Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Henry started baseball again tonight and this year we're making it a family deal. E is coaching and I'm team mom, so tonight we all packed up and headed for the field to meet everybody. Lo and behold, winter decided to appear. Tonight.  Roo and I just about froze our tails off.

I just finished defrosting myself in a tub of scalding hot water like a big frozen turkey.

Two days down.  Many more to go before this week ends.

Check out the bags under my eyes. I've decided to name them Fred and Ethel.

Monday, February 27, 2012


One deep breath, Sunday, before a marathon week.

If my real marathon training taught me anything, it was that the only way to get to the end is to take one step at a time and not to think too hard about how much is still out in front.  With four rounds of Mock Trial county competition, a full week o' teachin', the start of Henry's baseball season, E's birthday, and E and Henry's birthday party all this week, I'm going to have to put that into practice.  I've got it all written down, and hopefully I can just look ahead every five minutes or so to figure out where I am supposed to be.

Sunday we spent some major time loafin' around.  Roo had a friend over.  Buddy hit a few baseballs in the front yard.  Cats did as cats do.

There's nothing like my boy in his baseball cap!twinklecook

I feel guilty, these two monkeys bring me so much joy.  (And sleeping cats?  It doesn't get any better than that.)

If all goes well, dear Internet, I'll be hitting the gym at 5:00 AM when this posts on Monday.  I se-he-he-he-he-he-riously need to get a MOVE ON and run because A) I signed myself up for a half that's in--oh, I don't know--a month or so, and B) my body and brain need the release.  Otherwise I'm going to just turn into a giant not-so-Thin-Mint.

Time to lean in and check things off the list.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


It definitely feels like May, not February.  We got outside again yesterday.  As Henry says, "we are so lucky to live next to a creek and a park."  Yeah, Bud.

It felt good to be in the sun.  I tried to soak up some major vitamin D.  I'm still working this funk pretty hard.  I'm not sure what's up.  Is it just me?  It seems like everyone is cranky right now.  People seem tense.  Who knows, maybe that's just me putting my own weirdness on other people.  I'm just feeling unmotivated, uninspired... stuck.  Maybe this is a round of the Crazies creepin' at me.  But the more time I spend outside and the more I get out with these guys, the better everything feels.

It's too early for me to start wishing it was summer, but shh--I totally am.  For now I will take beautiful, sunny days when and wherever I can get them.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dropping the ball.

This week I feel like I'm dropping the ball. Wasn't that last week? Yeah, it was.  It continues.

Zee ball, she is still dropped.

I discovered the Percolator app, though, so I've been hugging cats and making pretty bubble pictures.  There's that.

Pretty dinnerHoney Badger don't care.Cool new app. #percolator

I feel like I look way cooler in bubbles than in real life. Now if I can just drag myself through one more day... February is three months long.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fun stuff: Another Sedaris

Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

I read this book in the middle of my difficult week because I needed something light.  I read it while I was trying to get my freshmen to settle down and read quietly for an hour.  I read it in the car on the way to dinner.  I read it late at night. I read it early in the morning when I needed quiet time.  It was funny and more than once I got caught laughing out loud at my book.

This is pretty much standard Sedaris stuff--stories about his family--but his family is quirky and weird and makes for great writing.  Each chapter is a stand-alone piece, which means if you're having a bad week you can pick it up, read one or two, and go back to bed.  I think at this point I'd pretty much read anything by Sedaris.  In fact, I'm making that a goal.

My recommendation: Definitely.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Peace and hair ties

My hopeless obsession with buying reusable water bottles continues.  I couldn't resist a new double-walled insulated Camelbak last night at Target.  My old favorite water bottle has been a (non-insulated) Camelbak but the condensation was always making puddles on my desk at work.  I'm kinda excited about the possibilities of non-drippy cold water consumption that lie in my future.

*jazz hands*

Last night after Target I also did something I've been wanting (okay, needing) to do for at least two years.  Are you ready for it?

I organized our bathroom drawers.  Our disgustingly disorganized bathroom drawers.  I know, I'm so gross.  You can't imagine how anyone lives this way.

These were the kind of drawers that are so full you have to shove things down deeper just so you can slide them all the way out.  I tried to start a system of organization when we moved to this house almost 8 years ago that went like this:

under the sink: hair dryer, flat irons, travel bags and extra stuff

bottom drawer: nail polish/nail stuff and lotion

next drawer up: hair stuff

next drawer up: makeup

top drawer: ???

