Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Year in Review

When I think back on this year, I realize so much happened, a lot of it great. So I’m going to list of the few banner moments, along with one or two of the downers because you have to take the good with the bad:

  1. Started a blog (!)
  2. Got engaged
  3. Made it through a year in the Buffalo Public School system
  4. Got a job with a more “compatible” school for me
  5. Put my dog Boo down, who did lead a long and full life
  6. Made new friends
  7. Began planning a wedding
  8. Learned new recipes
  9. Helped friends through good times and bad
  10. Had major personal breakthroughs which will help me personally and professionally, including allowing myself to make mistakes and ask for help

And here are a few personal goals for the year:

  1. Not go crazy planning the wedding
  2. Be a good wife to my new husband
  3. Watch less TV and read more
  4. Be as good a teacher as possible
  5. Keep in touch with my friends
  6. Organize my time better
  7. Do all of these things one day at a time, recognizing that I’ll make mistakes and need help but will continue to try my best
Happy 2007!

Happy Ending

Well, it’s been quite a year. I have to start with a most recent and wonderful final event: On Friday night DF and I went to an engagement party for our friends H and M…and they surprised everyone by getting married right then and there. I found out about two minutes before it happened:

“What’s going on?” (to my friend D, who knew from the start as a co-conspirator and photographer)

“H and M are getting married right now.”






They got married right in the Buffalo Botanical Gardens on the same night as their parents’ 33rd wedding anniversary. She came out in her wedding dress and the groom touchingly cried throughout the ceremony, both of them wearing smiles from ear to ear. Only their siblings knew; even their parents were in the dark. It was so perfect for them…and afterward we all went out to this great barbecue place, Fat Bob’s, to celebrate. I know it may sound crazy, but in a way I find it just right because, as H’s dad eloquently put it, “You’ve been unconventional for 28 years; why should I expect you to change now?” I think my favorite part happened after when she saw me and cried, “Beat ya!”

While my mom, also present, told us to also “take the money and run”, we’re still going to have our regular nuptials on time. First of all, you just can’t duplicate that, and second, we want to go the regular route. Oh, we may be looking for Justices of the Peace in the yellow pages about a month beforehand, but we’ll remain traditional. Don’t worry; your plane tickets will not need refunding! It just meant so much to be a part of something special and surprising…at least to the rest of us. A great way to finish off the year.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Crazy Christmas

This year for Christmas DF and I had what I coined the T&K Christmas Roadtrip Extravaganza 006. A-palooza. No, no a-palooza; that's just ridiculous. In some ways, so was our travel: Because we have so many families to see, thanks to multiple marriages, on Christmas Eve we went to my stepfather's and DF's mother's, and on Christmas Day we went to my mom's, then to my grandmother's, then to DF's dad's, then back to my mom's, and then got to our own place at about 10:30 at night. Bear in mind that to my grandmother's and to DF's father's house took about an hour each. Pant, pant. However, as DF's mother put it, we have lots of people who love us and want to see us, so that's very nice. My mom also complimented us on our energy and trouper-ism (sp?), so we felt properly patted on the head for our six-stop holiday. Plus I received some truly nice family is lovely and generous and thoughtful, so it was a great holiday. DF and I exchanged gifts at 1am on Christmas Eve, having just come home from a party and unable to wait, like two little kids.

You know, even with all of the traveling and spitty rain, we truly did have a good day. I think we realized how much closer DF and I each felt to each other’s families—we’re more comfortable with each other and it just seems more permanent. Not to sound trite, but we’re gaining family and people who love us. It’s a nice feeling.

Hope everyone had a nice day or two off!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Wisdom of Dr. Seuss

Because we’ve had a relatively green winter so far, it hasn’t really felt like Christmas. In Buffalo, we’re used to having to drive through blizzards at almost any time of year, particularly in December, so this has felt odd, to say the least. Mind you, my heating bill is wonderful, but the holiday’s not the same. My perspective was rekindled, however, when DF and I caught the animated “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” on TV a few nights ago. It has become one of my all-time favorite holiday specials—once I got over being terrified of the Grinch when I was little—and it sends a wonderful message. I truly do believe that “Christmas is within our grasp/as long as we have hands to clasp” and “Christmas Day will always be/just as long as we have we”. I think that’s true of any holiday in any religion at any time of year. We tend to forget it in the rush of Cyber Mondays and last minute holiday sales. As long as we’re with someone we love, it’s enough to celebrate.

Thus even though the holidays are frantic and, for me, involve rushing around from house to house and family member to family member, I will try my hardest to remember that I’m doing all of this rushing and moving to be with those I love and who love me.

Happy holidays!

P.S. Did you know that the man who sings the “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch” is the same man who voiced Tony the Tiger?

Grammar Bone to Pick

I was reading the New York Times and found three rather large errors in the same article! Here they are:

“During the 12 years she spent at a San Diego software company, CableData, she held no less than 14 different jobs.”

“When she was nine months’ pregnant with her first son in 1984…”

“ ’I didn’t have a minute to spare, therefore, I don’t think I wasted any minutes.’ ”

Can you tell me what’s wrong with each? Just in case: The first one should be “no fewer than”, the second should have no apostrophe after “months”, and the third sentence should have a semicolon after “spare”. The Times!

BUT there is a happy ending to my story: Upon e-mailing the Times of these egregious errors, a very nice man replied within two hours. He apologized, said he’d send the corrections to the editor, and offered to send me a copy of the NYT Manual of Style and Usage for my classroom! I’ll let you know if I receive it. I have to say, the Times really redeemed themselves there, although somebody should’ve caught the errors.

On that note, my friend L. and I are planning on becoming champions of grammar, Grammar Warriors, if you will. Our alter egos will be Mechanics Maven and Captain Comma. Our boss will be Lynne Truss, and we will travel the world stamping out unnecessary apostrophes, fixing split infinitives, and reminding the world that, while language is “evolving”, as the linguists say, there is still a standard to adhere to, dammit! We could have outfits and secret weapons, like comma-shaped darts to blow at signs where necessary and pens that double as stun guns for rampant abusers of the English language. Anyone who wants to join is welcome. Just don’t tell who I am; as my secret identity I am very mild-mannered and it might shock all who know me.

Dorks—er, Grammarians Unite!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

So Comfy...

This past weekend we went to Target (our favorite place) in search of a warm winter blanket. We expected it to be like any other trip: Go for one thing, come out with about ten things not on the list, nothing special. Little did we know the bounty we were about to receive…. We meandered toward the bedding aisle, stopping at sweaters for DF and shoes, of course, for me. As I turned down the “bedding” aisle, I saw it: The Excalibur of Blankets. A heavenly choir filled the air and light shone down on what mere advertising mortals call the MicroPlush Blanket. I called DF over, tears in my eyes, and we stared in awe at our blanket.

After our nice light blue purchase—and flannel sheets $30 a set!—we hurried home to make the blanket part of our bed and our lives. I kid you not, it is the softest, most comfortable piece of bedding that has ever graced my prone form. Sunday was spent under the covers grading papers. My butt fell asleep, I was in there so long, and I didn’t care. The only downfall is leaving the bed…but it makes night time so much better! I truly think this blanket will help me with time management, because I will try to get my work done so I can climb into bed to get some literal one-on-one with The Blanket. DF’s not a bad part of the whole snuggling bit, either.

Thank you, Target, for making my life better!

Friday, December 1, 2006


Want to relive some of your childhood? Check out the link to see (sing it with me) "1 2 3 4 5, 6 7 8 9 10, 11 12!" I also found "Mahna Mahna" and, for those who remember, "The Ladybugs' Picnic" and the one about the alligator king. If you don't know any of these, check them out and enjoy!

