Sunday, September 29, 2013

Anthony

Two years ago, one of my students - a charming, awkward, and a bit excessively good looking kid named Anthony cornered me at my desk and, stumbling and bumbling his way through it, asked me why I wasn't married.  He said that I was unusual - not in a bad way, but that there was something about me that was different.  Like I didn't need a man.  Didn't I want children?  Didn't I want to get married?

And yes.  Of course I do.

Looking back at my life so far, there were paths I travelled that could have included marriage.  But they weren't right at the time.  I chose me over that particular brand of 'we'.  There were so many missteps along the way.  Things that I probably should have and could have done differently.  But I don't believe in regret.  I did what I thought was best at the time.  That's that.

I remember telling Anthony that I wanted to be sure.  That I wanted to make sure I didn't make a bad choice.  That my happiness was important to me.  And that I wanted to have children who could have a happy life as well.  I'm not sure Anthony really understood my answer.  To be fair, I'm still not exactly sure I understand the big picture of what he was asking.

Anthony is one of my most favorite students I have ever had.   Not because he was my best student.  He was not.  Eloquent, he was not.  But ballsy?  You bet.  Here was a kid who after just a few months of knowing me, looked me straight in the face and asked a most personal question.  In front of the entire class.  Not because he was trying to be disrespectful, or intrusive,  but because he was interested.  In the course of a few moments - awkward and unexpected though they were - Anthony cut me to the quick and called me out on something important.  And I have the utmost respect for him for that.  Anthony is someone I miss every single day.  He's one of a select few kids I want to go back to Virginia to visit.  I want to see who he grows up to be.  I'd love to have a kid who turns out just like him.  Even at his worst, most awkward, most fumbling and bumbling.

Today at lunch, I watched a family of 6 - two parents and four very young children - get their seats at a restaurant.  One of the children was screaming.  The dad tried to appease her.  The mom, was not pleased with his efforts or her screaming.  When another child spoke, the mother stated - loudly and with such scorn in her voice, that the kid was "just like your father.  Just another worthless liar."  The boy was maybe 5.  The father was right there.  Despite the initial horror, more than anything else, in that moment I felt so very thankful.  Thankful that I didn't grow up in a family like that.  That I have people around me who would NEVER speak to each other, their spouses, or their children in that way.

But surprisingly - or perhaps not so surprisingly - it made me want nothing more than to transport myself back to Virginia and back to Anthony.  I'm so thankful for him.  For being someone in my life - if only for a brief time, who can remind me that it's ok to be a bit different for the sake of my own happiness.  Who reminds me every single time I think of him why I am a teacher, and why, despite all the ugliness and contempt and bitterness out in the world, I do still want to get married.  Why I do still want kids.  I want the kids - students and my own - who ask the questions all around me.  Who put me on the spot and ask the tough questions - especially when others are watching.  Who maybe stumble on the words and who sometimes don't make any. flipping. sense.  But who care enough to raise their voice.  Who care enough to climb on a lap a tell a story from their day.  Who care enough to remember that I am a person with very real wants and needs and desires. Who care enough to show that they are confused or concerned.  Who want me to be happy.  Even if I am single.  And in my thirties.  And perhaps a bit feistier than is altogether helpful or necessary.

For Anthony, I am so very grateful.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Good Morning, Good Morning to You!

Morning person, I am not.  Given my druthers, I'd far prefer to enjoy an afternoon delight (I love lamp) than an early sunrise walk in the park.  But hungry girl?  Yes, yes I am.

I get up early each working day, cursing my alarms (plural, indeed), and bumble through my morning routine.  I like to think I'm the kind of girl who is going to eat breakfast every single day.  But let's be honest, I'm lucky to blunder my way to the car in a timely manner.  Since becoming a full-fledged adult I have learned many things about myself.  Not least of which:  if breakfast isn't ready and waiting for me, it doesn't get eaten.  And I am a girl who NEEDS her breakfast.

The solution?  The Breakfast Casserole Muffin.  It is tiny, and most tasty.  Not as whole foods friendly as I'd like, but according to the Weight Watchers' gods, it's downright good for you.  One of these days I shall sub out the processed stuff for real food, but today, we go for the recipe as written.  Either way, it is delightful, easy, and a fantastic start to the day.  Blundering notwithstanding.