As you can imagine, that top drawer started to be the catch-all junk drawer, and then once the junk got to be too much for a single drawer, it all just trickled down into lower levels.  I'm not gonna lie, there were hair ties and bobby pins EVERYWHERE.  I could open a store, if only there was a market for slightly dusty, used hair accessories.

With no system or proper label for that top drawer (first aid?  tooth supplies?  WHAT WAS IT TRYING TO BE???) it ended up holding everything from those extra buttons you get when you buy clothes (tell me someone actually uses those?) and empty saline rinse packets (sexy, right?) and dust and band-aids with no box and Mentholatum and Crest Whitestrips and safety pins and nail clippers and earrings and  and old eyeglasses and just... crud.  I even found the hospital bracelets I wore when Henry was born and my name tag from Retrouvaille in there.  (The name tag got tossed, but I couldn't bring myself to get rid of the bracelets, nor could I figure out where those are supposed to go, yet.)

Should I really be admitting this on the Internet?

Making things worse was the fact that a shampoo bottle leaked all over my travel stuff under the sink, so I had to do a fair amount of scrubbing and scraping of goo.  I had to say goodbye to a really nice travel bag because it was goo-ed beyond salvation.

E stood right by my side, scrubbing and holding the trash bag open for me.  I'm sure it was half intervention, half act of pity, but I happily accepted his support.  I feel peace in my soul knowing that all of my lipsticks are in the same tub.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Today was about winter sunshine. Dog-walkin'. Playin' catch. Eatin' hamburgers. And Target. Lots and lots of Target.  Seems like this is what we need when we get in a little funk.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Week? What week?

feb week

Crazy week.  Difficult week.  Really frustrating, emotionally and physically draining week.

Sure, there was good stuff.  I graded a boatload of papers.  I finished a truckload of books.  I wrote a... um... crapload of stuff for grad school.  The kids and I went with my mom and sister to see Disney on Ice.  I went to the first round of Mock Trial competition for our county with my school kids.  My cats hugged each other a lot.  I think I might have eaten a meal one or two times.

But this week our marriage came to a gigantic screeching halt.  I know... again.  Things got frenzied, then they got ugly, then they got really, really tense.  E is carrying a lot on his shoulders--diagnosis with even more allergies (this time it's all of our pets we've discovered are killing him, in addition to, you know, FOOD.)  He's busy at work.  He's trying to research some big decisions about our house and finances and future.  His stuff was nuts.  Meanwhile I was still fighting a nasty cough, I was trying to finish the biggest packet of work I've done yet for school, I was grading a soul-defeating pile of student work, I was dealing with the most frustrating student behavior problem I've ever had, and I was carting monkeys around town and trying to pay more attention to them at home because that's what good moms do.  Sigh.  Too, too much.

Oh, and Valentine's Day.  Happy irony, everyone.  I don't want that day to have any power, but I have to confess that I think it does.  At least, this year it seemed to have the power to create expectations about the status of our relationship.  I never feel any pressure to do anything, but I did feel pressure this year to be something.

I could see trouble coming and I couldn't prevent it.  I found myself sitting in my car in the garage on February 13, crying an ugly cry and trying to tell E that I couldn't do the fight we were about to have.  Not this week when my packet of writing was due.  Not February 13.  Not at all, honestly.  Because I knew what kind of awkward, painstaking work and insane amont of energy it would require to follow this up and heal.  I was right about all of that, but it didn't stop us.  Because that's life, right?  Or at least it's us.  And so we had our words and we had our low and we've been climbing up and out of it.  Making appointments.  Taking care of business.  Because that's what we do.  The fever had to break.  Now we have to get healthy again.

I found myself at a loss for words all week, not just in blog-posting but in my daily routine.  I hate how marriage struggles peel away my comfort and confidence and energy for dealing with the world.  I developed a migraine on Wednesday that was such an obvious, hackneyed symbol of marital trouble.  It knocked me down.  I know I sleepwalked my way through two parent conferences and a bunch of conversations at work.  I was just out of it, foggy with stress.  All week I pushed back guilt about not running.  All week I tried hard not to worry about my teaching contract for next year, or the very fearful realities we're about to face in my district.  I mostly held shit together with espresso and bobby pins.  My hope is that this weekend brings down time and opportunities for us to practice being nice again.  Love, you know, being a choice.

