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100 Happy Days

Almost exactly 5 years ago today I sat in the living room of my apartment in Rochester, NY. A fire burned in the fireplace, snow fell outside and I sat under a pile of blankets crying because I was so unhappy. My life was on a trajectory of settling and that terrified me, so I made up my mind right then and there that I would move. Anywhere. 5 months later I packed up a u-haul and set off for adventure in Austin, TX.

It has been the best adventure.

Now I am headed off on a new adventure. In exactly 100 days, Cooper and I will load up in my car and make our way back up north. I miss my family. I miss my brothers. It is exciting, but mostly it is terrifying. I have not had a moment of regret about quitting my job and leaving education, but leaving this city terrifies me. I am terrified of leaving a city where the sun shines all the time. I am terrified of leaving a place with year round patios and picnics. I am terrified of moving back to a city covered in cold and ice and dotted in pot holes. I am terrified of a city that isn’t going to think my tattoos are super cool or my quirky, outspoken, adventurous personality normal. I am terrified of leaving my friends and my local watering hole where everyone knows my name. This city has made me so happy. It has helped me figure out who I am and who I want to be in this world. And now I am leaving it.

Adventures are supposed to be a little bit terrifying. That’s what makes them adventures! And even though leaving this weird, wonderful city scares me, I know it’s the right move for me. At least for right now. So I am going to make the most of these next 100 days. I am going to spend them on exploring, adventuring, laughing, dancing. I am going to spend them on patios, trails and in parks. I will spend them with friends and together we will laugh and eat all the tacos. EVERY LAST ONE! I will fill them all with as much happiness from this city as I can bottle up in my soul to take with me.

To 100 happy days!

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Trees Gone Wild: A Nature Porn

I once opened my apartment door to find a pair of panties hanging in the trees outside. Weird. I assumed it had somehow fallen out of the neighbors laundry basket as she’d walked by or something. Then a few weeks later another pair appeared. Whatever. I’ve never bragged about my place being classy.

Last week I opened my door to over half a dozen panties and bras hanging from branches and strewn about the ground. WHAT THE WHAT?

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not all panties pictured

My neighbor speculated that they’re coming from the roof. He’d been standing outside his door once when a gust of wind had blown and a handful of them had begun drifting down from above. Perhaps a scorned lover had thrown his cheating girlfriend’s undergarments on the roof in a fit of rage? That was last week. Today I came home and found this.

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HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

 

 

America’s Test

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I don’t think there is anyone, outside of Pearson, Harcourt, and a number of politicians who have clearly never met children, who isn’t at least a little bit up in arms about all of the testing we are putting our nation’s children through these days. And if you aren’t up in arms, you should be, because it is ridiculous! In Texas alone, fourth graders will spend 15 ENTIRE school days devoted just to standardized testing.

Last week the fourth graders at my school were chosen by some sort of lottery to take a national test in addition to our local and state exams. We don’t ever see the scores, but it is for “America’s Report Card” so it’s important. Or something. It is a big enough deal that outsiders are sent in to administer the test. So I readied my students with sharpened pencils and desks in 1950’s spaced out rows.

“Don’t worry.” I told them. “This isn’t going on your report card. They aren’t ever going to tell me how you did, but it’s important that you do your best because this test is for America. Who is it for?”

“MERICA!”

“WHO IS IT FOR???”

“MERICA!!!”

Because that’s how we roll.

Then we got to waiting and wondering if Obama was going to proctor the exam. We agreed that we hoped he had better things to do, but this being America’s test and all, we couldn’t rule out a presidential proctor.

And then in he walked. He’s not Obama. I mouthed to my students behind his back. They stifled their giggles and kept straight faces. Nope. He was not President Obama. He was Oscar The Grouch personified. Way to put on your best face, America. He grumbled and frowned. He hung up his directions and mumbly tossed out directions with his heaviest disdain. It was unclear who exactly he was speaking to: Adults? Minons? Robots? Certainly not children.

Toward the end of the test, one of my students raised his hand. He was finished.

“Can I read my book?” he asked politely.

“No you may not read your book!”

“Um…then..what do I do?”

“You just sit there.”

Oh America. Really?

