Sunday, December 16, 2007

A look back

So this came in a MySpace bulletin, but I wanted to do longer answers, and add stuff, so I'm putting it here. I'm pretending someone is interviewing me.

1) Where did you begin 2007?
2007, as in 2005 and 2006, and will be in 2008, began at my brother's house, affectionately known as "The Cabin." We dress up, we serve hors d'oeurves, we drink, there may or may not be fireworks, we do some kissin' at midnight, and we celebrate loudly. Tons of people show up throughout the night, and it's always good fun. Each year gets bigger than the year before.

2) What was your status by Valentine's Day?
Still married, going on 5 years at that point. And we were still trying to win our house, so we were still living with my parents. I guess it was a double-date in teh house.

3) Were you in school (anytime this year)?
Thankfully, I was able to get a class in the fall. Spring didn't offer anything, and I jumped through a great many hoops, as UNO dropped me from the school and I had to reapply. Luckily, I kept my credits. Then, I had more trouble registering for spring '08, as once again, phantom blocks were on my account. But I was able to pass this course with an A, leaving three more classes and the final internship, which acts as student teaching. I will take all three classes in spring of '08, then the final internship in fall of '08, and then I will be an officially certified teacher. Due to the malarkey that UNO has put me through, I've decided to put the master's on hold until A. they can get their acts together or B. I can go somewhere else, preferably online. Do you know I entered the certification program in fall 2004, and I won't finish until fall 2008. I could have almost had a whole other bachelor's degree in the same amount of time.

4) How did you earn your money?
Same way as I have since 2005 -- teaching 7th and 8th graders language arts and assistant directing summer camp.

5) Did you have to go to the hospital?
I came awfully close in August when I was putting the finishing touches on my classroom and smashed my finger, spraining it in the process.

6) Did you have any encounters with the police?
So far, so good. We didn't have fireworks at the 4th of July this year, so we escaped it.

7) Where did you go on holiday?
Hm. This is a premature question. We will be in Walt Disney World with Mark's whole family from December 26-30. It will be our first trip together since our honeymoon in 2002. It will also be my first trip without being "on duty" with other peoples' children since then. I also took my students to Washington, D.C., and Williamsburg, VA. back in May.

8) What did you purchase that was over $1000?
Our house. That was a long and agonizing journey that I hope to not have to repeat for a very long time. But it has been well worth it. We've been here for about 6 months now, and we're still dealing with moving items in here, but it's pretty lived-in by now. We put up Christmas lights this afternoon and the tree earlier this week. We were very lucky...only our wreath was ruined in Katrina.

9) Did you know anybody who got married?
Melissa got engaged.

10) Did you know anybody who passed away?
Thankfully, not this year. I know of some people who died, but none have been close people.

12) Did you move anywhere?
Why, yes, as a matter of fact, we did. We bought our house in Old Metairie and moved in in the middle of May.

14) What concerts/shows did you go to?
It was a slow year for us. I think we only did Voodoo and Start Select.

15) Are you registered to vote?
Ha. I was still registered in Orleans. When we moved, I changed my address on my license but forgot to change my registration. I went to Orleans and changed it. I then had to send a confirmation card in. Then a few months later, I got a phone call telling me that they received the card, and now I have to go register in Jefferson. Apparently, the form is designed to look like I was reregistering, but Orleans is SO screwed up that it didn't do anything for me. I asked the lady on the phone for the address of where I should reregister, and she told me she didn't have that information in front of her. So right now, I'm not registered to vote.

16) Who did you want to win Big Brother?
I hate this show. I hate all of these "reality" shows. I care more about the piece of gum I threw away yesterday afternoon than I care about the answer to this question. The writer's strike should be resolved soon because I'm so scared....so very, very scared...of what is headed our way if we can't have writers.

17) Where do you live now?
I've told you twice already.

18) Describe your birthday?
We threw a party combining housewarming with my birthday. It was a lot of fun...tons of people...we broke in the new BBQ grill my parents gave me for my birthday....good drinks were served....got some presents....and then I had to go to work the next day, which was my birthday. It was Camp Open House. I spent most of my day there, then I went home, where Mark was watching Rocky. I hate Rocky. And it wasn Rocky II, actually, which made it worse. We ate leftovers for dinner and I got gifts from him, but it was actually an extremely crappy birthday.

19) What's one thing you thought you'd never do but did in 2007?
Get our own home.

20) What has been your favorite moment?
Signing the last form in the conference room at the bank, then being handed the keys to my very own home.

21) What's something you learned about yourself?
I can't do it all on my own. I'm no Superman.

22) Any new additions to your family?
Thankfully, no. But Geoff has a perfectly lovely new girlfriend, Rhea, whom we absolutely adore.

23.) What was your best month?
June, because we were moved in and settled and it was my birthday and camp and it wasn't quite so hot yet.

24.) What music will you remember 2007 by?
Well, since Katrina, our radio station choices (unless we want talk, urban, or country) are extremely limited, so I really don't know much about radio. I've been using CDs and my iPod.

25) Who has been your best drinking buddy?
We drink a lot at the Cabin.

26) Made new friends?
Our camp director this year, Li, is absolutely amazing and she and I were thick as thieves until camp ended. Mary, my new teaching partner, is lovely and will one day bring me Lost, season 2. And I got closer to some people I didn't know very well before, which is always a lovely thing.

27) New best friend?
Nope.

28) Favorite Night out?
St. Patrick's Day was fun, Halloween was fun, '80s night on Thanksgiving was fun, Mardi Gras was great, and my party was great fun. Love those adjectives.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Quick update

I was about to post something a few weeks ago and didn't get around to it due to a major crisis in our life. Then I decided to wait until it was rectified.

We were running low on funds, so Mark got a part-time job at a local store that sells items special to a certain college in this state. They happen to be verrrrry busy this week.

A few weeks later, this part-time job was all he had. After five years, he was released from L.

Several dead-ends and many tearful weeks later, he has been promoted to full-time at this store, starting Monday. Benefits included. He also has an offer to go to a competing radio station, but it would be part-time with no benefits. So radio loses.

He is still looking for something else, which is current boss is aware of. That's how nice this lady must be. Anyway, if you see anything not radio, as he was already looking to get out of radio before being sacked anyway, let us know. We are NOT looking to relocate. We went through too much to put down roots when we bought this place. We may never move.....acts of God willing.

Also, Dad got our other shower working. Well, technically, Chris and Geoff did. But Dad finished it up top with Mark's help. Many thanks to my two younger brothers for climbing under my house and braving ancient trash bags filled with Tab cans in holes under there.

Happy Chanukah.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I like Pre-k and K from afar

And this time, I don't mean Katrina...but kindergarten.

I was subbing for a religion class yesterday, and the Pre-K/K room is right next door. I was leaving to go to meet my reading class upstairs, and one of teh Pre-K/K teachers stopped to chat. Then she said, "Oh, would you like a piece of apple pie? We're learning about the letter 'A' right now."

Who am I to refuse free apple pie?

So she brought me in and said, "Everyone, I have a special treat...this is Mrs. Aimée. What letter does her name start with?"

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa," came a chorus of tiny voices.

"That's right! So since her name also starts with 'A,' do you think she should get a piece of Apple pie?"

"Yessssssss...." came those same little voices.

The pie was delicious. I wrote them a thank you note today. It said:

"Dear Pre-K/K,
Thank you for the Awesome Apple pie! I Absolutely Adore Apple pie! I Apologize for not being Able to eat your Animal crackers, too, but I Ate too much Apple pie! You guys Are Amazing!

Always,
Mrs. Aimée"

I hope they like that. I hear that today they were having ants on a log. I think that's my happiest memory of being in preschool.

Boy, life sure was simple then. They were going to have naptime after their pie. I was hoping I'd be invited to that, but I really didn't want to risk getting cooties from someone's mat...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I wish I knew the person to whom I could attribute this...

I had someone send me this. It's kind of a neat perspective.

