Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And I leave you with this...

I totally jacked this from Randy's blog, but I feel that it perfectly captures my sentiments as I leave my life in Michigan and return to my life in Florida.

Later!

My last week or so

So you may be asking yourself, "We've been getting frequent weather reports, but what has Jen been UP to this last week?" Allow me to catch you up:

* Christmas Eve: after all of our last minute shopping (some of you do Black Friday; we do Christmas Eve), I stopped by Nee's parents house to spend some time with her and my second family. When you've been best friends with someone for 26 years, their casa becomes your casa. Plus, you know, it's always fun to get the "you're a dumbass" love life speech from a whole different group of people. ;) And, Nikki has already mentioned this on her blog, but in case you don't get over there: Renee can bake. I mean, BAKE. Her basket of goodies is my second favorite thing about Christmas, other than Christmas Day (see below). LOL: I'm crazy for Renee's goodies.

* Christmas Day (Thursday): everyone descended on Mom and Steve's house for Christmas-palooza. By "everyone," I mean 9 nieces and nephews, 4 sisters (plus me), and a couple of significant (or not so significant--ha!) others. All told, there were 18 of us. It's absolute chaos--and it's my absolute favorite day of the year for exactly that reason. Plus, the shots of Pucker that have been a part of our stocking for the last 4 years or so don't hurt, either.

* Friday: I saw my daughter, who turns 16 on January 6. (I think by now most of you know that I got pregnant very, very young and gave her up for adoption--but it was an open adoption so I still get to see her and stuff. She found out the truth about who I am just a couple of weeks before I moved to Florida. We're actually very close now and are more like friends or sisters.) Anywho, that visit went well. It was great to see her, and she's becoming a beautiful young woman. I'm very proud of her. I do wish that I was able to have more one on one time with her, instead of her whole family being there, but...you gotta take what you can get. Maybe some day.

* Saturday: Missy, Nik and I tore up the town. HELLZ YEAH!! For example, we went to Steve and Barry's, Target AND Denny's--ALL IN ONE NIGHT. We're crazy, I tell ya. I spent most of Sunday recovering. ;) Word.

* Monday: went to Katey's to see her kids again before I leave. Not seeing her kids and Missy's kids too often is definitely the hardest part about living in Florida. We made tacos, and then I got her kids all riled up right before bedtime and left. You know, typical cool aunt stuff. ;)

* Tonight: in addition to watching out for another snow storm (only 1-4 inches though), I'm heading out to dinner with Kish and another friend from high school. It sucks that I only get to see her for a couple of hours but somehow, we manage to cram a LOT into one dinner. =-) And in the meantime, I'm packing. I want to be pretty much ready to leave before dinner tonight. I'm doing that last bit of laundry, too. Packing to go home will be significantly more difficult than packing to come here, because--of course--I have accumulated a lot more stuff since my arrival. So packing will actually be quite a challenge...perhaps I should actually START, then, instead of just blogging (be-logging) about it. Yes, I'll definitely give that some thought and consideration.

Barring the first few days when I was snowed in and slowly going crazy(-er), this trip home has definitely gone by quickly. I always feel torn at the end of my trips, because on one hand, I'm sad to leave everyone, especially the little ones, and being home reminds me of how much I miss everyone when I'm in Florida (even if it's just acting stupid with my sisters). But at the same time, I'd be lying if I said I'm not excited about getting back to the warm weather in Florida and my friends and my life THERE. (And did I mention the warm weather?)

So...thanks, Michigan, for another great Christmas. I'll see you this summer.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Whoosy Whatsit

As loyal readers of my blog know, I've been snowed in pretty much since arriving in Michigan a week ago by one of the larger snow storms to come through these parts in recent years. The frozen tundra was buried under several feet of snow, which was, in turn, covered by a sheet of ice.

And then today, it all melted.

Don't believe me? Then you must not be a Michigander. Because 'round here, it IS entirely possible to have a 40 degree warmup in one day, and to have winter blizzards give way to spring-like thunderstorms. (Seriously--THUNDERSTORMS.)









See? Grass.











Today: high of 57.
Tomorrow: high of 33. And--oh yes--the snow returns.

Just another weekend in Michigan.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My Target rant

Hope everyone's Christmas was jolly. And now that THAT'S out of the way:

I love Target. It's one of my Happy Places, along with Bath and Body Works and Shoeless Joe's. And one of my loyal blog readers happens to be married to someone quite high in the Target chain of command, and I know that the company has been very good to that family. HOWEVER, I am currently bitter with them.

For Christmas this year, my big gift was the complete Sex and the City series on DVD. Mom bought them from Target back in August, and they've been in storage ever since, waiting for Christmas Day. Mom, though, bought each DVD seperately, which added up to like $180 (without tax). Upon opening them and realizing this, I told Mom that they were available in a box set--which the Target website currently has for $99.

So today, we went to return these UNOPENED DVDs, WITH THE RECEIPT.

And we were de-nied, because the receipt was more than 90 days old. We couldn't even get store credit. Nothing.

Now, is this standard policy elsewhere? There's now a 90-day time limit to return stuff? They were UNOPENED and we could PROVE we bought them there. They could have easily just thrown them back on the shelf. And of COURSE it was past 90 days, because she was holding them for Christmas--but dude, it's not like we were trying to return something a year or two later.

I didn't know there was such a narrow window of opportunity in which to be able to return something. And now Mom is out quite a bit of money because of it.

Receipts expiring after 90 days?! Discuss.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Got this from Lynda's blog

Just watch it. You'll be glad you did. Or not.

So this is Christmas: the ballad of a Floridian stuck in what they're calling the worst storm Michigan has seen since 1976--and by "they," I mean my mom and stepdad, not an actual historian or meteorologist or anything

(Hmmm...I may have to work on that title)

Sung to the tune of "So This is Christmas"

So this is Christmas
Never seen this much snow
My road has not been plowed
So I have nowhere to go

So this is Christmas
Everything's covered in white
The thought of me driving
Gives my mom quite a fright

So this is Christmas
At the house I am stuck
'Cause the 'rents do not trust me
To drive on ice in the truck


So this is Christmas
Got lots of time on my hands
So I'm here writing gay songs
'Stead of lying in sand

So this is Christmas
Hear me as I screech
That all future holidays
Will be on Ft. Myers beach

No, in all seriousness, I'm really happy to be home for the holidays; it's just hard because I haven't gotten to see the sisters and little ones yet and I'm getting kind of restless. But, as I watch the snow fall down in large, fluffy flakes, and look at the trees completely covered in white, and it's so quiet and peaceful because no one's going outside and the snow is completely untouched...I can't help but think, THIS is what Christmas looks like.

Monday, December 22, 2008

And the bullshit continues...

Too bad I didn't have my camera with me when we went to the store earlier, or you could have seen the guy SKIING down the road.

No, seriously.







Our mailbox is almost covered. Also, it appears to be drunk.














Okay, maybe it's a LITTLE pretty....

Fun trivia fact: do you see those tall-ass pine trees on the left (not the first one, but the others behind it)? My dad planted those as little saplings when Mom and he were first married--and NOW look at them. Yes, that house down there is where I actually grew up. My mom and stepdad live just a few houses away now. (Dad no longer lives in the original house.) Long story. Sure made moving easy, though.
This is BULLshit
**Now with photographic proof









You can't really tell, but the snow is falling in blizzard-like sheets


















The bush right outside of our front door, which is as far as I've dared to venture out thus far




















The snow piled on the side of our driveway (as of last night)












Seriously, these pics don't do it justice. I'll keep working on it.

More to come...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

This is BULLshit

I made it to the Winter Wonderland.

My flight from Florida to Detroit was uneventful, other than some slight turbulance as we started to cross over the snowy states. (It was only after being dropped off at the Ft Myers airport that I realized I had forgotten my damn jacket at home, so I called Mom and requested that she meet me with one in Grand Rapids.)

The flight to GR was a little more complicated. First, my flight out of Detroit was delayed due to weather. It was only an hour or so, so it wasn't a huge deal. We finally get on the plane, where I was met with 2 very pleasant surprises: one, I had an exit row seat, which gives you almost as much space as first class; and two, my seat mate was a very single, very handsome lawyer from Tampa. Holla! He was so funny, too. I never got his name, though, so for the purposes of this post, he shall be referred to as New Boyfriend. Anyway, the flight attendant came to speak to those of us in the exit row prior to take off. She talked to those on the other side of the aisle first, asking if they understood the responsibilties of an exit row seat, giving brief instructions for what they would have to do in case of an emergency, etc. Then she turned to New Boyfriend and I.

"Are you aware that you're in an exit row seat?" she pleasantly asked.

"We sure are," New Boyfriend replied. (Awwww...we were already a "we." No commitment issues HERE.)

