Sunday, August 29, 2010

You can't make this up

Sometimes, I think everywhere I go there should be a camera crew behind me. I don't say this because I fancy myself incredibly important but because to be honest, it's just bizarre how many funny things happen to me on a regular basis.

Let's start with Friday night; we're calling it "Snakes on the Bus".
I wanted to hang out with David this weekend, and part of being someone in a band director's life is being able to go where he goes if you want to see him between August and April. So I asked him to share his seat on the bus with me Friday night for the game. I met up with him at his school and we boarded the first of two buses bound for Belmont.

10 minutes into the drive (if that), I get a phone call from the other bus. The person on the other end is coughing and saying "Lindsey, there's a snake on the bus" or maybe it was "there's smoke on the bus" or "there's a leak on the bus". No, my former band instructor ears did not deceive me: she said there's a snake on the bus.

And there was, according to the fire department. Not making this up: the fire department was called to fish the snake out of the bus seat where it was living. By the time they arrived, the bus had been emptied and all the kids were standing on the side of the road in the August heat. Otherwise, they were safe :)

The snake that was fished out of the seat was a baby snake, which brought about the logic that if there's a baby snake, there's a momma snake somewhere, too (according to the authorities). Solution: get another bus. From the bus garage.

Enter Sue-zar, Mom of the century!
I called mom from the parking lot where the first bus had stopped to wait for the snake fiasco to be resolved, just because someone other than David and me had to appreciate the situation for what it was (mainly because we were NOT on the snake bus). She happened to be coming right past us at that time, and was able to take us to get the new bus. Thank goodness!!

Eventually, we did get to the game and surprisingly LHS won in a really exciting, back-and-forth battle. It ended up being a lot of fun once we (finally) arrived. I had a really good time with the band students and of course my best friend. In short, Friday was packed with excitement :)

Anyone else need a camera crew around 24/7?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Recipe of the Month: Caramel Apple Pork Chops

Another item on my day zero project list is try a new recipe every month for one year. This month's new recipe is Caramel Apple Pork Chops. I love everything about this recipe, and I didn't go away from or alter any of the ingredients (for once). The ingredient list is short, the steps are simple and when plated nicely it looks like a culinary masterpiece a la Top Chef :) If you try it, let me know what you think!

Have you tried a new recipe lately? Love it? Hate it? Share it in the comments!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Books Books Books!!

Back in June, I wrote a post on my summer reading list. Of course, the problem with making a list of books to read is a)finding the time to read the books and b) not getting distracted by other books in the midst of trying to read the books on your list. I failed miserably in both categories. I haven't completed all the books on my summer list, but I have read other books that were delightful. Here's a list of what I did accomplish in reading this summer.

The Meaning of Matthew, Judy Shepard
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larson
The Girl Who Played with Fire, Stieg Larson
Life as We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Dead and the Gone, Susan Beth Pfeffer
Will Grayson, Will Grayson, John Green & David Levithan
Looking for Alaska, John Green
Dark Flame, Alyson Noel

Part of my Day Zero project list is to read and review 25 books on the blog. Looks like I better start reviewing these soon before the list gets too long!
What did you read this summer?

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Beginnings

In my latest spurt of creativity (ie going back to writing and reading, my original loves), I've been noodling this idea of new beginnings. I'm not going to get all Ramona a la Real Housewives, but I think I may understand a little bit of what she meant with her over the top "renewal" phase. Ramona had this renewal phase that lasted for the entirety of the most recent season. And a part of me really gets it right now. She needed to be selfish (probably not "need" in the same sense of the word because they have more money than sense, but you get what I mean). She wanted to focus on herself, do things for herself, and feel good about herself. Once she had accomplished that she was able to mend some fences with friends and renew (literally and figuratively) her relationship with her husband. And while Ramona is in no way a role model for someone like me, I have to say I respect her stance on preserving herself first. Here's how that analogy applies to me:

Recently, I've been more angsty (a word my lovely Erin used on me) than usual. I've been struggling with something that in this present moment seems monumentally disappointing, but in the long run is probably just right. I wasted a few days' worth of energy moping, and was very fortunate to have my close friend Ashley for comfort and of course my husband was my shoulder when I needed him. Then, part motivation and part coping mechanism, I threw myself into working on my classroom to get it ready for Freshman orientation before the marathon opening of school meetings started. I'm talking 12 hour days here; I was that desperate for a distraction.

Then I did something stupid and pretty much stuck my hand back on the open flame. I guess I had decided I was fine and could handle the situation, but I was wrong. It hurt. So came the telling facebook post about ripping off band-aids. I suggested via status that sometimes you should just rip off the band-aid and feel all the pain at once. At the time, I was wishing I had done that to start with rather than try to work through it, because that strategy was epically failing. The band-aid thing was supposed to be more discreet than me just blasting out all over the internet that I was angry, confused, and hurt. However, my ability to think clearly when emotionally ripped to shreds isn't as strong as I thought. Oops.

