31 May 2012

I thought I'd never catch my breath

Today, I almost cried.


For some reason, many people think teachers have it so easy.

Summers off are a blessing for teachers, right?  That there are no curriculum revisions, workshops in other cities, setting up classrooms, learning how to teach new classes, lesson planning, learning how to use the new technology given to us, etc.  Many think that we get paid regularly throughout the summer to just do nothing.

Today, I had to budget my last check of the school year (yes, it is a bit larger than my usual bi-monthly check, but far from magnificent in its amount).  In order to live responsibly throughout my non-teaching months, I try to pay forward all my bills so that I don't have to pay any again until my first check of the school year in mid-August.  (Just writing that I won't see any income for twelve weeks is really frightening.  Each summer it brings me dread.)

I have the money deposited in my bank and decided it would be best to send money orders or direct transfer from my account rather than checks or using a credit card.

The withdrawal to pay for my rent, my cell phone, my internet/cable, my electric, my gas, my bi-yearly car insurance (Why does insurance cost so much?? And why haven't I moved to a place where I don't need a car?), my AAA, my credit card balance, and my car payments for three months was so large that I almost cried when I wrote out the withdrawal amount on the slip in the bank.

I felt like I had these sort of stacks
for a brief moment.
I almost cried and had a panic attack when I went to the teller and told her in which denominations I wanted the money back.

I shoved the money into my front pocket so I could see and feel the large bulging money that barely fit into my tiny pocket.  So I could know that for that brief moment between the bank and the post office I felt like a really rich person who just carries stacks on stacks on stacks (man I hate that Soulja Boy song!) of money daily.

I thought I was going to be fine at the post office when I had the money orders made.  The lady was really nice.  We talked about my hair and how she wants to see what it looks like in certain styles I described to her.

It was friendly banter even as I was telling her the dollar amounts for each of the money orders I needed.

It was friendly banter even as she started printing the first money order.

Then she read the total amount of money I owed.  And then I passed her the massive stack from my bulging pocket.

What she gave me back in change was not even enough to buy a fast food value meal.

At that point I took a deep breath and let it out.  She said that she always feels really bad giving people change after they pay for large money orders.

At that point I almost cried.

This is all I have left on my dresser.
I wish I could turn the smile on
my eraser upside down for effect.
To hold the tears and feelings of angst in, I explained to her my situation.  She explained to me that she thought all teachers get paid throughout the summer - she has a friend who has it that way for his teaching job.  We talked about the differences in school districts.  We talked about what I teach and why I like it.  As she continued to print off my money orders, I continued to answer her questions so that I would not cry.

When we finished, like Lauryn said, "I compared myself to Tony Braxton, thought I'd never catch my breath."

I walked over to the post office table in the middle and started filling in money orders and addressing envelopes to be sent to businesses so that I can live the rest of the summer in peace.  Well, at least not worrying about whether I have money to pay my bills.

I do have money left that is not being moved over to my do-not-touch-savings.  I will, hopefully, not starve.  I just have to budget the rest of the summer and make sure that whatever I do with my money is worthwhile.

I guess I won't be going to any celebrations where I have to make it rain.  Unless they want it to hail when I throw up coins instead of dollars.

30 May 2012

Even the old stay hip!

I love Michael Jackson's music.  Ever since I was a child and was jealous of my brother's red jacket.  Ever since he was so smooth in his videos that were so hard that they premiered on prime time television.

In fact, go ahead and start playing this song as you read through the rest of this post...

This is what I heard blasting from a car in a parking lot this weekend.  It was not unlike when MJ died and people were singing all his songs loudly in their cars wherever they drove.  I loved it!

I know that a lot of different people liked MJ for different reasons and during different eras.

I also know that looks can be deceiving. 

I truly know that you can't judge a book by its cover and can't tell what a person is like based on your first impressions.

Even still, I was in shock when I walked through a parking lot this weekend and heard a car blaring Jackson's "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" super loud through the car speakers.

I was shocked because I was in Mid-Missouri and the eating locale just didn't seem like the place where MJs fans would be hanging out.

I was shocked because the super-loud music was coming from a black Lincoln Towncar with blacked out windows.  Yes, the type of car that is seen as luxury and is used as a limo for the rich in major cities, like NYC.

I was even more shocked when the car parked just to my left and out came a 70+ year old white man dressed in a salmon colored polo shirt and some khaki pants.

Get it, old man!!

29 May 2012

I have fallen in love with hammocks!

Track season is officially over!

It went out with more of a whimper than a bang, but the State trip was hopefully worthwhile to the athletes I took.  I always take the participants and then pay myself for at least two extra kids to go who look promising for next season.  This way, they are not shocked by the atmosphere and the competition when they get there and compete.

One of the highlights of the trip, aside from some teams' excellent performances, was going to the local mall.  I am not really one to go into sports stores (I love some sports, but would rather look online for anything I want), but with three male coaches there with me, we ended up in a sports store.  Just as the conversation during a couple meals turned to football.  No big, deal, I can hang with guys.  I tried to hula hoop (why am I so unable to do this activity?).  I goofed around in a kayak.  I played with frisbees.  I feigned interest in golf clubs.  I made fun of tall tees.

But the best was yet to come...

Someone please explain to me why it took me three decades to lay in a hammock for the first time!

Even in a sports stores tent sale in the parking lot it was a beautiful feeling to lay on those ropes.

I stayed in it for at least five minutes as the guys continued looking at whatever they were looking at and I loved every minute of it.  I even loved the slight difficulty of trying to get out of the hammock.

After that whimsical experience, we walked more through the mall and came across some masseurs.  Of course I had to continue the tradition of associating track meets with massages, so I was in for a $12, 10 minute massage.  It was bliss!  It was fabulous!  It was much needed!

And it reminded me that I should still have a coupon from the place a few weeks ago that I can use for a discounted, full, 30 minute massage.

