Dear First-Year Teachers…

Dear First Year Teachers,

I know you’re tired.

I know you feel overwhelmed.

I know you’ve thought a lot about quitting.

But I’m going to ask you for one more thing: when everything else is making you crazy, and you’re worried about your scores, and you’re afraid to ask for help…take time to know your students. 

There will never, ever be another group of students that you will love, hate, and love to hate more in your entire career.

I’m not saying that you won’t have amazing relationships with your future students.

Three of my former students brought their parents to meet me at Community Night this week, and those parents each thanked me, in different words, for caring about their kids beyond the classroom.

I’m not saying that there won’t be special ones.

Not every outstanding, successful high school senior remembers their middle school yearbook teacher (and her dad) and greets them with excitement. Only the special ones.

What I’m saying is that these kids, your first-year kids, are the ones you will remember forever.

They are the ones whose first, middle, and last names will never escape you.

The ones whose stories you will tell for years to come, and stories that your best friends will prompt by saying, “Tell them about that one time that Michael…” because they feel like they know each one personally.

The ones you wish you knew what happened to, what they’re doing, how they are, and the ones you never stop worrying about – wondering if they still need you.

The ones who show up the week before they graduate high school to tell you thank you, and do their best to make you cry in front of your current students.

The ones who hug you just as tightly in the grocery store five years after the last time they saw you as they did on the last day of school, who you spend half an hour talking to after a long day in the middle of Homecoming Week.

But most of all, they are the ones who are truly your children. They belong to you, and you belong to them.

So please, please, savor the best part of our jobs. Build relationships. Make connections. Open your heart to these kids and believe in your ability to make their lives better.

Because when all else fails, that’s what life is about.

Love, an 8th year teacher



The Six Stages of Baths

Sometimes, I make my dogs unhappy by giving them what I call baths and what they call a brush with a hot, watery death.

They all go through the same six stages, similar to but not quite the exact same as the stages of grief. Dorrie’s are the most visible because she has such an expressive little face.

Stage One: Denial No, surely you couldn’t have said the word “bath,” you probably said something different, like “bed” or “wrath” or “snuggle time” and I just misheard you.


Stage Two: Bargaining  I’m not that dirty. Besides, the sticky sap from those weeds you just got rid of makes my hair stick up adorably, like a puppy-Einstein, but it won’t do that if you wash it all out…just….turn the water off, okay?


Stage Three: Blind Hatred Fine. This is how it’s going to be? Fine. I don’t care. I hate you anyway. I’ve always hated you. You’re the worst Mom ever, and I’m not going to make this easy for you.


Stage Four: Depression I’ll never be dry again. This is how I’m going to die. Wet and soapy and miserable in this white torture tub. I’ll never have popcorn again.


Stage Five: Acceptance tempered with Lingering Bitterness Alright, I’m clean. You’ve shampooed and conditioned me and now everything smells like delicious coconut, and the oatmeal actually felt good against my skin, but I’m not happy about that. It didn’t last long enough to make it worth it to me. I’m still never forgiving you.


Stage Six: Unadulterated Bliss OH MY GOD, I’M SO CLEAN! I wish I was this clean every day! This was the best idea ever.


29 vices and indulgences

I’m the best at indulging myself these days. I once wasn’t but now I’ve learned to take care of me…and though I have days where I feel like this makes me not as good of a teacher, I know that it makes me a better person.

If we truly want to be happy, we have to embrace our vices once in a while and indulge ourselves. Here are my top 29 vices, though I’m certain that I’ll discover that I left a couple out here and there.

29. Picking at my nail polish I’ve never managed to break myself of this habit, and I feel that no measure of determination or amount of therapy will ever achieve its demise.

28. Correcting peoples’ grammar The new update has taken this to a whole new level. Grammar Snob


27. Feeling faaaaaaaancy I love to get dressed to the nines and make a reservation every once in a while. That’s why I love restaurant week and added “gala” to my list of things I wanted to do.

26. Sno cones I hate ice cream, but I love snow cones.

25. Massages and pedicures I do sit for a pedicure every now and then, but I get a massage every month. Like, it auto-deducts from my account. Has for the past three years. I have zero regrets about this ever.

24. The State Fair of Texas (and other festivals) Honestly, I love cultural festivities. But also, I love reasons to break my healthy eating rule. All bets are off for the State Fair and the North Texas Irish Festival.


23. Clothes, in general I have a lot, a lot, a lot of clothes. Now that I enjoy showing off my figure, it’s a whole thing. But hey – I wear everything I own.

22. Puppy snuggles So much time wasted, except it’s not actually wasted when it’s making me and adorable furry things happy.

21. A really good theme Seriously, I’m such a sucker. This is why I go all-in for spirit days.

20. Boots Half the shoes I own are boots, yet I continue to actively look for new boots. I have a very real problem.

19. Romance novels and fan fiction  I’ll admit it, I love reading good smut. Or even mediocre smut. Particularly if it’s something I secretly ship. Plus, fan fiction is free and easier to hide.

18. Quirky jewelry & purses People compliment me all the damn time about my phone purse and piñata earrings – it boosts my ego, and as a high school teacher, my ego can always use a little bit of TLC.


