Monday, February 28, 2011

Deep Thoughts and Ketchup Blow-outs

I spent the weekend in what I've come to admit as the "Number 1 Way I Should Not Recoup". I came home Friday night, laid down, and slept. And slept. And slept. Saturday. Sunday. All of it. Not because I was tired but rather I was hiding. Hiding from Worry, Doubt, Despair, and Fear - the Four Horsemen of my Emotional Apocalypse.

And tonight, what I needed to do was work - all the work I avoided this weekend (because I hid from responsibility too). What I did instead was go to dinner with my friends.

My wonderful friends who, at one moment, are discussing life and death matters (seriously), but in the next are belly-laughing because someone accidentally exploded a ketchup packet all over two of us across the table AND the wall behind us.

We laughed so long and loud that everyone in the restaurant was staring. Maybe because we were too loud. Maybe because they're jealous. It doesn't matter anyway. It was just enough to wake me up.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Its Conflict is Its Essence...

Yesterday began with a phonecall announcing a birth. Yesterday ended with a phonecall announcing a death.

I told you. The Universe must keep its delicate balance.

One intense love appears only hours before another drifts away,
Both visits unexpected.
Two moments unexplained.
Life breathes in. Life breathes out.
A son for a father. A grandson for a husband.
Hope for sorrow.
Tears of relief for sobs of pain.
A lifetime of memories yet to come for a lifetime of memories to remember.
These are the trades that are made.
Backdoor dealings between Fate and Coincidence.
And the cosmic tumbler continues to shake the dice.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Because Without the Bitter, Baby...

...the sweet ain't as sweet.

That's right, I just quoted Vanilla Sky. Even though I am probably the only person I know in this world that liked that movie. Yet much of my philosophy of life does originate from my guru, Cameron Crowe. The fact that such a phrase is uttered in a sci-fi fable about cryogenics means nothing to me.

Because it's true.

Today was a day that I've been dreading on two fronts.

1) With budget cuts looming above all of our heads, I have known that lay-offs are possible for anyone. Today, in my room, stood one of my very favorite "anyones", still reeling from possibilities laid out to him. It left me dazed and broken-hearted.


B) Two of my dear friends (who happen to dearly love one another) had a baby. Dread, you ask? How so? Because the odds have been overwhelmingly stacked against them. Because all the research I did about their situation made me want to crawl into a hole. Because I hate to see anyone I love so pained and worried. Because to wish for mere survival doesn't seem like a big enough wish, yet you are terrified to ask for more.

But when you are dealt the bitter, sometimes the sweet will follow. This is the cruelty of the Universe's balance scale; it rarely ever lifts you to the stars or leaves you flailing on the ground. Its conflict is its essence. Before either of us had time to dry our eyes, a message arrived.

Three pounds, fifteen ounces of stable, breathing sweetness to sit upon the other side of that scale.

The shadow of goodbye shouldn't travel with such a fragile light of hello. But hello anyway, darling boy. Welcome to the world.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Illogical Jealousy Reaches New Heights. Or Distances.

I am completely and illogically jealous of one of my friends.

Completely so, because he's getting to see something that I would love. L-O-V-E. Illogically so, because the thing I'd like to witness is in England. That's right. There is a zero chance of my being able to go, so you'd think that I'd just be a grown-up and hope that he has a good time. But I'm kind of bratty right now, so I'll just sit here and fume. Stupid England.

In all seriousness, however, he told me tonight that he's going to a stage production of "To Kill a Mockingbird". Only my absolute favorite book of all time. Literally. ANNNDDD... if I really wanted to torment myself, I could mention that I'm the one who gave the book to him. Therefore, it is through my literary guidance that he's even attending said production.

I'd say "Harrumphhh!" if it wasn't such an annoyingly precious made up noise.

More than anything, though, I am unbelievably curious as to how the British actors will handle Alabama accents.

Friday, February 18, 2011

God Bless Do-Overs

After yesterday's wild ride, I wants sure about today. Full moon + Friday + 13 year-olds usually is a recipe for disaster.

But it wasn't this time. I went home last night, thought about where things veered off course, and decided that I was in need of a do-over.

Today, my classes worked hard. Lessons went well. And at the end of the day, I turned the corner to find 3 adorable young men in my hallway. Former students and athletes who had come to see the teachers they loved best. With good grades and unlimited futures, I was reminded again why it is that I do what I do. The whole time we talked, they wore 3 of the 4 brightest and biggest smiles in Texas.

