Sunday, May 30, 2010

Just a Small-Town Girl

I'm from a small town in Texas. This guarantees a couple of things about me.

A) I'm well-versed in rodeo speak, farm talk, and gossip.
2) I love Dairy Queen. Love. it.

Seriously, I can sniff out a DQ like Bobby Brown to a crackhouse. We may not be there all the time anymore, but we are always aware of the closest one. You know... just in case.

I am a fool for Dairy Queen ice cream, specifically. There is no substitute in my life. Dilly Bars, Dipped Cones, Blizzards, Peanut Buster Parfaits... I'm all in. The newest attraction? The Buster Bar Blizzard. It is Heaven in a paper cup. I had one on Friday, and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. You should have one. Immediately. It's totally worth it.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm No Mother Teresa, but He's no Jeffrey Dahmer Either.

Today, I spent most of the day with a kid that, for the last 183 school days, has been my nemesis.

I fully realize that as a teacher, the politically correct thing to say is, "I love ALL my students. ALL my students are precious and wonderful. I love them, and they love me." And then, like all "good" teachers, I'd take off my apple sweater and broomstick skirt and schoolbus earrings and go get good and drunk.

But I'm not just a teacher. I'm a human. And you're a human. And don't a few other humans, be they 13 or 31, just bug the ever-loving shit out of you? If you say they don't, then you're a mother-effing liar. Or you're Mother Teresa. But let's face it, I bet even Mother Teresa knew a few jackasses. She just had more self-restraint than 99.9% of the world's population. This is why she's Mother Teresa.

But, back to my nemesis.

This morning, he, of course, did not have a signed permission slip to go to the zoo with the other 450 7th graders. After a deep breath and an eye roll or two, I told him he could call home, and I could take verbal permission from his mother, who, oh, by the way, is a total nutball. Seriously, she's cussed out, hung up on, and threatened the jobs of like 5 of our teachers, including me. She's refused to show up to parent-teacher meetings, dodged conference calls, and told me by phone that "while he's at school, he's YOUR problem." Needless to say, I was not ready to put up with her shit so early in the morning. Before my Diet Coke.

I was nervous.

While he was begging her.... BEGGING her... on the phone for permission (and I'm listening to his end of the conversation and watching him shake with nervousness), this kid reveals that he wants to go today because he's never been to the zoo. Ever. Not once. Because she's never taken him. Right then and there, my mission became: getting this little rat bastard to the zoo. Because -- even little rat bastards should go to the zoo. Fo' reals, the Fort Worth Zoo is flipping awesome, and every kid should go. Every. single. one. I got on the phone, managed to get permission without getting cussed out, and made my nemesis's day. Then I switched his group to my group in hopes of keeping him out of trouble and keeping the other group leader mildly un-crazy. Chances of either of us having a great time = doubtful.

I felt insane.

On the way, another kid (who'd also never been to the zoo... or Six Flags... or Wet 'n' Wild... or Chuck E. Cheese... or even to Putt-Putt) nearly barfed on me because she was carsick and hungry because she didn't have breakfast. If I didn't know her story, I'd have thought she was faking it to get the peanut butter cookie in my bag. But she wasn't faking, and she got the cookie.

And I was sad (not for my cookie. for her. I'm human but not an a-hole.)

In fact, THREE of my kids had never been to the zoo. That's 30% of my group that had never traveled the 11 miles to see one of my city's favorite attractions.

I was appalled.

Once there, my nemesis told me his favorite show was any show on Animal Planet. And that kid must watch the hell out of some Animal Planet because he was a fact-o-rama. I thought he spent all of his spare time coming up with ways to drive me crazy.

I was stunned.

At lunch, six of my ten kids had no money for a treat. Four did. This was going to create even more dischord in my already oddly matched group. Eleven Icees and $33.00 later, everyone had a treat. Everyone was happy. Everyone was grateful. Everyone was shocked that someone would spend her money on them. Everyone had lunch. Except my nemesis, who had nothing but an Icee because his mom didn't pack him a lunch. Then he had my Baked Lay's and most of my sandwich. That's right, his mom wouldn't give him money or a lunch bag.