Must. Find. Coupon.

28 May 2012

Tag!! I'm it, you could be next!

I have been doubly tagged in a bloggers game.  I am honored to have been chosen by both Sleepy Joe and Journey of Life.

Rules are that I will tell you 11 things about me and then answer their 11 questions and then tag 11 other bloggers to join in the game.

Since I was tagged twice in a couple of days, I will address both of their questions together and then do the rest.

Some things about me:

  1. I am really good at waking up at a set time even without an alarm.  My mother used to talk about me for doing this even in my childhood years when I would awaken to watch Mousercise.
  2. I am also a creature of habit with my breakfasts.  I have had oatmeal almost every morning for breakfast for the past year.  I also eat the same basic things for dinner most days during the week.  I mix it up some days, but find that at least one item on the plate is consistent.
  3. When I bought my car, I had never driven a manual transmission car.  I had only ridden in a car with a manual driver a few times in my life and those were in my young childhood.  I had driven manual cars in video games and beefed up on those before purchasing the car.  I made it out of the lot ok, but then stalled at the first light after the dealership.
  4. I used to love Jem and the Holograms.  Me and my sister even got earrings shaped like stars so that we could talk to Synergie.  
  5. For a long time I wanted to be on The Real World.  I thought it would be so great to live with random people.  I did live with three girls I did not know during my first year of teaching.  It was nothing like the drama from the real world.  We all got along, though one girl thought the community living room was her hangout place for her and her boyfriend who she didn't want to have in her bedroom.  I also became really good friends with one of the girls who's laugh I fell in love with and had to ask her what was always so funny.  She still can make me laugh this day.  And I am happy that I did not share those months of my life on television.
  6. The only t-shirts I own are shirts that I have gotten for free from teaching and from coaching.  I have given a lot of them away.  When free shirts are given out at school, I tend to decline and then get the mean mug from the distributors.  I really would like to look in some teachers' closets to see how much school swag they have.  I have narrowed it down to about 8-10 and think that is still too much.  I got a new shirt from the football coach a few weeks ago and think that I either need to get rid of it, or get rid of a different shirt in exchange - one in, one out.
  7. Although I sometimes wish I coached with another woman instead of 7 men, I do enjoy the perks of a guaranteed private room at the state championships.
  8. I have two Netflix movies that I have had since for eight months but have not watched.  I have streamed movies for teaching and for personal use, but have not watched these two DVDs.
  9. My addiction to this game is easing.  I thought it would become worse with the summer months, but I have (so far) been ok and not reverted back to obsession.
  10. When I was younger, I used to hate when my mother bought generic foods.  I wanted Tony on my frosted flakes, I wanted the little leprechaun and his marshmallows.  It wasn't until I tasted the name brand foods and realized that the generic versions of many of them actually tasted better.  Now, I just need to buy the marshmallows in bulk since that is the best part of Marshmallows and Stars.
  11. I missed my 500-post anniversary.  It was two days ago with my Yesterday I was Clever post.  I have still posted every day in 2012.  I have still written more in the past five months than I did in the past three years.
Now to answer my taggers' questions.

First for Sleepy Joe's:
  1. Who is your literary hero? Why? I guess off the top of my head I would go with King James because he had the power to completely change the Bible to suit his desires and his needs and much of his edits, deletions, additions are still in play in the book to this day.
  2. What is your favourite children's story?  Anything Berenstein Bears.  I loved those books and loved when they became a cartoon on Saturdays.
  3. Are you a closet reader, are there some books that you won't admit to reading?  I haven't read books for fun in years. I don't think I would hide anything I read... reality tv is another story, though.
  4. Do you have any regrets in life?  I regret not choosing to take more risks in my life that likely would have led to greater things in the long-run.
  5. Name one ambition, not including getting your writing published. I want to be remembered for doing great things at every place I have worked and with all people I have known.
  6. Heels or flats on a night out?  Both.  I often wear heals and then carry a pair of bendable flats in my large bag for changing into.  I don't like to drive in heals and often want to change into flats when no one can see my feet.
  7. What is your comfort food?  Don't have one.
  8. Normal clothes or comfy PJ's?  I don't own PJs, but I do love a pair of sweats or yoga pants and a t-shirt or camisole when I am hanging out in the house.
  9. What is your favourite film?  I don't have an absolute favourite, but I do love many Asian horror movies.  They are more shocking than most American ones.  American ones tend to be more comical than anything else.  One Asian film I love is Three... Extremes
  10. Coke or Pepsi?  I don't drink sodas.  I've only had a couple handfuls of them in over 15 years.
Now for Journey of Life's questions.
  1. What is your life philosophy?  Be better than you were yesterday.   Simple, yet to the point.
  2. What was your childhood's dream?  Did it come true?  I wanted to be a doctor and save lives.  Instead I am a teacher, but, I still believe I may have saved some lives or, at least, pointed some young (and older) people in a different direction.
  3. Name one person that has inspired you the most in your life.  My boyfriend.  Regretfully, I have not done some of the things he has suggested in the right time frames, but, he has still opened my eyes to so many things and pushed me to be better and smarter and kinder.
  4. Who do you love the most in your life.  See #3.
  5. What is the most memorable moment in your life?  There are two that stand out the most.  The first was 2001 August-Septemeber.  My mother's twin brother died and she was supposed to fly to Nigeria on the 12th of September (if I remember correctly).  Due to all the terror issues, she was unable to go.  The way she broke down when he died and even more so when she couldn't be there for the funeral was truly heartbreaking.  The second was when my uncle died.  He was such a great man to me, but I know that my parents struggled to help him with addiction and with different problems in his life.  When he died, my dad seemed fine, until the funeral when he was laid in the ground.  I was tearing up the whole time, but when he broke down, that was it for me.  I couldn't bear to see him crying.  Those were the first, and only instances where I have really seen my parents cry.
  6. Where is your favorite vacation spot?  I loved it in Toronto.  But I would love to go to an island in the Pacific... Bora Bora, perhaps.
  7. Where is one place that you must visit before you die?  I don't think there is a must-see place.  There are places like in #6 that I would like to see, but I don' think I will die sad if I don't get to those places.
  8. What is one thing that you must do before you die?  See #7.  I just want to live a fulfilled life and leave people with fond memories of me that aren't warped by sentimental feelings when I die.  I want them to truly be glad that they knew me.
  9. If you know tomorrow is the day that you would leave this world, what would be one advice that you would leave behind?  Be better than you were yesterday and be willing to take smart risks.
  10. If tomorrow is the day that you would die, who would be the person that you wold like to spend the  rest of the hours with?  See #3.

