Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Rush of the School Year

It's been a very busy month for me - inservice and then the start of school. Some days it doesn't feel like I have enough time to breath, but it's all worth it. I'm in a job I love at an amazing school. I have a great group of students. I finally feel like I have time to relax this week. I've made all my copies for next week and all I have to do for tomorrow is redo the seating chart.

I feel extremely blessed to be where I am in my life right now.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Real Reason for Teaching

Okay, normally I am a pretty laid back person. It takes quite a bit to get me riled up, but tonight is one of those times. So please excuse me as I get on my soapbox.

I was reading this story on Yahoo! news titled "20 Worst Paying College Degrees in 2010" because I knew they were going to include education jobs and I wanted to see what they had to say about it. It's your typical "Don't major in these areas because your salary will suck" story. Then I moved down to the comments section - bad idea. The first thing I read was this jewel of wisdom:

"Yeah, teaching is so hard. That must be why it's the favored career path for head cheerleaders and "mean girls". I guess you can't leave school mentally, Peter Pan. I bet you volunteer to chaperone the junior high dances, living vicariously through today's twelve year olds. Yeah. Challenging career."

That was then followed by this:

"Exactly! This is the real world, come out and live in it."

I wanted to respond to those comments but decided not to on the page. So here is my response to these fine gentlemen and their nuggets of wisdom.

Oh My Gosh! Thank you two for explaining to me why I'm a high school history teacher! I didn't understand my reasons until now! Wow, I thought I became a teacher because I have a passion for my subject and for the job. I thought that I was a teacher because I love seeing a student's eyes light up when they understand a difficult question or problem. I truly enjoyed going into the classroom every day with activities that excite my students and make them want to learn history, but now I know that I was only lying to myself. The real problem is I just can't grow up. I am socially stunted and only want to live out my teen fantasies through my students. Everything makes so much more sense now!

Get over yourselves! Get your head out of the sand and realize that people (men as well as women) go into teaching because that is what they are passionate about. I cannot stand the self-pretentious people, such as yourselves, who claim that education is a soft major and an easy job. It's not easy. I can attest to that fact right now as I am going through my new teacher orientation and realizing that I am not as prepared as I want to be. My job does not consist of just standing in front of the class and feeding the students information. I have to actively monitor the students to make sure they understand what I am trying to teach them. I have to make my lessons interesting. I have to integrate technology into my classroom to accommodate the current generation of students who have grown up in a technologically savvy world. I have to set up a plan of classroom management, implement it, and then make sure I enforce it fairly. I have to keep an eye on my students to make sure they are doing okay mentally and emotionally. I have to deal with parents who don't care and parents who don't know how to let go.

I do all of this because I love teaching. I don't do it for the salary or the recognition or because it's popular.

Teachers are dismissed and looked down upon by many in our country. Enough! Teachers deserve respect for their profession - it's not as easy as it looks, as I tried to demonstrate above, and people need to recognize that. We are living in the real world and are trying to prepare today's students to live in it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Start of a New Year

Okay, so it's been a while since I last wrote. I apologize and am currently trying to think of a good excuse. I did go on vacation with the family last week, so that's one thing but that's the only one. Vacation was great, a nice break from life and also an amazing break from the oppressive heat of my home state. It felt so great up in the mountains I almost didn't want to come home. But home is where family, friends, my significant other, and potential job opportunities are.

Speaking of potential job opportunities, I had a fantastic lead dropped in my lap a couple of weeks ago. One day I sent out almost one hundred emails to principals in districts I had applied to asking if there were any job openings. That night I heard back from one of the principals in the district where I am currently employed as a sub - he said that he might have a position opening up in the next week. I was pretty excited about that lead and then it got better. The day after I got the email I got a call from the department chair of a local high school (I'm going to nickname it Pan High) saying they had a job opening. To make a long story short, about fifteen minutes after the first phone conversation I was on the road to my first interview in months. It went really well - I felt like I impressed the principal and the department chair and they really sold Pan High to me.

The department chair said she would try to reach me next week about what was going on with the position. So that lead to a week of freaking out every time the phone rang and also when it didn't. Then on Thursday I got an email saying they would make their final decision on Wednesday. More waiting and worrying. Wednesday rolls around and I nearly jump out of my skin every single time the phone rings. Finally, I decided to call the department chair and see what was going on. She said they had decided on who they wanted to fill the position, had sent it on the HR, and they would call that lucky person late that afternoon or the next morning. More waiting - I feel so bad for my family and my SO because they had to put up with my neurotic self while I panicked about if I got the job or not. By yesterday morning, I hadn't gotten a phone call and I was beginning to think I didn't get the job. So I figured I would check my email and see if someone sent me a consolation email. There was an email.

