Unraveling This Life

A little bit of this . . . a whole lot of that . . . and just a pinch of sparkle

Where It’s At

Posted on March 20, 2015

True story . . . I was looking for a sock pattern so I could figure out a heel that I wanted to replicate and came across a short story that I wrote years’ ago. And I just kinda feel like putting it out there since I like where it was going. 


Nobody ever comes in The Beauty Inside with an actual purpose. Fine, there may be the odd one who knows exactly what is needed and finds it using stealth like precision; otherwise, they will fall trap to the rest of the lures, like pretty colors or tantalizing scents or “helpful” sales associates. For most people, The Beauty Inside simply beckons and they walk through the doors like lambs to the slaughter. Some are pulled inside by the pulsating music. It’s always something slightly familiar, but the boom boom boom of the bass overshadows what you thought you knew. Others see the iconic stripes on the front and realize, “Hey, I need a lip gloss/eye shadow/perfume/ego booster,” and they too are in. Still others, usually the men, are dragged in by someone else. Hardly any wait outside, for if they do, the bill will most likely be higher. Besides, without the knowledge of what their partners are buying, they will have no clue what has been “improved” and the little compliments that most women go fishing for will remain unsaid. There are a few who stumble in on a hot summer day when the wall of cooled air hits them in the face as they pass by. For some reason, the marketing directors decided years ago that leaving the doors open on days above 85 degrees and cranking the AC just a bit made sense. You know what? There’s a reason those folks get paid the big bucks since it works like a charm. The occasional tourist from someplace in Iowa or Missouri comes in, thinking that they are on to some Big City phenomenon talked about in Elle or Vogue, but if they did a little bit of homework, they would have found a smaller shop in the largest city of their state or visited our Website already.

I say “our” Website because after working here for two years, you start to get a little possessive of the place. My zone – between Lorac and Hard Candy plus register two – is my own patch of The Beauty Inside. You want a killer Smoky Eye? Ask Dakota. You need something to make your high school boyfriend beg for forgiveness at your next high school reunion? Ask Dakota. You need a cheaper alternative to Miorine Eye Deglace? Ask Dakota. That’s what it says on my nametag. You can’t honestly think that Marge and Bert Crowley of Totowa, New Jersey called their first son Dakota, can you? Christ, that name only became popular ten or so years ago. If you had a choice of buying beauty enhancements (or make-up if you hate euphemisms) from Dakota or Dennis, whom would you trust? I won’t think you’re shallow if you don’t even entertain the name Dennis. Neither would I.

I’ve seen all types come in over the years, so much so that Chantal (Catherine if you must know), Midori (truly) and I have invented a game of sorts. We devised the categories years ago: surgeon, dreamer, drifter, helpless, tourist, and other. Surgeons mean business; they are in and they are out, very clinical. Dreamers are searching for the latest craze trumpeted in the glossy pages of the magazines to make them look ten years younger or to give them Sienna’s pout or the volume of Jennifer’s hair. Drifters come in almost by chance and they buy a random assortment of crap that you know damn well they’ll never use. The helpless are the ones I feel for the most. They need something – anything – to make them feel better. Sometimes a cheating spouse is the root cause of a $1000 make-up binge or a sudden weight gain causes the sales of anti-cellulite cream to spike through the roof. I almost feel guilty when working with the helpless since they will buy anything you put in front of them, but when your salary is tied to your sales, you get over it relatively quickly. Tourists? Just what the name implies. It’s the other category that really gets us, but when have you ever played a game or taken a survey when “other” wasn’t listed.

Before the day begins, the three of us decide on the point structure for the day. Surgeons are usually worth the most since it is rare that we get any. During the autumn months, tourists increase in value. The helpless are worth the least – just as in life – and the dreamers are usually variable depending on the item they are after. In all my months of playing, the game has never failed to entertain me. Then again, I find most YouTube videos of people falling entertaining. The only group that we don’t usually categorize are men. Early on we decided against lumping them into a category since it would be unfair to look at a potential hook-up or date in such light. All three of our last “serious” boyfriends have been former clients. Oddly enough, they stopped coming in after the break-ups.