After the testing portion, the students needed to fill out a survey and the proctor read the questions out loud. America wanted to know if they were black or hispanic and if they lived with two parents and had a dishwasher in their house or apartment. When my students asked about that later I told them that was probably America’s way of finding out if they were poor or not. The survey also wanted to know their zip code. None of them knew, but most of them are neighborhood kids, so I stepped in and told them.

Oh. Dear. God.

I was met with immediate and harsh reprimand from the proctor. There was a stern yell and some very serious finger pointing and wagging.

“NO! YOU DON’T HELP THEM!!”

To be clear, this was with their zip code. The other proctors in the other rooms actually asked the teachers to tell the kids their zip code. He turned back to the class to continue but then quickly turned and gave me another stern glare and finger pointing.

I could see the fire in my students eyes. It was the fire and glare that said, “hold my baby, I’m about to cut a bitch” because these kids have my back. And I love them!

But they sat there quietly and did me proud. He finished the survey and then read a paragraph in his script about how this had been for America and they could keep their pencils for their time. Not so much a “thank you” as a condescending “here, you pathetic minions, I will let you keep these pencils because I am doing you a favor.” He packed up his things and the room was silent. We watched him walk out the door. And then we sort of stared at each other in disbelief.

America’s proctor had forgotten to collect the test booklets.

A moment later he shuffled back in, posture low and mumbling. He quickly grabbed the booklets and left again.

We all laughed. Not with you, America. At you. We laughed at you.

 

On Living Dairy Free: Another Order Of Queso Please!

I have always been lactose intolerant, but never extremely and usually unpredictably. I could consume unhealthy amounts of cheese, ice cream or milkshakes with no consequence. And then there would be that one time that a tiny dollop of sour cream on a taco would send me into immediate indigestion and searching for a bathroom to violate. Whatever. Worth it.

As I’ve gotten older, my intolerance to dairy has stepped up its game. Thanks, Old Age. So I cut back on my dairy. Milkshakes became a lot more predictable and one embarrassing incident with a gentleman caller had me cutting out milkshakes from my diet completely. In fact, I went so far as to cut out all ice cream and sour cream. Totally doable. Almond Dream makes a ridiculous dairy free ice cream. Easy peasy. I would cut out these and keep my cheese.

Except I couldn’t keep my cheeses! Damn my body and its inability to properly digest dairy! DAMN YOU!!!!

So I gave up all dairy. I had to. My body begged me to. And I mean, it could totally be worse.

EXCEPT I AM HORRIBLE AT GIVING THINGS UP! I am actually horrible at following through on a lot of things. I decided to do that whole 30 day squat challenge? I made it 2 days. Then I was going to do the crunches one because I need to work on my abs more anyway. I did 3 days. I gave up gluten last year as an experiment and lasted a month. My friend and I sat down with our calendars and planned out a whole work out regine. That was 3 weeks ago. We have worked out once.

Within a week of going dairy free, I found myself sitting in a booth at my favorite diner saying, “All right, so I am dairy free so I can’t get the enchiladas that I love, but I’ll get a bowl of queso.” I have problems.

I am a work in progress. I have stopped ordering queso. Mostly. I MEAN, MY GOD I ONLY HAVE 100 DAYS LEFT IN AUSTIN! QUESO DOESN’T EXIST WHERE I’M GOING!!

The one thing I am proud of is giving up half and half. I have actually for real done that. I switched over to Coconut Creamer, which is the only non-dairy creamer that isn’t made of chemicals and gives my coffee that creaminess that I love without changing the flavor. I have even been able to make the transition to drinking my coffee black in case I am out and without my flask of creamer. Hell yeah. I have a flask for my creamer!

 

The Plight Of The Single Girl

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Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone and it was most enjoyable! My students showered me with love and chocolate and I spent a sunny afternoon drinking on a patio with fabulous people and then a few girl friends and I had a slumber party. Delightful!

Except what irked me was that all day long, harping on my love fest were signs and people wishing me a Happy Singles Awareness Day! See the thing is, Valentine’s Day doesn’t make me feel single. Valentine’s Day makes me feel loved. I have a bazillion texts from all my family and friends to prove that. And while on most days I don’t mind being without a plus one, here are a few things that ACTUALLY make me feel single.

Being a third, fifth, seventh, or really any kid of odd wheel always makes me feel super single.

