Unraveling This Life

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

Music*

Posted on May 27, 2013

This weekend involved lots of grading – tons of outlines that contain some hilarious inaccuracies (you don’t need a college degree to be an anesthesiologist) or half-truths (teachers don’t work weekends) plus a smattering of vocabulary. Thankfully, two things got me through a rather painful two days: reading/watching all about Emily’s latest birth shoot and a newish playlist. Y’all know how I feel about playlists and music . . . something about a carefully created list of music can improve even the foulest of moods (did I mention that we were trying to let Lucy sleep outside of her crate or that Dave was watching the new Arrested Development on Netflix? That translates to when your toddler discovers that she can get out of bed on her own or, well, giving up chocolate for Lent right before going to the Wonka factory). Anyway, here’s the playlist that made this weekend only slightly bearable.

I look like this every grading weekend . . . pretty much in the same clothes, too

I look like this every grading weekend . . . pretty much in the same clothes, too

  1. “God Only Knows (Live)” by The Beach Boys – brings me to tears every single time plus they sound awesome live even 50 years later
  2. “Demons” by The National  – just a beautiful song and album
  3. “Diane Young”  by Vampire Weekend – can’t help but tap your feet along to this one
  4. “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and Ray Dalton – late to the Macklemore party only because I didn’t know who sang this
  5. “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, T. I., and Pharrell – “You want to hug me. What rhymes with hug me?”
  6. “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Ray from The Great Gatsby soundtrack – she’s a bit odd, but I like her vocals
  7. “Make It Home (Remix)” by thenewno2 from Beautiful Creatures soundtrack – Dhani Harrison, please have a long and successful career
  8. “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and Wanz – see #4
  9. “I Need Your Love” by Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding – I can’t say “featuring” when she does all the work
  10. “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn – unapologetically love her
  11. “Ridley’s Swamptronica” by thenewno2 – if you’re looking for a really good “mood” soundtrack, download this one
  12. “Kill and Run” by Sia – love her voice (and I’ve never even read The Great Gatsby)
  13. “The Honey Hill Stomp” by thenewno2 – fun and easy to forget that you’re listening to a movie soundtrack
  14. “Boy” by Emma Louise – free single on iTunes and pretty damn good
  15. “Run to Me” by Ben Harper and Liela Moss – might make me listen to a little more country music (but probably not)
  16. “Catch My Breath” by Kelly Clarkson – do y’all say it like Steve Carell did in The 40 Year-Old Virgin (which isn’t punctuated correctly)
  17. “Wings” by Little Mix – a good summer anthem
  18. “Gentleman” by PSY – I think he might be on to something with the whole dance tune that most of us don’t understand
  19. “Anna Sun” by Walk the Moon – thank you, Sirius Radio, for providing the artist and song title
  20. “Chocolate” by The 1975 – not every day that you can work in “That’s what she said” into song lyrics
  21. “Instant Crush” by Daft Punk and Julian Casablancas – there’s a reason this is the fastest selling album this year
  22. “Sea of Love” by The National – in the video, I’m pretty sure I dance like the one dude
  23. “Despair” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs – free from Starbucks (and I completely forgot about it)
  24. “Never Wanted Your Love” by She & Him – I find that I like Zoey Deschanel much better as a singer than an actress
  25. “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and Pharrell – just hit repeat and continue grading

The beauty of this grading session? I think it’s my final one for the 2012-13 school year . . . and that deserves at least another round of the playlist. Enjoy what’s left of the holiday!

* Still a song title . . . even if it is from a Madonna album that hardly sounded like Madonna

Sweet Child Of Mine

Posted on May 14, 2013

Dear Girls –

For once, I’m at a loss for words. In less than 48 hours – yes, we’ve come to that point where we can measure things in hours – you will graduate from college. And it hardly seems possible. I know I ought to have some words of wisdom, something important to tell you, but I really can’t put it into words. I thought for sure that if I waited until everything was all wrapped up this week, I’d have some time to sit and think about it and it would just come to me, and yet . . . here I sit with nothing. So let me just say this:

  • I’m proud of you . . . so extremely proud of you. You’ve both achieved things I never thought possible. Hell, I thought students like you existed only in movies. I struggled in college, basically because I didn’t have to do much in high school, and it wasn’t until I had to focus my energies that last semester my junior year that things began to fall into place.
  • Do something good for people. Volunteer. Offer people that side of you that most people don’t see in academics. You have more talent than you know what to do with . . . let others put it to good use.
  • Get to know your new cities. See what is out there. Take a day once a week and explore. Even if it is just for a few hours, make that new city your home if only for a year. Explore the markets. Get to know the woman who runs the corner coffee shop. Find a “local” and claim your booth.
  • Read a book once a month. Read a book more than once a month. But read whatever the hell you want. You don’t “have” to read the latest best seller, so read what you want. However, you might have to read what your professors tell you, too. Sadly, that’s not going away.
  • Remember that you have a support system. You have family who loves you, who pretty much will do anything for you (let’s avoid bail money, shall we?). You need it . . . you’re covered.
  • Keep your “twinness.” You’re moving to separate cities, and you’ll be on your own for a longer time than last winter. I know that you will be with people that you love, but it will be different not having each other. There’s not an “end date” this time around, so it’s up to you two.
  • Never give up. You’ll have challenges in the future. I know that you will hit bumps in the road, but you can’t let those bumps turn into a road block. Every time you turn on the news, it’s gloom-and-doom for your generation. For the love of god, Time just made their cover article about how self-centered the Millennials are . . . prove them wrong. Prove that you won’t let this screwed up economy, conflicted government, sound-byte media define what you can accomplish.
  • Keep in touch. I’m not asking for a daily phone call. Texts are fine. Send me an Instagram photo of your new favorite place. Hop on to my Facebook timeline and post a funny Doctor Who meme. But don’t tell me what you had for dinner. Unless it was fucking awesome. Or you made it.
  • Enjoy your life. Period. The end.
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So, just like you were at your dad’s graduation and my graduation, we’ll be at yours. I hope that the commencement speaker is more interesting than the speakers at ours. I hope that you can hear your grandfather whistle when you cross the stage. I hope that you enjoy the moment when you get to move your tassel to the other side of the cap. I hope your robes are “blinged out” exactly the way you thought it would be. And I hope you know that you mean the world to me.

Love,

Madre

I Love It

Posted on May 10, 2013

Two weeks ago – yup, I planned ahead – I was fortunate enough to chaperone a school trip to New York City for a visit to the Central Park Zoo and a matinee of Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I’m extremely grateful to work in a district that values technology and goes the extra mile for our students when it comes to teaching them the skills necessary to navigate a digital world. Plus, we live very close to New York City, so the occasional trip can be swung for our web page design group and television broadcast team. I went with the television broadcast team back in November to view a taping of Good Morning America, but this trip was a bit different. We took a quick trip through the Central Park Zoo (a lovely little zoo that makes you forget you’re in the middle of one of the world’s busiest cities) then walked over to the Foxwoods Theater to see Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark (not as cheesy as I thought it was going to be plus Jake Epstein, Degrassi: The Next Generation‘s Craig was playing Peter Parker) and followed it up with a dinner at Sbaro’s (decent food at a decent price . . . with fifty plus kids). All in all, we enjoyed ourselves immensely, and I learned a few things: it’s easy to get separated when traveling in large groups, but everyone should have a map; my students are some of the most fascinating people I know, and I’m grateful to get to spend some time with them outside of school; the people I work with are 100% dedicated to the students they teach and strive for their – the students – excellence every day; and never underestimate the power of a very good bus driver. All the photos (and there’s more than ten this month . . . sue me) were taken on April 24, 2013, in New York City. After you’re done here, go on over and visit my good friend, Jessica Lewis, and see how she spent her day. Our circle might be shorter this month, but I’m pretty sure that you’ll find some beauty in the other photographers’ work.

At the Central Park Zoo . . . I like the different sculptures spread throughout

At the Central Park Zoo . . . I like the different sculptures spread throughout

The penguins were quite popular; sadly I couldn't get close enough to catch them swimming

The penguins were quite popular; sadly I couldn’t get close enough to catch them swimming

If you close your eyes, you can almost forget where you are

If you close your eyes, you can almost forget where you are

Dear Students: I wish for you the world . . . it's yours if you only have the courage to reach out and grab it

Dear Students: I wish for you the world . . . it’s yours if you only have the courage to reach out and grab it

We were surrounded by school groups of all ages . . . the little girl was mesmerized by the polar bear.

We were surrounded by school groups of all ages . . . the little girl was mesmerized by the polar bear.