Also, thank you, listeners of WIBC in Indiana, for inviting me to tell a microscopic portion of my tale to you this morning. I hope it helped bring things into perspective, and if you've found your way over here, I thank you. Please, stay a while...and stay tuned.

And, if you would like my brother's perspective, visit him at www.frobba.com . He has a link on there to the documentary he made last year.

That's it from me today...I have some more thoughts, brought up by my students' journals...but here's the poem or meditation or prayer or whatnot. If anyone can identify the author, let me know, as I'd like to give credit where credit is due.


Thank you for letting me understand
homelessness, living without power,
without television, without cool air in the heat.

Thank you for letting me understand
hunger, the pleasure of dry clean clothes and
the relief of place to sleep.

Thank you for letting me understand
the deep and overwhelming sadness
when forces, beyond our personal control,
take the loved, the familiar, the usual.

Thank you for my needfulness and
Thank you for my newfound empathy
for those were homeless before the storm
and homeless now, for those hungry
anywhere, for those in need everywhere.

Thank you for the opportunity you provided
to help my neighbor, to be my brother’s keeper,
to serve food, to patch roofs, to clear yards,
and to start mending that which was broken.

Thank you for the chance to change ourselves,
from a reprieve from the normal commercial day,
for teaching us to make do, to get by, to improvise,
for drowning our conceit, complacency, callousness
for silencing the noise , for stopping the clock,
and for the chance to act our best when the worst occurred.

Thank you for the people who reached in
pulled out the living, cradled the dead,
comforted the broken and torn apart,
wept for the splintered and uprooted.

Thank you for the people who didn’t wait
who came right away, who opened their homes,
who emptied their shelves, their closets,
who cleaned, fed , healed, held us,
who told us our spirit was amazing,
and who keep on coming.

Thank you for people who measure
their faith by their actions, and measure
their action by its consistency with their faith.

Thank you for all the people we have met,
who are new friends, new loved ones,
new brothers and sisters, new neighbors.

Thank you Katrina. Not for wind,
not for water, but for the appreciation
of the things no storm can shatter,
no water can wash away,
no wind can move.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A P.S.

http://blog.nola.com/updates/2007/08/neighborhood_touchstones_lost.html

I wish I'd seen this article before blogging. That's what I get for putting pleasure before responsibility.

Everyone has always had a list of "I miss..." in this city. It's part of our charm. Mark has found it annoying, asking why we can't let go of things. We can't. I guess that's the best reason as to why we're here, all of us returnees. From my childhood, but before Katrina, I miss K&B. Rite Aid is CRAP. And, most importantly, they don't have a color to call their own or the best damned ice cream you've ever tasted.

I miss McKenzie's. Thank God Tastee has picked up the recipe they had for king cakes. I just wish they'd bring back the cheesecake, the yellow cake with chocolate icing, the petit fours, and those awesome cookies that only came out at holidays...the large orange and black stripes...the Christmas trees....oh, what I wouldn't give for those. And Thanksgiving isn't the same without "pocket books," the Parker House rolls. Brown-n-serves are just nasty.

And D.H. Holmes and Dino's frozen yogurt and Maison Blanche and Fitzgerald's....it's just a bygone era.

But those have been gone for a while. Sure, every Mardi Gras, we mention McKenzie's, and while I've cultivated a taste for Blue Bell, I miss K&B. I remember that time when I was a senior, proudly sporting my purple senior sweater and my school uniform, and having a lady tap my shoulder and ask me where something was, thinking that I worked there.

We even lost local characters, from Nash Roberts and his grease pencils (take that, Super Dopplers!) to Buddy D, a man Mark was lucky enough to get to know before his death.

But nothing tops what we've lost. Some of it has come back, and soemtimes it's different. But it's not quite the same. I miss walking into Bayou Bagelry and having them start my order for me before I got to the counter.

I miss the funky handwritten and misspelled signs with "clever" sayings on them in Charlie's Deli on Harrison Ave. Touché Café is nice and all, but I miss the old seediness of my favorite neighborhood po-boy place. I mean, "What goes slap thud, slap thud, slap thud? My mama's hand upside your head if you throw away our trays!" and the playing card order claimers are nowhere else in this city.

Bubby's has a decent snowball, but it's no Phil's Firehouse, also known as Fireman Phil's. When I told people I lived across the street from it, they knew right where my house was. My friend Jeff lived in New Orleans East, and HE knew where it was. What about that day we had a bunch of my coworkers over for a party, and Kevin and Keith and Alex showed up with extra large stuffed "ice cream" snowballs with condensed milk on top? While Bubby's carries that, and has updated and improved upon the facility, I have a harder time describing where my former house was. I just say "Fleur de Lis in Lakeview, a block from Harrison Ave" now.

Oddly enough, we have an iPod on random, and it's playing "The Saints Are Coming" by Green Day and U2. Eerie.

I hate driving past Plantation Coffee House every now and then. It's so sad and decrepit looking. I remember the last time I ate there, when mark had a tire changed at the tire place across the street. We ate lunch there after we picked up his car. It was such a lovely afternoon.

Thankfully, amongst the places that have returned are my father's service station in Lakeview and Tony Angelo's, also across the street from where I lived. My parents ate there recently, and they said it was as good as ever. But Dino's pizza, down the block, is gone. I found a flier that we'd grabbed when evacuating (we took all of our mail to pay bills) and was sad that I didn't get to redeem that coupon.

Most of the places, if not all, that I have listed are food-related. In fact, the grocery store next to my dad is gone. I often think to myself that I'll stop there while getting gas, and then remember that I actually have to go far away. But this city, allegedly built on jazz, was built on food. It is a symbol of family and friendship, two things we cherish deeply here. You gather over a meal for births, weddings, funerals...and every occasion in between. You bond over food. You talk about food. You worship food. At St. Patrick's Day parades, you catch cabbage and potatoes and carrots, and at St. Joseph's Day, you make an altar of food...tons of food...at Mardi Gras, you gorge yourself silly before you abstain during Lent. You eat a turducken at Thanksgiving, go to a crawfish boil at Easter, and barbecue year-round. In the case of my parents, you even barbecue during a tropical storm. Hey...we had to eat! At a wake, you celebrate with food and wine, and there's always a trip to the Roman Candy cart when you go to the Zoo.

Houses of friends we knew and neighbors we knew are gone. Aunts and uncles, best friends and casual friends...many of us never could go home again.

But we're making new homes, by purchasing some, by rebuilding some, by renovating some. But it will never be the same. All of those things you bought when you got married, all of those gifts from long-dead relatives, the memories of childhood and teen years and college years and adulthood are gone, decomposing in a fetid pile somewhere. And there's nothing you can do about it. At times it hurts more than you think you can bear. At times you beat yourself up for feeling materialistic. At times you are numb and don't care. But we press forward, because we have to. We must.

To remember those people and places. To remember those things. To heal our lady, our love, our temptress, New Orleans.

I say 'Hey! What's going on?'

A new school year has fallen upon us, to the chagrin of the scholastic aged everywhere. Or, at least, those in the south. Which brings up an interesting question. Hold on while I wipe that bead of sweat rolling down my back.......ahhh. Oops. There's another. Ok.

Anyway, WHY THE HELL DO THEY MAKE US GO BACK TO SCHOOL IN EARLY AUGUST WHEN IT'S SO FRIGGIN'HOT HERE!?!?!?! There are a million and 12 days better to start school than August 14. I mean, really. I don't mind getting out in early June if it means we start in September. I had two window units, two ceiling fans, and a bottle of deodorant in my desk, but I sweat profusely. Part of this is because they're rewiring the school for better Internet capabilities. "Gee, what does that have to do with you sweating?" you ask? Well, I'll tell you. I am on the second floor. Heat rises, right? Well, it also tends to filter down through missing ceiling tiles from the attic of the school and into my cooler classroom. More specifically, right above my desk! Thank God last year's rodent problem was solved. Mmmm...Post-Katrina Mid-City New Orleans! God, if this had been last year... Ugh. I'm grossing myself out.

