receiver for his birthday and he needed two new speakers. Why? Because he just did. So we need a 7.1 surround sound blu-ray so he can bask in the glow that is his awesomeness.

I know, I don't get it either, but I am going to go home and bust out yeterday's workout that I missed. So I can bask in the glow that is my own awesomeness.

No matter what, tomorrow is going to come soooooooo early. I got all my grading done this morning and hopefully I can get back in the swing tomorrow. I spent some good time sunning myself this afternoon in the yard. Vitamin D status! Ok, ttyl. Happy Sunday.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chinese Healing

Though this week was antithetical to celebration, we had a quiet dinner tonight with family to mark E and Henry's birthdays. We crammed a local Chinese restaurant full of aunties and uncles, nieces and nephews, and shared some laughs over some mu shu pork and chicken chow mein. I didn't really want to go--purely out of the difficult emotions I'm still feeling--but I'm so glad we did. The pains of this week will linger, but there's solace in the understanding hugs of family, and birthdays are a beautiful reminder that life continues to move, that life should continue to move.

I ate way too much. My tummy is majorly complaining. That's what all this healthy eating will do for ya--set you up for a big regret when you cheat and suck down greasy food and Pepsi. I don't think my stomach currently recognizes soda. Ouchie. (Still recognizing beer though, FYI.)

E and Henry pulled in a nice haul--they're on the floor right now cataloging presents and making plans for tomorrow's Lego building. I'm glad we're all home together. I feel like such a big baby this week. E was out last night and gone to work a side job today. Being alone is about like trying to fall asleep right now--scary. I broke down last night when I was home alone with the kids--I realized how much I relied on the dogs being here for my peace of mind and sense of safety. One more thing to get used to. *sigh*

But even if the wound isn't gone, tonight was a nice bandage, or a crutch for my weary legs. I'm not really sure which metaphor I'm going for, but you get it. We need that kind of love from our family to know that things are going to be okay and that the dark corners of our mind aren't where we're really meant to set up camp. Family, birthdays, Chinese food dinners... these are all nice little IMs from God to say "you're not alone, and there's love greater than the hurt you're feeling." Good stuff, God. Good stuff.

Friday, March 12, 2010


A sting
of rain on feet,
the air is tart with mist
the skin repels. Baptizing peace?
Not yet.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

This thing.

We are adults. We do the things nobody wants to do. If the sleepless nights as new Mommy and Daddy didn't define our parenthood, this does. We walk the footsteps of those who did these hard things for us when we were young. We mark our steps on that path as though we know how to follow it. We tamp down our own hurts out of parental duty.

Painful thoughts about Gus and Cal visit me in the hours before and after sleep. My mind doesn't want to believe they're gone yet, and each time I look, expecting to see a grayed muzzle or caramel coat, it tears my heart a little. I know that won't go away for a while. It hurts me beyond words to think about their pain. It hurts me to think that they might have missed us as they were wandering at night. I try not to let myself anthropomorphize them like that. But they were good boys and I wish I'd been able to protect them. There's a hole in our home that's a direct shadow of the mountain of love we had for them.

Yesterday E and I did what parents do. In fact, I'm in awe of the strength and direction that E took in being the one to do all the difficult things: find the dogs, call me, bury them. He didn't falter. He was a dad. Instinct and obligation trumped the myriad emotions he felt about our loss. My protective instincts took over and I had to tell the kids. We had to cry together, I had to hold them and know I couldn't make it better. That's indescribable pain. It's duty before selfishness--I wanted to shut out the world and cry alone. If marriage is designed to "grow us up," parenthood is designed to narrow the scope of our priorities.

E buried the dogs together on my grandparents' property, near the creek. I have a lot of peace knowing they have each other, and as Henry said yesterday, "they're buddies in Heaven now." Gus and Cal were above all else completely attached to each other. It hurts my heart more than twice as much that they both left us together, but I'm glad that one of them wasn't left without the other. Both dogs had such gentle, sweet dispositions. Both did exactly what dogs do--they loved us unconditionally and excitedly. Cal had a quiet, sweet spirit with sad eyes and a droopy jowl that was like soft microfiber. He loved to paw at us or recline in the sun every morning and sit on my feet just to be near me. Gus was a soft black bear who spoke his loyalty with his eyes. They were E's constant companions when he worked in the garage. They kept me company and made me feel safe when E moved out and I cried alone. They loved to do anything with us. I miss them so much.

