Wednesday, December 31, 2008

People I want to punch

I'm not normally a violent person. I don't believe in spanking and I hate war (but support the poor men and women sent to do other peoples' dirty work). However, there are people who make my blood BOIL. I just want to punch them. Here's a partial list:

1. People who drive the wrong way down the one-way parking garage aisles at J.C. Penney's and honk at YOU when you are driving the right way and take the spot they were speeding up to get.

2. People who get off escalators and STOP, causing you to run into them because it's not like you have much of a choice...either you run in place on the moving stairs that you can't control, or you run into them because you can't control the stairs. I always choose to run into them. Except the one time when that kid's shoelace was stuck. Then I chose the run in place method to keep from landing on him.

3. The girl with the obvious implants wearing the Monopoly "Community Chest" T-shirt. I wondered to myself if that meant I could run up and poke them, because she had them labeled as belonging to this community, of which I am a member...

4. Parents who shelter their children from competitions.

5. The O.D.D. (Oppositional Defiant Disorder... "Time to take notes!" "NO!" "Time to turn in homework!" "NO!!" "I've brought you a cookie!" "NO! I hate you and want you to die!")

6. Parents who believe everything their children say and blame everything on the teacher.

7. That guy who was standing in a good parking space so his friend speeding the wrong way in the parking garage could take the place, then finally moved, waving me in with a disgusted look on his face while his friend honked at me.

8. The cashier at Macy's today who kept trying to force a guy to get his shirt on a hanger so it wouldn't wrinkle, but the guy just wanted it in a regular bag, and no, he didn't want to keep the hanger, either!

9. Myself for not resetting my alarm so I could get my hair cut.

10. People who think they can bully adults around.

11. The woman and two little girls dancing down the aisle in the parking lot, RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE!, who wouldn't move even though I was driving immediately behind them.

12. The man at Rouse's who kept asking me if I needed help just because I had my hands full...of a shopping basket...

13. Mark's supervisor

14.

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm copping out

So, I was thinking about how I never had time to really blog this past year. I had been so regular when it was all doom and gloom, back when I was relaying the Katrina experience. I typed for hours at a time. We all know it's easier to point out the bad than the good. While things are still pretty rotten for us, I tried to think of the good stuff. That's pretty hard as of late, without getting into too much detail. Those who need to know know what's up, and I'd like to keep it that way.

I was thinking of summing up my year in a couple of posts, and then my wonderful pen-pal, the incomparable Anne-Girl, sent me this via e-mail. And since I've been so lax in posting, and I'm so scatter-brained sometimes, I decided to take the cop-out and fill it in. Forgive me.


What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
Painted my bathroom cabinets and redid the furnishings all by myself, fixed the thermostat with minimal help from Mark (ok...I did everything but the electrical), swam with the manatees, voted for the winning presidential candidate, refrained from expressing political leanings in the workplace (because I was not allowed to do so, but I still stayed so neutral!), contributed to the saving of someone's life, stood up loud and clear for something I believed in, was threatened by a student who wanted to throw a desk at me in reaction to being written up for slapping another student in the face, drove in the snow, drove to another state, visited the Central Plains, visited a few new states, even if I just drove through them, attended a convention on the school's dime, went to the Renaissance Faire in Hammond

Did you keep your New Year's resolution, and will you make more for next year?
1) I didn't make any and 2) I won't

Did anyone close to you give birth?
This was quite the year for that question! Courtney had Sophia in February, Tree had Phoebe this summer, Monica had Daniel and Madelyn this summer, my cousin Kelly had Julia this summer, Calie had Clover and Mary had Gracelyn in October, and Michelle will have a baby next month. Also, a girl I worked with in college had Joshua yesterday.


Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully, no, and let's hope it stays like that the next few days.


What countries did you visit?

None, but wait'll you see my list of states....Louisiana, of course, Florida, Arizona, then a drive through Mississippi-Alabama-Tennessee-Kentucky-Indiana to evacuate, Texas, Missouri. Three of those are new. I think I'm missing one. I thought I rembered 11...this is only 10. OH! Illinois, because we took the train from St. Louis. So, yeah...11.

what would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
Good health. A better financial place, a gainfully-employed-in-a-job-he-enjoys spouse. Some good luck.

What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
December 11, the day we got 2 inches of snow in New Orleans!

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Going against a superior to stand up for something I believed in, navigating the St. Louis Metro system successfully, swimming with the manatees.

What was your biggest failure?
That's not something I want to discuss.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
This is almost as lengthy as the people who had babies this year question....

Geoff was hospitalized with the flu; I had at least 2 sinus infections; I started the year off on New Year's Day by stepping in a a pothole, in front of my house, in flat shoes, stone-cold sober, and dislocating my knee, which left me teaching on crutches in a second-story classroom with no elevator for two weeks, while kids I loved hid them from me if I put them down; I sewed through my finger while making Mark's vest for his Halloween costume and went to the emergency room,; Exactly one week later, went back to the emergency room with Mark because Shazbot, our beast of a cat, ran in front of him, tripped him, and left him unconscious on the floor in the hallway for 7 hours with a slight concussion; got Tonsillitis for the first time since I was like 10,; and now Mark has a death rattle cough. It's been a fun year!

What was the best thing you bought?
That I bought? Hm. I can name awesome things people bought for me, like my sewing machine of doom and my jewelry armoire, but I haven't really spent any money this year on anything fun.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
First, thanks, Anne. That meant a lot.
I have a few students who have come really far since they entered my classroom. Many have not, but a select few are rockin' it this year.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The girl who was a promising student but brought a knife to the winter semi-formal to use on another girl, 98% of my 7th grade students, and the kid who threatened to flip the desk at me, and was finally expelled for assisting the knife girl.

Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage, bills, car note, clothes, beer. In that order.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Manatees, Obama, booking the Inauguration as my class trip, not losing anything in Ike and Gustav, JEA Convention in St. Louis, the St. Louis Bread Company, that kid getting expelled.

What song will always remind you of 2008?
Unfortunately, Flo-Rida, "Low." I think I've heard that way more times than I cared to count. I rarely listen to the radio, too! Also, the song from the Twilight movie that New Jenn played on repeat when she found it online. :o)

Compared to last year, are you:
- happier or sadder?
Sadder, for sure.
- thinner or fatter? Fatter, for sure.
- richer or poorer? Poorer, for sure. This survey is not making me feel any better, either...

What do you wish you'd done more of?
Ignored other people. Honestly. I care too much sometimes. Then I take on their problems, and I have enough of my own.

What do you wish you'd done less of?
Too many things to list.

How will you be spending Christmas?
Christmas Eve in Morgan City, Christmas Day with my parents, Christmas night at Parlay's with the gang.

What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in 2008?
Went to the emergency room about my finger and had the receptionist laugh at me. Explained how I ended up on crutches. Fell down and bumped into things, but that's pretty par for the course.

Did you fall in love in 2008?
MANATEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How many one-night stands?
Not enough, ha!

What was your favorite TV program?
Scrubs and Dexter and How I Met Your Mother.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't last year?
Why, yes. I can think of a minimum of 3.

What was the best book you read?
"The Red Tent" comes to mind. Thanks, New Jenn! Also, I have a deep guilty pleasure for the Twilight series, and I don't care what you think about that or if it lowers me in your esteem, either, nanny nanny boo boo.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Hm. Can't think of anything.

What did you want and get?
A jewelry armoire and the 25th anniversary Trivial Pursuit.

What did you want and not get?
Happiness.

What was your favorite film of this year?
"Stepbrothers" and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." TOO BAD, HARRY POTTER! YOU HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR!!!!!

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Turned 29 and spent the actual day shopping with over $300 worth of gift cards I didn't know I had been holding on to. Threw a party at our house that weekend.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Mark getting a good job, an easier time with finances, better students in 7th grade (or teaching older students), being in charge of the plays at school since I am the drama teacher, gotten to keep the morning duty station I'd picked out for myself in the beginning of the year but was told by the other person that she preferred it and not buckling to her wishes, having something personal play out a lot differently than it did.... having another personal issue stop being so annoying and crappy....you pick.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
"At least it ain't from the fat lady store!"

What kept you sane?
Kittens and Facebook. No lie.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy most?
I really don't follow any of that stuff any more.

What political issue stirred you the most?
Obama, of course, and stupid gay marriage bans.

Who did you miss?
My old life. And Li at camp. And now Sabrina!

Who was the best new person you met?
New Jenn!

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Eliminate the negative people from your life. You'll be much happier without them.