Other than that and the way they keep tinkering with our schedules, school is the best year yet. No evil bitch teaching partners. Nothing but helpful teaching partners who get involved as far as my eyes can see this year. People splitting journal-reading duties, no one treating my like I'm incompetent...I am teaching just as many classes, plus working on updating the school website, plus running a club by myself, plus having a homeroom this year...yet I'm so much more relaxed. I'm ENJOYING myself again. This is what it's supposed to be.

First, my homeroom is amazing. I love, love, love them. I had half of them last year as 7th graders for both reading and writing. This year, they are 8th graders. Got a bunch of cool new kids and the 6th graders who moved into 7th this year are awesome. Including a former camper from the Day School. Love her. Everyone agrees that my homeroom is the best. They enjoy having them. I think I may get back into baking at holidays. I did that my first year for my homeroom. Last year, I didn't care and was stressed too much to be bothered. This year, it's a whole new ballgame.

Also, they listened to me. Do you know how much it means to have a boss who listens to you and takes your suggestions to heart? It's so rare to find in today's world, where everyone is replaceable, and if you don't like the way it's run, you get a pink slip. But last year was rough. Let me backtrack to every year until last year:

Our student-teacher ratio is 18:1. Sometimes, after the storm, we've gone over that. We co-teach in many subjects, and the two teachers split the room into two groups and teach on opposite sides of the room for reading and math, (with a 9:1 ratio) while one does science and the other does social studies to the whole class. Their co-curriculars and religion classes are together, too. Writing would be half and half, but the ratio there is 9:2.

Then, last year, we departmentalized. We had two reading and two math teachers co-teaching in the same room at the same time the same subjects. In reading, this is hard. The reading teachers tend to be dynamic. If we were in different books, or different parts of the same book, even, it was very disrupting to hear a round of "HUZZAH" from the other side of the room. And for writing, it was two teachers, as usual, but 18:2. Not the 9:2 we'd had before. And it was impossible to keep up. I'll be the first to admit that our students were cheated. As you may recall, we teach children with learning differences. These differences could be ADHD, Dyslexia, OCD, Asperger's Syndrome, and a billion and one other things that hurt you in "regular" school, but keep you out of special ed. We're the bridge between. Our low ratios are paramount to the success of our program. And it wasn't working last year.

This year, we have two rooms available for reading. Two teachers, two rooms, 8 or so kids per group (since we aren't at capacity yet). It's peaceful, relaxing, and "noncompetitive." This year, we are still putting all of them in one class for writing, but a third teacher filters in. For two of those classes, we have an extra room available, so we can pull smaller groups out for individualized attention.

Again, it's a whole different atmosphere. I feel like the kids are going to get the attention they deserve this year, and that they will learn a lot more in the process.

I'm moderating media club again, so that's good. And, Sabrina, a fellow teacher, and I are going to coach the bowling team. It's our first year of sports! We finally have a senior class, after 3 years of steady growth and hurricane interruption. There's 7 of them, but by golly, we have a senior class!

The house is at a standstill of sorts. It is too hot to do anything else outside. Gardening will have to wait, as will painting the rest of the outside. Dad put mortar in the brick gaps and we painted the front, but we are afraid of heat stroke. It's slowly starting to cool off here, though. In the next few weeks, we can move back to the outside.

Inside, we just got a garbage disposal this weekend, and our dishwasher is being delivered Friday. I grew up with both of these luxuries, plus we had a dishwasher in our old house. I have had enough of plastic and paper goods, as well as dishpan hands. I won't use gloves. Sorry. Just a few more days.

Started up at UNO again last week. One class on Tuesdays this semester. They only offered one of my three available, remaining classes. Joy. Well, three plus the third "internship," followed by the capstone internship/student teaching semester. Maybe 2008? But this frustration over this formerly great university has halted my master's pursuit. I have given it up in favor of only my certification. Maybe someday, if they get their act together, I'll get that hood I covet so badly.

The anniversary of Katrina, number 2, is this Wednesday. I can't tell you that it weighs heavily on my mind. There isn't a day I don't think about it. There's still so much work to be done. Lakeview at night is great, simply because I can see how many places have lights on. Mid-City, where my school is, is largely back. Sometimes, I'll sit in the house and feel content, but then I remember what got me here. The other day, we were unpacking a box that was in our attic, and I found the most inane keepsakes from college. But did I throw them away? Hell no. They're all that remain of a former life. They're going nowhere, no matter how useless they seem.

When Dean was making a beeline for the Gulf, I had the worst sense of losing it all again. God...can I put up with that? I don't think so. I mean, this time, we're homeowners, so the insurance would be way better. And Mark refuses to stay again. So we'd get to load both cars. But two cars of stuff is ridiculous. I really questioned our decision to return. But then I realized that to leave would kill me slowly. I have to stay right now. I have to help revive my city. Call me crazy if you will, but can you truly dedicate yourself to any one place? There's something about her...something so seedy and sultry and splendid and swampy and steamy and tons of other things my lisp won't let me say. Call me crazy, but I love her.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Hahaha my mom would hate this

Here's what my belief-net quiz told me. It's the religions I most closely associate with, according to my personal beliefs.



1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Neo-Pagan (93%)
3. Liberal Quakers (90%)
4. Reform Judaism (90%)
5. Mahayana Buddhism (79%)
6. New Age (77%)
7. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (75%)
8. Theravada Buddhism (73%)
9. Sikhism (70%)
10. New Thought (66%)
11. Bahá'í Faith (64%)
12. Jainism (63%)
13. Orthodox Judaism (63%)
14. Hinduism (61%)
15. Scientology (61%)
16. Secular Humanism (59%)
17. Islam (56%)
18. Orthodox Quaker (46%)
19. Taoism (46%)
20. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (44%)
21. Nontheist (42%)
22. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (35%)
23. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (33%)
24. Seventh Day Adventist (32%)
25. Eastern Orthodox (27%)
26. Roman Catholic (27%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (24%)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What's going on

Things to note:

Insurance was reinstated.

Painting the outside of your house in July in New Orleans is not something I EVER recommend.

We're in Maccabiah at camp. That's...Color Wars....or Olympics...to you goyim...

One and a half weeks of camp left.

Followed by one weekend, one day off, and staff days at school. Bye bye, summer.

I need a vacation.

Got dumped in the pool at work while fully dressed.

House is slow but progressing.

My parents need to quit sending over boxes faster than we can unpack the ones we already have.

Teenage drama sucks. I'm glad I'm not a teen any more.

However, pushing 30 isn't any fun at times, either.

I need a haircut..it's been almost a year.

My allergies are acting up again.

We have a coconut cream pie for dessert. That's so summery.

Did I mention that I need a vacation?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

P.S.

There is no feeling in the world greater than the feeling you get when something you hold as important to your life is gone...forever...and then stumbling across that important object later.

We had a few boxes in our attic in Lakeview that were dry. Mostly our Christmas Ornaments. The boxes came to my parents' house and have been there ever since.

As you will recall, we lost everything but those boxes that were in the attic. Which meant our marriage certificate, our SS cards, at least my birth certificate, and my college diploma.

Or so I thought.

My parents brought over some more boxes this weekend. I was looking for a certain bowl to put with the rest of its set, and stumbled across what ended up being one of those attic boxes. I could see it didn't have the bowl, but it did have a lot of papers. Mostly random copies of my college newspaper. I went back later and dug through that box, just to see what was there. And at the bottom, safe in its "leather" holder, was my DIPLOMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I didn't know if I'd ever be able to replace it, especially since the school's president retired not long after I graduated, and a duplicate would not be the same.

So now I have my high school and pre-K diplomas, which are at my parents' house and always have been (I guess my 8th grade one is there, too), and my college diploma. We got a new copy of our marriage license, so we are no longer living in sin, haha. So I'm halfway to existing again! Yay!

Also, I found what appears to be a journal I kept in study hall junior year. It's riotous. It also goes into that summer and talks all about summer camp. So many goofy anecdotes...and why can't life be as simple as it was in 1996?

Catch-up

School is long over, we are mostly settled in the house, and camp is going to be half over on Friday. Unbelievable.

A lot has happened, yet nothing has happened.