Marrying young came with so many lectures about how we weren't ready, ostensibly for adulthood or adult decisions. But I'd say that E and I have managed to float along the breezy cloud of young marriage until about a year ago without having to really feel old or responsible. We had our share of problems and our share of responsibilities, but our thirties have brought a mantle of otherness, a cloak of necessary maturity. Along with the peace of mind and stability we've built come duties that we'd rather avoid but can't. Dishes break, can openers won't, marriages need repair and death becomes a part of the family conversation. Just like that. Hard decisions need making, bad news needs breaking. We are at a point where we say "I'll do it" purely out of the knowledge that it must be done.

My shoulders are heavy today with the weight of this thing. I've yet to walk in the backyard to smell the cool air of dog food and earth, but I tear up just imagining it. I wasn't ready for them to go. I'm glad they knew that we loved them and they were happy with us. I'm glad they loved us so kindly and they made us laugh. It's new enough that I can feel their sleek brown and fat black bodies still. I can feel the pressure of Cal's head against my leg or Gus' "kisses" on my hand. I'm sorry I'm going to lose that, but I'm glad I got to know it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Goodbye, Gus and Cal.

We're so sad today. Our dogs, Gus and Cal got out of our yard last night and were both hit and killed on a busy road near our house.

We loved them so much. They were so good to us. It's too hard to write any more than that yet.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9...10.

Okay, I'm better. I almost had a madsplosion on my kids. There's no excuse, because I had a good day but my patience is fragile as an onion skin this evening. And Roo is in the other room playing the ONE toy that she has that makes ALL KINDS OF NOISE and I JUST CAN'T TAKE IT YOU KNOW? And I'm...

7... 8... 9... 10.

And I'm a little out of patience, in case you were wondering. I'm just not used to getting up at 4:45 yet and I'm tired. Today we had a little something at school called "don't even try it, because I will shut you down so fast you won't know what happened" day. Or something like that. I wasn't really angry at them, just didn't want to give away all my energy for free. There are times when having freshmen at the end of my day isn't so bad, and there are times when it's like walking Lenny through the field to talk about rabbits...

Bright side: Started teaching Animal Dreams again today in AP, which is hands down my favorite novel to read and to teach. It's as familiar as my well-worn leather Reefs, and just as dependable. Love it, and it's an essential part of my whole thing. You know, the PDawg thing.

Today was a good day. Good things happened in it, even though I wore out real quick. I love working out with E before work. I'm in as much awe of him for getting up two days in a row to do P90X as I am for eating that salad. We feel like we're on vacation--before now that was the only time we got to spend this much time together. What a treat it is to be ordinary! Allow me to go full nerd on you right now and quote an Emily Dickinson poem I'm reminded of:
I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog

To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

~Emily Dickinson

Right? Ordinary. Kind of cool to stop trying to be something and just be. I've keep discovering the nuances of living a simple life. It just makes me so deeply happy: moving, eating, cooking, reading, talking, and just being in the wonderful world we've worked so hard to create for the past (almost) ten years.

So here are the workout details for my P90X redux (I'm restarting so I can be on schedule with E). We're doing this with my sister Lis and my BIL, D. I'm doing "Doubles" which is basically adding in a second cardio workout on the resistance days. Well, so far I've done that once. It seems manageable, and I'd be on my month #2 so I'm okay with all the workouts we're doing so far. Yesterday E and I had chest and back, then I did Cardio X after school, and today we did the Plyometrics workout. Both good. I had all that on top of two rehearsals for my dancing ladies at school, so I'm just BEAT. But I've eaten "clean" for two days and I feel full but healthy. I've managed to eat a good portion of the stuff I stockpiled last weekend. I'm really glad I planned ahead like that. Yay me.

It's LOST night, so I'm trying to figure out how to keep myself awake without having to exert any energy or let my anger 'splode on anyone. I'll let you know how that works out.

E ate a salad.

*slow clap for E*

The sentence says it all.  Anyone who has known E for any length of time, prepare your feeties because I'm about to knock your socks right off.  E ate a salad last night, his first one ever.  Homeboy went all in, too.  Green leaf lettuce,  cucumber, red peppers and mushrooms with Newman's Own Light Balsamic Dressing.  (Of course it would be Paul's dressing at my house.)

E also ate a cup of steamed broccoli with his lunch and had a cup of spinach in his protein shake yesterday morning.  Who is this man?  Where did the boy go that I married?  You know, the one who only ate meat and bread and a lot of things that fit into a categories titled "other" and "trans-fat."  He's been replaced by this guy.  I have to say, it's kind of a HUGE DEAL.  Of course I know it's Tony Horton's influence, not mine, but sometimes I worry about what the E man actually can eat.  His diet is so restricted by allergies that if he ate veggies, a whole new world would open unto him.  Well, last night he did it.

A new fantastic point of view...

