26 December 2008

Happy Christmas

I don't think there are too many people who would come up with the word "traditional" to describe me. Many times I only observe holidays in the "traditional" sense to make other people happy... not that I'm not happy doing it, one of the things I enjoy most in life is making other people happy. I love knowing that someone is smiling because of something I said, did, wrote, or otherwise had a hand in. So, when it comes to the holidays, there are certain parts which are important to me as "tradition," but are not necessarily "traditional."

For me, Christmas morning has always been the most important part of the day. It's not just because that's when all the prezzies happen, but because it seems to be the one morning of the year the family gets up and doesn't have to hurry off to somewhere else. I have never NOT spent Christmas morning with my parents and brother.

This year seemed extra special. The failing economy has finally trickled down far enough to start touching my family (and friends), and everyone is getting a little stressed. But, this morning, none of that seemed to matter. We had mimostleys and home-made scones, lots of laughs, and a fabulous time.

There seems to be no room for nostalgia at Christmas. Every year is as great as the last, and as I get older, I seem to appreciate it more. I have never been more thankful for my family, they are truly amazing.

22 December 2008

The Spirit

I don't know who or what to blame.

It could be Dickens Fair, it could be Teh ShortBus, it might be CSB, maybe it's that I'm generally a much happier person. But, I'm actually in the Christmas spirit this year.

I spent a week and a half playing Secret Santa... only because I knew it would totally mess with someone. Yes, best practical joke I've played since St. Pat's day. I sent Secret Santa gifts to a coworker (no one else at work was doing an "organized" secret Santa), and was able to keep a straight face when she told me it was "freaking her out" and asked if it was me.

"What me? Secret Santa? Are you crazy? I frickin' hate Christmas."

I love bringing the Christmas funny. After about four days, I started giving gifts that played on some inside jokes we have, and she figured it out. I have to say, my favorite part was when she said the gifts were actually starting to freak her out a bit, and then she called me an "evil genius." Oh man, it's nice when someone else thinks you are an evil genius.

Dickens was amazing. From the laughs that happened every time CSB (Mr. Barnaby Woodcock) introduced me as Ms. Charity Strokeswell (and thank goodness he did, I can barely say it with a straight face), to the generosity of my lovely friends, and the amazing compliments I received on a daily basis.

Thank you all for the greatest holiday gift I could possibly receive... an over the top reminder that I am part of an amazing group of people. I can't remember the last time I blushed so often (you bunch of silly people). I wish there were some way I could give back as much as I received. You really have no idea how much you people mean to me.

17 December 2008

Bring Soup

I've been fighting it for a couple of days now. First a sore throat, then a couple of sneezes, then a LOT of sneezes, and now the stuffiness. Yes, I'll finally admit it. I have a cold. Just in time for Winter Break.

Although yesterday I wanted to write about Dickens Fair, and I wanted to write about work, and I wanted to tell you about my evil genius secret santa scam, today all I want to do is curl up on the couch with my box of tissue, my lappy, and my blankie (and really, I wouldn't mind having CSB to curl up with me... maybe make me some tea every now and again).

So, here it is, the unceremonious "I'm sick" *pout pout poor me* blog.

Oh... and I've changed my mind... I don't want soup any more. I want extra spicy red beans and rice. Spicy enough to scare the germs away and clear the sinuses.

11 December 2008

Through the Cracks

One would think, after all this time, working with this "demographic" group of kids, there wouldn't be much that could shock me.

But, there are times when I'm floored.

In my sixth period (health science) class today, I decided to show the movie Freedom Writers. It isn't necessarily "on topic" at the moment, since we're working our way through a unit on substance abuse... but it's Health, I can get away with pretty much anything.

Especially with this group of kids. I've actually been told, "most of these guys aren't going to graduate anyway, the most important thing you can do is keep their behaviors under control for those 56 minutes."

But, there are times when I actually feel like I have their attention. Of course, when those moments happen, I'm overwhelmed by the amount of information I would like to give them, and I don't know what to do with myself. Today, during this movie, I actually had their attention. And, at one point, the teacher character (played by Hillary Swank) is talking about the Holocaust...she's comparing the student's (self-imposed) segregation and gang activity to the way people were treated during that period.

As I was sitting there thinking about the comparison, one of my students pipes up (remember, these are Juniors in high school, 16-18 years old in this class), "what is the Holocaust?"

I respond, "Wait, what? Are you serious?"
Three or four other students chime in:
"No, I don't know what that is either."
"Is that a type of food?"
"No, stupid, it was when they didn't let people listen to music."
"I'm not stupid, you're an asshole!"
"You're all stupid, it was because things were really expensive!"


Keep in mind that there is only one white kid in this class... and she tells everyone she's half Puerto Rican (even though her last name is so Italian it's not even funny). And not one of them, at an average age of 17 years old, knew what the Holocaust was... not one of them had even heard the term. I was shocked.

So, I pause the movie. First question, "who is your history teacher?"

Not surprisingly, they all have the same guy... that dude is getting a visit tomorrow morning... we need to have a chat. We talked about the whole thing, I explained (in a very SpEd way) what happened, how people were killed because of what they looked like, or their spiritual beliefs, and gave them a brief lesson on genocide. They were quite impressed.

I think I've come up with a whole new way to teach this class. Considering I can tie almost anything in to "health," I plan to give up on the book. They are bored by it, I find it too vague and outdated, it is time to put it aside and do some real teaching. I have an idea for a plan. If it works, I'll share it with you... I'll let you know if I manage to teach these kids anything... I'm suddenly feeling a little more positive about this class. When we start the second semester, I'm going in with a whole new approach.

Call it kamikaze health. I'll either win, or crash and burn.

Either way... I'm going off the books baby...
Wish me luck.

09 December 2008

Frozen Solid

I'm sure I've mentioned it before...

I am a California Girl. No question. Seriously... ask me if I want to go play in the snow, you'll see me shudder, and have a very minor seizure... I get tics and fits just thinking about setting foot in the snow. Not that I won't go somewhere that it snows, just don't expect me to actually go out in it. I'm fully happy to sit inside, sipping a nice warm adult beverage, sitting by a fire, looking at the beautiful landscape, and reading a book or blogging or something.

The last time I was somewhere while it was snowing was when I was in Reno visiting Drew while he was in the hospital. I found myself in a casino in the middle of the night (shocking), my friends were gambling, and I was done for the night... and for some reason, I decided to step outside. It was just beginning to lightly snow, and there was a light dusting on the ground... at that moment, it was perfectly quiet on the street, and for the first time in my life, I understood why people enjoyed snowfall. It was beautiful (although damn cold).

I do remember driving up for Drew's memorial service (9 or 10 months later), and stopping for gas. I opened the car door, and stepped ankle deep in a pile of slushy snow. ick. Funny, that would have been the first time CSB saw me react to having to deal with snow ("omg! get it off get it off!!" or something like that). I'm pretty sure he laughed at me, then laughed even harder to find the gas station closed, and I had to go somewhere else... in the snow.

Fast forward to today... about two years later.

For those of you who don't know, I am currently living in a "converted" garage. "Converted" means that the floor is linoleum tile squares stuck to the concrete floor (yes, there is a big rug over most of the floor). About three feet from the garage door, there is an uninsulated sheet rock wall to protect me from the great wilderness. Hey! I think if you live less than two miles from a wildlife preserve/bird sanctuary, and practically IN the delta/slough, you are allowed to call it "wilderness". I promise, when I come to yer big city, I won't gawk at the open mindedness, or stare too much at teh gays.

I woke up this morning and it was COLD. Not just "oh wow is it chilly" cold, but more like, "oooomg wwwwwtf is this still California?" COLD. So cold, I couldn't even imagine getting in the shower... yes, the shower is hot... but, the moments before and after... no, I just wasn't interested in that kind of freezing. So, as I'm getting dressed I hear Tela start her car (not unusual considering the driveway is about 10 feet from my bed), and it idles for a bit... then I hear an odd noise...*swipe swipe swipe*

It takes my brain a minute to place it... and then again *swipe swipe swipe*... and I know exactly what it is. The cars are frozen. Not just "a little icy" but seriously frozen. *swipe swipe swipe swipe* Windshield wipers on ice... damn.