Angie first started coming in about eighteen months ago. At first, we put her down as a drifter since she seemed to be without purpose, but when we noticed that she came in every Thursday at 6:15 exactly, we thought she might be a surgeon. Chantal saw, however, that she never bought anything more than cheap lip balm, the kind that your mom might buy to shove in your stocking to make you think you were special. By the end of the first month, she no longer counted in the game and I had her pattern down.

She enters from the 6th Avenue door with little make-up on and walks to the Stilla counter, applies some eye shadow using our hygienic applicators, and moves on. Angie then walks to the Shesido area and adds the mascara before navigating her way past the spritzers to the Bare Minerals section for the foundation. Her last stop is near the Cargo display for two shades of lip-gloss before grabbing a balm, paying, and leaving with one brief stop for a quick spray of Ralph Rocks. That’s it . . . it never deviates, save for the time that the Japanese tourists blocked her access to the Shesido area and she had to settle for Lorac. She’s never paid with a card, always cash, and she’s never said anything other than thank you. Hell, I don’t even know her name; Angie is just the name I gave her since she reminded me of Angie Carmichael in the third grade at St. Lucia’s Elementary. For all I know, she is Angie Carmichael, but I doubt it.

Angie always struck me as being kind of pathetic at first. Here is this woman, fairly attractive in my limited knowledge, coming into a huge chain store like The Beauty Inside to use our makeup for free. Granted, the make-up is there for people to use, but we are expecting you to buy that $34 tube of mascara at some point. But not Angie. She buys the cheapest $4 lip balm we offer. Is it absolution for using the shop as her own personal dress-up box? Or is there some deep down Catholic or Mid-West guilt forcing her to make amends for the “theft” of some good make-up week after week? Maybe she just has really chapped lips? Either way, it was kind of pathetic watching this plain Jane enter only to leave as someone else. This, coming from a man who spends too much time caring about the shape of his brows and not enough time about his sister’s kids, according to my mother. Pathetic, yes?

About six weeks into my “relationship” with Angie, pathetic was the last word that came to mind. A young mother – a dreamer – had her two kids plus a pocket-dog with her while she was trying to negotiate our narrow aisles. (There’s a reason for that, says our marketing directors. People are more likely to purchase items if they feel claustrophobic as they just want to get out but the guilt usually prevents them from doing so until they make at least a small purchase. Told you there is a reason they make the big bucks.) The mom is blissfully ignorant of her youngest in the front seat, who by now is eating the display of nail “varnishes” and kicking them all over the floor. Angie, who is attempting to make the turn into the aisle for her lip-gloss, sees the young child gum the third bottle of polish and grabs it out of his hand. She leans over and says something to the oblivious mother, who gushes over her sons and dog yet gives Angie the look of death, and goes back into her own world. What kind of woman does that? Not ignore her own kids – millions of women do that – but actually take the time to “parent” someone else’s child. Maybe Angie herself is a mom, separated by a bitter custody battle and she is looking for any child to fill that void. From that day on, I started “writing” Angie’s story in my head.

If she came in with her hair pulled back in a ponytail, she was obviously training for the New York City marathon. She had probably been running a ten-mile warm-up through the park, getting ready for the big day. I admired how fast Angie’s metabolism returned to normal as she strolled in without the ruddy complexion or sweating which prevented me from becoming a serious runner.

But if she walked in carrying a book or a newspaper, clearly Angie had been to her weekly book circle where she discussed how Oprah got this one wrong and why people should look to the classics before anointing the next Dickens or Austen or Proust. How the newspaper tied into that was beyond me. Maybe a newspaper circle where she debated the new font choice in the Times.

Every once and a while, Angie wore all black and then she needed to spruce up before heading to the funeral of her best friend/lover/close family accquaintence/groomer. Or maybe she really worked for one of the myriad of places that thought all black outfits brought class to the joint (like The Beauty Inside). Once or twice, the outfit didn’t need a lot of explanation: sparkly top, tight jeans, fuck-me pumps. You get the picture. This outfit was the rarest of all, so I felt some kind of comfort that she had a boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse to take up the rest of her time.

One Thursday about two months ago, Angie didn’t come in. 6:15 came and went and no Angie. I asked Chantal if she had seen “the freebie” since I had never shared my obsession about Angie with anyone. “Nope. Maybe she actually bought her own shit and isn’t free-loading off of us,” she muttered. I gave a strangled laugh, but something was clearly wrong. In eighteen months, there had never been a Thursday without her; the Post Office could learn a thing of two from Angie about regularity and efficiency. Where was she? Fifteen agonizing moments went by and still nothing.

