Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A short list of happy

1) I made blackberry muffins yesterday based on an old recipe I found from Ouiser, using blackberries from our bushes outside and a few of the reviewer substitutions. They tasted quite delicious. We've had a rainy spring/beginning to summer, but boy oh boy, it's making those berries grow.

2) Penny finally gets her stitches out tomorrow and can take off that stupid Elizabethan collar and play with her buddies. I find it adorable that the one chocolate lab has been looking toward the treeline, waiting for her to emerge because he misses her.

3) My sister and her husband will have officially moved back to Buffalo as of next Thursday.

4) Spending extra time in the evening with T. because we have neither coaching nor teaching responsibilities is lovely.

5) The thought of going to Office Depot with my hyper-organized mother to get myself ready for the upcoming school year makes me absurdly excited. As I believe I have mentioned before, places like Office Depot feel like a teacher's Graceland. We walk in and just stare at the rows of colored pens and files, breathing in the possibilities....

That's all I have for now. Off to the farmer's market to perhaps buy some plants for my long-overdue garden. Yes, I realize how late in the season it is, but who cares? I'll give it a whirl.

Happy Wednesday, dears!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Making fun of technology

Recently I met a delightful woman I met at a party and we decided we had a funny SNL skit that really could work. We were bashing Twitter and Facebook a bit. Not to get hypocritical, I admit freely that I do have accounts on both. HOWEVER: I do not check Facebook obsessively every ten minutes--I probably look at it every few days. And I don't remember the last time I checked Twitter. I know each has its uses and I have gotten in touch with old friends and even thought about using each medium for teaching. So there.

HOWEVER...we were making a bit of fun of the users who feel the need to type every little bit of mundane crap that goes on in their lives, giving the rest of us the blow by blow. When did this desperate need to tell all and sundry about minute details arise? I must admit I'm in awe and impressed (truly, not ironically) that people make a living doing this. For crying out loud, Dooce [very famous blogger who now has her own show on HGTV] got a friggin' free washing machine when she complained about crummy service via Twitter. That's power.

Now, our skit consisted of this same spewing forth of our daily gems...about ten years ago, when we were still using telephones and e-mail was hitting its heyday as a regular means of communication. Here's a sample, although I think it would be best as a visual. Use your imaginations. All names will be made up-ish.

From: Meg
To: Jo, Beth, Amy, Marmee, Laurie, JBrooke, Sallie
Subject: laundry
Time: 10:03am

Just did four loads of laundry! Will these twins ever get potty trained?

From: Meg
To: Jo, Beth, Amy, Marmee, Laurie, JBrooke, Sallie
Subject: laundry
Time: 10:07am

And now Demi just pulled half the laundry off the line and Daisy just threw up, so you know what that means!

From: Meg
To: Jo, Beth, Amy, Marmee, Laurie, JBrooke, Sallie
Subject: laundry
Time: 10:12am

Now someone's at the door!

From: Sallie
To: Meg
RE: laundry
Time: 10:14am

Ugh, yes, laundry is the worst. That's why the maid does ours. P.S. that's me outside ringing the doorbell.

From: Marmee
To: Meg, Beth, Jo, Amy
RE: laundry
Time: 10:21

Now, Meg, you know that laundry is just part of your wifely duty. Of course I'll help you if you need it, but you should really try to bear the burden cheerfully.
* * *
[phone conversation]

Harry: Hello?
Hermione: Hey, Harry! Just finished Snape's latest essay on wolfsbane potion!
Harry: Um, ok....Is there anything else, Hermione?
Hermione: Nope! Ok, now I'm off to call Ron, Ginny, Padma, Neville, Luna, and everyone else in my contact list to tell them the same thing. [click]

* * *
[voice mail from me to everyone I ever met from Colgate]
"You should really start watching Lie to Me. It's a cool show and it's got Tim Roth, the dude who was in Pulp Fiction robbing the diner, in it. By the way, this is Die Frau*, Class of '99."

Doesn't it seem weird? Is it just me? Why do I really need to tell people that were in my sister's class in grade school about the fact that I have wild strawberries growing in my back yard? (OK, I do, and it's so cool.) How far will the madness go?

Now I have to run and update my Facebook profile for the day. GTG, CU L8R. [shudder]

*not my real name

Friday, June 25, 2010

Making the Effort

So, I have another school year under my belt, and, in Jeff Probst-Survivor style, I have managed to stay on another year. It's my first fourth year (in a row) anywhere, so that feels pretty damn good. I'm also teaching two CTD classes (blended special ed and regular ed) next year, a nod to my special ed certification, so that also feels extremely gratifying. I know that I've put the work in and the higher-ups have recognized that and given me the chance to put my knowledge into practice--I feel supercharged already. Even now, while I'm still in teaching mode, I'm thinking of plans for the fall, what I'll change, what I'll keep, and it gets me excited. I guess that means I'm in the right profession.