The HR rep for Secondary Ed had sent me an email saying that I had been recommended for the Social Studies position at Pan High. I was bouncing off the walls of my apartment when I read that! After over eight months of looking for a job and disappointment after disappointment, I had finally been offered a position. It's at an incredible school, I think I'm going to love the staff, and I'm just so excited to know what I'm going to be doing come the start of school.

I spent the rest of yesterday morning talking to people in HR about what I would need to do next week, calling family to let them know the good news, and calling the principal and department chair to thank them for recommending me. I found out that today is my last official day of summer and starting Monday I get to spend the next couple of weeks in meetings and inservice. My sweet little sister and her awesome roommate have already offered to help me set up my classroom, which is going to be a big help. I actually get to see my classroom tomorrow, when I go to help the department chair clean it up and dig through the old posters to see which ones I want to keep. I'm extremely excited about getting to see my room! I need to figure out how much space I'm going to have on the walls and how I might set up the desks. Definitely looking at a very busy week coming up.

Now I'm a little nervous about the school year, planning lessons and meeting my students. This is going to be the hardest year for me since it's my first, but I think it's going to be a great one.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Today was one of my favorite kind of days - I got to curl up on my couch reading while I listened to the rain falling outside. I finally made it out to the library today. I've been promising myself for days that I would go to get more books, but something always seemed to get in the way. So now I have a fresh supply of books to get me through the next couple of weeks.

I also went to see "Toy Story 3" today and it was amazing! It was sweet, brought up a lot of memories and was consistently funny. I even teared up a couple of times. Definitely the best movie I've seen this year. When my friends and I first heard they were making a third "Toy Story," we all said that the plot was going to revolve around Andy going off to college. We were right, along with every other person making a guess about what the movie was going to be about. The story hit close to home - the first "Toy Story" came out when I was a kid and now with the current one I've just graduated from college. It feels a little like my generation and I grew up with Andy. We remember playing with our toys as children, creating elaborate story lines and acting them out with those toys. Then we get older and stop playing with them, abandoning them in toy boxes and under our beds. Sometimes we gave them away or, occasionally, threw them away. Finally, we're 18 and going off to college and leaving those toys behind.

If you haven't seen the movie yet and want to, skip over the next couple of sentences.

At the end of the movie, Andy gives his toys to Bonnie and spends some time with her playing with them like he used to when he was younger. When he leaves, he asks her to take good care of them because they are very special. I loved this, the way the movie ended because it started the cycle all over again for the toys. They were able to spark another child's imagination and give them some great memories. It made me wonder about all of my old toys that I gave away. Did another little girl or boy have as much fun with them as I did? Did they create new adventures for the toys to go on? I miss those toys a little bit from time to time but giving up childhood playthings is a part of growing up.

I think sometimes we try to grow up too quickly. As children, we look at our parents, aunts and uncles and we can't wait to be like them. We're asked what do we want to be when we grow up, constantly being influenced to look towards the future. Maybe sometimes we forgot to be a kid. Now that we're adults, or at least considered adults, we every so often wish for those moments where nothing in the world matters but the time we have to play or the nap we get to take. A couple of my friends like to joke that nap time is wasted on preschoolers - why not just let them play all day, so that when their parents come to get them, they are completely worn out? Oh well.

Anyway, "Toy Story 3" was a great movie and if you haven't seen it, you should. I'm hoping to see it on the Best Picture ballot for the next Academy Awards.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Blessing of Friends

I drove down to the City in the South this weekend to spend some time with my mom and also just for a change of scenery. My mom and stepdad are getting ready to move, but first they have a lot of work to do on their house before they can sell it. I helped while I was there; however there was more to do than the three of us could handle. So, my mom (many days ago) had asked their life group from church to come out and help her. On Saturday, they slowly began to trickle in and started to work on the house. One guy brought his power washer and washed the exterior - it looked so much better when he finished. Several of the women in the group helped my mom clean the cabinets in the kitchen and I ran errands. With all the help we had, it only took a few hours to clean up the house and then it was time to move on to packing.

I was amazed to see how quickly my mom and her friends packed up each room. There were five of them and it took less than thirty minutes to finish each room. Throughout the day, as I dashed in and out of the house, I could hear laughter drifting out of the rooms everyone was working in. At one point I had to stop and just think about how amazing it was that my mom and stepdad had these friends who were willing to give up their Saturday to help them. I think sometimes we forget the blessing that are friends, these people who are not our biological family but care for us as if we were related. Friends help each other when asked, laugh with each other over things they've done, support each other, and get to experience life together. I feel blessed to have been able to witness the love my mom's friends have for her, the support they have offered her. I am thankful that since my siblings and I live two or more hours away from my mom and stepdad and can't always be there to help, there's a group of people willing to help them with anything they need.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Today was the last day of school! Yay! I was lucky enough to have sub jobs for today and yesterday at my favorite school, which is where I did my student teaching last semester. It was nice to be "home," as my dad calls it. This is the one school I'm most comfortable at because I know most of the teachers there and I know my way around. I would love to work there as a full-time teacher, but that's not looking very likely. Oh well. At least I got to spend as much time as I did working there.