If you could sum up 2008 in three words, what would they be?
Thankgod it's over.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

There are two things I can't stand...

...Intolerance, and stupid people.

Yeah, I'm voting for Obama today. I am a registered Independent who loves being one. But I want a viable third party candidate. It bothers me to say that. But Ron Paul is only popular because of his views on marijuana, which I only agree with when thinking of Dana Carvey's line about making things like that legal and taxing the hell out of it, and I think Nader is an idiot, and not enough people know any of the other candidates to make a difference. I want a third party candidate with the profile of whack-job Ross Perot, but with more sense, and then I'll be the first in line to vote for that person.

Picking one of the "big two" was much easier. I fear we'll be under the leadership of one of the VPs. We live in a very racist country. I cross my fingers that Obama gets his full term. While I think Biden is wooden and unimpressive...but because the thought of ending up with Pres. Palin scares the crap out of me, Obama is the clear and easy choice.

I also don't like when people make the presidential race (or any race, for that matter) about pro-life vs. pro-choice. HELLO!!!!!!! That ain't gonna be on the forefront of the guy's mind!!! This war, the economy, etc. are all going to happen first. Get over yourselves.

junk.

Ha!! My cat just walked on my keyboard and that's what came up. There were a bunch more k's followed by some i's, but I feel like he just stated his opinion. It IS junk. Wake up, people....abortion isn't what makes the country go 'round. That's never the issue I look at when voting. I find it interesting, sort of, to see the stance, but I base my vote on other things.

More important things, like not letting some little girl who gets by on being "adorable" sit in the big seat. I have nightmares.

My mom tried saying how she doesn't trust Obama. I asked why, and she blamed his past.

Well, none of us are perfect. Like I tell my students, if you are completely perfect, let me know so I can call the Vatican and tell them that the second coming has happened. I mean, even Jesus got angry!!! I have a great many people I wish I'd never befriended. I'm dealing with that right now about someone.

I just saw a bulletin from someone with whom I attended college, and it's so ignorant. Allow me to paste it here:

His subject was, "An important message before you vote!"

"How long is the beast allowed to have authority in Revelations?

"Revelations Chapter 13 tells us it is 42 months, and you know what that is.

"Almost a four-year term of a Presidency.

"All I can say is 'Lord, Have mercy on us!'

"According to The Book of Revelations the anti-Christ is: The anti-Christ will
be a man, in his 40's, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with
persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal....the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destroy every thing..

"Do we recognize this description??

"I STRONGLY URGE each one of you to post this as many times as
you can! Each opportunity that you have to send it to a friend or media outlet, do it!

"I refuse to take a chance on this unknown candidate who came out of nowhere who refused to share his public records.

"From: Dr.
John Tisdale
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As I was listening to a news program last night, I watched in horror as Barack Obama made the statement with pride. . .'we are no longer a Christian nation; we are now a nation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, . .' As with so many other statements I've heard him (and his wife) make, I never thought I'd see the day that I'd hear something like that from a presidential candidate in this nation. To think our forefathers fought and died for the right for our nation to be a Christian nation--and to have this man say with pride that we are no longer that. How far this nation has come from what our founding fathers intended it to be.

"I hope that each of you will do what I'm doing now--send your concerns, written simply and sincerely, to the Christians on your email list.

"With God's help, and He is still in control of this nation and all else, we can show this man and the world in November that we are, indeed, still a Christian nation!"

Back to me....

'we are no longer a Christian nation; we are now a nation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, . .'

What's wrong with that? Aren't we a melting pot? Our forefathers came here for religious freedom, then forced the natives to convert to Christianity. Are we to continue forcing others to another way of thinking? Are we to oppress those different from us? At least let the Jews stay here...they follow our Bible to a T....the Orthodox moreso than most Christians....all the way up until the end of the first testament. My social studies class was horrified to read that Columbus and the Europeans brought disease upon the Natives. In 75 years, it is estimated that 90% of the natives of Mexico and the Caribbean were dead from diseases foisted upon them by the Europeans.

This made me sad...sad, sad, sad....


I knew this guy was very conservative and very religious, but I never expected ignorant hate speech blindly cut and pasted into a bulletin.


And I keep seeing pampered rich kids with statuses on Facebook about preventing socialism, and share the wealth being bad. Sorry your lifestyle might change a bit. But didn't the current Republican administration just pull a socialist trick with their 80 kabillion dollar bailout of fat cats who couldn't manage their businesses and money? Where was my cut? I teach in a Catholic school and have to work in the summer in order to make ends meet. My husband works a lot of overtime, is 6 days a week every other week, and we barely make it. In fact, we usually don't. We earn every penny, but it's still not enough. We didn't go spend it all irresponsibly like the big businesses did. We put it into a house, a car, food, clothes, etc. He's getting by on the dumpiest car imaginable, because we can't afford another one. Too bad mine flooded in Katrina, or he could have had another one. We all know how much we poured into gas this summer. Did anyone else have an energy bill go from over $300 to just $88 from August to September? Where's MY bailout?

You know, maybe capitalism isn't working so well. We learned bad moves in socialism..it's why history classes exist: To learn from the bad and not repeat it. I'm not a socialist, nor do I think that we SHOULD be socialist. But maybe we need to try things from a different angle.

I don't agree with handouts. Not for the poor, not for the rich. Definitely not for the rich. I don't even want them for the middle class or whatever I am. But I don't want to bail out rich old guys. If my business failed, I'd have no one to help me. I'm not a Fortune 500 corporation. So I don't deserve it, never mind the fact that those in control do very little every day while I may work 7 days a week to be able to pay insurance for my employees.

EDITED TO ADD: I do agree with socialized healthcare. Also, I didn't complete my thoughts because I was heading to a meeting and rushed this post, but not only do we work our asses off for so little, we have owed in taxes EVERY SINGLE YEAR since we've been married, have changed how we file a couple times, and only received returns when we were working off our Katrina loss sheet for '05 and '06, and even then, the returns were less than $200 each year. So don't give me that whole "getting money for not working" argument. I work in the summer...partly because I love it there and want to be there, and partly because we'd never make it if I didn't. Mark worked two jobs for a while, but since he was Christmas help, he was laid off after a bit.

There's a reason I rarely cover politics, but that bulletin just really made me angry. I am not as thought-out or researched as my brother when it comes to blogging about politics. I just got very emotional and needed to pour something out.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Milton Day, in a nutshell

Today, my alarm didn't go off, I was almost late to work, I didn't get to stop for my Thursday morning coffee treat, I left my lunch home, I didn't have any off-periods, half the laptops in my classroom laptop lab are missing, the other half weren't charged, I got threatened in writing and verbally by a 13-year-old with a borderline personality and oppositional defiant disorder, and a 15-year-old spectrum kid announced to the class that he hoped I would re-enter the room naked, then tried to grab my ass, all just a month after he said I could work at Hooters, then another kid sprayed smelly-ass cologne in another kid's face, and you haven't lived until you've seen a large child licking a Kleenex in a frantic attempt to rid his mouth of stanky cologne. Then...as if the day couldn't get any better...

Hey...it's 1:20 a.m. on Friday. Why am I still up on a school night? Because my totally awesome day just got even more awesome.

I was getting ready to jump in the shower, and I heard tires squealing and a loud crash. Some stupid drunk nurse bimbo drove through a stop sign and slammed into the tree in my front yard!!!!! Unfortunately, she was not hurt.

Cops just left, ambulance and fire engines left (there was a small fire in the car about 20 minutes after the crash), her carload of douchebag friends who got loud when they reunited left, and the tow truck just pulled her totaled car away. Now there's peace and quiet. And now, I'm going to bed. Sleep? I hope. But now I'm all keyed up from storming around my house cursing and yelling about how she's supposed to be saving lives, and she just endangered some.

Luckily, my tree is okay. I heart that tree. It's old and gnarly and apparently sturdy. If it hadn't been there to stop her car, she would have hit Mark's car (not that I would have minded....he needs a new one desperately) and pushed it into mine or the kitchen. This is the third car that the tree has saved us from. In the year and a half we've lived here, you wouldn't believe the number of people who have driven through that stop sign and into our yard.

We were outside, and I gave her death glares as she stumbled around my yard. A cop made us go back inside, and I didn't even say anything! My neighbor pulled out his camera and started taking pictures. That's what ticked off the cop, who yelled, "Who ARE you people?!?!?!" at the three of us, hahaha.