Our roof leaked in a heavy rainstorm. We had it repaired.

Allstate is trying to cancel our insurance due to structural issues. We have a couple more weeks to finish our repairs (mortar cracks, replacing weak eaves, etc.)and submit photographic proof that it was all repaired in order to retain our insurance. Some of their issues were already fixed, like the siding on this side of the house and the foundation issues. Why they insured us and then two months later changed their minds, we'll never know.

The president of our school, who I adore, is leaving. Jobs are unsure. At least we've all signed our contracts.

I got my schedule for next year. I'm the only 7th and 8th grade teacher with 13 duties scheduled each week. I also am the only teacher teaching six classes a day again. At least this time, my only off period is in the afternoon, and not early in the day. I also have a twice-a-week club and an advisory group (homeroom). Plus, I have to start school again this semester. And I am under contract to stay twice a week after school for a few hours and update the school website. Mark better get used to the idea of cooking, that's all I can say.

UNO dropped me as a student because it had been a year since my last classes. I have had to reapply and am waiting to hear if I've been readmitted. Am I annoyed? Heavily.

Camp, at least, is going well. We've had "Let the Good Times Roll Week" (that's our theme this summer), "Wild Wild West Week," "Zany Zoo Week," and we are now in "Pirate Week." Arrrrrr. Next week is "Magic Week," and my costume for "Dress in Your Magical Gear Day" will be superb, if the two parts I had to order come in.

We had "Dress Like an Athlete Day," and I wore my Reggie Bush jersey and fleur de lis jewelry. We had "Dress Like A Cowboy or Cowgirl Day," and I was a cowgirl. Last week had "Dress Like an Animal Day," and I made a cool bird mask and wore a boa as wings. Friday is "Dress Like a Pirate Day." I enjoy this part of my job a lot.

As for field trips, I've been to Bowling, Posh Paint Pub, Breaux Mart, Laser Tag, Cookin' Cajun, and a couple of other places, but I can't think of them at the moment.

Staff is enjoying themselves, my cousin Kate reminds me a lot of myself at the junior counselor level, and the kids are cute. We survived the overnight and the late stay and successfully brought 3- and 4-year-olds on a bus to a grocery store for a field trip. Our new camp director is young and fun and energetic..or at least fakes energy well. We're having a blast. I make a camp slideshow at the end of each week, and we always end it with goofy pictures of us that revolve around the week's theme. They're big hits.

I've been messing with pictures in Photoshop lately. Mostly to stick an odd picture of Kate into weird places, like Gotham City and Venice.

We broke in the house with a barbecue on my birthday (oh yeah, did I mention that I think I'm officially in the "pushing 30" age range now? Zoinks.) that doubled as a housewarming party. Tons of food, tons of family, tons of friends, tons of fun. What was the old McDonald's commercial? "Food, folks, and fun!"

We're about to start painting the outside of the house. Finishing the mortar comes first. Then we paint. Bought a ton more paint the other day. Huzzah.

Monday, May 21, 2007

School is winding down.

So, last year, I had a student I really connected with. I'd heard about his temper issues, and I'd heard about his lack of care for school, and I pushed that back in my mind. He graduated in May and returned as a Freshman in the fall. Well, his temper got the best of him a few times, and so he was asked not to return. At graduation last year and today, I gave my graduates personal letters. I thank them for all that they are and all that they did. I had one mom today come to me with tears in her eyes and tell me how much they both appreciated his letter and how upset she was that I'm staying in 7/8 and can't move up. She said I captured his interest in reading, something no other teacher has done before. She warmed my heart and really made my day.

Just now, I checked my school e-mail. This anger-management kid from last year really and truly reminded me of Blake P., a friend of mine from college who'd better be reading my blog, because I check his every day. Yup. I follow all friends blogs every day. Anyway, he speaks like Blake, like the type of books Blake likes, and has the same demeanor. They even have similar speech patterns. And I had an e-mail waiting for me. I'm changing names to protect the innocent, but this is truly making my job feel worthwhile.

"Dear Mrs. M.,
I hope you don't hold anything against me contacting you because of my reputation at school. If not I look forward to keeping in contact with you. I've heard that the school year is nearly over for you and I hope it has treater you better than it has me. (Not trying to be depressive) I'd like to corespond with you for two reasons; One being that I think you are quite frankly the best teacher I have ever had. I fondly remember the days in your classroom as very happy ones indeed. The second being that I think I've come about to writing my book in a very serious way. You've told me that you really believe in my abilities as a writer. I wish to honor those words by asking a boon that I hope you will look favorably upon. Blunty, will you be my ghost writer? If remeber correctly you finished your courses last year for a literature major. Also I know that you have a great interest in literature as a whole. I hope I can depend on you as a guide in my blundering through the writing process. I know that I'm not on the top of your list of people to talk to and things to do. Knowing this I won't feel put off if you decline. Take as long as you like in responding to this message. I'm in no hurry and the book won't be written in a day. I'm looking forward to your response very much.

Sincerely,
W. L.,
still your student at heart"

I cannot describe what this e-mail means to me. Of course, I will clandestinely work with him. He has a gift in writing. That e-mail was written by a 9th grader. I feel with some guidance, he will be something one day.

This was an incredibly rough year for our grade levels of 7 and 8. We had some problems and some difficult kids. The 8th graders are gone now, so we're down to the 7th graders. And when you have a difficult year (ALL of the 7th 8th teachers did...even the calmest, most zen teacher said there were days she wanted to cry...), you start doubting yourself.

Some of the parents who came on the 7/8 trip to Washington were so amazed by us on the trip. One of the most common phrases we heard across the boards was, "I don't know how you all do this all day, every day. You deserve awards..." Our principal, who was on the trip, put it into perspective. He said, "There are jobs, and there are vocations. We don't look at teaching as a job. It's certainly not a way to make money. It's a calling. A vocation. And most people don't realize that. It takes a lot of dedication and a lot of yourself to be a teacher."

Just wanted to share this.

We don't get paid a lot in money, but I think this e-mail serves as my Christmas bonus for the next year.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Pictures






These are all on my Facebook account, but not all of you have that. Here's a selection.




Sunday, May 06, 2007

Catching up

So, due to my chaperoning adventure in D.C. and Williamsburg, I have left everyone in a lurch. I posted that we bought the house, and that is as far as I've gotten.

It took less than half an hour Friday morning. I didn't even have to take off work to do it, because Friday was the first day of Jazz Fest. Our school is fairly close, and we sell parking spaces for it, so we close down for the day on each Friday. Only one other school, the one next door, gets Jazz Fest Fridays! After we signed the papers, we got lunch and ran errands. Bought 15 cans of paint plus supplies, a shower curtain rod, a microwave, got the water work order in, and finally got a new copy of our marriage license. We are officially married again! And next time, we evacuate with it. Now I just need a birth certificate, a college diploma, and a social security card, and I will be a real live human being again.

Saturday was spent scrubbing. The people who lived there before had 4 teenagers (and one of them had a baby of her own), plus the mother and the grandmother. They lived there for 11 years. They trashed the house. The roaches....ohhh they're awful. We're buying stock in Raid. The filth on the walls from these people is astounding. We have to take Chlorox wipes and rub them down before painting. They have holes in every interior door. Nine windows are broken/cracked. Savory people, I tell you.

We had to do it alone. My mom worked, my dad worked, my brother was helping Alicia and Kurt move, and no friends could make it. It was a very frustrating day, especially since I was leaving Monday. My mom and I went to Wal-Mart and bought over $200 worth of cleaning supplies. It was ridiculous. We still ended up having to buy more stuff as we went through the house.

Needless to say, Saturday was rough. We also fit in picking up my Dee-Dee, whose retirement condo is down the street, practically. We showed her around and got her to agree to sitting at the house Monday to wait for the water to be turned on.

