Friday, December 28, 2007

5 Days....

....at the parentals' and I'm already spiking my hot chocolate with Schnapps.

Seven more days to go.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Weather Woes

I have a baaaaaaaad feeling that my journey home on Sunday could become ugly....and lengthy.

Low pressure and a strong cold front will bring a variety of weather to West Michigan this weekend. The storm will bring rain early, followed by much colder air, snow, and strong winds by Sunday. Travel could become hazardous for Sunday into early Monday.
Christmas in the 5th Grade

Today was our last day of school.

(Whooo hooo!!!!!)

And it was my best Christmas party in all of my many years of teaching. ;)

The day began, of course, with the gifts. I felt like Beyonce backstage at the AMAs, with all the free stuff I was getting. =-) I got a couple really high-end gifts, pieces of jewelry, and the rest was the traditional homemade goodies, lotions, etc.

We started out the day with math class, where we diligently made paper snowflakes (we were learning about symmetry so it worked). We also had a real social studies class (comparing life for colonial kids to life today). After that, we started our party. We watched Cool Runnings, stopping for lunch (pizza, which I bought, and then the AMAZING spread from our parents, everything from soda to cookies to cupcakes to chips to brownies). We went outside to run off both the calories and the sugar rush, came back in to finish the movie, hung out for a while and then went home. I hugged the kids one by one as they left, except for one boy who escaped my arms (he plays football and he weaved and snagged, lol).

All in all, a great day. Sure, they were a bit wound up but nothing over-the-top. They were really quite well-behaved.

I'll miss them this 2 weeks. However....

IT'S VACATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Out with the old...

I started my Christmas cards last night (before mid-month--whoo hooo!). After sealing a few cards, however, I realized: Shoot! I didn't write my annual update letter!

And then it hit me.

If I talk to someone so infrequently that I need to write them a letter telling them what I've been doing ALL YEAR, it's probably not a person that I need to worry about sending a card TO anymore.

So I went through and I (rather ruthlessly) started cutting people off my list. And it felt GOOD.

Now, some people stayed by default. Family, for example. I may not talk to my uncles all year, but they're still family. (And I got a little teary when I came to Dad's parents' entry in my address book. I couldn't bring myself to physically cross them out....but for the first time in my life, they aren't there to send a card TO. And that was tough.) And Mrs. S, my old counselor from high school who helped me to graduate on time (Kish knows who I'm talking about)--she'll eternally be on my list. Plus, I always get a nice one back from her. But Mrs. B., for whom I was a cadet teacher for about 16 weeks back in '94? Yeah, probably not so much (as nice as she is). And Cam's family? I actually took THEM off the list this year...mostly because, although I've been sending them yearly since his accident, I've never heard a peep back from them. I guess it's time to move on.

My new card list, although much shorter, is also much more meaningful to me.

What about all of you? Do you still do the annual letter? Do you find yourselves sending cards to people and wondering WHY you're still doing it (or, for that matter, WHO they are)?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Alrighty then

A student was up at my desk, telling me about his father.

And then he added, "Or should I say, sperm donor," and blithely kept going with his story.

"Wait a minute," I interrupted. "WHAT did you say?"

"Sperm donor," he innocently repeated. "What?" he asked when he saw the look on my face. "Well, that's what my MOM calls him."

"Okay," I said. "But D., that's not really a word we use at school."

And then I turned my chair around so he wouldn't see my smirk.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Quite possibly the most tragic story I've ever read

And it happened here in town. I don't mean to bring you down, but I think it's a story that should be shared.

FOUR MILES FROM HOME

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. - An Iraqi War hero comes home to Cape Coral for the holidays but on his way to surprise his family, he's killed by a suspected drunk driver.

The accident happened Saturday night in North Fort Myers.The soldier's wife was also in the car and now she's fighting for her life. 23-year-old Lauren Beougher was in serious condition Sunday night at Lee Memorial Hospital. It was in her hospital bed, she learned her husband 23-year-old Danny Beougher was killed in the accident that nearly took her life as well.

Their family is comforting each other, by celebrating Danny's life as a War Hero."He gave himself to anybody; whether family, friends, or this country. He just was always giving," said Brother Tony Beougher.

Giving was part of Danny Beougher's motto.The Southwest Florida man spent the last few years fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq."We couldn't be more proud," said Tony.

A Staff Sergeant in the 82nd Airborne, Danny came home last month.This Christmas was going to be one of the first with his family in years.He was supposed to come to Fort Myers later this week, but came early for his brother's birthday."He was coming down as a surprise for me," said Tony.

On Saturday morning, he and his wife Lauren drove from their home at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. By 9 o'clock Saturday night, and less than 4 miles left in the 700-mile trip, they were hit by a suspected drunk driver on Hancock Bridge Parkway in North Fort Myers.

Immediately after the accident, police say the suspected drunk driver took off on foot. But a passenger was still in the truck. Though she was in the truck, she hasn't been able to identify the driver.

"It's senseless and there's no reason for it," said Tony.

Update: the passenger has now apparently given up the name of the driver; police are looking for him.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Did I mention?

I'm kind of dating someone. =-)

About a month, month and a half ago, I went out on a date or two with a wonderful, attractive man named Keith. We hit it off instantly. Our first date was about 6 hours. He makes me laugh. We have so much fun together. He GETS me.

This is NOT, however, the man I'm seeing.

See, Keith and I realized that we were really more friends than anything. Unlike other situations, though, where you decide to just "be friends" and lose touch, we actually HAVE become friends. In fact, we've actually become pretty close.

And it was while we were hanging out one time that he said to me, "You know, Jen, I've got a friend that I think you'd REALLY hit it off with..." (They've been best friends since T-ball.)

The only problem is, he lives across the state--about 4 hours away.

AND has a dog.

Well-- I figured, I've pretty much exhausted the dating pool on THIS side of the state already, why the hell not? So the weekend after Thanksgiving, I took a little road trip to Palm Coast, FL.

We had a GREAT weekend together. From the second I walked in the door, it was very comfortable. All weekend, as I met his friends (and his "second mom," his roommate's mom, who loved me--and I say that as modestly as possible) and got to know him, things just kind of fit. Really, we had just an amazing time together. (After I left, his roommate told him that he better marry me. =-) )

At the end of that weekend, though, he left for a month to go back home to NY to see his family--in fact, I dropped him off at the airport on my way out of town. (Side note: he was in a motorcycle accident right before I met him and can't go back to work as a mechanic until early January, which is why he can take off for a month.)

Anyway...we'll see what happens. He had a neighbor watch his dog while I was there that weekend and things worked out, so that takes care of the dog situation, at least for now. We talk on the phone and email just about every day. We want to spend NYE together but I'm scheduled to be in Michigan. Thought about coming back a little early but it's kind of expensive to change my flight.

I think that's about it. =-)

PS--Never married, no kids.

Friday, November 30, 2007

In answer to a 5th grade student's ACTUAL QUESTION today

"No, the settlers in the Plymouth Colony didn't have internet access."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Alvin and the Chipmunks

I just saw a preview for an Alvin and the Chimpmunks movie (real, not amimated. Jason Lee plays the guy--what was his name? Their "owner" or whataever?). I actually laughed at a couple parts, including when owner-guy was trying to put the moves on his girl and they cut to Alvin kind of swiveling his hips and singing "Bow-chica-bow-wow."

My question IS, do kids these days even KNOW who Alvin and the Chimpmunks are/were? Will any kids want to GO to this movie? Or will the theaters be filled with a bunch of 30 year olds?

Alvin! Simon! The-0-dore! DO DO do-do-do-do!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mineral Makeup

Have any of you tried mineral makeup before? I first heard of it about a month ago when I saw a display of a particular brand at CVS. I started doing some research online and there are a TON of companies out there--from the brand name, uber-expensive ones with all the infomercials to lesser-known, lower-priced alternatives.

As many of you know, I've struggled with bad skin all my life (and will probably always continue to do so). The heavy, cakey foundation (all different brands) I've used over the years probably haven't helped. Even the foundations I've used in the last year or two, the ones with some type of acne-medication in it, haven't really helped. Let's face it--that stuff just gets in your pores and cloggs them all up.

So I decided to give mineral makeup a try. I started with Sheer Cover--a pricier brand, but they have a great deal on their starter kit. However, I (of course) started breaking out within days of using it. After more research, I found out that it was likely due to an ingredient called bismuth oxychloride, a cheaper "filler" known to cause itchiness and breakouts in certain skin types. So I looked around and found a company called Southern Magnolia Minerals--MUCH lower priced and they don't have that particular ingredient. Plus, they have AMAZING reviews from their customers and great customer service. And so far, so good (as far as breakouts go).

But more importantly, I LOVE how it looks on my skin!!! There's no line to blend in, no "mask", no heavy feeling. You dust it on with a brush and it goes on very seamlessly and almost disappears--yet it still covers, if that makes sense. And it feels so light that right now, I don't feel like I have makeup on. I also don't have to worry about it streaking!

Anyway, just wondered if any of you have tried this type of makeup and your experiences with it. (FYI: I highly suggest Southen Magnolia. Check them out online. You can also find them on eBay--they have an eBay store with great details.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A harsh reality

On this Thanksgiving, please say a prayer for my friend Kenny. Kenny is someone I haven't talked to/heard from in a few months--and while I definitely thought it was weird that he hadn't responded to emails, Myspace messages, etc, I didn't REALLY think that much about it. He's busy, I figured. Well, last night, I finally got a message on Myspace--from his mom, wondering if *I* had heard from him. Apparently, he went on a trip to Alaska this summer--and then he disappeared, literally. In fact, he hasn't been heard from since August.