But I muttered "LOCK HER UP!" as I went back in. Mark was mad at me because he said the cop glared after me as through trying to decide whether to cite me for it, hahahahhahaa. I thought it was only loud enough for Mark to hear, but oopsie.

Only way it could have been a worse day would be if I had crashed my car in her yard. All I wanted to do was sleep....

Just thought you'd like to start your day with a hearty chuckle. I never did consume an adult beverage. Nothing was cold. Perhaps, in light of my faux pas with the cop, this is a very good thing. I'll just make up for lost time this weekend.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Latest and greatest....

Written August 29:

Mark's got an offer for a hotel room free through work in Hammond, and they accept animals up to 50 lbs. He has to work tomorrow, so we'll see then.

Also August 29:

The in-laws just told us there is a mandatory evacuation this weekend in MC. They're trying to convince their stubborn parental types. But if Nanny, Maw-Maw, and Pops don't want to go, I don't think they are, either. When we all get old, let's make pacts to not be so stubborn.

We are changing our plans....and going to follow the Saints, haha. We're going to Indianapolis to stay with Devon and her husband. Sal and his wife are also going up there with their dog. Sal has to cover the Saints.

The Hammond deal just keeps getting sketchier and sketchier, and we're afraid it may not be a great plan. I researched and discovered that it's a $45 a night motel. Yeahhhhh.... and we don't have the room until 11 a.m. Sunday. We don't want to wait around that long.

STM and Kath are going to go up more than likely. Where up is, they don't know.


Written Sept. 1:

We spent 34 hours, starting at 4 a.m. Sunday in Old Metairie. With two cats, one of whom pulled a Houdini from his carrier. Twice. But we fixed his butt. My parents are also in Atlanta, and took almost 24 hours, but they stopped to sleep at a rest stop like we did. We had maybe 2 hours total of sleep/break time. But we're here in Indy, awaiting Broussard's call on return days. I hope it's through the weekend...I don't wanna drive back Wednesday. I haven't recovered from the past day and a half...

Also written Sept. 1:

To quote our parish president, "I don't like Ike."

I am safely at our friend Devon's house in Indy. I'm a little more worried about my in-laws' homes and business in Morgan City. Apparently, one of my parents' neighbors stayed home and said their house looks fine. Metairie is pretty large. I'm actually on the other side of the 17th Street Canal...the very one that ruined my home in Lakeview. We're in the Old Metairie neighborhood in Jefferson Parish, which is next to Orleans Parish. My parents are closer to the airport, but not really near it. Aaron Broussard, our JP pres., is making a pronouncement for when we can return. Rumor has it he doesn't want anyone in until the weekend. Which is fine, as we drove 34 hours to get to Indy...more than twice the amount of time it would normally take. To get from Old Metairie to Hattiesburg, MS, usually takes 2 1/2 hours. Instead, it took us FOURTEEN HOURS to get there. No bathrooms, no food, no nothing until the Mississippi welcome center, which was overrun and disGUSTing.

They say over 1 million people are without power, and we're assuming we're in that number.

I'll update more later...I only had about 2 hours of sleep the entire time. My cats are hiding somewhere in Devon's house. We had to sleep in our car in three rest stops. It was awful. We're so exhausted and so stiff.

Written Sept. 2:

No school until Monday, and we find out around 5 p.m. when we'll be allowed back home. Lots of power outages, so I guess that is the biggest factor.

Mark will find out about his job after that announcement is made.

My in-laws haven't heard when they're allowed back. Apparently, there was a lot of damage to sewerage, water, and electricity in Morgan City. Thankfully, they convinced their older generation to evacuate with them.

Also Sept. 2:

We're allowed back in Jefferson Parish at 6 a.m. tomorrow...but it's a "we're allowing you here, but we don't recommend it" situation. There's no power and that has rendered sewerage null and void as well. It is just too hot and humid to go down there with no air.

My parents are in Atlanta, and are hoping they don't have to evacuate from their evacuation due to Hanna...they plan to stay until Friday. Schools are closed until Monday throughout the area. We still haven't heard about Mark and when he needs to return to work, but we're hoping for Monday, haha.

We'll probably leave Indy on Friday, and are turning our evacuation into an evacation. It's just the break I needed, actually, after my super busy summer, which overlapped with my super busy school year.

My hurribrain, as I have termed it, has settled down, and now I'm trying to just enjoy things up here.

I am concerned for Mark's family, though. I hope everything is okay. Their mayor has said do not attempt to come home due to the things in my previous post. Apparently, a tornado hit the sweerage plant, so there is no sewerage or water there. In addition, the generator at the hospital there is blown, so there's no medical assistance. His grandparents were not going to evacuate, but they convinced them to go to San Antonio with his parents. However, they are planning to go home tomorrow. They're big in the community, and they are convinced that they will be allowed back in the city. To quote Ron Burgundy, sort of, they are very important people. People know them. And so they are basing this on their ability to return. His parents are trying to convince them to stay, because what happens when they get there and are turned away? They aren't exactly spring chickens, and it would not be safe. They spoke to a neighbor who stayed, and the neighbor said their house looks ok. So there's really NO reaso at all to return, other than that they are ridiculously stubborn. The rest of his family is staying put for the time being, in Mitchell, LA, which is northern LA, and Little Rock, and San Antonio. They're all tryig desperately to convince his grandparents to not return. We'll see.

Also Sept. 2:

My friend from work's husband does something with JP. Chamber of Commerce maybe? They live in our neighborhood, and he said they are without power and that it looks like it could be a few days. Says there's no reason to go back. But in half an hour, we get the proclamation, so we'll see!

Also, Morgan City got raped. Their generator at the hospital is down, so no medical services are available. Their sewerage plant was hit by a tornado. It's not clear when they'll be allowed to return. His whole family did end up evacuating, though. So the people and pets are all safe. I just hope they didn't get tooooo much damage...

Later Sept. 2:

Listening to Broussard's press conference. JP is opening at 6 a.m., but nop electricity in 80% of the parish. We already know our neighborhood has no electricity. In that 80%, that includes sewerage pumps, so you can't flush your toilets.

There was a tornado touching down in Marrero and the storm system bringing it is hitting in City Park and Old Metairie right now.

Plan that party for Saturday. We will have a long ride ahead of us either Thursday or Friday, and we want to be there for it. Haha.

Written Sept. 3:

Our neighbor texted us a little while ago to let us know that he went home, and there's no water or electricity at our homes. We kind of knew that already, but it's nice to have confirmation.

He also said there are no trees laying on our house, so this is very positive!! We won't know how our roof fared until we get inside. Blech. Can't wait to tackle our fridge..... but this time, I wrapped everything in tin foil, then put it in Ziploc baggies, then in a trash bag, then another trash bag. All leakable items did that. Except my little container of Ben and Jerry's Americone Dream, which was half empty. I had planned to eat it before leaving, but ran out of time. Should be a savory mess in my freezer!

Mark spoke to his supervisor. His job has a generator, and they are looking for people to work, but the supervisor doesn't have lights or water, either, so it's fine.

So for the time being, it's the land of Tom Petty, John Cougar Mellencamp, and the Colts...although the Saints are here, too. We hung out with Gus in the swanky Conrad hotel. He's staying in the same hotel as the Saints. It was fun. What a nice hotel...he has a flat screen TV in his bathroom. And a separate shower and tub, and the nicest bed EVER. We also ate at a restaurant called Yats. It's run by a guy from Marrero. They were actually closed for 3 miuts when we got there, but Devon said, "I have Gustav refugees here and wanted to show them your restaurant!" They said come on in, we still have some food. We got chili cheese crawfish etoufée. Doesn't sound like something good, but it was AMAZING. And, they gave it to us for free. The owner was there and chatted us up for a long while. I totally recommend Yats if you're ever up here. Also, we left a tip that equalled the cost of our food, because there are people much worse off than us this time, and we didn't feel right accepting it free.

Tonight: an '80s night, maybe watching Devon at Roller Derby practice, hanging out with Sal, and also hanging out with some Indiana boys on an Indiana night.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gustaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaav!

Here's where we are in our evacuation plans:

1. Started laundry and packing over the last few nights. All photo albums, yearbooks, college newspaper bound copies, school-mandated items, and favorite summer clothes and shoes to join us.

2. Packed winter clothes in trunk of Mark's car.

3. Dropped Mark's car off at a warehouse his boss owns out in Harahan. Four feet off the ground, never flooded before, here's hoping that holds true.

