Saturday, March 31, 2007

Day 3

Happy Birthday to my friend Bernie, with whom I raucously celebrated last evening. We all went out for Cuban food and then to Lula's where I really should learn to behave myself.

This morning I got up and planted about 100-150 of the seeds that I started in February--I'll probably do the rest tomorrow, weather permitting. Good luck, seeds!

Thomas and I watched Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny on Thursday night and I have to say that I love, love, loved it. Jack Black has been so dissapointing lately--I was not impressed with the Holiday, etc. But Tenacious D was hilarious, which is saying a lot, because I usually don't go in for that type of movie. It made me think that Kevin Smith and Jack Black need to team up and make something.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Vacay Day 2

I've been so slack this month. Here I am, approaching my blogiversary, and I've posted a measly 9 posts this month. Depression be damned! I shall try to post each day of this vacation! If only to show you....
This picture of me with almost no hair!

I realized recently that in all my lists of strange things about me, I never mentioned that I shaved my head in college.

The reasons behind it are almost painfully embarrassing now (yes, yes, a boy wanted me to. And also the girls in my dorm had just dyed my hair a rather alarming shade of orange). But I've never been sorry that I did it. No matter how distressing the haircut or dye job I've suffered since then, I always know unequivocally that my hair? It will grow back.

I wish I had better pictures to show you. I spent a good part of today organizing our desk drawers in the hopes of coming across some of the better pictures, which have, of course, been taken out of albums and paraded around countless times. It was actually very cute when it was freshly done. I looked kind of like Annie Lennox. But as it grew in, I began to feel sort of permanently deshevled, as if I had gone out in my pajamas without showering every single day of my life. It was more than a year until I had enough length to get a real haircut.

When I did it, I had no intention of seeing my parents for several months as I was not going home for spring break. However, my mom called me in mid-January to tell me that it seemed likely that my grandfather would die soon and could I please be ready to come home. So, that was a fun conversation. Ok, mom. But there's something you should know...

To give my parents credit, my mom didn't even hesitate. She just said, "Well, you can wear a hat." When my dad first saw me, he said, "It's so nice to be able to see more of your face." My parents are so good to me.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Vacation: Day 1

So, I've begun my vacation as I always do: by going to Lula's and staying out too late and drinking too much beer. It was glorious. I watched a little bit of LOST while it was on, remembered why I hate that show, played touch-the-boobie on Megatouch and played the strange newfangled jukebox. This jukebox (forgive my wonder, I'm sure the rest of you all have already seen these) talks to some enormous (internet?) database and for the princely sum of 1 dollar, you can play pretty much any song in the world. I took advantage of this by playing Eminem's Square Dance to a captive audience of about 20 people. I think it's safe to say, no one was as pleased as I was.

However thrilling it was to play Eminem and Portishead in the bar, I must say that I miss the old jukebox and its songs, which I had come to feel were the soundtrack to certain parts of my life. I wish it would come back. And PS? No one wants to pay a dollar a song. It's highway robbery.

I have declared this day a lazy one, as it is cold and rainy outside so I've been luxuriating in bed, reading the Fortean Times (I've learned about Corpse Roads and Spoon Benders today). Just now I broke out the Biore Nose Strips.

Dude, those things are gross. And yet, there is nothing more satisfying to me in the world than seeing all that crud standing straight up from the paper like a forest of trees and thinking, that used to be in my FACE.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Meme me baby, One more time

This here is a meme I stole from Velocibadgergirl over at Pardon the Egg Salad. I'm feeling brain dead due to this being my first day of Spring Break (12 Days OFF!!!!! BLALALREAJAHRFA BRAIN TURNING TO MUSH AT THE THOUGHT) so I thought I'd steal this book-related meme, as I will probably spend most of those 12 days reading.

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback? I like trade paperbacks best (probably some snotty holdover from grad school)

Amazon or brick and mortar? Brick and mortar, naturally, but sometimes our B&N is just too far a drive.

Barnes & Noble or Borders? Barnes & Noble

Bookmark or dogear? Dogear, unless the book is borrowed, in which case I try to remember not to do it. I'm tough on my books. They're always dog-eared and often dog-chewed. I try to think of them like the Velveteen Rabbit: well-loved.

Alphabetise by author, or by title, or random? Ha. That's really funny. I do recognize my books by spine color, though, which helps with all the fruitless searching.

Keep, throw away or sell? Keep. I'm a total book hoarder. If I borrowed a book and loved it, I'll go out and buy it just to have it for myself. I reread almost everything I have though, so it's not a waste.