Someone who looked at this situation from the outside would probably say that I have blown it out of proportion and that no one other than me is that emotionally invested in it. They would probably say that the whole thing is silly and petty and who knows what else. And I have to admit, I blamed myself for my reactions at first. Why am I this upset? Why do I feel this way? Why would anyone care this much? How stupid am I for hanging on to these feelings?

I did some searching through writing about what I really felt and found what I was actually worked up about has value outside of the immediate situation. That was a big relief to me, to know that I wasn't really that worked up about the situation, but rather I was trying to cope with some fear, some rejection and a reminder of a part of my past. Those are things that no one would argue with. Everyone feels those at one point or another in their lives.

The first time I dealt with this kind of "Surprise! We don't really like you!" thing was when people who I thought were my friends back home were really just my "friends" in the sense that they just saw me as someone they had to deal with. The worst part was that this group included my closest childhood friend. At that age, you don't have any communication skills. There's not a way to say "we need to talk, we need to work this out", instead, their solution was to just cut me out of their lives but continue to take advantage of me should the need arise. Isn't hindsight grand? Needless to say, after the pictures from the night of my wedding surfaced on facebook, I got the message (oh social networking, you make great drama). You learn quickly after a rude awakening of that caliber to build walls. I did that for a long time, and was afraid to let anyone into my life. The people in my life now have changed me for the better, and it is because of them that I'm a better me.

My point, then, is this: instead of looking at the situation for what it is, why not see it as a new beginning? I have a chance to pursue other things now that I wouldn't have before, and that's exciting! I can really focus on my new position as yearbook adviser and put my best effort into my add-on program in school administration. Not that I wasn't going to do those things anyway, but now I don't have so much juggling to do in order to balance my time. I will be able to really support my friends as they pursue their dreams instead of trying to fit them around my other commitments.

Getting back into my regular routine with school and work has helped alleviate some of my anxiety by virtue of being busy. We have new teachers on my hall that I have been lucky to help get settled, and of course I've been reconnecting with colleagues I haven't seen since June. Ashley and I have talked about how this point in time is an opportunity to clean some of the unnecessary garbage from our lives, and I am already seeing the benefits of doing so. The best part about doing your own clean out is that you get to choose what stays, and you really get to evaluate why it should stay, making what you choose to keep in your life even more valuable
(look, I go everywhere from profound metaphor to Real Housewives in one post).

I'm moving forward. Isn't that what we all want to do after every bad occurrence? Don't we just want to feel whole again? I'm working through some new dynamics in some of my relationships, and I think it will really just take time, and probably a lot of patience with myself (which I don't have). Thankfully, the people I love and who love me have more than enough.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ok, generally I don't get into politics all that much. Call me the black sheep of the community where I live if you like, my students say I'm liberal, whatever that means to them. And yes, to some of them it comes out like a bad taste in their mouth. I've even been asked if I go to church, as a code for you can't possibly have a soul!

I usually just chuckle and remember what it was like to be that age. Sigh...

Anyway, this fiasco with Target has caused quite a stir on both sides of the aisle. On facebook, who is now the authority on current events, the Target page is the headquarters to weigh in on this issue. People have either decided to shop exclusively at Target or to boycott Target altogether.

But what's the issue, really?
According to the AP, Target donated $150,000 to a conservative candidate whose platform included some benefits to businesses. Sounds legit, right? But here's the rub: this candidate is a known, outspoken opponent to same-sex marriage.

And now instead of a conversation about the influence of corporations on political funding and legislation, we're crucifying Target for supporting a candidate with a myriad of positions, one of which directly benefits them. But that's not the one on the table here; here we're talking about same-sex marriage.

Do I care how Target spends its money? Not really. If I do, I shouldn't give them any of mine. PERIOD. Even if they funnel some of it into a cause I care about, if I think I should have a say in where my money goes after it hits the register then I'm no better than if the school board, for example, thought it should have a say in what I do with my pay once I receive it.

Sound strange? Limiting? That's because it is!

I don't want to dig too deep into the same-sex marriage issue here, because it's a touchy subject in light of the overturning of Proposition 8. I don't think that fight is over quite yet, and it will go to the highest court in the United States before it's settled. In that case, there will be even more of this same Target-like mess. This article is interesting as it presents the case as it was argued at trial.