17. Pinterest ridiculousness I suck at a lot of the skills that Pinterest projects require, but I refuse to give up on the feasibility of my crafting goals.

16. Coloring It is, after all, on my list of things I’m doing during my golden year…

15. Cheese My roommate and I once spent a day demolishing a baguette and a wheel of cheese in our freshman dorm while watching SVU. I remember this fondly.

14. Schadenfraude Pretty sure I’m part German, so this isn’t a huge surprise.

13. Judging people We all do it. And most people deserve it.


12. Chocolate Once, I wasn’t so obsessed with desserts. But then, the smaller my body got, the larger my sugar cravings became.

11. LOUD music It hurts my hearing, sure, but I can still hear kids across the room call each other pendejos while they’re working in groups, so I’m not too worried.

10. Fancy pens I buy a lot of pens. I think this vice is common among both teachers and journalists and type-A people as a group.

9. Long, hot baths Look, I remodeled my entire bathroom because I spend so much time lounging in the tub.

8. Tattoos Yes, they’re addictive. Yes, I have a lot of ideas about my next ones. No, I don’t regret any of them.


7. Netflix It’s like the best friend that doesn’t live across the country.

6. Books, books, and more books I managed to read that stupid tidying up book and get rid of like 1/8 of the books I keep in my house, and then I ended up replacing like a quarter of the ones I freed. I’m just going to go ahead and give up.

5. Cake…bread…all carbs, really. There’s a reason I have this monologue memorized.

4. Driving for no reason I love the environment, but I can’t seem to let go of the habit of driving with no direction. To alleviate my guilt, I donate to green energy projects each year.

3. Diet soda (and Sonic) I drink Diet Pepsi almost exclusively now, unless I’m at a bar or driving through Sonic. I just can’t turn down their ice, even if they haven’t removed the aspertame yet.

2. Microwave popcorn Pretty sure it’s like, the one thing that I eat more often than anything else. This is why I have cancer insurance.

1. Alcohol When you say, “I’m going to my bar,” and your coworkers name off four different possibilities before hitting the one you meant, it might mean that you like alcohol more than the average person (though I doubt it’s more than the average teacher).


29 Fictional Female BAMFS

Today, my #29for29 list is something that I needed to write…so I could read it and be inspired by it in the coming days.

The start of this school year has been the roughest by far, and I’ve needed the strength of my favorite fictional female BAMFs to get me through. Don’t know what a BAMF is? Check Urban Dictionary and it’ll get resolved pretty quickly.

I’m not about feminist shaming or critiques of “strong, female characters” that you see online – because I think that the best way to encourage women to be strong is to recognize women for who they want to be – feminine, smart, physically strong, emotionally strong, whatever – so long as they’re true to themselves, no matter what anyone thinks.

These women all are, which in my book makes them bamf-tastic.

29. Olivia Benson When my roommate and I weren’t in class or out making new friends our freshman year of college, we were learning how to be strong, independent women via the TV in our dorm room by watching Olivia Benson do her thing.


28. Mrs. Groetke I wish I was as badass as Mrs. Groetke is everyday teaching her students the truth instead of what her bosses or the education agencies tell her to. Preach, fam!


27. Victoria Grant (Victor/Victoria) Victoria Grant is a woman who makes the world that she lives in work for her. Even if that means that she has to pretend to be a man to get what she deserves…and when love comes around? She still refuses to compromise her own success to make her partner comfortable. Bamfed.


26. Jasmine I know this is going to be a controversial pick for a lot of traditional feminists due to the whole outfit and Disney and blah…but let’s be real – Jasmine was pretty badass to keep sneaking out of the palace, have a tiger as a pet, defy expectations, and get on a carpet that appeared to be flying. That all takes some chutzpah. Plus, her sass…


25. Matilda As much as I like the movie, I’m fairly certain that the book Matilda, who teaches herself to survive in a family that neglects and dresses her down for her intelligence on the daily while still holding on to enough strength to rebel at school as well is more impressive.


24.  Lucille Bluth  Half the judging faces and half the threats I make are from this woman. She may be insane, racist, and a raging bitch, but she is unapologetically herself and I love her for it. I have actually said the following line several times.


23. Juno This character does everything to protect her baby’s future and ensure it a good life, and eventually, to do the right thing for her world. She’s not always happy about it, but she does it and handles her life. This is more than I can do on a regular basis.


22. Jessie Alden If you know who this character is, we should be best friends. If not, that’s okay – she’s the oldest sibling in the Boxcar Children series of books, and takes care of all of them at the young age of 12, acting as mother. I wanted to be her as a kid.


21. The women of Firefly Seriously, I love all their personalities. Combined, they represent the most powerful part of women – the power of sexuality, the power of vulnerability and heart, the power of strength and resiliency, and the power of intelligence.


20. Edna Mode I just love her and her sass. So much sass in such a tiny body.


19. Lady Katsa One of my all-time fave YA heroines, who definitely beats any of the other recently popular leading ladies, is this chick. She’s tragically misunderstood, even by herself, which speaks to the strength of her character for forging onward and fulfilling a destiny she doesn’t completely understand.