The kids were absolutely nuts today and I cannot blame them for it. The district I work for is one of the last to be done for the year and the kids were so ready to be out. I'm not quite sure why they were going so late, but what matters now is that we're done! I'm really excited to be on break for a while - I do have a couple of things to do this summer (a professional development event and vacation) that I'm really looking forward to.

I was a little sad today when I left because I realized that today is probably the last day I get to work at this school. I got to start the school year there and I was able to be there when the year ended. I've made some great memories there and I learned so much from the staff, especially my mentor teacher. She was the best mentor I could have ever asked for and continued to help me when I started subbing. Any future teacher who gets her as a mentor is going to be so blessed and is going to learn a ton about teaching. I definitely plan on keeping in touch with her.

I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with myself starting tomorrow because I'm so used to getting up early and getting ready for work. I guess sleep in. One thing I hope to get done this summer is finish a few more Christmas projects, including an extremely complicated blanket. Summer, here I come!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Job Hunting

School ends on Thursday, so it's almost summer time. Time to relax and try to stay out of the heat and look for a summer job. I spent this morning driving around the town I live in looking for one of these jobs. The most common answer I got was "I'm not sure if we're hiring, but you can take an application, fill it out and bring it back in." I'm going to do exactly that, but it just really seems like I'm not going to have a job this summer. I'm trying to be okay with that. Financially I don't have to work - I just don't want to sit around for two months, waiting for school to start again. Maybe I can find a babysitting job or volunteer or just hang out at the local library, anything to keep me from just sitting in my apartment.

The hard part is I'm not only looking for a job this summer, I'm also looking for a teaching position for the fall. All I've got so far is nothing, a few leads that ended up going to someone else. I can't begrudge whoever got the jobs I applied for. That person was in the exact same boat I'm in right now. It just sucks. All the teachers I know keep telling me that it's okay, it's still early and I'll find something and the thing is I know what they're saying is true. But that doesn't stop me from worrying that I won't find a job. I know they're trying to be nice when they say, "Oh, I know you'll get something. Any school would love to have you," but I wish they wouldn't say it. It just makes it hurt even more when I hear the position I applied for has been filled. I just want to yell, "But what if I don't get a job? What does that say about me?"

I need to remember that no matter what happens, I will still have my substituting position in the fall. It will suck that I don't have my own classroom but at least I will have a job in the profession that I love. I need to stop letting the worry get to me. I knew going into this that I had picked a difficult subject to get hired in - it seems like most schools hire coaches to also be history teachers. But history is something I love and am passionate about. I honestly cannot see myself in another field. I have to believe something will come along, either for this school year or the next. It will be okay.

For some odd reason I have this song from Monty Python's Spamalot stuck in my head and it's kind of appropriate for right now.

"Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

And... always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

And... always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life..."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Craft Stores and Podcasts

Alright, I'm just going to come out and say it. I love craft stores! I can spend hours in one and I consider it a good thing if I spend less than $20 because I could spend so much more than that. Last week, I went to Michaels with one of my friends to look at some wedding stuff for her. We ended up wandering down the bargain aisle, where they have the greatest collection of items like monster band-aids, aloe socks, and Popsicle molds. I ended up buying a couple of Paula Dean items (a recipe box and recipe cards - can't wait to fill it up!) and a tomato shaped timer. I think my friend and I spent about forty-five minutes wandering up and down the aisle picking things up, putting them down, debating if we really wanted something and finally making ourselves walk away. Bargain aisles are always a great way to waste some time. Another great thing about craft stores is yarn. I love to wander around the yarn area and imagine what I could make with the different yarns. I want to do too many things at the same time! One project at a time, one project at a time.

I've been crocheting lately while either watching something on Netflix or listening to a podcast. There are a few podcasts I like to follow right now - "The Rachel Maddow Show" and "Read It and Weep" are a couple that come to mind. I'm actually listening to "The Rachel Maddow Show" right now. "Read It and Weep" is a recent addiction, thanks to my sister-in-law, and it's essentially a trio of guys who critique popular fiction, TV shows, and movies. It's pretty funny, especially when the guys started to introduce themselves as characters from the books they are talking about. I even got my SO interested in it and he doesn't like anything that resembles talk radio. I can't wait to see what they review next.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Life has been a little crazy for me right now. Until yesterday, I felt like I was flying around at a hundred miles an hour and I just needed to slow down. I guess that's my pitiful excuse for why I haven't written in so long. In reality, I just haven't written because I haven't felt motivated. It's not like stuff hasn't been happening in my life - I just couldn't bring myself to sit down and write. Huh. But now I figure I have to start again, otherwise this will end up like every other blog I've written. You know, I'm really into it for a while, but then I stop and make up excuses as to why.