Now I understand just how cold it actually is, and take into consideration one of the benefits of living in a garage... I know I need to leave about five minutes earlier to let my car defrost. I do appreciate having the opportunity to rent the "west wing" (my room, ShortBus's room, and the "guest" bathroom) from Tela... but there are definitely times when I'm extra aware that I'm practically living outside.

These are the times I seriously can't wait to move out.

02 December 2008

Feinting Friday

Who knew?

Yes, my mom has been worried for years...

"do you know what women used to go through?"
"they had feinting couches for a reason."
"women's bodies were permanently changed because of fashion!"
"just be careful, don't lace these things too tight..."

After 13 years of Renaissance Faire, and five years of Dickens Fair one would think I'd be used to corsets and bodices... one would think I would know my limits and how to eat and drink while wearing such a contraption.

Apparently... *shrug*... not so much.

Last Friday was the opening day of Dickens Fair. Having purchased a new (to me) costume (pictures to come as soon as Mr. Nanning sends them to me), I was very excited, couldn't wait to get dressed and onto the streets of London with my gentleman escort. So much fun to play a "proper" Victorian lady.

Stepping up to the pub at Mad Sal's... people looking shocked when I'm unescorted... a Lady would never go out in that part of town without an escort. Of course, when I'm there alone, my escort is usually getting ready to go on stage, and I can give them a cheeky look and tell them that my escort is "indisposed in back, leaving me completely to my own devices!" Oh yes, shocking, I must say. *gasp*

So, I felt fine all day, though the day flew by. I made a couple of purchases, and christened a new goblet with champagne. By the time CSB's 2:30 show came around I was pretty hungry, but decided to wait until after he finished dancing to start prodding him for lunch.

Luckily, the Victorian Lady doesn't have to smile, she is proper and stoic, and can lean on her escort and be in quiet pain with a blank look on her face. All she ever really has to say is, "Happy Christmas." with a curtsy and a small smile (or grimace as the case may be).

When the show was over, I was famished, and Bangers and Mash sounded PERFECT! Not to my squished tummy, but to my brain... yes, the brain wanted Bangers and Mash.. the tummy... well it wanted a bit of water and a soda cracker. No wonder those Victorian women got their corsets so tight.

So, of course, once again I listen to the brain instead of the rest of my body, and ate half a plate of Bangers and Mash (omg! The salt! The SALT!! YUM!)... then thought... "I'm totally stuffed, I should get a beer." I never said my brain was the smartest part of my body... as a matter of fact... you'd think I would know by now NOT to listen to the brain after two glasses of champers. *eye roll*

Beer in goblet, we decide to go outside for some air. I think to myself... "hm, it IS suddenly quite warm in the Cow Palace... oddly so." Yet, don't connect the food, beer, champers, and corset to the sudden oppressive heat... really?

As we're we're out in the fresh air, I start to feel light headed, and in my passive way, I quietly mention, "ya know, I might just need you to loosen my corset at some point." Although, by then it was too late... I didn't realize that my body was saying "now" while my brain was saying, "oxygen? bah.. whatev... oohh... look at the pretty aldjfa;lkjrlekjae..."

Suddenly, I can't breathe.
Suddenly, I'm pouring sweat.
Suddenly, I know I'm going pale and clammy, and totally less attractive than I was a minute ago...
Suddenly, Giddy isn't so Giddy any more.
Suddenly, the corset... no, the corset still looks awesome... that's the thing about corsets.

Luckily, one of the last things I was able to get clearly out of my mouth was, "can you please loosen my corset... NOW.... No, NOW... I'm seeing spots, if you could do it faster..." Even more luckily, CSB was right there, and through my bright colorful spots and little black patches, he had me breathing again (and slowly sipping water) in no time. Once again, he is my hero.

Not only that but then he says something to the effect of, "hey, we have two more days of this, what do you say we leave early?"

oh... yes, please. Three days of corset? I'm okay with one of them being less than eight hours.

Then, "I'm going to go get our stuff, I'll be right back."
And on top of all that, once he came back, "would you like me to go get the car or do you feel okay to walk?"

By then, I was fine, but still appreciated the thought. No matter the era, he is always the gentleman.

Now that I can breathe again (thanks to CSB), it is time to find this character a name. I mean really, I can't meet up with Mrs. Benedict, Mr. Lammle, and Mrs. Smallwood in the street and NOT have a name. Mr. Lammle said he would help me come up with something unique and fitting... and I can always depend on Mrs. Smallwood for creative anachronisms.

I have come up with a couple that make me giggle like a 12 year old boy... I can't wait to try them out...

01 December 2008

Hot Wheels

I mean really... you see that face in the middle of the road looking stunned and frightened, cars whizzing by... there wasn't even a little evil part of me that wanted to know what it would look like squished.

So I pull over, give the ShortBus a handful of crackers and a coloring book, and tell him I'll be right back... after I save the doggy. Go SuperMommy!

Unfortunately this little punt of a pooch has been scared to death, and now not only is he running around in traffic, but I am too. Standing on the sidewalk calling him isn't working, running willy-nilly through the intersection trying to scare him out of the street isn't working, making all kinds of stupid noises and faces, pretending I have food, throwing goldfish crackers to tempt him... not working.

As I'm standing in the middle of the intersection doing one or all of the above, I notice a police car, top speed, lights flashing, coming my way. As he flies through the intersection, he has the courtesy to slow down for a second to yell, "that's what leash laws are for lady!" out the window. Golly, thanks. It took everything I had not to give him the finger. I mean, I'm generally cynical about humanity, but at least I'm not an a-hole about it.

At some point the little shit dog decides the safest spot for him to hide is under my car, and why not? It's not going anywhere. Ugh. ShortBus seems fully amused by the situation, and as I'm crawling around in the street under my still running car, I'm talking to him through the window... and all he cares about is, "mommy, can I see the doggy? I want to get out and see the doggy."

Yeah kid, you are SO NOT getting out of the car right now.

I finally decide to grow a pair, reach out and grab the shivering little beast, and figure I'm going to get bit. No time to sniff my finger to see if I'm friend or foe, you are coming with me. Pulling and dragging, I get him into my arms. Now what?

Well, I suppose now I have to take him home... what else can I do?

The ShortBus decides that we should name him Hot Wheels, and no matter how many times I try to explain it to him, he doesn't seem to understand that "Hot Wheels" has a family who is missing him terribly. Yes, I am pretty sure that Hot Wheels, with his collar and clean fur, has probably escaped from someones yard or house, and they are out looking for him. Maybe, just maybe they are out looking for him right now! So, we hop back into the car to drive through the neighborhood listening for someone calling for him.

The story ends with "Hot Wheels" falling asleep in the passenger's seat, Short Bus in the back whispering (because I told him he had to be quiet so I could hear if someone was calling for their lost doggy), and me thinking, "oh good grief, this dog SO can't come home to live with us." And then I hear it... well, Hot Wheels heard it, I barely heard it, but I saw a dog who was peacefully curled up asleep in the car stand straight up as if he'd been poked by a (really small) cattle prod.

As I suspected, Hot Wheels's owner was out walking the streets looking for him. We exchanged pleasantries, and I honestly couldn't get over the sense of joy I felt when I saw this woman reunited with her Julian (one boy's Hot Wheels is another woman's Julian). Although I felt terrible for any dog that had to go through life called Julian, I was happy to learn that she had rescued him from certain death only a year ago, and Hot Wheels had accidentally been let out of the yard earlier that day by the landscapers.

He was a sweet little dog, and I'm happy I was able to help reunite him with his family. On the way home, Short Bus and I were discussing the evening and he said, "Mommy? Why didn't she name the dog Hot Wheels?"

Me: "I don't know, maybe she thought Julian was a good name for him."
SB: "Hot Wheels is a better name."
Me: "Well, its no Onion Mud, but it'll do."
SB: "Mommy?"
Me: "Yes?"
SB: "When we get our own house can we get a dog?"
Me: "Maybe we should start with a cat."
SB: "Maybe we should name him Hot Wheels."

19 November 2008

Just Sayin....

Sometimes I totally feel "Lucky"...

(yes, its schmoopy... and I'm totally okay with that...)

18 November 2008

The Definition of Irony

Sitting in a booth at Denny's in Auburn on Sunday morning, I notice the people in the booth on the other side of us. In particular, I notice the scruffy young man (maybe in his early 20's) wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Gandhi on it.

I think: "that's kinda funny, I don't think I've ever seen a Gandhi t-shirt before."