Square one.  It's been a while.

Henry tries crab.

Henry:  (making a face) I don't want crab, I think.

Me: (cracking half a leg and scooping the meat for him) Yes you do.  Try it, it's good.

five minutes later...

Henry: Hey, I know where I want to go for my birthday dinner this year.

Eric:  Where, bud?

Henry: Joe's Crab Shack!  I want a crab bucket.

one minute later...

Henry: Oh, and also I want to go to Hawaii a few weeks before or after my birthday too.  And if not Hawaii, we can go to Disneyland.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday mornin'.

Okay, Sunday.  Let's do this.  You need to be productive.

Friday night I was going to rest and be ready for a weekend of work, but I didn't rest, so I didn't work. I'm drowning in papers I need to grade and I keep pushing things I need to write for grad school farther down the to-do list.  (Note to self, #1: No more pushing back the date.  Packet is due this Thursday.)

I'm mucking around in the mud of writers' block, but I know I can't even begin to concentrate on being creative if I've got nagging stacks of papers waiting for me. But I spent Friday reading Columbine rather than resting, so yesterday was a big day of catch-up, sleep-wise, and I was useless.  My body still isn't fully recovered from this yuck I've been trying to ditch.  I needed a down day, apparently.

Today is a new day.  I'm up on time, I'm gonna walk and then I'm going to get down to business and clear the grading off my plate.  I'm going to try hard not to be angry about it while I do it.  If I'm bitter (as I am, currently) about how much I have to grade and how little I want to do it, that just makes it worse.  The plan is to post up at a Starbucks with some good headphones and pound it out while drinking lots of coffee.

(Note to self, #2:)

I kind of hate February so far.  It's just kind of a stupid month.  I'm just not in the mood to do anything and summer seems so far away.  I'm having a hard time finding happiness in this moment because this moment is kind of dumb, honestly.

E and I are trying to plan a weekend away because we could totally use some alone time, but even that seems overwhelming.  We can't decide on anything.  He hates the ocean.  (I, as you know, love it.)  There's not much to do in the mountains right now since there's no snow.  Nothing looks right to me, either.  I think this is because what I really want to do is go to my family cabin and have it be summer time right now.  Since I don't have a fast forward button, this is off the list.  Everything else looks like too much trouble.  I'll keep looking.

Whine, whine, complain, complain.  Ugh.  I'm sorry.

When I'm in this kind of funk, I know I need to go into list mode.  You know, make a list.  Write all the worries down so they're out of my head.  Cross one thing off at a time.  Stop being overwhelmed and stop hoping it's all going to go away.  At least in my funk I've been able to cross some books off the list.  This week I finished The Imperfectionists, Columbine, and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

(Side note: I'm not going to do a full review on WITAWITAR, but it was good.  Decent.  It started better than it ended for me.  I enjoyed Murakami's mixed perspectives of writer and runner, so it was relevant to me on a couple of levels.  But the last third wasn't quite as interesting as the beginning.  It started to read more like a running blog, and I read plenty of those already.  It wasn't bad, but it didn't rock my world, either.)

Okay, time to get off the couch.  There will be no excuses today.  I am not going to rest until I am free of the stack of student essays.  May the words of my grading pen and the meditations of my jaded English teacher heart be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Another recent read: Columbine

Columbine by Dave Cullen

I was a little bit afraid to read this book, honestly, because I was afraid it would feel too close to home--or rather, work.  But I'm glad I read it; it was so good and I learned so much.  I don't remember much of the Columbine tragedy--mostly I remember the video of students being evacuated, running in single file away from the school.  I remember hearing the phrases reporters kept repeating on the news: "Goths", "snapped", "bullying." I was a college student at the time, only about a year or two older than the gunmen.  E and I had just gotten engaged days before the tragedy.  I remember reading the papers, seeing the photos of the victims in the paper.  I had little idea of anything that transpired in the years following.  I had little idea how much of the original story was totally wrong.

I couldn't put the book down. I read it entirely in one sitting, even though it's about 400 pages long.  I found my mind wandering back and forth between the thought that this could happen at just about any school and the conflicting feeling that this was such a unique incident because of the psychopathy of Eric Harris.  Clearly I haven't managed to separate myself from the issue (as a high school teacher, I don't think I ever will), and clearly I wasn't just able to read this book in terms of purely looking at its construction.  But it's an amazing piece of writing.  Though I kind of turned off that part of my brain, I know that I was able to do so because I was in good hands.  Cullen tells the story skillfully in a way that doesn't feel exploitative or gruesome, just honest.