Breakfast Casserole Muffins

2/3 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
1 onion, finely chopped
2 small cans sliced mushrooms (stems and pieces)
6 oz. Turkey sausage links (I prefer the Jimmy Dean variety, but do you)
1 T. parsley
olive oil (enough to coat your pan)
 1 small carton Egg Beaters (~1 3/4 cup)
1 c. milk
3 whole wheat English Muffins
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. freshly ground pepper

Spray two muffin tins with a generous amount of Pam.  (Don't be stingy.  If you don't spray enough the scrub-out process will last for.ever.)  Crumble up the English muffins to a fine crumb and divide evenly into the bottom of the muffin tins.  In a large saucepan, heat olive oil.  Saute onion and mushrooms until onions become translucent.  Add sausage links and cover until sausage is cooked through and onions are browned at their edges.  Crumble sausage, onion, and mushrooms together.  (I use a hand-held potato masher - works like a charm).  Remove from heat and layer sausage, onion, mushroom mixture evenly atop the English muffin crumbles.  In a medium-sized bowl, mix together egg beaters, milk, cheese and spices.  Evenly disperse the eggy goodness into the muffin tins.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 mins.  (I prefer my eggs a little bit browned, so I tend to go more toward the 25 min. mark).  Delicious served with crisp, green grapes and the breakfast beverage of your choice.  

Enjoy! 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reclaiming Sunday


The days fly by, do they not?  And somewhere in the pursuit of the perfect job, the perfect body, the perfect wardrobe, the perfect mate and friends and social life and cup of coffee and manicure and photos and hair and.... Somewhere in the midst of the chaos, in the pursuit of the imagined calm, successful, happy, I've lost my balance.  

Sundays used to be a most favorite, and a most productive day.  There was much yoga and Target shopping trips and laundry and cleaning and kitten cuddles.  Eventually the bliss and domestic productivity waned into bad television and schoolwork, but in the end, it was always relaxing.  Always too short.  But satisfying in a way that only a truly productive, quasi sweaty day could be. 

I need my Sundays to be relaxed and productive.  I need them to be quasi solitary.  
I love my family and I love that we can spend time together nearly every day.  I love my church family and the friends and lunch dates that go with it. But sometimes a girl's just gotta hole up in her room and make things happen.  

Today, I am reclaiming my Sunday.  For me. Sitting in sweatpants and with hair piled messily atop the head.  Kitten nestled in a box (?!) in the closet, slumbering nearby.  Windows open, my room filling with the scent of fresh air and slowly drying laundry.  Freshly vacuumed floors and a bear of a to-do list looming for the week.  But taking the time to work it out, in the quiet almost-fall breeze puts a girl at ease. 



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Three Questions

  

three questions | by Caitlyn Siehl


My mother tells me
that when I meet someone I like,
I have to ask them three questions:

1. what are you afraid of?
2. do you like dogs?
3. what do you do when it rains?

of those three, she says the first one is the most important.
“They gotta be scared of something, baby. Everybody is. If they aren’t afraid of anything, then they don’t believe in anything, either.”

I met you on a Sunday, right
after church.
one look and my heart fell into
my stomach like a trap door.

on our second date,
I asked you what you were afraid of.
“spiders, mostly. being alone. little children, like, the ones who just learned how to push a kid over on the playground. oh and space. holy shit, space.”
I asked you if you liked dogs.
“I have three.”
I asked you what you do when it rains.
“sleep, mostly. sometimes I sit at the window and watch the rain droplets race. I make a shelter out of plastic in my backyard for all the stray animals; leave them food and a place to sleep.”

he smiled like he knew.
like his mom told him the same
thing.
“how about you?”

me?
I’m scared of everything.
of the hole in the o-zone layer,
of the lady next door who never
smiles at her dog,
and especially of all the secrets
the government must be breaking
it’s back trying to keep from us.
I love dogs so much, you have no idea.
I sleep when it rains.
I want to tell everyone I love them.
I want to find every stray animal and bring them home.
I want to wake up in your hair
and make you shitty coffee
and kiss your neck
and draw silly stick figures of us.
I never want to ask anyone else
these questions
ever again.

Unceremoniously stolen from here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I Choose Love


Every year on this day, people all over this country draw upon their collective memories to rehash a most unpleasant morning.  As a collective people, we cling to these memories - the where were you's, the I remember when's...  But when we do this, we also make the conscious choice to forget.  

We forget that this was one day.  One of only two days in our history of its kind.  
We forget that maybe, just maybe, the families of the victims couldn't care less about where we were when their near and dear ones evaporated from their lives.  
We forget that on Sept. 10, 2001, few and far between us had a flag on our porch.  
We forget that this day brought out the ugliest side of us, too.  
We forget that we use this day to continue to judge others who come to this country in search of what we have.  
We conveniently forget that we are so lucky compared to almost every other country in the world.  
We forget that drawing up these moments of terror over and over again maintains a level of fear.  A fear that begets more rash action, more fear.  

We draw up our flags and call for pride.  For love of this country.  But love is not meant to be boastful or puffed up.  It is not meant to be defensive or gaudy.  It is meant to patient and kind.  Understanding. Full of grace and gratitude.  

In the wise words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  Perhaps this is the day we should put away our collective negative memories and be thankful, not for what was taken away, but for what we have.  