Here's my main point, I think: does anyone other than me wonder if going online and saying "hey, Target is anti-gay, I'm going to shop there more!" do any good? Do we really need a vehicle to spout something so hateful? Religious convictions aside, aren't those in homosexual relationships or with homosexual desires people, too? Don't they, like anyone else in this country deserve an equal life with the same rights and privileges? I fully respect anyone's religious leanings, even if they differ from mine. If you don't want gay couples to get married in your church because that's not what your faith practices, fine by me. But I don't see a point in denying any couple the right to commit themselves to each other for the purpose of monogamy and building a family, where my definition of family is a stable home where love is present.

The catchy phrase on facebook as it pertains to this issue is "vote with your money", and while that makes sense, it isn't compassionate. It isn't full of love or mercy or grace, things that I believe in wholeheartedly. Where do I stand with Target? I will keep shopping there because I like it, or because it runs a decent deal on the products we use in our home. Had Target funneled money directly into any organization that exclusively dished out hateful propaganda against people of any minority, that would be a different issue. I don't presume to tell Target how to spend its money or how to vote.

Overall, I think this post stems more out my shock in the response to Target's actions than in the actions themselves. So many people online are saying that America now loves Target because of its actions against gays, and is encouraging the company to "stick to its guns" and "not back down because of liberal bullying" and I'm appalled at these statements. My reaction is not in light of Target's spending, but because so many people are using what Target has done for the wrong reason.

Target is not the first business to have this problem on its hands. The Home Depot has come under fire for the same thing in reverse, as how it donates to organizations that support equal rights for gays and the rest of the LGBTIQ community. So then you have people saying "hey, Home Depot is pro-gay, I'm not shopping there anymore!". That's no better, people. Not one bit.

We are SO fortunate to live in a country where we have the freedom to choose which home improvement, grocery or big-box store to shop in, and I'm grateful for that. In that way, I guess we all vote with our money every day/week/etc. But why do we feel the urge to judge other people's decisions instead of making our own and sticking by them? Why do we so desperately need a vehicle for our beliefs instead of just exercising them when we can?

Ok, I feel better now that I've written it out as a means to explore my ideas. What are you guys thinking? I'm trying to present this as a judgment free zone, so speak away!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day Zero Goal #33: Bake and Decorate Cupcakes

Over the weekend my uncle John brought his wife Jenny and their three children to visit us. They live in Mississippi, so the visits are few and far between. The twin girls are just a year old, and this was my first time meeting them :)

In our family there are lots of birthdays and anniversaries between July and mid-August, so naturally we were ready to celebrate since everyone would be together for a few short days. My contribution to the soiree: cupcakes!

Now, I pretty much did the most amateur job anyone could do decorating these babies with a piping bag, because I had NO idea what I was doing. As a side note, the cake on the right is NOT my handiwork ;)

It was a good experience for me in terms of learning about decorating a cake, and excites me even more about taking an actual class at some point. I loved the cupcake tower we had, and it makes me a little sentimental in a way...the way that says "I can't wait to have kids so I can throw them birthday parties!"

My brother's fiance, the lovely Cameon, also did her share of cupcaking :) I think hers look way better than mine. But hey, that's one more goal off the list!

Added bonus: my husband holding Madison, one of the twins. Those little ones are so sweet, and I always love to see Johnathan holding a baby girl!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day Zero Goal #28: 50 things that make me happy

My friend Ashley just did a blog post on the 100 things that make her happy. Which got me to thinking, didn't I have something like that on the Day Zero list?
I did.

So I made my list (in the moleskine journal that is part of goals 47 and 48). Here it is, published for the world (if you read this, you're in my world!):

1. My husband and his unconditional love and support
2. Miss Macy, my sweet little dog
3. Hanging out with my parents
4. Date night with my best friend David
5. The smell of fresh brewed coffee, especially when it comes from my Keurig!
6. Bravo television
7. Organizing a cluttered space
8. A glass of wine after a long day
9. Shopping, especially with Ashley
10. Bronzer
11. Mechanical pencils
12. A comfortable pair of jeans
13. Fireberry lipgloss by Clinique
14. Reading a book on the beach on my b&n nook
15. My wedding rings
16. Glee
17. Spontaneity
18. Baking
19. Making lists
20. My true friends
21. A good conversation
22. Singing in my car with the sunroof open and the windows down
23. The color pink
24. Vera Bradley anything
25. New school/office supplies
26. My camera
27. Discovering a new writer
28. My nieces and nephews
29. My cousins
30. Post-its
31. Teacher Books
32. Yankee Candle(s)
33. My diploma(s)
34. Celebrating little victories
35. The freckle in the palm of my left hand
36. My wedding album
37. The satisfaction of cooking a meal everyone enjoys
38. The potential of an empty notebook or blank sheet of paper
39. Band competitions
40. Mapping out the school year in a planner
41. Sea turtles
42. Vacations
43. Academic Achievement
44. Music in all its forms
45. Chapel Hill, North Carolina
46. Black and White photographs
47. Scrapbooking
48. Knowing I am loved for who I am
49. Waking up next to Johnathan every morning
50. Chasing my dreams

Friday, August 6, 2010

101 in 1001

I gave in and checked out The Day Zero Project because I have noticed some of my fellow bloggers making their lists. Day Zero, as my blogger friend/former classmate Adrian pointed out, is very public in terms of posting your list on their site (I did so, but don't think it will get much visibility there from people who may actually be interested in what I have chosen as goals). So, for added scrutiny, here's my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. I will strike through a task when I have completed it and hopefully, because it is also on my list, document the accomplishments as they unfold.