Then, I saw her . . . but it wasn’t her, just some dreamer in search of J-Lo’s butt cream. At 7 I called the shop on 8th and Madison, which was about a ten minutes walk from us. “Halley, it’s Dakota. This is going to sound weird, but did a woman about 5’ 7” with dirty blonde hair come in, use a bunch of make-up, buy a Essential Lip Balm in Mint, and leave? Yeah, a freebie.” Shit. No Angie there either.

For the rest of my shift, I popped my head up every minute or so and scanned the crowd. Nothing. I have no clue why it troubled me that this anonymous woman who clearly never gave me anything other than a five-dollar bill and the odd smile was “missing.” That night, I left heading along the path that I had seen her use so often. I shuffled down 6th Avenue, bumping into people while scanning the crowd instead of watching where I was going like a good New Yorker. Maybe she took the subway to get here so I headed into the station and just stood there. For the first time in years, I felt out of place in the city, while people knocked into me trying to buy their Metro cards and racing through the turnstiles to catch the next train. I thought about getting on a train but had no clue which way to go. I’d never figured out if Angie was an Uptown or Downtown kind of girl.

Instead I went home, reheated some Indian food from last night and watched some reality TV. Eventually, still irritated by Angie’s disappearing act, I clicked my way to the NYPD’s Missing Person’s page and read the descriptions of every individual listed. Some were clearly not her: wrong gender, too old, obviously not Puerto Rican. But two or three seemed like they could be Angie. Was she really Maria DeCarlos from the Lower Eastside who had been missing since last Saturday? God, almost a whole week. Her family must be frantic. Perhaps Angie’s real name was Karissa Rosenblatt from Brooklyn. Never thought she might be from Brooklyn or named Karissa. Eventually, I got tired of the guessing game, drank three glasses of wine like a good little boy, and went to bed.

The next day didn’t go any better. Angie, I thought, just got her days confused. Maybe she had a grueling day at the office and she couldn’t make it in for her beautification. But 6:15 came and went as it did successively for the rest of the week and still no Angie. Midori and Chantal started to give me funny looks when I asked about the freebie after my days off. “Why do you care about her? She’s not your type . . . unless you have something to tell us.” My sales were slightly down during Angie’s “missing week;” helping the helpless isn’t so easy when you feel that way yourself. She didn’t turn up on the next Thursday either, even though I had been hoping against hope that she would.

Eventually my obsession with Angie faded as I realized that she wasn’t’ coming back. Maybe she had secretly been buying make-up at another shop or perhaps she was really a Cover Girl after all. Either way, Angie never returned to the shop. Nothing really changed for me. We kept playing the game, deciding eventually to add the men to two separate categories: hello and good-bye. I took the train home every so often for Marge’s tuna noodle casserole. My nieces loved their trip to the American Girl Place with Uncle Denny. A new boy came and another one was close behind. Without Angie, my life went on: coffees ordered, magazines read, gossip whispered, groceries purchased.

My favorite place to buy the groceries is the Whole Foods on 26th Street. It’s not that busy on Saturday mornings, probably because it’s far enough away from the tourist hot spots and at least a three block hike from the nearest subway stop. Besides, they do fabulous samples on Saturday, so I really don’t have to worry about breakfast or lunch. After three trips through the cheese section, I don’t even think about dinner most Saturdays. I can always justify the samples since I usually – usually – buy one or two of the items they put out. Near the deli counter, the sales girl cuts up some exotic cheese from Portugal, promising a nutty punch in a creamy cow’s milk interior. I take two cubes of this cheese, not really caring if she gives me a look of disdain or disgust. Maybe I’ll buy some next time if I can get a few more “hopelesses” to boost the sales.