Anyway, I have been busy doing other things. I finished another two crochet projects - a blanket and a beret. I'm trying to switch between projects that take a while to make and "instant gratification" projects which take a couple of hours to make. I've got this pile of Christmas gifts growing on the rocking chair in my living room and it's nice to see some progress being made. The current project now is a lacy shawl for my aunt - definitely not "instant gratification." On the reading front, I am still trudging through The Rise and Fall of the British Empire. It's a good book, but it's long and has a lot of information in it, so it's taking me a while to read it. I am almost half way through it though, so yay!

Also, last week I drove down to Austin with my sister-in-law and my niece to protest the proposed changes by the SBOE (State Board of Education) for the social studies standards. I would love to say the protest was a success and the board postponed the final vote to review the standards again, but that's not what happened. On Friday (almost a week ago now), the SBOE passed the standards. I am so frustrated with the board with what's been going on. They clearly put their own agenda before one that focused on what students need - they've forced their political, personal, and religious views of history into what students will be taught now. This is not just me voicing my own views, they really did rewrite history at one point. In the 11th grade U.S. History Standards (if you care to look this up), they erase the current standard on Sen. Joe McCarthy (talking about what he did was wrong) and changed it to something along the lines of "Discuss how Sen. McCarthy, HUAC, etc. actually found Communists in the U.S. government." For anyone who lived during the 1950s or has studied history, you know this is not what happened with McCarthyism. In reality, McCarthy and HUAC maybe found 15/20 real Communists in the government (if you know the actual number, please feel free to let me know what that is). Now, I'm hoping and praying something else will come up that will make the SBOE review the standards with actual teachers and historians.

That and work is pretty much what I've been up to for the last couple of weeks. I am going to try to do a better job of writing at least once a week, maybe more.

Friday, May 7, 2010

"Twilight" and Relationships

As a teacher, I see things about students that I believe many other people do not. I do not include their parents in that statement - frankly I hope parents have a better understanding of their children than I do. I get to hear about what books they are reading (or not reading), what music they like, what movies they go see and how those things are affecting pre-teens and teens. The influence of these mediums begin to seep into their schoolwork and, more importantly in this case, how they act socially. Honestly, this worries me sometimes.

What's really on my mind is the Twilight series and how it has affected female students - how I let it affect me for a while. I believe that in order to have a proper rant about Twilight, I do need to confess that when I first read the series I really liked it. I thought the story was sweet and romantic. I will admit that I always liked the Bella/Jacob relationship much more than the Bella/Edward one, but more about that later. However, my ... let's call it my infatuation with the series began to diminish when I read Breaking Dawn. I clearly remember falling out of my bed laughing when Jacob imprinted on Nessie - I mean really, could Stephanie Meyers have picked a worse story line? If you're going to have Jacob imprint on someone, why not make it really random? Why not throw the fans for a loop and have him imprint on Embry or Emmett? But why have him imprint on someone his own age when there's a baby for him to fall in love with. Seriously.

What bothered me most about Breaking Dawn, and really the entire series, (though it would take me a while to put my finger on it) was Bella and Edward's relationship. Something was wrong there. My sister read the book right after I finished it and when she was done we talked about it. I have this memory of sitting on a balcony in Florida debating who Bella should have ended up with - Edward or Jacob. To me, Jacob seemed like the better choice - he seemed to be more real than Edward, as far as the character can be real, and Bella developed a personality when she was with him. We went on for about an hour, back and forth. K's final point about the whole debate was that Edward was Bella's "true love" and how can you beat "true love." Okay, sure, true love is a big deal but that's not what was going on in their relationship. Once again this is something that took me a while to realize.

Even though I was all for Bella and Jacob ending up together, I used to think Edward Cullen was the epitome of a perfect boyfriend. Oh God, was I horribly wrong. After a second and now a third read and discussing the story with people who were not crazy about Twilight, I began to see that Edward is the epitome of the guy you want to run away from. He's manipulative and worst of all abusive - not in a physically, but emotionally and mentally. For most of the books, he never really allows Bella to think for herself, not that she seems to want to think. He's overprotective to the point where he's practically controlling who she hangs out with and where she goes. He essentially tricks, or manipulates, her into agreeing to marry him even though she made it perfectly clear she was not crazy about the idea. I know, I know, he's not a real person but as I am the unfortunate example of, how Ms. Meyers has portrayed him has influenced the way young women perceive relationships.