He was supposed to be back here in town sometime in late September--but neither she nor any of his siblings have been able to find him. His cell is now disconnected, too. She tried calling his work but she doesn't think she's calling the right place (she knew he worked for some type of water plant). As far as she can tell, he never came back. She's getting ready to file a missing person's report. She's been ready to do it for a month now, but she's been holding back...probably because to actually do so is to face a pretty harsh reality.

I told her that I could drive by his house, talk to a couple neighbors, see if anyone's seen him, etc (and she said she'd be very grateful, since she's up in MD), but frankly, I have kind of a bad feeling. He was always close to his family and the fact that even his sisters haven't heard from him is a definite warning sign--especially for so long. Even if he decided to stay up there, come on--he'd tell SOMEBODY by now. But even more so--he has a daughter. She's the light of his life. And his ex hasn't heard from him, either.

There is NOTHING that would keep him from his daughter for this long.

So please pray for the best-- that Kenny is okay. However, please also pray that his family, at the very least, finds some definite answers...and some peace.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I've died and gone to hell

Brad and I are compatible in many different ways.

We are not, however, a match when it comes to body temperature.

To wit: now that it's gotten "cold" here in Florida, Brad has jacked up the heat. (Mind you, it's 80 during the day and 60 at night--on the REALLY cold days, it's 70/50.) So I'll sit here, getting an early preview of menopause, as the sweat pours down my face...

...Until I can sneak out there and jack the temp down to a more reasonable temperature--say, 65. Before long, he'll come out of his room, blowing on his hands, rubbing his arms for warmth, muttering something about the "frigid temperatures."

I suspect it will be like this all winter, too, with the 2 of us sneaking around like ninjas, fighting for control of the thermastat.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pomegranates and meteorologists

(As Chandler from Friends would say, "Could you BE any more random?" But that's what I got for ya today.)

Have you ever had a pomegranate? Frankly, I don't remember seeing them ever in my life in Michigan. Then again, they look kind of like a big red onion from the outside, so if I did see them I probably brushed right past them. Well, our grocery store here had a big display of them, so figured, what the hell.

And they are SO GOOD.

You crack them open and take out the seeds--THOSE are the part you eat, not anything else. And they're sweet and tangy. So good. So if you haven't had one, try to find one. Now. Pomegranate season only run another month or two.

Next: we just finished a unit on weather for science. I used my P.R.-knowledge and got the morning meteorologist from Fox to come in and talk to the kids yesterday. It went well, too. They behaved very well during the actual presentation. They got a little antsy during the Q and A but it DID kind of run long. SO many kids had questions, which is great, but we finally had to cut it short or we'd be there all day. It was cool, too, because I went up the office to meet him and walk him back to the cafeteria. Well, when we walked back in with him, the kids--totally spontaneously and on their own--burst into cheers and applause for him. It was actually a pretty cool moment and I know he appreciated it (albeit was a bit surprised).

So....yeah. Everything else is fine. Crazy busy this weekend with tests in every subject to grade plus standardized tests the kids had to take (we have to grade a few questions by hand). PLUS I already spent most of the afternoon working on that class I'm taking. And I'm going bowling later tonight, too, so I better quit fartin' around so I can get some grading in before I go. =-)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mitchism

I was merely smiling at this one--till I got to the very end.

On a traffic light, green means go and yellow means yield, but on a banana it's just the opposite. Green means hold on, yellow means go ahead, and red means where the f*ck did you get that banana at?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Crazy is as crazy does

I'm already bored with the gift baskets.

I had an appointment with my Crazy Doc on Monday, and I mentioned to her that I appear to have had 2 mild "up" incidents in the last month or so. They weren't full-blown episodes by any means, but definitely some type of hypomania (talking fast, not sleeping, getting these ideas and discarding them just as quickly, etc). She asked some questions and stated that she may have to increase my dose. Again.

I made a face, since I happen to know that my current dose is already on the high side.

"Don't worry," she said, reading my mind. "Just this morning I had a patient who is 600 mg higher than you."

Now, that may sound like a lot, but each pill is 300 mg. In other words, if she ups my dose by even 300 mg, I am then only one pill away from being her craziest patient.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Something I never thought I'd say....

It's often hard to leave a relationship you've been in for a long time. Even if you do find yourself wondering, "Is there something more out there?", you often don't have the courage to find out. I mean, what you have is GOOD, right? It WORKS. It's lasted for quite a while. This is a very long-term relationship. It's safe. It's comfortable.

Imagine my inner turmoil, then, when I discovered a body wash that I liked MORE than Bath and Body Works'.

I know. For me, that amounts to blasphemy.

BBW, I still love ye. When it comes to body butters, creams, lotions and various other accessories, you're the one who has my heart. We'll still be friends. That will NEVER change. I'll still be by to see you. You've been an important part of my life for too long to break ties completely. Hey, I just discovered your overnight acne repair! I'm not going anywhere!

But I've found someone else, and I want to see where this will lead.

Olay Ribbons Body Wash, my friends. OH. MY. GOD. It really DOES make your skin smoother after just one wash. And the smell. The exquisite smell. It's luxury in a bottle, all for the cost of--well, I don't know, 'cuz I got it in my basket, but it has to be cheaper than BBW. (OK I just went online; the one I have is Olay Body Wash with Creme Ribbons, pink, for $6.99. It's a big-ass bottle though.)

They promise amazing things after five days of use. I, however, am hooked after just one.

Wish us luck and happiness together.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

PS--Halloween

Since I got d*cked out of Halloween this year (no real trick-or-treaters to speak of), I want to hear about everyone else's. What did the kids dress up as ? How'd they make out? Details, please!
I have a brilliant idea!!

First: my class's basket brought in $105. It wasn't the highest earner (there was a chocolate lover's one that went for $180, I shit you not, and one for teens that had an iPod) but I think it may have been like top 5, top 10 for sure. And while my room mom did most of the work, it DID give me a great idea!!!!

I'm going to start making gift baskets as a side business!! (Starting for Christmas, dear sisters and mother. It will be a very basket-y Christmas.) You can buy the materials online for pretty cheap, and if I'm creative, I can make back twice what I put into the baskets. I was up till like 4 am reading all about it on various basket-making websites (yes, they exist). I'm frustrated because I had 2 PR parties for this month and they BOTH cancelled. So maybe THIS is a nice little money-maker! I can specialize in very personalized baskets at a variety of prices. I won't ever be rich from it, of course, but it can be fun, I bet. (So I'm using my Christmas presents as practice. And don't worry, Nik and Mis--I know you can't afford to do anything for the "big kids" this year but don't feel guilty, I promise that these will be relatively modest ones.)

Who knows, I might discover, upon making baskets for the sisters, that I suck ass at it. But maybe they'll turn out decently, too.

Friday, November 02, 2007

eBay Live....kind of

First: (somewhat) late bday, Kish!!!! I'm sorry I didn't say it sooner; I've been doing conferences the last 2 days. Hell, hardly anyone has heard from me. Welcome to my year. =-)

So if you've ever bid on eBay, you know that often, people will "babysit" their bids as the auction minutes count down, constantly refreshing their page to make sure they're still the high bidder, because other people will often swoop in at the last minute and place a higher bid--sometimes only pennies higher. Well, I got to experience that in person today.

We had Fall Festival at our school today. It was actually not too bad. I ended up running the cake walk for a big part of the night. (Insert Jen/food joke here.) However, a cool feature addition from last year was these gift baskets that were put up for silent auction. Each classroom compiled a basket with various themes (Parents' Night Out, Pamper Yourself, Art Supplies, Movie Night, Christmas Joy, etc) made up primarily of donated items to be auctioned off, the proceeds of which would go to our school.

Well, I saw one basket being put together in the breakroom last week that I immediately wanted--a candle basket. (Hell yeah!) So when I saw tonight that the starting price was only $35 and there was only one bid on it so far, I got really excited. (It wasn't a "blind" auction--the bids were right there in plain view, and if you wanted to bid, you just wrote your name and your new, higher bid on the next line.) However, I am also an eBay veteran, and I knew better than to bid at 6:30 when bidding didn't close till 9.

So I left, did my cake walk magic, and then moseyed (mosied?) back in around 8:45. To my surprise (and thrill), there was still just the one $35 bid. Sweet! So I entered my bid of $36. (Yes, I could have done $35.01 or something, but no one was being that cheap.) I then proceeded to stay there for the next 15 minutes, watching suspiciously if anyone so much as slowed down near "my" basket. My plan, of course, was to make sure no one else bid on the candle basket--and if they did, I'd wait till, oh, 8:59 to outbid THEM. (It was so bad that Mike tried to drag me out to Chilli's and I told him I'd meet them there--at 9:20 or so. "Yeah, me too," another teacher called from across the cafeteria. "But I can't leave yet. Only 7 more minutes!")

However, I noticed that there was ANOTHER basket that was pretty cool--a bath one, with bubble baths and lotions and things. It only had one bid, too, for $40. (I know that might sound like a lot but not if you saw how big it was and how much stuff was in it. Both these baskets were SUCH a steal.) So I wrote down a bid for that one, too.

Well, wouldn't ya know, I won them both. I'd feel bad about dropping the money but hey, it's a bday present to myself with some of my bday money from my parents. Plus, it's practically for charity. And for just over $70, I got a SHIT TON of stuff.

Here's the candle basket. I'm not sure that this pic does it justice, but suffice it to say that you're seeing just ONE side of the basket and it's jam packed all the way down.