On this day of days, I am grateful and thankful for my breadth of experiences that have allowed me to step back from America and see it in a different light.  I am grateful for my beloved kitten who drives me crazy, scratching at papers when she wants me to get up and feed her.  I am grateful for my health. For friends near and far.  For the ability to choose how I want to spend my life, which whom, and where.  For the ability to choose not to act my age.  For the ability to know that not putting out a flag or spending 15 bucks every year on a new Old Navy flag t-shirt does not make me unpatriotic.  For the ability to work in a job that I love.  With people who are supportive and creative, if not a bit more subdued than I'd love them to be.  For a church family that truly supports and welcomes questions and doubt, instead of preaching "truth."  For forgiveness, and fresh flowers, and shockingly red nail polish, and happy pants, and (eventually) the fall and winter seasons with their crisp air and requisite scarves and sweaters.  For violets that actually bloom.  For books to be read and music to be listened to and sex and dreams and new opportunities and new faces and new adventures.  And for love.  

Because I believe perhaps our national motto should adjust.  Not with the times, but back in time.  When our national pride was perhaps not so stubborn and reactive and puffed up.  But when we were encouraged to take a deep breath and press on.  Sir Frankin was right.  Fear is the worst of us.  Fear is the killer of dreams.  

Jonathan Larson said, ever so wisely, "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation."  But there's more.  The opposite of fear isn't calm.  It's love.  And today, I choose love.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year



It's back to school time!  The weeks before school starts are some of my favorites.  There is much excitement, lots of new school supplies, a brilliant time for refreshing and starting anew.  Blissful.  It's sweaty and sticky, strangely disgusting and expensive.  But I love love love it.

Sometimes the start up time is exciting in a nice, comfy-cozy refresh.  Other times... not so much.  This year, like last year is a time of much change.  I've moved away from my cave - which is kinda fantastic.   As it stands, I seem to be going back to my roots.  Like so many other teachers who teach in schools that are increasingly overcrowded, I'm back to basics and will soon be a bag lady once more.

When I was in Ukraine, I taught up to 5 grade levels and 7 different preps a week and carried my wares around with me in a super classy Target bag my mom sent to me.  Computer, speakers, books, pencils, paper, markers, the works.  And it was no big thing.  By the time my two years was up, I was definitely ready to have a space of my own, but it really wasn't a big deal.

Not every teacher is cool with this.  And to pretend I was sage and serene when I found out would be an enormous lie - I am a huge emotional reactor.  It was ugly.  But I know me well enough to know that I need time to flail before I can deal.  I flailed.  I've dealt.  And I bought a beast of a bag to help me in my quest.  This alone makes me happy.

Teachers are territorial people.  We claim our space.  We get very attached.  Sometimes these attachments can lead to condescension or stubbornness or inadvertent meanness.  It's rarely intentional.  And I have not been immune.  Trying to shove yourself into someone else's space for a class period can be super stressful.  For guest and host both.

There are perks too, though.  I have a home base.  A full classroom office, if you will.  I will teach my homeroom class in there, and have a desk and all my files and other misc. materials in there as well.  I get to decorate. I get to set up and organize and have a space to regroup, to grade, to claim.  It has carpet and great light and is cozy as all hell.  Two other teachers (possibly three?) will teach in this space over the course of the day.

I've spent the past week setting things up - arranging desks, cleaning the summer funk out of the nooks and crannies, hanging paper lanterns, creating bulletin board ideas, cleaning and organizing the files... it's been lovely.

I have no idea what this school year will bring.  New content to teach, new people to work with, fighting off children in the hallways... all kinds of new.  But I'm pretty darn excited about it.  I love the summer time - the rebuilding and rejuvenating and this summer in particular, the work work work.   But coming back to school is like coming home.  A fresh start.  Over and over again.  I love this job.

Sometimes Words Just Won't Do

Beautiful moments, easy inspiration and quick, quiet rejuvenation. 


{all images c/o my Tumblr}

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tumbling Through Summer

These days...

Travelling
Swimming in the ice cold ocean
Seeing old friends 
Getting and giving the hugs
Reveling and reckoning
Watching obscene amounts, and yet not nearly enough,  Dr. Who. 
Getting smacked with new interests and discoveries
Being overwhelmed with classwork
Reading all the books
Listening to all the podcasts
Getting a tan! (sorta)
Kind of hating the tan... go figure. 
Cleaning and organizing
Prepping for weddings
Doing more classwork
Watching the fireworks
Drinking lots of coconut water
Daydreaming of paper lanterns and long flowy dresses and night picnics
Planning, plotting, and doing still more classwork

And generally not blogging, unless it's easy.  And mostly wordless.  Like this.  And this.  

The living is easy.  And busy.  And swift moving.  

Tis Summer.  

Friday, June 7, 2013

Oh to be a Righteous Babe...

{source}

Sometimes the itunes drifts back to a song that makes you stop in your tracks, close your eyes, smile quietly to yourself, and utter a smooth, serene, jubilant and oh so sincere -  "Hell Yeah."  