The Coziness of Fall

I wrote this neat little entry about how great Thanksgiving was, and it erased! Short story: To me, Thanksgiving is the holiday that’s most strongly associated with family. It’s about coming home or going to another family member’s house, doing everything you can to be together. For some reason Christmas doesn’t quite have that same ring, maybe because more people use it as an excuse to go away, mainly to someplace warmer, if you’re in the Mid-Atlantic as I am. But Thanksgiving is about staying in, eating great food, and being together. Heck, even the networks realize it: This year marks the first one I can think of where they deliberately did new episodes of shows, probably because they know everyone will be so zonked on turkey tryptophan, they won’t want to do anything else. And who wants to? We deliberately ate a nice, slow, four-course meal, talking between delicious dishes. I’ll throw this out to the rest of you; it’s one of the questions we asked:

If you could have dinner with any person from history, living or dead, who would it be? (I always love that one) Any athlete? Any comedian/actor?

For historical figure, I said I’d like to talk to the chambermaid or the advisor of the famous historical person. I figure they have a perspective nobody else has, and probably have an inside take that the history books don’t. Among us we said Stalin, Benjamin Franklin, Idi Amin, and Johnny Appleseed. Pretty varied and interesting bunch we are, I think.

Tonight winter has finally arrived. We had an absurdly warm week—that crazy week in October was much worse. And then, as if someone had flipped a switch, December 1 the temperature drops, the winds blow, and I know the snow’s coming. Even though it happens every year and we know it’ll be cold until the end of March, everyone still gets excited. I admit I have listened to and belted out Christmas carols in my car—although I think it’s massive overkill that the stations began their 24-hour coverage on November 15. Good lord. But now that it’s December, we’re all going to hunker down, pull out the wool sweaters, cheer the Sabres, and enjoy it. There’s something about being in a warm house listening to the wind whipping outside that makes me feel incredibly cozy and content—and grateful that I have what I do!

Sabres are 19-3-2, going for 20 tonight against the Rangers—and I’m sitting here watching Mystery, Alaska to get ready. Go Sabes!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Practicing What I Preach

At school I always tell my students not to wait until the last minute to do things. I tell them not to wait until Sunday to do all of their work. I even advised them recently to get an hour's worth of work done on Friday so they'll be a little better off later in the weekend.

Procrastination is something I have to fight against every day. I know, you non-procrastinator, type-A people never have any trouble with it and say things like, "Well, why don't you just not procrastinate? It's so easy." I say hah! Hah! It's not easy to kick a bad habit when you've cultivated it and crafted it so well.

However, I've bought something that I think will help: Real Simple makes organizers! Real Simple is my Bible: Just the other day I cleaned my drain with baking soda, vinegar, and boiling water, just as they said. Good bye, backup! But I digress. Real Simple makes an organizer with two different calendars: On one side you can do your home calendar; on the other you can do work/school whatever. This keeps them separate but together all in one. Hooray! Seriously, I'm finding it extremely helpful. Step 2 is keeping it updated but it's so fun that I think I'll do it. That's rudimentary, but it works for me.

Any suggestions you have of keeping your lives organized? I welcome any and all!

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Friends!

I know, it’s been far too long…hope some of you are still reading! During my hiatus, I’ve been thinking about a deceptively simple concept: friendship. People who know me will agree that one of my best assets and failings is that I am unfailingly loyal to my friends. While this means that I’ll always stick up for them and support them as much as I can, it also means I have allowed those I consider my friends to treat me poorly, making excuses for their behavior.

See, I consider the basic tenets of friendship to be loyalty and caring, having similar interests, doing things together, and treating each other well. I realize that’s a simple list, but I think there’s not a lot of complication to being a good friend—there shouldn’t be, anyway. It’s this last part, treating each other well, where I’ve allowed others to take advantage of me in the past. Friends call you back, friends make time for you, friends seek you out not only when it’s convenient. I’ve actually “fired” a few former friends—though ironically, they don’t know it because I haven’t heard from them in so long.

I think I’m sounding too bitter, though, and I don’t mean to. What I’m trying to say is that instead of letting my feelings be hurt by the actions of those whom I considered friends, I’d rather surround myself with those who want to be with me and show me the respect of a friend. I know we all lead busy lives and have hectic schedules, but if we don’t continue to cultivate our friendships, they will go away. It’s a special relationship that has to only be rekindled every few months or so, and it usually springs from having spent a lot of time together in the first place. They do exist, but most are like plants, to use a simple simile. If you don’t cultivate them, water them, look in on them to make sure they’re getting enough tending, they wither and fade. Even a cactus needs to be looked in on every so often.

So, to all my friends out there, I apologize for not having given you something to read in so long. You keep me going every day. You make me happy when I hear your voices and see your faces. You make me a better person. I’ll try to practice what I preach and be better about keeping in touch. I know I’ll hear from you and I know you’re thinking of me even if I don’t see you there. Have a great day and know that I’m thinking of you and I love you all.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006


No, not real rats.

I had this fabulous little post of all these great Google videos to see and the browser for some reason shut down out of nowhere and didn't save a thing! Currently it's 10:45pm and I'm still doing comments so I can get them finished on time to be proofread for Friday, so I will have to put up the post again later, dear readers. I'll probably be here for a few more hours: I will say that they really make you earn your keep at the private schools. Quality takes time!


Tuesday, October 31, 2006


That picture is NOT of one of our rowers. It's just to show what catching a severe crab can look like. Mostly you just get hit in the gut with the oar, which is no picnic, either.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Typical Regatta

...which means the weather was complete doo-doo. It wasn't freezing, but the Head of the Fish was marked by almost torrential downpours the entire day with about ten minutes of no rain. The Parents Association, bless them, brought a tent complete with a tarp floor, tons of food, and two portable heaters. The girls camped out at the driest end, of course, and the adults all stood around and tried to stay somewhat dry. At one point DF set up one of our little camp chairs and simply sat outside with an umbrella over him just to sit down. We're talking several inches deep water in the more saturated spots. It was definitely Head of the Suck again,weather-wise.

However, there were a few shining moments: 1) My sister M. braved awful weather and distant parking to come! She got there just in time to see the novice race, which was the one I really wanted her to. Then she followed me around while I did what I needed to do, although we got some good sister time in. I loved that she showed up--what a trooper. Thanks, sister! You made that day so much more bearable. 2) The novice had an awesome race. They got fifth place out of 22 boats...and that was with the stroke catching such a massive crab (see picture; that doesn't usually happen so severely) that the boat turned almost sideways. Then they had this fabulous recovery and looked so good at the end that spectators doubted they were novices. 3) I realize that if I have to be stuck standing up for a day in the pouring rain, as long as DF is there it's ok. It wasn't just misery loving company; it was that particular company that put a different spin on the whole day. He was helpful, calm, stern when necessary, and made all the novice fall in love with him, I think: I was told that I "made a good choice". I couldn't agree more.

Tomorrow's Halloween and we're all dressing up. My intramural team's color is green, so we're having the one younger male teacher be the Jolly Green Giant and the rest of us will be vegetables. Fortunately I still have my bright green rain suit (remember, SJ?) and I'll do something with that. I tend to create my costumes around comfort. In fifth grade I spent hours painting a box so I could be a package of Juicy Fruit and then realized I could neither bend my arms nor sit down. I could still hold that candy bag with two arms, though. Gotta have priorities.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 26, 2006


This week went by in a flash. I've been so busy...I didn't get quite as much work done as I might have during my week off, I admit (don't judge me) and I've been catching up and trying to get ahead at the same time. Didn't have time to exercise once, getting ready for a huge regatta this weekend, and had to deal with some drama this week. Teenage girls being teenage girls, that's all.

But! Our regatta! In case I have not mentioned this, I coach our little rowing team. We're going to the Head of the Fish this weekend, where the weather is getting worse by the minute, it seems. 100% chance of heavy rain, possible high wind warning (although right now it's just 13mph or so, which is doable)...typical mid-Atlantic regatta weather, in other words. It wouldn't be a regatta if it wasn't hideous weather, waiting to see if the race would even happen...and the Fish turns into Woodstock without the benefits in terms of mud. I remember in college one guy said it should be renamed the Head of the Suck because it was that, just sucky weather. Plus at that time it was totally disorganized so it was a complete logjam of boats launching and landing, and every year somebody collided with someone going down the course.