"And you're willing and able to assist other passengers in case of an emergency?" she followed up.

I fielded this one. "We sure are," I said.

"Great," she said, and moved on.

New Boyfriend turned to me with a slightly perturbed look on his face. "Wait," he said. "That's all we get? Doesn't it seem like the other side got WAY more information than we did?"

"Maybe we just look more capable," I suggested. "And we're a lawyer and a teacher. We can figure it out."

"Yeah," he agreed. "Plus, I've seen it done in the movies a bunch of time. Doesn't look too hard."

We nodded and sat back, secure in our In Case of Emergency Capabilities.

So anyway, we finally start to back away from the gate and taxi towards the runway--for about 20 seconds. Suddenly, the plane stops and the engines turn off.

"Ladies and gentleman, this is your pilot," comes the announcement. "Unfortunately, during our prepping and loading of passengers, we seem to have gathered a bit of ice on our wings. As a result, we have to bring out the de-icing equipment. The plane needs to be turned off for this process, but we will be on our way shortly." He also said that something was going on UNDER the wings, as well, so the crews would be working down there at the same time, but I can't remember the words he used or exactly what the issue was.

I don't know if you've ever seen a plane de-iced, but NB and I got a front-row view of it. A guy in a big cherry-picking cart thing aims a huge hose at the plane, and what looks like tons of steam shoots out. (NB and I cleverly nicknamed it "Ice Fighting" instead of "Fire Fighting.") It was pretty cool.

So finally, we start to taxi for real. It was actually kind of scary to take off on a snowy and icy runway; I gripped my arm rests and temporarily stopped talking (NB looked on amusedly--"Oh, is this the part where you freak out? Cool, cool. Let me know when you're done. I'll be here reading this scintillating Sky Mall magazine. If you need a marshmallow launcher, I'm your guy. I'll just be over here." Once we leveled off in the sky, I returned to normal: "So what was that about a marshmallow launcher?"--and the convo was back on.)

The flight was actually pretty damn bumpy--luckily, it's also a very short flight (half an hour, including take off and landing, so about 20 minutes of actual flying) and I had NB to distract me. When it was time to land, I gripped the arm rests again (as an added bonus, we had the wind gusts to contend with this time) but I was able to keep up the conversation, at least.

So...that was my journey. As we exited the airport, I uttered the line that is now the title of this post. Seriously, y'all, it's freakin' COLD. I think we need to switch the family Christmas to July or some shit. Anyway, we got home probably around 11 or 11:30. The storm continued all night and now we have even MORE snow on top of the 10 feet or so that was already covering the frozen tundra.

Don't think I'm going anywhere today because the roads are pretty bad, but hopefully I'll get to see the kids and sisters here pretty soon.

I miss Florida.

I'll post some phone pics soon.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

12 Days of Christmas

I mentioned my Teacher 12 Days of Christmas in the break room this morning, and a few of us sat down and busted it out. Then, the 2 music teachers stood up and did a duet for us, and it sounded REALLY good. This is the last stanza, obviously, so I don't have to type all of the repeats, but here's our version, at least as it stands now.

So, for teachers everywhere...

On the 12th day of Christmas my students gave to me
12 students absent
11 pencils tapping
10 parents ranting
9 kids a’pukin
8 in detention
7 bus referrals
6 spitballs launching
5 tests to graaaaaaaade
4 rumors flying
3 students texting
2 boys a’fighting
And a broken arm in PE

And in other news: my voice is gone. It started to go yesterday, I was okay for about an hour this morning after resting it last night, and now it's gone again. I sound, literally, like Minnie Mouse (just ask Mom, who called me to "remind" me that I'd forgotten one of my niece's birthdays and I finally called back and squeeked out, "I can't talk!"). I had to have a "translator" for the second half of the day at school today; I'd whisper to him what I wanted to say and he'd deliver it (complete with my body language and mannerisms, which was hysterical). I used a lot of impromptu sign language, too. By the end of the day, I had signs for:

Line up
Attention
Stop talking
Sit down and stop talking
Turn around and stop talking
Seriously, if you don't stop talking I'm going to kick your ass
Turn in your assignment
Take out your books
and
Clean up

As an added bonus/challenge, I had to take them down in the afternoon for a middle school choir performance--and I was actually very happy with their behavior. Of course, before we left, I wrote this on the board:

"If you don't behave, it will not be pretty when I get my voice back."

(They didn't know this, but I also emailed my team before we left and said, "If my kids act up, you have full permission to lay the smack down.")

2 more days....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

3 more days, 3 more days...


Oh my God, as I wrote that heading, I was struck with an idea so brilliant that I can't believe no one's come up with it yet. Actually, maybe someone has. I'm going to rewrite the "12 days of Christmas", but teacher-style. Like, "4 kids a' fightin' ", etc. Give me some time and I'll come up with something really good.


If you have any suggestions, based on things I've been bitching about, please post them! They don't have to be in "lyric" form yet--I can play around with them--just give me some ideas.


In other news:


I accidentally took nighttime cold pills instead of daytime ones around lunchtime today. At first, I couldn't figure out what happened--I thought someone had slipped Roofies into my soda or something. I didn't just get a "little drowsy"; for a while there, I was pretty sure that someone had shot me with a elephant tranquilizer dart. The rest of the day was actually pretty funny, considering that these were actual comments and conversations:

--"Miss K, what are you staring at?"

--[After a student stood at my desk and talked for about 7 minutes] "I'm sorry, what? Can you start again, please?"

--"Miss K, do you want us to turn this into the math folder or put it on your desk?"
"Yes, please, that'd be great."
[Imagine a very confused 5th grader] "Wait...yes to which one?"
[Pause] "....What was the question again?"

--"...So who ACTUALLY wrote the Declaration of Independence? Who was the guy they roped into writing that first draft? Jason?"
"I'm not Jason. I'm Danny."
"Close enough. Danny?"

I am not making any of this up. (And actually, that last one often happens even when I'm NOT doped up on meds, LOL. I feel so sorry for my future kids.)

And last (for now): I saw my crazy doc yesterday, and after my slipup over the summer, I have officially recovered and am back to "normal". In fact, I have once again been "promoted" to appointments every 3 months (instead of every month). Now, this doesn't mean that I haven't struggled with it. There have been many times when I feel that manic-ness bubbling under the surface, or when I've been angry and have wanted to hit someone or throw something or just let all hell break loose. The difference, though, is that I'm able to control it now. I recognize the signs and I do something about it before I progress to "Bad Jen." That's not to say that it's all "mind over matter" and that I can just wish away any future episodes. I know it's not that easy or simple, and I also know that meds don't "cure" the BP, they just slow down the frequency and intensity of the highs and/or lows. But overall, I'm in a pretty good place. (LOL--she started me on a new antidepressant about a month ago, and I mentioned to her that I've been feeling kind of bitchy and cranky and wondered if maybe I needed to try something new. She just gave me that over-the-glasses look and said, "Jen, you're a teacher and it's 4 days before Christmas break. I'd be more worried if you WEREN'T cranky."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wrong Present

Thanks, Anna, for this video. Maybe you have to be a woman to appreciate it (because often, men don't even REALIZE how off-base they are)...but it's funny.

And in the financial world...

As you may recall, my roommate works in the financial industry by day (and blazes up at night, but that's a whole 'nother post). Apparently, a rumor has been going around for a while now and the institution of a new form of currency: called the Amero, it would be a uniform currency for Canada, the U.S and Mexico. From what he says, this was initially thought to be a "conspiracy theory"-type rumor (and even now, if you research it online, there's no definite proof or verification of this Amero). However, he says that, in fact, there IS something going on with the Amero and there's certainly more credence to those rumors than most people know.* So just tuck it away in the corner of your mind and remember: when/if it does come to fruition, you heard it here first.

*Disclaimer: his eyes happened to be quite red and blood-shot as he was imparting this wisdom tonight (see first sentence.) ;)
The bane of my existance

I hope that there's a special place in hell reserved for the evil bastard who invented THESE:



















They're called Bakugans, and my classroom is INFESTED with them.

They start out in the closed position, so they look like a small, harmless ball. As soon as you attach them to a magnetic object, however (like, oh, I don't know, a DESK OR DESK CHAIR), they shoot open (see above). If you're old school, they're kind of like magnetic Transformers.

I thought they were pretty cool at first--for about 5 seconds. Now, they're just a giant pain in my teaching ass. The above picture show just ONE DAY'S worth of intercepted Bakugans. And I plan to keep them in my Toy Drawer (not THAT one, you freaks) until the last day of school. If I'm lucky, the owners will forget I have them and I can sell them on eBay.

And while we're on the subject, the Second Most Annoying Thing to a Fifth Grade Teacher are THESE:



They're called Tech Decks and apparently, they are infinitely more interesting than Lowest Common Denominators (that's LCDs to you).
4 more days, 4 more days....