Sunday, though, my parents and Geoff showed up. We painted the den a lovely light buttery yellow color, Morning Sunshine. We didn't get the crown molding, though. We needed a better brush. That was done today. We also started on our bedroom, which is a deep, yet light, greyish purple color to coordinate with our bedspread. We got the first coat done in there. By that point, it was too late to do much else. I had to get home to pack for my flight. We had a 6 a.m. flight, which meant that we had to be to the airport no later than 4 a.m. Blech.

I didn't get to bed until almost midnight. Or maybe after. I had to get up at 3 a.m. It was rough. I was so sore and so exhausted. Made it to the airport on time. Flew out on time. Had a fairly smooth flight to Atlanta, where we had a 25-minute layover. They moved our departure gate, and that caused some confusion. But we sorted it out. We settled in for our flight to Dulles. It was uneventful until we were preparing to land. Now, I am NOT a fan of flying. I'm terrified of it. And we hit some of the worst turbulence I've ever experienced. And I hit that air pocket that time. This was way worse. As we were coming in, one student got sick. A parent chaperon took care of her. We were almost on the ground when the pilot had to pull back up and circle the airport. Which meant much more turbulence. Another kid and a parent chaperon got sick. We finally landed. It had all of the rest of us green and quaky. I've never been airsick before, but I could tell that if we went much longer, I would have been. I was so glad to be on the ground.

We had lunch at Ballston Common Mall. I met up with Emi there! She was going to bring Gavin so I could meet him, but our lunch hour coincided with his naptime, so I missed him. Boo. Lunch was hard to do, because while we were able to not sit with the kids, they still kept interrupting with silly questions. Not like there weren't 12 other adults with us or anything.... But it was still great to see her. Short but sweet, I'll take it.

From there, we went to the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. We got to see the changing of the guards, which impressed a few of the kids to no end. One girl even told me that it was the coolest thing she'd ever seen, and she wasn't one of the ones I would have expected to hear that from. We drove past the Pentagon and saw the repaired side of the building. I hadn't been in D.C. since fall of 2000. It was something else to see it. The bricks are different colors. We also saw the Air Force Memorial, which is pretty sweet looking.

We took a lengthy bus ride towards Williamsburg, stopping at Old Country Buffet. Anyone who knows anything about me knows I hate buffets. But the mac and cheese was good, as were the corn and the salad fixings. The chocolate chip cookie I ate was tasty, too. I was almost impressed...

Around 9 p.m., we made it to Williamsburg. We met up with two ghost tour leaders and broke into two groups. We started at the College of William and Mary and walked all through colonial Williamsburg for about 2 hours, listening to spooky tales. It was pretty neat. Exhausted, we checked into the Holiday Inn Patriot. We discovered that the vending machine were empty and the ice machines were broken. We had children who needed medication, and we hadn't had a chance to have a drink since dinner at 6 p.m. We were all dying of thirst. Our On-Site Coordinator threw his hands up over it and said there was nothing he could do. Principal Mike and VP Marie and I went head-to-head with this rude man. He refused to do anything about it and kept saying, "What do you want me to do? I can do nothing." He refused to let our two security guards leave to get drinks. We had no transportation, and, allegedly, neither did he. Finally, the girl at the hotel desk said there was one employee who just left, and she would ask him to do it. One of the parents donated $40 to buy Sprites for the kids. That was pretty nice of him. Around 1 a.m. EST, I went to bed. I'd been up since 3 a.m. CST. I was exhausted.

On this same day, my grandmother babysat the house while we waited for the parish to turn on the water. She was on the front porch when a cop who lives in the neighborhood drove up and stopped to see if she needed help. Around this time, my father arrived to bring her home. While he was there, two code enforcers showed up. A neighbor called in a complaint about the yard, which looked like it hadn't been cut since last summer. I don't blame them, to be honest. It was awful. They were trying to write us up until my dad told them that we'd just bought the house and that the lawn mower wasn't coming until this weekend, but that it would be cut. They said okay and that they would return by Monday to ensure that it had been cut. Sheesh. As it was, there was a problem with the parish's side of the water main, and they couldn't turn on our water "until later in the week." Fantastic. Dee-dee also killed many roaches while she was there. She put her purse in a cabinet, and she ended up taking home two stowaways! EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. The pest people can't come until the shoring is complete, because we are getting a termite contract, and they have to dig trenches. Once the shoring is done, it'll be fine. But with no fridge yet, we can't keep food there, anyway, so it doesn't matter. It's just so nasty.

On Tuesday, we loaded up the bus after breakfast and headed out to Jamestown, where we saw a glass blowing demonstration. I bought a cobalt inkwell that I plan to use as a bud vase in my office. We moved over to the Jamestown fort and the ships. We had a great time and learned a lot of interesting things. Well, I did. I'm assuming they did, too.

We had lunch at a '50s-style McDonald's, which was kind of neat. We met up with our account manager from our trip and let her hear all about the previous night's problems. She was appalled. We moved back to colonial Williamsburg and divided into two walking groups. We toured the old capitol, had a mock trial of one of our students in the courthouse, played trapball, saw the apothecary shop and the silversmith's shop, went in the stocks, saw horses and carriages, and did some colonial shopping. I bought Mark a tri-cornered hat, my mom some Earl Grey tea leaves, and my dad a pack of colonial playing cards. One student, who is a natural drummer (never took a lesson until this year, and blew us all away by performing for Reggie Bush last year), played a drum that another student bought. He attracted quite the crowd!!

We had dinner at the commons at the College of William and Mary. I was wary...I thought...ew....college cafeteria....but man...it was amazing. Chefs fixed your food in front of you. They had a vegan line, a Chinese line, a pizza line, a hot meal line (which was serving red beans and rice that looked more like jambalaya), a wrap and panini line, a dessert line, a salad line, a soup line.... I told the lady there that if my college had a cafeteria like that, I would have actually used my meal plan! The food was excellent.

Of course, I also went to a rinky-dink state university. Go figure.

After that, we checked in to the Comfort Inn in Laurel, Maryland. And...guess what.... it didn't have working vending or ice machines! However, we had leftover Sprite and made it through the night. We asked Joe, our awesome bus driver, if he would let us stop at a store the next night, and he agreed.

Mark found out that the shoring company, which was supposed to start working on May 14, could fit us in on Wednesday. Yay! He worked on painting the ceilings in the house all week. All by himself. I was so proud...

On Wednesday, we toured Mt. Vernon, home of George Washington. It was lovely. I bought Geoff a souvenir there, but as I haven't given it to him yet, I won't discuss it here. We had lunch at the Old Post Office Pavilion, and all of the kids got ripped off in a cheapo electronics store that gave away crap, like laser pointers, to each customer. I have a collection of 8. Apparently, our On-Site Coordinator said the record is 10. We took some time at the National Archives (which has its temperature regulated by Geoff's company), then the Holocaust Museum for Daniel's Story. One of our Daniels didn't take it well and had to be reassured and consoled for quite some time. I think he was projecting his name.

While in the exhibit, one of the kids was caught acting up. This old lady who was touring the exhibit ripped him a new one. And rightfully so. He knew full-well what he was doing. Then, after she was done, it was MY turn. This young kid in a museum uniform came up while i was trying not to scream at the child. At first, he was a slight help. Then, he turned to his anti-American political agenda. First, he told them to remember the children being murdered in the Sudan every day. Then he told them to think of global warming. Ummm...aren't we in the Holocaust museum? Isn't there a time and a place? The he says, "Do what you can to stop global warming. And vote. Never forget to vote. Because if you don't, then we end up with idiots like Bush in office." Ok. I hate Bush. That's a pretty well-documented fact. But that wasn't the time, the place, or the audience for an anti-Bush tirade. I grabbed a few kids (many of whom were scared of this young guy), and moved through the exhibit. But then he stalked the nicest mom chaperon. He followed her through, going on an anti-Bush, anti-American tirade. He was apparently of Japanese descent, because he went on a tirade about the Japanese internment camps, and how his family was affected by them. Ok...more on-topic, but this isn't about you, dude. I reported him to the information desk, because he was basically berating that mom. She was very uncomfortable. The guy at the desk was very upset by what I told him, and he had me fill out a complaint sheet and speak to the internship coordinator, who was the guy's supervisor. Apparently, he was just an intern. The mom was very grateful to me for that.