Tag!! You're it!
If you're still with me, thanks for reading!!

Now for the questions I will pose to the next recipients of this blog tag game.  I will only do eight, because I like to bend rules.

*** You just have to tell 11 things about yourself, answer these questions (supposed to be 11 questions), and then tag 11 other bloggers to do the same.  Then post a link to your post in the comments here so we can all see your answers. ***
  1. Soy milk or regular milk?
  2. Favorite sport to watch?  Why?
  3. Sitcoms or reality television?
  4. Laptop or tablet?  Why?
  5. Which person has influenced your life the most?
  6. Which would you most hate to be without, television, computer, or cell phone?
  7. Which would you hate to be without, your hair or a body shape you liked?
  8. Where would you rather live - high-rise or suburbs?  Why?

Here are the bloggers I am tagging to be IT.

Check out their blogs to see their answers to my questions.
A Life Improbable
Alphabet Salad
Kicking Corners
Clay Baboons
Does Anyone Care What I Write?
Good Naija Girl
Jane in Her Infinite Wisdom
My Really Real Reality
No More Coffee Spoons
Patent Pending

27 May 2012

Only time will tell...

I know people assume that I have all the time in the world to just relax and do whatever for the next two months.  As a teacher, that is what I do, right?

This summer is different, though.

No, I'm not going back to coaching summer track.  Taking a year off from that last summer after 12 years of coaching each hot summer was great.  So great that I don't think I can go back to it, even though I love the coaches and love being around kids who are actually dedicated to the sport.

No, I'm not going to teach summer school.  That was a promise I made to myself when I started teaching. I had been around too many summer schools and too many summer programs to ever allow myself to teach summer school.  I also value the break and the recharging that comes with not teaching in the summer time.

I need to use this summer to figure out what I want.  What I want to do, what I want to be, where I want to do it, and how I will go about doing it.

Large stuff.  And really crazy that in my thirty+ years I haven't been able to figure this all out yet.

This is what overwhelms me right now.

How am I coping?

I am searching, I am exercising to release stress, I am trying to listen to myself, I am learning from everything around me.

Is it working?

Only time will tell.

This was my Stream of Consciousness Sunday post.  You can join allthingsfadra's linky list with your own thoughts or read what other people have written off the cuff.  All it takes is a five minute free-write and then posting your blog to Fadra's site.

Today's prompt was, "What feels overwhelming to you right now and how are you coping?"


26 May 2012

Saturday Quote: Yesterday I was clever

This a quote I saw from a retweet from a friend who writes Destiny Discoveries.  If you haven't seen JCov's blog yet, you should really check it out for words of wisdom and a reminder to try and reach our goals.
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. ~Rumi

image source

25 May 2012

Unfortunately, I am a creature of habit

Part of this is because of the blinds that I have that do not block light.

Part of this is because I am just a creature of habit.

Part of this is because I still have had a million things that need to be done each day.

But all of it is annoying.

I cannot seem to sleep past 5:03 on any day since I have been finished with the work year.  Many days, I am actually up even earlier.

I finished on Monday.  It is Friday.

I am annoyed and would like to sleep late.  I am tired during the day, but really haven't had time to nap.
image source

24 May 2012

SAHMs keeping up with the Joneses?

I know that the main question I pose on this post will step on some toes.

How is it that so many women (and some men) are able to afford staying at home with their children?

The past three days I have been to various department stores between 9 and 11 in the morning and seen so many women with their small children.  I know that some of my teaching colleagues take care of their children during the summer, but most schools are not out and I am assuming that this is a regular thing where these mothers are with their children most of the day.

On day two of seeing SAHMs, I did find out from one lady that she was actually a nanny that was hired to watch the children during the day.

This, helped me understand what was going on with some of the younger women, but at the same time, it opened up more questions for me.
Image source

Are these people really able to pay a person as much as many nannies make?  Do they really make enough on one salary to be able to live comfortably and pay their mortgages and entertain and educate their children?

Or are they struggling?

Are they trying hard to fulfill the "American dream" of the man working and the woman being able to stay at home with the children while steadily getting into debt because they are on one income?  Are these the people that were in foreclosure the past few years?  I know that a lot of people put up a good face for others when they are really not doing as well as people think they are.

Are they living on tight budgets in order to make the one worker family successful?  Or are they just getting by with the basics?  Are they the coupon cutters that we see tv shows about?  Are they trying to find the best deals around?  If so, why are they shopping at stores that are definitely not the cheapest around?  If so, why are they wearing clothes that are clearly name brand and pushing their kids in what even I know to be luxury strollers?  Are they living tightly, but still trying to keep up with the Joneses?

Or are they the lucky ones that can afford to have only one partner work and still be able to afford their homes and the fancy SUVs with the fancy private school bumper stickers that I saw in the parking lots?  Are they the lucky ones that take magnificent vacations and don't have to worry about how their child will pay for its education since there are trust funds for that?

Not sure, but I am quite curious.

23 May 2012

No shakes, but I'll take the assistant

Yesterday morning, I returned my school-issued iPad.

