Category Archives: November Blog Fest

When I’ll Stop Teaching

My throat hurt, my head was still a bit fuzzy, and I was like a 2 on the energy scale.

But, 2 seconds after the bell rang, my kids had me smiling, laughing, energized again. We joked about the creepy looking sub they had yesterday that my work bestie described as being a mash up between Hawaii Five O and a guy who drives a big windowless white van. That’s why I can’t be sick. Weirdos come teach my class when I’m sick.

But, that’s not that the point. The point is, I love that after 2 days of being away, I actually miss these loud, garrulous, overly hormonal, constantly munching, complaining, dramatic, Twilight-loving, hipster trendy teenagers.

I love that when the thought of any other activity makes me want to crawl back onto the couch with my snuggie, going to work to teach these students pulls me out of the dark sickie bat cave.

The day when I no longer miss teaching these students is the day I need to stop teaching.

Thats’ how I’ll know.
When I stop laughing at their jokes, I’ll stop teaching.
When I stop wanting to hear their silly sub stories upon my return, I’ll stop teaching.
When I stop feeling rejuvenated by their smiling faces, I’ll stop teaching.
When I stop shaking my head at their antics, I’ll stop teaching.

When they stop teaching me the joy of a job worth doing, I’ll stop teaching.

My top iChristmas apps


One of the perks of being sick and unable to go to the gym is finding extra time on your hands. One of the perks of having extra time on your hands and an iphone, is the ability to enjoy your ennui.

Perusing my apps this evening, I found that I had several rather festive ones, which got me to thinking. I should search for more Christmas apps. Get in the holiday spirit while I’m comatose on the couch, you know.

The following are my top 5 picks for this holiday season. Some are year-round apps with cool holiday features, and some are especially designed just for the Yuletide.

1.) Cup Magic: Of course my #1 would be a Starbucks app. With this year’s coffee monopoly utilizing the slogan “Let’s Merry,” this app enables you to “get merry” with your red cup of joe. Next time you purchase your white chocolate peppermint mocha and take a glance at the snowman peering at you from under the sleeve, remove the sleeve, frame in your app, and experience the animation. It’s like Pixar and Starbucks’ greatest mash up. You can even collect your little lively java friends. So far, I’ve collected two: the singing caroler and the frisky snowman.
2.) iFart: Once you get past the fact that I, a 27-year-old, girly female own this 12-year-old middle school boy app, you can hop on your iphone and secretly download it yourself. Not only does this whoopie-cushion on a smart phone provide daily entertainment 360, but currently a FREE Christmas pack is available on the ifart app. So, when you get tired of sneak attacking your students, family, and cubicle coworkers with “I’m Fartacus,” “Jack the Ripper,” and “The Sick Dog,” you can email a buddy one of these lovely jingles: “Rudolph’s Run,” “Blitzen’s Bomber,” and “Yuletide Log.” I mean, what says Happy Holidays like the sound of “Brown Christmas” emanating from your smartphone speakers. It’s a “Not So Silent Night,” with this app.
3.) Christmas!: This sparkly little blue app with a jovial Santa on the front won’t really become magical until December 1st of course. Since currently there are “39 sleeps until Christmas,” users of this app must wait until the real beginning of the season in order to enjoy daily “gifts” on the countdown calendar, “festive tunes,” and jolly jokes. Other presents waiting to be wrapped on the eve of December 1st include wallpapers, a snowglobe, and a camera feature that adds some holiday merriment to your 8 megapixel camera photos. My personal countdown is starting now to determine whether this app really is as merry as it boasts.
4.) Faces: This is another of those apps that you can enjoy 24/7, but some of it’s features are especially fun at the holidays. Take an ordinary photo in your camera library, upload it in this little system, and then select from a number of objects, hats, glasses, and props to add into your image. Of course, if you have hypstamatic or instagram, you can then add that vintage flair to your little angel who now has a halo around her head standing next to the Mission Inn animatronic carolers.
5.) Letters to Santa: The verdict is out on this one, as I must wait a few hours to get my response from Old St. Nick, but it does promise some casual giggles. Punch in your gender, age, and a few other cursory facts, then write a little letter to Santa. Do be careful though, this app does not spellcheck, capitalize, or autocorrect. So, be sure you proofread your missive before you send it off to Kris Kringle. I’m pretty sure you get put on the Naughty List for failing your spelling and grammar tests. Then, wait for the old peddler with his pack to find your letter in his iphone stack. Just remember, it takes a few hours to get his letter back 🙂
That is all for now. Let the merriment begin, with an iPhone this Christmas, technology joy is sure to be heralded in!