But it's our novices' first race so I hope they get to do it. They've worked so hard and come so far...I can say without much prejudice that our novice women are the best of all the Buffalo crews, hands down. DF is going too and he's almost more excited than I am. He's got his coach's fleece vest and is ready to rock and roll. I also told him I would take the van with the novice women because I'm used to the high pitches they can achieve. Plus my sister M. will be there--I am so incredibly excited to see her and have her see us in action!

So wish us luck! We'll be drenched but hopefully victorious when we return.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Finally, pictures!

Who knows when my video will show up? I found some pictures instead: If you really want details, go to Click on "View Slideshow". These are pictures of my actual street and the surrounding area. Picture #20 is my car! And if you keep looking, you will even see me! Another site is: The streets mentioned are around my neighborhood.

Crazy. And here's a completely girly comment: Why is it so hard to find a pair of fun, formal, go-out shoes? I was looking on-line and there were at the same time too damned many and not enough. The best part was looking under the wedding category and finding these gorgeous babies (see left). I am not going to question too deeply why these were on the wedding page. If you notice the little notch right below the toes? That's where you put money in. I'm not kidding. And P.S., I know DF's really tall, but I am not wearing them to make up for the height differential.

I could write an entire blog about shoes. Any and all comments are welcome on shoes. Although it makes me sad that my little map of readers is so small. Feathernester, who do you have reading your blog in India? Or northern Canada? You're global, baby!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Technical difficulties and other musings

OK, I tried to upload my video to Google Video but it failed. You'll have to live with the other links I put up for now!

Know what the best part of all this madness has been? I've seen my friends and family almost every day. Friday and Saturday night we hung out at our friends D & D's house with their absolutely adorable 2 year-old, G. G is the smartest, sweetest little guy I've ever seen and everyone on the block loves him. The garbage men specifically stop during their route so they can say hello to him. He loves dinosaurs and can name them properly by sight. He's amazing. I know I'm digressing, but he makes it so easy to digress because he's just so awesome.

Anyway, Sabres games both Friday and Saturday evening so D & D, having both heat and cable, invited us all over to watch. It turned into potluck, since we didn't want to infringe too much on their hospitality, and we just had such a nice time. The next night was even better, since we all brought food and my Weight Watcher potato-zucchini pancakes were a huge hit! I felt so gratified. :-) My friend H. brought W.W. spinach-artichoke dip, D & D made chicken parm...and the Sabres won both nights! What could be better? That's what it's all about, friends and family coming together, strangers helping each other move branches, shovel snow, move cars, and carry bags. My brother and his girlfriend and their two dogs have spent the last two nights here and I'm so glad to have them and not worry that they're cold, using candles and flashlights!

And you can't believe how much destruction is still around. I can't believe my camera's not working, because words can't describe it. I'll try, though: Picture your backyard, your street, a park in your neighborhood filled with trees. Picture your favorite tree-lined street, the one that looks gorgeous all shaded in the summer. (Feathernester, use Colgate or something if AZ doesn't give the right mental picture!) Now picture every single one of those trees with at least half their branches either on the ground or bent like a drugstore bendy straw down to the ground. And make sure in your head all those trees have leaves on them. Some suburbs got hit so badly that schools are closed for the rest of the week. I'm sure I'll be back tomorrow, but I know some of our students won't make it in. I'm going to try to make it a "teachable moment" if I can.

I know my posts have all been about the same thing, but nothing like this has ever happened before in Buffalo. It's worse than the famed Blizzard of '77, which everyone who remembers still talks about, because there's much more destruction. It'll affect all of us for a long children will be my age before the trees really get back to what they were and even then it won't be the same. But if it's only beauty that was destroyed, then we're lucky because we can get that back. One thing's for sure, Buffalo knows how to fight back and regroup, whether it's a failed Super Bowl or a major storm. It's one thing that makes me proud to live here.

Oh! And here's the potato-zucchini pancake recipe:

2 large russet potatoes, peeled and shredded (about 2 cups)
2 medium zucchini, shredded (2 cu.)
1 tsp. salt
1 large egg
3 scallions, sliced
2 tbsp. A-P flour
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon, crumbled
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
4 tsp. light sour cream (optional)

  • Toss the potatoes, zucchini, and salt in a medium bowl; let stand 10 min. Squeeze out the liquid and discard. Add the next 5 ingredients into the mixture.
  • Heat 1/4 tsp. of the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over med. heat. Drop in about 2 tbsp. of the mixture, flatten with a spatula, and cook about 6 min. per side (add more oil as needed). Repeat until all mixture is used.
  • NOTE: If you just have one large zucchini, get rid of the seeds as they may make it bitter.
*I used Bob Evans seasoned hashbrowns to avoid peeling and shredding potatoes, vegetable oil instead of olive oil, and minced white onion because I had no scallions. Also interspersed no-fat Pam with the oil during the cooking. I think the seasoned hashbrowns really made them tasty; we didn't even need sour cream.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Snow Day in October

I'm lucky I even have power; something like 400,000 people have none and it won't come back on until at least Monday if not later. It looks like a disaster area--that picture from the news is only a smidgen of what things look like. I'm going to try to upload the footage I took: I went out with my video camera because I couldn't begin to use words to explain things. Check back later and I'll have it up.

Our street is just littered with branches and fallen trees. I woke up at 3am Thursday night to go shake off one of my landlady's trees; she lost the other one. There was thunder and lightning, and you just heard limbs cracking and crashing to the ground throughout the night. One did fall on my car--dented the roof like crazy but I think it's still drivable, once they get the roads cleared of our TWO FEET of snow and countless tree limbs. I kid you not--it looks like the Apocalypse out there. There's a driving ban, and people were trapped on the Thruway (Rte. 90) since Thursday night at 11pm and didn't get moving again until sometime Friday afternoon due to a jackknifed tractor trailer.

Friday morning DF and I were like little kids on a Saturday morning: Even though we didn't have to go to work, we were up and outside by 7:15, headed to Latina (grocery store) to get supplies. Thankfully they were open, and I think the rest of Buffalo quickly depleted them of basic supplies and beer. Everyone was outside pulling up branches, headed to someone else's house to play games and get some heat, shoveling.... It was unbelievable. Nothing's going to get any of this moved but chainsaws and hard labor. A number of places don't even have water and my dad just told me he's bailing out his sump pump every three hours so it doesn't overflow.

The problem was that since none of the trees have lost their leaves, much less even changed color, the incredibly wet, heavy snow was too much for everything and the trees couldn't stand the weight. I heard on The Weather Channel that the snow weighs 12lb. per square foot, which probably explains why none of the trees could take it. If you click on that link right now, you can see a brief slideshow of pictures from Buffalo. Here's an article, too, about the Buffalo snow.

I call it Friday the Thirteenth: Winter's Revenge.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Autumn Leaves...Literally

So today's weather called for high 40s, rain, fall stuff. Around 1pm it began wet snowing. A little weird, right? Well, it's 7:30 and it's STILL SNOWING. Yes, it's on the ground. We have about three inches of wet, heavy snow. You can hear branches breaking off the trees up and down my street. I tried to get a picture with my video camera (my digital camera's not working...sniff). The problem is that since the trees all still have their leaves (some haven't even changed colors yet), the combo of that and the snow are snapping branches right and left. A large one's already fallen in our yard and I just moved my car in the hopes that anything else that comes down will miss it. At least we still have power at my place....I wonder if they'll cancel school tomorrow? Snow day in early October? Cool! Wait, no, cold!

I'll see if I can't post the pictures in a little while. I'm off to carefully walk to Just Pizza and get dinner. Wish me luck! I promise I'll walk in the street.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Freaky Friday

Quick Friday post: I promised myself I wouldn't write bad things about my job, and while this is not bad per se, it's frustrating. I had a girl get sick in class (she has something chronic--she didn't throw up or anything). While I walked down the hall to get another adult to help with her, another girl up and fainted, falling right out of her chair. Girls shrieking, calling for me, anyone, minor mayhem. AND did I mention that this was happening a) during a test and b) while two girls were shadowing (looking at our school for next year)? Yikes. Let's just say that they won't forget THIS visit.