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Not being able to open up jars. Seriously, I will totally admit that there are night where my entire meal has been determined by whether or not I can successfully open up a jar. It often involves heavy cursing and then heating up a frozen pizza. AND YES, maybe I should just work out more. Still, it makes me feel in want of a strong man.

 

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Going to my friends kids birthday parties. Talk about loud, sticky ways to make my uterus and me feel inadequate, but also kind of proud of our life choices. In the game of life, these always make me feel like I’m not even on the game board yet.

 

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Checking the little “no guest” box on wedding invitations and then sitting at a table with a whole bunch of couples. Weddings, in general, induce all kinds self pitying single girl feelings.

 

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Not having someone to pawn off Ikea furniture assembly on. Seriously.

 

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How I Am Dealing With Jon Stewart Leaving The Daily Show

When I think that I really hate all people and the world is going to come crashing to an end, I just turn on the Daily Show and Jon Stewart renews my faith in the world. I am currently working through the stages of grief after finding out he is leaving because unless he is going to move in next door to me and drink beers with me on my porch every night and discuss politics, THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!

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Dance It Out

Stress man, stress. It’s responsible for the ache in my shoulders, the looseness of my bowels, and the burn in my chest. It keeps the wheels in my head spinning at night and the dreams rich with nightly terrors. Tt’s that obnoxious pest that follows me around all day asking, What if? What if? What if????

But some days you need to turn to that stress and say, SHUT THE FUCK UP and then just dance it away.

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Dancing has all the magic powers. A few months back I instituted the one minute dance party with my students. Every morning at exactly 9:30, we stop what we’re doing, throw on some loud music and dance it out. It’s a pretty incredible sight to watch 20 ten year olds all break it down and throw their hands in the air like they just don’t care.

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It does’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t even have to make sense. It’s 1-2 minutes of completely letting go. Let the body go, let the mind go. Sing really loud to a song and let your limbs flail. Like really flail. Do you feel ridiculous? Good! That’s the stress getting all embarrassed and slinking back as it’s eyes dart side to side as if to say, This girl? never seen her before. I am TOTALLY not with her. 

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You turn to stress and say, What Stress? You can’t handle these moves? Well peace out muthafucka! And then get down with your bad self cause you got this!

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Housewife vs Stay At Home Mom

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine yesterday that went something like this:

Me: I’m really into giving this writing career a try even if it means being poor for a while. And I mean, if it doesn’t work out I’ll just get another job or find a Sugar Daddy.

Him: A Sugar Daddy?

Me: Yeah, and then I can just wear yoga pants and drink pumpkin spiced lattes for a living.

Him: You could never do that.

Me: I COULD LEARN TO LIKE PUMPKIN SPICED LATTES!!

Him: No, I mean, you could never have a life that you didn’t find purpose in. People need that. YOU need that.

Me: Yoga would be my purpose. Obviously. And spin classes.

Him: Didn’t you just tell me you were giving up dairy.

Me: True. Then I’ll be one of those juice cleanse, gluten-free, Gwyneth Paltrow diet housewives. Ugh. Wait. That sounds terrible. I’ll stick to the lattes and just fart a lot.

Him: Sounds like you have it all worked out.

Me: Yup!

Except I don’t. I was retelling this conversation over dinner tonight with another friend and we got to thinking about whether either of us could actually be a full time housewife. Definitely stay at home mom. Being a mom, whether at home or at work is the biggest kind of purpose!  It has purpose coming out of every orifice! (Really, children ooze from every orifice.)  I was raised by a stay at home mom and she worked harder than anyone I know. But just a housewife?

I mean, let’s think of a typical day. Sugar Daddy needs to get up for work. Do I need to get up with him? Make him breakfast? Ugh. I am NOT a morning person. And if he is rich enough for me to stay at home, then we probably have one of those fancy coffee makers with a timer so why does he need me to get out of bed? I sleep in and then hit up Starbucks on my way to Spinyasalates, which is the new spin/yoga/pilates class that’s all the rage. At least that’s what I assume. I currently work all day and can only imagine what exercise classes during the day are like. So Spinyasalates. I grab a juice with “the ladies” after class, drink half and chuck in in the garbage as I walk into Starbucks to grab another latte because ew, juices are gross. Then I grab some groceries, organic of course, and head home to get dinner started. I watch Ellen while meat is marinating and then I play on Pinterest for a while. Then… SHIT!! I was on Pinterest too long and I need to get that damn roast in the oven! Once that’s in, I shower because Spinyasalates was the heated class that day. Sugar Daddy arrives home and I have a scotch poured for him. We chat, eat dinner, watch tv while I Pinterest from my phone and then we go to bed.