Keep dust jacket or toss it? Keep, if not consumed by animals.

Read with dust jacket on or remove it? I often use them for bookmarks if I'm at the beginning of a book...but then ususally I take it off near the middle of the book when it is no longer useful in that regard.

Short story or novel? Heh. I write short stories, so you'd think I would prefer them. But I don't. I love a great novel more than anything else.

Collection of short stories or anthology? Doesn't matter. I love the Best of the South and the yearly Best of anthologies, but I'm just as willing to read one author at a time.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? Harry Potter! Though I'll probably get around to reading Lemony Snicket one of these days.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? Usually, I just read until I pass out. But if it's an up-all-nighter kind of a book, I'll make myself stop at a chapter break.

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”? Dude, my degree is in fiction. Also I hate books that start with the character's entire first name, i.e., "Darcy Ann McCraken was a strange girl."

Buy or borrow? I'm poor. But as I said, if I loved the book enough, I'll buy. Go Library Book Sale!

New or used? I don't care. Money is the only concern here. I don't mind if my books get around.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse? At the library book sale, I'll buy anything that looks interesting, because they're a dollar or less. If I'm buying at B&N, I go with what I know: books by authors I love. Otherwise, I take lots of friend and sister recommendations.

Morning, afternoon or nighttime reading? Yes, thank you.

Favourite series? I'm not a big series reader, so I'll have to go with Harry Potter. Ooh, no wait, Lord of the Rings. Or, Harry Potter.

Favourite children’s book? Gah, how could I choose? I love the classics like Where the Red Fern Grows and Bridge to Terebithia, Tuck Everlasting, all the Madeleine L'Engles....And of course Laura Ingalls Wilder...Narnia
And then of course Ramona Quimby and the Judy Bloom ones...oh, hell, I love them all.

Favourite book of which no-one has heard? The Temple of Gold by William Goldman

Favourite books read last year? I did a post about this, but The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, The Time Traveler's Wife, Life of Pi

Least favourite book finished last year? Eh. Stephen King's Cell was not good. I'm sure there were way more. I read A LOT. I did not love Endless Love, though I still think of it often.

What are you reading now? Just finished Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld and started Empire Falls by Richard Russo

What are you reading next? my sister rented the new Amy Tan for me from the library. I'm picking it up this afternoon.

Monday, March 26, 2007

2 years

Every once in a while, something comes out of nowhere and changes your life. It could be a job offer, a dog with great big eyes looking at you from a cage on a Sunday morning, a new friend. For me, it was Thomas, who came when I wasn't looking for him, and who has taught me every day that love has a million faces and a million moods and that I don't need to be any one thing for him to love me.

Two years ago on this date, I married the best man that I have ever known. A man with so much drive and motivation, so much interest in the world--he brings success to everything he touches. Thomas's passions are so varied and so intense and it makes everything interesting. From Jazz to Forteana, he's taught me so many things, and while some of those things became passions for me and some didn't, it's always a fun ride. Thomas has the greatest sense of humor--and he gets my totally weird one. One of the best things I can say for us as a couple is that we have always laughed well together.

This anniversary is important to me because my first marriage didn't make it this far. We split up 2 weeks before making it to the 2 year mark. By that point, daily living was difficult and a future was impossible to imagine. My greatest fear in marrying again was that I would find it just as hard, that there was something in the institution that squashed and mutilated love into a tool that quickly wore out its usefulness. Yet, as Thomas and I have approached this anniversary, I've felt somehow easier with myself and him and our life than ever before. Yesterday morning I woke up early and paced the house in the morning sunshine thinking in total pleasure and amazement, this is my couch. This is my rug. This is my dog and my wafflemaker and that is my handbag. This is my life here in this house with this man and there is nothing I ever hoped for that was better than this.

Happy Anniversary, Thomas.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Good Things

IN the spirit of continuing to post about things that make me happy, here are a few things that have made me smile.

Faux Kate Spade handbag purchased at Goodwill for 1.99

My garden in bloom again.

I'm still on-again off-again, as I'm sure my infrequent and weird posting reflects. Spring is here and I'm loving the good weather and long days. I'm less than a week from an 11 day vacation, and Thomas's and my 2 year wedding anniversary is this coming Monday. I've got plenty to smile about.

Still, I'm struggling to stay on an even keel. The kids are always particularly trying during the week before a vacation, and my gas bill came and it's 300 dollars, because you know, excellent.