But everyone's ok: The first girl went home, the second came back after she'd gotten herself together, we postponed the rest of the test, and I advised them not to make it the latest bit of trauma-drama but instead to just be calm about what happened. They're all nice kids; they leapt to the one girl's aid when she fainted. I'm just glad everyone was ok, we got things under control quickly, and the girls all handled themselves pretty well.

It's a sunny fall day--can't wait to get out on the water for crew this afternoon!

Five Senses Friday:

Sound: Singing the school song in morning meeting

Sight: My landlady's old dog, Twiggy, rolling over for a tummy rub

Taste: The complimentary dessert platter we had last night out to dinner: two kinds of creme brulee and tempura-battered cheesecake! I don't even LIKE cheesecake and I liked this.

Touch: Warm slippers on a crisp fall evening

Scent: Just-cooked butternut squash and pear soup I made the other night-mmm!

Tonight's the home opener for the Sabres. GO SABES! (the picture is the old logo but the new image looks kind of like a cross between a banana slug and a large gold eyebrow.)

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Canadian theme

So we went to Stratford earlier this week to see Twelfth Night, and it was terrific! The town itself is so neat and picturesque, and my friends and I spent almost half an hour in the coolest toy store ever. We had to force ourselves to leave because we were getting too involved in the cute stuffed animals, including this awesome stuffed frog that came with flies you could stuff in its mouth (cute, not gross) and then pull out of its tummy. It was all very sweet, including the noises it could make: a "ribbit", the flies buzzing, and, best of all, a giant belch from the frog after eating the flies. I wish I could find a picture of it! And the other cool place was Ten Thousand Villages, this amazing store which has items created by artisans from all over the world. The best part is that it's all fair trade: The artisans directly benefit from the sales, "disadvantaged producers", as the site says. It's a lot of carved wood and onyx, clothing, instruments, jewelry: all beautiful stuff. And there's actually one where I live, which I was shocked by. We don't usually have such terrific cultural stores.

Oh yes, the play! Very neat: Theater in the round, a sort of Arabian motif which meant colorful costumes for half the cast; the other was dressed in traditional English garb (they did colonize India for many years). Great acting, deceptively simple sets, good time all-around. And I have to say our students behaved beautifully, which is more than I can say for the schoolgirls behind us talking, putting their feet up on the chairs, and even playing with the hair of our girls who sat in front of them. Some people just don't get that they're not in their own living room. Aside from that, we had a good day. Plus I played Strict Teacher when I made them take out Scary Movie 4 in the bus on the way home; they were laughing like crazy but so much of it was so inappropriate that I couldn't condone our showing it to them. As I said, they'd all seen it and they could watch it on their own time. Just really puerile and gross humor. I didn't know I was such a square, but apparently molding young minds has become a quest. We watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off instead, which they didn't like as much, but what they didn't know was that it was kind of the secret teachers' choice. Hah!

And last night: Sabres beat Carolina in their first game of the season! In your face, Stanley Cup winners! We know who the REAL winners are...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

School work and underwear

One group of my students is complaining that I don't work them hard enough. Oh, really? Well, I can change that noooo problem. I lecture too much in class. I asked a question today that could have sparked a fun discussion, I think (Why do we wear costumes and uniforms? What's the difference? Is there one?) and a few girls answered and then it fizzled flat as a hot soda pop. So I had to lecture! Jeez! What do they want from me?!? My little froshies love me. Sniff. Maybe the others are still comparing me to last year's teacher, who's hard to live up to in some respects. I think it'll get easier when I can get them with Catcher in the Rye. That's certainly got a lot to talk about.

But next week we go to Stratford (Canada, not England) as a school to see a Shakespeare play and apparently it's a lot of fun. Mind you, it does include me on a charter bus with about 40 freshmen for 3 hours each way, but hey--that's why we have iPods and grownups to talk to. And DVD players.

Oh, and this was bizarro today: For some reason I can't quite figure out, we had a short presentation today in the chapel (our meeting place) on antique clothing. I guess it was historically significant and kind of nice not to have the run-of-the-mill boring assembly, and the girls did ooh and ahh over the clothes, which were those of a wealthy woman who lived during the early 20th century. Admittedly there were some beautiful and intricate dresses. I did have to laugh, however, at the zeal with which these women described hat pins and buttons. "Lovely, just lovely to wear to a tea party." But the fun part (and I use that in broad terms) was the description of the lingerie. This woman really knows her stuff--did you know that before the mid 1850s women wore nothing from the waist down under their clothes? Then they moved on to these drawers (see picture) which are split in the middle so if a woman needs to pee in the woods, she just squats and does her business--and when the woman said this, she mimed squatting right in the middle of the chapel. I think some of the male teachers had out-of-body experiences at that point. The best part was her asking what the underwear was called today and the gym teacher calling out, "Thongs!"...and then this same woman telling us she wore white cotton panties. You can't get THAT at a co-ed school.

Totally different note: Don't you love fall? There was that cool dark, cloudy sky last night and terrific wind...the kind of weather you don't get at any other time of the year. It's my absolute favorite. Makes me want to go apple picking! Yum!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sorry about the wait!

Now, I know that not everyone is waiting with baited breath to read this, but I do know I owe you some decent blogging. Or at least some blogging. Last week I was up to my eyeballs in papers I hadn't graded/handed back--I just didn't realize how much time it would take, nor how much MORE time it would take because I didn't organize my time well. Well, now that I've made the mountain into a few small, manageable piles, my life is not such a RAGING BALL OF STRESS.

So now I can write about how I still love being at my job and I'm still exhausted but the quality of life is 100 times better than it was last year when I was making more but dealing with degenerates on a daily basis.

Two of my biggest challenges are meeting the standards of the students, parents, and myself (and nobody's harder on me than me) and answering the myriad nitpicking questions of my students. As for standards, I was getting used to the pace; hence the piles of grading, and I just had this suspicion that everyone thought I was a slacker (or a laggard--one of our vocab words)and just not quite competent enough to get things done. My sophmores had this teacher who was a dynamo last year and got everything back in two seconds with tons of comments and a lot of them had him on this pedestal that I'm not even going to try to ascend to. I know I'm good at what I do, so I need to remember that...and always be on top of everything as much as I can. I don't care who you are; kids know when you're unprepared. Didn't you, as a student? You knew when the teacher hadn't done anything for class because they were floundering around and then gave you Sustained Silent Reading for the rest of the period. I would never do this...but I'm sure I'll be tempted. Plus it's a place where you're supposed to be all available to the kids at any time and I feel as though I'm committing a felony when I shut my door. Now, most of this probably comes from my own little mind, but the paranoia has to come from somewhere. Right? Right?

Now, the questions. THE QUESTIONS! No, none of us will get smarter unless we ask questions. I just said that to them last week. It's true. That being said, please do not ask me a a question when I am obviously headed into the bathroom. Let me pee! I swear I'll answer your question about how many paragraphs the summary has to be when I am finished peeing! And please, please let me finish talking before you ask the question I have just answered. That's not to say that I don't absolutely love it when they ask a legitimate question regarding our literature that shows critical thinking. I just have to remember that I am dealing mostly with

I think the one thing I have to remember at a girls' school is that there is lots of DRAMA. I call it trauma-drama because it is simply all-consuming and how could I possibly do my work when I am upset with someone for what they might have done to me in fourth grade? I think I need to call my mom and go home. DF and I are having boys. All boys. Who don't talk.

Ah! And I just found out that the sophomores are complaining that I don't give them enough comments on their papers and they want to work faster than the other classes. You want more work? Oh, I can accommodate that. No problem. More discussion in class? Fine; that means less lecture for me! That's what I like anyway; I prefer not to sit on high and run things.

Now, who thinks being a teacher is easy? It's rewarding and fun and amazing, but easy? Maybe not.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A funny for the day

Here're a few of the sentences one of my students came up with. We were doing grammar using participial phrases like "Gasping for breath, she came to the surface."

"Jumping into the air, the elf couldn't help celebrating making his first toy."

"After bringing sexy back, Justin Timberlake was so tired he had to take an afternoon nap."