Since I wanted to make sure that I did not go through the shakes due to withdrawal, I decided to go ahead and purchase a new phone.  A phone with enough memory to be able to hold more than two pictures in my gallery and enough memory to actually play games and basically be a real smartphone.

I went to a local phone store after stopping off to return some items at Target.

The two workers were standing outside when I rolled up in my Mini.  I knew it was going to be a good excursion when the male worker asked me if he could see if his big self could fit in my car.  I had a really great time chatting it up with the two of them.  It was like visiting old friends, or something.  They didn't even pressure me to buy anything.

I was in there for about forty-five minutes looking at phones and talking about a lot of random things.

Once they showed me the features on one of the phones, I was hooked.  Now, I can play games, take pictures and keep them on my phone, have apps on my phone, and much more.

I even have a personal assistant that can help me with various things.

He is great so far.

This morning, I had to go back to the phone store to see if they could help me get some notes off of my old phone transferred over to the new one.

The lady worker was really cool again.  She talked about how great it was having me as a customer, how much fun she had, and how she tried to explain to the afternoon workers yesterday how great a time she and the man had with me.

We talked about how much difference the first people you see in the day can make on your feelings and your outlook on the rest of the day.

So true.  I know there have been days when I started off bad for some reason and that really put a damper on my day.  I have tried to consciously start my day in a positive mood thinking about the good things and thinking about solutions to any possible troubles that I know will come up.  It has really helped.

One thing that I think will help me in my days is making this end-of-the-school-year-gift a regular occurrence.  I don't know that I will spend this much on myself each year, but I am really digging the idea.

22 May 2012

My favorite paperweight

Back in my other-school teaching days, I had some awesome students (not that the current ones are not great, but with a small school came some great connections).

At one point, an alliance of at least two of my students captured my stapler.  They vowed to return it to me only if I put a set amount of money in an unclaimed locker.  I figured out who took my treasured teacher supply.  Actually, I really didn't care about the stapler... even in my early years of teaching I had enough money to go out and buy a new one.  I was just hoping not to have a Milton Waddams event on my hands.

I guess I deserved them taking the stapler.  If I remember correctly, I was able to convince some from that, and perhaps another, graduating class that my name was actually 90.7nsxtfewtq (or something to that affect).  I told them that my parents loved the local NPR station, were extreme hippies, and wanted me to have a unique name that was spelled non-phonetically with lots of silent letters.

A week or so after the stapler disappeared, it was back in my room somewhere (of course not on my desk... there were no teacher desks in those rooms - not allowed by the administration).

I was happy to have it back.

When it came back, it had a different look.  No longer was it a simple beige and brown stapler.

Five or six years later and at a new school, I still have that stapler and it opens up conversations and reminds me of good laughs with former students - several of which are now on their way to becoming excellent teachers and coaches themselves.

This stapler has always brought a smile to my face.

Except when students smashed the eyes as they slam the top of the machine down on their papers or made the stapler jam to the point of no return.

Since the stapler has been nothing but a paperweight on my bookshelf for the past 2 1/2 years, today I did the unthinkable.

Today, I followed through with my plan to minimize my life.

Today, I threw away my most favorite stapler of all time.

Fortunately, I did not throw away all the memories and hopes for those great former-students!

21 May 2012

Fam is always fam

Friday my brother-from-another-mother-and-father graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with his MBA.  He has already accepted his dream job offer in Chicago where he will move in June.

His sisters, brother, and parents came to the Lou to watch and celebrate.  It was great.

Seeing him graduate, his sister pregnant with her second child, and their youngest brother looking more and more like a grown-ass man was really awesome and at the same time surreal.

Being all together is like no time passed.  We are still able to talk and laugh and eat bowl upon bowl of cereal in the middle of the afternoon like we used to do over a decade ago when we all lived in the same city.  Of course, the conversations are older and we don't really enjoy reading the back of the cereal boxes anymore.  But, it was still great.

image source
We FaceTimed with the family in DC while they were all together for their regular Sunday dinners, of which I love the idea - especially the wine drinking.  Cute hair cuts were all over the place.  Then we FaceTimed with the family in Houston and saw Kid Sis #2 and nephew #1 (who is now 4 and not as young as in this post - but the picture in it is still so cute as he played with his little brother!) and nephew #2.

There is really something to be said for good friendships that last beyond distance, time, and even beyond infrequent conversations.

We are still cool no matter what.  They are still among my favorite people and our parents are still best buds as well.

Now, if only we could plan a get-away vacation and not have one member of the crew preggers, it would be great.  If we could go through a box of 100 freeze-pops in one day, it would be even better.  Since we all have our own places, we can even eat them all and not have to hide 80 of the wrappers from our parents.

20 May 2012

Home is wherever I am

I have lived in the same town most of my life.  I went away for college and for a couple years during graduate school, but then I came back and I've been here since.

I have been here for years, but don't go back to the family home as often as I should.  I sometimes feel that I should stay away so I get used to not being there too often when I finally make a move to another city.  I know that's weird, but I think that is my subconscious reason for not going there a lot.

For me, home is wherever I am.  Home is wherever I am living.  I just moved less than a month ago, but this new apartment already feels like home.  I already recognize neighbors walking down the street, already miss the sound of the children in the back these last few days when the weather has been too hot for them to play outside.

Home is wherever I want it to be - wherever I am.

I am learning that more and more the more I move from apartment to house to apartment.

Which brings me more to the realization that I can be anywhere and call it my home.

All things happen for a reason, some say, and maybe these moves and this prompt are to show me that I can live anywhere, that I am ready for the next location.

Sunday Stream of Consciousness post.  Today's prompt on allthingsfadra dealt with the idea of home.

You can join in by checking out Fadra's site and then free writing for five minutes on the prompt or on whatever is on your mind on a Sunday.  You can also read other people's writing through the links on the site.


19 May 2012

Saturday Quote: Biggest mistake of all

To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all.