It's weird: in the spring I get these crazy urges to do chores. Like, right now, I just really want to mix a big tub of OxyClean and go out and wash the cement in front of the house. Seriously. And I think I'm going to indulge myself in that today. I also crave giving the dogs a bath. And I'm finally feeling ready to tackle the music room wall that has been waiting for a revamp since November. Maybe spring cleaning is a real and actual urge, instead of just something mom's say to get everyone to pitch in once and a while.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Today I Touched An Alligator

You may not know this about me, but I really like to touch wildlife. I have some kind of running inner list of all the things I've touched and today I added several entries: hedgehog, ball python and baby alligator!

Today Animal Planet came to our local Time Warner Cable store with an white bengal tiger, a baby black bear, a small bobcat type thing that I forget the name of, an alligator, hedgehog, skunk, ball python and tarantula. I did not touch the tarantula. I don't know if I'm sorry about that or not.

Last summer, we went with our friends Tom and Christa to the Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, which seems dumb but is totally NOT. It is a really cool aquarium. And they had a touch tank where you could touch rays, just like all aquariums. And I touched the rays and it was cool. They feel like velvet. And then a baby hammerhead shark swam up. I didn't know whether or not I was supposed to touch the shark, so I didn't. Then I found out that I was TOTALLY allowed to touch that shark and I waited and waited for it to come back and it never did. I'm very sad that I had the opportunity to touch a hammerhead shark and did not.

I did once ride an elephant. It was an old, sad elephant at a renaissance fair who had a rug on his back and walked in a circle, but I rode him nonetheless and I'm very glad that I can always say I rode an elephant.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

5 Things You Should Check Out

I've spent so much time in the last couple of months blogging about what makes me miserable. So here is a list of things that have made me very happy this week:

Mental_Floss I cannot get over this magazine. I'm on my 3rd issue and I keep wandering around the house saying to Thomas, "Did you know that quarantine literally means 40 days?" "Did you know that Patton was in the Olympics?" "Did you know that Japanese tourists get so depressed when Paris isn't all they'd hoped that their embassy provides counselling services?"

Fortean Times If you like Mental_Floss, you must check out its weird UK brother, the Fortean Times. I've been reading this for 4 years now--Thomas carries it in his store and brings it home for me every month. Filled with strange facts and phenomena, Fortean celebrates the strange and occult in the news, zoology and UFOlogy.

This Film is Not Yet Rated I saw this last night. Fascinating! I love documentaries and just watched the Academy Award winning Jesus Camp last weekend. Jesus Camp was really good--but this was flat out awesome.

James Kochalka Another awesome find from Thomas's store. James Kochalka is an indie comic artist turned musician who sings hilarious, hilarious songs that are catchy and fun and sometimes bear only a vague familiarity with the right key, but who cares. My favorite album is Danger Force Five, which is actually not on this website (nor is the awesome Don't Trust Whitey--this seems to be a website of his latest projects). We got his new albums on Wednesday and had a James Kochalka listening party on Friday.

Lisey's Story I've been reading Stephen King since I was 11 years old and while there have been a few missteps in the last 20 years, he is my favorite author. (I had to really consider that statement for a few minutes. There are a lot of authors I could claim as my favorite and a lot of authors that would make me look more literary. But I have loved King and wanted to be like him almost all my life. I read all his books before they go to paperback because I can't wait. Yes, he's my favorite). And in Lisey's Story, he's still got it. I was thrown off by the language initially, but by page 100, it was under my skin.

And that wraps up this week's edition of Things I Love.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Good, Bad, Ugly

The Good:

A week ago, my really nice dad sent me flowers to help me out of my horrible depression. My dad rules. Sadly, I was very, very allergic to the flowers and had to put them out on the back porch. They had a big helium balloon attached to them, and the other day I went outside and the balloon was gone. I asked Thomas about it, and he said he had set it free. It made me remember those balloon launches from elementary school and how one day, as I walked home from the bus stop, I actually found someone's balloon. Someone from St. Louis. And so, for like a minute, I had a penpal. It was pretty cool. I don't know anyone else who ever found one.

The Bad:

The allergies seem to be settling in. I would think it was too soon, but then I look back at last year's blog...and no, it's not too soon.

The Ugly:

Ok, I've debated whether or not to post about this, but since Alexa was cool enough to post about it, I'll try. As pretty much all of you know, I've struggled with my weight for a long time. I found out several years ago that I was developing diabetes, and I have a great low-blood-sugar diet that works wonderfully and I started exercising and now I walk 4 miles a day, with my friends Kimberley and Kathy and with my sister . I consider myself a very healthy person. Which is not to say that we don't all also know about my pizza weakness, etc. Well, anyway, last year I lost 35-40 pounds. And I was feeling really good, and I noticed that weird obsessive behaviors that I've always had, like immediately sizing up everyone in the room to decide if I'm the fattest person there had stopped. I didn't get on the scale once during the horrorshow of February. I just felt like, well, I'm not skinny but I'm not horribly overweight any more and I feel good so I just don't care.