Dearest Ani, my college love.  The girl who inspired me to love white girl dreds and ballsy, subtle-yet-kinda-sorta-in-your-face tattoos.  The girl who inspired me to give a shit about politics, and to stop wearing makeup - mostly - for a year.  The girl who could make me laugh, cry, beat my pillow, scream, take in the moment,  and feel powerful as all hell in one song.  The girl who made me feel like moving across the world was no big thang.  The girl who reminded me that the worst of our experiences can be turned beautiful through art.  To expect the unexpected.  To strive for friendships and connections.  To stay true to myself, no matter what other people think.  Damn right.   

It has been a long time since I rocked out, dorm room style, to the folk singer.  I dare say I may have forgotten about her just a teensie bit.  


And they say goldfish have no memory/I guess their lives are much like mine/And the little plastic castle/Is a surprise every time... 


Summer Stupids

Every year, when the school year closes and I regain complete control of my activities for the day, I absolutely and completely let things go to crap.  I get so excited to sit around, run errands at my leisure, read the books I've been accumulating on my shelves, and on my bedside filing cabinet, and in the trunk of my car.  I stop wearing full makeup and sometimes don't shower.  Heels are relegated to the closet.  Dreams of workouts and sunshine and picnics and live music and fireworks dance in my head.  I watch loads of terrible television.  I watch movies.  I do nothing that is at all worthwhile.  I get coffee with friends, and wine with friends, and snacks with friends. Sometimes the padre and I go on movie dates.  The madre and I go visit the grandma, because she's awesome.  The to do/dream list is in full effect, as it is every summer.  

* This year I'm taking a summer class.  It's intense.  More so than I was expecting, but it actually kind of looks like it may be worthwhile.  Thumbs up.  
* I want to read the novels I'll be teaching next year.  Night, Endless Steppe, Between Shades of Grey, Midsummer Night's Dream, Call of the Wild.  Competence is recommended in the teaching profession.  
* I want to reorganize the room.  The density level is currently bothersome. 
* I want to work out more.  I'd like to end the summer smaller than I've started it.    
* I am going out of town for a wedding in July.  Plenty of time to plan and all, but I just realized I haven't really considered hotel costs into my budget.  My standby couch provider is the bride.... so.... that's not gonna work.      
* I'm going to get a tan... though more likely a solid burn that will turn back to pale by the time anyone sees it.  
* Very soon, I'm spending two weeks in Virginia with some favorite people.  I would like to not take my laptop with me, as it is distracting from quality conversation, relaxation, and roller coasters.  Due to the aforementioned class and its pesky due dates, it's not looking like that is going to be a possibility.  (Grumbly bits). 

All of this together, the good, the mundane, and the lazy has left me feeling at a bit of a loss.  Just like I do at the beginning of every summer.  I need schedules.  I need deadlines.  I need to establish a summertime routine.  I need to get my life goether.    But while I need to make sure my days are productive (which sometimes works), I refuse to set an alarm unless gatherings, fun, or shenanigans are pre-planned.  It appears I also refuse to stop drinking caffeinated beverages until bedtime.  And whilst considering the tasks at hand, fun, relaxing, otherwise with my stubborn unwillingness to set an alarm clock or God forbid, get-out-of-bed-before-being-entirely-rested-because-it's-summer-and-damnit-I-can.  This leads to a pretty miserable evening.  Physically pretty darn tired.  But the caffeine. Just. Won't. Shut. Off.   

So here we are. Once again.  Rife with a roaring case of the summer stupids.  




Thursday, June 6, 2013

Quote of the Week



“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say.  It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”  -Barbara Kingsolver

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

True Story


“Vulnerability is the only authentic state.  Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. The new goodness that is coming to you, in the form of people, situations, and things can only come to you when you are vulnerable and open.” — Stephen Russell


A long time ago, the guy I thought I would marry told me that one of my greatest features was that once I decided to love, I loved absolutely.  When I close my eyes in the darkness just before sleep, in that moment - when we are absolutely our truest selves - I know he was right.  

Getting there, now that's the hard part.  We get older, wiser, and more closed.  Because life can be tough sometimes.  And life can be ridiculous sometimes.    

We go on dates with people who yell at us to shut up in public, who try and yet fail to leave us mid-date, who surprise us with offers to snuggle up on couches with confederate flag blankets, who offer to spit on us, who disappear into the mist, who deceive and manipulate,  and, of course... lest we lose our sense of humor, who bite our face.  Ah, isn't that a lovely love-life summary. 

Ah.  Dating.

We get pet on the arm at weddings and told not to worry, it'll happen for us someday, too.  We are occasionally bombarded with complete medical incompetence as we are informed that perhaps our standards are too high, we are reminded that Brad Pitt has already been taken, that perhaps marriage and children are no longer in the cards for us, and oh - by the way - it's ok to be a lesbian - since clearly the heterosexual route hasn't really worked in our favor so far. 