(FYI: I've tried for 20 minutes now to fix the spacing on this post and it's still screwed up...I give up.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Awesome

My day (at least my "work" day) started with me rear-ending a guy in the Mickey D's drive-thru (really, "rear-ending" is too strong a word. I started digging in my purse for change and didn't realize that my foot was sloooowly coming off of the brake--until WHACK. I just kissed the guy's bumper and there were no marks--but he was quite the dick about it, to be honest. A true accident with no damage whatsoever, not even a paint scratch? Is that REALLY worth getting all shitty over? But I digress). It ended with part of my tooth chipping off (got emergency appointment with dentist at 3--large cavity, will need filling and cap, no root canal). However, I'm going to dinner tonight with my 5th grade team so I'm really excited about that. It's become a Christmas tradition of sorts. The husband of one of my coworkers is the manager of a restaurant out on Sanibel Island (a very nice, rather ritzy island off of Ft Myers), and every year they invite L's fellow teachers (which, for 2 years now, has included yours truly) out for dinner on them (including drinks--holla!). Last year it was OBSCENE, with the husband just bringing out food by the tray full; since everyone is watching their budget a bit more carefully this year, I don't expect it to be quite as grand, but it still promises to be a great time.

And by the way: remember how last time I had teeth issues, I had had a DREAM about it just a few days prior? Well, it happened again this time. I shit you not, and I WISH I had posted about it so I had proof. It was maybe a week ago that I dreamt a tooth fell out and now, here we are again. Now last time, the dream was VERY specific--it was the exact tooth that later broke off and everything. This time, my dream wasn't that clear and I don't recall what tooth actually came out. Still, this is my 2nd "tooth premonition" in the last year or so. Next time I have a dream like that, I'm going to the dentist BEFORE my teeth start falling out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pray for me

Today was the kind of day that makes me wonder why I went into teaching.

I can't even explain to you the horrible-ness of it. Seriously, they were awful. Not listening, arguing with each other (AND me) and tattling. I got THREE "Miss K, I'm mad at you and here's why" notes dropped on my desk (it's something I set up at the beginning of the year but rarely has it been invoked). (One of them was really funny, though: "Miss K, I'm EXTREMELY mad at you because you gave me a check and everyone else was talking and you didn't do anything to them. Are they specialer than me or something? I am VERY MAD. You are usually fair and nice and pretty but I am mad today. You were my favorite teacher but now I might go back to Mrs. L from fourth grade." We were dying over that one in the break room.) I had to give 5 detentions, one kid busted another over the head with a water bottle ("but he called me a fat ass, Miss K! I'm sorry to say a bad word but he did!") AND--wait for it--I had to break up a fight at lunch (which is not as easy as it sounds, since one of them was my "big boy," who's got a good 5 inches and 50 lbs on me). And don't even get me STARTED on the kids all the other teahers sent into my room (that's what happens when you're the team lead--but at least it helped me to see that it wasn't just my kids). And there's still SEVEN more days till Christmas break.

The only good part of the day was at the very beginning. While they were working on some math problems, one of my boys was singing the chorus of Rihanna's Disturbia (the part that goes "Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum"). As I was walking around checking work, I joined in (I love that song). They stared at me, shocked (because to them, I might as well be 90. A grown up is a grown up, and actual age doesn't matter). "You KNOW that song??" Seriously, they were flabberghasted, totally blown away. So then they started testing me. One kid broke into "So What" by Pink and I belted it out like I was on American Idol (an Expo marker was my microphone), which earned me a lot of applause. Then, for the final round, one girl was like, "I got her, I got her," and started singing Beyonce's new one, Put a Ring on It. Now, I JUST heard that for the first time this week, but I've heard it enough in the last few days that I was able to bluff my way through it pretty accurately (there may have been some dancing involved). And THAT made them fall out of their chairs. So that part was fun. And to their credit, they went back to working on their math problems pretty easily after that. So I was thinking, Sweet! This is going to be one of those GOOD days!

But it was all downhill from there and I swear, I'm researching other careers online right now. At the moment, long-distance trucking has a pretty major edge.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Karate Klutz

I just learned a particular section of a new kata that Sensei thought would take me at least 2 classes; I have it down pretty well after 1. So I come home and immediately practice that section (any time I learn something new, I need to run through it right away at home, even if it's just a few times, that very same night--because for some reason, it's sometimes hard for me to transfer the moves from the dojo to my own living room floor). Anyway, I'm spinning around, looking very karate-like, nailing these 180-degree turns...until I back into and trip over my roommate's reclined Laz-E-Boy.

Ooh! I found this clip online. The gentleman here is actually in my direct lineage: he's my sensei's sensei's sensei's sensei (draw pictures if you have to). I actually recommend watching this with the sound OFF, as he does this breathing thing that may distract you (it's for focus and inner strength; we do it, too, but not nearly like that). Anyway, this will help you see what a "kata" is, first of all (this is the 2nd one I'm learning, to get to green belt). Beginning around :33 is the section I learned tonight (MUCH harder than it looks, FYI)--and :45-ish is where I had the run-in with the chair at home just now (literally, just now--it was so funny that I stopped practicing and came in here to tell all of you about it).



And FYI, here's the one I had to learn for my first promotion. Mind you, he's a master and again, it looks WAAAYYYYY easier when HE does it than it actually is (I'll still be working on this for years and years, although I know the basic steps), so you may not appreciate the amount of blood, sweat and tears that went into this...but here you go:

Christmas Spirit--thanks, Nik!

Most of you who read this blog also visit Nikki's but I figured that I might reach a couple more people who, at the very least, could possibly pass this on to a couple more (and so on). There's a man in my hometown of Holland, MI who, for almost the last 20 years, has been bringing Christmas to the kids of the area homeless shelter. Well, due to the economy and changing times, even Santa needs some help this year. You can help to bring Christmas to these kids by donating here. Please, at the very least, visit the auction site and think about it. And if you can't, maybe you know someone who can.

Times are tough for EVERYONE, but I don't know too many people who have it worse than these children, especially at the holiday season.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=280292568033

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Well, it's not quite what I was looking for....

I went onto You Tube because I was looking for the best Hallmark commercial I've ever seen (the tactless brother who gives the toast at his sister's wedding reception); it's not up there yet, but this was. Every woman alive loves that scene in Top Gun--combine it with a marriage proposal, and you have the best clip EVER.

(Note: before playing, you'll have to scroll down to my music player on the right hand side and click on the pause button, or it'll feel like you have schizophrenia.)

And how was YOUR Sunday?

Just another typical December evening here in Florida.

Yeah, I know. I'm a bitch and you all hate me. But with sunsets like this--who cares?

;)













































































Saturday, December 06, 2008

Christmas, teacher style

Last night, we had our school Christmas party.

Imagine a group of teachers (anywhere from 3-7 of us) who regularly go out for after-school "meetings" to vent and decompress.

Now take those same teachers--and add about 40 more, some significant others and a variety of drinks.

Yeah.

Some highlights:

As some of you know, earlier in the day, I'd had a bit of a run-in with a verbally abusive parent who'd been berating a sub. By the time I showed up at the party about an hour later, that story had spread like wildfire, and I had to repeat it--including my "Well, perhaps your child was acting up in class because THIS is the behavior they're learning at home" punchline--no less than 15 times. Once we'd had some drinks in us, some of the teachers decided it would be fun to reenact the confrontation. One volunteered to play the role of the parent, and another one said, "Okay, and I'll do Jen."

At which point, A., one of the hottest male teachers--no, one of the hottest men ANYWHERE--and a member of the "after school club," shouted out from the back of the room, "Why not? Everyone else has!!"

As the room just fell apart, I tried to put on a shocked and indignant face. But come on--that zinger was WAY too good.

Another highlight was the raffle drawings--I won a gift certificate for a $100 tattoo!! I was initially pretty geeked, because this was the prize that I had thrown all of my raffle tickets in for. Surprisingly, so had a LOT of other teachers. Next to the day of pampering at a spa, this was the most sought-after prize of the evening. L., a tiny, curly-haired 65-year-old teacher (who, by the way, is actually a regular attendee of our "meetings," as well) even threw a ticket into the tattoo drawing (granted, there was a lot of peer-pressure and goading from us). And she made the solemn vow that if she won, she'd follow through with the tattoo. (She was also on her second scotch at the time, but whatever.)

By the time the various drawings were held, L. had had to leave. However, she was there in spirit as we all started chanting her name as they drew the winning ticket. They announced that I was the winner, and everyone still hooted and hollared for me. As the clapping died down, though, I stood up and made an announcement:

"Listen up! Shut up, A. [He was shouting random comments.] Dude, I said SHUT UP. L. promised me that if she won, she'd get a tattoo. SO, I need your help here. As far as we're concerned, L. won the drawing tonight. Okay?"