Mine was the 4th, and it lasted all the way home.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Even Carnies are More Appealing Than This...

Tuesday = Fail. Totally spent the day questioning my entire career path.

Yesterday, one of my students (who has given the bare minimum effort all year) raised his hand to let me know that he has always "hated writing. Like REALLY hated writing.". But now, he loves it. Then the next period another of my boys wrote something so incredible, I could only sit at my desk, mouth agape, and marvel. These boys grabbed the noose from my hands, untwisted it, and tossed me a career lifeline.

Today? Two girls nearly got into a fistfight because they couldn't work together. And they tore 10 pages from one of my favorite books. In that class I taught for approximately 7.5 minutes. I refereed and punished and evaluated my sanity for the other 68 minutes. The missing 5.5 minutes entailed my efforts to stop a stress-induced nosebleed brought on by the office referral I gave one of the near-pugilists.

If teaching junior high is like a roller coaster, today we were on the loop-to-loop section. Then someone barfed.

I'd rather tongue kiss a carnie than see that class again this week.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Little Game of "Hide and Don't-Effing-Seek-Me-Out"

You know I love the facebook.

I do. I love it.

But the cold, hard truth is that I don't love all my facebook friends. Some of them I'm beginning to downright loathe. Yet, as I think that de-friending someone is virtual murder, I've taken a sort-of solemn oath to not engage in such behaviors.

I have one friend on the interwebs who depresses me when I read her posts. And annoys me. And sometimes offends me. She has no grasp of tone, appropriateness, or the difference between "your" and "you're". All things that whip my ass on no less than a six-time a day basis. Triple Eek.

Another friend swears by "hiding" the posts of those that bring about my illogical anger. But, you know me... mostly nice to a detrimental level. Mostly. So, it's been a tough call.

But I have to say it...

Let the post-blocking begin.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shitty News Doesn't Happen in Three's. It Happens in the Millions.

Warning: This post is not funny. Nor will it be full of unbridled, illogical rage which sometimes can turn out funny. This post is just your run-of-the-mill shitty-type news. So there you have it. You were warned.

On Tuesday morning, my boss laid out her boss's plan to cut $15 million from my school district's budget. She laid it out less than a day after she laid out termination notices for two employees who have been at my school since before it was ever even "my school".

For every moment she spoke, I stared at numbers. I watched them fill up the page. I lost myself within them. Then I spent the next two days thinking about anything but those two faces that, starting in June, I won't see in my building anymore. Until about 2 hours ago when, for some odd reason, I began to think of nothing else.

And I haven't stopped crying since.

These will not be the last, I am sure. They simply get to be the first herd of lambs on the altar. Because, unless the state makes alternate plans, there's at least $33 million worth of cuts still to make.

When I stop being sad, I might be able to fire up for a deligtfully snarky take on our fair governor. I already have the title: "Dear Rick, If You Cared Half as Much About Your State as You Do Your Effing Ugly-Ass Hair, MAYBE We Wouldn't Be in This Sewage Dump of a Situation."

Maybe that one will be funny. MAYBE.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Day Survival

I've been stuck in my house for 72 hours now due to the icy streets and mind-numbingly cold temperatures. That, coupled with the rolling black-outs I'm guessing, persuaded my normally stingy district to cancel 4 days of classes. Each day, I've been sure that "Tomorrow. Tomorrow, we will surely be back at school." So, I've tried to keep my sleep schedule and be responsible.

But as tomorrow is Friday, and we are still not going back to work, I ventured out to the store for some groceries.

Cheap champagne... orange juice... Nutter Butters.


Also: my laundry facilities are located on my unheated, ice-cold back porch, and doing laundry (without busting a water line) has been an issue. So I bought two new pairs of pajama pants and a pack of underwear.

So much easier than a laundromat.

Eff responsibility. Tomorrow, I'm gonna tie one on in my new pajamas. Before 10:00 AM.

It's important to have goals.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's the End of the World As We Know It...

Choosing not to go to work or not to leave your home is a much different animal than being forced to stay put. I am not digging these snowdays anymore.

I did venture out to go check on my former neighbor's house and her two cats. While I was out, I did not see one other single soul. No children playing in the yards. No curtains rustling at the window. No cars rumbling down the street. Not even a barking dog. It was strangely quiet. Eerily so.