Who doesn't love a sea lion or three?

Who doesn’t love a sea lion or three?

Going through the aviary makes me cringe every, single time. Nothing frightens me more than birds.

Going through the aviary makes me cringe every, single time. Nothing frightens me more than birds.

Always a good sign when you can find a Shepard Fairey sticker on the street

Always a good sign when you can find a Shepard Fairey sticker on the street

Some of the finest people I know

Some of the finest people I know

Helvetica, the world's most popular font, in action

Helvetica, the world’s most popular font, in action

Spring is finally here . . . and it's really a spring!

Spring is finally here . . . and it’s really a spring!

I can't tell you how much I enjoy seeing the city from the height of a bus

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy seeing the city from the height of a bus

I can't tell you why it appeals to me; it just does

I can’t tell you why it appeals to me; it just does

See ya next time, NYC!

See ya next time, NYC!

It’s Been a Long Time Coming

Posted on April 14, 2013

Dear Erika and Bridget –

Most people, in celebration of their children’s birth, usually post a photo or two of their kids and say something about how wonderful that day was. They reminisce about how wonderful all the hospital staff was. How none of the pains were really that bad. They think about how loving their partner was and how it felt when that tiny baby was placed in their arms. But quite frankly, I figured today was better spent saying thank you because without you, I probably wouldn’t have a birthday to celebrate. Might seem a tad hyperbolic, but it’s true. I’m pretty sure that when Mom and Dad told you that you were going to be coming to Oxford for a week at a stretch so that you could tend to your bedridden and vastly pregnant older sister you didn’t jump for joy and try for a few back springs. Nope. I’m fairly certain there were some choice muttering (privately, of course, because Mom and Dad told you that you were doing it) and some, “Why the hell is it my responsibility?” kind of talk. But then you came to help out and watched way too much MacGyver and cooked your fair share of mac ‘n cheese all the while living in a college apartment with me, Dave, and our roommate. But without your help, I know I would have gone into early labor, and with twins that usually doesn’t end well.

So, thank you for that. But more importantly, thank you for always being the kind of women that my girls can look up to. Thank you for:

  • letting them see that real women can hold their own in an argument;
  • giving them stories that they can tell their children;
  • playing with them when they were little and drinking with them when they were not;
  • taking them places when you didn’t have to;
  • shopping on endless trips to the mall when they visited;
  • seeing movies you probably didn’t want to;
  • reminding them that women can fart and belch;
  • having husbands who would willingly run out for chocolate milk or make room on the bedroom floor when the heat and humidity got too high;
  • being what a mother should be; and
  • showing them the power of sisters.

It’s been a long 22 years, so that’s pretty much a given that I’ve probably forgotten something. And I’m sure that as the years go on, they’ll add to that list on their own.

Love,

Me

For previous years’ birthday posts, you can click here, here, and their 20th birthday video here.

Sweater Weather

Posted on April 10, 2013

Trust me . . . it’s an appropriate title for this 10 on 10. When my student teacher left for her next placement in late March, I was more than ready for it. After observing the same lesson all day and offering suggestions that were partially implemented, I needed to get my students back. Only problem? My student teacher joined me right before Lucy did . . . holy shit! I forgot how much work a puppy is when coupling that with a job. So my grading and other crap has taken a backseat on the weekends to the pup. But not last weekend. Last weekend was all about knitting, one of the things that keeps me sane. My local knit shop, Mountain Knits and Pearls (relax . . . they sell beading supplies, too; the owner is a retired English teacher – she chose the correct “pearl/purl” for this context), had an excellent teacher in for a full weekend of classes. Take the class; make a small Norwegian fana cardigan. Fun, right? So while I was knitting, I stopped occasionally to take a photo to use for the 10 on 10. We had a small lunch break and headed to Rudy’s for a super (it’s a hot dog that has a slice of cheese in the middle and is wrapped in bacon and then grilled. Trust me, it’s super) and some lagers, and then it was back to the knit shop for more knitting. Olive was extremely grateful for the sun and that Lucy can’t reach her on the dining room table. Dave and I ended the evening with some sushi and some really bad fortunes. Head on over to Laura and see how she spent her day. I’m pretty sure it was spectacular.