Bleh

Dear Sickness (or head cold, or mild influenza, or whatever strand of bacteria or viral infection you are),

A few things as we begin to get reacquainted. First, I’ll be honest. I often welcome your presence. You give me time off work, an opportunity to lay on the couch and do nothing, and an excuse not to work out but eat ice cream instead. Bless you for that.

However. HOWEVER. You’re a wee bit tardy this year. Not sure whether or not to thank you for that. Because, unfortunately, your decision to come at the end of November this year instead of the end of September, presents me with a few minor issues.

Namely, right now I’m sitting in a training class, as opposed to my couch with You’ve Got Mail. I love my coworkers, but on days like today, I’d rather Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks be my companions, along with a Snuggie, hot tea, and some sweatpants.
Also, there’s the issue of next week, which is chock full of pleasantries, and which, well, you have the capacity and power to obliterate. Let’s start with my first mud run this Saturday. It’d be great if I could complete that not only satisfactorily, but with my usual, healthy, athletic prowess. Then, let’s address CADA conference with my ASB kids and coworkers that begins early Sunday morning. This is one of my favorite activities of the entire school year. We go to the Happiest Place on Earth and frolic all day. Your very nature denies the premise of Disneyland itself. Please don’t be the menace you are. Mickey Mouse doesn’t want his home littered with snot rags. Thanks. Now, let’s move along to Tuesday, my Katy Perry concert. I know she sings “Hot and Cold,” but I’m not trying to celebrate the spirit of that song with one of your favorite gifts: a fever.

Of course we cannot forget Turkey Day next Thursday. I’d like to be “thankful” for my health that day as I enjoy copious amounts of not only tasty dishes, but fragrant ones as well. Touch my sinus cavities, sickness, and we will battle. I will come armed with Dimetap, Tylenol Cold, and Mucinex. WATCH OUT!

And finally, next Friday and Saturday. Nothing says bachelorette party like having to hold off on shots and dancing because you have forced me to stockpile on over the counter meds instead. Let me reign in the new bride with all of my usual rhythmic and imbibing faculties, please!!

That’s all. I know it was a lot, but please, if you and the Big Man Upstairs could work something out, this normally active, vivacious little person would be much obliged.

Sincerely,
Shorty feeling a little “Low” Man.

P.S. It is understood, I think, that I am also requesting you not transform into the 3 month long tonsillitis that you leased out to my hosting body last Spring.

The Bucketlist





I’ve never actually made a bucketlist. I’ve made a spouse list, one I would probably easily crumple up and bequeath to the wastebasket now, but never a bucketlist.

Since it’s November 13th, almost mid-Month for Novemberblogfest, I suppose now is as good a time as any to craft the proverbial “What-I-Wanna-Do-Before-I-Die-List.”

1.) Go to Rome, Italy on a lover’s get away.
2.) See Niagara Falls.
3.) Celebrate my 5th year teaching with a gift from Tiffany’s (this is going down in 7 months or less!)
4.) Get married, Gatsby-style (at least outdoors with twinkle lights, I’ll take that).
5.) Buy my parents an all-expenses-paid trip somewhere really cool, just to thank them for all they do.
6.) Spend a summer at a beach house on the West Coast (the best coast).
7.) Meet John Legenda
8.) Have a kid, or two, or three.
9.) Return to Rwanda for longer than three weeks.
10.) Take a summer to “do” Europe: London to Prague, and every glorious thing in between.
11.) Re-read Harry Pottera
12.) Run another half marathon, maybe even a marathon.
13.) Celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary.
14.) Live in a brownstone in New York City, at least for a season.
15.) Publish something: a book, an article, a poem, whatever.
16.) Cruise to the Bahamas.
17.) Make love on a tropical shore.
18.) Own my own home.
19.) Learn rhythm.
20.) Tell someone I love them and REALLY mean it.
21.) Get a doctorate? This still hurts to utter after finishing a grueling 132 page Master’s thesis.
22.) Teach overseas somewhere, preferably Africa.
23.) Send a kid to college.
24.) Karaokee.
25.) Ride horseback along the beach.
26.) Hold a grandchild.
27.) Read all of Jane Austen.
28.) Hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Well, I guess this one is as I die…

Saturday’s Song

If the paradox is true,
That you can only be happy
If first you’ve been sad

Then Saturday’s my proof,
Entrancing me
with the tattoo of rain on my roof.