18. Rome in Magic Mike XXL #lifegoals. That’s all.

17. The Dowager Countess Dame Maggie Smith plays some amazing characters, but the Dowager is one of my favorites. She has a confidence I can only dream of. 


16. Spinelli Spinelli represents the little girl we all have inside ourselves who is proud to be a badass and not worried about what guys – or other girls – think of it. One day I will be her for Halloween and it will be so glorious that I won’t know what to do with myself.


15. Rizzo (Grease) Look, I work in a high school and any student who can flaunt a shimmery pink jacket, drawing more attention to her while everyone’s already buzzing with rumors is essentially #bamfgoals. 


14. Seven of Nine She survived separation from the strongest kind of family, sought out ways to make herself a better person, and wore an outfit that was essentially painted on. Communicator drop.


13. B’Elana Torres As much as I’m impressed by Seven’s character, I’ve always really loved Voyager’s chief engineer best, because she’s a boss in a male-dominated field, snags and tames the ship playboy, and has other struggles I can relate to…and hope I learn to accept as I get older, too.


12. The women of Bones Once again, all of these women are talented and don’t need a man or family to be complete, though they all eventually allow themselves to choose at least one of them to enrich their lives.


11. Pincess Leia I don’t know why some feminists cry foul over the Golden Bikini scene when she was obviously being held against her will there…when not imprisoned, she’s a firecracker rebellion leader who stands up to Han Solo’s good looks until he actually earns her respect.


10. Liz Lemon Liz Lemon is real. Liz Lemon is a hot mess. Liz Lemon is me in a few years, if I’m lucky.


9. Ms. Frizzle Okay, so I may dress like Ms Frizzle, which takes one kind of bravery, but I’m not a scientist, and I’m not magic, and I’ve never flaunted school district rules to endanger my students in the name of learning. Well…at least, not that I’ll admit. So she gets the #BAMFteacher award fo’ sho’.


8. Thursday Next She’s a literary detective in an alternate world where books are so important that forgeries and crimes against literature have their own dedicated task force. That’s amazing enough, but then she manages to go INTO BOOKS to protect literature from its own pages? And she finds time to start a family? The woman can do it all.


7. Holly Golightly She approaches everything with grace and enthusiasm. Which, in consideration of how her life is actually going, takes a lot of strength and bravery to do each day.


6. Elizabeth Bennet It takes a lot of strength to defy male expectations in the age of Pride and Prejudice. It takes even more strength to admit when you’re wrong AND own your weaknesses without losing confidence, which Lizzie does quite well.


5. Kat from 10 Things I Hate About You Yes, I know that Kat Stratford is modeled after a Shakespearean character. No, I don’t want to change my mind and list the original. Why? Because being a feminist with a dedication to rebellion, college dreams, and atoning for your previous bad decisions is a rough path to take, but Kat chose it. And she owned every minute of the screen, even when she realized that maybe the best choice was to drop the hardline and allow herself to be happy.


4. Cat Ballou The star of this 60s Western musical comedy (oh yes) is surrounded by useless men, some who want to help her, some who want to kill her, and others who merely want to oppress her. But, as every woman knows she should, she ultimately eschews “man-splaining” and “man skills” and takes care of business herself.


3. Captain Janeway I would say that I learned probably 75% of how to be a strong, independent woman from Captain Janeway, thanks to my dad’s nerdy guidance in encouraging me to watch the entire series. There were even times as a young child that when people would say “WWJD” as an answer or piece of advice, I would pretend the “J” stood for Janeway. I figured out what to do a helluva lot faster that way – since the Janeway answer is always either drink coffee, say no, or make an intense facial expression to tell the other person how wrong and/or stupid they are.


2. Hermione Hermione is smart, goal-oriented, honest, caring, and above-all loyal. She keeps Harry and Ron in check, refuses to apologize for her dedication to academics, and also values herself enough to not settle for the position of “back up date.” But, more importantly, she punches Malfoy in the face. Fan-bamfing-tastic.


1. Megara It’s no secret that I absolutely love Disney’s oft-neglected heroine, who was (imho) the real star of Hercules, because I believe that it takes a truly strong woman to sacrifice everything for love, get over the betrayal, make compromises to survive, refuse to swoon over the hunk of the week, and then do it all over again when you realize he’s the real thing. Sometimes, the greatest strength is in vulnerability, and Meg proves it.


Image credits: All gifs –; 23 –; 22 –; 21 –; 12 –;

29 things I still don’t get

Helloooo blog fans! Technically, I pre-wrote this entry, considering that I departed for a different hemisphere and continent about 14 days ago. But still – it’s being posted on the 29th, so it counts. And I made it extra-me, just in case my peeps are missing my witticisms in person.

29 Things I Still Don’t Get at 29

29. Eating competitions I’m talking about both can-you-eat-this-giant-steak-in-an-hour competitions with yourself AND who-can-eat-the-most competitions you see at state fairs. Why is this something you even realized you could do? More to the point, why would you want to do it? I mean, either way, you’re going to end up miserable. Either you eat more than everyone else and your body is a wreck for days or you lose and feel bad about yourself for failing. And what about that food? You didn’t even enjoy it, you just shoveled it into your mouth as fast as possible, so what’s the point? If I overeat, I make damn sure it’s something that’s worth the pain.