Dan Savage, for want of a better expression, is my hero. He puts on a neat little podcast every week and a column every day and darn it if he isn't just one of the smartest, bluntest, no-nonsense sex/relationship advice givers out there.  He's not one to sugar coat and does not lie.  He does not take his advice seekers' sides if he doesn't truly agree with them, and he sure as shit doesn't believe the rainbows and butterflies that pretend to claim that there is someone out there for everyone.  And that's some tough shit to hear.  But he also says a lot about how if you really want to do right by you and your dreams for your life, you have to create a life for yourself that presents opportunities for your own personal satisfaction.  

Let's be clear.  That's some tough shit, too.   

Because life is ridiculous.  For reals.  

Sometimes we make questionable choices and move across the country or the world and we love and hate it all at once.  We make great friends and love our jobs and we choose to up and go away again.  We talk about recycling and protesting and saving money and working out and drinking our 2 liters of water a day and travelling and taking pretty pretty pictures and going on adventures - but in actuality we stay in our pajamas and read an entire (900+ pg.) Harry Potter book in one sitting.  Without showering.  After four days.    

Sometimes we dream about our future homes and yards and children and living a simplier life.  We go to the farm and breathe the fresh air and we long for the good old days that probably never were.  We fancy dirt under our fingernails and slow, from scratch cooking with a small gaggle of cats cramming around for the scraps.  We also watch entirely too much Holmes on Homes and are terrified of taking on any kind of home. Of any kind.  Ever.  

Sometimes we get a bit judgy-judgy when the nice guy with no confidence claims he never wants to leave uber-suburbia.  When the girl who got knocked up way too young comes back to town completely blissful in her marriage and well-established family to the guy we assumed would only ever be the baby daddy.  When the skinny cheerleader from high school shows up on facebook really fat, and quite possibly, with a bit of meth mouth.  
All the while we are too afraid to tell people that we've moved back home to pay off the stupid amounts of debt we've accumulated.  Because that's embarrassing.  Also really smart.... but we don't want to focus on the long view right now.   

Sometimes we are scared we will be alone forever.  That we will be forgotten.  That we aren't as loved as we always hoped we would be.  That we're not doing more with our lives... whatever that means.  That our realities haven't exactly matched up with the imaginary calendars we have in our heads.   That the reasonably consistent comparisons to our widowed family members mean we are past our primes in the more terminal sense of the word.  That maybe listening to the voice in the back of our heads telling us to follow our hearts led us astray.  That we woulda/coulda/shoulda blah blah blah.  

But sometimes we revel and dance in the rain at how awesome it is to be us.  At how entertaining a bad date story really can be.  At how true harsh words can be, and how fantastic it is to have followed a whim and a prayer and done something that makes us proud.  At how reading a good book can be so completely transformative - even if everybody else on the planet read it years ago.  And we've already seen the movie.  Over 20 times.  Sometimes we take the moment to remember what a blessing it is to have access to city and country, to be willing and able to explore surroundings with new and old friends.  To recognize our mistakes and realize we are still connected to each other despite them.  To stop,  to listen to the birds sing their songs and know that there is nothing done that has left us with deep regret.  

Sometimes we sit, in the summertime, in the dark, wrapped up in an old snuggly quilt, on the deck with a cup of tea and a dream.  We marvel at the beauty of the trees, and the opportunity to share a piece of our souls.  And all is right in the world.  Worth loving.  Absolutely.       

And the Living is Easy...


A cozy spot in a sunbeam, a bird chirping, a cool breeze...  Welcome home, summer.  You have been missed.  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Today: past tense.