We decided the kids needed to decompress, so we stopped at the Washington Monument and let them run around. We had a great time, especially with our cameras.

Then we went to Union Station to eat at Pizzeria Uno. It was pretty okay. One of the kids, who teases one of our teachers relentlessly about her hometown of Chicago, had me call her so he could inform her that he'd just eaten "nasty old Chicaaaago-style pizza." Haha. We also saw the FDR memorial and drove past some other landmarks.

That day, the shoring people started working, Mark painted more ceilings, our gas got turned on, and the sofa and recliner were delivered. Yayyyy somewhere to sit other than the dirty floors!

On Thursday, we went to the National Cathedral, which was gorgeous. It's medieval-style architecture, complete with flying buttresses. Heh heh. Buttresses. We fit in the Korea, Vietnam, and Lincoln Memorials. Very impressive and striking monuments. We spent the afternoon in the Smithsonian complexes. My group did the Air and Space Museum. We tried to do the National Gallery of Art and the Natural History Museum, but they each closed before we could see much more than a couple of paintings and the dinosaur bones.

We had a strange time at Vie de France for dinner. The service was weird and I think Big Pun was selling blinking necklaces to the kids. Thankfully, the food was delicious.

More painting was accomplished at home, and we still didn't have water!

Friday morning had us checking out of the hotel, driving down Embassy Row, and taking photo stops at the White House and at the Capitol. We had lunch at the Reagan International Trade Center, then we moved back over to the Smithsonian area. We went to the Museum of Modern art and the National Gallery of Art. Actually, only Mike and I went to NGA. Marie and one of the dads brought the kids outside because they were tiring out after the intense week. There was an exhibit of photography of "Paris in Transition." I thought it was such a Zen moment.

Then we found out that the kids were misbehaving. Some will be suspended this week.

We got on the bus and headed toward the Baltimore airport. We were stuck in awful traffic. Emergency vehicles whizzed by. Then we found out why. A SMALL PLANE HAD CRASHED NEXT TO THE HIGHWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! I told you before, I'm an awful flyer. To top it off, we had the bus full of kids, who ALL saw it. And, if it couldn't get much worse, the weather in the southeast was horrible, and we weren't sure if we'd make it to Atlanta, let alone New Orleans, that night.

At 5 p.m., we made it to the airport. Our flight was for 5:32 p.m. We rushed through the airport check-in and security, where I got stopped for forgetting I had a bottle of Fiji in my bag. Had to throw it away. Sigh. We barely made it on the plane, and missed our dinner opportunity. We left right on time for Atlanta, and made it with no trouble. Then, we sat waiting to taxi for almost an HOUR. The airport was busy and we had to wait for runway space. The sky was grim, and we were getting nervous. Luckily, we made it home about 9:15 CST. But we hadn't had dinner, as our layover was only 25 minutes in Atlanta. I was starving. All of the parents were there, the luggage was claimed, and Mark and I made a Cane's run for dinner at 10:15. It was good to be home.

After dinner, we made a quick trip to the house so I could see the furniture and the progress. But then we crashed when we made it back home.

We slept until almost noon on Saturday, then grabbed lunch and headed over. Mark's parents brought us a lawnmower and a weed eater. They ran to Lowe's and got a scythe, a machete, and an electric hedge trimmer, and then proceeded to annihilate the jungle that was our lawn. Mark said people kept slowing down to see the progress, haha. They managed to do it all. My mom and I spent the day painting my bathroom, my dad finished the trim in the den, and Mark worked on the second coat in our room. But then, he ran out of paint, and our hardware store is closed on Sundays, so we had to skip doing that room for the time being. My bathroom is "Breakaway Blue." It's cool.

Dee-Dee and her sister, Myron, came over, as did Alicia and Kurt. We had a very busy day. We were supposed to go to Geoff's to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but we were too exhausted.

Today, we finished touching up my bathroom, picked up two bookcases from Kurt and Alicia, painted Mark's office/the guest room, and painted my office. We did all but his crown molding and the second coat around the edges of my walls, plus the crown molding. We also had a visit from Mimi and Lance, and from Jen. Again, a busy day. We worked from after lunch until 8:45 p.m.

I'm beat.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Well..

We are homeowners!!!!!!!!1


Let the cleaning/painting/renovating begin!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Lots to discuss

You may remember that last year, my eldest cousin had the first great-grandchild in the family. Well, this weekend was his first birthday party. The actual day is the 24th, but we celebrated at my aunt and uncle's house in Folsom, LA, Saturday. Ummm...he's adorable and well-behaved. Totally uninterested in cake and presents. But a very happy little guy.

On Sunday, we walked in the MS Walk. My aunt and my friend both have MS, and I walk in their honors each year. We had fun. It was in Audubon Park, so it was a lovely walk.

Today, we found out ...well...check the post below this one.

Also, we had a bomb threat at school. You may have seen us on the news. Again. I swear, we are NOT happy unless we are on TV or something. I pulled up to work to a very full parking lot this morning and thought maybe I'd watched the clock wrong. Miss Natalie, the cafeteria lady, stopped me and said, "You know we can't let you all in the building yet, right?"

Uhhhh.....

Apparently, someone vandalized the school bus. This happened a few weeks ago. We have one of those giant colorful maps of the US on the blacktop, and someone painted Spongebob up in New England. Spongebob was making an obscene gesture. They painted anarchy symbols on the church and on the school bus. Well, today, they came in and found that they had changed the name of the school to "Holy Moly" and painted a blunt under the word High. Then they drew an exploding bomb (not a Roadrunner and Coyote bomb, but a 24 bomb) and wrote, "There's a bomb under seat 17." They also used tools to remove the mirrors and the stop signs. Because of the use of tools and the events of last week, they called the cops, who brought the bomb-sniffing dogs and the CSI guys. They lifted at least 2 complete palm prints off the bus. Hopefully, they'll catch these hoods.

After about an hour of standing around, avoiding the media, and reassuring parents while trying to keep students in the dark, they let us inside. I'll keep you posted if they catch anyone. They seem to think it's one of two scenarios: 1 is a disgruntled student, 2 is neighborhood kids.

Also, I had my evaluation today, and it was kickass. Getting a small raise and a stipend to update our pathetic school website. Yay...it needs work....

Worked 12 hours because we had a meeting about our class trip to DC and Williamsburg. We leave at 6 a.m. Monday, which means we will have to be to the airport at 4 a.m. Luckily, Mark goes to work for 5 a.m., so it's not that inconvenient. It just sucks royally.

I can't wait to escape reality for a week.

Let's try this again...


Get your own countdown at PimpMyArea.com

Friday, April 06, 2007

Bored on Easter Break

Your Score Is.... 100%!
 

Congratulations, you scored in the highest percentile. You don't let very many mispronunciations slip by. No sir, not you. You speak quite properly, and everyone is impressed with your command of the English language. But do keep in mind, you probably come across as bookish and pedantic!

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Your life has jumped the shark 13%!
 

Your life still has meaning. Congratulations. You have not jumped the shark. Your life may even be kinda cool.

Has your life jumped the shark?
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What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Drama Nerd
 

You sure do love the spotlight and probably have a very out-going and loud personality. Or not. That's just a stereotype, of course. Participation in the theatre is something to be very proud of. Whether you have a great voice for musicals, or astounding skills for dramas/comedies; keep up the good work. We need more entertainment these days that isn't television and video games (not that these things are bad, necessarily.)

Literature Nerd
 
Social Nerd
 
Artistic Nerd
 
Gamer/Computer Nerd
 
Musician
 
Science/Math Nerd
 
Anime Nerd
 
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Which Simpsons character are you?
Your Result: Lisa
 

You are very intelligent, but you are not quite as grown up as you think you are. You feel like the only one in your family that holds everything together.

Marge
 
Maggie
 
Homer
 
Bart
 
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You are 62% Bittch!

Wow! You really are becoming a real Bittch! Has anyone ever told you that? I think you need to calm it down! Before you can't turn back from being a big Bittch! Being Cruel isn't that fun!