She hates working Saturdays. All the people who come in clearly load up on the samples before heading out for a day on the town. Ellie swore the change in shifts wouldn’t be permanent after she took her vacation two months ago but here she stands, cutting up over priced cheese for trendy city dwellers who never buy the shit anyway. Take this jack-hole with the manscaped brows. He’s been in the cheese section three times – three times! – and has yet to add a hunk of the cheapest cheddar to his cart. Was ten days with her sisters and their kids in a cramped time-share in Phoenix worth working Saturdays, catering to the weekend warriors? Maybe but if one more person leaves the aisle without buying the Poirier cheese, she might scream. Instead, she reaches into her smock, grabs the tube of Essential Lip Balm in Mint, runs it over her top lip twice, presses it to her bottom one, and smiles while she says, “Can I offer you a sample of our newest cheese, ma’am? It’s from a new line of artisan-crafted cheeses from Portugal. You’ll find that the creamy cow’s milk interior gives way to a pleasing nutty finish.”

“Where It’s At” by Beck

Feed the Tree

Posted on March 9, 2015

Occasionally, I’ll stumble (hint: it’s almost always from my sister, Erika) across something that I think I’m going to love, and I do, but it takes me ages and ages and ages to figure out that I love it. Twitter was like that. “I don’t get why people tweet . . . it is just plain stupid,” I lamented one afternoon, only to be brought low when I wanted to enter a contest for a new camera bag. Of course I would start tweeting if I got a few more entries. There have been a few books along the way, purchased and then forgotten about until months later, including Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze CookbookYet another idea I can thank my sister for.

When I first bought the cookbook, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it other than there was a pan of manicotti on the front cover. I leafed through it, looked at a couple of recipes, read the helpful tips . . . and then promptly set it aside for a few months. Once-a-month-cooking, or OMAC in case you are looking for tips on-line, became something that I would pin on Pinterest, but it just seemed too time consuming. It made so much sense, but why did it look so damn hard. Maybe I’d try it, and slowly life resumed as normal. Come home and cook something, rather come home and look in the fridge for something then decide that it’s too late to make XYZ because I forgot something so may as well go run through a drive-thru or order Domino’s. Every once and a while, I’d get ambitious and write out a menu for the week, only to be derailed a few day laters.

Over Christmas break, I blew the dust off of Not Your Mother’s cookbook (yes . . . literal dust; I’m also a shitty housekeeper), and I decided to give it a whirl. Turns out that cooking for an entire month in one day takes some planning and thought, but there was light at the end of the tunnel. Because I realized that I wouldn’t have to cook for another four weeks.

Have there been some stumbling blocks along the way? Sure, but that’s to be expected. Here’s what I found out along the way just in case you are interested in either this cook book or OMAC.

  • Be sure your family is on board. It’s just Dave and me since the girls are on their own. I can see how a family of four might get tired of the same foods, but for us, it wasn’t a problem.
  • Make a really good list and group it according the the aisles in your grocery store. If you have an Aldi’s near you, almost everything in this book can be found there, so the meals might also cost you less, too.
  • Buy your groceries on one day and cook on another. Trust me, you will be tired at the end of your cooking day, and grocery shopping before hand will only make it worse. I learned this the hard way the first time I tried it.
  • Whomever will be eating with you, make sure that you all agree on the meals ahead of time. It doesn’t do you any good to make a beautiful shepherd’s pie if only one person will eat it.
  • Figure out which recipes give you the most bang for your buck. Meatballs are great, but Dave and I are more prone to enjoy meatloaf. Luckily the recipe for meatballs can be halved, or you can split the batch into meatballs and meatloaf (win-win!).
  • If you find that you enjoy this type of cooking, create one menu and just recycle it month after month after month. Works great for us since I tend to cook the same foods every Friday (frozen pizza) and Sunday (my chili).
  • Work in times to eat out. Because honestly, you’ll want to . . . even better, schedule it on day that you need to go grocery shopping.
  • Keep a list of items that you need to pick up fresh to finish off certain meals. The grilled shrimp tacos need a little cilantro to make it just right, but that doesn’t stay fresh terribly long. Chances are, there are other things that need to be picked up, too. Make one trip, and you’re saving on gas, too.
  • Change the recipes to suit your taste. Personally, I think the salt level is too low, which is saying something because I under-salt everything. If I don’t have the right kind of fish on hand, I’ll sub in whatever I have available.
  • Check on your freezer stock every so often. According to my calendar, I should have cooked last weekend, but after checking in the freezer, I had enough food to get me through another week.
  • Take the food out of the freezer you’re planning on eating the night before so it thaws. Otherwise, it’s to the drive-thru you might go.
  • Invest in plastic Zip-Loc bags. You’ll need them. And, yes, I draw the line at washing them out. If your grandma did, awesome! I don’t.
  • Organize your freezer. You’ll thank me for that one.

