Saturday, April 27, 2013

Is there a half step?

Apparently I have a serious problem.

I didn't realize it until just the other day. I mean, yeah, ok, I consume a little bit. Almost every day, but I can stop when I want to. I think.

Oh, geez. Come to think of it, I probably can't just stop cold turkey.

I guess it is a little bit of a problem.

I'd never thought about being a legitimate chocoholic until a brief series of events over the past few days.

Wednesday Angela asked me if my ears were ringing earlier that afternoon when she was talking about me to one of her classes. They weren't, but I was super flattered. I figured she was talking about what a great teacher I am. No. Not so much. She was telling them that while she enjoys chocolate, she's not sure she's ever met anyone who enjoys it quite as much as I do.

She knows lots of people.

Her comment was innocuous enough, but it got me thinking. Do I have a problem? I thought back to Friday night when my dear friend and former roommate came over for dinner. She never goes anywhere empty handed, so she arrived with gifts including chocolates  The chocolates were because, "I know how my girl needs chocolate." Fast forward less than 12 hours to when my neighbor called me specifically to let me know that m&m's were on sale at target. Three bags for eight dollars.

(And yes, I did go pick up three bags. You know, just in case.)

I looked up the 12 step program. I'm not ready to admit that I'm powerless or that my life has become unmanageable. Just don't look at the parenthetical above this paragraph.

About a year ago, Beau was in New Orleans for a class. While there, he stopped at Sucre and picked up a couple of bars of chocolate for me. They looked good. So good I didn't want to eat them. So, they sat for a little while.

When I was in the hospital with Little Man, Beau brought one to me. It was the Candied Violet bar. It was easily the best chocolate I'd ever had. Now, the circumstances might have altered my impression of the Candied Violet bar, but I don't think so.

I might enjoy chocolate a little more than I should. There are worse vices.

What are you known for?

(Photos borrowed from Sucre.)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Big changes for this girl

My dad was a teacher at a community college for just shy of thirty years. He married a coworker, an English professor. When I was a teenager I'd see her grading papers for her classes and think she was absolutely insane. I distinctly remember saying (on more than one occasion) that I'd NEVER even consider being a teacher. And certainly not an English teacher.

Fast forward to college where I decided that teaching wouldn't be so bad, but there was no reason anyone in their right mind would choose to teach high school students. Right out of college I got hired at a high school that had a separate campus for ninth graders. That seemed doable since ninth graders couldn't be that much different from the eighth graders I'd just student taught. 

I fell in love with it. The kids were interesting and challenging.

Two years later,  I moved to Virginia and got hired at a 9-12th grade high school and was assigned both ninth and 12th grade classes. I was 24 years old and terrified.

They weren't so scary. They were kind of fun, receptive, smart, funny, (and yes, frustrating, lazy, snarky and cocky). I fell even more in love with my job. I knew I had found my calling and was at home in the classroom.  I spent the next ten years there. And at the risk of sounding arrogant, I think I was pretty good at it. 

While I'm not noble by any stretch of the imagination, I feel that teaching is an absolutely noble calling. I proudly tell people I teach. I take my job very seriously and work very, very hard to be the very best teacher I can be. I have been guilty of  putting my job before my personal life more than once.

Today did something I never thought I would do. I officially and respectfully submitted my resignation. Looking back at this post, I probably already knew that today was coming, but the part of me that lives to teach has been in denial.

Last week human resources gave me the daunting task of either resigning or coming back to work "at the first available vacant position for which I am qualified." That language scared me. There are 11 high schools in my school system, 15 middle schools and an alternative school.  I knew that my school didn't have a vacant position. I decided to resign. (The school really is that great.) And then Wednesday I got an email saying that my school had a part time position waiting for me if I wanted it.

It was, for all intents and purposes, exactly what I wanted.

Except it wasn't.

And I decided to check the "I do not wish to return to a position at the end of my leave" box.

That makes it sound like it was really easy. It wasn't. I hemmed and hawed and soul-searched until the last possible moment.

The end result: I'm no longer a teacher. (OK, that's not true. I have a class I need to teach on Monday, so I should probably not be quite so melodramatic.) I'm no longer a high school teacher. Whoa. Short of a few community college classes here and there, my entire professional career has been in high schools. And now it isn't.

While I'm a little bit dazed, I'm also completely confident that I have done what is right for our family.  Today Little Man giggled as I chased him, he shoved food into his mouth with his meaty little hands and he stood on wobbly legs and moved his hips like Elvis. I got to see all of that. I'll get to watch him grow and change next year, too.

We're excited.

What changes are happening in your world?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April Update- West Virginia

Not much is going on in West Virginia in terms of home improvement. March brought a ton of snow, which was awesome for the ski season, but not awesome for the outdoor construction we have planned.

While Beau and I were there last we did a tiny bit of work on the inside of the house. (And by "we" I suppose I really mean Beau, because when I think about it I didn't actually have any part in this aside from perhaps making suggestions and sweeping up after him.)

In this post I showed you some of the finer selling points of the house. This picture was included.

I know. You're jealous of the wall and probably wondering if I'll provide you with the number of the previous owner's decorator. Sorry, no can do. Oddly, this is not a trendy striped wall you'll find on Pinterest. Crazy it isn't there yet. You should pin it.

The wall makes me want to barf. The great thing about the stripes is that the two levels of paint make bumps that will need to be sanded instead of just primed. Cool. Because the house wasn't going to be enough work already.