4. Bought disposable, covered foil baking pans to use as travel litter boxes, plus cat food.

5. Spoken with parents numerous times.

6. Exchanged numbers with next-door neighbors.

7. Picked up items in the yard.

8. My favorite, most bizarre activity ever: wrapped all meat and other icky items, such as eggs, in tin foil, placed in Ziplock bags, placed in garbage bags, placed inside other garbage bags. Tied tight. Will turn fridge and freezer temps up completely before we leave. Allegedly, this will keep foods good for the first 12 hours after losing electricity.

9. Printed out directions to Indianapolis.

10. Cried a lot.

11. Dropped my back seats off at my parents' house.

12. Started loading my car.

13. Panicked a bunch.

14. Contacted out of state loved ones to update them as necessary.

15. Set a timeline to leave between 3 and 4 a.m., with a bedtime around 8 p.m.

16. Change bedtime to maybe an hour from now...10:30?

17. Find little mementos that can't be replaced

18. Bag up jewelry

19. Tthrow remaining clean laundry in trash bags because we're out of suitcases.

20. Check in with in-laws and see what their plans are.

21. Finish loading car by playing suitcase Tetris.

22. Attempt to sleep.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Depending on Gustav...

I will try to do a 3-year anniversary recap in the next 24 hours.

Friday, July 04, 2008

That's a new one...

So my group of friends and I like to frequent an establishment late on weekends. It having been July 3rd and all of us being off of work on the 4th, we decided to take a rare Thursday night foray. This establishment is in Lakeview, my former neighborhood. We like to do our part, you know?

Anyway, tonight, my cousin Alicia and I were sitting further down the counter on our own. We were talking for a while, and since there was karaoke going on, our musical friends were actually participating and were far from us. We'd been the only two near each other for quite some time, and we were discussing a great many things, including our summer employment (as we're both teachers, I'm her boss at camp this summer, haha...), our families, our friends, and the idiots attempting to scream into the microphone in the stupid karaoke (that was not our friends...at least...not at that point....). Whatever she was talking about had her pretty animated. In her story, she was irritated, and she was kind of reenacting that. I felt someone elbow me on the spine. Thinking it was one of our husbands, or another friend, I turned a little. Instead, it was some guy. He said, "Tell her she's pretty." I thought maybe he was trying to hit on her through me. I kind of rolled my eyes, didn't answer, and turned back to Alicia. She continued her story and now looked very irritated, because some guy was randomly interrupting our conversation. He leaned over, tapped me again, and said, "You need to make her feel good about herself. Tell her she's pretty."

Again, I ignored him and returned to our conversation. How odd. Why would I need to make her feel goo --- OH MY GOD. HE THOUGHT WE WERE LESBIANS! I guess he just saw what looked like a lovers' quarrel, and he was trying to give me advice on how to smooth things over.

I'm pretty sure that's one of the greatest things that's ever happened to me.

But here's the thing...why do men in establishments such as these feel that they can touch girls all they want? I don't appreciate being elbowed in the spine, first of all. I don't appreciate the old crusty guy (where did he come from, anyway?) who rubbed Alicia's arms to get her attention in order to get her to let him up to the counter. I didn't appreciate the guy who rubbed my back. In fact, I almost slugged a creepy lascivious guy one night for repeatedly touching my back. I told him I was not pleased, I told him I was married, I told him to leave me alone, and when I asked him to quit touching me, he cursed at me, then kept it up. The bartender tried to get him to stop, the random guy on the other side of him tried. I moved my chair. I finally screamed at him and threatened to cause bodily harm. A male bartender came over and got him to leave. I don't understand why if I'm in a place like this men feel that I, and other females around them, are like part of the decor. That we want to be touched.

And people wonder why I am not a fan of going out...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A commencement speech

At 8th grade graduation, we always select two students to give commencement addresses. It's always two kids who have been there for a while, one boy, one girl, and they must embody our school's mission. This year, I helped the male student, Patrick, with his speech. It's so amazing, to come from him, to see how he has evolved since I first met him two years ago. I wanted to share it, because I'm so proud of it.

"My name is Patrick P. I promised my teachers this would not be a football story, but Ms. M [That would be me] said that if I could make a good, honest analogy between school and football, I could work it in. As a result, I would like to say that school is like a football game.

"School and football have more similarities than what you think. Your schoolmates are like your teammates, your teachers are your coaches, and Mr. E is the Commissioner. Just recently, my man, Brett Favre, (Best of all time) played 17 years in the NFL. You go to school, if you’re lucky enough, for 18 years. As I think winning games is being lucky, but putting in the work to succeed, I feel that finishing school is the same. In a football game, you have obstacles that you face, like a third and ten or a giant linebacker. In school, you also have obstacles like acing the tasks that get thrown at you.

"But when I look at school, when I look at football, and when I look at life, it’s all about going forward. You can’t go forward without making mistakes. When you work hard, you might take 5 steps forward, but you may end up having to take two steps back. In school, you might not get an A on every paper. You might put in the effort and put in the work, but you may come inches short of a first down. But then you get up, you get a new formation, and you try to attack the defense again. And you succeed.

"In his 17 years, Brett Favre saw a lot of wins and losses. He also saw players, coaches, and commissioners come and go. In my 6 years at Holy Rosary, I’ve seen a lot of wins and losses, and I’ve had my share of players, coaches, and commissioners come and go, too. Father T, Mr. B, and Mrs. P are three of those commissioners. Without their help and guidance, I would not be standing here today. With change comes growth and success. Father R and Mr. E have done an excellent job of leading our team to victory. Mrs. McN is our Brett Favre. She is retiring this year, like Brett, and I appreciate the special relationship we’ve had these last 6 years. I’ve also known Mrs. S for 6 years. I don’t know how she does it, but she’s the most mild-mannered person I’ve ever met. She’s taught me how to tolerate difficulties in school and life. I also want to thank Coach F for teaching me the way the game is supposed to be played. Even though I’ve only known Ms. M for 2 years, we’ve discovered a bond between us that can never be broken. Mrs. B, crazy Ms. B. This “child of God” would like to thank you for all of your patience and understanding. Ms. C, Mr. G, and Coach I, I’ve only known you for a few months, but I appreciate you just as much as Mrs. S and Ms. McN, who I’ve known for 6 years.

"Daniel B and Michael A are the two teammates I’ve known the longest. I really want to thank them for their friendship and support during all of the success and falls I’ve taken over the years.

"I also would like to thank my family for their support and for teaching me to love school and football.

"I would like to end by telling everyone that we can win championships if we work together and stand by God. Thank you."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Oh, the huge manatee!

Every year, due to my former past as a Travel Camp Unit Head (Tsofim Teen Travel, represent!), I am in charge of coordinating our 7th and 8th grade class trip. The trip destinations alternate: one year it's a science trip, the next it's a social studies trip.

The year of Katrina, we were supposed to go to Tampa to swim with the manatees. However, after the storm took most peoples' life savings away, we decided to cancel that trip and plan one to a sleepaway camp in Mentone, Ala. It was a relaxing, fun, at. They just learn "differently;" in other words, they don't do well in a lecture hall environment. Only like 2% of the population can do that well, anyway, so I don't know why my students are considered different learners.

Anyway, we never tell people that's what our kids are, because there are so many stigmas attached to it. Every so often, I'll hear from even close friends and family members, "Well, maybe that would be okay for YOUR students, but..." Sigh. However, once in a while, you have to pull the card. The majority of the kids have ADHD. Do you want to take a flight with 28 kids with ADHD who aren't able to sit by their 11 chaperons (5 teachers and 6 parents, only two and a half of whom were any use to us as the rest obviously were "on vacation.")? No. I know I certainly don't. I tried calling the airline. First, there is no local desk number for Southwest. You have to call national. We have a teacher who is deathly allergic to nuts, to the point where she can't even be in the recycled air environment of passengers on a plane eating nuts. I had to call the airline to let them know so that an alternative snack could be served. So if you're ever on a Southwest flight and get pretzels, that's probably why. The lady with whom I spoke was courteous and helpful, but she said it probably couldn't be arranged, check in at the airport anyway and see.

I went to the check-in and waited forever and asked, but the lady was a little rude. I waited until we got to the gate (after accidentally putting my boarding pass through the X-ray machine....you're supposed to hold it, and they call out "boarding pass check!" and point out the bucket you say it's in and put you in the clear "holding cell" behind the checkers, and you can't leave until they get the pass and check you, and it's HIGHLY embarrassing, especially when you're with 7th and 8th graders and one parents who refuses to accept you as the trip leader or an authority figure or even a human being, like when she calls you nit-picky for correcting her in the spelling of your name (which then also means she's mispronouncing it) in e-mails...and that's the least of her offenses...