I assume this was based on his saying he had done this--and Prince getting angry, saying sexy had been around for quite a while, thank you. Do you see now how, even though I'm tired, I'm so excited that I get to have this kind of interaction with my students every day? It's the best.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Getting into the swing of things

I'm beat, kids. Beat. Right now I should be grading my umpteen papers but instead I'm venting a bit before the bell rings and I head out for crew practice. Again, don't get me wrong, I love being here. The students are enthusiastic and bright and always make me think. Call me crazy, but I love it when a student asks a question about a book that I can't legitimately answer; I love it when they make me think. It's a fantastic way to spend my day, actually getting to do what I was trained to do instead of babysitting and comparing notes on who got suspended today.

However, I am not used to the pace yet and I am exhausted. DF has been wonderful and supportive and I don't know how I would be doing any of this without him. Also, in case you didn't know, September is Schmooze the Parents month, at least for the first two weeks. Last night was Parents' Night and once I stopped talking a mile a minute and relaxed, things went fine. Don't give 'em time to ask questions--that's the key! But apparently I came off ok and have passed that first judgment, so that's a relief. Plus afterward my boss paid for dinner, so you can't fault that.

The best part? I GOT MY LICENSE PLATES! I can drive my car!!!!! Last night was gross and rainy, too, so I was deeply relieved not to have to zip around on my trusty little bike. I'll still trot it out, but I was wearing a short skirt and heels today (I do that about once a week; the rest of the time it's flats or the fabulous Dansko clogs) and was glad to have a car to get into instead of cramming my clothes in a plastic bag and changing once I got to school. No more Clark Kent moves.

But the bell just rang, so I'm going to correct some more papers before I drive a small bus full of happy, screamy freshmen girls to practice. One more parent meeting tonight and then I think I'm done with those for a while--whew.... I promise my posts will be more varied soon!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Let me just catch my breath

So I survived my first week of school relatively unscathed. I'm exhausted, yes, but not one student has cursed at me or in my presence (although I did overhear someone in the hall--shame, shame) and almost all of them have shown up. Additionally, they all do their work and ask questions about the homework! It's like heaven, as compared to last year. And not one of them has asked me for something to write with.

The biggest thing for me is figuring out how to schedule my own time. As DF's father said, I'm totally out of shape for this kind of teaching, IE real, actual teaching. I've got papers up the wazoo but that's just part of the deal--I just need to schedule myself properly and make sure I can get everything done, coach crew from 4-6, and maybe get to bed before 11:30. September is the busiest month, too, with all of these parent thingies at night to show them the school, how great we are, etc., etc. All necessary but boy howdy am I going to make good use of 1) the microwave and 2) the crock pot.

And tomorrow....I GET MY CAR BACK! Well, the plates, technically. Thank God--I do really like riding my bike, but I wasn't looking forward to hauling around in the rain. This also means I can bring my nice new rug to school. The one I have now is actually one I removed because of its brown 70s color and ratty edges. Just not nice-looking for the parents, my dear. It simply won't do.

Ah, but it's 3:23 and I have to get ready to head to practice! Yikes! More when I get a free thirty seconds.

Happy Monday, everyone, and my thoughts go out to those who have special reason to remember September 11, 2001.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Fat? Thin? Muscular? What????

Feather Nester's post makes me feel so much better: I have gained weight in terms of muscle in my legs and I CAN'T FIT INTO ANY OF MY PANTS. I almost cried. Oh, wait, I did, broke down sobbing in bed because I thought I was fat. I may also be eating too much. Solution? Toning, working inside my "fat burning" zone more than cardio, and doing Pilates. I don't mind the muscle so much; it's more that I simply don't have the money to buy all new pants and skirts. So I guess I have to tone down some of the bulging, massive, exaggerated muscle I have created and just go for scary Lisa Rinna skinny-toned. Maybe not.

I feel it's almost unfair: I get myself all healthy and strong and then I can't wear my clothes! This means more skirts, which is pretty and all, but makes it harder to ride the bike to and from work. Just a few more days of that, people! I'm going to try to keep riding to work as long as I can, especially since my schedule has me home after 6pm four nights a week--then I get to grade stuff, lesson plan, and, oh yeah, eat. But I'll save that for a later post. I do like being able to exercise and I guess the bike is one small way to get it done.

So what to do? I do like the muscle but realize it might not be fiscally possible to sustain it. Who knew these parts of life were so intertwined? Although I always like an excuse to do some shopping....

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Try Again

I'm just trying something short to see if it works, since I've had error messages every time I've tried to post in the last two weeks.

Today is my first day at my new school and with 20 minute classes and students who are actually attentive, it's a nice change from Ghetto High of last year. Of course I've already had one student give me some story about "Wait, we had another summer reading assignment other than the one that took me ten minutes?" I gave her until Friday and then found out she does this a lot, so it's her one get-out-of-jail-free card. She doesn't know this, but she will.

Girls' schools are very shrill. Lots of energy, lots of noise, most at a high pitch. Right now the students are taking pictures and having meetings, and I'm taking the opportunity to calm down, catch my breath, and start grading things. This is going to really whip my procrastinating butt into shape!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Perceptions of Self

I'm beginning to realize, once again, how important my image is as a teacher. We began crew practices last week and I met a bunch of the students, many of whom I will be teaching in a few short weeks. The thing is, I never would've seen my old Buffalo Public School students in any place I truly cared about. Maybe in my car as I drove by a bus stop, but that's it. I switch to a little private girls school and what happens? Not one day after the first crew practice I go to a concert (great free concerts in the summer here) and when I happen to have two beers in my hands, three of them walk by. Sigh. Not that I can't drink, but it looks...not so hot. I am excited to get with students who actually care, however. Plus--listen to this--the chick from downtown who's head of English told me that I got bumped for a contracted teacher, so I wouldn't have been going back to my old school anyway! I guess things happen the way they do for a reason.

Different note, same idea of image: I have to confess I bought the Winsor Pilates DVD. You know the infomercial, the one where the celebrities talk about how they lost inches off their waists and can now fit into clothing they wore in middle school?

I called within the “next twelve minutes”, so I got the whole thing for $10 (plus S&H, of course). With a wedding coming up and a dress to fit into, I figure if 20 minutes of concentrated pilates a day can help, why not give it a shot? Plus with all this biking I’m doing, I know I’m getting extra exercise. I have grand plans of riding the bike to work in the morning until it gets too cold or too sloppy out; hopefully I can stay true to this. I’m inspired by my youngest sister, C., who walked almost an hour to work and ran home to train for a half-marathon. But that girl is dedicated; I often try to take a leaf out of her book when it comes to focusing on getting work done. There’s a reason why she went through Yale with a terrific GPA.

So those are my image thoughts, although when it comes down to it, the most important image is the one I have of myself as a healthy person who does the best she can for herself and those around her.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Blast from the Recent Past

Today I had a rather bizarre experience: My ex is in the army and is trying to join the Department of Defense, and they needed to talk to me as part of a background check! Obviously I can't divulge the details but they asked all sorts of questions, from what activities he liked to do right down to asking me to describe his character. As I remember, he'd wanted to join for quite some time, so good for him. Honestly, I think he'll do a fine job. It was rather strange to recount my entire relationship with some federal agent guy I'd never laid eyes on before, but hey, I'll do my part for our country.

Five Senses Friday:

Sight: Three squirrels playing around a pine tree trunk about six feet up.
Sound: Those same squirrels running repeatedly around said tree while chasing each other.
Smell: Fresh basil in our backyard little garden.
Taste: The zucchini bisque I made for lunch.
Touch: The feel of my pretty party dress! Girly, I know-I didn't even wear it; I just tried it on for fun.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Different View

I briefly posted my car woes and then my sister advised me to take it down...Who knows if a student will read this one day and then I look like I'm irresponsible? So, yes, I am without car right now and I have to say that I do like riding my bike. It's a whole different world and it really makes you aware of your surroundings. I never realized how many people in Buffalo do ride...although there is a worldwide movement called Critical Mass who only ride bikes as a way of saving the environment, etc., who have a Buffalo contingent. I'll also say that Europe is MUCH more bicycle-friendly. When I lived in Germany, the bike path was right next to the sidewalk and went throughout the cities. There were so many bikes that all you had to do was lock your wheel to the frame; nobody was going to steal it otherwise. Anyway, I have enjoyed the wind in my face, the extra exercise, and the chance to look around my neighborhood. I may continue to ride to work in the fall, until the weather gets bad. I'm just trying to figure out how to transport "work clothes" so they're not wrinkled and/or wet. Ideas?