It's been a long journey--it all started with broccoli when we first married and then it progressed to grilled vegetables and eventually things like zucchini and fresh green beans.  He didn't really grow up eating anything that grew out of the ground, so this is quite an accomplishment.  (Seriously, I mean it when I say he didn't eat any plants.  He was a PB&J guy, to the exclusion of most other things.)  He had zero taste for veggies.  Strictly accomplished through some arduous efforts, this was.

I'm proud of him.  It was a big deal for our kids to see him eat that salad tonight.  I really wish a life for them that includes trying new things without fear.  I hope that they also try enough things now that they don't up pigeonholed in picky eating habits.  E was a great model tonight of the fact that we're always capable of doing something new.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Ta da!

When do I feel like all is right in my world?  This is when, in order of importance/decreasing order of stress potential:

1) Front room of house is clean
2) Couch has no laundry on it (i.e. laundry has been folded and put away)
3) Kitchen does not smell like a moldy trashcan
4) Kitchen is clean/dishes done, etc.
5) Fridge is full of prepped/cooked/cleaned/pre-sliced food.

I actually made it to #5 on Sunday.  This has everything to do with the fact that the kids could go play outside all day for the first time since last summer.  Heaven.

Things I cooked/prepped:

1) ATK Beef Stew.  This cookbook does not fail!
2) Hard boiled eggs
3) Rice
4) Ground beef
5) All veggies washed, sliced, ready to eat
6) Hummus
7) Black bean hummus
8) Gluten-free bread for E

In addition to giving me a zen-like happy, those little Tupperwares and healthy snacks mean that I'll have an easier time making lunches/work snacks all week, and thus I will eat better.  Plus, look how cute my fridge is.


So while I was making my super-awesome regular hummus (read: I'd already made a craptastic mess on the kitchen counter) I figured I'd go ahead and try a new version, black bean hummus.  So here are the recipes.  Just so you know, I post these things here as much for myself as for you.  Most of my recipes are scribbled in sharpie on greasy, wrinkled post-its.  The post-its started off clean, but the aforementioned countertop messes have something to do with their current state.  I wish I had one of those cool binders like my sister Lis has with all her recipes, but I don't actually have the patience to make one.  So I use my blog.

Classic Hummus

1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved

3-5 T lemon juice
1.5 T sesame tahini
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp salt
2 T oil
fresh parsley (optional)
up to 1/4 cup liquid from drained chickpeas

1.  Put all ingredients in food processor except liquid from chickpeas.  Process.
2.  Add liquid as necessary until hummus is desired consistency.

Black Bean Hummus

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained, liquid reserved
3-5 T lemon or lime juice
1.5 T sesame tahini
1/4 small red onion, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2 T oil
fresh cilantro(optional)

up to 1/4 cup liquid from drained beans

1.  Put all ingredients in food processor except liquid from beans.  Process.
2.  Add liquid as necessary until hummus is desired consistency.

Enjoy with a pita, pita chips, or fresh veggies.  YUMMUS.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Me: What's that thing called, you know, like addicts right before they go into rehab... where you know you're going to start a diet, or a healthy lifestyle, and you just eat everything you can?

E: I don't know.

Me: Well, I'm doing that.


I'm re-starting P90X with E this Monday. I'm actually really excited about it, but I also kinda know in the back of my head (based on very recent experience with the diet plan) that there's nothing like this ice cream sundae in my immediate future. That, or the rib eye I ate last night. Or the twice-baked potatoes from this week. Or the iced venti three pump hazelnut soy latte I downed in the afternoon. Or the froot loops. I made sure I got in my full serving of froot with two OOs. Yes, I'm excited to refocus on my healthy lifestyle, but I was also excited to eat a black and tan sundae last night the size of a small child.

Also exciting? My sister Lis and her husband D are going to start with us on the same day. I'm really glad that this time I'll have some company. The workout was varied enough to keep me interested, but I found myself wishing I had someone to talk to about the everything... workouts, etc. There's something to be said for shared suffering and shared encouragement. I'm looking forward to it. I know E was bummed that he couldn't work out with me when he was studying for the Bar, so this is nice. I'm going to go ahead (or try, at least) and add in the extra cardio that I would have for this month anyway (for the doubles plan) so I can start running again. I miss it so bad and now that the sun's peeking out from time to time I want to be able to get out and go.

So I don't know what you call it (binging?) but last night E, PDawg, Lis, and D (plus their fourteen million children) went to Leatherby's and stocked up on sugar and fat in ice cream form. Well, for E it was dairy-free sorbet form. Poor E. He misses chocolate ice cream so bad. Just not worth it at this point.