In my defense, I was helping a student who is a little spacey, and in my frustration, I put down the boarding pass without realizing it.

Anyway, I asked, rather politely, the guy at the gate if we could possibly seat early....taking the back of the plane, in order to keep our kids together. I played the card. He sad no. I told him our our kids were special needs, and it was really in everyone's best interest if we were together. He said no. I said, "You guys aren't a very group friendly airline, are you?" The guy's reply? "No, we're not. We never have been, and we never will be. Use a different airline next time." GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. I hope the kids annoyed the passengers. We didn't choose the airline, by the way. We book through a travel agency for students. WHY they put us on Southwest, I'll never know.

We landed in Tampa around 2-ish their time, grabbed lunch in the airport (SO EXPENSIVE), and headed out to the hotel. It was very nice for the type of trip we were on. I recommend the Spring Hill Inn and Suites in Tampa if you ever go there.

The first activity was a sort of orientation. Our course leaders went over rules, expectations, procedures, etc. with the kids, then launched into a discussion of what we would experience and the types of animals we would meet. She talked about animals and their adaptations, then called Mylan to the front. She dressed him as a bird, sort of. She chose him because he was mouthing off a bit, and it was perfect, because it kind of put him in his place. Chris, our guide, proceeded to call him "Bird Man" for the rest of the trip. She put a camo-print cloth on the top of his body to talk about how birds can camouflage themselves as an adaptation. Then she gave him some colorful cloth wings that went on like sleeves and stretched across his body. She added a rainbow feather boa to be his plumage to attract mates. Then she wrapped yellow poster boards around his legs and put flippers on his feet to give him bird legs and feet. She put a paper beak on him followed by sunglasses with large, forward-facing eyes to denote that he was a predatory bird. He was so mad....and everyone took tons of pictures. I later printed one out and hung it in my classroom.



We went to International Mall near the hotel and got $10 vouchers for meals at Earl of Sandwich. I was excited by the food at this place. Most of the adults were. But the kids really shut down. None of the food was kid-friendly. They had a grilled cheese, but it was Swiss, brie, and bleu cheeses. What kid would want that??? I should add that all of our meals are included in the trip price, and kids are told to not bring too much money with them, as they won't need it. So it's really crappy when a parent has paid for a meal that a kid can't enjoy, and then the kid has to spend his or her own money for a different meal in the food court. Last year, if we had a food court meal, you had a voucher for one of several combos at one of several places in the food court.

For the record, I loved my food from there. I just think they should have done something a little more kid-friendly.

We had an early curfew that night, as we had a 4:15 a.m. wake-up call. And no, that's not a typo! We had to get up, eat breakfast, get on a bus, and ride more than an hour away to Crystal Springs to swim with the manatees! They popped "Zeus and Roxanne" in the DVD player. It's a predictable Gutenberg-as-heartthrob(?)-vehicle for children involving a dog and a dolphin who are best friends. Not entirely age appropriate, but it did have a nice side-effect: lulling the kids to sleep on the bus.

Fortunately and unfortunately, there was a ridiculous cold snap going on that week. It was in the 50s, which meant we would be cold. Fortunately, the manatees would also be cold and would have come into the Springs, where the water is allegedly 72 degrees year-round, for warmth. We stopped at American Pro Dive, where we were fitted with wet suits. They were slightly damp and cold. Germophobe that I am, I was having trouble enough getting the blasted thing on, and Chris said, "There are two types of divers in the world: those who pee in their wet suits and those who lie and say they didn't." UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! For the record, Ol' Ironbladder here honestly did not pee. She would admit it if she did, and kind of regrets the fact that she didn't.

We boarded three pontoon boats (A Christian school from California with 15 people....and little kids...shared a bus with us, but that's a longer, angrier story...) and went out in search of manatees. We found a spot and got it with our snorkels, masks, and waterproof cameras. Here I am:


It took me a while....but then...I finally got to see one!! It was such an amazing event. The hour and a half that we snorkeled flew by. The manatees swim right up to you. They're so gentle and beautiful. After I found the first one, it was very easy to find more. The rule is, you can't go after them or anything like that, but if they come up to you, you can touch them. Manatees love to be scratched under their armpits, apparently. If you do that, they roll onto their backs for belly rubs. I love them so much!

I took a rest with some of the kids by standing on a rock. All of a sudden, I got knocked off the rock and started to get angry at whatever jerky kid had done that. Then I looked and saw that I had just been nuzzled by a huge manatee! My slight rage instantly turned into a melted heart.

I was snorkeling along, and one of the manatees they are monitoring as he recovers from a boat injury swam under me. He has a buoy attached to his tail so they can find him easily to check on him. He did something weird and tangled me up in his line. One of the dive guys had to set me free. If I wasn't wearing flippers, I could have done it myself. Those flippers make almost everything impossible.

Towards the end of our amazing swim, I thought I was by myself. I was snorkeling along at a safe distance, tracking a manatee who was moseying along the bottom of the springs, and I felt something under my legs. Ecstatic that another manatee had found me, I slowly turned over, grinning like an idiot, only to discover one of my students crossed paths with me, and his legs ran into mine. It should be noted that he is a bigger kid; I was mistaken for a student, while he was mistaken for a teacher, hahahah. . . however, my comment to him had nothing to do with his size and everything to do with the fact that I didn't know he was out there and I didn't expect anything to brush under my legs. I lifted my head, took out my snorkel, and said, "Oh, that's you, Patrick! I thought you were a manatee!" Well, of course, he takes that to be an insult on his size. Thank God he's an awesome kid who wouldn't take it personally. "Ms. M., if you had reached over and started petting me, I would have been back on that boat so fast, you wouldn't have known WHAT happened!" he replied. It's really hard to snorkel and laugh hysterically at the same time.

At one point, I found a mom and baby manatee pair. The baby was so friendly, and he and I played together for a while. He kept getting face-to-face with me, and I fell in love with him. I was really sad when we parted ways. I wish I could have brought him home. I know that's not possible, but don't take that dream from me, okay?
Here's my little buddy:





In addition to the manatees and little fish swimming around, there were big huge scary tarpons. They're pretty intimidating, even though they won't bother you. I'd never seen a live one before. I've seen plenty of dead ones at the Tarpon Rodeo in Grand Isle, but that's all.

Unfortunately, our time was up. When we got out of the water and back on the pontoon boats, we froze. They put tarps down to block the wind, and we had to take off the wetsuits immediately. The captain passed around a thermos of hot chocolate, and we each had a cup. Then, then engine died. We ended up stuck on a rocky reef and had to wait for another boat to come rescue us. They lashed the boats together, and we continued our slow, freezing journey back to the dock. We boarded our bus and drove to Rainbow River, where we had a picnic lunch on the backs of the river. After lunch, we fought with our wet wet suits....which are the DEVIL, by the way... and got on another set of pontoon boats to head upstream. It had warmed up some, but it was still pretty chilly. I let Torian, one of my students, borrow my school fleece since she decided she didn't want to get back in the water. About a mile and half or so up the gorgeous, crystal clear river, we dropped anchor and reentered the water. Once again, it was warmer in the water than out. We floated/snorkeled back down stream to the docks. We found turtles, fossils, shells, wild birds, and fish, including gars. We could see some of the natural springs and some underwater caves, too. I've never seen such clear water before. All I get to see is the muddy Mississippi and the nasty Lake Pontchartrain. And the Gulf of Mexico ain't too clear, either, especially in Grand Isle!



We went to Homosassa State Park, which is a zoo for indigenous Floridian animals. There are two animals there who aren't indigenous, though: a movie star hippo named Lu, who is the only remaining animal from the days when the zoo was just a regular zoo, and flamingos, which migrated to Florida from Cuba, etc. It was pretty cool, but when you're used to the Audubon Zoo here in New Orleans, most zoos just don't impress you.

After dinner at a former summer camp, we went to the hotel to crash. Or should have.

After everyone was settled in, I got in the shower. As program leader, I am rewarded with a private room. I heard someone knock on my door, and, as I was washing my hair, decided that it wouldn't be prudent to answer the door in a towel, as a student or parent could be knocking. Try again later, buddy. Then I heard my room phone ring. Sorry, guys. I'm full of shampoo and refuse to jump out the shower. I got out, dried myself off, and heard my cell phone ring. It was another teacher. Apparently, one of our rooms had the cops called on it. EXPLOSION!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have escorted two Houston trips, 8 Tsofim trips around the country, the Mentone trip, and the D.C. trip. I've had eight kids crammed in one hotel room. And NEVER have I had so much as a noise violation!!!! Two of the teachers have done 7 trips each, and have never had that problem. And our three course leaders, each having had these jobs for 5 or 6 years, have never had this problem, and they do it year-round!!