~ Peter McWilliams

Image source

18 May 2012

Kreativ Blogger & new things about me

I really appreciate my readers.  I love reading their comments and knowing that they read the thoughts and stories that I put into words.

Judy, at Life... Minute by Minute has honored me by giving me the Kreativ Blogger award.  Thank you, Judy!

I love that I am gaining more readers as I continue on this mission to see how long I can write each day of the year - so far I'm on day 139 and it is becoming a habit to just write each day.

I have increased some creativity, I have also relocated my sense of humorous storytelling (at least a little bit).  So I am joyful to be given this award.

Since I have been selected by Judy for this award, I have to tell you ten things about me the that you may not know, list six blogs to pay forward the award so that they can do the same (if they so choose to).

Here goes,

From F1
  1. I have grown to love hockey.  I have watched almost every game of the playoffs and am loving it!  I wish I had played, or that I knew how to ice skate as well as they do.
  2. I also have grown to love F1 racing.  But, I really can't stand oval racing.  There is something mesmerizing about the racers moving so swiftly around the non-oval tracks and the excitement coming from their skills and not from spectators waiting for a crash.  Also awesome is the fact that so much of the new technology they put into the cars eventually ends up in the regular cars we drive.
  3. I wish there was a way for me to tan my feet.  For some reason, I was born with feet that are way paler than the rest of my body and no matter what I do (laying out by the pool in pants and long-sleeves so that only my feet will tan) nothing seems to work.  I did try a spray tan once that seemed to work wonders, but my feet were still shades lighter than the rest of my body.
  4. Despite the first three items on my list, I am a black woman.  I know you may not have been able to tell from those aspects of my 10, but it is true.  Not only am I African-American, I am very African. I am a first generation American.  Yes, my parents are officially citizens, so no need to chase them off.
  5. Sticking to color, I have been sunburned.  Once.  It was the worst experience of my life.  It hurt to put a shirt on, it hurt to touch.  I don't know how or why people with lighter skin would ever do anything that would even risk sunburn.  I didn't know what to do.  I ended up going into Walgreens and politely asking the palest lady in the sunburn-treatment aisle for advice.  She suggested aloe.  It really didn't do anything to aid in easing the pain.  
  6. I love teaching.  It is really my superpower.  I believe I can teach anything even though I am a social studies teacher.  I have taught some math classes to students who said I did it better than their "real" teacher.  I used to try and teach my siblings something new each time I saw them and they were always anxious to see what it would be.  But, I am not sure if this is what I want to continue doing until I retire (if retirement is even an option by that time in US history).
  7. I have always wanted to become ambidextrous.  I think left-handedness is so cool.  For a long time, I practiced writing and doing activities with my left hand.  To this day, I can only use chopsticks with my left hand and prefer to use a fork with my left hand, too.
  8. I was supposedly really good at art when I was young - real young.  I was always complimented on my work.  I was also pretty good in my photography classes.  I loved both.  But, I haven't tried to draw anything since middle school and haven't taken photos for art since high school.  I also was good at poetry.  Won an award in high school and was published somewhere that wasn't even on the internet since that wasn't as big back then.
  9. I have really loved some of the posts I've written.  Two of my favorites, fortunately, are also some of my most visited posts.  One of them was about the toilet situation in my place of work, "Possibly the Worst Invention Ever."  In it, I discussed the problems in public bathrooms and the problems with bar food.  Another post I loved was my rebuttal to the listing of Saint Louis, Missouri as the third most dangerous city in the whole world.  In "After All My Logic And My Theory I Add A..." I blasted the author of the original list, refuted his claims, and even included some Fugees music.  I have loved that others have often visited these posts.
  10. I am handy.  I love fixing things and love putting things together.  I love taking things apart and trying to put them back together.  Perhaps that is why I love those shows that describe how things are made and how they work.

I am paying forward the Kreative Blogger Award to these blogs that you should check out:

Say it Rah-shay by Archie
Word Cut by MOV
Fat Mum Slim by Chantelle

17 May 2012

Simple pleasures from H2O

How come no one reminded me of the simple greatness that can come from ice products?!?!
Three days ago, I tried a Freezoni from Quick Trip - white cherry at the end of track practice.

Yesterday, I experienced a frozen icee pop-thingie in the flavors of sour apple and cherry during our track awards celebration.

Both. Were. Awesome!!

I don't know if it was just because it was so hot outside, or if they really are great.  But, really, who cares, because they were delightful!!

It's often the simple things that can bring such joy.

16 May 2012

Letter to a dear friend

I know that our relationship started out pretty intense.

It was like, we were almost inseparable from the beginning.  As soon as I had a break at lunch, I would be with you - even if it was just for a few moments.  After work, I would be with you until my nap.  Then, I would wake up and we would be together until I had to break away to make dinner - though sometimes I was able to have you keep me company in the kitchen as I cooked.

After dinner, we were truly inseparable.  I was at your whim.  Anytime you let me know you wanted some attention I was there to give it to you.  I was always there.

Lately, I have been a lot less into you.

Trust, though, that it's not you.

It's me.

I have sometimes gone days without any contact with you.  When we do get back together, I play catchup and make up for all the lost time.  But after those precious moments, there are even more days of no contact.

I know that I don't want to completely part from you, but I do need more space.

I take pleasure in knowing that being with you has helped me meet new people and learn new words.  I have also been able to increased my confidence in being able to sometimes beat my mother in her own game.

April was hard for our relationship.  I was really busy with blogging with the A-Z Challenge, I was really busy with coaching, and really busy with teaching.  My phone is so old that I don't even have enough memory on it to be able to use it to meet up with you.  As soon as school is over and I have to return my iPad to the school, I don't know what I will do.  I may have to buy some sort of new device to help keep us together.

Until then, I will try and be with you as much as I can without becoming obsessed again, Words With Friends.

image source

15 May 2012

I teach. What's your superpower?

