Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Bloggers Challenge" by a Pseudo Blogger

Julie Stephenson, I haven't blogged since 2012, so you should feel like a rockstar in comparison.  From the Compound is or the New York Times, for goodness sake, compared to this silly little thing called my blog.  Consider this your official acknowledgment, Julie!

I don't read many other blogs, so I'll have to skip the parts about sending this on to other bloggers.  So, you'll just get my thoughts and answers, and be OK with that.  I'll try to make it super exciting.

11 random facts about me:

1.  I recently learned that pistachios are delicious!  Who knew?  

2.  Somehow, I have a geeky teenage boy trapped inside of me, who loves superheroes, JRR Tolkien, and watching shows like "Fringe."

3.  I knew I was in love with Kris before I met her, based on emails and phone conversations.  

4.  I want to write a novel someday.  Not a cheesy, chick-lit, fluffy novel, but a legit, well-written, cliche-free novel.

5.  Having three step-kids has been an unexpected and amazing gift, especially since I never really wanted kids at all.  (It was a bonus that they were all past diapers when I came into their lives!)

6.  I'm a sugar addict.  And a chocolate addict.  And I kind of can't stop drinking pop.

7.  My dog keeps me sane, even when he's driving me crazy.

8.  I believe that I can make a difference in public education for students with the greatest need for better opportunities.  I may not be able to repair broken systems, but I will be able to help some students.  That has to count for something.

9.  Stand-up paddle boarding is my new favorite summer activity.  So far, I haven't hurt myself doing it (knock on wood).

10.  I've been swimming laps for exercise for nearly a year, and I'm almost to the point where I don't hate it.  

11.  Someday I want to do a TED Talk.

11 questions posed by none other than the amazing Julie Stephenson:
  1. Ice water or just cold water?  Room temperature is best.  Cold water is OK.  No ice!
  2. What is one thing you know for sure?  That I don't really know anything, really.  There's always more to learn!
  3. What is your favorite outdoor activity?  Riding my bike, especially if hills are involved.  I love hills.  No joke.
  4. What is the last concert you've been to?  Well, I cannot really remember, which is sad because I love live music.  I guess we could count the old grungy man playing a banjo in Key West, while his boxer-wearing Golden Retriever named "Cleo" grabbed dollars from the crowd in his mouth.  The only other concert sticking out in my head is the hippy-ish Gandalf Murphy and the Grand Slambovians, who played in Woodstock when we were there about a year ago.  I really want to see Pink, Mumford & Sons, and Jason Mraz, though.
  5. Your shopping preference - online or in person?  Online, of course!  People, lines, annoying!
  6. Name two females you consider great leaders?  Bersheril Bailey, a principal of mine when I first came to Lansing and worked in the alternative middle and high schools.  Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is just a badass.
  7. If you could have 500 pounds of anything what would it be?  Chocolate.  Duh.
  8. When you hear the word "home" what city, town, place, etc. comes to mind?   Wherever Kris is.
  9. Name three places in the US you've not been to yet, but are dying to go to.  New Orleans, Taos, Austin.
  10. Name your favorite book of all time.  Not a fair question!  There are many, for different reasons and for different periods of my life.  "Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone" by James Baldwin.  "Franny & Zooey" by JD Salinger.  "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova.  I could go on and on and on.....
  11. What is the biggest motivator or barrier when it comes to blogging?   Remembering that I have a blog!
This is it.  No more words left in this brain on this cold winter's night.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wildlife attacks!

This morning, I decided to go for a quick jog.  By quick, I mean just for 10-15 minutes...I was certainly not referring to my pace.  To the casual observer, I'm sure I look like I'm taking a casual stroll about the neighborhood.  Anyway, as I was huffing and puffing into minute 12, I looked down to see a GIANT* MOLE running at me, teeth bared and beady eyes ablaze with hatred!!!  I jumped into the middle of the street, narrowly avoiding contact with the evil beast.  This is the second time in my life that rodents have tried to kill me, or maybe it's the third.  I distinctly remember an incident at school during which a mouse charged at me and forced me up onto a desk.