I was livid. I couldn't see straight. And, they are damned lucky I didn't have my own car, because all of their butts would have been at the airport if I had.

Trip policy is that if you act up, you get sent home. But, with four kids in a room with a closed door, you can't know who is guilty and who is not. So no one went home. There were write-ups, detentions, and week-long suspensions handed out after returning to school, so they did get repercussions, but they were delayed.

What went wrong? Well, by law, we can't have an adult in the room with the kids. The hotel didn't block off rooms. We were scattered around on three different floors. There is SUPPOSED to be night security. Our course leaders said they'd patrol the halls until security arrived. Well, they didn't. Exhausted after our long day, we were all trying to get ready for bed, and thought the halls were covered, since that's what we were told. Security was half an hour late, the course leaders weren't in the halls, and things got out of hand.

Thankfully, it was our last night in that hotel. The next morning, we packed our stuff, checked out, and went to Fort De Soto State Park. We went to one of the beaches, which was freezing cold, and got not much more than ankle deep in the water. The kids found lots of great specimens, and the people from the Museum of Science and Industry Habitats Program gave a mini-lecture on what they found. We went to a park shelter, where the kids were put into groups and given spiny dog sharks to dissect. I couldn't watch. After that, we went to a different beach and played in the sand a little. We met up with the other school and kayaked through an estuary lined with mangroves. I was paired with one of the Joshes, who is a really funny kid. We discussed "Rob and Big," as well as other similar stupid TV that we love. We kayaked about two miles. At one point, when we were kayaking upstream, we stopped moving. Josh had never kayaked before, and I had done it twice in Bayou St. John, right outside of school, but it's much calmer water. We suddenly stopped moving. I said, "Oh, what the hell," then realized what I had done. At least that's all I said. Luckily, it was the right kid to say it to. I apologized, and he said it was okay, he's said a lot worse, haha. Then he talked about different teachers and the fact that they were either easy to picture cursing or impossible to picture cursing. Only one teacher did he deem impossible: Penny. I laughed and said I'd heard it once, and it almost made me pass out. They joke that Penny has no pulse. She's phenomenal...so calm, so quiet, so amazing....and it takes a lot to ruffle her feathers. Josh claimed he would probably just die on the spot if he ever heard her curse.

Remember that anecdote.

Meanwhile, Coach Isaac is in a boat with Taylor C., who is being a real jerk in the boat. Coach isn't a swimmer and was nervous about kayaking. We each paired up with a kid who would need an adult, and the trustworthy kids were also paired up to prevent tipping, fights, and immature behaviors. Well, another kid who has kayaking experience but isn't very well-behaved, Austin, got put in charge of another kayak with Mario based on his experience level. Both Taylor and Austin made scary rides for their partners.Coach offered to help Mario by pulling over and switching partners. Something happened where Austin really scared Mario, then Taylor splashed him, and Mario took off down the highway, cursing and yelling. Coach had to chase him down. Meanwhile, teacher Mary with passenger Max, and Josh and I came upon Austin and Taylor, two empty kayaks, and no Coach or Mario. We thought someone had drowned or something and were internally freaking out. Then we heard what happened, and the course leaders sent us ahead while they dealt with the problem. That was nice of them. Again, no one went home because Mario WANTED to go home and was acting out to be sent home, so Austin and Taylor couldn't be sent home, either, which I thought was lame. Get rid of all of them. Each ended up with a week-long suspension when we came home. They also had to spend the next two activities sitting out with Marie, another teacher.

We had another picnic lunch, then went to Mote Marine Lab. We saw a giant preserved squid, some fish, some sharks, and typical aquarium type stuff. Then we went to a Spineless Sea lecture, where kids identified and classified echinoderms, arthropods, mollusks, and more. They were informed (rather, reminded, as they'd already learned it in school), that squids and octopi are considered mollusks, which is confusing, as mollusks must have shells to be considered mollusks. The shell, or remnants of a shell, of a mollusk is internal. So they were put in groups again and asked to dissect small squids. They found the shell, called the pen, dipped it in the squid ink, and were asked to write their initials on paper. They loved that part!!

During the dissection, Ashely started giggling. She turned around and asked me if I'd heard about what happened to Penny. I hadn't, and Ashley could barely get it out. She shared a kayak with Penny earlier that day. Neither had done it before. Remember the anecdote I told you to remember? Well, here's what happened in Ashley's words: "Well, you know how Mrs. S. is so calm and intelligent and stuff? Me and her were in the kayak together, and we ran into one of those bush things {mangroves} and it cut her face up and she said, 'OH, SHIT!' She told me after I stopped laughing, 'That's between you and me, Ashley.' So of course everyone knows now, because that's too funny to keep to myself!" Josh was at the table with her, turned around, and said, "Mrs. M. ... that's exactly what we talked about!!! We were probably talking about it as it was happening!" He couldn't stop laughing. I had noticed the cuts on Penny's forehead and cheek, as well as her arms, which were also bruised, but didn't want to ask her about it. The way Ashley told the story was so funny, I couldn't control my laughter. We got shushed. Oops.





After that, Patrick told Marie, "Mrs. B., have you noticed that everything we've done on this trip ties in with what we learned in science this year?" "Yes, Patrick, that's kind of the point!"

After dinner at the Old Salty Dog restaurant, where I had the biggest chicken sandwich in the world, we went to Lido Beach, where we walked, played around, and watched a beautiful sunset. Then we went to an amazing ice cream place. I had English toffee ice cream in a waffle cone...absolutely amazing!!!!




Did you see the bun under the chicken? It was DWARFED. I had to cut the breast in several small pieces and left more than half of it behind on my plate!

We checked into the Sarasota Hampton Inn that night, and there was not a peep reported to us by the security guards. We'd basically threatened them all with expulsion if anything happened that night. We saw the course leaders weren't planning on staying in the halls, so we all plopped on the ground (we got rooms all on one floor this time) and kept watch until the security guards showed up 40 minutes late.

Next morning, we went to Myakka State Park, walked through a forest of palms and elms, and took a canopy walk. It was gorgeous. We climbed a tower 76 feet up to a platform and had a breathtaking view of the park.

From there, we went to Myakka Lake, where we had a slow airboat ride to look for alligators. It was really cold, so we didn't see as many as we would have liked, but we did see some. The tour guide had a low, monotone voice, and the kids, exhausted, all passed out.

After that, we headed back to Tampa. We got lunch at a few fast food places that were all in a row along the way. In Tampa, we went to the Florida Aquarium, which was much smaller than our Aquarium of the Americas, but had nicer displays. I got to see a penguin show!!! I loved them almost as much as I loved the manatees.







We had dinner (rather, everyone but me had dinner) at the Golden Corral. After a terrible buffet experience involving food poisoning and me breaking my 13-year streak of not vomiting (I beat Seinfeld!!!), I don't do buffet. Then we went to the airport, where I got a fruit cup and croissant from Starbucks for dinner. After an uneventful flight back to New Orleans, I was home. I slept until 2 p.m. the next day. That's just awful!

I'd rank swimming with the manatees among my top 5 life experiences. Hm...that's an interesting blog idea....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Buried treasure

So, back when I was in college, I wrote a column for the school paper. I don't think it ever ran, but I did mail it to certain family members.

When we removed our belo9ngings from our attic, our sole possessions after Katrina included a random box that held stuff from college. In it were random, useless things, as well as my college diploma, which I thought I'd lost. My buried treasure was this column. The event took place in either late August 1998 or early September 1998. It's pretty funny based on the fact that it is a celebration of meat, yet I won't eat many varieties of meat these days. Remember, this was early in my college career, so bear with me as you read this occasionally cringe-inducing masterpiece.

Meat Fest

It all started innocently enough. My relatives from Philadelphia were coming in town for a few days, and to celebrate, we would all go across the lake to another set of relatives' house.

The visitors from Philly were my uncle Mike, my aunt Jean, and my two cousins, Crissy, 11, and Steffi, 7.

In addition to this bunch were my parents and 14-year-old brother, Geoff, my aunt Mimi and uncle Lance, Granny, uncle Dennis, his daughter Hayley, his girlfriend Kim, my uncle Dave, my aunt Judy, their kids Lauren and Colleen, my aunt Annie, my uncle Ralph, and their adult children Erin and Ralph, and me.