But lately I've been feeling like I've been cutting too many corners--I ate bread while I was sick a couple of weekends ago, and things like that. I've been having "bites" of things. And I can feel a difference. So this morning I stepped on the scale to check out the damage.

I've put on 20 pounds.

20! I'm not exaggerating. I've almost totally undone last year in the space of a month. And what's worse is that I just saw my mother. (Every time I think of this the inner hysterics start and I totally fly off the handle).

So, I keep giving myself these stern lectures. NO MORE WINE, I tell myself. EAT MORE REASONABLE PORTIONS. But I'm freaked nonetheless that I could do so much damage without even thinking about it. I kind of just want to hide under the bed.

Monday, March 05, 2007

You May Be Right. I May Be Crazy.

On Saturday, I traveled to Raleigh with my sister to meet my mom and see a Billy Joel show. After some difficulty actually arriving at the RBC Stadium, we found we had awesome floor seats and the show was excellent. And I'm not even that big a Billy Joel fan. You know how sometimes you see someone and you think, "Dude. Time to retire"? Well, not so for Mr. Joel who was in fine voice and sang all the good ones, including We Didn't Start the Fire, which I memorized in the 6th grade because that was just so cool then.

My inner 6th grader was very proud that I could still shout 87% of the lyrics.

As I stood there in the darkness, I realized that I have only been to 6 concerts in my life and 3 of them were with my parents.

Prepare to be absolutely bowled over by how cool I am:

1. NKOTB with Mom
2. Extreme with Dad (yes, my dad took me to see Extreme. ZZ Top opened, if you can believe such a thing. Probably I owe my dad some sort of terrible debt for this.)
3. Violent Femmes (hoping for partial redemption there. They played my college. 700 kids in a field with the Violent Femmes. Someone stepped on my face. It was one of the best nights of my life.)
4. Tracy Chapman
5. Tori Amos
6. Billy Joel with Mom

Yes, folks, I am the most bad-ass person ever. My first time giving Devil Points at a show was seeing Billy Joel with my mom.

Happy Birthday, Mom and Ali!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Thursday: My Second Favorite Day

aka Welcome March! or Get Lost February!

Right, so, Little House on the Prairie.

Why do I never feel like it's the right time to blog about Little House on the Prairie, when Thomas (I'm sure) feels like I ALWAYS think it's time to talk about Little House on the Prairie?

When I was a kid, I hated those books. Boring! Boring! BBBOOOOORRRRINNNG. Seriously.
The only thing I remembered about them from being a kid was when the little boy got stung by all those bees. Cause that kind of freaked me out.

But two years ago I was having trouble finding something to read to my class in the afternoons that would be appropriate for all ages between 4 and 12. So it seemed long and educational, and not too freaky for my little guys, so I started reading it. And totally fell in love. Now it's a staple of my year. I plan it around the pioneers unit and the kids love it. They call it "Mary and Laura Time."

I'm just so fascinated by all that the Ingalls had to endure. And I'm not talking about farming or sleeping on straw ticks. I'm talking about blizzards that last 7 months when you have no food. I'm talking about crossing the country in a wagon having no real idea where you're going or how to know when you've gotten there. Lost crops. Tornados. Malaria. Diptheria. Scarlet Fever. Tell me, how did these people survive? And it makes me proud, in a way, at the ferociousness of those early Americans, that they were brave enough and sure enough of their own abilities to try to go and live where no one else was, to carve what is now our country out of open prairie.

But it's weird too for me as a teacher and as an American to remember that they did so by stealing all that land from the Native Americans. And I try to make my class aware of that. There's a lot of confused sentiment about the Indians in Little House on the Prairie and I try not to gloss over it.

Did you all play Oregon Trail in school? It was this really early computer game in which you picked your family and pretended to be on the Oregon Trail, but you'd be plagued by disaster the whole way. Members of your family would die of sickness and starvation. Your horses would go lame; your wagon would throw a wheel. It's partly that, I guess, that makes me so crazy about LHOTP, just the unlikelihood that they could make it at all, let alone record it so beautifully.

I hope that if there's any kind of afterlife, that Laura Ingalls Wilder knows that a class full of students in 2007 looks forward every day to hearing about her life and that their crazy teacher goes home to marvel at her on the internet.