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28. Android users You guys are kind of like the people who wouldn’t buy into Blu-Ray for a while because you thought HD DVD was going to be the new thing.

27. Polyamorous couples Congrats – you’ve managed to find someone who cares equally little about avoiding STDs and being loyal as you do. But stay the hell away from me, because I’m not even a little interested in being a part of your double-brand of crazy. I can really only deal with single-crazy.

26. Grills As teenagers, you couldn’t wait to get the braces off your teeth, but now you want to put a full metal facade across the front? Nah, I don’t get it.

25. Hot Cheetos & Takis This is similar to #29 – I don’t understand why you would eat something so hot that it burns all of your insides. How is this enjoyable? (I do like the tiny-child rap song about it, though.)

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24. Dave Matthews Band I just cannot. It’s whining set to music. I hear enough non-accompanied whining in my classroom every day.

23. Ice cream Why do people love something that’s so gross and makes my throat itch so much? Ugh.

22. Sascha Baron Cohen’s “humor” In my opinion, he’s not funny, he’s offensive and mean and often disgusting. I’m aware that he makes fun of everyone and that he’s pointing out peoples’ flaws and all, but I’m a larger fan of The Daily Show for that. Their humor is a lot more my speed.

21. Nationalism Do you REALLY think we’re that much better than other countries? I’m not saying we’re the worst, but I’m also not saying we’re better than everyone else. Have you met Americans? We wear Snuggies. You really feel like putting your nose in the air over that?

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20. “Dry Clean Only” clothing One of the first things I look at when I’m deciding whether I should buy an article of clothing or not is how you’re supposed to wash it. If it’s dry clean only, the odds are, I won’t be purchasing it. And if I do buy it because it looks that good…well then, it might as well be labeled “only cleaned once a year.”

19. Birds as pets Birds do not snuggle or cuddle, they do not greet you at the door, and they do not make adorable faces. What they do is smell bad, poop on whatever or whoever happens to be below when they feel the urge, make a lot of noise, and bite you to show affection. No thanks.

18. Uggs I understand that these boots are comfortable, I’ve worn some really, truly ugly shoes before because they were comfy enough that I didn’t care. But Uggs are both hideous and so expensive. If you’re going to wear ugly shoes, at least be able to say that they’re cheap.

17. Game of Thrones I tried, y’all. I really, really did. For like 4 or 5 episodes. But it’s just not appealing to me, and I honestly cannot be bothered to pretend that I like it. I pretended with Lord of the Rings all through high school, and this would be an even bigger waste of my time. I just don’t fit in with the legions of fans, and that’s okay.


16. Heckling comedians and athletes Not only does your heckling probably encourage them more than anything, but did you really pay money to insult someone today? Why? They make so much more money than you do, so just stop. Also, it makes YOU the most hated person within a 15 foot radius. Just shut up.

15. Black Friday shopping The deals aren’t that good and you’ll be out late at night with the worst part of humanity. Stay home and order everything you need off of Prime.

14. Ice skating It’s cold, if you fall, the surface is hard and you’ll probably break something, and you’re balancing on tiny blades. None of this feels like a good idea to me.

13. Hunt-and-peck typing Guys, did you not go through typing class as an elementary school student? Did you just skip straight to Oregon Trail when you got to the computer lab? Too bad for you, because now you’ll never amaze today’s teenagers by typing without looking at the screen. Also, how can you Netflix and work? You’re missing out on a lot of life, and what possible excuse do you have in this day and age?

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12. Straight women who say “I wish I was a lesbian” Yes, because lesbians have it so easy nowadays. Let’s not even touch on the stereotypes, hatred, and inequalities that the LGBTQ community must deal with on a daily basis. Bitches be cray. I can’t even handle relationships where there’s only one crazy bitch (me) in it, so I can’t even imagine a relationship with two.

11. Leggings as pants If they were pants, they would be called “pants.” There’s a reason they aren’t.

10. Dog-haters. You can choose not to like specific dogs. You can choose to prefer cats (if you’re lame). But if you hate all dogs, then you and I are probably not going to get along.


9. Going to GIANT concerts I’ve been to a couple stadium-sized concerts in my day, and I might concede if like, John Lennon came back from the dead or something, but I’ve never been impressed with a concert where there are 200+ people between me and the performer, who’s a tiny little Lego person on the stage. I would hear better and enjoy it more listening at home so why bother? Give me a small venue where I can get close enough that the performer’s sweat mingles with mine and I’m all about it.

8. Coffee I adapted to appreciating beer but not coffee, and I’ve been half-in love with two coffee addicts in my time, so…..I don’t think there’s any hope for me on this one.


7. Standardized testing People do not have a standard setting. College degrees do not have a standard setting. Jobs do not have a standard setting. The future does not have a standard setting. Why do exams that measure how ready students are for life after high school have a standard setting?

6. Phone-talkers I text a lot. And I Skype with people. But I have to make pre-arranged phone dates with people so that I can prepare myself to talk at length on the phone. I am not generally a phone-talker, and I never have been. I’m not at my best on the phone, I’m better in person. My long-distance friends will agree with me – the only time I ever was one was in college, when I talked to my dad on the daily…but even then, our convos were pretty short and I tended to get a little snippy.