Heheheh.

(Side note: I called L. today to give her the good news that she'd "won" the tattoo. Her response? "Awww, fuck." LOLOL.)

The official party was over around 7:30--a nice, respectable time. Some of us, though, hung around for a bit longer. ;) There may have been some shots involved, too. Okay, there may have been a LOT of shots. (Don't worry, Mom: I waited for a loooonnng time before I drove home. We didn't leave until almost midnight.) And the coolest part is that I bonded with some people that I don't normally associate with outside of work. (For example, I discovered that both the office manager and the registrar are both dirty, dirty people.)

And the FUNNIEST part of the evening: apparently, the place had planned to surprise us with a cake (the mother of a student runs this restuarant and had arranged it). So while the group of 10 of us were sitting in the bar doing shots, the owner came out and said, "We completely forgot about this, but we have a HUGE cake back there waiting for you. If you want, we can drop it off at the school for you on Monday. Or we can bring it out now."

Hmmm. Now we were in quite the pickle. I mean, this cake was meant for the whole school to enjoy. And there were only like 10 of us left.

So we did the only reasonable thing, of course.

We told them to bring out the motherf*cking cake. (Hey. We were HUNGRY.)

I know you can't tell here, because it turned out kind of blurry (which is appropriate, as it looked pretty damn blurry that night, too, LOL), but this cake was ginormous. Here's the before pic.























And here's what it looked like after we had hacked into it.






















Never in my life has a cake tasted so good.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

For the record

I love me some Britney Spears. I always have. And I remember, when she first started acting weird (shaving her head and stuff), I turned to my mom and announced, with absolute certainty, "She's bipolar." This was after I had finally sucked it up and started treatmnet but before she was officially diagnosed, mind you--and sure enough, a few months after that, the news of her diagnosis hit the press.

Now, she has a documentary out called "For the Record" that's been playing on MTV. I have to tell you, I know that a lot of people might think it's cheesy, but watching it makes me cry. I can absolutely relate to her. You see the Britney when she's genuinely happy; the Britney when she just puts on a "happy face" so that people won't see how badly she's struggling and drowning and feeling alone but God forbid you let people actually SEE it; and the Britney when she finally gives up pretending because she's SO far down and she can't keep up the facade anymore and it feels like looking up from the bottom of a pit and the light is so distant that it seems like you'll never see it again.

And even though some people may watch this and roll their eyes and write her off as another spoiled, rich celebrity, I have to tell you that it was actually hard for me to watch this documentary. Because even though the word "bipolar" never comes up, she does talk about "going from one extreme to the next," and that "the cool part is SO cool, and even though the heaven part is like HEAVEN, I've been to both places." To which I say: Amen, my crazy sista! And while I do think that yes, as it becomes more socially acceptable, the "bipolar" label is going to become overused, much as the "ADD" label has been slapped on every kid in schools today who doesn't want to sit still and listen. As I often say--and I saw this on a tshirt once--"I was bipolar before it was cool." Because even though those closest to me accepted the diagnosis--hell, WELCOMED it--and loved me anyway, there was (is) still a definite stigma out there about BP.

And that's the thing: pretty soon, you'll be able to announce that you're bipolar and people will look at you like, "Yeah, who isn't?" without even batting an eyelash. But it isn't going to take people like me coming out of the BP closet to change the status quo. It's going to take those in the public eye to step up and admit to the diagnosis for it to become more mainstream and accepted.

So....yeah. It bothers me that even now, in this documentary, she doesn't come out and use the dreaded "b" word. But there's a select group of us out there who truly understand what she's talking about when she says that these days, she no longer feels like her life is out of control. In fact, she says, "it's too IN control. There's no passion anymore, there's no excitement." Roll your eyes all you want to, but if that doesn't express how it feels to go from a hypermanic state to being on the very medication that is supposed to "fix" you and, instead, takes so much of the joy and creativity and happiness OUT of your life, then I don't know what does.

I can go through this entire documentary and point out each and every line that is a veiled reference to bipolar disorder. Am I reading too much into it? Am I looking for shit that isn't really there? Is she, when it comes down to it, just another spoiled, messed-up celeb? Sure, there are people out there--maybe even some of you--who think so.

But then again, being bipolar is something that you can't possibly understand from the outside looking in.
Please, sir, may I have another?

The good news: I've recovered from the flu, as evidenced by the fact that I ate--and kept down--chicken wings at my post-work "meeting" today (which, by the way, lasted for a record 5 hours--yeah, we had a lot to talk about). Whoo hoo! However, now that I'm over THAT, I have an ear infection (which could explain my recent dizziness and light-headedness). LOL--Brandi, are you adding this to the book?

It's not official yet, but I've been tugging on my left ear like a little kid since Sunday night (after a not-so-smart weekend swim in relatively cold weather). Finally, during our planning period at the end of the day, one of the moms on my team noticed what I was doing ("Uh-oh, I know what THAT means. Let's go"), marched me down to the nurse's office (never mind that, technically, I'm their supervisor--when it comes to stuff like this, they TOTALLY baby me; it's kind of cute) and told her to check out my ear. While I indignantly informed them that I was fine and that this whole thing was "gay," Nurse K. put her light-stick-thing down my left ear and actually WHISTLED before announcing, "Dude, there's some shit going on in there" (no kids were around, obviously) and telling me to go to the doctor for some medicine.

I protested, "But I haven't had an ear infection in YEARS."

(Sidebar: since the COLIN RAYE CONCERT, Mother. Remember that? When I had a fever of 105, an asthma attack, malaria, the Eboli virus, leprosy AND a double ear infection and you were all like, "Bitch, sit down and suck it up, I ain't leaving Colin Raye"? Remember that? But I digress.)

And Nurse K. said, "Well, you're making up for it now. You got a situation in your ear."

"You got a situation in your ear"????? THAT'S a diagnosis now?

As it happens, I have an appointment to see my doctor either this week or next; I have to call to find out for sure. I'm hoping it's sooner rather than later because apparently, I have a situation in my left ear.

But other than THAT, I feel pretty damn good. I had a 5-hour talk with The Girls (and one Very Hot Guy) today, and I'll tell you what, it sure as hell opened my eyes. I LOVE my Florida friends. Don't worry, Girl Tribunal--when you can't be here to physically slap the shit out of me, they do it for you. =-)

Monday, December 01, 2008

I'm kind of digging this song these days...

Hot N Cold
Katy Perry

You change your mind
Like a girl changes clothes
Yeah you PMS
Like a bitch
I would know
And you overthink
Always speak crypticly
I should know
That you're no good for me

[CHORUS]
Cause you're hot then you're cold
You're yes then you're no
You're in then you're out
You're up then you're down
You're wrong when it's right
It's black and it's white
We fight, we break up
We kiss, we make up
(You) You don't really want to stay, no
(But you) But you don't really want to go-o
You're hot then you're cold
You're yes then you're no
You're in and you're out
You're up and you're down

We used to be
Just like twins
So in sync
The same energy
Now's a dead battery
Used to laugh bout nothing
Now you're plain boring
I should know that
You're not gonna change

[CHORUS]

Someone call the doctor
Got a case of a love bipolar
Stuck on a roller coaster
Can't get off this ride

You change your mind
Like a girl changes clothes

[CHORUS]
Checking in
Now updated with pics!

I figured I should throw something up since it's been a while. I don't have much to say, really. Thanksgiving was good; the 5 day break was even better. Of course, per tradition, I got sick right at the end of it (I often get sick around holidays), so I came home from work early today. I'm feeling pretty crappy--and freakin' HUNGRY because nothing has stayed down since Saturday night.

So with Thanksgiving done, this is the time of year to look ahead to Christmas break (about 3 weeks!) and my return to the arctic tundra of Michigan. I'll be there for about 10 days--arriving around the 20th and leaving sometime before New Years'. As many of you know, Christmas with my crazy-ass family is DEFINITELY my favorite time of year, and I'm really looking forward to it, especially now. I'm not really feeling the holiday spirit this year and I'm definitely feeling "down", so seeing the family and friends back home should help.

Oh, here's a random thing that was still rather note-worthy, at least for me. One of my friends (well, a friend of a friend, but I think that maybe they could become my friend, too) has a dog--and I WASN'T ALLERGIC TO IT. Anyone who knows me knows that I can't be around any type of dog, even little ones, for more than 30 minutes or so without starting to feel pretty miserable. Well, this dog was a schnauzer (I probably jacked up the spelling of that one), which has HAIR and not fur. (It doesn't shed or anything, even--you just cut the hair every so often, like you do for people.)