I spread out when I knit

I spread out when I knit

Ribbing done . . . thank god

Ribbing done . . . thank god

In progress

In progress

Best bar in East Stroudburg

Best bar in East Stroudburg

Coming back for the afternoon

Coming back for the afternoon

Almost ready to cut - it's terrifying but exciting

Almost ready to cut – it’s terrifying but exciting

No dog around

No dog around

Perhaps she can grade

Perhaps she can grade

He added the action; he usually does

He added the action; he usually does

Grammar optional . . . and are these really fortunes?

Grammar optional . . . and are these really fortunes?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marry You

Posted on March 26, 2013

Funny thing happened today when I logged on Facebook . . . I couldn’t figure out who anybody was because all the profile pictures were the same. Considering that my brother and my sister-in-law usually have the same profile pic, and it always takes me a while to figure out who is posting what with just the two of them, imagine having 50% of your news feed displaying the same image. Quite frankly, it’s a little daunting, seeing all those red boxes with equal signs in the middle of them. How the hell am I supposed to figure out who’s who if I don’t see their smiling faces or a cute little image of their cats. These red boxes are kinda annoying, people.

Here’s what’s really annoying. Still having a debate over marriage equality in 2013. Not having the right to marry whomever you love despite your gender. Being told that your committed relationship of ten years is some how less valid than a celebrity’s “marriage” of 72 days just because you happen to have the same reproductive organs as your partner. Knowing that you might not be permitted in the hospital room with your loved one because you’re “technically” not family. Having to explain repeatedly that it isn’t a choice . . . it’s your life.

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Call your opposition to it what you want. Religious freedom. The teachings of Christ. Preserving the sanctity of marriage. Offering up civil unions as a solution. From what I can remember when I read the Bible, Christ never said a damn thing about homosexuality. But he did say to love your neighbor as yourself. And if you really, really want to preserve the sanctity of marriage, make it harder to get married. Require some actual classes involving finances and constructive criticism. How about learning how to argue effectively but supporting the one you love? Ask people who want to get married to plan an “end of life” agreement with their partner. Do all that to preserve the sanctity of marriage instead of looking at what’s between a person’s legs. If after all that, you still want to get married, more power to you. Because here’s another annoying fact, something that people don’t tell you. Marriage is hard. It’s not the walk in the park that you read about in books or the dewy-eyed looks between just you two. It’s seeing your partner, face down in a toilet bowl after one too many drinks. It’s crying your eyes out over something so insignificant that you can’t remember it twelve years later but, by god – it was important! It’s wondering how your are going to pay the bills and still stay afloat for another month. It’s celebrating each others successes and pushing past the defeats. It’s putting your ice cold feet against a far warmer pair of legs in bed because you know you can. People look at civil unions and wonder why that isn’t good enough. Because it’s not. It doesn’t allow for the same protection as a marriage, provide the same benefits as a marriage, or give recognition by the federal government. Simply put . . . it’s not a marriage.

Dave and I have been married for 21 years. Those 21 years have gone by faster than I ever thought possible. Why shouldn’t our friends be given that same opportunity just because they happen to be gay or lesbian?  I really hope that the Supreme Court feels the same way after it hears the Prop 8 and DOMA cases this week. But enough of the red boxes on Facebook . . . let’s get back to the cat pictures.

 

The Good Kind

Posted on March 24, 2013

A few weeks ago I chaperoned our school’s webpage design class for the regional computer fair. Our district has remained rather steadfast in its commitment to technology, and our students are the chief beneficiaries. The students I was with are chosen to participate in a class that focuses on various computer applications, programs, and design, but the students in our district have access to different types of technology throughout their academic career. At the computer fair, the webpage design class took five out of the six first place awards as well as the majority of the second and third place awards to boot. By far and away the most impressive award was a first place win for the mobile app game that one young man created. Basic coding I get . . . but this? This was something on a completely different plane. Upon returning to school, I was told to call our assistant principal, who told me that one of my students had decided to form a mafia to take me down.

January35642

Yes . . . a mafia to take me down.

My initial reaction was to laugh. Seriously? Here’s a student who I tutor after school and he thinks that the best course of action is to form an organization – complete with membership offers – to take me down. Do I honestly think that something bad would have befallen me? No, not really. I’m pretty sure that he didn’t enjoy tutoring. Maybe he thought he was being funny. But in light of the school shootings that have occurred in the past year or so, there was a small part of me that was crying inside.