How much of a B*tch Are you?
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What stereotype do you belong to?
Your Result: No stereotype

not preppy yet not a complete loser. has good friends and doesn't revolve life around their looks or social status. All around good person. usually liked by everyone

Jock
Punk
Emo
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Loner
geek/nerd
Gamer
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What type of Emo are you???
Your Result: Awesome/Emotastic Emo!
 

You are an Awesome/Emotastic emo!
It may be that you have other traces of different labels like punk or goth which is great. That is what makes you awesome! Keep up the emoness!

Depressed Emo :(
 
Not an Emo......
 
Poser Emo!!!
 
Gay Emo/Stupid Emo
 
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You are 0% Racist...
 

You aren't racist, so congratulations. You know it's wrong to be prejudist against people, and you refrain from most things that might be deemed racist.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What the hell is going on

I know I've left everyone in an uncomfortable state of suspense these past two weeks. I'd like to apologize. I just didn't want to say anything until everything was set.

These past two weeks have been awful. The Friday before our scheduled act of sale, we learned there may have been a problem. When the house was inspected, they noted that there were some foundations issues that were not a problem now, but would become one. When the appraisal went on, they noted this and said it COULD use leveling/shoring. It did not say it HAD to. Our loan officer, a very nice and helpful man named AJ (and that's honestly not sarcasm there...) told us that the bank was taking some issue here. Our plan had been to get my spider monkey brother Geoff and his equally lanky and excitable roommate, our friend Chris, to crawl under the house (it's a raised house) and to add some support to the piers. My uncle, who is an architect restoring a gorgeous shotgun double Uptown (he's been at it for like 15 years now), said he did it to his house, and it is a good solution, at least for a while.

That weekend, we were worried, but not terribly, based on what everyone was saying. Monday, March 12, the day before our act of sale, we found out that the bank was not signing off on the loan until we agreed and were under contract to shore the house. This was a major problem. We do not have the money to do it. My parents told us that they were planning to give us a good amount of money to help fix up the house. However, this was probably not going to cover it. My father had a contractor he's known for years look at the house. He said, without really looking at it, that it would cost $20-$30,000 to fix it, and then left. We think he didn't want the job in the first place.

I took down the countdown at that point. Well, posted to ignore it, as I was in such a deep state of despair.

"Why?" you ask. Because we do not have much money. We are going to deplete our savings with the down payment and closing costs and inspections and the sofa and recliner we bought. The money my parents are giving us was to buy furniture and appliances, the least of which is a refrigerator.

To lose this house is worse than you can imagine. As I said in another post, I've lost one house already. I am not prepared to lose another.

Back to us not having much money: the housing market is ridiculous here. People want more than $150,000 back in Lakeview for a house that isn't even gutted yet. It's selling for "land value only." There are thousands of houses like that in our former neighborhood. Our loan is for the bottom of the unflooded housing market here. It was extremely slim pickings. Each house we looked at was like walking through a fun house; the floors were slanted at dangerous angles and one became disoriented when walking.

ANY house in our price range had one of the following wrong with it: foundation trouble, one bathroom, shitty neighborhood, small bedrooms that wouldn't hold our queen-sized bed...I could go on. It wasn't just us being picky; one house had a crack house on the corner, and upon reading the police reports in the newspaper that night, we discovered countless arrests on that one street. Things were grim until we found this house on the Internet.

It may not be the most attractive home, but it has huge bedrooms, two bathrooms, a nice yard, and is in a neighborhood with million-dollar homes popping up every few houses. It's my brother's neighborhood, Old Metairie. This house, with all of its cosmetic flaws, was the wisest investment. A few coats of paint and some mortar would almost double its value instantly, to be honest.

To lose this house meant several things: losing our shot at freedom and regaining our independence, repairing our straining-due-to-spending-a-year-and-a-half-with-our-parents relationship, and losing our loan. By prequalifying for our loan, we had 90 days to use it. The first 45 had to attach a property to the loan. The next 45 covered all of the inspections and other crap that comes along with buying a house. By the time we had this bomb drop, we were 30 days left to the loan before we would have to endure that painful process all over again.

This is the reason for my explosive post. There was so much at stake on this house. It was more than just house-shopping. It destroyed me.

Mark called a shoring company that advertises with WWL and had them do an estimate. They gave us two scenarios; if it was one type of problem, it would cost $9,000. That we could do. But if it was the other type of problem, the estimate placed it at $34,500. That we could not do.

Everyone started bombarding us with other house ads. I guess it's like when a couple miscarries, and everyone says, "Well, you can always try for another one. By the way, look at this picture of Susie and Gregg's kid!!! Isn't he adorable???" This was a major loss. Another reason for the explosive post. But these ads were more of the same: bad neighborhoods, deserted neighborhoods, one bathroom, etc.

Mark worked with the sales staff at WWL. Apparently, over the years, on-air hosts have done what are called "live spots." A live spot is when the host just randomly starts talking about the nice people over at such and such a company and all of the great work they do. It's not a commercial, per se, but it kind of is. In the past, live spots were done on trade sometimes. One man had Lasic surgery on both eyes for free, another has almost built a house for free. Spud, our savior, agreed to do our live spots and give us the benefits.

But first, they had to get under the house and give us the verdict. The house is raised, yes, but the crawlspace is small. They had to dig a hole in the backyard to get under there. And, as is our luck, it was the $34,500 job.

There went all hope, unless we could get the trade. Then we learned that the trade has been declared illegal in the past couple of years. When Mark told me about it, I said it sounded illegal, but that I was willing to do whatever it took to get the house, and so if it wasn't illegal, well, there you go. Then we found out that it was. Not totally surprised, but crushed. There was only one option left.

We had already low-balled them on the house. They accepted the offer with a slightly higher counter-offer. We didn't think they would drop. Our agent, Jim, told us to try. We dropped the offer by $20,000. All of last week was agony.

Mark spoke with Jim on St. Patrick's Day. He said that the family still owed over $120,000 on the house, and that they were thinking that maybe it could be worked out with their lender. It was a tiny ray of hope. No more word until....

Thursday, Mark talked to Jim, who said he'd spoken to their agent. Apparently, the sellers were having a meeting the next day with their agent. The couple has divorced, and he lives in Texas but was in town for the weekend. We thought this could be a good sign. He wouldn't waste a trip here if the answer was a flat-out no. They met at 1:30. Around 5 p.m., Mark finally heard from our agent. Apparently, the lady was ready to accept the offer, the agent wanted them to accept the offer, and the guy was holding out. He thought they could get a better offer. The agent and ex-wife were trying to get him to understand that they probably wouldn't. The house had been on the market for over a year. They moved out on the 13th, so they were paying the mortgage and 2 rents. If they didn't accept our offer, they had to be up-front about the foundation trouble. Or, they could always fix it themselves. Apparently, there was also a chance of foreclosure if they didn't take our offer. That must have been some meeting.

The result of the meeting was that the guy wanted the weekend to think about it, and we would know on Monday. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR...

But at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jim called to say that the guy had thought it over, and he was ready to agree. But they had to speak to their lenders first to work out a payment plan to cover the rest of what they owed outside of what we were offering.

Monday came, Monday went, not a single word was sent.

Tuesday afternoon, Mark got in touch with Jim. The sellers accepted our offer, and there was new paperwork to fill out. AGAIN. However, we have to wait until their lender agrees, which will be by the end of the week. Apparently, this is a small hurdle, and Jim is confident that we should finally get it.

The act of sale has moved to "on or before April 15." Beings as that is a Sunday, I'm guessing it will be before. Our loan runs out on April 18. We pushed our furniture delivery, which was scheduled for March 30, to April 21.

More on this story as it develops. As of now, it looks like we'll get it, but there is still a chance to not get it. I am staying very low-key on this in the meantime.

Thank you to everyone who worried and/or cared. I may not have responded to you, but I had good reason. Adding to the stress was our designing, giving, and grading 6 exams, then creating our massive report cards (10-12 pages per child!!!!) all last week. Now I'm catching up on the other things that have been turned in since then.