Update: here are a couple of pics of mini-schnauzers, the kind this friend had, so that you can fully appreciate the cuteness:






































I spent several hours around this dog (not THIS dog, but one like it) and I was totally fine. It was pretty amazing for me, actually. My friend had told me ahead of time about this magical Hair Dog and that I shouldn't have any problems around it, but I was still skeptical--hell, I'm the girl who's allergic to ELEPHANTS. (No, seriously. I rode one when I was a kid, at a circus or something when it came to town, and I was promptly taken to the ER for an asthma attack...LOL. Only me, right?) So, yeah. Maybe I COULD have a dog someday...after all, the psychic DID see a dog in my future (she was pretty definite about this particular point, actually).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Baby mama drama

I just woke up and there was a dream so fresh in my mind that I had to share it with you.

I had a baby, and like 10 minutes after getting home from the hospital, the kid picked up a piece of hot yellow pepper from the couch and ate it (because, you know, a one-day-old baby could TOTALLY do that and plus, my couch cushions are LADEN with hot peppers). Of course, it got really sick almost immediately--shaking and crying and sweating and puking--and I had to rush it back to the hospital. The doctors were all like, "Wow. We've never had a new mom manage to fuck it up that quickly."

So then I go home, and on the way home we stopped at the store. Well, somehow the baby fell out of the cart (probably because--and I remember this clearly--I had this one-day-old-kid SITTING UP in that seat in the front) and of course, it bumped its little head and I had to go BACK to the hospital. The same doctors were there (because it was like half an hour later), and they looked at me and went, "SERIOUSLY?!"

And I started crying and said, "Well, what the hell do *I* know about being a mom?!"

And then I woke up.

Weird.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Soft-core porn

Just kidding, but here are some post-break in pics.

















What you have here is my right shin.

















And this is my left thigh. You can't really tell it here, but this particular bruise is about 3 inches wide and 4 inches long.

I have like 3 other bruises, but these two are the most impressive. And frankly, the others might be from karate.

I TOLD you it was an ungraceful fall.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Off the record...and a break-in

You guys can all kick my ass, but I totally miss Shawn.

I mean LCB.

It's been like 3 days and I miss him. Not the "him" from the post, of course (the selfish one who clearly doesn't care about me), but the GOOD him. My BFF. The one I love and shit. I keep kind of hoping he'll call 'cuz he misses having me around, too. (P'shaw....like THAT will happen.)

On a totally different note, I had to break into my condo the other day. Brad had a friend in from out of town, and he left the next morning after Brad did. Well, on his way out, he locked the wrong lock--the little turny-lock in the doorknob, which we don't have a key too (we just have a key for the top lock, the dead-bolty one....do you like all the official and highly technical names I'm using? LOL). So I called Brad at work and after he spent the first minute cussing out his friend in a very Tourette-y way, he said, "OOH. I have an idea. The kitchen window (which faces the front, thank God) is unlocked." And then he goes, I SHIT YOU NOT, "If you have a flathead screwdriver handy, you can pop out the screen and get in that way."

Sure, roomie, just hold on a minute while I PULL A FLATHEAD SCREWDRIVER OUT OF MY ASS.

I tried to wedge my keys under the screen, but they were too thick. Then, as I stared at my keychain, inspiration struck.

I wedged my CVS Customer Care Card under the screen and popped it that way.

(Hellz to the yeah, bitches.)

Once I pulled open the window (which is a lot harder from the outside than from the inside, FYI), I threw my purse into the kitchen and pulled myself up the 4.5 feet to the ledge. I did THAT part easily enough...and then proceeded to do the most UNgraceful dive into the kitchen and onto the floor that you have ever seen. I actually laughed at myself, thinking of how freakin' uncoordinated that whole display would have been to anyone who was watching. (And since this condo association is full of OLD PEOPLE, who both 1) are nosy and 2) have nothing better to do, I figured that the "anyone watching" group could conceivably be quite large. In fact, I was a bit paranoid for the first 30 minutes that the cops would show up on a suspected B & E.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

True character

Many of you know that my class this year is MUCH more challenging than my class last year--there's not a bad kid in the bunch, but they're just more talkative and harder to keep focused.

Today, we had our debates for class president. As it happens, we have both a boy and a girl candidate (nominated and voted on by their classmates, of course). When the "primaries" were over and I announced the two candidates, I tried to stress that at that point in the election process, the students shouldn't even have an IDEA of who they were going to vote for, until the candidates gave their speeches to announce their platforms (included proposals: having free time on Friday if they get their work done all week and a "reversal" of my current toy policy--"Whe Miss K. takes a toy away, instead of it going in her filing cabinet till the end of the year, I think that she should give it back to us at the end of the DAY!" That one drew a lot of cheers), selected their vice-presidential running mates and had their debate. There are students, based on the amount of "button-making" as soon as the primaries were over, who backed a particular candidate right from the start simply because so-and-so is "their best friend EVER", but I'm really trying to teach them the importance of determining what a candidate stands for and who will most accurately "represent" them, just like in real life.

For today's debate, I presented the top 5 questions from those submitted by the class (incentive to come up with a really good question: a homework pass). At the end of the debate, I gave each candidate one minute to summarize their "platforms" and have a final shot at capturing the "undecideds" in the room. S., our female candidate, went first. Then C. spoke. He, like S., summarized the changes he would make why he thought he should be elected. Then, just when I thought he'd finished, he said, "And Miss K, can I just say one more thing to the class?" When I gave him the go-ahead, he took a deep breath, stared down at his shoes, and said (the following is not word for word, but it's as close as I can get and accurately reflects the heart of his speech):

"I just want to say that I really hope this election doesn't turn into a boys vs. girls thing and that you vote for the person that you really think would do the best job [ed. note: there are more boys than girls in the class, who a battle of the sexes actually would have been to his advantage]. I mean, if you think I'd be the best president, then okay. That's cool. But I know that some of the guys in the class were gonna vote for me just 'cuz I'm a boy and, um, I just wanted to say that I don't want that. I wouldn't want to win that way anyway, you know? It wouldn't be right. So, um, yeah. I just wanted to say that. Vote for the person you really think would do the best job and stuff...okay." He looked up at me. "That's all."

The room fell silent as everyone absorbed what he had just said. And then, a voice broke the silence:

"Miss. K, are you CRYING?!?!"

"Pfft," I said, trying to look indignant. "No. Of course not. But I do want to say that what C. just said--"

And here my voice broke as I looked up at the ceiling tiles and grabbed a tissue and tried to compose myself, while a whisper of "Dude, she's totally crying" swept the room--

"--I mean, I just think that he showed a lot of character. [Dabbed eyes with tissue] I mean, let's face it, if all the boys DID vote for him just because he's a boy, then he would win [Sniff/Eye Dab]....but he's telling you that he doesn't WANT you to do that, [Voice Crack/Eye Dab] and it's okay for you to vote for S. if you're a boy and for a girl to vote for him, if you think that person would do a better job. [Eye Dab/Sniffle] And, I'm just very proud of BOTH candidates for running such a clean campaign. Never once did they talk badly about each other or try to hurt the other person's campaign [Eye Dab] and, yeah, I'm just so proud of you guys right now. [Eye Dab/Sniffle/Voice Crack/Deep Breath] So let's give them a round of applause." [Applause] "And MAN, these allergies are HORRIBLE! There must be a lot of dust in here or something! Whew!" To which the class erupted with:

"You were TOTALLY CRYING!!"

And this is when I deftly changed the subject by announcing that it was time to pack up and go home.

....(But yeah. I WAS totally crying.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Slight update/clarification

I'm leaving my original post in its entirety (see below), because it really does communicate the hurt and anger that I feel towards C-Boy. I do want to say, though ('cuz I know some of you were wondering)--no, nothing dramatic or even NEW happened. It's just more of the same, really--claiming to care yet always putting me last and basically making me feel like I was the only one in that friendship/relationship/what-have-you. For months--hell, the whole time I knew him, really--I wanted and hoped to become as important to him as he was to me, and that he'd become the friend to me that I truly tried to be to him. But I was, from day one, fighting a losing battle. And instead of getting my heart--and feelings--hurt over and over and over, it was time to give up.

It was, quite simply, a one-sided situation--and I was tired of always being put last, of him making plans with me ONLY when nothing better came along or his original plans fell through, of him wanting me around when it was convenient for HIM. He was just such an incredibly important person in MY life, and it took me a loooonnnnngggggg time to open my eyes and see that that sentiment was never returned on his end.