Now I was hungry... and still pissed.

It was hot. It was tiring. It was time enough to see only a fraction of our wonderful zoo. I was bummed about not being able to show the kids more. But on the way out, my nemesis said, totally to himself, "My mom is going to get so bored with how much I have to tell her about today."

Then I was heartbroken.

I wanted to scream at this woman. I wanted to shake her. I wanted to ask her why she has chosen to "house" her son but not "raise" him. I wanted her to know that a relative stranger -- someone who knows her child just 80 minutes every other day -- took her son to the zoo for the first time. And I wanted to strap her to a chair while he relayed his adventures to her, and every time she yawned or asked him to be quiet, I planned to slap her in the back of the head and ask her how she could dare to be bored with her own kid's happiness. I wanted her to know that sometimes an Icee and a Subway sandwich and being close enough to a kangaroo to reach out and touch it really does make things better for a while. I don't know this woman, but I know there's absolutely no excuse. How can you not be excited for your child? How can you not love your child? Even Jeffrey Dahmer's dad continued to love him, and he was a freaking SERIAL KILLER. Your kid just can't behave in English class. There's a difference, lady, and maybe if you gave a shit, he'd behave once in a while.

I was outraged at his mother. I was ashamed at my impatience with him.

On the way home from the zoo, my nemesis got into trouble for slap-boxing with another kid on the bus, and my nemesis hit me in the head with a paperwad that he threw. Once we were back from the zoo, I was ready to let my nemesis go run around crazy for a little while. Truthfully, I was ready for my nemesis to be someone else's responsibility for a bit. For an afternoon, I felt like that apple-sweater wearin' teacher who loves everyone, but then I realized, again, that I'm just human.

And I was disappointed.

But while we were at the zoo, for those 2 hours and 15 minutes? He wasn't my nemesis. He was just a kid, wide-eyed and ready to see everything he'd only witnessed through a t.v. screen. And I wasn't his teacher. I was just a girl, remembering why I took this job, digging through her purse for $33.00 worth of happiness.

And I felt hopeful.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gregory Peck vs. Edward Cullen

Today, while watching the movie version of The Yearling, one of my students said, "I love Gregory Peck, he's so awesome." She said it with the same reverence that most 13 year-olds say, "I love Edward Cullen. He's so awesome." But without the squealing.

It made my heart smile.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Five Minutes I'll Never Get Back

Today, I passed back quizzes to my students. Things you should know before proceeding:

1. In my class, students are always welcome to make corrections, but only if they come to tutoring and make some kind of effort.
2. Some students always try the shortcut. Many are not so smart at the shortcut.
3. The quizzes for this last novel are all multiple choice.
4. I only have a class set of quizzes because I refuse to wait at the copy machine for more than 3 minutes.

Here are the 5 minutes I wasted trying to use logic on a student who is not very logical.

Her: I corrected all my quizzes. I forgot to tell you, and I just now found them.
Me: Oh, really? The quizzes that were just returned less than ten minutes ago?
Her: Uh-huh.
Me: The ones that, combined, have over 120 questions total?
Her: Uhh-huh....
Me: The ones that are multiple choice and only list answers as "A", "B", "C", or "D" thereby leaving you with just pieces of paper with columns of random letters but no real clues, questions, or answer choices listed?
Her: Uhhh-huh.....
Me: Are you going to stick with this story? Really? Because we've all got things to do, and you can still get out of this with a little grace.
Her: (blank stare)
Me: You're sticking with this story? For real?
Her: Yes.
Me: Really? BECAUSE there's no...possible...way you could have corrected these BECAUSE you don't have the actual quiz. BECAUSE I only make a class set. So there's no... possible... way that you could even know the original answer choices to "A", "B", "C", or "D" even are BECAUSE those quizzes are here in my desk drawer and not anywhere you could see them. BECAUSE you have to come to tutorials to make corrections BECAUSE I know y'all will just copy answers from someone else's paper.
Her: (pause... pause... pause) Uhhhhh-huh.......
Me: Explain how you corrected them then.
Her: I read my book.
Me: (crazy stare)
Her: I used my study questions.
Me: (crazier stare)
Her: I didn't cheat.
Me: (eyeroll) So, let me get this straight. You corrected all 120 questions in 10 minutes or less without the actual quiz questions, using only your book, your study questions, and some sort of unworldly psychic ability?
Her: (pause to take all that in)..... Uhhhhh-huh....
Me: Tell me, little psychic friend, what am I thinking right now?
Her: (blank stare)... (blank stare)... I don't know.
Me: Here it is. This is the worst lie ever. I don't know whether to be happy that you're a terrible liar or annoyed by the fact that you think I'd fall for it. You are not cut out for a life of crime. Do. Not. Lie. Again. Go sit down and leave those quiz answers with me.
Her: Why?
Student from across the room (to the worst liar ever): BECAUSE you better be in tutoring. Tomorrow. Fo' real.