Three years of grad school
Saturday served
Only for studying and sleeping
I lived
To reach an end
That often left me weeping

Days of rest passed me by
Nights out
Were for Starbucks Coffee,
Fuel necessitated,
Occasionally some Thai.

If the paradox is true
That you can only be free
When you’ve felt the gall of chains

Then Saturday’s my proof,
Entrancing me
With the tattoo of rain on my roof.

What was once gone has
Been found
Long walks with my pup
Leaves crunch
As I let the clock ticks sound.

Let breakfast linger just a
Little longer
Let Saturdays melt into
Evening liberation
Join me, in this new celebration.

If the paradox is true
That you can only really rest
When first you’ve been weary

Then Saturday’s my proof,
Entrancing me
With the tattoo of rain on my roof.

From the park to the city: The pursuit of simple pleasures

I find it anything but purely coincidental that on Veteran’s Day 11/11/11, I tasted some of America’s most simple pleasures.

After sleeping in and heading to the gym, I met up with a few coworkers and our leadership kids from school at a local park. I can’t remember the last time I went to the park for the sheer amusement and relaxation it has to offer. It made ME feel like a kid again. We played silly games, threw a football and frisbee around, tired out my pup, and even did some batting and pitching. America’s favorite pastime.

In the midst of the busy, working, suburban lifestyle, the park was just what we all needed to “get away.” The sky stretched before us, dappled in clouds, and the trees, in the incipient and reluctant California stage of turning colors, framed a large grassy field bordered by homes. On a beautiful fall day such as today, it was that much more gloriously ennui-saturated freedom from the norm.
And just as halcyon-laced as the day was, the night quickly shifted to glam-filled flashing lights. One of my youth girls invited me to join her for a free premier movie showing of the film My Week with Marilyn in Hollywood. So, I dawned my purple heels, cheetah print dress, and black leggings, and we enjoyed a night on the town. It was of course preceeded by a trip to none other than In-N-Out for good ole’ fashioned American cheeseburgers and milkshakes.
There’s something about the sight of the downtown city scrapers rising just above you as the 101 drives straight into the heart of the city, that gets me every time. I even romanticize the ghetto artwork in the cement median of the freeway. It all sings of the many cultures that intersect at Olvera Street, the MOCA, and Wilshire Blvd. It, as Walt Whitman would say, sings of America. The city. Progress. A land of opportunities.

And, at the end of it all, I come back home to my quiet suburban lifestyle, with the 1960’s sprawling front yard, and the dog sleeping next to me in my snuggie at home as I type this post. It’s simple really. It’s good to be here. now. in America. Free.

Thank you, veterans, for our parks, our cities… our homes.

Football Finale



After 4 football games, 8 journeys to Smart and Final, several trips carrying 4 flatbed carts of goods up and down stairs, and lots of inventory taking, the 2011-2012 season of varsity football concessions is over.

Thank God.

Because nowhere in credentialing classes do they teach you how to shop for hot dogs, pickle relish, and ramakans, which would explain why on our first trip, my coworker and I walked out of the store with 60 hot dogs and 600 packets of relish. Would you like some dog with that condiment?

Yeah. That’s about how this whole season has been: one big shot in the dark with a steep learning curve. But it’s cool, because now I can say I’ve run concessions for a high school football season, worked the “big girl” grill, and become a nacho cheese professional.

It’s been fun. It’s been fall. It’s been, well, frustrating. Nothing short of the grace of God, a GREAT coworker, and a lot of Starbucks could’ve gotten us through this crazy season. All in the name of Prom.

Prom. That’s an event, and a lot more planning for another day…

Wednesday Do-Over Redeemed


I don’t know what is yet to befall me this Wednesday, so I’m writing this post now, right after redemption, because it’s all the redemption I need for today, come what may.

Last night I had the chance to get 7 glorious, blissful, somnambulent hours of rest. Chance, I repeat, chance. Because, my accursed puppy decided that every hour to two hours was an opportunity to exercise her vocal chords and her displeasure at being in her crate for bedtime. Sleep, needless to say, was elusive.

To add insult to injury, in my restless reverie, I pushed “off” on the alarm, instead of “snooze,” and found myself awakening half an hour later than normal. After that, things just went downhill, the dog chewed on everything, I dropped my breakfast into her water dish by accident, and my hair ended up in a headband with messy bun because there just was no time for anything else.

In short, I was a grumpy-sleepy pants until 1st period rolled into my room and showed me there is still some good to be found in this Hump Day.

Me: “Ok, kids, we’re going to go pick up Huck Finn at the end of the period, so let’s work on our study guides until then.”

Kids: “What?! The end of class, why?!”