Bottom line: a true friend, let alone "boyfriend," would not always make you feel like crap. Yeah, I know: obvious to YOU guys, LOL, but again, it sometimes takes a little longer for me to "get" things. ;) When we hung out, we always had a great time--but it was always when HE wanted to, on HIS terms, and usually at the last minute (because, as I now see, he always wanted to keep his options open). It really started to hurt that he would never commit to something ahead of time--I was never important enough for him to make actual plans with, say, for the next weekend. I was never one of those people that he knew, no matter what, he wanted to see this weekend (for example)--he'd make plans with the people he truly cared about, plan the things that really mattered, and then fit me into whatever time was left--and if there WASN'T time left, then oh well. He could take me or leave me, basically. (That last part really cuts to the core of the issue.) And that may not SEEM like a big deal--unless you just so happened to be in love with that person. In that case, it really sucked.

Anyway. There's some clarification. And now, please see below for my original Alanis-esque rant. ;)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Adios, C-Boy

I hereby pledge that you will never hear another word about C-Boy (formerly known as LCB) again. As it turns out, you are/were all correct: he is a self-centered piece of shit and I apologize for taking so long to see the light. I had sincerely hoped that there was a decent guy in there somewhere who truly cared about me and was worth believing in...but he proved, once again, that I was mistaken.

I am a slow learner, to be sure (LOL: to which I hear a chorus of "NOOOO.....really?!?!?!?"). But I guess I need to learn lessons the hard way, even if it means having my heart trampled on and my faith in others kicked to the curb. I know that there are good men out there, sure. And I also believe that I'm learning all of these lessons for a reason. But sometimes I wonder why the ones I love the most are also the ones who disappoint me the most.

I'm very bitter and hurt right now because, even though you all think I'm a dumbass sometimes ;) , I still believe that those I love will rise to the occastion and not let me down; that I love them for a REASON-- that's it NOT all for nothing; that when I stand there and have their backs NO MATTER WHAT, they will show me that they were worth taking a chance on. I guess, overall, I just feel...disappointed. And again, it's my own fault--I just wish I wasn't so blind when I love someone, and that I could listen to those around me--the ones who can see what I'm not able (or willing) to see.

It's just a hard lesson to learn about someone you believed in 100%.

And yes, I bitch and moan about wanting to be happy and finding a good man, and then I find a guy like C-Boy and waste my time (because yes, that's all he was/is, a waste of my fucking time, and of my HEART for that matter), and for you, it's like watching a horror movie, throwing your popcorn at the screen, shouting, "Girl, DON'T GO DOWN THOSE STAIRS!!!" It's so damn obvious to those who are on the outside looking in....but for me, when I'm actually wrapped up IN it, it's not that clear cut. Because see, when I love someone, it's because I see the good in them. Or at least I think I do.

But more often than not, I'm completely wrong.

I'm putting my faith in the wrong damn places--and in the wrong damn people. My radar is completely off these days. And that makes me wonder: when the right guy DOES come along, will I be able to recognize him?

And why does someone who is relatively smart is other areas of her life become so freakin' STUPID when it comes to being in love?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Go buy PEOPLE!

Or at least read it in the checkout line. It's the issue with the Obamas on the cover. There is a very intelligent, compassionate, well-written Letter to the Editor this week from a clearly incredible Ft. Myers, FL woman.

I'm just sayin'. ;)
Just a really, really weird day

Two very unusual things happened yesterday (and they are totally unrelated, other than the fact that they both took place at our after-work hangout).

The first: about 5 of us were having a few drinks in the outside patio area. All of a sudden, a little tiny baby squirrel (it was ADORABLE) ran up onto the patio. It sat there for a minute and then started scampering around. It didn't seem to be scared of the people; it was more curious, just kind of checking things out. Some of the servers tried to shoo it off the patio and back into the lawn area, but Squirrel wasn't having any of it.

Some male servers and bartenders went up to it, and Squirrel just kind of sat there and watched them. They were talking to it and stuff--it was really cute. Suddenly, Squirrel ran over and just sat on one of their feet. We were like, Holy crap!!--because that right there is something you don't normally see a wild squirrel do. But then--it started to SCAMPER UP HIS LEG (he was wearing pants).

We (all the customers, servers, bartenders, everyone) were just amazed. It was so cool to see. But then it kept going--climbing up his leg all the way to his waist. (At this point, he started getting a little worried--"What do I do? What if it climbs up to my face??") So he and another customer started walking--Squirrel in tow--across the patio and back over to the grassy area. (While this was going on, several other customers arrived and did a double-take--"Is that a SQUIRREL??" Like I said that's not something you see every day.) When they reached the grass, the server did this little shimmy and Squirrel jumped off.

Like I said....just a weird thing to see.

Second: my neck was hurting pretty badly by the end of the school day yesterday. When I'm home, just watching TV or something, it isn't too bad--but after 6 hours of basically turning my head in every possible direction, I was definitely feeling it. One of the other teachers hadn't heard about my latest medical malady yet, so I caught her up to speed. When I mentioned which vertebrae were affected, she goes, "Wow, that's crazy! I have problems with those same exact ones!"

AND THEN SHE GOES:

"And you know what, back when they were trying to figure out exactly what was wrong with me, they did a brain scan and these weird little dark spots showed up on it. They told me they thought it might be MS and everything--I was totally freaking out. I had to go back for a couple of follow-up MRIs, every 6 months--and those dark spots had completely disappeared! The doctors couldn't figure it out, so they figured it was just a bad MRI. And then later on, I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disorder and it was affecting my 3rd, 4th and 5th vertebrae. Weird, huh?"

By this time, of course, I'm starting at her with my mouth hanging open, totally dumbfounded, and my friend Kelly was like, "Oh my God, Jen! Oh my God!" I told this teacher (and the others at the table) that the SAME EXACT THING happened to me almost exactly two years ago--a routine eye exam showed a possible problem of some kind, so I got an MRI; dark spots were showing up in one part of my brain; the doctor told me it might be MS; I was panicking for a few months; went back for a follow up MRI and the spots were no longer there--so they, too, ruled it as a bad MRI. And now, two years later, an Xray revealed problems with my 3rd, 4th and 5th vertebrae. (He didn't say anything about DDD, though--just the beginnings of arthritis.)

By this time, the other teacher and I are staring at each other like we just realized we were separated at birth. (But she's black, so I don't think that's possible.)

I don't know what, if anything, this means or if the vanishing brain spots/vertebrae issues are in any way connected--but isn't that WEIRD?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Easily Amused

First: today sucked. And I mean, it SUCKED. I went in, but I was hurting in a way that I haven't since, oh, giving birth. I did manage to sleep for a few hours, at least--a definite step up from the night before--but I was flat on my back (shut up, bitches)--and if my neck shifted at ALL in the middle of the night, I immediately woke right up (usually swearing). In the morning, I popped a couple of my muscle relaxers (FYI: I am NOT impressed. They don't seem to be doing shit for me) and a prescripion Motrin and went to work. I mean, let's face it, staying home wouldn't have done much good in this case. I was gonna hurt either way. I did, however, turn my lights off and cry in my room for a few minutes at lunchtime. And my lessons sounded something like this (in the examples below, guess the part at which I would forget about my neck and suddenly move or turn it):

"A prime number is a number that only has 2 factors. In other words, the only way you can get that number is to multiply--owowowowowow!!!--that number and itself."

Or

"Remember, the Patriots were fighting for freedom from Britain. The Loyalists--owwwwwwwwwwwww!!--wanted the colonies to stay under British control."

Or

"In a chemical change, a whole new--motherfucker!! Son of a bitch!! Jesus, that one hurt!! Holy fuck!--substance is formed."

Okay, so that last one didn't happen. But I totally had to bite my tongue.

Yeah, I was pretty miserable.

Anyway, within minutes of coming into the room this morning, my kids noticed that something was wrong, from the way I was turning my body to talk to them rather than just my head. Once everyone was in, I gave them the short version ("I hurt my neck this weekend and it's really stiff, so I can't move it very well") and we started our day.

After about 20 minutes, a boy raised his hand.

"Miss K, I don't mean to be rude," he started. "But your perfume REALLY stinks."

I grinned.

"Oh, you guys can smell that, huh? That's not perfume," I told him. "It's Ben Gay."

Oh. My. God. The entire room was immediately in an uproar.

"WHAT is Ben?" one kid asked.

"Wait, who's Ben?" wondered another.

"Guys," I said calmly. "You've heard of Icy Hot, right? It's just like that. But it's called Ben Gay."

"Why is it called THAT?" someone asked.

"Because," I started. Then I stopped. "Huh. You know, I'm not exactly sure. But that's what it's called, and it makes my neck feel better. Let's move on."

A little while later, I noticed a group whispering and giggling. "Hey," I said. "Work on your assignment, please."

"Miss K?" one of them innocently asked. "What's that stuff on your neck called again?"

I, of course, fell for it. "Ben Gay."

They all cracked up again.