And this is how I went insane before 10:00 AM.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Be Free

Yesterday, someone died. Someone I had not thought of very often lately. Someone who I hadn't seen in a dozen years, maybe more. Someone I always worried would leave this world too soon. He's gone, and the hearts of a tiny town are broken.

Broken because they could not save him. Broken because what they all feared would happen did, in fact, happen. Broken because he was broken. Broken because they didn't have the tools to fix him.

I cannot remember where I saw him last. Most likely it was somewhere with lots of beer and even more laughter. He had a smile that lit up the room, but it could never light up his eyes. His eyes were haunted with a loneliness and a sadness of too much seen for one short life. Sorrow trailed him like a panther in the night, slinking through the trees, waiting for the opportunity to strike, its growl just a whisper on the wind. Sorrow, so sleek and flexible, weaving in and out of his stride, only pretending to be tamed by its master.

You were loved. I don't know if you ever knew how much and by how many. I don't know if I ever told you how you made me laugh all those years ago. I should have.

I hope that wherever you are, you are claiming your right to the peace that so eluded you in life. I hope that all your broken places have been healed. I hope that the light of your smile radiates throughout your soul and finds its way to the hearts of those you left behind. And I hope that wherever you are, there's cold beer and warm laughter.

Be free.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Birthday Cake and Booze

Birthdays are important landmarks in your life, and they should be celebrated.

In fact, they should be celebrated with delicious birthday cake, iced-tea infused vodka, and the intense laughter of your dearest friends.

It doesn't really matter where you go, what you do, or even what flavor of birthday cake and booze is on the menu. But the friend part? That's non-negotiable.

Happy Birthday, Heather-Feather. I hope you got everything you wanted.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Swearing as a second Language

I have bad habits -- biting my nails when I'm nervous, mindless humming, hitting the snooze button one too many times. And I have vices, I suppose. Diet Cokes, Reeses' peanut butter eggs, all things carb-related, reality t.v. But even those I've tried really hard to let go of. Addictions? Rockstars have addictions. Crackheads have addictions. Tiger Woods, I hear, has an addiction.

And, apparently, I have one too. Or so I've come to notice.

Is it booze? Nope. Too many vodka tonics, and I'm either going to sob on your shoulder or vomit in your yard. Neither is pretty. Blow? Not a chance. I'm still not convinced that Tylenol PM isn't a gateway drug. Fame? Are you serious? I'm a public school teacher. I might be famous in the teacher's lounge. Might. Be.

I, my friends, am addicted to swearing. I... effing... love... it. Now, I don't go around with Sailor Mouth or anything because, well, that's just tacky and shows zero creativity. And, no, I don't cuss at school or around small children. I try to clean it up for those that I know never would never utter such a foul thing. I've even been sparing here on my little piece of the internet (and will continue to try to be so, making this post about swearing actually have very few swear words. But the internet is not real life. And my swearing just isn't as good without my facial expressions and dramatic arm waving.).

But in real life, swear words are my friends. One of my favorite movie quotes ever is from The Christmas Story:

"He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master."