5. Burning Bras Look ladies, I know a lot of people who talk about the fact that bras and high heels were invented by men and how we should all just revolt and wear flats while we burn our bras. But I need my bra. It’s supportive, keeps everything where it’s supposed to be, and let’s be honest – it helps the girls be their best selves. Why would I burn such a necessity?!?

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4. S&M I’m not talking about using a fuzzy pair of handcuffs or a fake Indiana Jones whip once in a while, everyone needs to spice things up a little bit now and again. I’m talking about the Red Room of Pain, getting off on hurting someone else or calling your partner “Master” while they beat the crap out of you stuff. I don’t understand that kink that looks to be more widely accepted than I anticipated based on the popularity of Fifty Shades.



3. People who can eat just one Oreo You’re not human, go away. (You too, Trump.)

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2. Morning people It’s bright. My bed is comfy. I was up late last night being my awesome self. So why in the name of Bernie Sanders would I be happy about waking up in the morning and getting stuff done? I wouldn’t.


1. “$1 off” happy hours Your cocktails are $12 each, but you can only give me a $1 discount from 4-6pm? No sir. That’s not even happy hour, it’s like, “slightly less salty to be spending so much money” hour. There’s a reason why school ends at 3:45 and it’s not just the bus schedule. I’ll stick to my $5 cocktails and $2 wells, thanks.

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It’s Ghana be Great.

For those of you who are not aware, I’m headed to Ghana on the 15th of this month to fulfill a promise I made to myself years ago.


When I went to college, I swore that no matter what it took, I would become a person who made a difference in the world.

At first, I thought this would be through journalism. I quickly found out that while I love writing, it probably wasn’t the life for me for long. Then once I actually began reporting, I realized that as a reporter, you just go over and over the same issues day after day but nothing changes, and ethics requires that you not do anything beyond reporting.


Not gonna work.

So I decided to teach for a little while until I figured out what to do about making a difference in the long term. God only knows what possessed my first principal to give me the job on the spot – I mean, I talked about the Sexual Health and Safety Task Force I was on in college, said I would only be staying for two years max, and that I would most likely break at least one bone during that brief tenure (I did break my pinky finger WHILE TEACHING one year).

Who would hire that crazy, TMI-ing girl? Yet, she must have seen something I didn’t, because here I am, still teaching, 7 years later.

I’ve changed schools, grade levels, and even gotten a master’s degree – but I know myself. Change isn’t something I ever greet with open arms, but I also crave it like Reese’s cups. So. Now that I’ve conquered my latest challenges, I’ve set myself a new one: to find out if I have what it takes to be an international aid worker for realizes one day.

This doesn’t mean that I’m ready to leave teaching just yet. What it does mean is that I spent a number of months researching the 5 Ws of potential volunteering placements and then prepping to spend a week in a maternal health clinic on the outskirts of Accra, Ghana followed by a week at an AIDS orphanage in the heart of the city.

I have my shots. 

I have my visa.

I bought a fancy new backpack to take.

I’ll be treating my clothes with mosquito repellant to avoid Zika.

I read a guidebook about Dubai, my stopover city on the way back.

I am terrified.

(Conveniently, this means that I’m well on my way to crossing off #6 on my list, too.)

In a week I will be up in the air, on hour 12 of my 14 first leg, probably ready to lose my mind from a combination of cabin fever and anxiety. But by the time I finally arrive on Sunday, I’ll be one step closer to figuring out the next stage of my life.

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And that’s something to be excited about.


29 people I would totally marry right now

Last week, I was chit-chatting with a friend of mine about all the weddings I have coming up, including a couple of people who got engaged and are getting married SUPER-fast. I don’t really understand the rush sometimes, buuuuuuuut the more I thought about it, the more people I came up with to marry in an instant if they asked me.

So here you go – here’s a list of 29 people I would marry within the month if they proposed right now. Regardless of feasibility, of course.

29. That one kid from elementary school. You know the one. The one we all had that insane crush on because he was just SO CUTE and SO COOL. I would say yes so fast…even though I totally don’t even remember his name.

28. Dimitri from Anastasia Ya, fake, so I’m safe on this one. But I’m a sucker for a con artist who I can turn into an honest man, and those people don’t exist in real life, so…


27. Neil Gaiman The man has impressive hair and is a literary genius, so sure.

26. Dave Franco He seems like the lesser of the crazies when it comes to the Franco family, and therefore the smart choice. Plus, he’s loyal, or so I hear.


25. Dominic Toretto Vin Diesel as he is isn’t really my taste, but ever since I saw the Fast and the Furious in middle school, there has always been something irresistible about a big, buff, car-driving head of household who protects friends like family. I could totally be a part of that.

24. Flynn Rider He’s like, the realest of all the Disney princes, and he really isn’t into cheesy singing unless the mood strikes him, so he’s making the list of potentials.


23. Brangelina They’re strongest as a unit rather than separate. WE would be even stronger.

22. Chandler Bing How could I not? He’s like my favorite friend, and quite preferable to Matthew Perry himself.


21. Jonathan Taylor Thomas Look, I haven’t seen any recent images of this kid, but growing up, I wasn’t obsessed with Leo, Freddie Prinze Jr., or Ryan Phillippe, I was all about JTT.