That’s about it. Every month, I make the following out of Not Your Mother’s cookbook: tandoori chicken, spicy dijon chicken, meatballs and meatloaf, shrimp tacos, hoisin glazed salmon, almond-lime tilapia (it’s not the fish called for, but it’s what I had on hand), taquitos, and my chili. In addition to that, I’ll supplement it with garlic bread (it’s cheaper to buy the fresh ones at Aldi’s, cut them in half, and freeze them), pasta, and precooked chicken sausages. Add in some pasta sauce or pesto, and we’re set.

This month, I added ginger-pork lettuce wraps to the rotation. If the small taste that I snuck on Sunday is any indication, I’m pretty sure that it will stay in the rotation. I’m not too sure about the stuffed chicken parmesan, garlic-butter lemon chicken, and salmon packets with red onions and sun-dried tomato pesto will stay, but I’m willing to try . . . because it sure beats the drive-thru.

If you give it a whirl, let me know how you make out. I’d love to add your ideas!

“Feed the Tree” by Belly

Santa, Baby

Posted on December 1, 2014

Dear Sadie –

Technically, you’ve been a Greenwood for exactly two full weeks today. I say technically because we adopted you on November 16, 2014. But on that day, I was pretty sure you might have been the biggest mistake I’d ever made. On our drive home from Last Chance Ranch, you quickly figured out how to get out of the back seat and come up front with me. You spent that drive alternating between standing in the passenger seat and looking out the window or sitting half on the passenger seat and half in my lap, licking my hands. At one point, you decided you were car sick and very nicely jumped in the backseat to puke. Once we arrived home, you peed twice in the kitchen and then pooped in the living room. But the whole while, you were happy as a proverbial pig in shit with your corkscrew tail wiggling a mile a minute. Lucy decided she wanted some love, and that’s when you decided to let her know that I was off-limits. And that, my little piggie poo, did not bode well for you. I nearly called the shelter to see when I could bring you back since being possessive of me would not do for our family. But I took you and Lucy for a walk instead, and you started to work your magic. Later that night, I cried on several times on the phone with Jordan, and she put it into perspective: you had been through a lot and probably needed some time.

Sadie Grace . . . she hasn't quite figured out what to do with the camera (hence the blurry black and white)

Sadie Grace . . . she hasn’t quite figured out what to do with the camera (hence the blurry black and white)

So we waited. The next day, you didn’t really like going into your crate, but you did. That afternoon, you were like a dog possessed, but again, we walked and walked and walked. Friends out walking their dogs also echoed Jordan’s sentiments: give it some time. Lucy didn’t really like you in the house because you growled at her when she came near us, but eventually, you both sacked out on the couch. The true test came in the middle of the night when Dave came home from a trip to Las Vegas. Meeting him at 1:45 AM was like meeting a long-lost friend . . . you were overjoyed by your new friend but happily went back to sleep in a few minutes.

That first weekend, we left for a trip to Philadelphia (a half marathon waits for no one), and you stayed home with Lucy and Aunt Dar. She met you the first night and couldn’t get over how well you were doing with our family. When we got home on Sunday, you and Lucy couldn’t stop wagging your tails and giving kisses . . . plus you were ready for a walk around the neighborhood. Apparently the whole “I just ran 13.1 miles” thing was lost in translation, but you were pretty darn insistent on the walk. Slowly but surely, you and Lucy started coming to an agreement: playing would consist of tag, keep away, and wrestling. Growling optional.

Lucy Goosey . . . she hasn't quite figured out what's going on, but I'm pretty sure she likes Sadie

Lucy Goosey . . . I’m pretty sure she is starting to like Sadie

Since that first night, I’ve learned this:

  • you love your tummy rubs: that’s how I found out you still had your staples in from your spaying;
  • the vet and the techs thought you were adorable and the perfect patient;
  • you are a horrible water drinker . . . most farm animals have better manners;
  • when you are happy, you snort like a pig; in fact, you kinda look like a fox/pig hybrid;
  • you learned ‘sit’ in a matter of minutes, so I’m pretty sure that when we get you in training classes, you’ll catch on relatively quickly;
  • you don’t like the backseat of the car (but you will throw up in it);
  • I have no idea what kind of dog you are other than Sadie, but once the DNA results are in, I’m pretty sure we’ll have an answer (and I’m truly hoping it says that you’re a dog);
  • any toy that Lucy has is the one that you want; she’s much better at turning corners than you are, but you make up for that in muscle;
  • you willingly go into your crate for bedtime and during the day, but I’m hoping that you won’t need either of those of much longer;
  • you are about 75% house trained (which is why you’re in the crate during the day);
  • you take treats much more gently than Lucy does;
  • your tongue is polka-dotted . . . I know this because after you run around the house or the backyard, you spend a great percentage of the time panting with it hanging out of your mouth;
  • you greet everyone as if you’ve known them your entire life and will charm the pants off of them within minutes;
  • you can be a little mouthy if you don’t feel that you have received enough attention, but we are working on this;
  • even with all the running and barking and growling, you’ve helped Lucy with her anxiety a lot; she enjoys trying to get you to lie down next to her;
  • you’re a work in progress but one that is completely worth it.
Lucy and Sadie

Lucy and Sadie

Next year, on November 16, we’ll make you a pupcake and throw you a party to celebrate your one your anniversary. Because you will have been a Greenwood for one whole year. But today? Today, you have been a Greenwood for two weeks.

PS – If you are thinking about getting a pet for Christmas, please consider adopting a pet from a shelter. Chances are, you’ll find the perfect pet for your family and make the difference in the life of an animal looking for a home. Most pets in shelters are there through no fault of theirs. Sadie was brought into Philadelphia’s ACCT and then to Last Chance Ranch. Other than when she was brought in, we know nothing about her. But I can tell you this much: she is our dog and gets all the love she can handle. Shelters are currently bursting at the seams with pets looking for their homes . . . maybe one or two are looking for you. 

“Santa, Baby” by Marilyn Monroe . . . or anyone but Madonna (that version is too, too campy)

The Weight (Take a Load Off Annie) (5:30)

Posted on November 5, 2014

I’m on a parenthetical roll with these titles! Nine times out of ten, the titles for my posts have little if anything to do with the content. I’ve always struggled with the titles for writing, so when I discovered that Degrassi used song titles for their episodes, it seemed like the perfect match. Most of the time I hit shuffle on my iTunes and just write down the first title that I like, but occasionally, there’s a song that reminds me of the topic. Yesterday’s had to do with the feeling of pride after voting, but today’s was out of the blue. Kind of. Because the parenthetical was the first thing I thought of when I decided to write about being grateful for tonight. Tonight is pretty much about nothing. Tonight, I’m putting my feet up.

I could have graded some more vocabulary quizzes, but I didn’t. I could have moved the shelves up from the basement to my room, but I didn’t. I could have washed the dishes, but I didn’t. I put my feet up . . . and I’m grateful that I can that luxury. I have that option, and not every person does. There are many people who leave one job and head off to another (and another after that). My own children are grown, so the constant running and rushing with their schedules are well over. I can put my feet up if I want to.

5:30 - Lucy thought about putting her feet up, too, but then she fell asleep

5:30 – Lucy thought about putting her feet up, too, but then she fell asleep

And tonight, I wanted to do just that. Granted, I cleaned up the spare room before that. And read a few papers during the day. Plus, I learned a little bit more about new software package we use at school. Oh, and I “prettified” a collection box for our blankets drive for our local animal shelter (check our #BlanketsForShelters on Twitter for more info about how you can help your local shelters). There was the dinner that I prepared – it was just gnocchi and shrimp with butter and garlic. But tonight . . . right now? I’m putting my feet up.

“The Weight (Take a Load Off Annie)” by The Band . . . and I totally thought this was called “Take a Load Off Fannie”

Pride (In the Name of Love) (4:30)

Posted on November 4, 2014

Things I did that I’m proud of today:

  • ran three miles at 4:45 AM with a good friend and neither one of us died or passed out;
  • graded an entire class set’s worth of quizzes (granted it’s my smallest class, but a win is a win);
  • helped out the sub in my reading partner’s classroom because the kids were taking advantage of her generosity and kindheartedness . . . and by helped I mean laid down the law;
  • decided to consolidate all the laundry baskets in my room and put the clothes away;
  • put together an IKEA rolling cart with Lucy’s help . . . realized very quickly that the Phillips head screwdriver on a Swiss Army Knife was no match for Swedish directions;
  • organized my winter running gear into three bins (coincidence that the IKEA rolling cart has three bins? I think not);
  • put a load of laundry in the washing machine;
  • and exercised my right to vote.
4:30 - I vote on two basic issues: public education and reproductive rights . . . because I am a teacher and a woman