The book traces the significant events leading up to the tragedy, and the day itself, but he also follows the lives of those affected after it ended.  I'll admit I was wholly unaware of much of the story related to how law enforcement handled the case and how the churches in the area had such an impact on public perception and reaction.  The legal battles alone were so complex, as were the decisions related to how information was released.

This was an incredible book and an incredible piece of journalism.  Cullen is so thorough and the book is fascinating.  What is particularly riveting about this book is how he contrasts public perception of the incident at Columbine with the reality which would quietly surface years later.  It feels as though Cullen really tried to present the full story with as little bias as possible, even though he himself was among the reporters that originally (and inadvertently) create many of the myths we all came to accept as the facts of Columbine.  All parties are presented in an honest light.  This is an important book--so many of us accept what we heard in the week following the tragedy, and so little of it is true.

My recommendation: Definitely read this one if you haven't already.  It's an important look at something we all think we understand, and the book is done so well.

Thursday, February 09, 2012


Is it Friday? Because I'm seriously tired.


Let's all go to bed early.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Recent read: The Imperfectionists

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

How did I end up in this alternate universe where I choose books for myself that don't follow any kind of traditional, single narrative?  Huh?  That's what I'm asking myself after reading The Imperfectionists, on the heels of A Visit From the Goon Squad.  Now don't get me wrong, both books were good.  I enjoyed them.  But I'm ready to head back to Single Strand Narrative Town for a while.  I'm in the mood for something a little more... traditional.  Pride and Prejudice anyone?  (I'm making myself read it again to--hopefully--make myself like it.  But that's a different post altogether.  And even that doesn't really fit the single narrative constraint.  I digress.)

Tom Rachman's book is a lot like Goon Squad in that each chapter is pretty much a stand-alone story.  Except in The Imperfectionists, there's more of a link than there was with Goon Squad.  Characters in this book all work together, or at least they all work at some point in their lives for the same newspaper in Rome.  As a study in character, it was wonderful.  Parts of it were really tragic (not in a really tragic way, but in an oh, hmm, that's kind of pathetic-sad way), but parts were incredibly funny.  Rachman manages to capture a plethora of annoying habits these people have, and annoying people make for good reading.

I wouldn't say this is a favorite of anything I've read in recent history, but it was decent.  Rachman is talented and I was genuinely interested in this world, even if it wasn't much of a page-turner.  But I have to admit that I'm going to forever associate this book with dentistry since I spent much of the fall of 2011 listening to it while people drilled and/or poked at my teeth.  That could have something to do with my feelings of indifference.

My recommendation:  Pick it up if you're looking for an interesting little peek into the oddities of different people's lives.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Impermanence: Goodbye to the real Bel Air

I had a little moment tonight, wandering the aisles of the soon-to-be-closed Bel Air market on Elk Grove Blvd.  The original Bel Air.  The old one, as you hear people say now that there's one at each corner of town.  But it used to just be the store, as in, I'm going to the store.  For most of my life it was where everyone shopped.  Sure, there were smaller markets, but Bel Air has been a reliable institution at the center of Elk Grove.

I'm going to miss it more than I should probably admit.  I took a few sneaky iPhone pics tonight as I roamed around, dodging the corporate guys who were discussing what inventory would move. Their picking at the carcass of the old store made me kind of sad.

When I was a kid, each trip to Bel Air meant a crispy cookie.  My sister and I wouldn't let my mom get much further than the front door before we'd ask to visit the bakery for our free treat; heaven help the adults around us if we started shopping at the other end of the store.  I'm not sure if this part is invented or real, but I swear I can remember sitting in a cart in that store, kicking my legs and eating my cookie while my mom looked at meat.  I definitely remember trying to hang on to the outside of the cart and catch a free ride.  That never lasted long.

As I grew older, I traded my interest in the free cookies for a few minutes of hurried browsing among the VHS tapes and the exciting (yet limited) selection of NES game cartridges.  Just how many of us traded those same ten games around town, I wonder?  If it wasn't for Bel Air I wouldn't have mastered Contra. (Okay, I had cheat codes. But you losers kept checking it out when I wanted it.)