And the bath one--OH. MY. GOD. I just opened it up and it's even better than I thought. It's mostly Bath and Body Works stuff!!!!! (And you all KNOW how I am.) To put it in perspective: here's what I actually paid for



And here's what I GOT


(it's sideways but I'm too lazy to fix it. Turn your head...or turn your monitor) ;)

PS--what you all are looking at there on the lower right is an adorable froggy towel, otherwise known as Blake's Christmas Present) =-)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy birth--oh screw it, I'm old

Having said that, it was a good day.
(Oooh: First, Nik had her surgery today. It went well, and she should be home tomorrow. She was out of surgery early afternoon.)

I woke up around 11:30 (Yeah, I got up early for the big day. We didn't have school today so normally I would have slept in a lot longer). After a while, I headed out to the Penney salon where I got a brand new haircut to go with my brown-as-of-last-night-hair; I also waxed my moustache and unibrow (it had been a while). My hair turned out cute, shorter than it's been in a while but kind of shag-bob-y.

Then, I headed out to a mall in a nearby city for the highlight of my day. See, there is something I've always wanted to do and haven't had the chance to do it. So, I figured, today is my birthday, why the hell not?

So I went to the Build-a-Bear workshop.

It was FUN, too. I'm kind of addicted now. I totally want to go back. The lady seemed a bit taken aback at first when she realized I was there by myself, shopping FOR ME, but she went with the flow. You get to stuff your bear and put in his/her heart (which you hold up to your own as you make a wish and put it in your new bear friend. "I always get a little choked up at that part," Mom told me on the phone, waiting for me to mock her as I usually do. "Actually, I was a bit verklempt myself," I admitted. "But I wasn't going to break down at the Build-a-Bear place). Then you get to buy an outfit (you don't have to, but c'mon--that's what MAKES the bear).

I debated for a long time. I liked Halloween outfits for my bday and NASCAR shirts and "I love America" shirts--but I'm very happy with the way my bear turned out. And, without further ado, I introduce you to Hero Bear.


Anyway. There was something really refreshing and relaxing and rewarding about going to a "kid place" like that on a birthday that puts you firmly in your 30s. It was just what I needed. And, frankly, I can't wait till the Christmas outfits come out.

Let's see....I went home and got ready and headed out for dinner with Mike (a friend) who really wanted to take me out to dinner for my bday. I asked him if anyone else was going and he said no, just the two of us. It was cool, though. He was one of the first people I met last year (and actually saw the Bad Jen around Christmas), but we've just now gotten to be better friends since...well, since I became medicated, now that I think about it.

Hmmm.

Anyway, I also got a nice bday care package from Renee (tell Brent that the lip gloss tastes as good as he thought it would) and something AWESOME from my roomie....he took this awesome photo that's hanging in his room and I'm always admiring it. Well, when I wandered out to the living room, I saw that he had made a copy of it and framed and matted it for me. Wow.

So that was my day. Oh, and next weekend we're supposed to go out (a big group of us from work) to a strip club for my bday. (Don't ask.)

The fun never ends.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Update

Things have been incredibly hectic this last week. First, it's report card time so we've been putting in a lot of extra work for that. Second, we had our 5th grade social this week and we had to plan and hold that on Thursday night. Last, of course, was our big change.

The kids were finally told on Thursday afternoon. They had bigwigs in to do the dirty work (although I would have preferred to do it myself). Once the kids realized what was going on, that they would now be with me all day, they let out a big cheer--so THAT was cool.

However, it's like the first day of school all over again--including the planning to go along with it. There's so much to do and I've been pretty stressed out. I'm more-or-less ready, although I do have to read and study the math and science lesson plans. (And, since 3 other teachers now use MY social studies and lang. arts lesson plans, I have to write them in a lot more detail.) I am excited, though--and I even bought some science and math posters for my room. =-)

And let's not forget my surprise party--actually, parties. Yes, 2 different classes threw me surprise parties. My homeroom's party was on Wednesday, a day earlier than I thought--so Nik was right, they DID surprise me. The menu was a beautiful cake (with my name spelled wrong, LOL), soda (note to those back home: I say "soda" now) and potato chips. Yum. ;) On Thursday, one of the other homerooms surprised me right after lunch (and I use the term "surprised" loosely, of course). They decorated the room in paper chains and balloons--and completed the party with candy and soda. (Gotta love a party thrown by 5th graders, LOL.) I took pics on my cell phone so they're kind of blurry, but here's a pic of the cake from my homeroom (you can see the chips in the background).

Add to all of this the breakup with Dave on Monday and--yeah, lots going on. =-)

This coming week, we have conferences, our first week in our "new"classes, I have a P.R. party next weekend and there's also the Fall Festival at school. OH, and we're supposed to go out for my bday next weekend (people were doing Halloween things this weekend).

In closing, here's a random pic I took this week.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Mitch-ism

I love him because sometimes it takes a second to hit you.

"I don't have any children, but if I had a baby I would have to name it. So I would buy a baby-naming book... or I would invite someone over who had a cast on."

I don't know, maybe it's just me and my rather dry sense of humor.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Go to Eric's blog (EA Henson)

He has another one of their Taste Fest things up (this one for Halloween). It's worth it for the picture of a Screwdriver made with black vodka alone, but his commentary on the pictures (and the pics themselves) make this the highlight of my--well, hour, if nothing else. No, seriously, it's hysterical. His "stroke" comment on one pic had me in literal hysterics; I was laid back on the bed with tears running down my face. That boy gets funnier every year.

Or maybe it's the fact that my lithium was just upped. AGAIN. 2nd time? Or is it the third? She upped it again due to my recent quasi-high time. Now,I'm just about maxed out...so I should be (relatively) good from here on out. Either that, or I out-crazied my lithium.

Last: my student-arranged b-day party is Thursday. I know this because they told me.

They're about as tactful as Mom, I tell ya.

I was going to schedule a test for that afternoon and J. said, "NO!! That's when we're having your--" and here he falters, realizing that he can't "give it away"--"....um....something." (Yeah, nice cover, J.) I gave him a faux-confused look and he said, full of 5th grade mysteriousness: "YOU'LL see."

Right.

Monday, October 22, 2007

BIIIIIIIIG WORK NEWS

So. Up till now, we've operated kind of like middle school--the kids rotate to the different 5th grade teachers for math, science, etc.

Well, we (along with 4th grade, who used the same system) got called into a meeting today. BASICALLY, each grade is losing a teacher, those kids are being filtered into the remaining classes, and, starting next week, WE'RE GOING TO BE SELF-CONTAINED.

That means I keep my kids all day, like the kind of classrooms we remember in elementary school. Thus, I also teach ALL SUBJECTS, starting Tuesday (we don't have school on Monday, which is nice 'cuz that's my birthday--did I mention that?). =-)

Yeah. This is a big deal to me, since I've never actually TAUGHT all subjects.

Part of me is okay with it, but there are 5th graders I love who I'm not going to have as students anymore. So that sucks. I did, however, get rid of some of the kids I can't stand, and I got to keep some real sweethearts. (You should have seen us today. We were like the NBA draft, making deals and trading kids.) However, there are now certain kids who drive me bonkers whom I have ALL DAY LONG.

Soo....I don't know. We don't have a lot of time to get used to this. There will be fallout from some parents, as class sizes are bigger, some kids will be very upset and some parents preferred certain teachers that their kids may not have anymore). We aren't telling the kids till last hour on Thursday, when a letter goes home (no school for them the next day; it's an in-service on Friday). This will be HARD for some of them, especially kids who got close to a particular teacher). BUT, all in all, I have a decent group of kids. Tuesday, though, will be like starting the year all over again. But hey, that's not always a bad thing.

And....at least I still have a job.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I'm in the money

So I received notification this week that I was officially accepted into WGU's master's program, and then today I received even better news: they're giving me a $5,000 scholarship ($1,000 per semester). It won't cover everything, of course, but it sure puts a dent in it. Assuming I can get financial aid for the rest of it, I'm good to go. And I'm SO EXCITED.

Here's the program:
Master of Arts- English Language Learning/English as a Second Language (PK-12)
Earn your master's and qualify for a high-demand English Language Learning (ELL) or English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching endorsement. The M.A. in English Language Learning/English as a Second Language prepares PK-12 educators to teach effectively in ELL or ESL settings and provide curricular leadership in their schools and school systems. In many states, the degree leads to an endorsement in ELL or ESL, which are in high-demand.
(<----- especially here in southern Florida)

See, due to FL state law, if you have any ESL kids in your classes at all (which, since we're so far south, is pretty much all of us), you HAVE to earn the ESL endorsement for your teaching license. So, starting this summer, I've been taking a series of courses towards this certification. That's what got me thinking about going back to school NOW for my master's. Hell, I'm taking classes anyway. I might as well be putting them towards something. Which is when I started doing research into schools with ESL-type masters' and found WGU. And it runs a little differently, because it's competency-based. They have classes, of course, and I'll have to take most of them. But I'll essentially be able to "test out" of the WGU classes that I'm taking now, for free, through my district. In other words, if I'm taking ESL Methods for Elementary Students now for school, and WGU offers the same basic class in their master's program, then all I have to do is pass the test and prove that I know the stuff, and I don't have to take it again. Saves me time AND money. And since it's online, I can work at my own pace. I'm hoping to be done in a year, year and a half. (Remember, I can work on it full time this summer.)

Anyway.....like I said, this all depends on financial aid. Keep your fingers crossed!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

My 5th graders started planning my "surprise" birthday party today.