I love when I get to share my pride in students I teach.  I love letting the students know that I noticed their great actions and their insight and their just plain awesomeness.  I love even more when I get to do it in front of others including their family and friends.

Yesterday was one of those days.

We had an awards banquet for our students and each teacher got to pick four students to honor.  We could chose it based on attendance, grades, improvement, or any other criteria we deemed valuable.

It took me quite some time to narrow down my selections - a good dilemma to have.  I hope the students appreciated it and I hope that it motivates them even more to strive to do well in and out of the classroom.

Several students in the program started out failing, started out hating school, started out not wanting to continue school.  I, and my awesome colleagues, have been able to help these kids achieve success and to learn to love learning.

Everyone is good at something.  Everyone touches people in some way.

What is your superpower?

14 May 2012

They never leave me alone!

Last Thursday, as I left my room to prepare for track practice after school, I heard a strange noise in the hallway.

Kind of buzzing, kind of motor-ish.

As I got closer to it, all of a sudden a bird flew out of a corner and flew toward me close to the ceiling.

I cannot fully explain to you my hatred/fear of large groups of birds.  Really of any bird that can do this to me.
Image from The Birds

I wanted to scream like a little girl, but instead I tried to continue walking calmly toward the bathroom.  Unfortunately, the bird started flying back toward me and I froze.

Suddenly, there were images flashing through my head of The Birds.  Yes, that movie is old, with no real great special effects, but the idea of all of those birds, peck, peck, pecking at me is engrained in my head.

I rushed down to the end of the hall as cooly as I could, propped open the door to the exterior stairwell, and went into the office.  There are glass windows in the office that look out into the hallway.  I immediately turned and looked fearfully out the window.  I was almost oblivious of the secretary and counsellor in the office.

They clearly took notice of me and asked what was wrong.  Before I could finish saying that there was a bird flying in the hall, said bird slammed itself into the glass as though it was still trying to find me and pull my eye from its socket to use as fodder for its young.

The secretary helped open additional doors to help the likely avian influenza carrier out so it could fly to freedom.

When I left the school to drive home, yes, there was some new shit on the front of my car.  I assume that it was from that lonesome bird that longed for the chance to peck at me.

13 May 2012

Crossroads after semi-epic failure

Yesterday was my 10th district track meet as a coach.  Ten years of coaching high school track.

It was the first year where I have not had an athlete I coach move on to the sectional meet the next week.

First time in 10 years.

I guess, I can kind of count the high jump/long jumper who made it since I coach him in the sprinting portion and when he listened to what I said about technique yesterday, he moved from 6th place to 2nd place.  But, I also can't really count him since he is one of the athletes who prefers not to listen and practices his way rather than the way that is called on by the coaches.  One kid was a thrower, three were distance girls (two have kind of worked with me, but not extensively), and one was a pole vaulter.

It was our lowest number to make it through since I have been at this school.  And I have nothing to show for the hard work I have put in with our sprinters.

I know there are excuses I could use - we didn't have a track this year since it is still under construction; the kids really worked less hard than any previous year, our District consists of athletes that will easily place in the top 8 at the State meet in two weeks so we had really tough competition yesterday, one of our best guys was suspended a week ago and couldn't compete yesterday.  But there are also things that went well this season - we did have a decent place to practice, there were improvements seen in several of the athletes, the kids have competed well against some of the kids they competed against yesterday, the weather this season has been so great that there were not really many times where we had to cancel meets or practices, and there could be tons more.

Part of me is really disappointed in my results from yesterday.

Part of me doesn't really even care anymore.

I have been at this crossroads with coaching for over a year.  Perhaps these emotions, or lack of emotions are a sign.


This is my Stream of Consciousness post for the week.  I didn't follow the prompt since this was on my mind, but you can see the prompt and other link ups for the week at allthingsfadra.  You can also take part - 5 minute free write on the prompt or whatever is on your mind.

11 May 2012

When play is a shock

My new apartment is situated with a small playground right behind the bedroom window.  It's kind of a cute playground with a small slide, a small jungle gym and that soft ground that playgrounds these days have.
Back playground.

I love the evenings because this is when small children play outside in the back lot and on the playground.  Some days, they are having so much fun that I can hear them screaming and laughing while sitting inside in the front room.  I have seen them riding around on scooters, playing tag, just running around the building blocks, and even playing Red Rover.  (I don't think the little 3-5 year olds understood the correct rules about sending a person over and either keeping them on your team or the person stealing one of your team members.)  They are having fun, they are playing outside, they are exercising.

They are being kids.

I am so amazed by these children.

I really cannot remember when last I saw such impromptu play by young children.

There are a few times when I see kids in a playground at a park, but it is rare to see kids playing in a neighborhood these days.

These days.

I sound like I'm in my 80s or something.

But it really is an anomaly to see kids doing more than just playing video games or Tweeting each other in the 2000s.  And people wonder why there are so many obese and morbidly obese people in high schools and even in middle schools.

Hopefully, these young peoples' play continues as they get older.

10 May 2012

I just want to have fun!

Today, I would love to just get online and peruse all of the blogs I follow through Blogger, NaBloPoMo, and the A-Z Challenge list - blogs I am super behind on reading and sharing love to.

I would love to sit back and just absorb some sun.

I would love to play.

I would love to laze around and just be.

But, unfortunately, there is so much work to be done as finals approach, as State Championships approach, as life approaches.

09 May 2012

Is being 'one of the guys' a good thing?

I have always loved playing with the boys.  Perhaps, that is because I looked up to my older brother so much when I was younger... still think he does really great things to this day.

My comfort with guys sometimes leads them to talk about things around me that they wouldn't normally talk about around girls; things my teaching/coaching colleagues and fathers I know sometimes reprimand young males for talking about in front of girls.

There are fart jokes, poop jokes, sex jokes, jacking off jokes, body shape jokes, you name it is discussed with me or talked about in my presence.