*  I woke up and called in to work with a feeling that things just weren't right; more premonition than solid facts.
*  I drove to school at 6:45am in my pjs to set up for a substitute.
*  I was a slower moving beast than normal and took nearly 45 minutes to do a 20 minute job.
*  I decided to screw embarrassment, and waved to my students as they came into school.  No makeup, all sweatpants, hair not brushed.  I heard them whisper to another teacher that, "Man... Ms. Meyers doesn't look good at all."
*  I ate bread pudding for breakfast because it sounded oh so much better than yogurt. And I'm an adult.  Adults can do all kinds of ridiculous things.  Because being an adult is awesome.
*  I watched the single most disturbing documentary I have ever seen, gritting my teeth through alieve and a wine bottle cooler-turned-cold compress on my growing headache.  I should have known better.  But I watched.  And I was so horrified by a certain 3 minute segment - despite the strong warnings that should have told my gut to turn it off... because HBO never and I mean NEVER interrupts programming to give a warning mid-way through.  I was so horrified that I found myself crying loud, obnoxious tears, pressing my hands to my ears, literally blocking out all sound, and repeating the word "no" with a desperation that I have never heard come from my own voice.  There are some things you can never unsee.  Or unhear.  The unhearing is worse.
*  I survived my growing headache turning into one of epic proportions.  Leaving me drained, nauseous, feverish, and shaking.  The worst kind of sick.  The kind you know you worsened.  The hold yourself up with the bathroom walls and pray your legs don't give out from under you, two showers and two fresh sets of clothes within an hour kind of sick.
*  I took a nap with not one, but two kittens.  And it was awesome.  It was just barely noon.  Stillness, darkness, heavy medication, cold compresses (real or stupidly repurposed), and kittens help most modern illnesses.
*  I did not receive a call from the boy who promised to call.  I wallowed for about 37 seconds before deciding old fashioned boy-girl protocol is for the birds.  I called him myself with suggested plans.  Success was mine.
*  I ate picnic lunch on a blanket on the living room floor for dinner.  It was amazing.
*  I watched Project Runway and Ellen stand up specials and laughed so hard my headache came back.
*  I discovered that Deadliest Catch is coming back in a week and I just can't help feeling that irrepressible anticipation growing in my chest.  You know, because I'm such a rough and tough, die hard, fisherman-lady-person.  I effing love that show.
*  I did not grade the small mountain of papers I brought home from school this morning.
*  I did not paint my nails, nor do the dishes as I'd planned.
*  I did not cure my headache, nor my stomachache.
*  I ended my day feeling lucky to be alive, to have good food to eat, good blogs and books to read, persnickety kittens to cuddle, friends to call and text and email and facebook, to have good health most of the time, to have students who tell the truth - especially when it's ugly, and to have parents who care enough to call three times when they've realized I'm home sick while they are out of town.

Tomorrow will be kinder.  Tomorrow will be more consistent.  Tomorrow will be.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Opening










This song on my mind.  In heavy rotation.  On repeat.  Like a mantra, or a prayer.  

I have never, and I mean ever, been accused of holding back.  Of not speaking my mind.  Forever the squeeky wheel, I am an emotional reactor.  I explode with all makes of emotion first, but can then move on with my life.

It ends up, in my mind anyway, as my particular brand of passion.  My zeal.  I will absolutely give life my all; kick ass and take names while I'm at it - whether that means picking up and moving, travelling alone, or just devoting an obscene amount of time on the couch in a weekend of television lust.  The emotional reaction drives the passion and drives the decision.  But sometimes that passion, that decisiveness, can be super scary.

Losing to the risks, having my heart broken to shreds, and watching decisions not pan out the way I would have hoped has made me hold back on the most important of things.  Not my job, my weekend plans or my thoughts on the tough topics of the day.  The really important stuff.  The things I hold most dear: my friendships and relationship.  Holding back has been the crutch to hold onto some semblance of control when things were feeling anything but calm.

My closest friends are simultaneously going through the most joyous and devastating moments I can imagine.  It is incredibly difficult to react appropriately.  I don't have any kind of compass for these moments and the complexities of my friends as they stress and jump for joy and cry and turn nasty and generally surprise me at every moment.  My reactions have not necessarily been helpful or awesome.   My attempts to control my face to not betray my thoughts after being oh so surprised my my lovelies' craziness.   My face betrays me, my reactions isolate... and why?  Because I'm trying to hold onto something?  By trying to be there for them, yet somehow getting what I need from them?  It's a logic that simply doesn't make sense.

I've jumped into jobs, into completely different cultures.  I've moved across the country and the world.   And I've never regretted it.  It's almost like a switch.  Somewhere inside, without much conscious thought, the decision is made almost without my realizing it.  That decisiveness has been a huge blessing - and after kind of losing my mojo for a few years after a few too many moments of second guessing, I cannot express how amazing it feels to feel that decisiveness come creeping back.  A few nights ago, I felt it again.  Like a snap from deep within.  A decision.

No thoughts.  No emotional tantrums or reactions.  Just let go.  Take the plunge and see where things go.  Pry open the creaky door to the dusty space in my heart and dance with the thoughts playing in my mind.  Back up and give space where space is due.  It is an instantaneous relief.  Like a weight has lifted off of my shoulders and I can stand tall again.

It's just a start.  The teensiest space; the smallest of openings. It is truly terrifying and makes me feel so incredibly vulnerable.  But my gut is with me.  I feel strong and powerful and sexy as hell.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Quote of the Week



"She knew, of course, that there was something about her that was different. But it was more like a friendly spirit than like anything that was a part of herself. She brought everything to it, and it answered her; happiness consisted of that backward and forward movement of herself. The something came and went, she never knew how. Sometimes she hunted for it and could not find it; again, she lifted her eyes from a book, or stepped out-of-doors, or wakened in the morning, and it was there-under her cheek, it usually seemed to be, or over her breast-a kind of warm sureness. And when it was there, everything was more interesting and beautiful, even people."     
-Willa Cather (Song of the Lark)


Friday, April 5, 2013

How'd that Happen?