Minutes later the waitress shows up with the table's order.

(this is where The Funny™ comes in...)

She serves Gandhi Guy last. I have never seen such a huge mountain of Denny's food in my life. I mean literally, the plate was piled HIGH with what looked like hash browns and eggs. THEN... she sets down a SECOND heaping plate of food. Seriously, I can't remember the last time I saw this much food set in front of one person. Of course... as I'm looking at these mountains of food, I realize... Gandhi is just barely peeking over the pile... staring past the food, directly at me with really hungry eyes.

The only way this could have been funnier... if the guy had opened the salt shaker and dumped the whole thing on his food.

Oh! No... wait... funnier: if it had been 14 lbs. of steak.

17 November 2008

A Wish...

I love birthdays.

Well, that's not entirely true. I love celebrating other people's birthdays. That's not to say I'm good at gift giving (I'm not), and that's not to say I'm good at phone calls (I'm definitely not). But, when I get the opportunity to plan something nice for someone, and enjoy it with them... well,that's when I love birthdays.

A weekend away in Monterey at a lovely hotel, an amazing dinner at Roy's (thank you again Johnny!), a beautiful sunny Sunday enjoying downtown Monterey and the aquarium.

It was truly fabulous.

I could take the time and find the words to describe what a wonderful weekend it was, but I really didn't want this post to be focused on the weekend. I wanted to focus on someone special, how happy I am to be a part of his life, and how much I enjoy celebrating all the special moments of our lives together.

There have been so many firsts that I've lost count (I actually had a count going for a while), so many things that might seem "little" to most people, yet have made me so happy I haven't been able to find the words to describe the feelings. I had written off things like "romance" and "love," assuming they didn't exist except in fairy tales and cheesy chick flicks, and even if they did, I would never experience them... I'm so glad I was wrong.

Thank you for being a part of my life, for sharing yours, and for all the happiness that has come from it...
Happy Birthday CSB.
May each one only get better from here.

13 November 2008

Confronted With Myself

As I mentioned, part of my job is "Case Manager" to a group of 'Special Needs' students. These guys aren't what most would think of when someone says "Special Needs," most of them are just very low in reading and writing skills, and therefore have behavior problems. Makes sense right? Can't read or write very well, don't think I'll be paying much attention in Biology.

But, I do have a couple of kids on my caseload who are a little more in my league... autism spectrum disorder, & emotional disability (ED)... the kind of kids I went into SpEd to help. Today I got to meet one of the ED kids.

Dressed in jeans, a Jack Skellington sweatshirt, and Chuck Taylors (with doodles and writing all over them), she was a little awkward, and definitely at that 10th grade stage of angst-ridden development. I knew her immediately when she came in. She was well spoken, polite, and got along well with the adults (from what her teachers said, she has a couple friends her own age, but tends to get along better with older people and adults).

As soon as we started discussing the results of her academic testing she started to quietly cry. It couldn't have been the results... everything was scoring in the Average to High Average range... no one had said anything negative. I silently handed her a box of tissue, and gave her a small smile, as the "Team" moved on to discuss her Psych testing.

Depression and anxiety came up, she has had a hard time focusing in class, sleeping at night, and although she does her classwork and homework, can't seem to bring herself to turn it in. A story that sounded way too familiar to me.

As we're discussing different options, and making recommendations for her educational plan, we asked for her input, and thoughts as to what might help her succeed in high school. And, as she sat there saying "I don't know" and crying even harder, I suddenly had a flashback, and knew exactly what that "I don't know" meant.

"I don't know what is wrong with me, I don't feel normal, I don't feel right, I just want to be happy and do well. Why does it seem so easy for the other kids? Why am I so different? What is wrong with ME!?"

Follow that up with:

"Wouldn't it just be easier if I didn't exist? Then all these people wouldn't have to put up with me... then I wouldn't have to put up with me... all of this pitiful and miserable 'woe is me crap' would go away if I went away. I can't believe I'm so awful."

You might think I'm just projecting... and it is quite possible that I am a little. But, add in things like the fact that she is self-medicating (marijuana), and has been known to cut herself... yeah, it's pretty obvious.

As she left the room after the meeting, I put my hand on her shoulder, and said, "I know you don't know me, but I'd like to get to know you, if you need anything, you can come see me any time." She smiled and said "thank you," exactly as I would have at that age. It means, "thanks for making your empty promises to help me, but you can't possibly... if I don't know what's wrong with me, you can't possibly understand. Besides, why would you want to waste your time with me, you have better things to do. I'll figure it out, you don't have to care."

I know this girl.
I know her better than she expects.
I know her as well as I know the face that looks back at me in the mirror.
She is the reason I've asked myself a million times in the last 15 years, "if someone could have done or said something... anything... to help me, what would it have been?"

Still... my answer is the same... "I don't know."
As frightening as it is, I have no idea what would have changed things for me. I don't know how anyone could have helped me. I sometimes wonder if it was some kind of chemical problem in my brain, and maybe a combination of drugs and therapy might have helped. Maybe when the hormones kicked in my brain couldn't cope with the changes in chemistry.

What I do know, is I've been there. And maybe, just maybe, THAT is enough to help just one other person survive the awkward, awful, angsty (yes, I said angsty), low self-esteem years of misery that some people call high school.

(Please, don't worry, she has a strong team, and we are all aware of her issues. She is getting help, and being watched rather closely.)
*image is "goth crayons" that I stole from the web*

12 November 2008

Not Shoe Porn, But I Do Mention Shoes

There are things one doesn't understand until they've had the opportunity to experience them for themselves.

I never understood some of the things my parents said while I was growing up. The best example I can come up with, "Stop crying, or I'll give you something to cry about!!" Now that I'm a parent, and have experienced a frustrating tantrum at the end of the day over nothing...I fully understand the expression. There were a lot of things about my parents I didn't understand until I had the opportunity to walk in their shoes.

I honestly have always thought that teachers are (literally) crazy. No, not just when I was a kid... but all the way through my adulthood. I just figured they were all nutty... nature of the beast kind of thing. But now, now that I've been walking in those shoes for a few months... well... yeah, teachers are crazy. But, not in the way I always thought.

Imagine this:

You go into work every day with a passion for what you do. You want to help, you give of yourself freely and openly, you make things as simple and obvious as you can to help the people you work with understand what it is that you are trying to show them. You take concepts, figure out how to explain them to someone who has never heard of them, you twist them into a million different shapes, and attempt to force that square peg into a round hole (some days just WISHING you had a hammer).

Of course while you are doing all this, you are being ignored, disrespected, called a racist (and any number of lovely insults), and sexually harassed.

Now you have to find the balance... somewhere among all this you have to walk the fine line of behavior control and actually teaching something. So, now you are teaching, disciplining (its a word now!), on top of those things: lesson planning, grading papers and recording that data, calling parents, and helping students with their homework.

Now... add in that I am in Special Ed. I have a separate caseload of 15 students. Each with an individualized education plan (that I am responsible for maintaining, and updating at least once a year). Each student with their own list of problems and issues...

"I don't want to be in this class, I want to be in that class."
"Little Johnny isn't doing his homework, can he come to your room at lunch so you can help him?"
"Betsy is acting out in my class, can you tell me what I should do to manage that behavior?"
or one of my favorites:
"Zack isn't working in my class, but I know you have him in two of yours, can you see that he does MY work in YOUR class? Or, maybe he could spend some time with you at lunch or after school?"

WTF? Some balls huh?

Yes, teachers are crazy.
For damn good reason.
And, totally not in the way I expected.

31 October 2008

Happy Halloween!

To all my most favorite ghouls, goblins, witches, freaks and everyone in between: have a most wonderful holiday. May you enjoy going wherever the spirit moves you.

20 October 2008

The Break

Friday: I leave work for the day and head to a local brew pub/restaurant for after work drinks with a select few coworkers. Wonderful idea. Honestly, if you ever get the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with special ed teachers when they are not working, do it. There is something special about this group of people, and the only way to find out exactly how special they are is to have a drink with them. I promise, it'll be the best laugh you have all week.

I left with a smile on my face (and not just from the beer), and made my way to Oakland for a much anticipated weekend "off" with CSB. Once there, we decided on Sushi for dinner, and spent a nice evening at Kansai sitting at the bar. I can't tell you how great it is to know everyone who works there, and be able to do silly things like bring the chopstick training wheels we found at a shop on the Embarcadero (yes, the pink thing in the picture above). They really got a kick out of them, and I'm looking forward to making another trip down to pick up a few more for the chefs and waitresses.