Is it June yet?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Insulting to women everywhere

Just another reason to dislike the products of Texas....

To be clear, I am pro-choice. I know that if I was careless enough to end up pregnant at this point in my life, I would probably abort. At some other point in my life, I may be willing to go for adoption. I don't want kids. I can't afford kids. And to the people who always say, "You can never afford kids," I understand that this is true, but as we are trying to scrape up enough money to level the house we're trying to buy and worrying that there won't be money left for a fridge, don't even try convincing me now. Had Katrina never happened, perhaps I would feel differently. I wouldn't have to start with naught but the 10K Allstate gave us. I'd have appliances and furniture and art and things. Let's hope that the class-action lawsuit against the Corps of Engineers plays out in our favor. We've filed for a large sum...including mental and physical anguish (I have developed depression and reflux as a result) and property not covered through insurance. If that works out in our favor, I'd consider children.

But that's a different blog.

Anyway, I read this article and felt so angry about it that I am here typing my first non-life status post in over a year and a half. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070324/od_nm/texas_abortion1_dc;_ylt=AsOODKwDCSWBReqZJ84awivMWM0F

First, I find it painfully obvious that some Republican man came up with this brilliant plan. I say this not as an obnoxious feminist, but as a human. He wants to offer women $500 to skip the abortion and carry the pregnancy to term.

Let that sink in.

First, how can you even put a price on it? What mathematical procedure did he use to decide this was a brilliant idea? What does this man even know about it?

Yeah. $500 will cover the cost of all of the prenatal care, the hospital fees, and whatever else needs to be covered. What about the physical and mental strains on the woman's body? Does he know what problems can arise during pregnancy? What if it's a case of the woman's life or the child's? "Hey, here's $500. Make sure you spend it all before you die, but go easy on it." That's valuing the mother's life at $500. Maybe she could form a trust fund or buy a tiny bond to leave the kid something. "Mommy died so you can have this $500. Enjoy!"

I may not be worth much, but I'm definitely worth more than $500.

This figure is a slap in the face of every woman faced with the difficult position of what to do once she is pregnant. I know that if I was raped and ended up pregnant, I could forget all of the trauma with a magic $500 check from the government. Worst night of my life? No way! I totally scored $500 out of it! That eases my pain and suffering!

If this gets to the people of Texas, they should be ashamed of themselves, their leaders, and their state if they vote it in. I doubt it will, but the current Christian agenda of the country and that state (cough cough Bush cough cough), anything is possible.

And this is happening in New Braunfels, Texas, land of the world's greatest water park, Schlitterbahn. So disappointed.

I especially love how he brings in Iraq. Interesting that that comment came from a Republican. Classy guy, this Dan Patrick. Also not surprising: he hosts a conservative radio talk show. I hate those people.

This is my favorite part: "Critics say the proposal would violate Texas and federal laws against buying babies, which Patrick rejected as 'the typical ridiculous criticism.'" What? This man in insane. "Typical ridiculous criticism?" Either he doesn't know what he's saying, or the journalist who wrote this needs to go back to J-school and learn to put things in context.

$500. You've got to be kidding me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Not directed at any one person, but every person

No, stop telling me that you understand or you get it. I haven't even said the whole thing.

You don't understand. I lost one house already. I cannot lose another. You have no fucking clue what it is like to be us. And if you do, then skip reading this.

I have felt low in my life. I was pretty low upon Katrina existing. But this, this is a new low. I'm saving what's going on for later. It is not over. But quit fucking trying to understand, because you won't. Don't tell me it will be okay or that it will all work out. Because it may not be okay. Not ever. I will never, I repeat NEVER get over what has happened in the past 18 months. Every time we try to get ahead, some underlying force has ripped the proverbial rug out from under us. It's never anything we do. It's always some force of nature. I'm sick of being shat upon. I have had enough.

I don't even have the strength to keep up. I'm done. There is no spark in me any more. I'm about ready to hang up my hat.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Ignore the previous post

THIS IS NOT HAPPENING, THIS IS NOT HAPPENING, THIS IS NOT HAPPENING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Update again

Friday was the end of the inspection period for our prospective house. Nothing entirely major...things that can be major in a few years, but that's all due to it being an old house.

We will proceed as planned...

2 weeks until the act of sale...then two weeks until they move out...

Bought a couch and a recliner today. It makes it more real.

You Are An ENFP

The Inspirer

You love being around people, and you are deeply committed to your friends.
You are also unconventional, irreverant, and unimpressed by authority and rules.
Incredibly perceptive, you can usually sense if someone has hidden motives.
You use lots of colorful language and expressions. You're qutie the storyteller!

You would make an excellent entrepreneur, politician, or journalist.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

We may have a winner!

We put in a bid on a house Tuesday morning, and they countered today, much lower than we expected! They want the act of sale to be March 13, and then they want 14 days of occupancy....so we'll get to spend two weeks as landlords!!!!

The reign of casa de Stan is about to end after 18 lonnnnnng months!!!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Avoiding the Super Bowl....

How smart are you?

I am worth $1,976,056 on HumanForSale.com
How much are you worth?

Update

--Looking at houses, round two, involving both sets of parents, 10:30 a.m. Central on Sunday. God help us all.

--Flooring finally installed at my parents' house.

--To be done in line of Katrina repairs: New baseboards in bedrooms, closets, and hallway, with exception of my parents' bedroom.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Cribs: Katrina

My brother posted a link to this on Facebook and I wanted to share it, too. It's pretty brilliant. Little disturbing, but I'm strangely desensitized to the visuals. Except the pool and the fridge. Ugh. Quick note: mild language...I'd call it PG-13, maybe PG.

Anyway, thanks for bringing it to my attention, Geoff.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlTFuXdbHvc

Monday, January 22, 2007

I hope Sunday's events don't render the previous post null and void...

I feel so much sadness over the Saints. And so much hatred towards the Bears.

I can't put it into words as eloquently as Chris Rose can, because, frankly, he is the man, and I am not. So I'll let him do it.

http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-7/1169448177104140.xml&coll=1

By the way...did I tell you how I got to meet him? Back in...October....I think... there was a huge golf tournament and silent auction for school. Lots of Saints and other sports memorabilia, food from local restaurants, a few local celebrities, free spirits...it was fun. Anyway, Chris Rose frequents the bar where it was held, Monkey Hill Bar, and he showed up at the event. He went out, got a couple boxes of his book, "1 dead in attic," came back, and sold and autographed them, donating all of the money to school. He is just so amazing. And, I bought a second copy of his book, which he autographed. It says "To Aimée. Louisiana Toujours! Chris Rose 10-06." It is my new prized possession. He was so cool to meet and chat with while he was autographing. He didn't write up our event, because this was not long before he started writing about things other than despair once his depression article came out. Google it. It's fantastic. So raw...so real...oh heck, I'll link that one, too. Anyway, when we evacuate again, that baby's coming with us. He is my idol.

http://www.nola.com/rose/t-p/index.ssf?/rose/katrina/hell_and_back.html

Friday, January 19, 2007

Vignet

Phone call, 3:42 p.m., as my students are dismissing for the day.

Phone: "Bzzzzz bzzzzzzzzzzzzz. bzzzzzzzzz bzzzzzzz." ('Twas on vibrate)

7/8 C: "Go Saints!!!!!! See you Monday!!!!!!! Woooooo no school!"

Me: (Finger in ear to hear) "Hello?"

Loan Officer: "Hi, Aimée...this is A.J. How are you today?"

Me: "I'm good...and how about you?"

A.J.: "Good...I tried calling Mark, and he didn't answer, which is unusual, so I decided to try you."

Me: "Yeah, he is working longer hours now. He's probably still at work."

A.J.: "Oh, I didn't know that. So, the Saints are going to the Super Bowl."

Me: "Oh, I certainly hope so!!"

A.J.: "Well, I know they are. You finally got your loan approval!"

Saturday, January 13, 2007

National news that quotes me.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/12/AR2007011202169.html