It makes me giggle every time because I think it's awesome. I aspire to be so adept. By nature, I'm a total rule-follower, so being profane is really my only form of rebellion. Growing up, my mother would cuss, and it just made her seem like more of a badass (and my mom is, was, and always will be a complete badass). Her favorite word was "shit", and she could use it as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb; it didn't matter. My brother fed me a pretty steady diet of inappropriate language and taught me the F-word (the only one not allowed in our house which made it delicious to say), but it was my Grandma Henrietta who truly made me understand the value of a well-placed expletive.

She was a bingo daubing, apple pie baking, silver-perm wearing potty mouth. She would probably die all over again if she knew I was revealing this, but then she'd smile her wicked smile and say, "That's my granddaughter. She's a regular horse's ass." Grandma Henri would smile and be polite and play the role of sweet granny... until you beat her at dominoes. Then, she would twist up her face, look at you through her little old lady glasses, and mutter, "You old horse's ass. Re-shuffle those damn dominoes." Her love of all obscenities ending in "ass" was clearly ingrained in me, for adding "ass" to any word is one of my favorite forms of swearing. In fact, I'd give up $1,000 out of my paycheck every year if I could just get away with calling someone (teenager or adult) an asshole one time each day without getting myself in a world of hurt.

There are those who would call foul language a sin... blasphemy... and a sure-fire ticket to Hell. It's crude and vulgar and entirely inappropriate. I get that. And they are more than entitled to their opinion, and, like I said, I will try to respect it although sometimes your shocked looks only encourage me. I used to worry over it and fear the results of my own slips of the tongue until I realized that for me, cussing is simply a stress-reliever. It's good for dramatic effect in story-telling. And sometimes it's just plain ol' fun. Haven't you just ever, in your car, screamed at the guy who cut you off, "I'm gonna kick your ass, you SON-OF-A BITCH!"? No? Try it. It feels outstanding, and it's way safer than, say, trying to shoot out his back window at 80 mph.

So, if a dirty mouth leads me to a river of fire and eternal damnation, then I should probably start packing my flameproof inner tube and the SPF 750.

Henrietta and I will be waiting for you, you old horse's ass.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why I (mostly) Love 3rd Period

I'm a teacher.

I'm a good teacher.

I'm a good person.

I try to be understanding, caring, helpful, and considerate.

But sometimes, I'm not, and mainly it's because there are those who have suddenly chosen to be neither good, understanding, caring, helpful or considerate surrounding me. And they totally wash their dirty feet in my soul.

Today, I endured nonsense from all angles: students, teachers, and administrators. It was truly mind-blowing.

Until 3rd period, who is my last bastion of sanity and humor most days, and today was no exception. During my most intensely frustrated moment, this was the conversation.

Me: Oh... my... Lord. Enough is enough! (as I ran to the door to scold some super-noisy children who were distracting my kids from their quiz).

3rd Period: Uhhhh-ohhhh. (with lots of wincing faces)

Me: (Yell, yell, yell... with lots of finger pointing and mean-facing and then walking back into the room, muttering crazily and super-fast like a total nutjob.) This is it. This is how I will one day wind up on the 10:00 news! I will be the TOP STORY, and I don't want to be the TOP STORY unless I won the lotto! I want to be "Local Teacher Wins $170 Million" not "Local Teacher Leads Police in High Speed Chase"! But so help me, I think I am going to seriously injure someone today.

Student A: Don't do it today. Do it on a day when you straighten your hair.

Student B: (nodding her head in agreement) Yeah. You'll have a way cuter mug shot with your hair down.

Me: *smile* Okay, okay. Another day then. Thanks for looking out for me.

Student A: No prob. (returns to quiz)

And this is why I (mostly) love 3rd Period.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Some changes are like a glacier, inching forward year by year, seemingly making no change at all until, all of a sudden, it's ice age time and you're the dinosaur who didn't pack a sweater.

Other changes are like firecrackers -- quick, sharp, and hardly noticeable except for the scorched ground and fluttery heartbeat. And the missing thumb.