Later in the day, I retrieved the mail from the mailbox, only to be greeted by what could only be a GIANT TARANTULA, or at least a black widow or a brown recluse.  Luckily, my quick reflexes kicked in and I was able to slam the door shut before it pounced.

I live in the city for a reason, and that reason is to avoid creepy, scary critters.  What is going on?  Are these encounters some sort of sign of the apocalypse?  I may have to spend more time indoors if that's the case.

*At least three inches in length!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why I'm going to school...again

Growing up, I wasn't a fan of going to school.  I was always an above-average student, but the social aspect of school didn't make for a fun time.  I didn't really fit in -- due in part to bad haircuts, questionable fashion choices, and a lack of anything in common with my peers -- nor did I feel terribly challenged by or interested in my classes.  I succeeded in school because I was supposed to, not because I wanted to. I graduated with honors from both high school and college, and I still didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life.  I enrolled in a master's program because my job was boring and why not go back to school for a random degree?  I took some classes while working as a teacher because they were free and fulfilled my certification requirements.

At this point, I have a high school diploma, a bachelor of arts degree, a master's degree, and another half of a master's degree.  All of that education, and I didn't really want to be in most of those classes.  Don't get me wrong...I learned a lot, but most of the time I was going through the motions.

And here I am.  I'm enrolled in a program that actually interests me, a program that won't ensure a better job or higher social status, a program that will push me out of my comfort zone.  It's stuff I want to learn about so I can help fix public education.  I certainly don't need an EdD to do the work I'm doing, but I want to know more so I can do more.  I realize that I sound like a total nerd, but it's the truth.  I'm excited even though I'll be sacrificing a great deal of my free time (and most likely some of my sanity!).  I may be less excited, however, a few months and essays down the road....

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Perfect Day

November 25, 2011.  It was the day I married my best friend, my soulmate, my love, my rock.  At the time, Kris and I had been together for a little more than 11 years, and we'd gone back and forth about the marriage issue.  Eventually all discussions would end with "What's the point, it's not legal here in Michigan" or "We don't have the money to spend on something like a wedding."  But then New York legalized gay marriage, Kris's sister wanted us to spend Thanksgiving with her in Woodstock, we knew our Broadway friends could be convinced to sing at any sort of shindig, and we figured that it would be a great time to throw an epic party to celebrate our relationship and to thank our families and friends for supporting us all these years. Kris popped the question, I thought she was kidding, she convinced me she wasn't joking, and that was that - a wedding was in the works.

It truly was a perfect day, from start to finish. Our parents and siblings were all there, as well as most of our closest friends and family members.  The weather was unusually warm.  The location suited us well - unique, warm, chic, quirky - and all the details just seemed to fall into place, with the help of everyone who was there.  It was a team effort, for sure, with people moving furniture, decorating the tables, setting up the bar, taking pictures, styling hair, rehearsing songs and ceremonies, and sewing on pieces of wedding dresses.  Having almost all of the guests "pitch in" made the event even more special, I think - they were able to help create a wonderful, special event that will forever be my happy place.

I have never felt such joy and peace as I felt on that day.  I thought I'd be nervous, but I wasn't.  I was simply happy, happier than I'd ever been.  I had no doubts that this was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.  I had no doubts that her children were people I wanted to know throughout their lives, as they grow into themselves and become who they're meant to be.  When I walked down the stairs and into our ceremony, I could not stop smiling.  Kris looked stunning.  She took my breath away, like the first time I saw her.  When we exchanged our vows, Kris's blew me away.  I knew she loved me, but I never really understood the impact I have had on her life until that moment.  I hope she felt the same way after hearing mine.  I am so lucky to have had this day, and this life, with this amazing person by my side.