So this weekend DF and I went to a wedding in southern Erie county. His future best man, Dean, got married on the family property out in the woods. The bride wore a simple white sundress, adorned with his family's (Scottish) tartan and arrived by hand-made canoe at the dock of the large pond near the house. They married on the dock with the sun overhead, we all blew bubbles as the bagpiper led us back to the house, and we all danced and drank the night away. It was so relaxed: Everyone changed into comfy clothes after a while, there was a bonfire with s'mores, we saw the meteor shower, dogs and children ran through our legs, and a number of us stayed the night in tents pitched around the property. Just such a pleasant weekend. I'm still exhausted, but it just reminds me that, while my wedding will be more formal, I still want that fun, relaxed atmosphere. Next weekend we have another wedding, so I'll have to see how it compares. Oh, and the DJ was great, but DF and I have sworn there will be no Celine Dion or Shania Twain at our wedding. SJ, does that remind you of sophomore year, when we banned Celine and Oasis, I believe, from our room? ;-)

Now it's back to reality: Lesson planning, cleaning our messy little apartment, and grocery shopping. Somehow this weekend we began talking about how great it would be to have a personal sherpa to carry all of our stuff. Do they have those, personal sherpas? My sherpa would carry all my school stuff to and fro. I always seem to have lots of stuff to carry. And where, where is the maid to do all the cleaning? Oh yes, she's typing this.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Wedding Musings

I went to a wedding last night, my friend's sister, E. E looked absolutely beautiful, and the weather couldn't have been better, considering how gross and humid it's been. Outdoor setting overlooking farm country, gorgeous tent with terrific band, everything was great. I think my mom lent some levity to the family because she began crying as the MOB, a close friend of hers, began walking toward us, and was in full waterworks as E and her father came along. He even stopped to laughingly offer her a handkerchief. I think Mom did her own little part in keeping the bride from tearing up herself, so way to go, Mom. One neat thing the reverend did was to have the bride and groom turn to face the guests, having them really look at everyone to see who came and talked about how all these people loved them and wanted to share in their special day. I thought that was pretty cool. And yes, now I want a bagpiper at my wedding. I doubt I'll actually have one, but it was cool.

The one damper was that DF couldn't be there. I realize that if you're attending a party where you don't have single friends to keep you company, going to a wedding-type event can be significantly different if your significant other isn't there. It's almost a rite of passage for me: Mostly gone are the parties where the group of girls and guys went together and everyone danced with everyone. Oh, sure, if you've got a close bunch there you still have a lot of fun, but the slow songs become the time when you hit the bathroom or grab a drink. This was definitely the case last night: My other single friend and I hung out and I danced a few dances with groups, but I didn't have a group of buddies to run around with. Plus DF is a fabulous dancer and he would've been spinning me all over that dance floor. And I had such a nice, twirly skirt on! Rats. So I guess this is a sort of roundabout tribute to T: It just wasn't the same without him. I had fun, but not as much. However, we have wedding to attend on the next two weekends, so I think he'll make up for it.

Next question: Salsa band, DJ, or regular band who also play songs everyone knows? And what the hell do I give for favors?

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Fun with Friends and Family

I just had the nicest weekend! My sister M. and her very nice boyfriend C. were in town and we spent the weekend at my parents' place in Eden (it's really called that), which is about 30 minutes away from me, yet it seems like an entirely different planet. They're in the country, complete with a pond and a swimming hole down the road. Basically we ate amazing food, cooked primarily by Mom's husband R. and boyfriend C. (although Mom and I made killer pizzas for lunch, I must say), and drank refreshing cocktails made primarily by my DF. He does a mean Bloody Mary--and I didn't even used to like Bloody Marys. Yum.

I think what made it so great was the completely relaxed atmosphere of the whole weekend. If you wanted to read, you read. If you wanted to play golf, you played golf. DF and I hit the watering hole (pictured above), which was made a lot more exciting due to heavy rains making the waterfalls so strong you could duck under them and sit watching this cascade directly in front of you. I don't think we turned on the stupid TV once. Instead we played games and just enjoyed each others' company. What could be better? Now all that needs to happen is for my sisters to finally move back home so we can do weekends like that more often!

I realize that the most fun I have with others is always when we entertain each other in some way. I'd rather have a game night with some music than do a movie or a loud bar any time. On that note, my friends and I are thinking we need to start having theme parties. We've collectively been to these themes: Gatsby, Ugly Shirt (prize for the "best"), Bring Your Own Wine (also prize for the best), and my sister M. and her boyfriend C. are thinking of doing a 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall party where they actually put 99 bottles of beer on the wall...and take one down and pass it around...until all are gone. Yikes. Any suggestions for others?
Above is the view from the top of our hike! Below is Mom's dog, Amos.

Friday, July 28, 2006


So I know, I've been busy. My old public school didn't make me do a whole lot; at the private school, they really expect you to perform and teach. Thus I've been reading many books, trying to figure out lesson plans, and finding sites that kids might plagiarize papers from so I can catch them at it. It bothers me that there's a growing attitude of, "Oh, well, everybody does it and it's so hard to catch them that we'll just let it go...." Fortunately that is NOT the case where I'm going to be working. I've never understood when or why we all became such defeatists and pushovers when it came to doing what you weren't supposed to. This goes for running red lights as well.

But this weekend my sister M and her nice BF are coming for the weekend so I expect a lot of fun and wedding talk--not that wedding talk can't be fun, but I assume we'll do other things as well. My parents have a great place out in the country complete with a pond, a gorgeous view, and lots of little places to explore. It's a terrific getaway and they're thinking about building a pool to entice future visits from future grandkids (none in the making yet).

So if any of you have any strong opinions or thoughts about the books Fahrenheit 451 or Catcher in the Rye, please let me know. I'm always open to ideas!

Oh yes, Five Senses Friday (thanks again, Ouiser)

Taste- the 5 cent lemonade I bought from little kids down the street
Sight- My own classroom, ready to be organized for the year
Sound- The pounding rain very early this morning
Smell- That slightly chemical "new clothes" smell of my new work skirt
Touch- The feel of a comfortable pair of heels--also for work (Payless! $20!)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Power Struggle

I have to thank Ouiser for this, because I think it was James Bond's Die Another Day in which I heard the quote "There is no such thing as good or evil; there is only power and how you wield it." And I wondered, is that true? Is being good just having the power to say no to bad things and do what's best for yourself and others? And then I wondered, does absolute power corrupt, absolutely? I mean, limitless power usually leads to evil doings, as history has shown us time and again.

I guess I don't think that power denotes whether we're good or evil, but it certainly does influence it. Haven't powerless people done good things? Even if it's something small, it can still be good. And there's always talk in movies and books of how one uses power; to quote another movie, "With great power comes great responsibility." I doubt that that originally came from Spiderman, but hey, it still works. If you want to look at it in the superhero genre, that's the gist of any comic book: two groups or beings have power and have to decide what to do with it. Do they save the world or try to destroy and manipulate it for their own gains? Do you use the Force or turn to the Dark Side? (I had to throw that in.)

With real people, it's a lot more tenuous. I suppose it has to do with who gets power in the first place. It goes right back to seventh grade and the popular kids wielding the power to make everyone's life around them great or hellish and continues for the rest of our lives. I'm not saying that my classmates were evil, but some of the things they did were. I know a lot of those kids haven't changed since then; it seems to me that those who were considered good but weak ended up gaining the most in the end...if they managed to realize that those seventh grade creeps had no power over them or who they were as people.

I didn't mean for this to get so cyclical but that's the nature of the question, I suppose. What do you think? Is it a question of power? Or just good and evil? Or a combination of both?