Not only are some teenage girls pining for their own Edward, but they have the worst female role model in literature. Bella has absolutely no personality and is all-consumed by her relationship with Edward - when he leaves her, she practically turns into a zombie for months. She never believes she is good enough for him and constantly questions why he is with her since, according to her, he so obviously belongs with someone better. This is not a healthy point of view. If you believe you are not good enough for the person you are with, you need to step back and reevaluate the relationship. Why does Ms. Meyers want girls to look up to Bella and idolize her relationship with Edward? How is that good for a young woman's self-esteem? "I must have no personality in order to get the 'perfect' guy." Huh.

I'm currently skimming through the books again (I can't bring myself to really read them again) before I sell them. In New Moon I ran across a passage that so deeply disturbed me, I can't believe I missed it before.

"If Alice made good on her promise [to make Bella a vampire] - and if she didn't kill me - then Edward could run after his distractions all he wanted, and I could follow. I wouldn't let him be distracted. Maybe, when I was beautiful and strong, he wouldn't want distractions."

Ahhhhhh! No! A person should never, ever change who they are to please a boy/girl - if they can't accept you for who you are, they ARE NOT WORTH IT! [Steps onto soap box] If what Edward and Bella had was true love, she should not have felt the need to make such a drastic change in order to keep him interested in her. I don't care if he lied to her to protect her, she should not think she has to change who she is to "please" him or keep him from leaving her again. When someone says they love you, it should mean they love exactly who you are - that they don't want to change the little, possibly slightly annoying things you do because those quirks make up who you are. You should never have to compromise yourself to get the guy/girl. Also, don't run after the boy/girl if they abandoned you and broke your heart. Once again, THEY. ARE. NOT. WORTH. IT. [Steps off of soap box]

I have so many other issues with the Twilight series, some of them superficial (sparkling vampires?) and others not relating to the characters (terrible writing). However, if I continue on in this vein, I will still be writing four or five hours from now. Not really worth it. I've tried to address my biggest issue with the books. I'm terrified that if parents and teachers do not start talking to teenage girls about what relationships should be like (an equal partnership), America will continue to see women who are getting into abusive relationships because the men are "just like Edward." If you have a child reading Twilight, sit down and have a serious discussion about why the relationship portrayed in the book is neither real nor healthy. Buy them a book that has a better portrayal of a romantic relationship. Please.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Beauty of Art and Music

This past Saturday I went to a local jazz and arts festival and it was amazing. I went with my sister, K, and her best friend, J. It's a huge event - three main stages where jazz groups are constantly playing, smaller stages around the fair grounds where soloists perform, and all sorts of art. There's paintings, jewelry, photography, metalwork, pottery, carvings ... so many types that I can't remember them all! This year was my third year to go to the festival and I plan to keep on returning as long as I live in this area. I might even have to travel out to see it if I live in a different city!

Even though I've been to the festival three times, I haven't bought any of the art until this year. There's this Scottish photographer whose booth I've visited every time and have drooled over the fantastic pictures he has. Most of his photos are from Ireland and Scotland, but he has pictures from Texas, Prague, and even some still life photos he's recently taken. These pictures make you want to jump onto the nearest plane to see the subjects with your own eyes. I was finally able to buy a couple of his photos this year. (Yay for having a job!) One of them is a still life of a violin and what I think is a mandolin in the background. It's in black and white and you're only able to see about half of each instrument. The other is this amazing shot of a few Celtic cross tombstones. The photographer shot it at just the right point in the day, so that the sun cast a shadow of one cross onto another behind it. It's so peaceful looking and beautiful. K ended up buying a picture of these cliffs in Ireland. We were all standing around admiring it when the photographer came up and started telling the story behind the picture. (He does that with any photo you ask about - it makes them so much more interesting.) He asked if we had seen "The Princess Bride" and then told us those were the Cliffs of Insanity from the movie! Well, that clinched it for K - she had to buy it, partially so she could tell people that she owned a picture of the Cliffs of Insanity.

After we ate lunch, we headed back to the convention center where what I guess are the artists who are famous enough to have their booths indoors. Don't get me wrong, there is some amazing art all over the fairgrounds but maybe not well known. Maybe they're inside because they've paid a little extra to be out of the sun and inevitable heat. Anyway, J wanted to go buy a print of a painting from this Russian artist - she has the most interesting paintings. She has a lot of paintings of actors and musicians like Marilyn Monroe, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Audrey Hepburn for example. I was looking at some of her prints when I found this gorgeous painting of what looks like a tree in autumn. I stood there debating for a few minutes about whether I should buy it or not and I decided to go ahead and get it. I definitely do not regret it. I feel like I'm looking up at a clear blue sky through the branches of a tree. There's so much color and texture - I can't really put into words how this painting makes me feel. It's just simply ... beautiful.