It has been like this for so long that I can't remember when I wasn't seen as "just one of the guys" in different social situations with close male friends.

Does this mean they don't see me as a girl?  If not, what do they see me as?

Does it mean that they are so comfortable with me that it doesn't matter that I am a girl and they will talk about whatever, whenever?

Does it mean that they don't consider me, or any one around, and just talk about whatever they want regardless of who's in their presence?

I'm really not sure.

08 May 2012

What's good?

Complaining is contagious.

At the start of this year, I started a mission of not complaining as much as before.  There have been several days where my goal was to not complain even once.
From a post where they describe a strategy to stop complaining.
I'm not really one for a lot of warm-fuzzies, but that would
be better than some people's incessant complaining.

Since I have started limiting my complaints, I have really noticed other people's complaining.  There is a person I work with who complains so much that I really can't even be around him anymore.  I walk into the main meeting area in the morning and often have to walk right back out because of his complaints disguised as stories.  

Last week, he mentioned to me that we don't talk as much anymore and that I seem to rush through lunch on some days.  It took all in me to not tell him that it is because I don't want to be brought down by talking with him.  That he needs to start the old two-for-one that a former colleague implements with her students (if a kid says something negative about another student, the negative student has to say two positive things for each negative; the nice things cannot be related to their appearance, either).

I'm debating if I should step up and say something to him.  He is well into his 60s and is often really sensitive to what people say about him, so I'm not sure how well me telling him to change would go over.

He's not the only one at work that I tend to avoid due to their excessive negativity.  Assistant coaches for track sometimes suffer my avoidance (as much as possible), too.  I don't want you telling me the bad things about coaching or negative things about your athletes or negatives about the weather or the workout facilities.  Tell me something good.

The emphasis of the positive is the antidote to the contagiousness of complaining.

This emphasis is what has led some people to adopt a straight forward, positive greeting to avoid negativity:

"What's good?"

07 May 2012

A-Z Reflection

A week after the A to Z Challenge, I now reflect on the experience.

Some thoughts on the month-long challenge of writing a post on about each letter of the alphabet:

Did I follow the rules?

  • Yes. I posted every day except for Sunday.
  • I also visited on average five blogs a day.  I did cheat with this since some days I visited up to 20 blogs and may have not visited any on another day.  At the start, I had planned on visiting each blog on the list, but with over 1800, it became kind of daunting and I just went through as many as I could.  I still want to go back through and touch each blog on the list at some point, though.

What were the benefits?

  • I added new followers to my blog.  
  • I had more readers and more comments than I normally do to posts and from some new readers almost every day.
  • I tried to make each post interesting.  Not that I don't do that regularly, but trying to write a post associated with a letter really stretched my thought process on some days.  
  • I learned some new words and have incorporated some of them into my regular lingo, or at least my thoughts.
  • I thought more about what I want to do with my blog.  Would I have the energy to make it bigger?  Do I have the style that would bring more readers and followers?
  • Using the links list, I found some new blogs and am following several that I came across.

Did the Challenge affect the way I blogged?

  • I still wrote the way I write.  I just used some different topics than I might have other wise since I had to focus on letters for the day.
  • I think that since I was writing based on a word/theme for each day that the quality of my writing was higher on some post, but, possibly lower for other days when I wasn't feeling the topic I chose.
  • I still responded to each comment readers posted.  This also led me to finding some new blogs since I like to go to the blogs linked to the commenters' names.  

Am I glad I did it?

  • Yes.  It was a fun challenge and one that I am glad I found.  As days went on, I started to try and think ahead to different words or ideas I could use for future letters.  It really made me focus ahead of time on what I wanted to write.

Would I do it again?

  • Maybe.
  • It would be another challenge.  Even more so since I wouldn't want to use any of the same concepts for the letters.

What's next?

  • I am continuing my daily blogging with NaBloPoMo.

06 May 2012

I love people, sometimes

I sometimes come across as shy.  I sometimes come across as standoffish.  I sometimes come across as the one who is trying to help others come out of their shell.  I sometimes come across as a total people person - funny, really silly, really energetic, full of life and conversation.

It all depends on the situation and the people I am around and how I am feeling at the time.

I do like people.

But I am an introvert - doesn't necessarily mean I am shy, just that I don't necessarily thrive on putting myself out there all the time unless I am really feeling it.

I love talking with certain people in my life.  I love the joy that brings and the laughter that ensues and the knowledge that is imparted.  I love the back and forth play with words that can take place.

I also seem to enjoy talking with strangers at functions.  I don't fully understand that one, but I am sometimes more comfortable talking with people I have never met than I am talking with acquaintances.  I love meeting people and learning their stories.  I love hearing stories of people and the people they have met.

I have become more comfortable with not forcing conversation when I am not feeling it.  I don't just play along anymore - that wastes my time and the other person's time.  I think this has probably caused some people I work and coach with to think that I don't like them.  Definitely not true.  At times, they are people who truly energize me.

Lately, I have just had so many other things that I need to do and have really not wanted to join in some of the topics they talk about.  Sometimes it is draining to listen to people talk about things that I am not interested in.  Sometimes it is really draining to listen to people complain and not have anything positive to say.

So, to answer Fadra's prompt for this Stream of Consciousness Sunday, "Are you a people person?  Do you feel energized or drained around people?"  The answer is yes to each part.


05 May 2012

Saturday quote: Options on suffering

Quote for Saturday:
We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.
~ John Rohn

04 May 2012

I prefer competitive excellence

I am a competitive person.

When I was an athlete, I wanted to do my best.  It made me upset when I got to college and was no longer among the fastest in the meets.  As a coach, I love to be able to take athletes who were not good and make them into athletes that are competitive.  In work, I love trying to be the best teacher I can be.  I love looking for new lessons.  I love watching shows on television the can help me better teach information to my students.