4:30 – I vote on two basic issues: public education and reproductive rights . . . because I am a teacher and a woman

I’m pretty sure that there were other things I did today that would make my mother proud, but these are the highlights. Right now, it’s a toss-up between putting the IKEA cart together and voting. The directions for each of them are pretty simple and 99% of the time, they are given in the form of pictures. Usually, you feel good about them when you are done, too. Either you have a functional, simple, and economical piece of furniture when you are done, or you have a nifty little sticker that you can wear for the rest of the day. But only one of them gives you some kind of bragging rights, and it certainly ain’t the one that usually comes with an Allen wrench.

“Pride (In the Name of Love)” by U2

My Party (3:30)

Posted on November 3, 2014

When you are fortunate to go to work at a job that you truly love, it makes all the difference in the world. I guess I’m fortunate . . . being a teacher is pretty much the bee’s knees for me. I love the way my kids looks when they “get” something. The ways that they change from day to day and, let’s face it, from hour to hour. I love the look of recognition that occurs when they are taking on the role of teacher. There’s not a lot that I wouldn’t do for them. Need some extra help? We can arrange that. Wanna play Wii at lunch? Sure . . . I gotcha. Just feel like telling me how confusing seventh grade is? Trust me. I hated it, too.

I work in a job that allows me to be goofy and dance to Madonna’s “Holiday” to prove a point. Where a casual mention of a sports team elicits passion that lacking in most of our elected representatives. It’s a job that has more ups than downs and occasional confessions about love of the silly crap. I come in everyday to a district that values technology and embraces those that are willing to try. I benefit from that, but my kids benefit more, which is exactly how it should be. We get to celebrate each other’s triumph and try to figure out how to make the bumps smoother along the roads they travel.

3:30 - My desk has seen neater days, but at least I can see it.

3:30 – My desk has seen neater days, but at least I can see it.

Are there aspects of my job that I don’t like? If there weren’t, I’d question myself. I loathe the changes that occur in the effort to make teachers more accountable. I don’t quite get the 100% proficient requirement in federal laws. I despise the constant attacks in the media about how these teachers just don’t get it. I could add more, but in the end, it boils down to this . . . I love my job.

“My Party” by Kinds of Leon

Second Chance (2:30)

Posted on November 2, 2014

Love. Peace. Freedom. Those grandiose ideals that I promised to be grateful for today? Taking a pass on the last two, but I’ll go with love. Lucy . . . I love Lucy. There’s no pun intended in that statement. Lucy, our 2-year-old mutt, is a snuggle bug. She’s needy and whiny and attention seeking. But she’s also loyal and funny and goofy. Two years ago, I would have told you that I was relishing being dog-free for the first time in over a decade, but truly it was a three-month period that was bereft of a lot of joy and companionship. The girls were at school, and Dave was traveling quite a lot. That meant me and the cats, who pretty much looked at me as the can opener. But a dog? Now that was something else.

2:30 - Lucy on the porch . . . this took a giant treat to get her to sit still in the wind

2:30 – Lucy on the porch . . . this took a giant treat to get her to sit still in the wind

Lucy can be the absolute most loving dog ever. All she wants to do is be on your lap. And she’s usually not content to sit next to you; she has to be as close as humanly possible, going so far as to wedge herself into crevices where she really shouldn’t fit. Is she a bit of a pain? Sure . . . I haven’t quite figured out how to grade with her sitting on my lap. And somedays (fine, most) she makes eating a little awkward since she thinks that her impression of a napkin is adorable. But I’ll take that in exchange for her keeping me company every day. Besides, if either of those truly bugged me, I’d have fixed it a long time ago.

Now that it’s just Lucy in the house, we’re thinking of adding another rescue to the mix. We found Lucy on Petfinder in January 2013, and I think we’ve narrowed our next pup down to two or three. Here’s hoping I have another rescue to be grateful for in a few weeks. But until then, love is just fine by me.

“Second Chance” by Peter Bjorn and John