This is week #1 OF OUR ENTIRE MARRIAGE where E and I will both be working "normal" daytime hours and be home for dinner and the entire night. Think about that. Ten years (almost) of one or the other of us working nights or being in school at night. No wonder we were such a freaking mess--we never saw each other. This really feels like we're starting the next phase of life: big(ger) kids, peaceful evenings, working out together, having jobs, affording groceries, taking care of business. We were talking in the car on the way home from ice cream and we were a little amazed to realize we just haven't ever had that kind of normalcy, unless one or the other of us was ditching work or school and thus anxious about where he or she should be. Kind of amazing. I'm looking forward to this.

Friday, March 05, 2010

When is pretend, not?

My recent vague frustration about work was (partially) about not being able to say anything about a school-wide activity we were doing this week. As of today it's done. In order to create the element of surprise for students we were asked not to let anyone know what was going to take place. It's finally over, so I can get my thoughts out. I feel like I've been sitting on my hands for about three weeks, about to explode with crazy.

We participated in a national program--a simulated tragedy designed to scare students into not doing the bad thing that would cause the tragedy. There's one day of the actual event itself, and one day of a mock funeral for students who would have been affected. I did this same program once about two years in to my teaching career, and it was very intense. Eventually I put it out of my mind as several of my students died and real mourning took the place of the already difficult simulation. The time finally rolled around for us to do this program again and I was sick just thinking about participating. Too close to home.

I couldn't do it.

I wear my heart on my sleeve like a soldier wears his stripes. I was always a touchy person; once I was a mom, the barrier between my emotion and the world became eggshell-thin. I feel things so deeply. I'm not a black and white person. I'm a green and orange check with a swirl of purple and a drip of blue person. I harbor things. I treasure things. I internalize things. I lay awake at night thinking about things and they give me the crazies. I cry with the dependability and volume of Portland rain. I hardly ever brush anything off or let it roll off my back. I let it sink in, and then I carry the scars. I move on, remembering exactly how I got them.

If a good memory is a curse, a memory for feeling is its twin burden. Why do some of us dance the same dance of each emotion over and over again?

This is why I asked to opt out of this activity several weeks ago. Long story short, that eventually got worked out, but it was tough and awkward. Of course it wasn't easy to find an alternative and it required some embarrassingly specific proclamations about my own weaknesses; it involved hearing from various people that "it was just a simulation" (duh) and I just needed to "suck it up."

I have serious qualms about sucking it up just for the sake of sucking it up. I have serious queasiness about how manipulative a simulation can be to some people's emotions. There are no "fake" emotions for provocation. Only real. The situation may be a mime, but the emotion is legitimate no matter what inspires it. I knew that if I went, that eggshell would crack and I'd be left open and broken in front of my students, vulnerable in a way that gives me pause.

As I said, I know I'm extraordinarily sensitive to things like this. I eschew situations where I'll feel that manipulated or exposed. I avoid scary movies or movies where bad things happen to kids; I hate any kind of cruelty or torture in entertainment. People I'm with will say "but it's not real," but I can't get past the idea that for something to exist in popular fiction it must have sprung from something that actually did happen--the distance between fiction and honest human experience is so small. It sometimes feels like we cheat the memory of someone else's pain by putting it on display. This event also all happened on the day of the fifth anniversary of the the tragic death of one of my AP students who collapsed in his basketball class. It was too much. I've had to see several students put into the ground. I couldn't pretend to do the same today. I couldn't hear parents read imagined eulogies. I couldn't, couldn't, couldn't.

I don't know what I'm trying to accomplish here.

This isn't a post with a message or a call to action. It's just me trying to explain where my head has been the last two weeks. I know my opinion is only my own. I mean no harm or disrespect. I admire the aims of the program and the terrifying problem it seeks to address. I just had so much inner turmoil about what it was going to let into my mind and my heart when we played pretend.

I'm glad it's done.

I'm disabling comments for this post only because I don't want the program or my school mentioned by name. This doesn't mean I don't want to hear from you. If you have comments, you can email me by clicking the black and white envelope icon in the right-hand column. Thanks for reading. This was hard to write, but I felt like I needed to in order to process this week.

I officially don't have a little baby anymore. I mean who are we kidding, FIVE means you're like, a legit KID.

Happy 5th Birthday to my Henry man!

Every day he kisses me on both cheeks and says "you're my girl, Mom!"

I die.

He's a dancin' fool and he CAN NOT HOLD STILL.

He's an awesome little brother, an awesome little sidekick to Daddy...

and he lets me be his girl.

It's hard to deal with the fact that he's five. A little. It means I have to give up the fact that I still have a little baby at home.

But he's such a funny little dude.

Love you, Buddy Boy.

Some of my favorite Henry posts:

Hank: The Story
Yoga with Henry
Singing You Are My Sunshine
The Saga of Lucky Puppy
Your Daily Henry
Pantoum for Hank