After we finished looking around the booths at the convention center, we decided to go sit along this concrete ditch that's by one of the smaller stages and just listen to the music, which happened to be bagpipe music. Saturday was really the perfect day to do that - mid 70s, clear skies, a light breeze. It was relaxing to just sit there, listen and talk a little. The sound of the bagpipe mixed with the conversations that were happening all around us. It created this music that can only be described as that of creation or the world - people coming together and enjoying what's going on around them. I'm not sure if that made sense, but it was fascinating.

I cannot wait for next year's festival.

Friday, April 23, 2010


In the past few days, a little, no, make that a big controversy has sprung up in my family. To preface this, my brother and sister-in-law allow my niece (who is 3) to pick out what she wants to wear for the day. Before a few days ago, she loved to wear everything she owns - jeans, dresses, superhero t-shirts, butterfly t-shirts, Spiderman tennis shoes, and pink flip-flops. Unfortunately her friends at preschool have pressured her into not wearing her "boy" clothes anymore. My sister-in-law is upset with the parents who have taught their children that clothes are gender specific and that those children have forced that view on my niece.

Okay, so my sister-in-law made a comment on Facebook about it and a lot of her friends had a plenty of thoughts to add to the conversation, all of them extremely helpful. Then my stepfather decided to throw his two cents in, saying that, and I quote, "or maybe it's just your attempt to manipulate her to be gay isn't working. Maybe she WANTS to be a girl. Just sayin." And this is where my brother and sister-in-law decided to give him what-for. My brother also had a good conversation with our mom, who, if this had been four years ago, would have agreed with my stepfather. Anyway, my little sister (who is a lesbian and dresses androgynously) left a comment about how being a tomboy as a child did not make her gay, being gay led her to express herself as a tomboy.

All of this leads up to my stepfather, in a pique of childish fit, unfriended my brother, sister, and sister-in-law. This is honestly the online equivalent to him throwing a temper-tantrum.

What hurts the most about this is how much he has disappointed my family. It's sad, but we should have expected this behavior from him. This is the man who emotionally and mentally abused my siblings and I, who delights in cutting people down while making himself look good. There are times when my sister and I are complaining about things he's done and my stepmom (a dear, dear woman) has to stop us to ask us what's good about him. Over time he's started to act better around us, treating us as if we had feelings and listening to what we have to say. But it seems that every time we start to trust him again, he does something that loses any respect we had for him. This time he screwed up royally. The total lack of respect he showed my sister-in-law, the backhanded comment aimed at my sister and my mom, and the sarcasm in his pathetic excuse of an apology - PassiveAgressiva, meet your emperor. I thought he was better than that.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shakespeare Retold

So I just got Netflix and even though I'm only a couple of days into the free trial, I think I'm going to keep my subscription. For the past couple of days I've been watching a BBC series called "ShakespeaRe-Told," which I have been wanting to watch for several years now. It's a modern retelling of four of Shakespeare's plays: Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. They were so much fun to watch (well, Macbeth wasn't fun, but it was very interesting), especially when it came to the end of the play. The writers for the three comedies chose to end each play a little differently than Shakespeare did.

*Spoiler Alert*

In the original Much Ado About Nothing, Hero immediately forgives Claudio for accusing her of being unfaithful and ditching her at the altar and they go on to be happily married. The re-told version has Hero and Claude/Claudio having a serious discussion about what happened, which ends with Hero telling Claude that she doesn't want to be with him right then. Maybe in the future, but she doesn't trust him at the moment. Sometime in the future, at Beatrice and Benedict's wedding, the two see each other again and the audience is given a hint that they might give their relationship another try. I liked that Hero didn't rush back into Claudio/Claude's arms after he humiliated her in such a public way - I know that how people act today is extremely different from Shakespeare's time, but it was nice to see the woman stand up for herself. Even when Claude told Hero that he acted the way he did because he loved her, she shot him down and told him it was a poor excuse.

I also really liked the ending of the re-told A Midsummer Night's Dream. In it, Oberon realizes his mistake in punishing Titania for making him angry and jealous by tricking her into falling in love with a man (Bottom) who has a donkey's head. So when he wakes her up, it's not Titania who apologizes, but Oberon for acting like an idiot. When she first wakes up she says something along the lines of "I dreamed I was in love with an a**, then I woke up and look, I still am!" Oberon's response is "I love you. I'm sorry. You were right." and goes on to apologize for acting the way he has. The writer did a great job with wrapping up the Helena/Demetrius love story. Unlike in the play, Puck also gives Demetrius (or James as he's called in the episode) the cure to the love potion. So when James/Demetrius wakes up from his enchanted sleep, he's not under a spell when he realizes he loves Helena, not Hermia. I think that makes the story better - having Helena and Demetrius's love be a pure one, not a manufactured love.