Me: “Excuse me, do I hear you complaining that you cannot get your hands on Huck Finn soon enough?”

Kids: “Yeah, we’re actually excited to start it. We were looking forward to beginning today.”

~Pause for shock, horror, and then awe to dawn across my face~
Me: “You’re joking, right? No? You guys are serious? ~My turn to say~: “WHAT?!”

Kids: “Yeah, Loh!”

Me: “Ummm, not sure what to say to you guys except you just redeemed my morning. Like seriously, bless you. Bless you.”

I have the best kids this year. At the best school. With the best coworkers. I know I have it good. Real good. I know there are times in life when you don’t realize just how good you have it and you take things for granted. But not this year, not this job, not this place. I’m incredibly blessed. And so very redeemed.

Skyble






Skyble (SKY-bul): (n) an event that includes the use of the internet application skype, in conjunction with a study of the Christian Scriptures to connect comrades who are separated by distance for the purpose of fellowship and conversation.

I seriously think Skyble every Tuesday night is the highlight of my week on most weeks. I love that every Tuesday I get to practice my quickly growing but still severely handicapped cooking skills and make dinners for my friend Kim and I. These dinners also function great as meals for roommates and work lunches too. Then, for about an hour and a half to two hours, Kim and I get to connect emotionally, spiritually, and visually (thank you web cameras for finding a useful purpose), with our dear friend Jess, a recent transplant to Boulder, CO.

Kim, Jess, and I first met when we traveled to Rwanda together in 2008. Our team was so close and the work we did there so compelling that we banded together again to return to Rwanda in 2009. Some of my most precious memories are in the deep forests of Africa with these two ladies, getting lost in taxi rides, cannibalizing carry-ons for sustainable goods after all 13 pieces of team luggage were lost, photographing monkeys, meeting with students, planning lessons to share with other teachers, and climbing up the lions rather unceremoniously in Trafalger Square, London.

We spent a lot of time together this summer as we prepared to send Jess off to the Rocky Mountains to pursue a doctoral degree in psychometrics (I still don’t really understand what this is, I just feel special to know someone studying such a highly specialized and esoteric field). Between Hollywood, San Diego, and the local beaches, most of this painful summer’s good memories involved these two ladies.

Jess is an extreme thinker. Kim is an extreme feeler. Believe it or not, I’m actually the balance of these two. Jess is married, Kim and I are single. None of us have kids. Two of us have dogs, one has a cat. We all either were, or are still, secondary school teachers. One of us has an English degree, one a math degree, and one both.

But most importantly, we all long to know God more and to love each other deeply through the seasons in life when that is easy to do, and when it is not. Skyble, cheesy as it may sound, keeps me grounded because it keeps these dear sisters in my life in a real, tangible, and encouraging way, every Tuesday.

I’m so so so very thankful for them. And for the internet and Scripture that makes this union possible.

The Hunger Games


So, today’s post is of little consequence when it comes to deep, esoteric, highly philosophical,and creative genius. I’m not treading water in the deep end of the pool, more like lounging in the shallows.

It’s simple really. I’m quite taken with The Hunger Games Trilogy. This is nothing really remarkable in itself, except that it is probably the best young adult fiction I’ve read since Harry Potter and I broke up in 2007.

I read Twilight obligatorily. My second year of teaching I found 17 year-old-boys reading New Moon under their desks when they should have been reading Langston Hughes poetry and I had to understand this strange phenomenon. I was non-plussed and most of the time just wanted to throw Miss Meyers a classic blue Roget’s thesaurus.

So, I heard of The Hunger Games, and pardon my pessimism, but I was a bit hesitant. Needless to say, when I found the novels very well stocked with legit vocabulary words, I allowed myself to begin actually enjoying these texts.

The plot is strikingly new. The love triangle is well, not, but nonetheless the characters are at least both redeemable and likable,and mostly not non-sensical. The setting is usually exotic enough to paint a viable image in my mind,and for a quasi-sci-fi piece of literature, this dramatic realist is surprisingly pleased with the dystopian series.

My only ruin is this: a Master’s degree in books. Ever since I took narratology a few years ago, my ability to mindlessly enjoy a good story has been obliterated. I sort of just know now what is going to happen and how it’s all going to work, at least big picture, because I’ve studied narrative structure far too deeply. So, there is a constant battle in my mind to put down the arrow of academia and simply fly the white flag of escapism instead.

Perhaps this is why while The Hunger Games are fun and fanciful, and even mildly thought-provoking, they are still not quite deserving of the title “Literature,” with a capital L.