I was never allowed to get anything from the vending machines up front, but I remember the day a little girl's hand got stuck in one. The firemen had to come from across the street to help save her.  It was both scary and deliciously dramatic, from my Elementary-school-age perspective.  From that day, forward, I viewed those machines as dangerous child traps.  Oh, how the siren song of that stale candy called to me, but I knew better than to fall for it.  Those machines were evil.

Bel Air was one of the first places I was allowed to "just wait in the car" for my mom while she "ran in to cash a check."  (Remember when that was a thing?  Before ATMs?)

Bel Air was where I learned that you're not supposed to pull at the fruit from the bottom of the stack or take a piece of wrapped candy from the Brach's display.  I saw someone eat a grape and I was sure he was going to get arrested.

Bel Air was where I learned that if you wear a wet bathing suit to the grocery store, your mom is going to linger in the freezer aisle.

Many of my memories aren't even all of the actual store.  Even the parking lot is evocative.  One day I sat in a car in front of Bel Air, waiting for my sister's friend, Hillary's grandma to run in and get something. We sat there a while, talking.  Hillary threw up.  Melissa took one look at it, and she barfed, too. All three of us just had to keep sitting in the car in the Bel Air parking lot with two piles of puke until she came back.  Good times.

But my favorite kid memory is one is of trying--for years and years and years, both pre-remodel and post--to successfully make it through a shopping trip by jumping from dark square to dark square of tile.  Bel Air had great tile and I was a tile-jumping master.  At least until my mom told me to knock it off, already.

As late as high school I was still tile-jumping, though by that time I was heading into the store with my friends after dance class, in search of junk food. Our quick trips included quick glances around corners and exchanges like this:

Is anybody looking?

Nope.  GO!

Leaps through the cracker and cookie aisle would commence.  It's a good thing I didn't run anyone over or break a leg.

My mom is a teacher, and so my entire childhood, I was affiliated with a kind of minor Bel Air celebrity.  From ages 6-12 this was huge.  I have many memories of hearing "Mrs. Scott!" and the sound of quick little feet on tile before someone would jump at her for a hug.  We couldn't make a trip to the store without one or two of these stops.  I think my mom loved it.  From my kid-perspective it seemed that way, at least.  As an adult, and now a teacher myself, the irony is that I run into my own students (and their parents) with the same frequency.  There's a lot less hugging.  Sometimes I'm not wearing makeup and it's awkward.  Often I just hope I have a teacher-appropriate cart full of groceries.

So let's talk embarrassing cart items. Bel Air wasn't just for food. Over my 32 years I've purchased just about everything else there that a person can purchase. Medication. Tampons. Tequila. Diapers. Pregnancy tests. (Yeah, I was so glad a former student was bagging my groceries that day.)  Condoms. (Another former student as bagger.  Sigh.)  Toilet paper. Neti pot packets. There's nothing quite like your friendly corner store where you can pick up anything and everything, then slyly push it under a giant bag of potato chips as you round a corner and run into someone from your grandparents' church who is buying mayonnaise.

There's something to be said for the place you make those first nervous purchases.  I had several at Bel Air.  The first time I bought an adult beverage--I'm guessing it was a four pack of strawberry daquiri wine coolers in the year 2000 (classy, right?)--I know I was sweating it.  I was 21, but my hand trembled a bit as I showed the checker my ID.  And why shouldn't I be embarrassed?  That same checker had been staring me down since I could walk.  That same checker knew my grandma and all of my aunts and uncles.  Shopping at Bel Air meant a few rites of passage, including standing up and buying the things a person sometimes needs to buy.

I'll be honest.  When I first got married, I couldn't really afford to shop at Bel Air.  It felt like some kind of luxury store and I could only visit in emergencies or special occasions.  But it was a proud day when I could walk the aisles of my mother's store--my grandmother's store--and buy anything I wanted.  I learned a lot there. I learned what people bought on a regular basis and what I should stock in my house.  I learned about how far my money would get me (or how far it wouldn't).  When I became a mom I started to think about taking on the mantle of baking and arranging meals for others.  I discovered all kinds of new ingredients there that I didn't even know existed--cumin! coconut milk! ginger!  When Eric developed food allergies, I was happy to see that Bel Air was so good about carrying different options.  I spent a lot of time there reading labels, learning about what I was eating.  In recent years I've come to really appreciate the quality of their produce and meats.