We brought a sander, but didn't get around to sanding. Instead, I had Beau pull the runner up on the stairs so I could think about starting to sand them. Why, you ask? Well, the previous "decorator" painted them the darker shade of burgundy from the wall and I wanted to see if the gross runner being removed would make them less hideous or if I could stain them on top of the burgundy after a rough sand or something to avoid sanding them down completely.

Guess what?

Someone only painted as far as the runner covered.


Who does that?

I'm not sure I can sand enough of that pink/burgundy/mauve/ whatever off to make the stairs uniform enough to stain to a normal color.

That's got to be one of the laziest home "improvement" projects ever. See previous comment about this being more work than originally expected.

While Beau was pulling up carpet he decided to tackle the disgusting Berber in one of the bedrooms downstairs. Remember this room?

Can't you just smell those stains from where you're sitting? Ugh.

Well, here's Beau hard at work. (And yes, I was tempted to burn the clothes he was wearing after he was crawling all over the carpeting.)

Now we have three bedrooms with sub floor exposed. One more room to go.
So, while I don't have any actual progress to show you, I'm excited to say we are getting closer to being able to make some fun improvements that will make a big difference in the look of the house.
And by "make a difference in the look of the house" I mean we'll start to work on making it look inhabitable. You know, like, with floors and stuff. Odds are it won't happen in the near future because I have tons of other projects I'd like to tackle while the floors are yucky.
Painting the purple room something other than purple is one of those projects. Nothing says mountain cabin like a pale purple room. Am I right, or am I right?
Pop quiz: What would you do to make those stairs look like normal stairs? Beau says replace them. I think that sounds expensive.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Maya & Me & Maya

You know that silly question about who you would dine with--dead or alive-- if you could dine with anyone? My answer is Maya Angelou*. It has been since I read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings in high school. I fell into a deeply respectful, awed kind of love at first read. Then I read everything she's written. Multiple times.

"Phenomenal Woman"? Empowering.

"And Still I Rise"? Breathtaking.

Those are just two of her poems. Her prose is just as painfully beautiful.

Imagine my delight when I saw that there would be another autobiographical book to add to her stunning collection. And it came out last week!!! Oh my great golly.

I read it in just over a day and I'm not entirely sure why I am just now blogging about it.

I highly recommend it. Angelou discusses her relationship with her mother and a bit about becoming a mother herself. I could relate to it far more than I could have a year ago. Though I don't have nearly the experiences Angelou has had, I do now have a much deeper understanding of all that motherhood entails. No, that's not even remotely true. Let me rephrase: I have a much deeper understanding of some of what motherhood entails. When I'm 85 like Angelou I might be able to say I have a deeper understanding of all that motherhood entails.

Anyway here's a passage I love: "She had my back and supported me. This is the role of the mother, and in that visit I really saw clearly, and for the first time, why a mother is really important. Not just because she feeds and also loves and cuddles and even mollycoddles a child, but because in an interesting and maybe an eerie and unworldly way, she stands in the gap. She stands between the unknown and the known."

Just read that again.

Seriously, do it.

Lovely, isn't it?

While this wasn't my favorite book by her, I did really enjoy it. She could probably write anything and I'd love it. I'm not picky. Or maybe she just always writes lovely things.

Probably the latter.

If you know me in real life you know it isn't the former. I'm pretty picky...

Who would you want to have dinner with?

* It is fortunate I've never been invited to dinner with Maya Angelou because I'd blubber like an idiot and embarrass myself. I'm not cool enough under pressure to survive dinner with someone like her (i.e. my "celebrity hero"). In fact, the thought of it actually happening makes me anxious.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Play Ball!

Well, today is April Fool's day. Did anyone get ya? I don't participate. It seems mean to me. So, instead of an April Fool's post, lets discuss baseball. Why?

If you're asking why you probably don't care much for baseball. It's opening day for many, many teams today. Shame on you. You should know that.

I can't help but think back to my baseball education which came from my best friend's mom in high school. Betcha didn't see that coming, huh? I didn't grow up in a baseball family and so I always thought it was kind of boring. And, frankly, it kind of still is. (Sorry Bonnie...) I do get a touch of baseball fever every opening day. I remember my very first opening day ever.

(Image from here)
Dodger stadium. Sophomore year. There was a long car-ride from south Orange County to Los Angeles. There was carsickness. (I didn't quite understand the urgency of "Amy, move, now." until there was a retching boy hanging out of the mini van.) There was the super steep stadium that induced vertigo. There was sunburn. There were Dodger Dogs.

And there was baseball.

I have no idea who played (besides the Dodgers...duh). I have no idea if the Dodgers won. Hey, it was a learning experience. I didn't think I'd be quizzed on it.

When we got to the stadium we bought our programs. Cyndi said it was a must and that she and her mom would teach me to keep score. That seemed so foreign to me. I'd been to baseball games before. I knew there was a very large scoreboard that was maintained by people who were paid to count strikes and outs and runs. Cyndi told me I'd understand when the game started.


Have you ever scored a game? It is really complex. I had no idea that the game I could "watch" and miss four or seven innings could actually have so much going on. It turns out that keeping score is an excellent way to keep yourself from missing an entire game because you're busy chatting. It is a necessary way to, well, keep your eye on the ball.

That first opening day I got a basic education in baseball scoring. I learned to appreciate the game. Before it was just a guy with a bat- who would either hit the ball or not-- versus other guys who probably wouldn't have to move far to get the one guy out. This would go on at a painfully slow pace.

It turns out that baseball is actually kind of cerebral. There is a lot to it. It doesn't look like it, but there is. It might look like a guy with a stick who swings at a ball, but it is much more. Tradition. Strategy. And other stuff I don't get.

Are you a baseball fan? Do you score the game or find yourself chatting through the game?