20. Joe Biden He’s the most entertaining VP I’ve seen in a while. Plus, have you seen that scarf gif? No? Here you are.


19. Norman Reedus Not because of The Walking Dead. Never because of the Walking Dead. Because of Boondocks Saints. Always.

18. Harrison Ford I know he’s old guys, I do. But if the man who is Indiana Jones AND Han Solo asks me to marry him, I’m doing it.


17. Ferris Bueller I really need someone to help me take a chill pill and be spontaneous once in a while, so he’d be a great fit.

16. The Sauza Tequila commercial guy I don’t know his name, and I don’t want to, because if I do, there’s the danger that I might become a crazy stalked girl. I’ll just watch him on the YouTubes.


15. Aladdin I do like to discover new worlds.

14. Heath Ledger Yeah, I know, another impossibility. But if we’re dreaming, I’m going to go all-in. Especially since…well…a lot of my early dreams involved this guy.


13. Daniel Radcliffe It’s not just that he plays the Boy Who Lived…it’s also that he played one of the most interesting characters I’ve read in adult contemporary fiction, Ig Parrish.

12. Harry Potter The fictional character definitely gets dibs on the spot above his actor. Books are always better than movies. Plus, I’m pretty sure he would let me adopt all the orphans.


11. Will Smith This one’s an impossibility because I am legit terrified of Jada Pinkett Smith. Like…terrified in an I-wish-I-was-half-that-badass way.

10. Zach Braff Teenage-me would have to say yes, no matter what. Despite the fact that it would almost immediately end poorly, it would have to happen. Plus, how adorably awkward would we be together? Who am I kidding, we would totally last.


9. Emma Watson Yes, a girl. In the top ten. I admire her in an I-wish-I-was-that-poised-and-badass-and-gorgeous way, so if she’s down, I’m in, too.


8. Joe Manganiello Thanks, Magic Mike, for helping me understand how sexy water and Cheetos can be.


7. Dule Hill I don’t think that anyone truly appreciates my love for this guy, especially his work on Psych. But believe you me, I’d be all about that, given had the chance.


6. Jon Hamm Don Draper. Mizzou. You need anything more? I don’t.


5. Mookie Betts He’s my Boston player-of-the-year, and he’s only five years younger than me, so I’d have some good years to spend mostly on my own before he retires. That’s important when you barely know someone.


4. James McAvoy Loved him since the original version of State of Play, and that fire has not burned itself out, though it has somewhat lessened since he took roles that require him to shave his head.


3. Joseph Gordon-Levitt For reals, y’all. I have loved him at all my (and his) ages – from Angels in the Outfield to The Dark Knight Rises. That’s some staying power right there.



2. Johnny Depp So wise. So private and mysterious. So talented. So damn hot. So yes.


1. The one person who gets me. Obviously, I haven’t met him yet, but if he’s out there, and he understands my need for alone time, appreciates both Aimee Mann & The Hush Sound, loves my quirkiness, and is totally cool with playing Ke$ha at our wedding, then it’s meant to be.


This is my obligatory gun law opinion blog.

I’ve written and rewritten and deleted and added and tweaked this to death – and the fact is, it will never be quite right. So here’s what you get. It’s not perfect, but it’s honest, and a lot shorter than it could have been.

Look, I’m from Texas.

What that means in reference to guns is that I have friends who have concealed carry licenses, I grew up with deer heads on my grandparents’ walls, and I actually taught 6 year-old children how to shoot .22 rifles at YMCA camp.

So, it’s not that I fear what I don’t know. It’s that I fear what I do know. I fear what I grew up with – not the guns that people use to hunt or protect themselves, but the guns people use to express their own rage, fear, and power (or lack thereof).

  • In 1999, I was 11 years old when two high schoolers murdered 12 of their peers and one teacher, in addition to wounding 23 other people at Columbine High School. I decided that I would never own a gun, a promise I’ve so far kept to 11 year-old me.
  • In 2007, I was a PA and undergrad at the University of Missouri when a mentally-ill student killed 32 people and wounded 17 others. Upon hearing that the second person murdered at Virginia Tech was an RA (my non-Mizzou equivalent), I had nightmares – not about dying, but about not being able to protect my residents. 
  • In 2012, I was in my 4th year as a middle school teacher when a 20 year-od murdered 28 people – 20 of them children – in Newtown, making it the second-deadliest school shooting. I knew I would have done exactly what Victoria Soto did and protected my students no matter what – even if they were much older.
  • Also in 2012, a gunman killed 12 people and injured an additional 58 in a movie theater, giving me one more reason to be constantly aware of my surroundings, no matter where I am or what I’m doing… 

Let’s not even mention that I can name 13 books*** off the top of my head about real or imagined gun violence.

I think every job I’ve had has been in a high-risk environment. Based on my experiences growing up, and considering that I’ve always worked in education in some way, can you blame me?

Honestly, at this point, my psyche has modified an old adage:

Only three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and getting shot in a rampage.