Saturday: After working for somewhere in the arena of 9 weeks straight, my brain was beginning to melt. Even those last couple of weekends of faire didn't shine so brightly... I was done. To sleep in until 8:30 Saturday morning was a beautiful thing. We slept, there was coffee, an amazing omelet, then after laying around all day in our jammies watching TV, he mentioned something about Dark Knight... which I STILL haven't seen (but, I'm not bitter at all).

That got me thinking about movies I wanted to see, but haven't... I realized I hadn't seen Burn After Reading yet, and after all, I am a huge Coen Brothers fan. So I mention that I really wanted to see it in the theater if it's still playing... next thing I know we're talking about the 5:30 show at Bay Street. Quick shower and we're out the door. Yes, fish tacos from Rubio's, a movie, then down to the little bakery for chocolate cupcakes to go with the Domaine Chandon Sparkling Red I brought to celebrate the end of faire.

Needless to say, the night ended well... I mean really... any night that ends with champagne and cupcakes has got to be good.

Sunday: I woke up thinking "oooohhhhh... I don't wanna go to... wait... I don't have to... I have ONE MORE DAY OFF!" So, I rolled over, curled up with CSB and went back to sleep. *sigh*

When we finally made our way out of bed we had left over cupcakes (yes, I bought one for breakfast too) and coffee... then layed around watching tv... all morning. At some point mid-afternoon we decided we were hungry, and maybe ought to leave the apartment to eat.

After a nice lunch at Cato's in Piedmont (highly recommended), we wandered around window shopping and snooping through used book stores. Laughing and enjoying the remaining daylight, it was really nice not to have anywhere to be, or anything to do. Simply existing and living in the moment. Seems like its been so long since I had the chance to do that.

It was the perfect post-faire weekend.
The perfect recharge.
Exactly what I needed.

Maybe next blog I'll have the energy to revisit faire, and tell you about my super awesome Saturday, and how closing weekend this year included one of the greatest days I had at faire this year.

For now, you can most definitely look forward to posts about my adventures in house hunting... I'm planning to call a random agent tomorrow, and get the ball rolling. I'll bring the camera so you all can be a part of the process.

By the by... if anyone knows a real estate agent, or has one they love and trust, I'm looking for someone great... please feel free to send me a message and let me know!

16 October 2008

Blogging is...

Putting fingers to keyboard is pretty nearly the last thing I want to do at the end of a busy day, yet, it is possibly the most important thing I do for myself. Writing has always been one of the most important bits of my day to day life.

Mostly I do it to entertain myself. I started blogging so I could chronicle my pregnancy, partially for myself, partially for The ShortBus, partially for the bunch of people that would call me every day asking how I was feeling. After The ShortBus was born, I wanted a place of my own to write about things other than mommy-ness. I started a few different blogs, but nothing was coming out in the right voice... until one day I decided to just relax and use my own voice. Let the words fall onto the screen the same way they fell out of my brain.

Now I see how the traffic to my blog changes when I don't write for a couple of weeks. I see how the few of you who used to check in regularly don't ... because I'm not here. I do the same thing with bloggers who don't post, I forget to read after a while. So, nine months out of the year I watch the number of readers grow... then for three months I watch it dwindle to nothing. November and NaBloPoMo are coming, and I will see the numbers grow again as I start to post more.

The question is, is that really "for me"? Yes, posting daily for a month is good practice... faire is over, time to start getting back into the habit again. So, a month of random stream of consciousness posting isn't a bad thing for me... but really, how many of you want to read that kind of stuff? Shouldn't posts be substantial in some way... have something to contribute to the conversation?

I'd like to start posting a little more about work, maybe even include some more personal details about my (awesome!) love life (with permission, of course), and I'm planning to start house hunting soon... that should definitely bring The Funny™.

But, with my weekends already basically full until mid-January, I'm not sure how I'm going to fit in anything other than posts that are very similar to my last month or so. I will do my best... mostly for me, but partially for those who read... and a little for The ShortBus, who some day will read, and know just how crazy his mom was as he was growing up.

*photo by Glen... Kathi had just fallen into the barrel... serious comedy right there people.. and one of my all time favorite pictures*

02 October 2008

Tonight's Champagne....

...brought to you by the letter "D" and the number 19.

Tuesday afternoon after work, I had a voice mail from my attorney. Simply, "call us when you get a chance"... I've been a bit busy, so I figured I'd call Wednesday. As Wednesday came and went, I totally forgot. Today, I glance down at my calendar, and see the number sitting there, so I called during my second period break.

Her (paralegal): "did you get it yet?"
Me: "I haven't received any mail from you..."
Her: "oh.. well the final judgement is in the mail, you should get it today or tomorrow."
Me: "well, thank you, but that is somewhat anticlimactic."
Her: "usually people are really excited."
Me: "don't get me wrong, it's just that I was expecting champagne & confetti."

Once I got off the phone I cried some tears of relief... after a year an a half (at least the legal part...), it is finally at an end. I am finally, "officially" divorced. And really, it's funny, as I sat there getting rid of a bit of emotional congestion, I thought, "nothing is technically different than it was yesterday... I don't plan to get married right now, so what does all this actually mean?"

It means I am finally, technically "free." One of the biggest differences between my life right now, and my life two years ago is that NOW I have someone I want to share things with. Someone I WANT to share everything with... then... it was someone I HAD to explain myself to.

I was driving to faire opening weekend, and thinking (as one will do during a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive), and realized: it is so nice to be driving toward something wonderful, versus driving away from something I want to escape. I've always loved faire, and I've always seen it as coming "home" after a year away... yet, it has always been an escape for me. Not anymore. Faire is a destination, it is driving TO a person and a place I love, versus AWAY from a life I hate.

A lot of you said, "I've seen the married Giddy at faire, I'm fully afraid of the Single Giddy at faire." I knew... from the first time I heard that sentiment, that you were wrong. Who you see now, is much closer to who I am... the person who is real inside of me. The Giddy I was before... well, she was the one avoiding and escaping reality, and she was a character. I'm still me, I'm still fun, I'm oh so much happier than I ever have been... I'm also more true to reality.

Come by Stromboli/Toad this weekend (I'm not on the counter this year, I'm in the kitchen, but ask for me), I'm bringing a bunch of champagne, I want to do a toast with each and every one of you. It's celebration champagne... meet Giddy... she has a boyfriend she loves dearly (and who is getting to toast with the "special" champagne), she wants you to meet a person who isn't uncomfortable with life anymore. Come meet someone who is fully happy with herself, and is well on the way to being the person I always knew was inside.

Here is to being happy with who you are,
comfortable in your own skin,
and finding others who love you for who you are...
no matter how goofy the person you are may be.

01 October 2008

Chances Are What You Make of Them

I suppose it's nice not being the "last stop" in some kid's life. Knowing that they get another chance if, for some reason they get thrown out of my school, should make it easier somehow. But, when you lose two of the "good ones" in one day, it's tough.

One is fairly quiet and unassuming (in the classroom). He has a speech impediment, and because of it tends to be somewhat introverted. He is looking at expulsion for his second fight in three weeks, he's done at a regular public high school (at least for this school year). Ninth grade, and headed to continuation high school... yes, the system has failed him. In fact, most of the kids I work with have been failed in one way or another.

The other, also not a kid that would stand out in a crowd. He is intelligent when he does come to class (in my Biology class even), and seems to know his shit. But, in the last 20 days that he's been enrolled in my class, has been absent 15 times, he hasn't even been in class enough for me to give him an actual grade. He seems to be a good kid, will talk with me one on one, seems to be pretty honest about his troubled past, but said he wants to do better. The email I got today said that he is withdrawing from my high school because he's in juvenile hall.

I sat down with one of my students today and said, "do you plan on coming back after your birthday in November?"

He said, "Of course I do, just because I'm 18 doesn't mean I don't want to graduate."

So, I said to him, in these words, "then what the hell are you doing? You come to my classes every day, and do nothing... you are wasting your time. You are here, you might as well do some work and pass so you can actually graduate. Seriously, you are wasting your time and you are distracting your classmates from passing this class."