In the grand list of things I'm not awesome at, taking time to do what makes me happy and makes me feel fulfilled is right up there.  There's not a good reason for it.  But it's a thing.  I get busy, take on additional duties in mind and body and one way or another, the things that make me really really happy end up getting pushed back.  

It's kind of like getting my hair done.  I can afford it.  I have the time.  I have a stylist I trust with my head, which, let's be honest, is kind of a big deal.  I go in, get things taken care of and walk out of the salon feeling like a million bucks.  Yet I put it off.  I went in today and realized it had been over 3 months since my last visit.  And that's just silly.    

I'd like to get better at prioritizing my... you know, priorities.  Things that make me feel happy and fulfilled.   I recently read something that said the places, people, and things we love and place the highest value on are what we devote our time and energy to.  

So I hereby dedicate April, 2013 to prioritizing and devoting time for things, people and activities that make me happy.  It's the perfect time for after-dinner walks, spending quality time with friends and family, and making plans for adventures big and small.  Oh yes, and eating more fruit.  Because a bit of practicality couldn't hurt.  

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Dose of Dress-Up Will Do You Good

I've spent a lot of time in this town.

This is the town I spent my formative years.  All the high school trials and tribulations, the college summers, the holidays and the family functions, scenes all set with this city in the background.  So I like to think I had a good grasp on the goings on.

Realizing I was wrong... that there is so much more lurking in the corners of every neighborhood.  It is the best kind of gift.

As it turns out.   During the Depression, for reasons I don't fully understand and can't quite wrap my head around, the city of Omaha decided to begin a tradition.  This tradition, known as the Aksarben Ball, is a mascarade of rediculous porportions.  A man and woman - often a strange combination of old, slightly creepy/crotchity CEO or otherwise rich and powerful businessman and super young, beautiful, wealthy, and freshly-outed-into-society debutante - are crowned King and Queen.  They are crowned and dress in regal attire - read: Cinderella style tights, crowns, capes and the like - and lead the crowd of adoring and affluent social hob-nobbers in an evening of opulence, formality, and, I'm told, dinner, dancing and a requisite, rather pricy cocktail hour.   Yes.  Conceived during the Depression.  Opulence.   Depression.  It makes perfect sense.  Every year, a large spread is devoted to this event of strange proportions in the local newspaper.  And as the old men get older and the debutantes get younger, a strange oog factor grows.

I am not the only one to notice the strangeness of this tradition.  Thirty-some years ago, a group of rebellious types decided that this town needed something to balance this celebration of glad-handing and self-indulgent society page makers.  And Groundhog Prom was born.

A full-fledged costume ball for the 21-and-over set, Groundhog Prom is everything the Aksarben Ball isn't.  Held in an old, unassuming ballroom in South Omaha, on or around Groundhog's Day every year, creativity in costume is encouraged - and anything goes.  It is an event that celebrates creativity, letting loose, and poking fun at all manner of social norms.  Full bar and a live band are the icing on the cake.

It's like the best halloween party you could possibly imagine - but with actual creativity reigning supreme, instead of the usual slutty-whatevers that have overtaken Halloween celebrations everywhere.  It is the perfect reason to dress up and dance the night away. It was everything I could have hoped for and more.

From the group of teachers who dressed as various Barbies and travelled in full boxes, no less, to the barrage of concussed Hillary Clintons, to the Giant Spaghetti Monster with working floodlights for eyes and the many monochromatic, numbered women representing 50 Shades of Grey, to the Ambiguously Gay Duo and the electrified jellyfish, to the used car lot tube dancer, Abraham Lincoln, and the beach bums who spent the entire evening together in their inflatable pool float.  Good times were had by all.  And while yes, Groundhog Prom royalty are crowned and festooned with meaningless rights and responsibilities... this event holds none of the pomp and circumstance of its inspiration.  

By its very nature, GP is about letting loose, forgetting the rules of society, and going wherever your spirit takes you.  It's a downright freeing and friendly experience - minus the strange man who hit me on the leg, hard and repeatedly, with the tie of his coat and the woman who was dressed completely normally - except, of course, for the bulging dildo sticking out from the front of her pants... but who cares about them when you're having fun?    

And next year, I'll be smart enough to wear flats.  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Finding the Quiet


Today is a day for snow.  For sleeping in, catching up on blog reading, cuddling with kittens, and watching the snow - slowly and oh so steadily - cover the land.
School is cancelled, plans rearranged.  The town bustling with a kind of inward staggering that only comes before a long-predicted snow "event".  You know the kind.. when the shops become dense with people who have paused in mid-flail to stock up on "the essentials" - milk, bread, eggs, and frozen pizza.  Not being an avid fan of french toast - especially when paired with a frozen pepperoni delight -  this combination makes my mind spin ever so slightly.