Add to that eerie silence a severe windchill and rolling blackouts and you up the creepy factor by about one zillion. If I wasn't terrified of slipping and falling on the glacier-like streets, I probably would have run home and locked the doors and counted my cans of cream corn.

It felt like Snowpocalypse.

I've thought about that moment, standing in the middle of my deserted street, all day. And each time, I get that feeling - like jagged fingernails dancing up your spine. At first, I tried to laugh it off like a child who's convinced herself she's not afraid of the dark. Then I tried to rationalize by reminding myself that, aside from texting and facebook, I'd been without human interaction for 48 hours. That's enough to weird me out usually. Then the television went dead. And the Internet too.

Suddenly, I understood why it is that I fear all of those "end of civilization" movies. It's not the creatures which leaped from someone's imagination onto the movie screen. It's not the thought of running out of food or supplies. It's not even the degradation of human kind that is always shown.

It's that moment - where the hero stands in the middle of a dead neighborhood - saying farewell to all the goodness that once was and accepting the loneliness that now is. Taking in the bleak landscape and preparing to go it alone. That. That is the moment I fear. That is the moment I cannot look away from.

Here's what I think. The apocalypse isn't about the end of the world. It's about the end of your world. The end of what you know and accept and cherish. The end of your comfort and reassurance. When the landscape shifts and you find yourself in uncharted territory, scraping together supplies, and devising a plan to move on. Divorce. Death. Letting go. Moving on.

And it's a terrifying moment, standing alone in that street.

So why do I keep watching those movies? Because eventually, the hero's not alone anymore. And the only thing more terrifying, and exhilarating, than an ending? A beginning.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why Zombies Will Never Make Me a Millionaire.

Last night, I dreamed about zombies. It was especially vivid because zombies (and zombie movies) give me the heebs. I also fully dislike "apocalypse" movies -- mainly because they usually involve zombies -- or, at the very least, cannibalism. Blech. Yet, in the past week, I've watched all six episodes of "The Walking Dead" (which are actually very well-done) and yesterday, I watched "The Road" (which, of course, was a much better book so I'd avoided the movie for over a year). So, truthfully, it does not surprise me one bit that undead brain-chompers shuffled through my dreams.

It's been reported that Stephanie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series, came up with her idea for the books after she awoke from a dream. She is a multi-millionaire because she. woke. up.

Needless to say, I've been keeping a notebook and pen next to the bed.

Think what you will about the actual writing in the books, but ol' Steph really cornered the market on the teenage mutant romance genre. The whole draw is that Little Miss Plain Jane becomes the number 1 desire of the dreamiest boy at school. Her very life force, her essence, is irresistible to him. Name one girl in the world who has not had this very same fantasy. Literally, I want to check out Stephanie Meyer's junior high yearbooks and find the basis for Edward because, let me tell you, homegirl had a thang for that character.

Of course, it just so happens that the dreamiest boy in school likes to drink blood. And this is the brilliance of Meyer's plan. Vampires are sexy. Always have been. They are mysterious and usually well-dressed. They are always quite wealthy and cultured. Their seductive nature lures you in and hypnotizes you into thinking, "Man, I bet I'm gonna wake up with one awesome hickey!" Although we all know what he's after. Not your jugs. Just your jugular.

No other monsters are ever as attractive as vampires. Meyer tried, with the inclusion of the wolfpack in her books. It was quite clever that, as a result of increased body temps and the need to "wolf out" at any given moment, they walk around practically naked the whole time. But no other werewolf movies have pulled off the heartthrobby wolfman. Mostly they just look in need of a flea-dip and a trip to the groomer.

Mummies are no good either. Sometimes the mummy-killer is smokin' hot, but mummies seem more like a minor role kind of friend. You know, like Ducky in "Pretty in Pink". Adorable in the "aw-shucks" kind of way, but pretty harmless. The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Godzilla, chupacabras... none of them are what I'd call "romantic lead material".

So, that leaves me a narrow window to my fame and fortune. No zombies, however, managed to fall in love in my dreams. Frankly, none of them were even attractive. Mouth-breathers with poor posture and a penchant for gnawing on your femur bone. I don't know how to work with that kind of material.

It looks as though I'll have to earn my millions the old fashioned way. Lottery tickets.