It really IS the best medicine

I was just talking to my mom on the phone and we ended up laughing so hard neither of us could speak. It's nothing I'll even bother explaining; very much the kind of thing where it gets lost in the telling. It might garner a chuckle from an outsider. Don't you love those moments, when something mildly funny just catches you a certain way and you can't stop laughing? My one sister and I get like that sometimes...and then the one sister's laughing makes the other laugh and it just keeps going until we're exhausted. There's nothing like a really great, gut-busting, asthma-inducing bout of laughter.

This is also why my family doesn't always like going to movies with me: I will guffaw loudly and heartily at anything I think is funny, including pathetic movie previews. I'm proud to say that I got the majority of the theater laughing when we saw Paris Hilton running in slow-mo in her lacy pink bra during the House of Wax preview. I mean, come on. I couldn't help it. This is also why I have always appreciated Julia Roberts' laugh: It is completely unforced and takes over her whole body.

So what makes you laugh? What certain lines or memories always bring up a chuckle? I'm going to have to figure a few foolproof ones out so I don't bawl my way down the aisle as I get married. I'd rather go laughing than crying, but it'll probably be both, which is why they invented waterproof mascara.

As my sister says, the best jokes are the ones not everybody gets.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Come to the Dork Side

I've considered myself a bit of a dork for quite some time now. I think I figured it out in seventh grade when I had that wonderful experience where your best friend dumps you for no good reason and you figure out who you want to be from there. Very life-changing, seventh grade. But honestly, I realized my true friends were ones whom I could count on, who liked me for me, and who I didn't have to pose for. I realized being popular meant I was acting like someone I wasn't, and that it was a stressful waste of time. If my friends were slightly dorky, too, it just meant I was among those who understood me. This was still true at my ten-year high school reunion when I got to see who had moved on and become their true selves and who was still stuck in high school mode.

My friend L and I figured out in college that we were about three very important steps away from being grade-A, five-star dorks: We liked that nerdy stuff but had enough social skills to move amongst regular people. As I put it, I like the occasional witty "Weird Al" Yankovic song... but I wouldn't go to a concert. I was psyched to see the LOTR (Lord of the Rings, for you cool kids) trilogy on opening night...but I didn't go to the midnight showing dressed in costume. There's a fine but important distinction. It's the reason I think I connected so well with Drew Barrymore's character in Never Been Kissed: I'd kind of been there.

We've all been there, on one side or another. The big question is, How do you live your life from there? Do you get enough self-confidence to embrace your inner dork, being true to yourself, or do you run with the cool crowd and live in the pressure-cooker? This doesn't actually change over time; it just rearranges itself into new patterns. Even my mother, about five years ago, was at a conference with her husband and the other wives ditched her to go shopping without her. Now, I can say that my mom is a terrific person and someone who would never do that to someone else, and those women were just spiteful and mean and immature. But it still didn't make her feel any better at that moment. What you have to remember is that if you're true to yourself, you can't go wrong. You'll have friends who love you for you, who are dorky themselves and know those Monty Python lines, too. It's also easier to say no when someone tries pressuring you to do something you don't want to.

I'm saying this partly to myself because right now it's 11pm on a Saturday night and I'm home alone, DF having met friends for drinks after dinner (which I said was perfectly OK). I opted to come home: I was tired and didn't plan to have any more to drink, so I figured I'd head back and get comfy. But I worry: Should I try to be more social? Wouldn't it be nice if I made the effort to stay out and chat and not head home to the confines of my house? DF, ever a wonderful man, told me that he admired that I have the strength to know when I want to stay and when I want to leave, and that I don't feel pressured to stay out just to stay out. I worry that I'm boring and don't try hard enough--which he vehemently denies being true. I've never been one to stay out late: In college I always got violently ill if I drank too much, and I just get to a point where I think, "OK, I've talked as much I want to talk, I've drunk as much as I want to drink, and this is no longer interesting." I can push myself if I want, but a lot of the time, I don't. When I'm done, I'm done. I just have to remember that this doesn't make me any less fun up to that point, and if anyone's going to condemn me for leaving before 4am, screw 'em.

I guess what I'm saying is that you should embrace your inner dork and bring it out to the surface, if it's who you are. Don't be afraid to be who you are. Again, I'm telling this to myself as well, because I'm going to wind up this post and still feel a little bad about being here and not being out. We all just have to remember that we make our own choices, and they should be our choices, not what someone else wants or thinks we should do.

Bring out your dork!

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Good Taste

Well, it turns out my wedding woes weren't as bad as I thought. This is usually the case: I have a flair for the dramatic that sometimes gets me a leetle more overwrought than I need to be. Long story short, DF looked over the prices with me of each place I had looked at and we realized the one place was waaay better than the others. I would say the name but I don't want anyone who reads this blog to know my business. No offense. So, that's decided. We may even be able to have shrimp--and don't worry, lactose-intolerant sister, we'll have something dairy-free for you (in response to her response to my last post). And probably sit-down buffet, so everyone can get what they want and there are fewer complaints. I'm all about no complaints. I had to laugh to realize that, while all the women are almost completely attired, neither the groom nor the groomsmen have anything ready. So typical. Now the decision is, DJ or band? I've heard good things about both and been at wedding with both and enjoyed them. Decisions, decisions....

This weekend was the Taste of Buffalo. It happens every year and it is a gastronomical paradise. A large number of restaurants in the area get to have tents with little tastes of their best wares. And let me tell you, Buffalo doesn't have the highest percentage of obesity and heart disease in the country for nothing. That may be because our most famous food is the Buffalo wing (no, buffaloes don't have wings--you are so funny), with pizza and Polish sausage running a close second. However, Buffalo is also filled with many hole-in-the-wall restaurants that have amazing food. Our Taste of Buffalo is one of the most successful in the country, so I've heard. This year was no exception. Even DF, with his fantastic weight loss, managed to find delicious little tidbits that were on his menu...and a few that weren't. The best part is that each portion they give you is probably no bigger than your hand, so you have more tastes of more places. Hence the name, I suppose. It's a great part of my summer and I suggest all of you to come next year. Sorry, Sommer, no Pronto Pups, but I bet we could find you something almost as yummy.

Also went to see The Devil Wears Prada. I really did think it was fun and cute, and Meryl Streep was fantastic, although the ending confused me a little. I haven't yet read the book. Definite chick flick, especially with Anne Hathaway continually dressed in awesome-looking high fashion. That part of the movie was almost totally wasted on me, as I have as much knowledge of fashion designers and styles as her character did in the beginning of the movie. I have neither the time nor the budget to wear any of it, but I have to admit she did look stunning and I kind of wished I could do a little Pretty Woman thing where I had unlimited cash to go to the high-name, high-end, high-price stores and make myself look all knock-out. I buy things very carefully and mainly from Target. Hey, Tar-zhay's Isaac Mizrahi collection has some very nice things, and most people I hang around with are none the wiser, or they shop there, too.

There is something intrinsically comforting about a chick flick, a girl movie, if you will, at least to most females. I have memorized lines from When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Love Actually, and others. I think most of us know what that most famous line is in Dirty Dancing. Oh yeah, you know which one. I think they appeal to the romantic in us, the one who knows it's all going to turn out all right but still gets excited when it does. A good chick flick, to me, is funny and sends a decent message. I can't deal with the one who have idiotic women doing idiotic things looking all cute and helpless. This is why I actually thought Legally Blonde sent out a good message to the younger set: Don't be boxed in, don't be afraid to show you have a brain, and you're more than your looks. OK, and I think Luke Wilson is hot in that slightly funny-looking way that I also think Ben Stiller is attractive. Gorgeous eyes. I'm a sucker for eyes. If AFI ever did a Top 100 Chick Flicks of All Time, what would be the top ten? Ponder that as an aside from the daily grind.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Testing/Ode to My Dog

Just checking to see if I could finally get a picture from my computer on here. This is Boo. Boo is now in doggie heaven after almost sixteen years of life. The picture was taken the day before we put her down.
She was weird and paranoid and never got along with my mom and even tried to bite me a few times, and she trusted me more than anyone. She only got mean when she didn't feel like getting out of her dog bed to go out. She was an ornery little pill and gave me lots of kisses and played chase with me around the apartment. She was a great little guard dog and tried once to take down a burglar who attempted to break into our house. Not that she could've done much, but she would have made a valiant attempt and at least gotten his ankles or lower calves. She didn't really know she was a small dog...unless she need to hide under chairs from bigger dogs. When she was fifteen she killed a mouse that got into our apartment and we were so proud (her first mouse! as a geriatric!) that we didn't even mind that we found it two days later after playing the "What's that smell?" game.