And while the onset of several days of weathermen-spouting-"hunker down" inspired relaxation usually brings me straight to the couch and not much farther... today felt different.   It felt like time to go  back.  To reconnect.  And so after the requisite snow day festivities were documented and the day remained young, I pulled myself together and went upstairs.  I ran the hottest bath the faucet would allow and rolled out my mat.  Door closed, steam enveloped, yoga bliss.

There is something empowering about yoga.  We come to the mat with all our baggage laced through our muscles, on our faces and in the very choice to be there.  But come we do.  By the end of that hour and a half, the mind is quiet.  The baggage literally squeezed and oozed out of you by the heat, by the twists, by the unnerving voice that inspires just one more breath, one more pose, one more...

I miss the studio experience.  The heat.  The sweat.  The guiding voice and hands that challenge and inspire.  But for now, until a studio is found and new routines are formed,  the homemade version will do.  It'll do just fine.  Inspiring change in the best of ways.  Allowing a vehicle for creating space for myself.  To clear the thoughts. To actively practice bravery and self-respect.  To challenge.  To quiet.  To be.

Through the sweat and the steam... alone in a bathroom... the heat inside makes the cold outside just a little bit sweeter.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Breakfast of Champions

I love veg.  I do.   I love cooking with them.  I really love doing the slicing and dicing.   I find it downright therapeutic.  The smell of sautéed peppers and onions, intoxicating.  

But.  Well, my cravings don't exactly call for spinach.  Ever.
In light of this and the perhaps even more pressing need for a quick breakfast in the morning with minimal - read zero - effort, I have jumped on the bandwagon.  The green smoothie has entered my life.


Three parts veg to one part fruit, add a splash of water... green gold, indeed.  It's quick.  It's easy.  It's surprisingly delicious.  Enough to get me going in the morning - so much so that I almost don't need my morning diet coke... almost.  It keeps me going all the way until lunch, which in my stomach's world is a tall order, indeed.  And, it's good for me.

If you hear stunned silence, it's me.

It looks funny, this.  But I can't imagine I'm going to be walking away from this little lady anytime soon.  And neither should you.

Green Smoothie

2 large handfuls of fresh spinach
1 banana
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup frozen peaches
1/2 cup cold water

Blend until smooth.  Makes ~2 cups of smoothie goodness.  
Make ahead and freeze if desired.  

Sip and be amazed.    

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Quote of the Week



“Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences.” 
- Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Little Rituals


The moment I wake up in the morning, I recognize the song in my heart - remnants from the soundtrack of last night's dreams. I drink water, a Diet Coke, and prefer not to speak.

Every time I hug a friend or touch a stranger in greeting, I love how the shadows of the embrace linger after the release. Always fleeting, it is one of my favorite moments.

Before bed, I always wash my face before I brush my teeth, never the other way around.

Books surround me- mundane, seemingly meaningless bits of nostalgia mark pages read. Quotes of big and little significance are written in the notebook always nearby.

Hot teas in dainty cups settle the soul.

At night, I light candles and think about people I love. The quiet thoughts before sleep. Silent prayers.  Words said and unsaid sent in a hopeful wish, closing the day and ushering in the evening.

Our rituals. Make us.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Slow and Steady


Today changed the moment it began.  What started in an inward frenzy, quickly turned quiet. Slow.  Snow days have a tendency to do that.  A little mid-week gift.  Wrapped in quiet, sparkling whiteness.  

Today is a gift of productivity - for the first time in my memory, I woke up before the alarm clock.  Rested.  Restored.  Ready for the day.  Also for the first time in my memory, recent or otherwise, I could not go back to sleep.  Like the day had too much for me to let me sleep through it.  With the wealth of snow-blowing and napping and movie-watching and NPR listening, I cannot complain.  It has been a blissful day.  Slow and steady.  As it should be.  

Brewing:  a fresh pot of Earl Grey to sip slowly after dinner.  Forcing me to slow down, savoring the moment.  Reflecting on the day.  

Creating:  bringing ideas for upcoming Oscar festivities to life.  Smashing the inner voice between pages for preservation's sake.  Making a general mess of the living room. 

Listening:  Lena Dunham's "The Girls" makes my heart happy.  In a squirmy, awkward, ohgodwhatintheworldaretheysaying/doing/wearing, yet somehow intellectually stimulating kind of way.  This interview does much to explain the hows and whys.  

Craving: crostini and cross stitch.  

Reading:  My Berlin Kitchen.  Slowly.  But delightfully.  

Noshing:  Ungodly amounts of Amish Friendship Bread.    

Feeling:  Happy.  Despite the longing for places and people missed.  It is inexplicable and unexpected.  Much like the snow.  It is, indeed, a cold and broken hallelujah.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Yes.and.Yes.

Because the world is full of loveliness... 

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