In my adult life, most of my visits have been at lunch time, making sandwich runs with my friends and coworkers.  I've enjoyed Bel Air's convenience and the fact that I can get a relatively good turkey and swiss on ciabatta for a decent price.  Who are we kidding?  That sandwich was huge, too.  That's a two-day lunch.  Someone was always willing to go to Bel Air because it was close.  We always come back with a full-size bag of potato chips and a giant cup of ice for K.  I loved the quiet senior citizen crowd of Bel Air, midday.

What I liked best about Bel Air as a kid was that the current season was reliably clear.  If it was time for the Western Festival, then checkers and baggers would be wearing plaid.  Someone would be cooking Chili in the parking lot.  If it was Easter, there coloring contests with bunnies and packets of egg dye lined up to be taken home.  Halloween meant mountains of candy or pumpkin-shaped cookies with sparkly orange sprinkles.  Bel Air was always changing but it was predictably warm, friendly, and safe.  Those things are at any grocery store, but Bel Air was at the heart of Elk Grove.

Bel Air felt like the community store, and I suppose that's why I am most sad about it going.  It means an empty storefront in the center of town, but it also signifies that there is no longer a center.  Families have moved outward and it means something different to live in Elk Grove than it used to.  Bel Air is no longer the hub.  It was inevitable, really, but it's a significant change.  She was a good store.


image source


Four miles outside yesterday.  Four painful, heavy, slow miles.

In reality, they weren't even that slow.  That's the weird part.  They were about 11:15 min/mile average, which is great for me.  I turned off my 'auto pause' on the Garmin, so I know some of that time was spent waiting at stop lights.  It's amazing how different a run can feel than what it actually is.

But scheez, it felt like it lasted for four hours.  I think the big thing that this run showed me is that I'm not as comfortable being alone with my thoughts as I was when I was really training.  I was impatient nearly the entire time.  In the summer, when I was training for a marathon, I was spending anywhere from 3-4 hours running alone a week and an average of 2-3 hours a week running with friends.  I think more than my physical strength (which isn't great right now since I'm still hanging on to this cough), I need to build up my mental endurance again.

Yesterday on the run, my biggest problem was boredom.  I started out listening to music on Pandora.  I should know better.  It's way too likely I'll get annoyed by a song that's not a good tempo.  Then I spend a bunch of time trying to skip a song when my phone is strapped to my arm so I can't see it.  I also get way distracted every time I get a text or email.  Since I was running at about 3:00 just as school was getting out, I got about five emails and every time the phone dinged I let myself wonder what it was about.  Mistake.

After about two miles I switched to my audio book and then things started to get comfortable.  I stopped worrying about my pace (I started out trying to keep about a 9:30-10:00 pace, which was just too fast for me to handle right now--what was I thinking, anyway?--and I was in pain) and tried to just think of the run like a nice chance to be alone with nature and my book.  Suddenly it wasn't so bad, and the second half of the run was relaxing and fun.

Other thoughts, now that I'm back after a sizable break:

-My pacing is really wonky.  I have no sense of how fast I am running or how hard my heart is beating.  I need to start wearing my heart rate monitor again for a while until I can regain a sense of the appropriate "zone" for running.

-I need to bring my Chapstick with me.  I should know better about that too.

-I remembered that I hate loopy courses.  If I'm too close to home, all I want to do is quit and go back home.  Out and back is always the way for me--I know exactly what to expect and I can't quit until I get back home.  Next time I'll take a direct route rather than the grand tour.

-I know I'm paying for a gym, but running outside is a hell of a lot more enjoyable.  I need to go back to thinking of the gym as my backup and outside as my place to run, rather than vice-versa.

I need to get to a place again where I stop watching the clock.  I need to just think about heading out and enjoying where I am so I don't count down the hours.  I had a good run yesterday, though.  I think I'm on my way.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Story Time

I remember afternoons in first grade when the kindergarteners would leave (I had a split K-1 class class) and we'd settle into rows on the carpet in front of Mr. Helms. That year I listened to several of The Chronicles of Narnia and my favorite, Mr. Poppers' Penguins.

Throughout school, I loved when people would read to me.  My tenth grade class used to ask for our teacher to request a particular sub because we loved his reading voice.  I can remember him reading Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains" to us during our science fiction unit.  I was transfixed.  The same was true in college when my Norse Mythology professor would read Beowulf.  I swoon for a good kenning.