Heh.

ps--I go back to the chiro tomorrow. He could only do a few minor things to me on Tuesday because the injury was so new and I was still pretty stiff and sore. But you know how some people absolutely hate the dentist? That's how I feel about chiropractors--and it's why I've never been to one. Hell, just the sound of KNUCKLES cracking is like nails on a chalkboard for me. The idea of my neck and back sounding like that totally skeeves me out. I'm just so squeamish about the whole thing--even if it doesn't hurt, it's the SOUND. And even though people say that a chiro visit makes you feel SOOOOOO good--how does it not HURT? He's jerking your NECK and SPINE around!! Ugh.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Back in the saddle again (or the dojo, anyway)

I returned to karate tonight--and damn, it felt GOOD. And I gotta say, I hadn't lost as much as I thought I might have (sure, she had to correct a few stances, kicks and punches here and there, but no more than she usually does, LOL). One thing that's striking me, though, even as I type this--I'm already getting kind of sore. I remember after my very first class and how I was pretty stiff and sore afterwards--and then after a while it just went away. It guess it speaks to how decent of shape I was in (that sentence doesn't sound quite right, but you know what I mean), when I was going regularly and being able to "take it" physically, compared to now, when I do feel a bit rusty. It's just like going to the gym, really--the first couple of times, you hurt like hell, but after getting into the habit, you just feel GOOD and energized. Damn--I was stronger than I thought for a while there. =-)

I told Sensei, too, that I was pretty sure I was going to have to drop my Masters work (both the semester and the program). I think I earned a few notches of respect when I told her that karate was more important to me...not that she would EVER encourage or ask me to stop my Masters work and put karate first, but the fact that I sat down on my own, did some thinking and prioritizing in my own life and came to that conclusion independently made her very happy. The Masters thing isn't a done deal--I talk to my advisor tomorrow--but frankly, unless I can get an extension (and this may be shady, but I'm totally going to play the "bipolar card" and see if I can get some kind of medical extension, if such a thing even exists), there's NO WAY I can finish this term. And you know, my Masters work has been hanging over me, adding to my stress level and just puts "one more thing" on my plate; hell, making even the tentative decision to just drop it and refocus on other things has already lifted a tremendous burden from my shoulders. And I just cannot put into words how good I felt to be back at the dojo, even just after one class. I stand taller, I'm more focused, I'm SMILING again--it's like nature's antidepressant. (OOOH. New campaign slogan: "Karate: Nature's Prozac.") Karate doesn't ADD to my stress level; it RELIEVES it. And I truly feel, at a very gut level, that all things considered--both internally (like the bipolar) and externally (lying fuckfaces)--that karate is where I need to focus myself. I'd rather do one thing at 100% than 2 things at 50%. And my psychic TOLD ME to follow my gut instincts more, so I am.

And the coolest part was that Sensei had a birthday present for me. (LOL--I don't say that like "Whoo hoo, I got a present!!" I say that because of the gift itself.) She gave me "The Bible of Karate"--and I don't know why, maybe it's the crazy and/or PMS in me, but I got a little misty- eyed when she gave it to me. I guess it's because I know how much karate means to HER--she truly lives and breathes it; it's in her BLOOD--and it was almost symbolic, I guess, that she recognizes that same fire is in me. I don't know if that makes sense.

But it meant the world to me.

I was a bit thrown, though, when I asked her if she thought I'd still be ready and able to test for my green belt in early February (after missing a few weeks) and she says, all casually, "Yes, of course you will--oh, and by the way, I moved promotions to mid January." Um, yeah, that's like TWO MONTHS from now. You generally need roughly four, MAYBE three months. But assuming that I get back on board hardcore and even throw in some Saturday classes as well, who knows?
Crazy is as crazy does

I'm going to crazy doc today, and it's a good thing. Don't get me wrong--my new meds have been working very well at keeping me "down"--as evidenced again last night, when I went off on LCB while he was here. Everything that I've been keeping in for the last 4 months or so of this little love triangle came out--but it was the most sane "fight" I've ever had. Sure, I yelled at him and said some harsh things...but all of it, as even he admitted, was true and deserved. (And really, there's no NICE way to call someone a "selfish, self-absorbed man whore".) But the only thing I threw at him was a tshirt....and I didn't punch him in his stupid lying mouth, so that's a definite step up. And I was even able to actually TALK at various points, calmly and rationally.

But I think that the pills are actually sending me in the OPPOSITE direction and making me a little down. I haven't been to karate in like a month, guys. I told Sensei it was because I had to get all of my Masters stuff done before the deadline here in a few days....but then I couldn't get motivated to work on THAT, either, so I'm probably going to fail the semester. I just didn't CARE. Frankly, I was probably going to drop my Masters work for a while anyway, because right now karate is way more important to me and I've seen that it's impossible to juggle EVERYTHING. But I definitely feel a lot more "blah" these days, and although I'm sure part of it is being stuck in this whole LCB Seventh Level of Hell situation, I really think there's more to it. She might just try a whole different med (AGAIN), but I know that it's not uncommon for BPs to be on one med to keep them from going too high and another to make sure they don't go too low. And let's face it: my kind of crazy probably needs more than one kind of med. =-)

I also have a regular doc appointment this afternoon--I had gone in for some bloodwork just to rule out a physical reason why I've been so tired and blah-like, but my gut says that those tests will come out normal.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election-palooza

So first, I'll say that, for the first time in my life, I voted Republican. I'm registered as an independant and have never been compelled to cross over to the Red Side before--in fact, my values and beliefs are still staunchly Democrat (hell, I voted for gay marriage and several other very liberal, progressive issues on the state ballot this year, even as I cast my vote for John McCain). This was, for me, the hardest election of my life and I really didn't make up my mind until the moment that I went into the voting booth. I'm not SAD that Obama won an didn't necessarily have anything against him--I just felt that McCain had more experience and was better prepared to be President.

But still, Obama won (although I was moved to tears by McCain's concession speech and actually shared parts of it with my students--what an amazingly classy and gracious speech)--and whether you like the guy or not, it's an incredibly historic moment for our country. We've done a lot with the election in class, of course, and today for social studies, we just had an informal conversation about the election and its results. Our newspaper donated 25 issues of today's paper to our classroom--and as I held up the front page, with Obama's picture on the front page and the headline declaring his victory, I kind of got choked up again. This is the type of front page that you save to show your kids and your grandkids--it's THAT monumental.

Fifth grade is really a great grade to be teaching during this particular election year--they were only in first grade for the last election and of course have no real recollection of it. This is the first election that's really on their radars--and WOW, what a year it is. For their generation, race and color really ISN'T an issue--their friends are their friends and for them, color doesn't come into play. They just don't seem to have an awareness of it, period (at least, these kids don't). For them, the significant thing isn't necessarily that Obama is our first black President--they just don't understand why we haven't had one before, if that makes sense. The fact that a black President is so "newsworthy" seems to shock them more. Anyway, this whole process, and especially the results, have provided some invaluable teachable moments, and I feel blessed to have been given this opportunity with my students. As a closing activity today, I had them write a one-page letter to their kids and grandkids, just explaining what this moment in history has been like for them--what it's like to see it and read about it and witness it. I look forward to reading their letters.

And one of the coolest things, from a teacher standpoint: on Tuesday, we did an activity on the Electoral College and how it works. Today, I asked how many of them had watched at least SOME of the coverage and of course, most of them had. And they were so excited: "Miss K, we actually knew what they were talking about when they were adding up all those numbers and stuff!" LOL. That's pretty awesome, though. It's always great when something you're teaching actually sinks in and affects them.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Psychic adventures

As the culmination of my birthday celebrations, I went to a psychic today. It was, overall, a very positive experience. Unlike last time, I didn't receive any kind of recording of the reading, so I'm relying on my memory. I know there are already things that I've forgotten, but here are some major themes and specific messages that came through:

1) Let's get right to the good stuff: I'm getting married--and in about 2 years!!! Whoo hoo!! That also jibes with what the first psychic said, who predicted that I'd be married in my "mid 30s" (and in 2 years I'll be 34). I haven't met him yet (more on that later), but he's a very "laid back, easy going guy". While not rich, he is definitely "comfortable." He will probably already have a child or two, but she thinks I'll have at least one more (while the child vibe doesn't come through as clearly for me as it does for others--which is what the first psychic said, too--this one does feel that there's at least "one energy" who wants to come into the world. She said that online dating may very well be the way I meet him, although she was also feeling a "Home Depot" connection. LOLOL. Yeah, cuz I do so much in the home improvement arena. I'll tell you one thing, though--forget Shoeless Joe's. HI is totally my new hangout spot.