The year had its ups and downs, as is always the case. I got to know some great colleagues and shifted away from others--not always because I chose to, but in life there's always that ebb and flow, and geography plays an enormous role, I think. For better or worse, simple proximity shapes our relationships; at least, I find that to be true. I realize it's not rocket science to see that working (or living) in the same room or across the hall from someone allows a relationship to grow. But what happens after that? After you've been shifted to another room or another floor or another city? Then the real work begins--you have to decide whether you want to stay in contact with that person and how much contact you want to have, and then you choose to make the effort to do so. I think the sad part is when you realize you put more stock in the relationship than the other person want to make the effort but the other person doesn't. No matter how old we get, there's still that feeling of let-down, that secret "Why doesn't s/he like me as much as I like her?" thought. Of course, there's rarely an answer to this question, but then you have to figure out whether to continue making the effort and see if it's returned or simply move on to the friends who want to reciprocate.

It can be exhausting.

Nowadays we have wonderful technology to keep in touch, which narrows that distance. I love that I can communicate with people I love and miss through e-mail, Skype, this blog, and that old stand-by, the phone. It does help. Even then, though, you make the decisions: Whom do I send this e-mail forward to? How many people really want to hear about my latest "big" news? How many people do I care to tell directly? Why didn't she answer my text? I KNOW she got it. When did I become "Christmas card friends" with this person? Do I care or just let that one go?

Again, the exhaustion. It really does mean something--I realized this one time when, in my fifth attempt to get hold of a friend who either 1) rarely returned my calls or 2) tended to have all plans remain soft unless her Option A fell through (therefore making me Option B), T. said to me, "Honey, why are you wasting your time? Call the people who call you back." And the light bulb went on. So obvious yet so not. I took the advice and have felt a lot happier since.

This started out as a post about my school year wrap-up and took a totally different turn, but I think I can get it to circle around: I'm always going to act friendly and nice to those I work with because that's who I am. I don't see a point in blowing anyone off or treating anyone shabbily unless given a serious reason to do so, and even then I would remain civil. But I have to accept that some people will accept my friendship and make the effort and others won't, and that has nothing to do with me, 95% of the time. It's that person's decision. Really, this post has a lot to do with self-esteem, something I recently realized I lack. I have always been my harshest critic, but I think this summer I plan to love myself a bit more and surround myself with others who will help with that.

Suggestions are welcome. I took a self-defense course a few weeks ago (YOU ALL SHOULD DO THIS. IT WAS AWESOME AND SO EMPOWERING!!!!!), and I'm doing a follow-up next month. I'll phone some friends who will phone me back. I'll plan for the fall. I may do more yoga and just let me be me.

But right now the screened-in porch and the rest of my John Irving are calling my name, so I'll stop ruminating and begin enjoying the weekend. You do the same, my dears.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Two quick thoughts and an exclamation

1) There is little that's more pitiful than watching a fluffy dog stagger around, post-anesthesia, with a large shaved patch on one side of her and an Elizabethan collar (one of those cones) on, catching said collar on doorways. (She's recuperating today--they cleaned her teeth and removed a cyst; hence the surgery.)

2) Jillian Michaels should stay the hell away from yoga. I did her version this morning and she took something that involves stretching and holding poses and strength and...jillianized it. Doing three sun salutations in a row at top speed "because that's the only way you melt those pounds" is not inspiring or pleasant. She also had disdain for yoga speak, preferring not to say phrases such as "bring your heart center to your knee" because it wasn't "English". I'll do the Shred with her all day because then I feel justified in thrashing around to the beat as I try to copy Tami in the corner who's doing the beginner version, sweating, and occasionally gasping obscenities at Jillian and her blazing eyes and killer abs and tattoos. Yoga, not so much.

Here's the exclamation: We have strawberries randomly growing in our yard! I have no idea how they got there; one of us must've chucked a bad one and it took root or something. It is SO COOL. And our blackberries are growing! Yay, wild berries!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

One of my favorites

No words needed. I've always and will always love Kermit and the rest of the Muppets.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

So much... try to compile. But right now I'm at work so I will make this short. I'm grading exam essays. Lots and lots of essays. And as I read them, I'm questioning my own skill as a teacher because some of them are making me cry....

I think the reason I haven't posted as much is because 1) it's the end of the school year, and 2) our laptop has gone on the fritz, so I'm not as motivated to go upstairs away from husband and dog (and cool air) to write. Sorry--I love you all, but I love my comfort more. Is that wrong? No. No, it's not.

However, summer recipes and pictures and stories are soon to come, so stay loyal, dear ones.