This is why Code Red drills in my classroom get serious fastThe moment one of my students plays around instead of following procedure, I very sternly explain to them that they’re essentially saying they don’t care if I die – because if they did that in real life, and someone decides to come into our classroom with a weapon, I’m going to be the first one to die. Period. That’s what I’ve signed up for, because if someone wants to hurt one of my babies, they’re going to have to go through me first, and they probably will.

My freshmen babies are always silent after that.

Yes, I know, it sounds dramatic. But to me, it’s a very real possibility – dramatic or not. It’s so real to me that when I was condensing my teacher space to allow more room for student activities, etc., I got rid of the 1950s desk with drawers because it would be too heavy and too short for us to easily upend and fully block the door with in an emergency.

Seriously. That’s why I kept a long and wide table instead.

On Wikipedia, the lists of school-related attacks around the world has been broken down into primary, secondary, and higher-ed.

There are so many there can be three lists.

And that’s just schools.

Gun violence certainly doesn’t stop at schools; these attacks just get a lot of media attention because children are involved. During the Democrats’ filibuster this week, 48 people were shot – in just those 15 hours. But so far, the media attention hasn’t been enough to bring any change.

In 1996, a man in Dunbar, Scotland, entered a primary school with four guns and killed  16 children and one pregnant teacher, as well as injured 15 other people before killing himself. By 1997, the legislature had responded by banning handguns in Scotland.

What did we do when just three years later, Columbine happened? Nothing. Our legislature did nothing, and continued that trend for the next 17 years.

Maybe Orlando will change this. 

Last Saturday night, 49 people thought they would go out, relax, and have a good time at a nightclub, assumedly deciding that the hangover the next morning would be worth it. I wish that had been the worst outcome

Do I believe these acts were driven by hatred and fear toward the LGBT community?

Absolutely. And that’s terrifying in a completely different way. Change is desperately needed here, too. But here’s the thing on that front – we’re actually making progress as a nation.

Is it enough progress? Hell no. But it’s got forward momentum. Things have changed for the better since I was younger in regards to rights, acceptance, and recognition for the community.

The opposite is true of gun control.

Let me be clear: I’m not of the opinion that we should completely outlaw guns.

Do I like them? No, no I pretty much hate them. But then, I also hate ice cream, and you don’t see me trying to take away your right to enjoy it.

All I want, and what I think we as a nation deserve, is a stricter control over who can and cannot purchase firearms in this country. Maybe even what type of firearms (I know, I know, liberal alert – watch out).

What I don’t want is to read another story in a couple of years about the new “deadliest US mass shooting.”

We can do better than this. 


***Here are the 13 books, in order of my personal preference: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew QuickColumbine by Dave CullenViolent Ends (story collection)How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon;  This is Where It Ends by Marieke NijkampWhy Kids Kill by Peter LangmanCrash and Burn by Michael HassanAll American Boys by Jason ReynoldsHate List by Jennifer BrownIn Cold Blood by Truman CapoteNineteen Minutes by Jodi PicoultIf I Grow Up and Give a Boy a Gun – both by Todd Strasser.

29 goals for my 29th year

This weekend, I celebrated my 29th birthday (which was also my golden birthday, since I turned 29 on the 29th).



The celebrations were delightful, but they also reminded me that I’m getting old…because I definitely opted for relaxing in lieu of half the plans that I’d made for the weekend, and I have no regrets about it.


I know, Danny Glover. I know.

Anyhow, while I may need to tone it down a little bit on the turning up, I absolutely refuse to take a backseat at life – and so I decided to make a list of 29 things I legitimately want to do this year, before I turn 30. Not because life ends at 30, but because I want to have even bigger horizons to reach for at that point.