2) As soon as I came in, she said that a female energy came in with me, one who passed from heart problems. This would be Grandma. And it's funny, because in my first reading, no one came through--but at the time, no one close to me had passed away. So it's interesting that this time, she picked up on one right away. She talked a little bit about Grandma; I won't bore you with the details but most of it seemed to fit, although there are some things I want to ask Dad about. Speaking of Dad, Grandma kept talking about someone with a "Mar" name. My dad's middle name is Martin. She (Grandma--to keep things clear, "she" in this section is Grandma) said that I'm very much like Dad in a huge variety of ways. She also said that although depression and other similar issues run in the family (!!), I'll be the one to "break the cycle." I wonder if that means the fact that I'm the first one to actually seek TREATMENT for these issues rather than having them disappear from our family completely. (Then again, if I don't have more kids, maybe I'm "breaking the cycle" that way, too.)

3) She (I'm switching back to the psyhic now) said that a male figure was with Grandma, one who died from an overdose. She was getting an "ed" name. My uncle's name was Ted, and the exact circumstances around his death are still somewhat unknown (he was found dead at the bottom of a staircase; he had a known problem with alcohol and frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if drugs did play a role--I have to ask Dad.) She said that this male figure was very quiet, not really saying anything (unlike Grandma, who came through very vibrantly), but that he wanted me to know he was there. She said that he left a lot of things unsaid in his lifetime and that he was sorry for that. She also said that his was a lifetime of sadness, which fits with what I know about him.

4) I'm very creative, very, very MUCH so, and I need to do more with that. She said that "writing" was going to play a very big role in my life and that Grandma said I needed to do more with that. (Interesting.)

5) She (the psychic) said that I am also incredibly "intuitive"--that word came through a LOT during the reading--and that I have been, even as a child. She said that my hunches and instincts are very correct and very strong. I told her yes, but I usually ignored them because they told me things I didn't want to know. She told me yeah, stop doing that. LOL. Coincidentally, this is also a theme that came through from the first psychic.

6) Teaching is the career path for me, and she sees me staying in that for quite a while. She did see, however, that I may veer off into more of a specialized path and working with a very specialized group of students--she said special ed, but I wonder if she's picking up on the fact that I'm working on my Masters in ELL (English Language Learners). She said I have the "uncanny" ability to make all children feel special and important, which kind of choked me up.

7) If I do veer off the teaching path, it will be to something in the law or law enforcement field. She said something with "the laws"--but then again, that could be tied into my work with ELL students.

8) I brought up LCB in a roundabout way. I said there was someone who was causing "some drama" in my life and should I let this person go. She said no, he's (and she said "he," I didn't) there for a reason, and he will continue to be a part of my life--although not in a "love" kind of way. Then she said--are you sitting down?-- that I was actually HIS MOTHER in a former life (LOLOLOLOLOLOL), which is why we have this unspoken bond, the reason why he feels comfortable around me and can confide in me, the reason I feel so attached to him and the reason that it brings me so much joy to take care of and nuture him (all of which is true). She also said that he has money issues--that is, it's very important to him and he's very driven by it, which is also true.

Those are the big things--like I said, there's so much more. She said healthwise, the biggest thing she was picking up on for me was a "bone issue"--that it's not a "major" problem yet, although it may be giving some problems already, but that it will become one if I don't start getting some calcium.

Oh wait, one more thing:

(I forgot what number I'm one): although I've lived MANY past lives (500+), she said that one past life particularly resonates with me; my life as "Julius," in which I accomplished so much more than many people thought I'd be able to, and that I surprised a lot of people. She said to watch for that theme in this current life.

Oh yeah--and that I was very strong, very intelligent, but that I had self esteem issues and didn't fully realize everything I was capable of. She said that in preparing for my future, I need to develop more respect for myself and to see myself as others see me. This is also another theme that came through on my previous reading. (Once I'm done here, I'm going to find that post and link back to it, so you can feel free to reread it and draw comparisons, as well.)

All in all, a very positive experience.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Birthdaypalooza

My 32nd birthday has come and gone. Sorry it took me a few days to get this post up, but in addition to my birthday revelry, I'm also coming off of two days of conferences. Thanks to all for the well wishes. Some highlights from the last couple of days:

1) The day began with the traditional "ha, you're old as hell" phone call from my sister. This year's version was a friendly reminder that in 8 years I'll be 40. Nice.

2) My kids presented me with a homemade card that they all signed. I knew it was coming, of course, because they're 5th graders and apparently thought that I DIDN'T see it being passed around for the last 3 days. =-) But they were so proud of themselves that I pretended to be surprised and totally caught off-guard. I also got various individual cards and some presents, 5th-grade style (ie, a Hershey's candy bar, a sparkly pen from the book fair, etc).

3) Mom sent me New Kids's new CD--whoo hoo!

4) Renee sent me a box of her famous Chex Mix, some fall leaves (another yearly tradition) and one of those over-the-door bathroom organizers that I was coveting at her house this summer.

5) I spent the actual birthday evening with LCB. Yeah, I know. We had dinner at my favorite place (Outback).

6) The following night, the birthday fun continued as I celebrated with my friends from work. About 10 of my nearest and dearest showed up. A good time was had by all. (A special shout out to Mike, the only one who has been there for all 3 of my Florida birthdays. He's now at a different school, but he still came out to keep the tradition alive.)

And I still have one more thing to look forward to:

7) I'm going to a psychic tomorrow (Saturday!). Anna took me for my 29th birthday (or was it my 28th?), and it was such a great experience that I figure I'm due for another psychic tuneup. I'm sure my spirit guides and angels will have some very choice words for me regarding some of my latest dumbass moves. =-) Expect a full recap.

And in unrelated-birthday news, I had my first field trip as a team lead today--and I'm pleased to announce that it was a success. It was more of a mini-trip--3rd, 4th and 5th grades attended a play at the high school right down the road (it was so close that we were able to walk). All the kids behaved quite well and represented our school very well, I think. (The coolest part was that the cast was outside to greet the kids as we left, which they really got a kick out of.) It was nerve-wracking, though, being responsible for 100 kids (all of 5th grade) instead of just my own class, and it gave me a preview of the stress-fest that will be our trip to Busch Gardens (really, there's a big difference between going on a field trip as a team lead and going as a regular teacher). LOL--you should have seen me prowling up and down the aisles in the auditorium, on the lookout for bad behavior.

So...yeah. Now I'm 32. Whoo freakin' hoo.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

American Idol, 5th grade style

On a lighter note (see post below):

While my kids work, they often absentmindedly sing or hum various songs that get stuck in their head. Two big ones right now are Pink's "So What" and Britney Spears's "Womanizer" (and, for some reason, the "Indiana Jones" theme song, which has been "going around" the room like the damn musical flu for a good week--we just can't shake it). I hate it because then, of course, the songs are stuck in MY head (which I inevitably pass on to other teachers in the break room, at lunch, etc)--but it's damn funny to hear a 10 year old quietly singing

Womanizer
Woman-Womanizer
You're a womanizer
Oh Womanizer
Oh You're a Womanizer
Baby You, You You Are You,
You You Are Womanizer,
Womanizer, Womanizer

Or

So so what?
I'm still a rock star
I got my rock moves
And I don't need you
And guess what
I'm having more fun
And now that we're done
I'm gonna show you tonight
I'm alright, I'm just fine
And you're a tool
Jennifer Hudson

I've been following (as I'm sure a lot of you have), horrified, the tragedy that has struck her family. It was bad enough when I read that her mom had been murdered. Then when news broke that the "male" victim who had been discovered along with her mother was actually her BROTHER, the horror deepened. Along with all of that, we found out that her nephew was missing--which is enough of a blow by itself. But then, when his body was found yesterday....I don't even have the words.

Can you imagine losing a parent, sibling AND nephew all in one fell swoop, especially to those causes? I mean, a car accident, for example, would have been a nightmare, to be sure. But to have that many family members MURDERED--and a child to boot--good God. It's incomprehensible.

I just read this today in one of the news articles:

"Hudson said, "Yes, that's him," when she was shown the face of Julian King on a wall-mounted video screen. She entered the room with her head bowed but "remained strong for her family," said the spokesman. "It was very clear that she was the leader. She held hands with her family. It was obviously a very emotional moment." "

Jesus. After everything she'd already gone through...I can only speculate that at that point, she was simply numb, beaten down. At a certain point, I think, your mind and your heart just kind of shut down, if only to spare you that additional pain. I wouldn't be surprised if she were to get through the funerals and grieving with very little outside emotion--only to break down in the weeks and months to come, as it slowly begins to sink in. The enormity of it, I don't think, can even be grasped. It's like a nightmare from which you never wake up. How can one person even take in that kind of suffering all at once?

If this isn't an example of "money doesn't buy you happiness," then I don't know what is. It's also a glaring reminder that tragedy can strike anyone, at any time. So be grateful for every day, and appreciate those around you.