I give these kids every chance, and yet, some of them seem to just choose to fail. But, if you ask them, they will tell you they don't want to fail. Yet, they don't bother to even try... I ask you... what do you do for a 16 year old who won't bother to do anything for themselves? What do I do with a kid who wants to learn, but says the work is too difficult, and he sits at his desk crying telling me he doesn't understand? But, when I tell him I need him to try his best, so I can see exactly what it is he isn't getting (math), he just sits there refusing to do anything... I can't help someone who isn't willing to participate.

It is insanely frustrating. Sometimes I think it was easier when they wanted to kill me and I could just pin them to the ground until they calmed down. I really think there was something about that physical contact.. that dominance.. that made a kid respect you a little more.

It's amazing how many times a day a student will ask me a question, I will answer, and they will say, "no..." and contradict me. Its amazing how many times a day I either want to slap someone or bang my head on the wall. And, really it's not about "stupid" it's about rude and disrespectful. So many of these kids are so far out of line, I can't believe they've lasted this long. How have adults allowed them to behave this way for so many years?

Teh ShortBus is more well behaved at four than most of these kids are at 15-17. His teacher told me today that he is "a gentleman." Damn straight... that's my boy. In 20 years from now his wife will be thanking me for raising such a wonderful person.

I've been a wife, I know how important good manners are. I've been a girlfriend, I know that there are times I want to call CSB's mom and say, "hey, thank you for raising such an aware, intelligent, generous, kind, and chivalrous person. I really appreciate that effort."

Yes, part of it is inherent in the person, and the genetic code... but so much of it is in how you are raised. So much depends on what happens around you in those formative years.

I'm trying so hard not to take any of it to heart. But, dammit, I care. Isn't that the point?

22 September 2008

Time Flies...

I can't believe a month has gone by with no blog posts from me.

Makes me kinda sad.

I've been talking about writing for weeks. I've written bits and pieces here and there in my notebooks and journals, but nothing that has found its way to the interwebs. I just haven't had the time or energy.

I am literally burning the candle on three ends (somehow), and really, the wax is melting away pretty quickly.

The job is perfect. Hectic, demanding, chaotic, insane, and stressful. Exactly what I've always wanted. I'm enjoying it very much. I really do have a lot more to say about it, but you'll have to wait.

Faire has been fun. It's always nice to be out there surrounded by good friends, and lots of love. The attention whore that I am loves it.

Between those two things, and trying to manage time with The ShortBus, and time for myself (haha)... not to mention trying to keep at least my little corner of the house somewhat clean, and the laundry done... well yeah, my little candle has a lot of burning wicks. My emotional state seems to be melting quickly, and I can't wait to catch up with sleep and quiet time so I can regain some sense of stability.

I don't typically get PMS, but make up for it for six to eight weeks a year during faire. *snicker*

If I haven't seen you in person, I probably haven't even spoken with you in over a month. For that I am sorry. I do miss many people right now, and can't wait to catch up in about four weeks (three weekends of faire, and one weekend of napping). I do realize how difficult it has been to get a hold of me, and that I've even been bad at answering email, and all I can say is... I can't wait to talk with you in a few weeks.

21 August 2008

Day One...and then some

*picture is TehShortBus "helping" me get my classroom ready*

Really, I've been meaning to write about my first day since Monday (the actual first day), but honestly, I haven't had a second to even consider it. But, I decided I wasn't going to bring any work home this evening. I've worked (easily) 10 - 12 hour days every day for the last two weeks, I think it's time to take a minute for myself.

And, when I say "for myself" I mean: have a beer and write a blog after working an 11 hour day and spending ANOTHER $50 on supplies for my classroom.

When I finally fell into bed Sunday night (yes, I worked from home for a good 5 hours Sunday, and spent 5 hours on Saturday actually in my classroom...then another 2 working at home), I thought I was right on track. Coffee was prepped, alarm was set, I was showered, ShortBus was sleeping. Excellent. When I closed my eyes I figured I was as ready for Day One as I could possibly be, given the very short time I was provided.

Flash forward about 7 hours later... I wake up. It is quiet. Too quiet.
Alarm hasn't gone off yet.
But, something feels off.
Look at the clock... 6:15. 45 minutes AFTER I had set my alarm to go off. Damn!

I jump out of bed, focused on the ONE thing that is going to save me from going crazy... coffee. Into the kitchen to be greeted by the lovely aroma of fresh brewed coffee. In a now adrenaline infused foggy morning haze of "OMGOMGOMGOMG!" I go straight to the fridge for creamer, turn around and see a beautiful pot of coffee... all over the counter and floor. My persnickety coffee maker had decided it didn't like the way I put the filter in. REALLY?

So now I'm late, AND cleaning the kitchen.

After a QUICK shower, I decide I should wake Teh ShortBus, so he has a minute to wake up and eat a banana before I shove him off to school. But, he decides he doesn't want to get up. By the time we get to the car, he and I are both crying. Each for very different reasons.

I make it to school five minutes before the first bell.
Luckily, my first period class, at that point, was two students (now it's up to five). They were so freaked out at being the ONLY two students in the classroom, they didn't seem to notice how discombobulated I was.

Long story... um... well long... it has been a great week. Everyone I work with has been really supportive and helpful, my family and friends have been helpful and truly amazing, and I even got to spend a few minutes with CSB this week.

I am truly looking forward to tomorrow, and the end of my first week. I kinda feel like once I make it through this first week, it's all down hill from here. Plus, I think a bottle of celebration champagne is in order.

17 August 2008

Bag Porn!!

So, apparently my mom came across this purse at a garage sale....

I looked it over pretty closely, and it seems to be real (though I'm shocked).
Its beautiful. Looks practically brand new.
And, its all mine!

Kinda cool that the school colors at my new school are red, black, and white. Yes, I haz teh skewl spirit... in style.

14 August 2008

Friday Shoe Porn

I came across these shoes two days ago, and fell in love.

My first thought was, "no, I'm not buying shoes because I don't have a ....oh... wait... I do have a job... not only do I have a job, but I have THE job." The one I anticipated, the career I've been working toward... yep, I haz it.

So, needless to say, I bought the shoes...

Like I mentioned, when I first put them on, I felt like I had been transported to OZ. They fit perfectly, and are the most beautiful metallic garnet red you've ever seen.

And when the ShortBus noticed I was taking pictures of my shoes, he wanted me to make sure I included pictures of his...

hm... wonder where he gets his attention whore tendencies....

13 August 2008

One Week Later

I have been to meetings and workshops galore. I have been going non-stop. So much to do, and so little time.

My head is spinning with names and faces that I can't quite seem to match up. My desk is littered with business cards, all with the school district logo. I had to clear a shelf to pile up books, notebooks, folders, and paperwork.

The only things I know for sure:

I have a caseload of 19 students. I am responsible for all their paperwork, and evaluations, and I will have three major parent meetings in my first two months. These kids may or may not be in my classes.

I teach four class periods a day. Three are science... though, not the same science. I have 9th grade Integrated Science, 10th grade Biology, and 11th grade Health Science. One is a math class... "Applied Math" and apparently the class combines students of all grades, but most will be 9th and 10th graders. All this basically means is that I will have to come up with four different lesson plans, versus someone who teaches 10th grade English and has one lesson plan they use throughout the day.

My students are "Resource" students. Meaning they are just a bit slower than the rest in learning the material. I teach the same things as General Ed. teachers, only, slower. All my students are on a graduation track, and so will have to know specific material to pass the California High School Exit Exam.

I have a stack of books (teacher's editions) that weighs more than The ShortBus (but is much less wiggly). And, at the moment I'm just trying to put together some things to do in the first week of classes. Currently my desk and bed are covered with open books, folders, notebooks, and random sheets of paper. I feel so out of sorts when I'm this ill-prepared.

As a matter of fact, I've noticed that not only am I just "out of sorts" feeling, but I'm showing physical signs of stress too... my skin just can't take it, and I'm breaking out like a teenager, and not just zits, but welts, bumps, lumps, and itchy spots. I'm over-emotional, under-prepared, and running in circles.

On a more positive note, I did pick up a lovely pair of shoes this week, sparkly garnet red, and when I put them on today I felt like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz... only with much cooler shoes. I clicked my heels together and said, "there's no place like now, there's no place like now."

Stay tuned for Shoe Porn Friday, I took the pictures this morning.

06 August 2008

Are you kidding?