My friend and I sat pondering this day for a moment and then my friend so eloquently said, “You know, I think there are some men who really want that and I think they find the type of women who want to do all of those things, so it works out. Also, I bet there would be some volunteering.

Hmmm, I answered. you’re right. And you know, I think that just being a housewife to a Sugar Daddy means that you probably could never fart in front of him. If I was a stay at home mom and we were all awesome and raising our kids together, I would have the purpose I need and I could totally fart and it would be ok but I think that is really frowned upon in the Sugar Daddy/Housewife relationship. Yeah, I’m out. Especially if I would have to drink all those pumpkin spiced lattes. I’d have to fart ALL THE TIME!

She agreed.

So what this all comes down to is that I no longer have the fantasy Sugar Daddy fall back option if full time blogging and writing doesn’t work out. But I might have a future as a Spinyasalates instructor, so at least there’s that.

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February: Love Fest

I absolutely love Valentine’s Day. I know. I know. It is a totally commercialized, hyped up “holiday”, but it’s a holiday that encourages setting aside time to tell those around you that you love them. AND YES, I KNOW that we should totally be doing that every day, and I do, but I also love that there is a day specifically just for that. It’s also a day devoted to pink, glitter, hearts, and chocolate. What’s not to love?

I do not believe, however, that Valentine’s Day is a romantic day specifically for romantical relationship people. I have never been in a romantical relationship with a fella during this love month and truth be told, doing any of the traditional “relationshipy” things on Valentine’s Day makes me a barf in my mouth a little bit. In fact, if a boy ever got me a stuffed animal of any kind, I would probably punch him in the face. Woah, harsh? No. I really hate cutsie plush toys that are holding hearts that say “be mine” or something like that. But to each her own.

I did once get a Valentine’s gift from a boy in college who I wasn’t dating, but just sort of making out with. He got me a funnel filled with Hershey Kisses. Because college. I thought it was super cute even if he did fill it with plain chocolate kind and I don’t really understand why anyone would eat them without the almond. But whatever. It was the gesture and I loved it.

I think love is powerful and it is so important to say it out loud as often as possible. We need to hear it. A lot. I try to use the words “I love you” regularly to my family, friends, coworkers, students, tweeters. I don’t think it waters it down because I mean it every single time I say it. We should always mean it every time we say it.

So for those of you declaring the 14th “Singles Awareness Day” or grumbling through this month of pink and candy hearts, remember that you are loved. Share the love and spread the love. Little things can make a huge impact. Make this entire month a giant love fest!

If you are feeling like you need to be reminded how much you are loved, send me your address in the contact section above and I’ll send you a love note. Because I really and truly love all of you and getting mail is the best! And (spoiler!) my cards are glittery (but not toooo glittery)! :-)

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Hello, February

I always forget how much I hate January until I am in it. Every year I start off with resolutions and optimism and end the month desperately counting down the days until it is over. Looking back, it is always my least blogged month and all of my journals are filled with scribbles of “Ugh, this month needs to END!!” And the thing is, it wasn’t actually a terrible month. I started practicing yoga again, I dance partied in the 90’s and the 80’s. I drank margaritas at happy hours, shopped on South Congress, caught up with friends, did cool projects with my students, read several books, and yet I still felt like this was an entirely soul sucking month.

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I know that my 90’s outfit sans proper footwear, but I don’t own them. But look at the sweet 80’s pants I found. AND THEY ARE ACTUALLY SNOW PANTS!!!

Even my TA felt it and he is one of those eternally optimistic, always upbeat, happy kind of guys. “Is it just me?” he asked. Nope. Even my students felt the suck of this month. I checked in with several who seemed uncharacteristically mopey or troubled, but none could pinpoint anything that was actually wrong. “I don’t know, Ms. G. I mean, I’m fine. Maybe I’m just not sleeping well or something.” No kid, it’s January.

But January is over and thank goodness! May February be a love fest of the best kind.

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