Either way, I just don't like it. And before anyone drops the "but change is healthy and good for you" bullcrap on me, understand this: tofu is healthy and good for you too, but the mere sight of it still makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Maybe I Shouldn't Have Watched The Biggest Loser Before Writing This...

Anyone who knows me understands a few important and helpful things about me.

A. I tend to make inappropriate jokes at completely awkward times (i.e. moments after a friend's home has been robbed and violated, funerals, etc.). It's a defense mechanism... usually to deter the following personal quirk:

B. I cry. Buckets. I'm not the cute, single-tear crier. That's for romantic comedies and Indians who do PSA's about the environment. It's not me. Doesn't matter when or why either -- happy, sad, frustrated, scared, what-have-you. More on that another day, but many times, tears stem from this:

C. I have numerous, entirely illogical fears. They range from simply unnerving to downright spine tingling, but much like how people with Autism fall all over what is known as the "Autism Spectrum", I have come up with a handy-dandy way to organize my plethora of weird and totally whack-ass phobias.

Only in the last 10 years have I really begun to identify the problem areas and start making a little sense -- and I use that term loosely -- of them. My closest friends would probably rearrange and add to all of this, but that's what the comments section is for. So, here, making its world debut is the "Spectrum of Terror". But I don't know how to make a timeline on this dang thing, so I'll have to improvise.

"The Lesser Evils"
These are things that might make my palms sweat, cause me to jump a little, or quickly (but quietly) suck in my breath in a gasp. They're not a huge deal and can usually be either deflected by caring friends or overcome within seconds. They are not a huge deterrent to my day.

Examples: balloons popping, deadlines, the split second that I think I've locked my keys in the car, people touching my ears, and little people (I've almost conquered this one with the TLC network. I mean -- thanks, TLC, your programming was worthwhile to at least one viewer, but, really two shows sneaking a peek at the trials and tribulations of the short-statured? Sounds like a network president with a fetish to me.)

"Knee Knockers and Quads Afire"
These are moments and things that do just what the label says... they make my knees weak, and then that feeling moves up to my quad muscles, essentially liquefying them. Recovery time is typically 2-3 minutes of sitting down and some light stretching.

Examples: getting pulled over by a cop, standing up at great heights, public speaking, walking down stairs without handrails, shopping at Sam Moon on a Saturday, and pictures of clowns.

"Nervous Tummy"
For those of you who are somehow new to my life -- or those of you who I might have wanted to retain some sort of polite civility in our friendship --this is precisely what it sounds like. You might want to skip this one because today, I'm gonna spell it out for you. This portion of the spectrum probably covers the greatest ground for me, ranging anywhere from slightly vomitous to near-pooping of the pantalones. Prescription: lots and lots of deep breathing through the nose and mouth, a damp washcloth for my face, and possibly several minutes alone in the nearest restroom.

Examples: technology taking over the world, the possum who lives in my backyard, a clown more than a hundred feet from me, The Shining, failure, night hikes at camp with Toni the Great, confrontation, and debt collectors. By the way, if you're a debt collector who likes rainbow wigs, creepy hotels, or absurdly fancy phones, you might as well check out now. I will not confront you about it ('cause I'm afraid), but we will never be friends. Ever. I don't even know how you got on this site.

"The Bone Chillers"
Last, but not least, are the things that have never ceased to send me into a panicked state, that encompass all other levels and symptoms -- sweaty palms, shaky knees, squeals, gasping, nausea and/or possible diarrhea, loss of speaking ability, and, of course, tears. Lots and lots of tears. Full-on heebie jeebies, people. There is no remedy for "The Bone Chillers". Neither therapy nor awkward hugs nor calming reassurances will allay my fear. The only possibility for help is complete repression of the memory or total avoidance of the situation before it presents itself. These are so big that they get their own bold AND italic font. That's serious in my world.

Clowns within a hundred feet of me. Clowns are seriously effed up beings, in my mind, whose diet consist mainly of helium sucked out of balloons and toddler blood. I am convinced that behind their painted on smiles are several rows of finely sharpened teeth and a deep need to make me one of their own. I try to allow all people of the world a fair chance with me (even you, debt collectors) no matter their race, creed, or socioeconomic status. But, clowns, you made your life choice with the rubber nose and the greasepaint. I can't help you anymore.