All day today I was playing another Bradbury story, "A Sound of Thunder" for my students and I was shocked at how still they sat to listen.  I'm sure if I would have asked them to read in groups or take turns reading aloud, they would have been all over the place like a bunch of wild animals.  Instead they sat here under some kind of weird spell.

It.  was.  awesome.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.  Sitting to listen to a story will still put me into a trance today.  Whether I'm running, driving, taking a bath, or just laying in my bed listening, I'm kind of an audio book junkie.  Lately it's been a short Murakami book on running, but it has the intended effect.  I feel like I should have an audio book on my phone and headphones in my purse at all times in case I'm stuck somewhere.

My favorite one, ever?  This version of Jane Eyre.

Friday, February 03, 2012

I'm an angry elf.


Enough of this week.  Enough.

Angry mop knows what I mean.

Was something in the water?  Is my sense of reality skewed because I've been dealing with this cold for about two weeks longer than I had hoped?  Did the kids all get together and make some kind of crazy pact?

I wonder if this is just part of the cycle of the normal school year, but I don't remember everyone going out of their heads last February.  Maybe it's the unseasonably warm and dry weather we're having.  Maybe Californians all needed to get a bit wet to stay closer to normal.  Who knows.  I know that May is a crazy month in education.  I know that by May I'll have no patience for most humans and I'll be wondering why I ever signed up for this job.  But February?  Is that when we all drive each other nuts?

I don't have the energy for this.

This is a week when I wish I could vent a little bit more specifically, but suffice it to say that there have been a host of new and mind-opening situations in my classroom.  Scheez.  Let's all take a chill pill.

(Did you see Andy hand Dwight an imaginary chill pill last night on The Office?  I'm so gonna steal that.)

I don't know.  I feel like everyone needs a time out.  Myself included.  I find myself not wanting to talk to people right now because I'm afraid I'm going to get mean and create problems that don't need creating.  I even ran a little bit this week which feels like a mega-victory in light of the fact that I could barely take in oxygen.

I think tomorrow (even though I'm going to try like heck to fight it, I already know) I need to make myself get out and run (or even walk) for an hour or two.  I need to clear my head, to wash away all the ick of this week.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


I'm so sick of being sick!

If you're keeping score, I made it until February 1st, 2012 without losing my voice.  Last year that date was January 18th, so I've just been waiting around for it to show up.  Me losing my voice sometime during the winter when I get a cold?  That's inevitable.  Stupid voice.  Stupid needing to talk all day to do my job.  Stupid stupid.  I ate about a thousand Jolly Ranchers today.  Jolly Ranchers = cough drops, right?  Menthol is so gross.

I spent most of the day writing on a personal size whiteboard which has points for novelty, but it got kind of old being mute.  Trying to make freshmen understand what I want them to do is hard enough when I can, you know, speak to them.  Urrrghhh.

The best thing I've done all day--no joke--was slather moisturizer on my face when I got out of the bathtub.  I feel like it's been so many days in a row of coughing and not being able to breathe properly out of my face that I've dehydrated myself.  How can I be so dried out and yet so full of phlegm?  You're welcome for that image, Internet.  I was going to put a picture here of SpongeBob in that episode where he dries out, but once I Googled that I ended up staring at a picture of him in a banana hammock and I'm just not really willing to go there on the ol' blog tonight.

And, scene.

But you know?  Even though I couldn't talk it was a pretty good teaching day.  No, I didn't finish grading those damn essays, and no I didn't get a lot of other crap done that I needed to do, but on a kid level it was a goodie.  I had two freshmen come in and ask for help and that actually makes me want to do cartwheels.  I love working with freshmen in general because of the growth I see during the year--today I also just felt like I connected with a few more than yesterday.  So I didn't cross anything off the to-do list.  Hell, I didn't even make the to-do list today.  But today felt like it counted a little.

Forget potential. I'd be happy if they could leave my class knowing how to sit still and write a paragraph. Or maybe just not talk when someone else is talking.  It's all about setting attainable goals.

My own little blossoms of potential need to be tucked in.  Henry actually just streaked (yes, the naked kind) through my bedroom to hang up his towel.  That kid.  He's like a tiny Will Ferrell.  My mom (who is his first grade teacher, remember?) told me when I picked him up today that he answered a "why" question about his rabbit story like this:

Q: Why was the rabbit eating carrots?

A: The rabbit wanted to lose weight.