I cannot understand why some students and student-athletes are so noncompetitive.  I have kids on my track team who could care less whether they win or lose.  There are some who don't want to be put into meets.  There are several who are so inconsistent with their practicing that it makes no sense to me.  They either are not attending practices regularly or when they do attend, they do not try as hard as they are capable of doing.

I don't understand.

I talked with a friend of mine who said that he would rather work with people who suck and are competitive and confident rather than someone who is really good and has no confidence.

When I was younger, this would not have made any sense to me.

Now, I totally understand.

I would rather work with people who are horrible at their job/sport, but who care.  I would rather work with people who are going to try.  I would rather work with people who are willing to work to improve rather than people who are really good but don't care at all.

03 May 2012

Some questions answered

Today, I play along with dbstevens since she is going on a break from her blog for awhile.

What's in a name?  Is a name just a name when it can conjure up so much feeling in a person?  Is a name just a name when even when someone else has that name it brings you such strong feelings?  Is a name just a name when people all over the country wait for celebrities to announce the newest name of the newest birthed child?  Is a name just a name when it becomes a push to have the most unique one, one that will encompass everything you want a child to become?

What is in a name?

Who knows?!?

On Kicking Corners dbstevens has asked readers to address five questions from her blog post.
This what they need to do outside my bedroom.

1. What are you listening to right now? I am listening to the birds as they chirp and enter and exit the outside vent of the apartment next to my bedroom.  They are loud, they are annoying, and the apartment people seem to think it is not an emergency that needs to be taken care of.
2. Do you like your handwriting?  I don't really like it.  I see other people's handwriting and think it looks sophisticated.  I see mine and think of messy juveniles.  I have switched it up recently, but I don't feel it has added anything to make me like my handwriting more.
3. If you were another person, would you be friends with you?  I sure hope so.  I think I can be funny and I like my sarcasm.  I think I am pretty loyal to friends, though I do sometimes go long stretches without calling or seeing a friend.  But, when we do meet/talk again, we are still cool... or maybe I think we are cool and the other person secretly hates me.
4. What's your favorite breakfast?  Pancakes, bacon, eggs.  I also love so many different kinds of breakfasts.  I also love so many different types of cereal.  My siblings created a special holiday that we celebrate each year (though, I think we missed it this year) where we eat cereal for breakfast and dinner for seven days in a row.
I'm skipping around, now...
9. Scary movies or happy endings?  I love East Asian scary movies.  They are actually kind of scary, unlike American ones that tend to be more humorous than scary.  As I have gotten older, I have started to like sappy, girl-movies.  It is not something that I am proud of, which may be why am in love with the East Asian films.
10. What makes you feel young?  Working out (even though I am nowhere near the shape I was in when I was actually young).  Having people mistake me for younger than I actually am (some have thought I was a student in the school where I teach).  Laughing hysterically.
11. Do you believe everything happens for a reason?  I'm not entirely sure.  What is the reason that a person dies at a young age?  Is it so that you or someone the person knew could do something great in their life?  Is it because the person did something bad in their life?  I don't know.  I have a colleague who sat on an airplane and said hi to the stranger sitting next to her.  They talked the whole flight and ended up falling in love and had a baby earlier this year and will be married soon.  Was that destined?  I don't know.  Is the enormous back pain I have suffered all so that I can focus on working out to prevent the pain?  I don't know.
14. Do you always smile for pictures?  When I am in photographs, I channel my inner ANTM and smize (smile with my eyes).  This can be with a smile or without a smile.  I work on my angles and try and make sure that even when there are really attractive people in the photo with me, I still look decent since you never know where photos will show up online these days.
20. What's the coldest you've ever been?  Track meet about 4 years ago.  It was so cold that when I bought some hot chocolate, it stopped steaming almost as soon as it was poured out of the hot spout.  I was so cold that I could not feel my extremities.  It was so cold that I became angry.  I was angry until about two hours after I was home from the meet and the tingle from my fingers and toes thawing out had ceased.

This was fun.  You can check out the rest of the questions on Kicking Corners and answer them for yourself if you desire.

02 May 2012

I love the freedom my hair provides

There is really something liberating about being able to do activities without worrying greatly about your hair.

My twists, shrunken from moisture,
but still cute and easy!!
There are so many black women who do not workout because they do not want to sweat out their hair styles.  (Seriously,  Google it.  There was even a push by the surgeon general to get black women to exercise and worry less about their hair!)

Even when I had relaxed (chemically straightened) hair, I did not really worry about sweating my hair out.  I would wash out the sweat, blow dry it straight, and then style it back again.  I guess that is too much work for some women.  I didn't spend a lot of money on mine - I still prefer to do my own hair rather than pay someone to do it.  Maybe the cost of the style makes a difference in your willingness to mess the 'do, I don't know.

My natural hair has allowed me to feel even more free about getting sweaty and wet and to play and go in the rain without worry.

So easy to maintain.  So easy to style.  Just a comb, some water, and I'm practically done.

I hope for more African American women to experience such freedom.

01 May 2012

Playing teacher

I continue my daily writing for 2012 back together with NaBloPoMo.  May's theme is Play.

Today, I am thinking about teaching and what I like about it.  Besides imparting knowledge about the subject area and about life, I also love the fact that I am almost on a stage each class period.  I get to play with voices, with intonation, with the way I share information.
Quote on my board.
I try and put quotes up that relate to what someone is currently going through.

One day I can be reading a story about the KKK and using accents and volume and strategic pauses to get the message across, another day I can act as though I agree with the "bad guys" of WWII and help the students to look at the issues from a different perspective.  I can use "the look" to get students' attention refocused and I can joke around with kids between classes as I help them try and solve what they believe to be life-altering issues.  I use my humour and a touch of sarcasm to cheer students up when their outside of school lives can get messy and when they feel hurt by in-school drama.

Despite some of the stresses, it really is enjoyable!

I have been told from the kids that I should become an actor because I am so good at changing it up.

Perhaps that is my next calling.