Things that scurry (tied with) dumpsters. I do... not... like... things that scurry. They're too fast, too unpredictable. Mice, roaches, little snakes (although they technically slither), hermit crabs, etc. They completely sick me out. As far as dumpsters go, believe me, I don't get it either. Sure, they're smelly and sometimes in a dark alley, but I grew up in the country where we burned our trash and didn't even have alleys. We barely even had streets. I still don't have an alley, and now I even have curbside pick-up. But, for the life of me, every time I open a dumpster, I am sure I am going to find a dead body. My only guess is that the root of this is some t.v. show I shouldn't have been watching as a young child which therefore scarred me beyond imagination. Yet as unfounded as it is, it still doesn't stop me from taking out my cell phone, dialing 911 and putting my thumb on the send button every time I do actually have to open that creaky lid and risk encountering a leftover corpse. And at camp, there's a distinct possiblity that something (a raccoon, a mouse, a feral cat) might scurry out of said dumpster. Two fears for the price of one.

Jillian from The Biggest Loser. This is actually a pretty new one because while I've watched the show periodically, I was never as intense about it as I am now. My mom told me once that she "so wanted me to go on that show". It stung for a moment -- my own mother pointing out the fact that my fat ass needed professional help and some nationally televised humiliation to get the ball rolling, but humiliation via my mom isn't even ON the Spectrum of Terror, so it barely even fazed me. After she said it, however, I pondered her advice for exactly 72 seconds as I watched Jillian get in the face of a struggling contestant, screech so violently that some spittle flew out and landed on the poor girl's tear-stained face, and demand that this plump little chickadee examine her innermost feelings about all the sadness in her life, all while maintaing a 2.5 incline on her treadmill. I cannot examine those things in a paid professional's office, so how in the hell did my mom expect her crybaby daughter to deal with that kind of interrogation? But that wasn't even the scariest part. Suddenly, she flipped the emotional switch, shut down the treadmill, plopped that girl down, scooted up next to her, and started whispering vague encouragement in the contestant's ear. (Hellooo... were you at all paying attention to my ear thing earlier? I cannot handle that scary bitch in my ear whispering positive words sprinkled with evil.) That only lasted about 14 more seconds before she turned to another contestant, climbed up on his back like a vicious little spider monkey, and then forced him to do chin-ups for like 38 minutes straight. Now she's got her own show whereupon she rolls up to YOUR HOUSE, rummages through your pantry and emotional hidey-holes, and apparently lounges on the couch with your dad (as evidenced in the preview) while you recover from the psychological and physical trauma. I'm sure she's a lovely person with the best of intentions, but... no... thank... you. She freaks my shit out.

*This chart is intended to be merely a guideline for informational purposes, and, in no way, should be used to test the limits of my sanity or bowel strength. Unless you're looking for a swift punch in the neck, jerk face.*

Monday, May 17, 2010

Unlocking the Diary

So until recently, I thought to myself, "Who the hell blogs? I mean what kind of a narcissist thinks that the world at large really wants to know what anyone else is doing or thinking at any given time? Sheesh!" (Although I've never actually heard anyone outside of a '50s sitcom say "sheesh" before.)

And then, I met my friend, Facebook.

That's when I realized two things about myself. A) I have a way-more easily addictive personality than I ever thought. And 2) I'm a total voyeur. I mean, I'm not a creepy, hide-in-the-bushes-watch-you-clip-your-toenails-on-the-couch-through-the-window voyeur. I'm not a sicko, for crying out loud. Just your normal, everyday, completely non-threatening nosy-ass. Although, you should be aware that you should clip your toenails in a more "straight across" fashion. Ingrown toenails are a bitch, my friend. Not that I'm watching you. Promise.