The main attraction of the day was a crab boil. Harmless enough, right?

Ha.

The day started off as planned: crabs. Delicious boiled crabs. Dave has a gift for boiling seafood.

Colleen is allergic to shellfish, so hot dogs and hamburgers were on hand. Steffi has a Yankee tongue, so she of course did not want any part of the crabs. Instead, she wrinkled her dainty little nose and stared at them like they were from the planet Zoltar.

Judy threw a few hot dogs on the grill for the girls. When she went to take them inside to fix them, one rolled off the plate and splattered into the dirt.

That reminds me: Do you know what happens to hot dogs if you leave them out in the sun for several hours?

They turn green. Limp and green.

Just thought you'd like to know.

So anyway, Lance decided that he wanted some sausage. Uncle Ralph, as opposed to young Ralph, announced that he had gotten some sausage from a friend. He called it "Special sausage."

The plate of sausage was passed around. I decided not to partake in the consumption of it since it had been labeled "special." He went on to elaborate that the sausage could only be obtained through friends.

Any guesses on what it was?

Oh, come on. This is South Louisiana.

Yup. You guessed it: venison. Deer sausage.

After consuming nearly all of the crabs, two sacks worth, along with some various other things, like venison, hot dogs, and munchie-type things, they seemed to slow down. It was just a breather, though.

Not long after the remains were disposed of, they brought out a fruit tray and two cakes. A chocolate cake congratulating Mike on his recent promotion to President and COO of Rohm-Haas Chemicals and a "wedding cake" for Annie's birthday.

By this point in time, my brother got bored and got out the video camera. Some of the exciting footage he captured included a turtle eating a large chunk of cantaloupe and Erin trying to feed Young Ralph a piece of cake.

I'm not sure which was more humorous. The turtle had a nice aesthetic quality with the green leaves, green turtle, and orange fruit. Watching his little neck shoot out of his shell as he bit into the fleshy fruit, which kept inching away from him, amused Geoff for a long time. The section with the turtle must be almost 3 minutes long.

Erin feeding Young Ralph is amusing. He did not want to eat it. The scene has Erin coaxing him whilst chanting "Eat it! Eat it! Eat it!" He kept moving his head away from her, and finally the piece of cake hit his mouth, fell off the fork, and bounced off his chest.

Did I mention they are 27 and 22?

We soon grew bored of shouting "Eat it! Eat it!" at each other, so the four of us journeyed inside to watch "Daria."

Erin made an important observation at this point: The men were all standing around the meat and the fire, standing at that safe "man-distance." The women were sitting in a circle at "woman distances," all chatting away.

The subject of our discussion, though, was the men standing around the fire.

"Look at them," Erin said. "That must be some primitive caveman instinct that has been carried through evolution. They feel a need to stand around the kill and make sure it cooks correctly."

That also brought us to our next observation: They were cooking again!

Hamburgers, hot dogs, and ribs, oh my!

This prompted Erin to christen the day as a "Meat Marathon." This evolved into "Meatapalooza," "Meat Festival," and, finally, "Meat Fest."

We discovered that the jambalaya present had turkey sausage in it.

"Hey, do you realize that we have met from every meat genre present?" asked Young Ralph. "Pork, venison, beef, seafood, poultry..."

We went on like that for at least an hour. By that time, it was time to eat. Judy brought out a (ready for some irony?) Sugar-Buster's pasta salad. Guess what was one of the ingredients?

Pepperoni.

Then Dave came inside to inform us that, should we want them, the rest of the crabs were being served, so hurry up and get outside!

We picked at the food for a while. Only picked, because we were waiting for the ribs to cook.

In the meantime, I picked up the video camera and went outside. By this point in time, the mosquitoes were having a "Meat Fest" of their own, with my family as their main course. But did this stop them? No.

I interviewed several people as to what their thoughts were on "Meat Fest '98." Everyone seemed to enjoy it. My mom added that it should become an annual event, and whipped out her personal calendar to write it in the advanced planning section.

I wandered over to the table where they were devouring the rest of the crabs, and Erin suggested making a documentary of how to eat crabs.

She just got her master's in speech pathology, and she had to dissect some cadavers in school. She told us that her cadaver had a Band-Aid on, and she couldn't help but think that that was an absurd and futile point. I jokingly called her crab procedural a "Crab autopsy." She liked the idea and crowned herself "Dana Scully" after the FBI agent on "The X-Files."

She thoroughly enjoyed this dissection. She said, "It felt just like old times."

Young Ralph, who is pursuing a degree in physical therapy, also had to dissect some cadavers for school. "It's just meat!" he said. "That's what we used to say in class. 'It's just meat.'"

Shortly after the crab autopsy, the ribs were ready. We were waiting for them inside, and the leftover hamburgers were sitting on a plate glistening in the light. "Mmmmmmm....glistening meat. Ahhhhhhh...." said Erin in an impression of Homer Simpson.

The ribs were finally ready, and we pounced on them like lions circling a dead zebra. (Hmmmm...there's an interesting meat that was not served.)

Erin stuck out her thumb and said, "Look, you know you're enjoying it a little too much when you get meat under your fingernail."

A moth was circling the table bothering everyone. Young Ralph tried to smash it when it landed in the bread basket. All he succeeded in doing was smashing some buns. The moth landed by me, so I picked up a hamburger bun, separated it, and smashed that sucker between the slices.

This grossed out my littler cousins. Geoff said, "Oooh, moth burgers! More meat!"

I just grinned at them and asked, "Want some flies with that?" (Grooooooaaaannnnn)

Somewhere in there, we started joking about making Meat Fest '98 T-shirts and selling them. Then we turned serious. That wasn't such a bad idea. That night, Geoff immediately got on the computer and designed a shirt. I think we may actually do it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

School work

Hopefully, I am in my final semester at the University of No Opportunity. One of my classes is great fun. It's Materials and Methods in Secondary School English. Our class as nice easy discussions about what we've read and/or experienced, then concludes with a writing workshop. We're using the book "Rose, Where Did You Get That Red? -- Teaching Great Poetry to Children" by Kenneth Koch. It's a well-documented fact that I hate -- nay, loathe -- poetry. I'm not good at it. I'm not deep enough, I guess.

Anyway, I really look forward to this part of my day on Mondays. We're given a poem to read, then we write a poem in that style. I look at it as spoofing, which I enjoy, as opposed to poetry, which makes me uncomfortable.

I thought I'd share some of my work.

This is Just to Say
By William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

This is Just to Say
By me

I threw away
your favorite
T-shirt that
you cut the sleeves off

and wore
to mow the lawn
during
the summer

Forgive me
it was trashy
so ugly
and inappropriate

The Passionate Shpeherd to His Love
By Christopher Marlowe

Come live with me and be my love
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair linéd slippers for the cold
With buckles of the purest gold;
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me, and be my love.


A Passionate First-Time Homeowner to Her Family

By me
Come work with me and fix my home
And we will drown in cleaners that foam
To scrub the filth from all the walls
Left by people who trashed the halls.

And we will spackle all the holes
And have the house leveled on poles
By men who crawl and yell and curse
As they earn money out our purse.

And I will pick out paint swatches
As the bugs my grandmother squashes,
We'll buy stock in Killz
As we pay all our bills.

A couch of microfiber suede
Will be just right and make the grade;
We'll tie it together with a rug
And flowers from the garden we dug.

A plumber to fix our water lines,
Shades to replace the scuzzy blinds,
And boxes that we'll need to move
So we can get our life in groove.

The work will be quite arduous,
My parents may try to argue us,
But in the end it will truly be ours,
Made lovely by our simple powers.


A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island

By Frank O'Hara

The Sun woke me this morning loud
and clear, saying "Hey! I've been
trying to wake you up for fifteen
minutes. Don't be so rude, you are
only the second poet I've ever chosen
to speak to personally
so why
aren't you more attentive? If I could
burn you through the window I would
to wake you up. I can't hang around
here all day."
"Sorry, Sun, I stayed
up late last night talking to Hal."