Boo was my little pal and was there for me even when I was feeling my most alone. She was always happy to see me and hid under the bed during thunderstorms. She loved pretzels and peanut butter and carrots. Any scrap of sunshine was hers to lie in, my little solar-powered girl. She loved chasing her "squeaky" and tennis balls, and hated the rain. Jack Russells are extremely smart and Boo was no exception. For years she slept on my sister's bed, waiting patiently until M. was settled in before getting the command to "come up" and jumping on the bed to cuddle in. I took her after she went into doggie depression after I moved to VA and M. went to college. Mom says she would've died of a broken heart if I hadn't taken her. Boonie liked VA and would watch me leave for work in the morning. I loved seeing her sweet face in the window.

Boo also knew that suitcases meant you were leaving, and would cry when she saw them. We had to distract her and hustle our suitcases into the car because we felt like abandoners seeing her get upset. Once she didn't know I was still there and was crying at the door, and when she turned and saw me, I swear she gave a huge sigh of relief and wouldn't leave my side for the rest of the evening. She loved tummy rubs...but only if she trusted you. When she was a puppy she would try to kill our Koosh ball by snapping its neck. I taught her how to go down the back stairs by putting her Pound Puppy toy on a lower step. She was about the same size as the smaller Pound Puppy.

My sweet girl was the first pet I could ever have, since I'm technically allergic. I don't think I'll ever get another Jack Russell because 1) Boo's irreplaceable and 2) you never know if you'll get a really yippy one who chews the rug. No matter how many dogs I have in my life, Boo will be the first and the most special.

I didn't mean to write this little eulogy, honestly. I was just testing picture posting capability. I guess it needed to come out. I guess I just miss her, still. But she had a happy life and now she gets to run around and eat all the peanut butter she wants.

Friday, June 30, 2006


So call me crazy, but I have started getting up a little before 6am to do yoga with the show on the Oxygen network. My excuse? It's summer, I'm not working, and I have a fear of "cankles". So far it's left me much more awake and realizing that I don't quite have the balance the people on the show do. It's also made me yearn a bit for a bigger place: I have a tiny open space to do the yoga, but that's after dragging a trunk out of the way and putting the yoga mat on a diagonal. So I guess that makes me inventive. But I do like it, especially the relaxation at the end where you're just lying there breathing and listening to relaxing music. I highly suggest it. I may have to TiVo it once school starts--I doubt I'll have the time in the morning to get to work on time. Jeez, I guess I better get TiVo. Ooh, TiVo! I'll never leave the house again. Mmm...TiVo....

Totally different note: How do people have weddings every year, every weekend (not the same people, hopefully) and not go absolutely crazy and/or bankrupt? When did it become the norm to have to spend an average of $18,000 (check this site out if you're engaged--gives some tips) to
$30,000 on five hours of your life? I know, I know, it's one of the most important days of a person's life and it will give me a lifetime of memories. I am deeply excited about this. But everything leading up to it is beginning to drive me crazy...and I fear I'm not even in the throes of planning. Most of it has to do with a tenuous budget--waiting on money that's supposed to be coming but hasn't yet. Add to that a bride and groom with multiple parental divorces (OK, multiple on my side, one on his) and you've suddenly got lots more guests. It's like the ripple effect...or that old Prell commercial with Heather Locklear where everyone wants to have this person there, and so on, and so on, and so on....

Now, don't get me wrong; most of family and in-laws-to-be have been lovely and helpful. I just never knew how difficult narrowing down a list of people could be. And do you KNOW how expensive hors d'ouevres are???? No shrimp cocktail at this event, baby! You're all getting the cheese plate, and if you're lactose intolerant, too damn bad! Can you have a potluck wedding and not look cheap? My friend M. makes these great spinach balls. Ooh, and I can make my famous hot nacho dip! I can use the reception place's warmers. I'll even use lactose-free cheese, be nice.

What I really want is a celebration of DF (he's not the dear husband yet; he's the dear fiance')'s and my coming together, and I want as many of our friends there as possible. I want good food and dancing and photographs for memories. And I don't want to bankrupt anyone to do it.

Maybe Vegas is another option....

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Stupid computer

You know, I'm all into this blogging thing, I try to make some simple changes: Add a few sites, change the template, I try it FIVE FUCKING TIMES and it always stays the same! It doesn't change! I KNOW I did it right, because I followed the directions! What more do you want from me, Blogspot?!?!?

On the other hand, Andre Agassi just got into the third round of Wimbledon. I know my sister hates him, but hey, 36 and still beating the younguns? Pretty cool.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


1. Does anyone else think those stupid Dannon commercials with the women going "It's free-massage good!" "No, it's Rabbit vibrator good!" are annoying pieces of crap? (OK, they don't say anything about vibrators)
2. Will J.K. Rowling really kill off Harry Potter at the end of Book Seven?
3. Do you ever truly get over missing those who have left you, even if it's a dog?
4. When did "everyday" and "every day" become interchangeable, and who decided this? Because they're NOT.
5. Is a color scheme that important for the wedding?
6. How is it that too much plastic surgery makes people look freaky and inhuman, but the media drives home the image of the blemish-, wrinkle-, cellulite-free woman?
7. On that note, isn't the Dove campaign for real beauty the best ever?
8. What if I could say what I actually wanted to say to assholes and I wouldn't have any repercussions?
9. Is Sex in the City empowering or does it set us back centuries? (blasphemy, I know)
10. What is it about a new pair of shoes?
11. Why don't people write letters anymore? Why don't I?
12. Isn't falling asleep to a rainstorm the best?
13. Not a question, but there's something great about a terrifically engrossing book.

To that end, I'm turning off Sex in the City and going to read. 'night.


So...I have finished my trevails at Local Buffalo City School and will move off to Local Buffalo Private School. This equals less money and better student attendance...and skills...and actually caring about school...and fewer pregnancies. Yes, I taught 14 and 15 year-olds and had four preggos. Oh yes, because this is my blog, I may not be entirely politically correct. I trust you'll consider it refreshing. My students better not find out about this blog, because I'll probably post stuff about my more interesting teaching days. Can I get fired for that? Hopefully we'll not have to answer that question.

But I digress, as I often do. Let's sum up the year-end at my school:
- In a class of 18, 14 failed, mostly because they never showed up or didn't take the exam. That class was so easy; anyone could've passed it.
- One of my friends sent kids down to the office too much, which led to them complaining to the Assistant Principals that she was a racist and sexist against boys. Neither of these claims are true, but the APs listened to the kids and made the teacher's life hell.
- Graduation night was like an episode of Jerry Springer, but with no chairs thrown and nicer attire.
- I got an award for Rookie of the Year (yay, toot my own horn) but the principal spelled my name wrong on the plaque. Sigh. I'm planning to say that I stole it from someone else.
- The woman in charge of English for the city of Buffalo seems like a real sweet gal but is barely older than I am and doesn't quite understand that what works on paper often has nothing to do with the actual classroom and what works there.
- If only that suburban school had offered me a second interview....But things happen for a reason.

But hey! Turn that frown upside down, Gloomy Gus! ("Does anyone ever say to you, 'Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays'?") I have a nice, new job with kids who care and parents who really, really care, and a nice fiance and a wedding coming up. Oh dear Lord, I have to plan a wedding. Yikes. I think I'll go make some calls and watch Wimbledon. I frigging love Wimbledon and I can't stand it when people pronounce it "Wimbletin". It's a thing with me. But all that annoyance slips away when Roger Federer slams one right past his opponent and it smacks the tape and NOBODY else could've made that shot except Pete Sampras in his heyday.... Wouldn't that be cool, if Federer now could play Sampras about ten years ago? Truly, who would win?

Ponder that for a while.