But, yeah, I admit it. I totally want to know what's going on in your life. Not necessarily the small things, or "boring things" as I commonly refer to them. Just the weird stuff... and the funny stuff. If you can make me laugh in 420 characters or less, we will totally be friends forever. However, Facebook, much like the Real World (Season 1 -- anything after that is just a bunch of booze hounds trying to score a gig at MTV), gives me full, sometimes awesomely unedited, views into people I sometimes barely know but are somehow brave enough to call me their "friend". It's like sneaking a peek at the first line in your diary. Wholeheartedly awesome.

Then, to a colleague, I expressed a desire to write more everyday, he suggested that I start a blog. What? Me? Blogs, I thought once again, were for people who had important things to share. Babies, charities, advice to people who had no real friends to tell them otherwise! This wasn't me! What did I have to share? "Duh. You share on your Facebook every day," was his response. "People seem to care about that." This was a person whose opinion I trust immensely, however, and I knew he wouldn't knowingly steer me into the wrong direction. So what did I do? I started to do a little research (because this is what I do. I ponder. I hem. I haw. I procrastinate and waste time in the name of "research"). Did you ever realize how many effing people blog? Thousands. Millions. I'd even say Cajillions if it were an actual point of reference. All of a sudden, I was overwhelmed by blogs. Some were pretty lame... others were pretty rad. (That's right... I said "rad". Twist off. I like it. I'm thinking about bringin' it back.) Some were weird, some were sweet, some were heart wrenching, and others were "shoot Diet Coke outta my nose" funny. But I couldn't escape the fact that many of these people were PUTTING THEIR LIVES ON THE INTERNET! Helloooo, McFly???? The internet is not private, and I was raised to cherish my privacy. So, I freaked out, slammed my laptop shut, and voted under the category of no-effing-way. I mean, fo' real... it's called a diary. Get one. They even come with dinky little keys to lock all your angst and neuroses away. In a diary, you can be nine kinds of bat-shit crazy, and NO ONE HAS TO KNOW. I was in complete, unashamed judgment. But, you know me, I was also absolutely entrenched in like 10 different bloggers' lives within moments. Still judging but in deep. It. Was. Heaven.

And, then, one day while throwing out a lifetime of accumulated crap I had moved seven -- count 'em, seven -- times in a myriad of crumpled cardboard boxes, I happened upon my own little, angst-ridden, chock full o' crazy junior high diary. After a short search for a hammer (because in the various moves I had lost that seemingly important, fail-safe key) to crack that bad boy open, there it was. A teeny, tiny pink book, plumb full of thirteen year-old insanity. An aside -- if you ever have the opportunity to go back and re-introduce yourself to who you were at 13, do it. It's painful and humiliating at times, but it's also fairly enlightening. Immediately, embarrassment flooded my soul, but as I read, I realized that when I was a kid, I wrote every day. Every last stinkin' day. I couldn't stop writing. I wrote about everything and everyone. And that fact made me sad because now I preach to entire classrooms of children about how cool it is to write, yet I never do -- but I digress. Sadness over.

Better yet, as a kid, I was funny. Weird... but funny. Awkward... but funny. People now tell me I'm fairly comical (and as you read this, you may think "wow... somebody done lied to her", but I don't know you, and, frankly, I could give a crap what you think, Stranger), but no one ever told me this as a kid. Ever. It's probably because most people terrified me as a child, so I didn't feel so open to sharing my innermost ramblings with them (and my innermost ramblings are the ones that are most awesome because they're dark and twisted and usually chock full of swear words, dramatic pauses, and emphatic finger pointing/flailing arms). In fact, I can clearly remember scouting out my room to find the world's best hiding place for my sacred diary because I was sure that my older brothers would find it and terrorize me with it. I had not fully realized how absolutely little they cared about whatever complete nonsense I was obsessing about. Yet, as I've grown up and met some pretty incredible people who adore my weirdness and appreciate me for all my smartassery, I've become much more willing to share. Much more ready to unlock the diary. So here I am, whoever you are. Determined to write some every day. Hoping to make you laugh a lot or maybe just think a little. Warning you that maybe I won't accomplish any of that, but welcoming you in anyway.

And you totally don't even need that dinky-ass little key.