Yesterday, I got an email asking if I was interested in a teaching positon.
They wanted to know if I was available for an interview this morning.
Well sure... why not? What the heck can an interview hurt?

After a 45 minute panel interview, I was sent outside to wait, and "come back when we call you."

After all this time...
After every question I've asked myself...

I will not ask if this is what I want.
Because I know that this is what I need.
And, this is what I asked for.

You are reading a post from the newest Local High School Special Ed. Math/Science Teacher.
They offered me the job on the spot.
I have no idea how I got this job.
But, I did.

I am insanely excited.
The classroom is finally mine!
Yet, insanely scared.
How am I supposed to be prepared to teach a class in less than two weeks?

No idea where I go from here,
But, confident I can make it.

05 August 2008

Happy Birthday Little Man

What a difference four years makes.

I considered doing a recap of his "birth story," but really... I don't think we need to go there. He was about 9 pounds... and took his time. Now he's about 35 pounds, and seems to always be in a hurry.

Just in time for his fourth birthday, he learned to pronounce "TH" properly. So, he was "free years old" all year long... now that he's four, well let's just say I'm having a hard time not teaching him to say he's "Thor." Purely for the funny.

Just the other day he asked me if I knew what a black light was for. In typical distracted mommy fashion, I said, "no, what is a black light for?" He replied, "When it's on, it's for DANCING!" Indeed it is.

During the first year of his life I couldn't wait to hear him speak. He showed personality and style all his own from day one, and I was dying to hear it come out. I have to say, I was right to be impatient, there is nothing in the world like hearing him say, "I love you mommy."

So many things go into being a mom. Every day I learn something new... about myself, about my boy, about the world... some days I learn a lot of things. Every day is an adventure.

So, Happy Birthday to you ShortBus. May the sun shine bright, the laughter be plentiful, and the learning endless. I love you more than you know, kiddo.

29 July 2008


Last Friday night, I had the opportunity to adventure into San Francisco's Mission district, and have a couple of drinks at Medjool.

If you ever have the chance to drop in, definitely do. But, don't just hang out downstairs... venture up to the roof.

I know I should have looked at the menu, as a matter of fact, I was dying to. But, I was kinda hungry, and didn't want to order some amazing overpriced dish. Judging by other people's responses to the menu, and the girl that brought Popeye's, I am guessing it was a yummy looking menu but the prices weren't necessarily ideal. Honestly, I'd love to go back and have dinner on the roof.

We started the evening downstairs in the bar and restaurant. Very comfortable. Sofas, pillows, and overstuffed ottomans , combined with earthy tones created a relaxing place to sit and drink. The restaurant area didn't look quite as comfortable, but I did notice a lot of people drinking champagne. So, obviously, this is a place to go when you have things to celebrate... and money to spend.

After a beer downstairs, we headed up to the roof. And wow, what a view. Part of me was really annoyed that I didn't bring my camera, yet another part was glad I didn't... because really, I looked dorky enough texting Twitter the whole time.

The service was definitely better downstairs, but with as crowded as it was on the roof, and as large as our group was (and we were drinking, not eating), it didn't surprise me.

Go early, get upstairs, and get yourself a table. It is definitely worth it, even if you go just for a $6 beer, an appetizer, and the view. And, totally bring your camera (I know I will next time).

28 July 2008

Too Much Information

I finally did a "100 Things About Me" meme.

It took way too long.

In the process of doing it, I thought of other things I wouldn't mind "100" listing about. So I decided I would do a link so those lists wouldn't take up space here.

It will not be updated so very often, but as ideas and "things" come up... I'll make other lists. I'm actually working on a couple now. I'll comment as those things get posted (if they do).

This is not why I haven't posted in a week.
I haven't posted because I've had a bit of writer's block.

But, I've been given a little trick to help out with that (thank you CSB), and I had a great weekend, so I'll write something that actually qualifies as a post soon.

For now, if you are interested, I give you the first post on the 100 Things link: "100 Things About Me"

*also, this link is now in the sidebar... near the top*

19 July 2008

A Word About A Word

The word is "Breathe." And, it is one of my biggest pet peeves.

You take a deep BREATH before diving in a pool. "She lost her temper and apologized in the same BREATH." This is a Noun.

When you inhale and exhale, you BREATHE. "Dragons BREATHE fire." This is a Verb.

You do NOT say, "I took a deep breathe," nor do you say, "I felt like I couldn't breath." So, PLEASE don't write it that way. Unless, of course, you are trying to send me into an apoplectic fit.

Thank you.
you may now return you to your regularly scheduled interwebs browsing.

15 July 2008

Camp Lazy... The Morning After

After barely sleeping Friday night, I woke up Saturday morning feeling... well, perhaps it would be easier to say that I woke up NOT feeling hungover. Just tired. Seriously. Tired.

By mid-morning, we had dubbed Saturday "Camp Lazy." The weather was perfect, and as the four of us who were still struggling to wake up dozed and giggled in the swing in CamiKaos's back yard, Dr. Normal (Mr. Kaos, Cami's husband) appeared.

Doc: Is there any Cava [Champagne] left?
Cami: I don't think so.
Giddy: Yes, actually, I think there is a bottle left in the cooler.
Cami: Unopened?
Giddy: Unless you opened it after I went to bed.
*note: Giddy always knows where the last of the champagne is*
Doc: What about pineapple juice?
Giddy: There should be some in the cooler, and half a can in the fridge.
Doc: Would you guys like Pinosas?
*Giddy decides Dr. Normal is Brilliant, and even more awesome than he seemed the day before*

I literally watched Dr. Normal make the drinks, go get straws, and deliver them to us, with my jaw on the floor. Not that I don't know any guys who would do this, in fact I know several... though I didn't really think about that at the time. What I thought was that this man just opened his house to seven guests (the first arriving 24 hours before), fed us, purchased drinks, did all the work on the podcast, didn't seem to mind having a bunch of screaming, giggling girls take over his house and back yard, and STILL offered, made, AND served us drinks in the morning.

The last time I had a girl's night and a husband at the same time, my (now ex-) husband seemed to make it a sport to be as grumpy and rude (and generally unwelcoming) as possible to our guests. It was a game he played, to see how fast he could get "my" friends out of "his" house by making them feel unwanted and uncomfortable. Luckily, I had a few friends that understood this game, and played 'annoy the asshole' before they left.

But, I digress...

Once everyone had gone home, CamiKaos and I figured we should actually plan something to do (or not do) for the day. I believe the short list was something like: "go out and do something, stay in and do something, go out and do nothing, stay in and do nothing." We opted for Wii, Tiki drinks, and CamiKaos's Rumaki . Yes, water chestnuts, wrapped in bacon, soaked in soy sauce, and cooked. Who knew that could be such a tasty treat?

Later, Dr. Normal made a fabulous dinner. Seriously, Alaskan Sockeye Salmon grilled on an Alder plank, herbed up perfectly, with just a dash of saffron... it was wonderful. They shared some fabulous Oregon wines with me, and I just can't say how much I enjoyed sitting around the table after dinner chatting about food and wine, and of course, a little dessert Wii before bed.

Sunday was mostly get up and run to the airport, hugs all around and a promise to come back and visit in the near future.

Once I landed in Smoke-ramento (ick), I found a text message from CSB, with an offer to meet me back at my place. *schmoopy sigh* He even brought dinner with him... amazing left over bbq that he had prepared Saturday night. Not only was it great to see him, but the food was delicious, and totally saved me. I had been planning to have Guinness for dinner since it was really the only thing I had in the fridge that didn't require effort.

Over all, a fantastic weekend, and I couldn't have imagined a better way for it to end.

**Photo is actually Sunday morning breakfast... coffee and left over Rumaki -and of course my new laptop... because the interwebs is part of a balanced breakfast**

14 July 2008

Portland, Camp Naughty, & Strange Love

If divorce has taught me one thing (and it's actually taught me several things), it is that people are nice. Over those 12 - 15 years, I didn't spend a lot of time with other people, I didn't go many places, and I really didn't have the opportunity to allow people to do nice things for me. I took care of myself, and made sure I didn't "impose" on anyone, or get in any one's way. I rarely asked for so much as a glass of water (I can get it myself)... in fact, unless I needed something heavy lifted, I really didn't ask for help.