The following week, my student teacher gave her final vocabulary quiz in which the students were told to describe their worst day using vocabulary words correctly in context. Topics? A pet dying. Losing at a game. Having someone they didn’t like send a friend request on Facebook. Having to spend time with teachers and seeking vengeance against them in the hopes of eradicating them. Huh? 1) Kudos for using vengeance and eradicate correctly in context. 2) We need to have a chat, kiddo.

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What’s a girl to do in times like these? When it seems like the world has tilted ever so slightly? Walk. Long. Hard. Up hills. Downtown. With a puppy. Jog a little bit. Say hello to people. Let the dog posture at ducks and geese. But above all . . . clear my head. Twenty-three miles of walking and clearing my head. All the while, Lucy has been by my side, happily trotting along and meeting new people. She’s a good walking partner. If I feel like talking, she’ll listen. But if I want to get out in silence, letting everything marinate and stew in my mind, she’s happy with that, too. And provided I keep giving her treats, I’m 99% sure she won’t turn to Cosa Nostra to exact her revenge.

Check Overexposed and Underdeveloped tomorrow for something new . . . there’s a little change that I’ve been meaning to make.

So Cold I Can See My Breath

Posted on March 10, 2013

“We’re headed to Chicago this weekend,” I told my co-workers, “to see a hockey game. Dave’s and my alma mater is playing his sister’s and her husband’s school at Soldier Field.” That’s where I lost people. Not with the weekend trip to Chicago. Or the love of hockey. At the mention of it being outdoors in February. “You know it’s cold in Chicago this time of year, right?” was the most common response. Granted, I knew that . . . but holy hell, nothing prepared me for the level of cold. Yikes! Here’s our first full day in the Windy City, windchill 4 F. Or, as I would tell my daughters, a little brisk. This 10-on-10 is from February 16, 2013 between 7 AM and 3:30 PM. When you’re done here, go check out Laura’s day.

Morning view from our hotel room

Morning view from our hotel room

Trying to channel my favorite street photographer

Trying to channel my favorite street photographer

Had to stop for some hats . . . some of us did forget them (not me)

Had to stop for some hats . . . some of us did forget them (not me)

Taking a look at the Bean

Taking a look at the Bean

My niece, who just got her learner's permit this past week

My niece, who just got her learner’s permit this past week

Outside the Art Institute

Outside the Art Institute

A random painting that reminded me of a student

A random painting that reminded me of a student

Held it together and did not cry . . . maybe a little bit

Held it together and did not cry . . . maybe a little bit

Humoring me yet again in the elevator

Humoring me yet again in the elevator

A late lunch/early dinner at the Berghoff with a delicious beer flight

A late lunch/early dinner at the Berghoff with a delicious beer flight

The next day was the big game. And sadly, even though Miami University was ranked ahead of the University of Notre Dame, we weren’t successful and lost. All that being said, the seats in the Sky Box were pretty sweet . . . and warm. You seriously did not think I was going to sit out in the cold at Soldier Field and watch a hockey game, did you? Now head on over to Laura Louise Photography and check our her 10-on-10. Ironically, the lovely Laura was in Chicago the same weekend I was.

Lips Like Sugar

Posted on February 10, 2013

Nearly didn’t make the 10 on 10 this month. Sure, there have been a few days when I took ten photos, but those photos were mostly of our new puppy, Lucy. And while love good dog photos, she’s not quite there with the camera in her face, and truly, I don’t know if I’ll ever be there with capturing her running after the cat. Come Friday, February 8, better known to some of you as the Wrath of Nemo, I figured that I may as well make that the day. I spent my day playing with Lucy, which really meant getting up early and taking her for a little walk, snuggling on the couch with Lucy, running to Target and then to the post office (ahhhh . . . Nemo! Day off from school for no real snow. Such a waste!), taking a small nap while Dave worked from home, taking Lucy for another walk only to find out she was crapping blood (too much?), driving to the vet just as the snow began to fall, waiting with Dave until the doctor could see us and give us some meds, watching Lucy play with Olive (no . . . they aren’t ghosts), and then watching the snow continue to fall well into the evening. I’m pretty sure that Laura might have a few photos of her latest addition in her 10 on 10. Why don’t you go have a look after you’re done here.

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PS – Benefit of Sirius Satellite radio? More likely to hear some favorites from the ’80s like “Lips Like Sugar”