Of course, as with all stories, I was left wondering what happened to each character and couple over time. Did Helena and James/Demetrius stay happy and in love? Did Oberon live up to his promise to not overreact anymore? Did Hero and Claude/Claudio get back together? That's the great thing about good literature and movies - they never tell you how the story finally ends, happily ever after or not, but they allow you to wonder and maybe create your own ending.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Early Days...

I was looking for a hook for the project I'm working on right now and found the one my grandmother gave me when she first taught me how to crochet. It made me think about how I started crocheting and how it's now a major part of my life.

My grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was 9 or 10 years old. That was a transition period in my life - I had just moved to a new school and a new town, leaving behind a group of friends I would never forget. I hated it at first. Looking back, I feel very sorry for my mother - she was just trying to make sure that she did what was best for her kids and I did not make it easy for her in the beginning. Eventually, I made new friends and spent a lot of time hanging out with my brother and sister, running around my grandparent's yard like a maniac. Sometimes I think my grandmother decided to teach me how to crochet to get me to sit still for a little while and because I would be the easiest to convince to take the time to learn. Plus I was curious - I wanted to know how she made that cool blanket for my baby cousin.

She taught me how to chain and that was about it, except for one terrible attempt (my fault) at the single crochet stitch. But I was good at making chains and spent a year creating this massive crochet chain. My best friend and I were trying to make the longest one in the world and then we were going to be interviewed on Nickelodeon about it. It was going to be awesome ... until we gave up or something like that. Then I stopped crocheting for eight years.

So fast forward eight years and I'm a high school senior getting ready to graduate and head off for college. A couple of weeks before graduation, I was at my dad's house and digging around in a dresser drawer when I found an old project I had apparently hidden. It was an attempt at a scarf for my grandfather and I think it's the reason I gave up on the single stitch. I couldn't figure out how to stop the scarf from getting narrower as I worked on it, so I got frustrated and gave up. As I was looking at the pitiful scarf, I started to remember how much fun I had crocheting when I was younger and I decided I would try to do it again. I spent the afternoon pulling stitches out and trying to recreate them until I figured out how to do the single crochet again. I still had a few kinks to work out (I didn't know that then), but I had chosen my very first project that I would finish. My little sister was about to become the "lucky" owner of a blanket, which ended up being a lap blanket but that's a different story for another time. I was determined to finish it and then, if I didn't like crocheting, I would give it up.

I spent the next two weeks crocheting whenever I had the time. I remember being at a friend's house after my baccalaureate, watching a movie and working on the blanket. Without realizing it, I had sat down in the only rocking chair in her living room and was unconsciously rocking back and forth. My friends did notice and also saw that I had pulled my hair up into a bun. My best friend walked over to me, told me to look at her, balanced a pair of glasses on the edge of my nose, and then asked me to rock. Everyone died laughing because I looked like a little old granny - I didn't think it was that funny at the time. It took me a while to accept my "old lady" moments, as my family has so loving dubbed them.

By the time I left for college that fall, I was addicted to crocheting. However, my projects were limited to scarves and block-designed blankets, things I could easily make with a single crochet stitch. It was the only stitch I knew! I wanted to be able to make more creative things, so I bought new books and new crochet hooks. My first roommate introduced me to a new yarn which led to the discovery of other types of yarn - it turned out that Red Heart was not the only yarn brand in the world! I slowly started to learn the other crochet stitches - the half-double, the double, the treble, slip stitch, going around the front/back post, bobbles, ect. I even taught one of my new, and now closest, friends how to crochet. This is something we still share almost four years later. I can't tell you how many times we have stayed up late talking about projects that we're working on or hope to start soon, about yarn, and teaching (she's student teaching right now). We both want to somehow include crocheting in our future classrooms or even start a club at whatever school we end up at.

I feel like I've come a long way from that first blanket. I just recently crocheted my first article of clothing, a jacket! Woo! Crocheting is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life and it's something that I hope to pass on to other people in my life. A couple of my cousins have already asked me to teach them how to crochet and the first few lessons remind me of my early days. Hopefully, next time I see them, we'll go get them their own hooks and yarn and maybe finally get through the single crochet stitch.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Yesterday was Easter, which probably everyone in the world knows - unless they live under a rock or something like that, and I have to say it didn't really feel like Easter. Maybe it's because I didn't hide eggs for my niece to find or go to the annual church party that my dad's church hosts. Maybe it's because I'm older and a bit of a cynic, so it doesn't hold the same magic it did when I was a child. Anyway, I went to my dad's church for the Easter service and as I was singing the second hymn it hit me that because I didn't go to the Good Friday service, I missed out on one of my favorite hymns. I absolutely love "Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)." The lyrics are sad but if sung well, it's hauntingly beautiful. A few years ago, the choir director at the church did an amazing arrangement of this song that I think everyone should be able to hear at least once in their life.