I know this because 5th graders are spectacularly bad at planning "surprise" birthday parties.

You'll notice that I keep putting "surprise" in quotes. That's because they have the subtlety of a jackhammer and the covertness of....let's say the Stay-Puffed Marshamllow Man from Ghostbusters. (I dunno. He just doesn't seem like he'd be very covert.)

But, I'm playing along and acting all suspicious and in-the-dark. Despite J. yelling over to K. at the next table (WHILE they're supposed to be working on a social studies group project), "Hey K. what are you bringing for Miss K's party?!" (I told you), I still walked over and mock-suspiciously asked, "What's going on here?"

"Nothing," they said with their version of a straight face, by which I mean they were grinning like freakin' jack-o-lanters as they covered their "secret" papers.

"Okay, then," I slowly said, walking away, "as long as you're sure." At which point they would LITERALLY cackle with glee at they reveled in their sneakiness.

It's really pretty cute. But it's REALLY hard to act oblivious to a party being planned right under your nose.

(And no, I didn't TELL them to throw me a party--but they did see pictures of last year's wild 7th grade bash.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I won! *

A Glamour magazine giveaway!! I don't enter EVERY month but occasionally something catches my eye. Well, today I came home to a decent size box from Glamour; inside I found THIS

http://www.coresecrets.com

Yeah, I'm geeked. I'm gonna bust it out tonight.

*Either that, or I bought it on eBay during my spree and just forgot. ;) No, I'm kidding, Mom. I won it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Follow Up

I received another message from Matthew's mom today (although it hurts to see it come in because it still says "You have received a message from Matthew," and EVERY TIME I well up because I SO wish that were true). Anyway, it said:

Jen, I tried to email you a message but it would not go thru--Am I missing something. I would love to keep in touch and send you some pictures of the beautiful stone we had made for Matt if I could get your address again. Thank you

I suspect we're going to develop kind of an on-going communication, which is cool. As a lot of you know, I became very close to Thomas's mom and talk to her more than I talk to him somedays. When you're an Angel, you sometimes need to be there for the families just as much, if not more, than for the actual soldier. And if ANYTHING I say helps to relieve some of her grief, even just a little, then I know that I made Grimm smile, too. I told him I'd always have his back.

On a slightly lighter note: I was at Target tonight (Holla!) and the cashier said, "You know, it's the end of my shift, and I do believe that this is the oddest, most random combination of items I've seen today."

I looked down. "Oh," I said, "Yeah. I came here for the coffee maker, and then I decided I needed some mouthwash *, too."

She laughed. "Okay," she said, " 'Cuz I was wondering what on earth would have made you
suddenly jump up and say, 'You know what I need right now? Mouthwash and a coffee maker!"

Maybe you had to be there, but it was funny.

*New citrus-burst Listerine--just as effective as the original, but less intense

Monday, October 15, 2007

Grandma died

Grandma K passed away today, very unexpectedly, a few months after my grandpa. But as we all know, that's how it goes sometimes.

Since Grandpa died, Grandma's been talking to him. She's so sure and convincing and emphatic that the nurses often found themselves turning around to make sure no one was behind them. She said he kept saying he was waiting for her and to "hurry up." I guess she did.

She had late-stage Alzheimers but otherwise was in pretty good health. Here's part of the email--yes, again, I found out about the death of a grandparent via email--that Dad sent around 8 pm.

"She went quietly and very unexpectedly. I was talking to the Nurses this morning. She had been fighting a cold, but was apparently coming back strong. They told me not to worry..I should keep to my plan to visit in a few weeks. Then as near as I can tell, she just went to sleep this afternoon and didn’t wake up. I could hear the nurses in the backround crying when they called me. They liked her. "

Dad's doing as well as can be expected. I was on the phone with him for a while tonight. As some of you know, Dad doesn't show emotion and neither do we around him. So I had to get through the convo with no tears, etc. I did it, too, because that's how we roll. My voice shook a few times though, and I found myself squeezing my hands into fists and digging my nails into my palms.

Grandpa, as much as I love him, was quite the ornery b*stard sometimes. Grandma, though, was truly a sweet, sweet woman.

She didn't really know Dad, or us, in the last couple of years. My prayer is that, as she's restored to a perfect body and MIND, she looks down at us and is proud of who her granddaughters have become.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mitch Hedberg

...was (is) my favorite comedian. He was the guy on Comedy Central who had shaggy hair, usually spoke with his eyes cast on the ground and was very monotone. He came out with some of the greatest one-liners EVER. Mitch died a couple of years ago--officially due to heart problems, though he had had a drug problem as well.

Anyway, I found a website that generates some random Mitch-isms. I'm going to start posting them occasionally because they're hysterical.

Enjoy.

Onions make me sad, alot of people don't realize that. When I'm cutting onions I'm sad... the plight of onions has been sad. But people don't realize I'm actually crying. They think I'm just reacting.

And

The depressing thing about tennis is no matter how good I get, I'll never be as good as a wall. I played a wall once. They're f**king relentless.
Just another manic Sunday

You Bangles' (the group, not the team) fans will get what I did there with the title. I thought it was pretty clever. ;)

Anyway...just a week or so after Dave and I got back together, I'm a bit "up." ("You picked a helluva time to come back," I told him.) I'm okay but this whole weekend I've been out of whack.

He could tell as soon as I walked through the door yesterday. I was telling him about my day and it quickly became apparent. Here's what I've been to:

1) Was up all night on Friday
2) Was back up at 8 am on Sat. (and for those who truly know me, THAT'S a red flag right there
3) Was on the computer all night, doing research for colleges, setting up my online billpay through Fifth Third (who DOESN'T do that at 3 am), and playing on eBay (see #4)
4) Went on a bit of a spending spree on eBay but nothing that will really hurt me; it'll just make things a little tighter this month. I told Dave I "bought some shoes" on eBay, but something about the way I said it grabbed his attention. "How many?" he asked.
5) We were watching The Sopranos when I felt the need to clean, RIGHT NOW. Cleaned his kitchen floors--which, of course, is another deviation for me, LOL
6) Talking really quickly (which was the first thing he noticed)
7) Was online in the middle of the night on Sat while he was in bed (P.R. stuff--in fact, I got 2 parties booked)
8) Was up again this morning at 7 after sleeping a few hours

Still, he was great. He was patient with me and enjoyed our night and just stayed on alert for any signs of worsening. We didn't go out and I limited myself to one glass of wine. We played Monopoly to keep my mind busy and I got him to go out for a walk with me, too, which helped. All in all, it was okay. Plus, he got to see how relatively easy it is to keep me just a bit hyper and not UberCrazyBitch.

I was due (every 3 months, it happens) but this WAS a mild one, really--and once I'm on the meds longer, they won't come as often (I hope). As it is, this was just a "hypomanic" thing and not a full blown episode.

I gotta tell you, guys--recognizing the symptoms as soon as they start, knowing what to do about it, recognizing and avoiding things that can set me off or make it worse....it's AWESOME. Why didn't I do this sooner?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Financially savvy

Yes, me.

Well, I'm getting there.

As most of you know, money management has never been my strong suit. I have credit issues (big'uns) and I'm very much an impulse buyer, randomly going out and spending a good deal of my "discretionary" income on crap I don't need, not leaving enough left over for bills (so I guess it wasn't discretionary, huh? But seriously, when I got paid, I'd go buy fun stuff first and then pay bills with whatever was left over instead of the other way around. And saving? Fuggetaboutit! (In hindsight, a lot of this financial behavior could be due to the BP, since that's actually a BIG red flag/warning sign, but either way, I've been quite sucky with the finanical resources).

Good thing, then, that my roommate is a financial planner. (A STONED financial planner, but a financial planner nonetheless.) And he's good, too. So far, in the last month or so, I've opened up a savings account, signed up for auto billpay so my bills are paid very first thing, started tracking where I've been hemorrhaging money (note to self: stay the hell out of CVS); reorganized my 401K and my diversification plan (LOL, is that a word?) and even started researching which stocks I want to invest in when I've saved up enough (apparently, THAT'S the way to make money).

I also took some advice from the new Cosmo about how to "get rich quick" (saving strategies)--the best one there is to transfer balances to a 0% card to pay off principal faster, even if it's only 6 months or so; unfortunately, right now my credit is still kind of crappy so I can't get a "good" card yet. But I will. In the meantime, I'm checking my mail for other CC offers--even a LOWER one is better than what I have now.

By the way: how many of you have a savings account? Now, how many of you have an INTEREST-EARNING savings account? Do you know you can do that ONLINE?? I didn't until Brad showed me the way. Check out etrade.com or ingdirect.com for 4-5% interest yield rate thingies. =-) Etrade.com's is slightly higher but Brad recommends ING and frankly, I liked their site better, too. Much easier to open an account. Hey, if your money is sitting there, it might as well work for you. And, of course, this is now a "bill" that comes out of every paycheck and gets deposited right into savings.

None of this is major and you probably do a lot of it already, but if not--hell, start with the savings account. No minimum opening balance, minimum deposits, etc. And it's a huge plus that it's not linked right to my "regular" account, where I can see the money every day...I'm hoping that this makes it easier for me to forget about it/reduces temptation so that it can really grow.

I don't have a lot of debt--credit card, Penney's card--until you add in my student loan and now my car loan (gulp--but at least this really was a valid, necessary purchase). Stilll, my credit needs a'fixin' from prior financial decisions, and this is the time. Trust me--I'm still getting paid jack shit as a teacher, but when I saw how much I was leaking each month on NOTHING, I almost had a heart attack. Time to put this money to use!! First up: credit cards.

