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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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. 

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***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).

 

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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.

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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.
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  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.
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  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.

Twice.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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

12 Books of Christmas Break: The Matchbox Diary

“Pick whatever you like the most. Then I’ll tell you its story.”

          Ladies and gents, not only did I make it to 12 books before the final semester of my graduate school begins (in like, 8 minutes), but I even managed a little bonus 13th book. It’s cute and deserving of a recommendation, because the title and cover art isn’t that flashy, but the lesson is very worthwhile. Happy reading in 2016!

Stats:
Title: The Matchbox Diary
Author: Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Genre: Picture book
Erin’s teaser synopsis: A young girl meets her great-grandfather for the first time ever in his bookshop and he uses his childhood diaries to forge a bond with his tiny relation. It’s absolutely adorable, and beautifully illustrated. Not only that, but it’s also a brilliant way to introduce the concept of storytelling outside the traditional written word. She chooses a box of memories to unpack, when she selects a cigar box filled with even smaller matchboxes. In each matchbox, there is a story – one that her great grandfather put together before he could read or write – each one is explained as the boxes are opened.
Why I relate to it: Storytelling is one of my passions, as is collecting stories from my own memories, as well as from those around me. In addition, I’m a teacher, so I feel very strongly that everyone should know how to read and write, and that they should value their opportunities. Therefore, the two main messages of this book are close to my heart. 
Judgement call: In this narrative, there are many messages: the lengths that someone will go to for freedom, the importance of education, and the value of a shared history or heritage. The overall truth that it teaches, however, is that we are, more than anything else, the stories we tell. Stories build bridges, across many divides, including generational differences. For all you teachers out there, you could use this as an introduction to a personal narrative, or even visual storytelling for an alternate assignment.

Interested in the quick read? Find it at the local library, or at Amazon.

12 Books of Christmas Break: George

“…it takes a special person to cry over a book. It shows compassion as well as imagination…Don’t ever lose that, George, and I know you’ll turn into a fine young man.” – George, pg. 15

george_customStats:
Title: George
Author: Alex Gino
Genre: Juvenile fiction
Erin’s teaser synopsis: What many people see about George is not what she knows about herself. Everyone sees a boy, but George knows that she is not a boy, she’s a girl. If only she could simply wear pink all the time and play Charlotte in the school’s production of Charlotte’s Web, then everyone else would see.
Why I relate to it: Even today, I still marvel at how people can’t just accept people for who they are. “Life is easy, if you really want it to be,” some say. I would argue that the best way to make life easy is to simply accept people for who they are, and not what they may appear to be or what you want them to be. So this book and the struggle of transgendered people today both speak to me on this level.
Judgement call: The book is perfect. It’s beautifully written and unassuming, and I read it in one single bath (this was aided by the fact that it’s a mere 195 pages of juvenile style/spaced writing). Children are beautifully open to suggestion, and I think that this book teaches them exactly how they should deal with an issue like this – no matter who they are in the scenario.

Purchase it for your fave kiddo, or yourself, at Amazon.

12 Books of Christmas Break: Say What You Will

“You were very brave to walk up to the crippled girl and say, essentially, wipe that sunny look off your face and look at reality. That’s what I want you to do next year. Tell me the truth. That’s all.” – Say What You Will, pg. 27


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Title: Say What You Willa
Author: Cammie McGovern
Genre: Young Adult fiction
Erin’s teaser synopsis: While There are different types and levels of disabilities, but no matter what the classification of Amy’s and Matthew’s very different handicaps, they’re both social outcasts. The two become best friends when Matthew takes on the job of essentially just being Amy’s friend for money, but their relationship grows, despite her mother’s disapproval.
Why I relate to it: Everyone feels like an outcast sometimes, and I’m a sucker for a good “finding real friends” story. Plus, independence and sticking up for the underdog and whatnot. I related closely to Amy’s character throughout most of the book – how absorbed she is in her own thoughts and perceptions even though her reality is sometimes the exact opposite.
Judgement call: I really wish that this book had been 10 chapters shorter with a very different resolution. I mean, yes, I guessed it ahead of time, but that doesn’t mean that I’m any happier about the outcome. I felt that it didn’t work for the direction the characters were heading, and that it undid a lot of the development…but then, I’m not published and McGovern is, many times over. Perhaps her next one (that I already checked out from the school library) will turn out better.

You can purchase this book, as well as McGovern’s written-for-adults tomes at Amazon.

12 Books of Christmas Break: Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind

“”Miss Malarkey keeps giving me books. She says she’ll find a book for me if it kills her. I don’t want her to die, so I told her I’d keep trying.””
– Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind

After my rather realist post about The Book Whisperer, I have to say that this tiny little picture book re-inspired me where my procedural text failed.


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Title: Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind
Author: Judy Finchler & Kevin O’Malley
Genre: Children’s books
Erin’s teaser synopsis: This is a picture book about “that kid.” Or, rather, “those kids.” The ones who don’t like to read. Just plain don’t like it. And nothing that his poor teacher is doing or trying for him is working to get him and his friends to read – sounds like the story of my life, to be completely honest.
Why I relate to it: As I mention above, this is totally just the story of my life. Now, eventually, because it’s a book for children, the damn kid reads at the end. This isn’t how it always works out in real life, but sometimes we get those small rays of light that other people call “success” and this reminds me what it feels like.
Judgement call: This book proves that every teacher’s struggle is real – but let me also let you in on a little secret: Miss Malarkey had it easy. She’s an elementary school teacher, which means that the kids are still more susceptiple (compared to high schoolers) to adult opinion, and that the students she’s working with are much fewer than I work with. Now, they may rotate, whatever, but she only teachers like 60 kids, max. I teach over 180. Still…still. I’m in a place where I much preferred this type of presentation than the teacher book.

I’d just check it out for inspiration at the local library, but if you want to buy a copy for your classroom, then you can find it on Amazon.