To set this up, my dad's church is built like a Catholic cathedral (which is kind of funny since it's a Baptist church) and at the back of the sanctuary is a balcony.

That year, the choir sat in that balcony for the Good Friday service, so that during the entire service it felt like the music was surrounding you. When they sang "Were You There," it started off with a baritone soloist singing the first verse a cappella. As he finished and began the verse again, a soprano or alto soloist started the second verse. Then a tenor sang the third and a soprano/alto sang the last verse. The song was going in a round and then the sections joined the soloists in singing their verses. Soon the entire choir was singing the song in a round. I remember the song becoming quiet as a verse finished and then growing again as each section sang "Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble." The music was echoing throughout the entire sanctuary, the words rising and falling. During the last round, all of the sections sang their verses at the same time, so there was this mixture where you could understand maybe one or two words at a time, but never the same verse all at once. Then when they reached "Oh, sometimes ..." their voices joined together and the song rose up, then slowly disappeared as they broke off into singing their own verses again. It was honestly the most beautiful piece of music I had ever heard. Every time I sing this song, I remember that arrangement and it makes me tear up a little.

The director who arranged it has been gone from the church for a couple of years now - I hope that wherever he is, he has another choir perform "Were You There" on Good Friday.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Three Day Weekend

Really, I'm just posting right now to say Thank God it's the weekend. It's been a very long week and I'm really looking forward to being able to relax for a few days. Actually, now I remember that I'm getting up early tomorrow to go see my family in the City to the South (stole that from my stepmom). It's family, so it's worth it or at least I'll try to remember that as I'm driving down the highway tomorrow. I really am excited to see them - my aunt and cousin from Virginia are down here visiting and my aunt and uncle and their family are driving down tomorrow too. Good food, company, and plenty of games - it's going to be a good day!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Job Searches and More...

I had my first big interview today - really it was a screening interview but it's another step on the way to finding a job. I'm now in the interview system in my dream district and can start asking for interviews for teaching positions! It's exciting to see everything starting to fall together. I feel like I'm one step closer to having my own classroom!

I've also been subbing for the same teacher all week and at first I was not crazy about the situation. It's a Pre AP chemistry class and for anyone who knows me, I am not a science person. I haven't taken chemistry since I was in high school and in college all of my science classes were what some might call "fluffy." They were enough to satisfy the requirements for my degree but they weren't exactly challenging. Anyway, another teacher has been in the class with me teaching the kids about moles. I've been doing the problems along with the kids, but it's been extremely boring. Today, I decided to stop complaining (mentally) and figure out a way to make work interesting or at least help the time pass. I made an effort to smile, talk to the students, and stopped focusing on the idea that it felt like I was observing again instead of being a substitute. The day went by more quickly and I was a lot happier by the time I got off work. I know I already know this but God, it is really unhealthy to always be down about something. It sucks the life out of you. I just don't want to be that substitute that sits behind a desk, reads a book, and ignores the class. I guess I have to find a balance.

One great thing about substituting is the free time I have after I get off of work. It definitely leaves enough time to work on my crocheting projects (I finished another gift!), read, and watch movies. I like crocheting when I watch movies, well, more like listen and watch a little bit of the movie. I fidget a lot during movies and crocheting helps me not annoy my family, friends, and SO. Out of all the movies I've watched since I've started college, I've probably actually watched only about a dozen or so all the way through (and I'm not including going to the theater - if I could crochet there I would). Right now I'm working on this sage-colored satchel that I'm giving to my cousin for Christmas. 2 gifts down, 16 to go.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Alright, so x years since I contributed to my first blog, I have once again decided to venture out into the world of blogging - this time on my own. Welcome to those of you who have found my little corner of the internet! I am a recent college grad, working as a substitute at the local school district, and am looking for a full-time position. When I'm not spending my time wrangling students, I like to crochet, read, watch movies, take long walks on the beach ... wait, this isn't my E-Harmony profile. But seriously, I love to crochet a myriad of things for friends and family and I am quickly running out of space on my bookshelves because I keep buying new books.

Concerning these two great passions in my life, I have taken on two "challenges." The first one started one day in January when I wandered around my apartment and pulled out all the books I've either never read or started to read and then stopped. I then stacked them by my bed to read - the result was a stack that was close to two feet tall. Today I'm more than halfway through the original stack, but it's still standing at almost two feet. I have got to stop getting new books! The other is a list of 18 crochet projects for this Christmas. I've finished one and am getting close to finish the second. It's exactly 9 months until Christmas ... I can make it.

There's my background and what I'm focusing on in my free time. This blog will be about whatever I feel like writing, but to warn you, most posts will focus on teaching, books, and crocheting. I probably won't post every day but I won't (hopefully) go for months without writing. Until next time...