I'm geeked.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Anti-climactic...

Since many of you already know, due to days of soul-searching and internal debate, but--

Dave and I are back together.

Yeah. Some of ya didn't see THAT coming, huh?

Let's just say that a phone call to get the rest of my stuff turned into a reconciliation.

He's a big butt sometimes, but hey --so am I. ;) And I love him, very much. And we've both changed a lot in the last few months. He's been reading up on BP (a plus by itself) and vows to stand by me, good AND bad. He'll be there during the "episodes" and more importantly, he wants to be actively involved to prevent us from getting to that stage, as much as possible. Did he handle this whole thing perfectly? Hell no. But this is a big deal and if he needed a couple months to adjust to the news, so be it. Furthermore, he said he wanted to make sure I was getting help for ME, and not for him--and I believe him (because I know myself). I was hesitant at first, and more than a little sad to give up my yummy Former Marine (who was quite understanding)--but I do believe that we're coming back together stronger than ever before.

And if I'm wrong? Well, you can bet that I'm keeping FM on speed dial. ;)

And a special shout-out to the Girl Tribunal. ;)
Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday

Here's my costume this year. The kids'll love it.


Yes, it's 3:30 am and I'm up. My doc has me on a new anti-d. Very effective but clearly insomnia-inducing.

Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY MISSY!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Who's the dumbass?

Lohan or the guy writing the headline?

Lohan says rehab was 'sobering'

Monday, October 08, 2007

Big news coming....

Give me a day or two to be sure. I'll be in touch. ;)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Grad school and my daughter

(No, my daughter isn't old enough for grad school yet. =-) Those are just the two topics in this post.)

First, my daughter: I talked to her late last night on the phone for like an hour. It was really, really cool. Seriously, this is about as good as I could have hoped for things to turn out, as far as our relationship goes. She cracks me up, too. For example:

Her: "I'm gonna marry a Jamaican midget."
Me (understandably): "HUH?"
Her: "Well, I love Jamaican guys because of their accents, and midgets--well, midgets are just freakin' AWESOME--so what's the obvious solution? Marry a Jamaican midget!"

LOL. (She's 14, almost 15.)

Second: I'm going to be going to graduate school for my master's soon. I'm doing this for 3 reasons:
1) I already owe so much in student loans that really, what's another 10K or so? I'll be paying on them the rest of my life anyway.
2) Getting my master's will allow me to boost my paltry teacher's salary to a slightly LESS paltry one. This, in turn, will actually HELP me to pay back my loans more quickly. Either that, or buy new clothes.
3) From the time I was old enough to understand what a master's WAS, I always promised myself that someday I would get one, too. It's my personal goal to achieve at least the same level of education that both my parents did.

I've been researching (I am, after all, the queen of research) both area schools as well as online universities, and I've applied to one of each--Florida Gulf Coast U. here in Ft. Myers and Western Governors U., based out of Salt Lake City. Price, program and reputation were the three main factors that narrowed down my original 6 or so selections.

Both of these schools will cost about the same amount (although I've already applied for a scholarship at the online one and I'm in the process of applying for a grad school tuition waver at FGCU--they're very competitive, though, and with my luck I'll make "too much" to qualify, since I don't have to eat twigs and leaves or whatever the requirements are to qualify for "need-based" scholarships these days. Hell, even with I was making $25K and decided to return to school to be a teacher, I didn't even qualify for need-based LOANS. However, if I could start THIS year, before the new FAFSAs are filed--which means I'd have to go with WGU--I might qualify for slightly more that first term. My 1040 LAST year was even lower than $25K because I had been working at Tutor Time for the first part of the year, until I moved down here and started teaching. My new FAFSA, while still far from Daddy Warbucks-territory, will still be higher than my current one, thereby cutting down AGAIN on any aid I'm qualified for. I can still get loans, of course, but I was hoping for some "free money", too.

I like FGCU because it's a "real" school and it's very well known here in the area; however, I like WGU because you can work at your own pace, however fast or slow that may be, and--best of all--IT'S ALL ONLINE. As many of you know, I keep weird hours, so if I'm up at like 3 am on the weekend, I can "go to class," rather than having to sit in a classroom for 3 hours twice a week or whatever. So I'm actually kind of leaning towards WGU, assuming I can get that scholarship out of them ($1000 a term but it would make a big difference).

So we'll see.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Parental Advisory

There's a furniture company here in town named Badcock.

Isn't that an oxymoron?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A little of everything

  • Katey took Blake (my nephew) to a geneticist this week. Apparently, his cerebral palsy is hereditary-- a 1 in 4 chance. I don't know yet if it's on Nick's side or ours, but if it's OURS it's certainly something to keep in mind. I'll have to decide if I want to have more kids someday--and if I have one already who's "okay," that means my chances of having a CP baby increase with each kid I have. Kind of scary.
  • I saw Former Marine again last night. I went over to his house and we got dinner and a movie. I think I was a little TOO overzealous with my "no funny business" mandate prior to agreeing to go over there, because once I got arrived he had "my" spot picked out (the couch) and "his" spot (down the hall and to the left, LOL). But you know what? He was a total gentleman and I had a blast. In fact, I even initiated a bit of "friendliness" with HIM since he was so good at respecting my boundries.
  • I think he likes me, too, which is amazing considering the DUMB ASS THING I said last night. We were going to a Peruvian restaraunt and he said "You know what that means, right?" and all indignant-like I replied, "Uh, YEAH. It's food from PERUVIA. Duh." He literally fell off the chair from laughing so hard. "What do you teach again?" he asked when he finally regained control. "Sdjjjjdj," I muttered. "What was that?" he asked. "Social studies," I repeated, at which point he went into another episode. But hey--in my defense, there are a LOT of little countries that no one really knows and "Peruvia" SOUNDS like a real place.
  • OOOH, I have another Former Marine story and then I'm done. This is weird, though. He wanted to see me on Monday night but I had an appointment with my drug doctor. So I told him I couldn't, I had an appointment. Sounded nice and generic, right? "Oh yeah?" he asked. "What kind of appointment?"

"Doctor's," I said. "No big deal."

"Oh," he said. "You're bipolar, huh?"

I almost drove off the road. "What makes you say that?" I asked as casually as I could.

"You said you're heading out to Matlacha, right?" he said. "That's where all the bipolar people go, from what I hear. There's a big clinic there."

LOL. Now mind you, he was saying this jokingly--but it WOULD have been a good time to just say, "Actually, yeah, I do have it but it's under control and not really a big deal," but I was just FROZEN.

Then last night, when I was with him, he was telling me a story about his ex-roommate, and somehow we got on the subject of a friend of hers who--you guessed it--was bipolar. LOL. It's ALL AROUND ME with this guy. But she was on disability because of it; hers was very severe.

THEN, later that same night, while we were all cuddled up on the couch and stuff, a commercial came on about having a friend with mental illlness. I actually looked up at the ceiling like, "Is this a SIGN?" But I couldn't tell him. He kind of snorted when the commercial came on...and I get the feeling that it's not so much that he judges them (or "us," I guess I should say), but rather that all of his experiences with people with these types of issues have all been negative AND much more severe cases.

They say on the BP boards that you'll know when and how to tell someone, almost instinctively, and I think that's true. Sometimes it's best to tell them right away--to do it right away, to get it over with, to act like it's no big deal--and to find out if they're gonna run, because it's better to have them do it right away. But sometimes, it IS better to just proceed with things and bring it up later, down the road, once you start building kind of a history and foundation. And honestly, in this case, I truly think it's better to wait for him to really get to know me and care about me (if we ever get that far, even); I think that will help him to accept the news--seeing how "normal" (shut up) I am, and how, generally speaking, this really DOESN'T affect my life.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Are you freakin' kidding me?

"LONDON (AFP) - Tickets for the Spice Girls' comeback concert in London sold out in just 38 seconds, the show's organisers announced on Monday. "

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Alcohol = breast cancer

Consuming one serving of alcohol a day (doesn't matter what kind, either) increases a woman's risk of breast cancer by 10%, they just announced. An average of 3 or more drinks a day means an increased risk of 30%.

I'm screwed.

Actually, these meds may have another benefit (besides the obvious "keeping my nutty ass out of jail" one)--I've had to severely cut my alcohol intake. First of all, alcohol and bipolar don't mix (in fact, I've learned that it's one of my personal "triggers"); but more than that, the meds make the alcohol affect me much more quickly. Before, I could sit with J. at Benny's after work, knock back 6* glasses of wine and barely feel a buzz; now, I start feeling anything much more than a glass and a half. Plus, I've been trying to drink less since my psychiatrist said I had a potential "alcohol problem". I told her, "No way! I drink as much as the other teachers at my school. In fact, there are lots of teachers who drink WAY more than I do!" and she said "Yes, but we're not talking about other teachers. We're talking about YOU." I felt like a 5-year-old. A 5-year-old LUSH, mind you, but a 5-year-old nonetheless. Anyway, she said that with 2 alcoholic uncles (at least) and the amount I was consuming, I had to be careful, as I was walking the fine line between "problem" and "-ism."

The last reason, of course, that I've been trying to cut back on my alcohol is the diet. Wine has fewer calories than other forms of alcohol, but it's calories nonetheless. And speaking of which--

Another pound and a half this week, baby! I'm down to 145--which was my initial goal weight. My "final" goal weight is 140. Whoo ooo!!! I'm damn close to my "skinny weight" now!! I'm almost back where I was!!