  1. Visit two new countries I’ve never been to before.
    • This better happen, I’ve already bought the ticket.Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 10.55.35 PM
  2. Take a cooking class.
    • I’ve always wanted to go, but I’ve never managed to rationalize the expense.
  3. Work out again. For at least a solid 3-6 months routine if not longer.
    • Nope, not a fun goal. But one that I need to make work.
  4. Attend a gala.
    • Because I’m fancy, bitch.giphy
  5. Plant a tree.
    • I took down four this year, it’s time I replace at least one of them.
  6. Do something that absolutely terrifies me.
    • Shouldn’t be hard. I’m scared of a lot of stuff.
  7. Write a new book.
    • I miss miss miss writing, but now that grad school is over, I have time to make it happen again.
  8. Learn how to do one fancy hairstyle really, really well. 
    • Not a ponytail, not just a straight blow-dry, but something special for when I need it. cd03499d2c16866c646b235ce4e89abd
  9. Make a pilgrimage to my heart-home.
    • Columbia, Missouri – I’m coming for you, fam.
  10. Re-read Jasper Fforde’s books I love and read the new ones for the first time.
    • Thursday Next is my homegirl, y’all. And I haven’t read his new stuff for YA, but I’m excited to see what else Fforde has dreamed up.
  11. While I’m at it, let’s do the same for Harry Potter.
    • If Thursday’s my girl, then Harry’s my boy.original
  12. Buy a stranger’s dinner.
    • It seems like a nice thing to do.
  13. Finally learn to use my sewing machine.
    • two years later.
  14. Complete a 30-day photo challenge.
    • You’d think I’d already done this, but you’d be wrong.
  15. Go clubbing.
    • It’s been a while for a reason, but I do enjoy dancing in spaces that are too crowded for people to realize how bad of a dancer I am.giphy-4
  16. Catch up with all the people with whom I never intended to lose touch.
    • Not the people I phased/cut out, but the people who drifted. It’s time for a check-in.
  17. Find a new volunteering opportunity.
    • Back at it with the more time thing. Plus, the need for something other than just my job that gives my life a little direction.
  18. Get a makeover, just for fun.
    • Not because I need one, but because I think it would be entertaining.
  19. Have a legit 12-hour movie marathon – topic to be determined.
    • Star Wars? Star Trek? Indiana Jones? 90s teen romcoms? Over-done indie movies of the early 2000s? So many options.giphy-2
  20. Finish my “Girl Power” wall of inspiration (for now, I’m never really done with any of my creative projects).
    • It’s well on its way and I love love love it, but I’ll need to complete some of the other items on my list before I can call it mostly complete.
  21. Write fan letters to the five people whose work I admire most.
    • Authors, artists, anyone who inspires me.
  22. Spend a day completely by myself.
    • This means no friends, family, or social media for 24 hours. Just me. Not sure how I’ll make this happen, but I will.
  23. Get another tattoo.
    • There are several vying to be next, but we’ll have to see which occasion presents itself first.dd29ca6dd0319bb016df21ab3452b196
  24. Color something every. single. week.
    • People know me well. I received many coloring books for presents during my 28th year, and I love them all. Plus, coloring is like a form of therapy for me, so I am super-into it.
  25. Throw a four-course dinner party that I cook myself.
    • The cooking class should help with that.
  26. Mark one more off my list of the “World’s Most Beautiful Libraries.”
    • I predict this will be the George Peabody Library in Baltimore – I’ve been to the New York Public Library, the Morgan Library in NYC, the Boston Public Library, and the Seattle Central Library.eastroom_0
  27. Learn to meditate.
    • This comes highly recommended from one of the three people I respect most in the world, so I should probably get on that.
  28. See at least one more live performance of *something.*
    • Musical? Play? Concert? TV taping? All of the above?
  29. Write a “29” blog post every month.
    • Last one is to get my ass back into blogging. Master’s degree ruined a lot of the fave parts of my life, but I’m reclaiming every part it tried to take – this blog included. So, each month I’m going to post about my “29 favorite/most important whatevers.” This list counts as the first one.

See? I’m already on my way.

Blank Space

Two and a half weeks ago, I believe it was a Wednesday evening, I was sitting in a bar on a cruise ship, listening to some frat guys do a terrible, horrible rendition of “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift…for the second time.

The second time, y’all. They were bad the first night, and absolutely nothing had changed the second time around.

Now look, I know karaoke can be really good when you’re off-key and drunk. But if you’re going to be that bad, then you have to be committed. Your whole soul has to be in it. These guys were just trying to be cute, and were not, even a little bit, committed to being bad. So they crashed and burned.


Einstein is credited (with limited believability) with saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.


Whether it was really my boy Albie or not, I agree. Obviously, these guys were crazy. But it got me thinking.

Just before the cruise, I had decided that I was done with some old art as well as my little DVD case display that I’ve lovingly put up in every space I’ve lived for the past 8 years. It was cute, but I felt it was time to be done with it…but that’s all it was, just a feeling that told me to take it down.

Photo Jan 02, 10 47 33 PM

I didn’t understand my own reasoning, but I trusted my instincts.

Weird as it is, those frat guys helped me to realize why I needed to take those down.

You see, I’ve been doing a lot of metaphorical tidying up in my life – tossing out or at least downgrading the people who bring nothing of value to my life, people who attempt to bring me down and make me resist the healthy changes I’m making. It’s been so easy for me do this, because I’ve worked really hard at finding and surrounding myself with people who inspire me, who are there for me without addendum or agenda, and who show me that I am valuable to them as well.

And, because I’m a grown up, I’ve been doing this rather quietly over the past two years and avoiding as much drama as I possibly can without compromising myself. Grad school helped, because I have such a limited amount of time to spare that I didn’t have the availability to pretend or “make time” for those who I no longer benefit from relating to. As I get rid of negative people, I have more room in my life – more blank space – for the positive people to occupy, and they’re doing an excellent job of filling it.

That’s what I was doing with the DVD wall.

I’m getting rid of the physical reminders of people who are no longer important to my life – including the old me. Essentially, I’m taking the good memories down from their “place” and filing them away in the sepia-toned, where they belong, instead of allowing the relationships that once served a purpose but now are no longer important to have a spot of honor. It’s not that I’m upset or angry, it’s just time to move on…and an excuse to make a Fall Out Boys reference.


Some of them were great, though, lyrics aside…and this doesn’t mean that I’m getting rid of everyone on that wall – there are some that I’m keeping close to my heart, that I kept out to use somewhere else in my home because they still give me joy. Like these:

PicMonkey Collage

I’m making my home a better reflection of my life. And right now, that means I have a lot of blank space on my walls.

I’m okay with this, because it represents potential. And I know that when I’m ready, I’m going to fill it with something amazing.

Photo Mar 27, 9 31 47 PM