Thanks to my friends Tempie and Malissa, who were married yesterday, for reminding me of my perfect day.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

#3: The Tour de France, or Why I Can't Get Anything Done in July

This is a photo of my TV as I finally sit down to watch the Tour de France.  I've been taping it for days but haven't had a chance to watch it until this afternoon.  For those of you who are not familiar with the Tour, it is a three-week, 2000+ mile bike ride throughout France and surrounding countries.  Teams of nine riders compete for various distinctions:  general classification winner (best time for the whole race, start to finish, gets the coveted yellow jersey), "king of the mountains" for the best climber, best young rider, points classification winner for the best sprinter, fastest team, stage wins, and so forth.

It may seem kind of boring to watch a bunch of guys ride their bikes for hours on end, but I find it fascinating.  The commentators explain all of the tactics involved as teams try to get their best riders into position to win.  It is teamwork at its best.  Most of the riders out there are hired to be work horses, to shield their more talented teammates from harm and to help them conserve their energy during this grueling event.  The domestiques, as they are called, are selfless and relentless in their efforts to better position their teams.  It's refreshing to watch a sport in which the athletes are not boasting about how great they are or taunting the other competitors; instead, there are wonderful senses of etiquette and fair play in the sport of cycling.

The only problem with the Tour is that it is three weeks long, and each day consists of hours and hours of riding.  It's tough to fit that into a work day, especially if there are things to do like laundry, cooking, or having conversations with your family.  Plus it takes up a lot of space on the DVR.

I'm not in a position to predict a winner just yet.  I need to get more of a feel for the riders before I get bold and endorse someone.  So, stay tuned!  I'll have more to say about the race, doping allegations (uh, Lance Armstrong!), spectacular crashes, and whatnot.

Monday, July 2, 2012

#2: My first bike ride around the lake

Yesterday, I decided to ride my bike around Gull Lake.  It's a 12-mile trip around the perimeter of the lake, and it's full of hills, amazing waterfront houses, and the occasional turtle and squirrel crossing my path.  You might be saying to yourself, "What's the big deal?  A 12-mile bike ride?  I could do that, no problem."  This ride is only notable because back issues have kept me off my bike for the past two years, and it's been difficult to fill that void with other activities.  I LOVE riding my bike, especially up hills.  It's my happy place because I get to see things from a different, slower pace and angle, because it affords me time to not think or think, depending on what I need.  My ride yesterday was slow and painful physically because I'm not in "bike shape," but it was just what my spirit needed.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

#1: Me & My Brain

Hi!  Welcome to this blog of random thoughts, ideas, and possibly/probably rants.  I feel like I need to write more and worry less, so I hope this will be a nice outlet for the stuff in my brain.  I've been told by some that I'm "too much in my head," which I have to admit is true.  I think too much about things and have way too many conversations in the privacy of my brain.  It's tough to stop all of that neural activity, especially at night.

Often, my thoughts are lovely and inspiring and creative, but it doesn't take much for them to start down a dark path full of anxiety and complications.  When that happens, the rest of my body revolts and everything just gets off-kilter.  I plan to work on this brain problem through writing, exercising, walking the dog, "happy places," and yoga.  I will keep you posted on how well this plan works out....

Things you might read about, or not, depending on whether I get around to the following topics:
  • "The Tweezers Trauma," or "The No-Grooming-in-Class Rule"
  • Going back to school = scary!
  • Stand-up paddle boarding
  • Worrying as a way of life
  • Dog = best friend for real
  • Bike mishaps:  too slow, too fast, too much in the city, and more
  • Losing sports
  • The next great novel craze
  • Tour de France - how am I supposed to work in July?
  • Sinuses from hell
  • Being married
  • The wedding of the century
  • Eat more vegetables
  • No pop
  • Embrace your gift:  Being a teenager whisperer
  • Yoga is difficult
  • It's the right thing to do
  • Good books
  • Books I want to read
  • Me vs. my body
  • How to fix public education