UPDATE: I'm wearing my skinny jeans on my date with Former Marine tonight. This is the first time I've worn them in over a year. Whoo hoo!!

*It's 2-for-1 at Benny's, so it was only 3 "rounds". I couldn't help it if they brought me 2 for every 1 I ordered!

Friday, September 28, 2007

PMS much?

This month, I blubbered my way through Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

(Yes, AGAIN.)

But this was their graduation night, so it was justifiable. (Right?) Jeff Foxworthy presented them all with $25K savings bonds for their own futures and it was so touching and they were so excited that I got all verklempt. (Hell, I'm tearing up again just thinking about it.) Plus, it made me think of my current 5th graders--who I'm already SO attached to--graduating to middle school. And then, to make it worse, my 7th graders from last year, now 8th graders, will have their OWN graduation ceremony to high school. (There's already SUCH a change in them from last year, especially the boys. Hell, they're young men now.)

Anyway, between the two, I'll be a MESS come June.
More words to live by

Just saw this on Myspace...

"If you cant handle me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best."
Dating in your 30s

This started out as a reply to a comment; then I decided, the more I typed, that it was worthy of a separate post.

It's kind of funny, but I'm becoming almost PROUD of my childless (well...you know) and never-married status. Although I was feeling quite old-maid-ish in my late 20s, something happened as I hit this new decade....I wear it now as a badge of pride, rather than a "What the hell is wrong with HER? Why has no one married her yet?" type of thing. People like me are becoming increasingly rare in Dating Land, that's for sure. Instead of being divorced and on my 2nd go-around, I'm still waiting for the right guy. I'd rather be single till I'm 40 and find "the one" than to get married at 22 and divorced at 28, ya know?

(DISCLAIMER TO THE DATING GODS: that does not mean that I HOPE I'm single till I'm 40. Just so we're clear on that fact.)

Instead of becoming LESS picky and settling as I get older, I find myself becoming MORE picky about the men I date (and keep around). Shit. I've waited THIS long; I'm sure not going to settle now.

As many of you know, I have pretty low self-esteem. However, for all of my many, many flaws, I can recognize this truth about myself: I am an incredibly loving, compassionate person. When I love someone, I LOVE them--totally and completely. I do my absolute best to make them happy. Do I fuck up every now and then? Hell, yeah. But I still feel that what I have to offer outweighs those cons. Because like everyone else, I'm human. I can only do so much. And--OOH, EPIPHANY!!!--this is why I'm so forgiving of others' mistakes. This is why it's so hard for me to hold a grudge. This is why I still talk to the exes who treated me like crap or the people who have hurt me along the way....because I know what it's like to fuck up. ROYALLY. And I hope people will forgive ME and see the good that *I* still have to offer, in spite of it all. And that's what I do: even when someone's an ass to me, I still focus on the good--because that's exactly what I hope they'll do for me.

And you know what? If, along the way, someone CAN'T forgive me or stand by me--well, that's fine. I don't have to answer to them. But I do have to answer to ME. And no matter how badly they knock me down, I'll know that *I* always gave them the benefit of the doubt, I always loved THEM with an open heart, I always forgave THEM--even if it ended up biting me in the ass.

Everything happens for a reason, and God knows I saw my share of trials during my 20s (and even the first 9 months of my 30s) and learned my share of lessons. I have to believe that it's all leading up to/ preparing me for SOMETHING, ya know? It's like the name of this blog is truly coming to fruition:

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you...
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true

I'm still single as a motherf*cker--but at least now I can see the REASON for it...and be okay with it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

....

I feel like I SHOULD write something, but there isn't much to say. I just feel kind of...blah. For someone on a cocktail of happy pills, I should feel a helluva lot perkier than I do. I'm just tired, I think. Been pulling my 55-60 hour weeks again (and then coming home and grading papers for another 2 or 3 hours). So add that to a lack of sleep and you have a Draggin'-Ass Jen. (I'm TRYING to sleep; I just haven't been able to the last week or so.)

Things with Single Dad fizzled out. As some of you know, I started getting some distinct warning signs that things may not be completely resolved/settled with his ex...and God knows I don't want to get into one of THOSE situations again. Jesus, the things Golf Course Guy and I had to deal with were freakin' insane. Literally.

(One could argue that my calling someone else insane is like the pot calling the kettle crazy, but at least I had a justifiable cause and am fixable. Some people are just flat-out psychotic bitches for no other reason than to fuck with people's lives. But I digress.)

Anyway, Single Dad is no more. I'm now talking to a former Marine (hubba hubba) and another guy but I can't remember what he does. Both have a kid. Man, dating sure changed once I hit 30. Divorced and/or kids is now the rule, not the exception. (Both of these guys are never married, though.)

So that's about it. Oh, and a general memo to my sisters: please stop having kids in September. It's one hell of an expensive month. Plus, I get back from the card store, read my email, remember that someone ELSE is having a birthday and then go back. I've been doing that all month. Sure, I could just pull a Renee and get organized and buy them all at once at the start of the month and mail them out so they actually get there BEFORE each birthday....but then that wouldn't be ME, now would it?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tribute to My Homeless Guy

As some of you know, I read online last night that the body of a homeless man was found here in the neighborhood this past weekend. And based on the picture, it's "my" homeless guy.

Now mind you, I had never even talked to the man. But since I moved here a year ago, I've seen him almost every week. He was always around (near Publix and the bowling alley, where his body was found, seemed to be his two most frequent hangouts). He was never asking for handouts. He'd just walk around. Sometimes he'd sit down on the grass and just watch everyone go by. And every time I saw him, I always thought, "Man, I should stop and help him"--give him money, food, SOMETHING. And, of course, I never did. I always had somewhere I just HAD to be. Or I didn't have cash on me. Or any one of a number of excuses.

I'll do it later, I told myself. Next time.

I told myself that for over a year.

So part of the tears were guilt-induced. Part of it was...I don't know. He had just become, in a weird way, a part of my life. Kind of like the old man I always see walking back from the gas station every morning, like clockwork, on my way to work.

And then I had a thought that just broke my heart: I was probably the only one in the whole world who cried at his passing. He left this world and barely anyone even noticed.

So here's to Richard, my homeless guy: I sure hope that wherever you are now is a hell of a lot better than your life down here. You WILL be missed.

I just wanted you to know that.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Homesick

Blame it on Kish.

I got an email from her today talking about an upcoming visit to the apple orchard.

Oh, MAN. Apple orchards and apple cider and donuts and pumpkin patches and leaves changing colors and burning leaves (which gives me asthma but still) and caramel apples (I only want those in the fall) and the air getting chillier....I MISS THAT.

I had actually plumb forgotten that it was fall back home, too. (Yes, I said "plumb." Apparently, being homesick almost makes me a dork.)

The winter season isn't so bad, because a) winter sucks ass and b) I can at least experience it while I'm home for the holidays. But fall? I miss the whole damn thing. I haven't seen fall since 2006. Wow. That's weird. I can't do it this year, but maybe I'll fly home next year for a fall weekend (like my birthday). Although it won't be the same without hitting the haunted houses and orchards with Anna....

OH, COME ON!!! As I was composing this blog, the following email came in from my friends at BettyCrocker.com: "10 Fall Apple Favorites." Son of a BITCH. (PS: What the HELL are "cooking apples" and how are they different from "eating apples"?)

As Ross on Friends would say: Bummin' hard, guys. Bummin' hard.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Words of wisdom

The hardest thing is loving someone and then having the courage to let them love you back.

Unfortunately, they're not MY words of wisom. They're from the movie "The Wedding Date" (which I love, by the way).

Still good, though.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Overheard

When you mix women, alcohol and bedroom aids, pretty much anything goes. I've seen and heard some crazy things at my Pure Romance parties (which is part of the reason they're so fun). However, I overheard something last night that made me laugh really hard. Now, perhaps this was taken out of context--and maybe you had to be there--but as I was taking orders in the back bedroom, the following snippet of conversation wafted down the hall to us:

"And he told me, 'Put your shirt back on!' and I said, 'But I just took it off!!' "

LOLOLOL.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Well, our smoke alarm works

**NOW: UPDATED WITH PICS. SEE BELOW**

As I was watching Must See TV tonight, a piercing shriek suddenly filled the condo.

I frantically jumped up and, disoriented, tried to figure out what the hell was going on. Was it a tornado siren? (We had a drill today at school due to some severe weather so I had tornadoes on the brain.) Suddenly, I realized that it was the smoke alarm.

And a split second after THAT, I realized why.

I went tear-assing into the kitchen (running into the stripper pole as I rounded the corner from my room into the dining room), where I found a bit of a "situation" on the stove.

See, I had been boiling one of my Pure Romance Hot Heart Massagers. Basically, they're reusable heat packs that are just WONDERFUL. To "reset" them for subsequent use, you simply boil them for 7-10 minutes. Due to being wrapped up in my TV viewing, however, I had inadvertantly been boiling mine for 45-60 minutes.

Anyway, to make a long story short: the water had completely evaporated, the Massager had exploded and the plastic remnants had caught fire.

No exaggeration: the smoke was so thick that my eyes were watering and burning. The noxious fumes probably explain why I had started to feel slightly dizzy.

Everything is back under control now, although I probably have some irritated neighbors. Seeing as how the average age of residents in these condos is roughly 105 and the average bedtime is about 6 pm--and seeing as how I had to throw open every door and window to get the shrieking to stop--they probably weren't too appreciative of all the action coming out of Unit 810.

Never a dull moment.