At this point in my life, not only am I working on "asking" for things, but also just allowing people to do nice, helpful things for me. I still have a long road ahead, but I think I'm making progress. Though, I do have this huge fear of people considering me "helpless" or "princess-y" in any way.

You may be asking, "Giddy, what the hell does this have to do with Portland?"

Let me tell you... I was so well taken care of this weekend, I didn't know what to do with myself. CamiKaos, MissBurrows, DrNormal, and MartinWehner are amazing.

I was greeted at the airport by CamiKaos, and MissBurrows, who were holding a GIANT Camp Naughty sign, and getting plenty of attention for it. Then after grabbing my luggage, I got to meet MartinWehner, who was our awesome chauffeur.

We picked up lunch at Burgerville (YUM!), then off to the Casa de Kaos to eat and prep for Camp Naughty.

CamiKaos and MissBurrows Naughty Camp was great. I was excited to meet the other campers, and rightly so! MediaChick, Verso, BadMom, and Joleine were so much fun.

Recording the Strange Love podcast was a hilarious and enjoyable experience. You should definitely go and listen when you get a chance (and if you are wondering, my interview is the last one). **Warning: Sexually Explicit Content**

I really had a great time, and can't wait to do it again!
Tomorrow, I'll write about Saturday... which we dubbed "Camp Lazy." And, my happy surprise on Sunday.

11 July 2008

Friday Shoe Porn

I found some interesting shoes today. They are some kind of eco-friendly, hippie, vegan shoes. But, they are soft, comfy, light, and flexible! Also, they have a "negative heel"... which means the heel is lower than the rest of the foot inside the shoe... somehow that's supposed to burn extra calories while you are walking (not to mention help your posture, and tone other muscles), but for me... it just felt kinda cool, and very comfortable. I can't wait to see what it's like to dance in them.

I'm going to wear them in Portland all weekend, I'll let you know how that works out. Suddenly I'm wondering if I should bring a "spare" pare of shoes, just in case.

I'll try to post some pictures of my own feet wearing them soon, but my camera is all packed away and ready for the trip to Portland. Maybe I'll get some of the other Naughty Campers to pose for Shoe Porn pics with me...

09 July 2008

The Death of a Widget

So, in making some changes to my blog today, I somehow lost my "blogs that aren't mine" widget.

I have been trying to add blogs back as I remember who they are, but for some reason don't have a lot saved in my favorites.

If yours is missing its probably because I haven't been able to remember the address, so please either comment or send me an email (giddy at rufflesandridges dot com) and remind me.

The Continuing Saga of Nero

You may remember the little tomato plant I purchased for The ShortBus. The tomato plant he named Nero (NOT Nemo like the fish, but Nero like the Emperor... I know...).

Nero lived in the house for a few weeks, moving from room to room, chasing the sunlight, living the sweet life of central air and consistent watering. I was afraid to put Nero outside because every other plant I've had here that has lived outside, I've killed.

But, Nero began to look a little sad. He longed for the freedom and fresh air that only the out-of-doors could provide. And, no matter what music I played for him, no matter how many horror stories I told him about "the outside world" (cue dramatic music), he continued to droop and wilt under the oppression that is a roof.

Right around the time I figured he was doomed, I had smothered him with my over-protectiveness and over-mothering, I figured I couldn't do much more damage if I killed him on the front porch. Plus, then he could live out his last few days the way he had always wanted to... free to enjoy the birds and the bees and the fresh air. So, I put him out in the sun, gave him a liberal sprinkling of water, and crossed my fingers.

It helped a little, but Nero still didn't seem fully healthy. So, in my infinite wisdom, I decided he needed a little bit of plant food... then I remembered! I was missing a key ingredient! My brown thumb only turned green once I found Eleanor's! I ran to the store, picked up a bottle, came home and mixed ShortBus's little Nero a cocktail!

Literally, the next day Nero was taller. Standing up straight and happy, and he had also developed a little flower. FOR REAL! I was so excited! Nero was going to live!

That was about a week and a half ago.

I check him every day, water him when he needs it (with Eleanor's every time... I swear if I ever meet that woman I'm going to kiss her full on the lips), I've trimmed dying leaves, and speak loving words of encouragement to him on really hot days.

This morning I stepped out on the porch, and decided to move him into the direct sunlight for a few hours (he'll go back into the shade when it gets really hot later), and thought about watering him... maybe giving some of his bottom leaves a trim, when I saw it.

A Tomato!! Nero is going to reward me for all my dedication and hard work! I can't wait to see the look on the ShortBus's face this afternoon when I show him the little tomato I promised him his plant would grow!

I also noticed something else. Nero has adopted a couple of his own little pets. Its like he moved out, got settled, and now has his own little family... a baby tomato, and two little companions frolicking around his pot.

I'm so proud.

08 July 2008

Set and Turn, Tug and Pull

I know some will hate me for this, some will think I have nothing to brag about, and some will be indifferent (wait... how is this different from any other post?), but it is my reality, and thus, my blog for today.

If you've been reading, you'll know that not only am I getting ready for a trip to Portland this weekend, but I've been dancing. How do these things go together you might ask? One word: Clothing.

I really wanted to have a couple of 'cute' things that fit to take with me to Portland, and as I was out shopping, I considered the dancing.... and how I am continually hiking up my pants while rehearsing.

Can I just say, for the first time since high school my dress size is in the single digits. It is so amazingly great to take an armload of clothing into the dressing room and have to put things back because they are too big. To grab a smaller size, and have it fit perfectly, and actually look good.... just wow. I honestly can't remember the last time I was in this place.

I am proud of myself.

And, now I have two pairs of pants I can wear to dance rehearsal that won't fall down while I'm setting and turning (to be tested tomorrow night at rehearsal).

07 July 2008

I am Officially Naughty

So, I briefly mentioned a trip to Camp Naughty in a previous post, and there were a couple of people who commented that I couldn't actually say "Camp Naughty" and then not tell what it is.

Basically, it is going to be me and 6 other female bloggers (I believe they are all in the Portland area), meeting up in Portland for an evening of ...um... well, I'm not entirely sure what it is we're doing, but I know there will be drinks and laughter involved, so I'm there.

Plus, it gives me a chance to see a friend I haven't seen since high school, and meet her family (SO excited to see CamiKaos again after all these years). Not only that, but it will be a new adventure for me, as I've never traveled out of state alone before.

I shouldn't have, but I picked up a new laptop for the occasion. I mean really, did you think I could travel out of state and NOT bring technology with me? So, yes, they'll be streaming it (see the Camp Naughty site for upcoming details)... and I'll likely Twitter in updates.

04 July 2008

The Chloe Monster

I was 19 years old, my roommate's girlfriend announces that her cat is pregnant, and asks me if I want a kitten. Ex-husband (at the time he was 'boyfriend') says no... is adamant about it... we are NOT getting a pet. I look at her and say, "if one of the kittens is black with blue eyes, I'll take it." I thought, no way that's going to happen. I mean, how common could it possibly be?

A couple of months later, she shows up on the doorstep with a kitten. Solid black, bright blue eyes, and I have a new pet.

Chloe was a ball of energy, and feisty... she had to be, living in that house with all those guys, constantly roughhousing... she filled the role of dog for quite a while. She was one of those cats that would come streaking into the room from nowhere, climb the drapes, then jump from the top and run out of the room again. More than once, I remember looking at whoever was sitting next to me, and saying, "did that just happen? crazy cat."

Every night (from her first night with me), she would curl up at my chest, and fall asleep purring loud enough to keep the neighborhood awake.

The one time she ran away, I was heartbroken. Two and a half weeks later I got a call at work, "I think I have your cat." She was two miles away, and had been living in someone's backyard, I was so relieved that she was alive that I sat down in a stranger's back yard and cried. From that day on, she was an outdoor cat. Still friendly and loving, she never left the yard or garage, but she wanted nothing to do with being in the house.

She lived 14 years.
Kinda makes me feel old to think that my first pet (after moving out of my parents house) died of "natural causes."
Makes me sad to find out a week later from my 3 1/2 year old.

02 July 2008

About the Food

My first memory of a KitchenAid is of sitting in my maternal grandmother's (that would be my Nana's) kitchen watching the mixer spin round and round, while she did other prep work. I remember fresh whipped cream, fresh home-made pasta, food with such flavor... tastes I couldn't even begin to appreciate in elementary school. My grandfather sauteing mushrooms to go over the tender, juicy steaks he was grilling, big steaming bowls of baked potatoes, dishes with pristine white sour cream, creamy yellow butter, and vivid green chives.