Without further ado, here's the 101 things to be completed by May 2, 2013 :D

1. Watch 5 Best Picture winners I have not seen (0/5)

2. Go to a book signing

3. Make a pie from scratch

4. Complete a scrapbook

5. Send a handwritten letter

6. Host a fancy dress party

7. Attend a rally for a cause I really care about

8. Start a new family tradition

9. Take a cake decorating course

10. See a movie in IMAX

11. Go to a film festival

12. Send a secret to PostSecret

13. Travel to New York City

14. Read 10 non-fiction books (0/10)

15. Start planning for a family :)

16. Plan and cook a different meal for dinner each day for a week (0/7)

17. Have a working draft of a book completed

18. Audition for local theater

19. Lose weight

20. Travel outside the United States

21. Write a letter to my husband every month for one year, to be read on our next anniversary (0/12)

22. Blog at least once per week

23. Start a recipe book

24. Create a photographic journal for one week

25. Write on 20 creative writing prompts.

26. Do a sponsored run / walk for charity

27. Visit Europe

28. Write a list of 50 things that make me happy

29. Have professional photos taken

30. Take a picture every day for a month (0/30)

31. Do 10 random acts of kindness (0/10)

32. Buy a professional camera

33. Bake and decorate cupcakes

34. Drink 32 oz of water each day for one month (0/30)

35. Use the treadmill at work at least twice per week

36. Go on a picnic with my husband

37. Move into a larger house

38. Join a book club

39. Learn to use the SLR for yearbook

40. Go on a fancy dinner date with my husband

41. Save money for a Caribbean vacation

42. Go on a cruise with family/friends

43. Try a zumba class

44. Read and review 25 books on my blog (0/25)

45. Make a cheesecake from scratch

46. Take my mom on an overnight shopping trip

47. Buy a moleskine journal

48. Write regularly in said journal

49. Choose one entry from journal to post on blog each month

50. Give closet an IKEA makeover

51. Finish decorating the guest room

52. Organize the garage

53. Plan 5 surprises for Johnathan (0/5)

54. Complete school admin add-on program

55. Pass principal's exam

56. Ask 10 friends to suggest one book, and read them all (0/10)

57. No fast food for one month, use money saved for new house fund

58. Find a church we both like

59. Play free rice everyday for one month

60. Try one new recipe each month for one year (0/12)

61. Organize my classroom library

62. Finish my summer reading list

63. Make a consistent effort to use reusable shopping bags

64. Start an after school book club for students

65. Complete my paperback Harry Potter set (3/7)

66. Mail Christmas cards by December 7

67. Volunteer

68. Do not eat dinner out for one month; put saved money toward new house

69. Use all the groceries in the house before buying anything new

70. Get a couples' massage

71. Spend a day at a spa with my mom

72. Have a yard sale and actually sell things!

73. Make a wish at 11:11 on November 11, 2011.

74. Take pictures in a photo booth

75. Rent a convertible for my husband for a weekend

76. Complete 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind

77. Do a "What's in your bag?" post.

78. Get Kissed in the Rain.

79. See 10 classic movies I've never seen (0/10)

80. Go radio silent (no phone, computer, etc.) for an entire weekend

81. Host scrabble night at our house

82. Play more board games

83. Document each 101 goal with blog post and/or photo (0/101)

84. Make a list of things I don't like about myself, burn this list

85. Write a list of 101 things I’ve already achieved in this lifetime

86. Stay at a bed & breakfast

87. Participate in operation beautiful

88. Organize itunes into more playlists

89. Leave an inspirational note inside a book for someone to find

90. Watch 26 movies, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet (0/26)

91. Pay for someone else’s food behind me at the drive-thru

92. Travel somewhere by train

93. Finish Super Mario Galaxy on wii

94. Finish lego Harry Potter on wii

95. Host a boy's night for my husband's friends at our house

96. Surprise my husband with a spontaneous trip out of town

97. Find organic products to replace what we currently use

98. Finally send t-shirts off for our UNC quilt

99. Inspire someone to make a 101/1001 list

100. Bring back quill and scroll journalism honors society

101. Celebrate the end of the 1001 days on May 2, 2013 :D