Before


After


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Amen and hallelujah

Party Of One
By Julia Allison Special to Yahoo! Personals

Although I'm rarely accused of "having good timing" (or tact, for that matter), it seems that my luck has finally turned: Today I've parted ways with the jerk, er, guy I was seeing, just in time for the nonstop thrill ride that is National Singles Week. Er, excuse me -- National Unmarried and Singles Americans Week. Because I am nothing if not a serious investigative journalist, I did a hard-hitting piece on the phenomenon that's sweeping our nation: Celebrating being single during an assigned week! Most reporters would shy away from such a controversial subject. Not me. It's all about the story, people. With that, today's column, Party of One. Cue "All By Myself."

If you're one of the 95 million Americans who stubbornly refuse to join in wedded bliss, the commemorative holiday you've been feverishly anticipating is finally here. That's right, spouse-less slackers, it's National Unmarried And Single Americans Week! Possessors of a marriage license, get thee to the sleepy bedroom 'burbs. This week is NOT for you!

As for the rest -- I know it's difficult to contain your exuberance.

You've no doubt already planned several rollicking events, probably involving whipped cream and speed dating.
You've no doubt already planned several rollicking events, probably involving whipped cream and speed dating. After all, times when you can officially celebrate not having a ball & chain come but once a year. (Excluding bachelor parties. Obviously.)

The esteemed holiday was founded in 1984 by a courageous group of Ohioans called the Buckeye Singles Council, who clearly had too much free time on their (ring-less) hands. Disgruntled with the smug marrieds in their state, they decided that they just wouldn't stand for it anymore.No longer....

No longer would they ignore the blatant favoritism accorded to those with marriage certificates!
No longer would they put up with the inferior status of those without contractual agreements sealed with large, expensive parties involving multi-tiered cakes!
No longer would they answer their mother's insistent phone calls about "that nice Jewish orthodontist"!

They retaliated by proclaiming that forthwith, the third week in September would be reserved solely for honoring unmarried people throughout the nation as well as creating awareness of the rampant discrimination against their kind. Oh, you think the unattached don't really suffer discrimination? I bet you're married, you single-hater!

According to one dating expert I spoke with, "There is still a stigma and embarrassment about being alone."

Yeah! Here's to all the stigmatized, embarrassed singles out there. Grab your cats and a bottle of warm white wine and raise a toast to life without joint tax returns, "checking in," and mandatory visits with ugly in-laws.

"This week single people are finally given permission to actually get out and enjoy themselves," the expert explained.

Permission?

Singles are the only people who DON'T need permission to go enjoy themselves!
Singles are the only people who DON'T need permission to go enjoy themselves!
Beyond that, how should we losers without wedding bands celebrate this momentous occasion? Alcohol, nudity, repeated trips to Scores?

According to the expert, we can "get a good night's sleep, hang out with friends, or go for a great haircut."

Personally, I was leaning towards the alcohol and nudity, but okay. I guess a haircut sounds nice too.
And of course, nothing says "I'm going all out to properly commemorate National Unmarried and Single Americans Week" like getting a good night's sleep.
I knew this was going to be the Best Week Ever.
Burning bridges

Yeah, you guys are right. This friendship thing with Dave just isn't going to happen. It hit me tonight on the phone--realizing the way he talks to me and treats me. It's like seeing everything in a different light. I tried to justify it before but guess what? I AIN'T CRAZY NO MO'. My mind is getting right and so is my perspective.

Anyway, it was good (well, some of it) while it lasted, but it's time to just burn that bridge and move on. We didn't work out for a LOT of reasons--and guess what? They weren't all on my end. And the same things that made me miserable in the relationship are the same things that are making me miserable in the friendship.

I don't hope he gets hit by a bus or anything but as of about 10 minutes ago, he really doesn't mean anything to me anymore. After all, you can't care about someone who treats you like dirt.

Monday, September 17, 2007

On the plus side....

Single Dad is taking me to the Brad Paisley/Rodney Atkins concert on Sunday night! I haven't been to a country concert since Garth Brooks in college, but I DO listen to country and I like a lot of their songs, such as Paisley's "She's Everything" (my ringtone for a while--the most beautiful song I've ever heard....I mean, if you believe in love and all that shit) and Atkins's "If You're Goin' Thru Hell" and "These Are My People."

And, I haven't been to a concert at all since I moved here, so it'll be fun.

We went out to dinner again tonight, sat there for 3 hours, and then he came back here, I changed into my walking shoes and we walked around another hour and a half.

He's pretty cool, so far. ;)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

It's a twist-ah!

A tornado hit our county today. Luckily (well, for me) it didn't hit Ft. Myers, though. It hit the city next door, Cape Coral. (To put it in perspective, it's like living in North Holland and having a tornado hit Zeeland, or Grand Haven--pretty damn close. For Anna, think Metro Detroit: Livonia and...Farmington Hills, let's say).













Tornados are horrible anywhere, but they're extra scary here in South Florida. See, houses in Florida don't have basements. So we don't really have anywhere "safe" to go, other than a closet or something. (It was once explained to me WHY there aren't basements, but I don't really get it. It has to do with the water in the ground, or something.)

They're still trying to assess the damage but I know cars are flipped over, some houses have serious damage and over 2,000 people lost power. No word yet on injuries or deaths.

If any of you are really bored, you can watch some home footage of it here:

http://www.nbc-2.com/Video/YourVideo.shtml
Dating

As you know, I'm back in the dating world now, but I feel much more....bitter? Cynical? Unexcited? than ever before. There have been a few times in my life, including one very recently, where I thought I found "the one." The one I would be with the rest of my life. Instead, once again, a nasty, incredibly painful breakup ensued. And I feel like....with every breakup, another part of my heart just...disappears. And I've been doing this for, what, 15 years?

Anyway, I had another date this weekend. And it went very well. We had dinner, the conversation flowed, we sat there for quite a while afterwards and talked. He's very successful, has his own house, is the father to an adorable 2-year-old son. He called me about 2 minutes after leaving Outback Steakhouse to tell me what a great time he had and how he can't wait to see me again (I think we're going to hang out tomorrow).

In short, this is the kind of guy who, once upon a time, would have sent me into a tizzy. (His only drawback is that he is very recently seperated, waiting for the divorce to be finalized, but since his ex cheated on him multiple times, I'm not too worried about him still being hung up on her.) Anyway, back in the day, I would have come home and called the world and announced that this time, for REAL, I found my Prince Charming. And now I just feel...indifferent, I guess. That's not really even the word. Numb, perhaps? Guarded? The best way I can explain it is this: those of you have known me for a while know that for a long time, I had a wall up. And I finally got to the point where I could let it down and welcome love, ACCEPT love, believe that I DESERVED love.

Well, we see where THAT got me.

LOL, I feel like freakin' Desperado. I'm out riding fences (whatever that means).

Will I see him again? Sure. Will anything come of it? Who knows. All I know is, there's no point in getting too involved because it just comes to an end. And this guy, especially. Hell, he has his head on straight. He has a son. He has a career. What the hell would he want with a nutjob like me? If *I* were dating, and had a child, and met a guy who was bipolar, would I be willing to let him into our lives? If it was hard enough before to let people in and see the real me, how the hell can I do so now? I mean, yes, there are those of you in my life who loved me before the diagnosis and who still love me afterwards. But what about the people who never knew me "before"?

Sure, right NOW this guy thinks that I'm freakin' awesome. Not to sound cocky or conceited, but they ALL do at first. =-) That's kind of my thing. It's only after they've been around for a while that they see the "other me." The Dark Side, so to speak. And who knows, maybe there won't BE the Dark Side now that I'm being treated. But....I still have to TELL him. Eventually. And I've never had to do that before. And it's really, really scary. 'Cuz what if I open myself up to a guy and then he rejects me because of it?

So that's my deal lately. I'll date a perfectly nice guy and then just stop calling him after a few dates because I don't want to get to the point where I have to tell him.

Gaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I have good news coming out of my ass

GN #1: Blue Streak gets AWESOME gas mileage. He was just over half full when I got him--and now, almost a week later, he's just UNDER half full. A whole week of driving! I know! (And yes, they didn't give him to me with a full tank of gas. The guy drove it down to the station to put in 8 gallons or so but come on--it's KIA, not Mercedes.) ;)

GN #2: I'm off today and tomorrow for Rosh Hashana. A 4-day weekend--sweet. I love Jewish people.

GN #3: I'm down another 3 pounds, for a total of 5 so far. I'm now at a weight (146) I haven't been in over a year that wasn't flu- or heartbreak-induced. 6 more pounds, baby! If this keeps up I should be there by my 31st, easily.

GN #4: Yesterday was a pretty big day. It was the official one-month mark since I quit this last time. I haven't made it a month in....well, a while. And I'm still going strong. I needed the gum pretty heavily that first couple of weeks, but it hit me the other day that I haven't needed it in a while. I still carry it around with me, though. Just in case.

There's a funny story with this, though. Yesterday after work, I went out with 2 guy teachers, M. and C. When M. asked how the quitting was going, I realized that that day was my 1-month, and I told them so. "And I've only slipped a couple times in the whole month!" I proudly told them.

They looked at each other. "So you HAVE smoked in the last month?" M. asked with an evil glint in his eye. I could tell that these boys, aka The Brothers I Never Wanted, were about to bust my balls.

"Well, yeah," I said. "But I only had, like, 2 cigarettes. In a MONTH. Normally, I would have smoked 500 in that time."

"So you haven't QUIT," said C. "You're just smoking LESS."