My Nana had a "gourmet shop" (at least that's what we always called it), a kitschy little store in Vacaville that sold all kinds of appliances and cookbooks for "gourmet cooking". But, what I remember most clearly is the coffee. Giant bins of coffee beans. Coffee beans that would show up at the store in huge burlap bags, smelling fresh and strong, a smell I love to this day because it reminds me of the shop.

The only other memory of the store I have is taking cooking classes, learning how to make pretzels. I remember sitting at a table with some other kids and their parents, and watching my Nana in the overhead mirror, being so proud that she was the one standing up there teaching everyone else how to cook. Being proud to be her granddaughter, being proud to be standing there with my mom, being proud to be part of three generations of women who have the cooking gene.

I have a cookbook, with a handwritten message inside, addressed to my grandmother, and signed by Julia Child. I know there is a picture somewhere of the two of them together.

How does this translate to today?

I may not be a gourmet chef, I can barely call myself a "foodie," but I know what I like. I know when something is better than merely "good." And, I love to cook and bake, moreover, I love to cook for other people. I wouldn't want to do it professionally, that's too much pressure... I'd much rather cook for my family and friends, people I tend to understand, and like to think I know how to please.

I kinda think that's what a hobby like cooking is all about. Once you add strangers to the mix, you add pressure and stress. I'd rather do it on my own terms, enjoy the action, enjoy the reaction, enjoy the fruits of my labor.

I absolutely love being in the kitchen, and I have my Nana and my Mom to thank for that.


01 July 2008

About the Dancing

NaBloPoMo is typically November, but, they've decided to try out a "post every day for a year" concept. I decided not to join in, though they are offering a "theme" for each month. So, if you notice a lot of "Food" posts this month it is because this month's theme is food. I might just attempt to post daily about food, but if I have something better to say, I'm definitely going to say it.

Oh, and I totally like food. Especially: Really Good Food. More on that soon.

*the above is my official July 1 mention of food*

So, I said I'd write something about dancing. And, really, I'd kinda like to do some more writing about my past, my childhood, and just some general insight on who I am today based on my past experiences. We'll see how that works out.

Memories of my childhood are spotty at best. I don't have those clear, beautiful memories of youth a lot of people seem to have. Yet, some experiences in my adult life will cause little flashbulb memories to go off in my head. Almost like Polaroid photographs, I have feelings, concepts, and little clips of memory.

Hearing CSB talk about deciding to dance with Bruno/Newcastle last year made me happy. Watching him dance, and seeing the smile on his face literally put butterflies in my stomach. Then I started to wonder... why is this making me so happy?

Yes, I love seeing my friends do things they love. I love seeing someone I care so much about doing something that makes him happy. I am a very empathetic person, and really enjoy that facet of my personality (even when it's difficult, and it often is). But, there seems to be more to this, I can feel it.

When I was in elementary school, I participated in plays, talent shows, and dance recitals, I was in chorus, and even played the recorder and then clarinet for a while. I, apparently, was not a natural at any of this. I remember "being" Susan B. Anthony for some kind of historic re-enactment/history project, and telling people all about "my life and times." I remember rehearsing to recite The Raven (Poe) for a talent show (fifth grade), auditioning to be a two-headed black widow spider (my own idea) for a nightmare sequence in a play (sixth grade - they offered "two headed unicorn, and I told them to suck it), and rehearsing Puck's monologue from Midsummer Night's Dream for an audition (seventh grade).

I remember being so excited about doing these things.
I remember wanting them so badly (I wanted to be Puck so bad I could taste it).
I remember wanting to be not just good but AMAZING.
I remember not living up to my own standards, and being so upset and stressed out that I made myself physically ill.

I remember a couple of dance classes.
I remember overhearing the teacher mention that maybe I should try out for "a sport" instead of dancing.
I remember not being good enough for myself.
I remember being embarrassed, and learning to make jokes to cover up for that self-consciousness.
I remember wanting the people who loved me to be proud, yet being too embarrassed to strive for goodness, so I gave up trying.

Flash forward a couple of years. High school. I knew a couple of people in each clique, and somehow find myself taking drama classes. I dive behind the scenes and the computer geek in me absolutely loves being involved in the lighting. Yet, during all the shows, I would sit and whisper every line... I knew the show inside and out, and didn't have faith enough in myself to get up on that stage and do what I wanted to do. So I ran the light board. And, I did a great job, always proud of myself for a job well done, yet, not exactly where I wanted to be.

And, if we're seriously going over 'dancing' related issues, I could mention that at my wedding, my ex-husband refused to dance. He was forced into the "first dance," but beyond that he was out drinking and smoking with the boys. He took me to my senior prom, and we danced once that night (because I begged). Not that we didn't have fun. Just that I can count on one hand every time he danced with me, and I had to force him into it. Even married, I was that girl sitting on the side, wanting to dance with someone special.... wishing someone special wanted to dance with me.

This is where I could, maybe even should, mention Newcastle Country Dancing. How for so many years I only danced when I was alone... that way it didn't matter what I was doing, and no one could judge me. But, if you've read some of my past notes, you know I've been enjoying it, and now you are seeing that it has meaning.

Flash forward to last weekend, a decent slow song comes on, and I say to CSB, "I'd like to dance at least once tonight." Next thing I know he is up and we are on the dance floor. Things are happening all around me, I mean, I know they are, but only when I think back on it later. In the moment he is the only one in the world (incidentally, I've realized this is why we 'aren't allowed' to country dance together, I can't focus on the things happening around me).

Near the end of the song, I hear him say, "are you ready?"
For the first time in my life I know what is coming, the dip.
And, I'm ready.

30 June 2008


(Because my pictures of the ceremony came out a bit dark and blurry, I give you Gummy Worms in my cleavage! "oooh! A piece of candy!")

Can I just say... (and since it's MY blog, I think I can) that I am terribly proud of myself?

Before I get started telling you how great I was, I really, once again want to thank CSB. Without him, the ceremony wouldn't have sounded half as nice as it did. Without him, I wouldn't have had the glass of wine before the ceremony that allowed me to calm down just a little bit. Without him, I wouldn't have had someone standing next to me all morning saying, "don't worry, you're going to be fine." And, I don't know how to explain (to him, or to any of you) how huge that last part is to me.

As is normal for me at any wedding, I jumped in and helped out where I could. I've been involved in so many weddings, I seem to have a pretty good idea how they work. Of course, before the ceremony, I did a lot of pacing and reading over my part, and trying to get my hands to stop shaking (again, the glass of wine, an invaluable tool).

As the ceremony began, I found myself standing in the wrong place. I was told the bride and groom were going to be ON the stage, not on the floor in front of it. No problem, I step down without breaking my ankle or landing face-first in the bride's cleavage (thank goodness I chose to wear flats instead of heels).

I briefly consider my brother's wedding, where I had ZERO volume control, and yelled at everyone for a second before figuring out that I could bring it down a notch. I briefly consider the microphone that is stratigically positioned on the stage (where we were "supposed" to be). I hear CSB in my head saying, "don't worry, you'll be fine," and then, "remember, if you think you are going too slow, you probably aren't, slow down even more." And, then I begin.

I hear my voice in the hall. I can feel it hitting the back wall, and NOT returning to slap me in the face. I hear it clearly and slowly pronouncing the words correctly, not stumbling over the slightly tongue twisting rhymes, and not going too quickly (so I slow down a little, and smirk at CSB). Deep breath. Holy crap, this is going well. I pause for laughter in the right places, I wait for applause at the end before I present the happy couple, I introduce them and say the right name.

Quickly, finish my glass of wine, then outside for pictures (really, I can't wait to see the "Morris Family Photo"), then back in. The rest goes as a typical wedding should. Eating, drinking, dancing, dollar bill tucked into my bra... the usual.

I had a couple of dances with CSB (which really made my night... maybe someday I'll tell the story of why dancing means so much to me), stole cupcakes from the Berg children, and the Morris Enterprises Team went out for dinner when all was said and done.

By the time we woke up Sunday morning, I felt fully justified in a day of lounging on the couch and watching movies. Happy with myself, happy with CSB, happy to have seen good friends (friends I don't get to see often enough), yes... overall, very happy.