"Oh, please!" I defended myself. "2 cigarettes does not a smoker make. From 500 to 2?? I'm doing AWESOME. Plus, my online support group says that it's okay, even normal, to have a slip. That doesn't count."

They looked at each other. "So..." said C. "I could cheat on my wife"--note: C. is single-- "and I could say, 'But it was just one time! It doesn't count! And baby, I'm doing it a lot less than I was! Isn't that great??' "

The boys are both snickering now.

"AND," added M., "even if you DID, you could just go online to your support group and they'd say, 'Hey! Don't beat yourself up! It was just a slip!' "

By this point, of course, the guys were laughing their asses off. They thought they were hysterical. I just crossed my arms and silently stared at them--it was the "teacher stare" that I've mastered this last month.

M. caught my eye and suddenly stopped laughing. "Sorry, Jen," he mumbled. "You're right. Congratulations."

Ha! The teacher stare even works on OTHER TEACHERS!

(It WAS funny, though.)

And finally, GN #5: When you put #3 and #4 together, I have actually lost 5 pounds WHILE quitting smoking! (Soon to be 10 pounds!) Whoo hoo!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11: A Teacher's Perspective

This is my 2nd year as a teacher. Last year, I was a middle school teacher. Although those kids were pretty young on 9/11, they are old enough to know exactly what happened on that fateful day.

My current 5th graders, though, did not.

I've never had to EXPLAIN 9/11 before. Most kids knew that "a lot of people died" that day, or that "the Trade Center fell," or even that "we were attacked." But they didn't know why, or by whom.

As their social studies teacher, I had a special activity today. But first (as I found out during my first class) we had to talk about that day, and why it was such a "big deal". I was walking a thin line. I didn't want to say too much and scare the heck out of them; I couldn't inadvertantly editorialize or put too much of my opinion in it. In short, I couldn't say anything that might come back to bite me in the ass. I had to stick to the facts--and I had to break down those facts so a 10-year-old could understand.

So I told them what happened--about the first plane, the second plane and the third plane all hitting their targets. I talked about how the fourth plane, Flight 93, realized what was happening through phone calls back home and decided to stand up and fight. I talked about how that plane crashed but it crashed in a field instead of their target, which could have been the White House or the Capital Building, and that's why we call those people heroes.

Then I talked about WHY we were talking about 9/11. I tried to make them understand that this is one of the most, if not THE most, historical event of their personal lifetimes. I said, "You know how we're going to study different battles and wars throughout history in this class? Well, a hundred years from now, kids will be learning about 9/11--and YOU lived through it." That seemed to catch their attention. I tried to make them see the importance of it on a larger scale.

THEN, once I had thoroughly depressed the hell out of them, I said, "When I say the word 'hero,' what word do YOU think of?" We brainstormed a list on the board. Each class came up with a great list, too. They had everything from policemen to parents to teachers to greater concepts like "hope" and "inspiration" and "role model." Next, I let them know that they had to think of someone (or a group of people, like policemen) that THEY thought was a hero. They were going to write a letter to the Miss K. Hero Hall of Fame explaining who their hero was and why they should be inducted into the Hall of Fame (aka my bulletin board in the hall).

I told them, "We're ending class this way for a very important reason. As important as it is to remember the events of 9/11, I don't want to focus on the negative. I don't want to focus on the sadness and heartbreak and fear of that day. I don't want to focus on the handful of bad people out there. I want to focus on the good in the world, on all the wonderful, brave, loving, heroic people in the world. And trust me, there's a lot more of them." I thought it was very important, especially after our conversation, which was pretty grown-up for them, to end on the GOOD.

Every class, as I talked about that day, was silent. They were riveted. They asked really good questions. When one kid said "My mom said that they attacked us because of their religion" and another student said, "Man, that's a messed-up religion," I jumped on that as what we teachers refer to as a "teachable moment."

"NO," I told them. "That's the thing. Their religion, the Islamic religion, is NOT bad. Most Muslims don't have those beliefs and were just as horrified on that day as everyone else. This group, the terrorists, they were just crazy. And they got the teachings of that religion all mixed up. They took it too far. But no, that's not how the religion is." (In the middle of that, I had to stop and explain what 'horrified' means. Seriously, their vocabulary blows.)

The whole day, in each class, was like that. They asked great questions. (They asked if the hijackers died and I said yes, they knew they were going to die but they did it because they hated America so much that they were willing to die for their cause. That, of course, brought up the inevitable "Why do they hate us?" question, which led to the whole "religion" comment earlier.) They made the kind of simple, heartfelt observations that only a child can make. They ate it up. They truly were like little sponges. At the end of each class, I actually heard the "awwwwwwwwwwwwwws" when I said it was time to leave.

Today, those kids were really LEARNING.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Overheard in a particular fifth-grade classroom

Student 1 (looking at a sentence written on the board): "What's a gazelle?"

Student 2: "Dude, don't you know? They run really fast. Like a cantalope."

Try keeping a straight face upon hearing THAT.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Some stock pictures

Picture this in a dark metallic blue and you have my car.

Oh, and some random cool features: 6 airbags, including side-curtain; electronic tire pressure monitoring system (haven't figured out how to work it yet, though); an MP-3 plug to play my iPod through the car stereo; heated mirrors (which would matter a lot more if I didn't live in FLORIDA, LOL, but I still thought it was cool); standard CD player and decent stock sound system (remember, this is coming from someone whose last car had a TAPE PLAYER--and a non-working one at that); and one of the best warranties in the biz. Plus, A/C was standard with this model (don't laugh. It's not for a surprising number of cars--which is why I went with the Spectra, actually. I initially looked at the Rio, but by the time I added the air, it would have cost as much as the Spectra anyway--plus, the Spectra had a $1000 higher cash-back offer). Plus, according to user reviews online, the gas mileage is AWESOME.

I know there's more that's cool about this car but I can't remember it all right now--my head is still spinning. =-)
I'll be damned....

I actually did it.

I bought a new car today.

And not just "new-to-me," either. NEW. 2007 Kia Spectra, deep ocean blue. (I'll take pictures with the camera phone tomorrow.)

I'm almost 31 and this is my first-ever brand-new car. The monthly payments are a bit of a nut, but with the (slight) raise at work, the adjustment I made to my health insurance (which means much less coming out of my checks) and keeping up just one or two Pure Romance parties a month, it shouldn't be a problem. And besides, with my beloved '99 Ford Escort JUST under 100,000 miles, it was at the point that I was falling into that putting-more-into-it-than-it's-worth trap. Hell, if I'm shelling out money for a car all the time, it might as well go towards a new one.

I've been thinking about a new car for a good year now but with my credit, I figured it was impossible. Then I heard an ad for a Kia place down in Naples promising they could help anyone, so with a laugh, a healthy dose of skepticism and an evil gleam in my eye ("you just don't KNOW what you're up against, you poor bastards") I drove down today to check it out.

I had done considerable research online last night so I wasn't going in blind, but it was still a nerve-wracking experience. I'm paying more per month than I anticipated, but again, with my credit, that's pretty much a given. My rep, a guy who sounded like he walked off the set of the Sopranos, was a lot of fun. He was an older, balding, heavy-set Mob-like teddy bear who hugged me instead of shaking my hand when the deal was finalized. Ooh, and I did get a $1500 cash back deal which of course went towards my down payment (see how responsible I am?). We won't say how much I got for 'Scort. Let's just say that what little value she had pretty much came from the new tires on her. =-) This didn't stop me, of course, from tearing up a little as I drove away and left her behind. I got her right after Cam's accident. We've been through a lot together. Hell, we came to Florida together. Okay, now I'm getting verklempt again. Shut up.

So....there you have it. My hands are still shaking. I can't believe I did. I drove in the right-hand lane the whole way home, hands at 10 and 2, pulling a Deb and going 65 in a 70, swearing every time a bug hit the windshield. I had to pull over halfway home to figure out how to turn on the lights. =-)

I feel like such a grown-up.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Oh, well, if OSAMA says so....

CAIRO, Egypt - Osama bin Laden appeared for the first time in three years in a video Friday released ahead of the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, telling Americans they should convert to Islam if they want the war in Iraq to end.

The 30-minute video was obtained by the SITE Institute, a Washington-based group that monitors terrorist messages. American officials said the U.S. government had obtained a copy earlier and intelligence agencies were studying the video to determine whether it was authentic and looking for clues about bin Laden's health.

In the video, a short excerpt of which was broadcast to the Arab world by Al-Jazeera television, bin Laden wears a white robe, a white circular cap and a beige cloak seated behind a table while reading an address to the American people from papers in front of him.

His trimmed beard is shorter than in his last video, in 2004, and is fully black — apparently dyed, since in past videos it was mostly gray. He speaks softly, as he usually does, and has dark bags under his eyes, but his appearance dispelled rumors that he had died.

The footage gives a rare look at the al-Qaida leader, who has likely avoided appearing in videos as a security measure. His emergence comes at a time when terrorism experts believe his terror network is regrouping in the lawless Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.

Bin Laden makes no overt threats and does not directly call for attacks, according to the transcript, which was first posted by ABC News on its Web site.

Instead, he addresses Americans, lecturing them on the failures of their leaders to stop the war in Iraq despite growing public opposition in the U.S.

"There are two solutions to stopping it. One is from our side, and it is to escalate the fighting and killing against you. This is our duty, and our brothers are carrying it out," bin Laden said.
"The second solution is from your side. I invite you to embrace Islam," he said.

One result of that, bin Laden said, would be an end to the Iraq war. He said "warmongering owners of the major corporations" would rush to appease voters who showed they are looking for an alternative, "and this alternative is Islam."