"When I woke up Mayakovsky he was
a lot more prompt" the Sun said
petulantly. "Most people are up
already waiting to see if I'm going
to put in an appearance."
I tried
to apologize "I missed you yesterday."
"That's better" he said. "I didn't
know you'd come out." "You may be
wondering why I've come so close?"
"Yes" I said beginning to feel hot
wondering if maybe he wasn't burning me
anyway.
Frankly I wanted to tell you
I like your poetry. I see a lot
on my rounds and you're okay. You may
not be the greatest thing on earth, but
you're different. Now, I've heard some
say you're crazy, they being excessively
calm themselves to my mind, and other
crazy poets think that you're a boring
reactionary. Not me.
Just keep on
like I do and pay no attention. You'll
find that people always will complain
about the atmosphere, either too hot
or too cold too bright or too dark, days
too short or too long.
If you don't appear
at all one day they think you're lazy
or dead. Just keep right on, I like it.

And don't worry about your lineage
poetic or natural. The Sun shines on
the jungle, you know, on the tundra
the sea, the ghetto. Wherever you were
I knew it and saw you moving. I was waiting
for you to get to work.

And now that you
are making your own days, so to speak,
even if no one reads you but me
you won't be depressed. Not
everyone can look up, even at me. It
hurts their eyes."
"Oh Sun, I'm so grateful to you!"

"Thanks and remember I'm watching. It's
easier for me to speak to you out
here. I don't have to slide down
between buildings to get your ear.
I know you love Manhattan, but
you ought to look up more often.
And
always embrace things, people earth
sky stars, as I do, freely and with
the appropriate sense of space. That
is your inclination, known in the heavens
and you should follow it to hell, if
necessary, which I doubt.
Maybe we'll
speak again in Africa, of which I too
am especially fond. Go back to sleep now
Frank, and I may leave a tiny poem
in that brain of yours as my farewell."

"Sun, don't go!" I was awake
at last. "No, go I must. they're calling
me."
"Who are they?"
Rising he said "Some
day you'll know. They're calling to you
too." Darkly he rose, and then I slept.


My Least Favorite Class Piece to an Obnoxious Poem

By me

My flash drive opened on my first
attempt this morning. "Hey! I've been
meaning to catch you. You're usually
in such a rush that I slow you down
by hiding from your save icon just
to make sure you're paying attention.
I'm opening immediately to make
you appreciate
what I do for you."
"Sorry, flash drive,
I stayed up late playing 'Rock Band'
and forgot to type my study guide."
"When I save your photos, you're
a lot more cautious," my flash drive said
cantankerously. "Most people don't shove
me on a keychain and throw me around
like a beanbag."
I tried to apologize.
"I never leave home without you."
"That's better" he said. "I
didn't think you'd reveal yourself
before I clicked save thrice."
"You may be wondering why I worked the first time?"
"Yes" I said beginning to
feel reformatted and wondering if
he'd wipe clean like my first one did.
"Frankly I wanted to tell
you that I like your prose. I see
all of your files and you're okay.
You may not do poetry
worth a darn, but your
prose hits home. I've saved
some corrupt files and frozen in
your USB, but I've always
saved your photos and prose properly.
Just keep on doing
what you enjoy and are interested
in. You'll find everyone's a critic,
but the arts a re personal. Too
wordy, too action, not lengthy,
to posed. You'll never please everyone, so just enjoy what
you do.
And don't worry,
not everyone shares your quirks.
But that's what keeps us awake and interested."

We had a few examples of Blues poems, and I wrote two. One has the exact repetition, while the other does not.

Cable's Gone Down
By me

Cable's gone down again,
Cable's gone down.
Cable's gone down again,
Cable's gone down.
Another truck barged down the street
Cable's laying on the ground.

Third time this month,
Plus once for the electric wires.
Third time this month,
Plus once for the electric wires.
We're lucky that one
Didn't cause house fires.

Cox swears they raised the lines,
Yet down they still go.
Cox swears they raised the lines,
Yet down they still go.
You'd swear these guys were amateurs
But they swear that they're pros.

Tried to call Cox on my cell phone,
But my cell phone's a hunk of junk.
Tried to call Cox on my cell phone,
But my cell phone's a hunk of junk.
No phone, no TV, no Internet,
My communication is bunk.

Feel cut off from the world,
In this Gilligan's Island.
Feel cut off from the world,
In this Gilligan's Isle.
Hope no disasters strike,
'Cause Cox says it'll be a while.

Coulda Had Another BA Blues
By me

Was back in '04 when I came here
Thought the program would be a breeze.
Came to UNO in '04 to learn
Thought the program would be a breeze.
Had no idea that I'd still be around,
Crying here on my knees.

Registered late back in '04,
Couldn't get a class.
PRAXIS scores came late in '04,
Couldn't get a class.
So I spent that first semester
Planted firmly on my ass.

Things went well in Spring '05,
I found a routine and did well.
Things were easy in '05,
loved my routine and did it well.
Found a job for the coming school year.
Spring '05 kept me a live.

In Fall '05 there was Katrina,
I landed back at Nicholls.
Fall '05 here came Katrina,
Landed in my alma mater, Nicholls.
Those teachers and students only cared about themselves
I had to drop because I found more empathy in pickles.

Spring '06 was a bit better,
Had a full schedule.
In Spring '06 I thought it was better
Despite my full schedule.
Took some classes with a great teacher,
She kept us awake, and had passion for school.

Fall '06 was just the pits,
Nothing was attainable.
The end of '06 was seriously the pits,
No classes could be had.
It was just as well, with all that happened,
Going to school would have been bad.

Spring '07 found me hopeful,
But what was UNO thinking?
In Spring '07, I was hopeful,
But tell me what the hell they were thinking?
One class was only Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
From 10-11 a.m.? My patience was shrinking.

Went to register for Fall '07,
Discovered that I was out the system.
Went to register again in the fall,
But they kicked me out the system.
Had to reapply and cross my fingers,
They let me in, so I didn't have to beat 'em.

Had blocks on my account
Due to a medical waiver.
Had to remove blocks from my account
And sign a medical waiver
Married, monogamous women who don't live in dorms
Shouldn't get hepatitis, just UNO fever.

Got a class in Fall '07.
Couldn't believe my eyes.
Actually got in a class in Fall '07.
Couldn't believe my eyes.
I'd been gone so long that most had moved on,
And my new classmates I didn't recognize.

In Spring '08 I loaded down
Took three whole classes.
In Spring '08 I loaded down,
Actually got 3 whole classes.
Finally got some good news:
The state may choose to waive the last of my classes!

I'll be done by Fall of '08.
I can't believe it's near.
I'll be finished in '08,
Never thought it would near.
Instead of a mere certification,
I coulda had another BA, after 4 years.


Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

By Wallace Stevens
1
Among twenty snowy mountains
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.
2
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
3
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was as mall part of the pantomime.
4
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.
5
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendos.
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
6
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.
7
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?
8
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But i know, too,
That the blackbird is involved in what I know.
9
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.
10
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.
11
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.
12
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.
13
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Seven Ways of Looking at a Blister.
By me

1
Tucked away on the back of my
heel, just above the line of my shoe
is the scab of a hellacious blister.
2
It was blisteringly hot on Mardi Gras.
The shoes were broken in but sort of new.
My feet were sweating,
and the Quarter funk didn't help.
3
My friends blistered with excitement that the day had arrived.
4
The blister is a testament to the amount
of fun we had on the balcony on Royal that day.
5
All these weeks later,
I wear dress shoes each day that rub the blister that won't die.
6
Band-Aids sweat off and cease protecting the blister.
7
I tried to ignore the ache
and kept on my shoes as long as I could.
Hand grenades and Rainstorms dull the pain of a
blister, but only for so long.
Before you know it, your shoe is covered in
blood and you let out guttural yells as you gingerly wash it.
Beware of Peroxide; pass me another drink.

Home Thoughts, From Abroad
By Robert Browning

1
Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brush wood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England -- now!

2
And after April, when May follows, And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark! where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops -- at the bent spray's edge --
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
--Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

Home Thoughts, From Anywhere But Here
By me

1
Oh, to be in Lakeview
Now that Spring is there,
And whoever wakes in Lakeview
Smells, some morning, unaware,
The scent of Tony Angelo's wafting 'cross the street
And sees the well-dressed and well-off stuffed down to their feet,
While we microwave Hot Pockets and toss a small side salad,
Wishing we could join them with their fragrant palates.

2
And after Katrina, when drought followed,
And the tornadoes blew through buildings hollowed,
Why? Oh why should we still yearn
For the ligustrums that blocked my nasal cavities
To be reborn and to return
Where Nature wrought her biggest travesties,
In this land of crime and sadness
Still this city brings me gladness!
And though we suffer much corruption,
Still I find the girl's got gumption
Like battered wive who won't leave their men,
--Still we return, again and again.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Damned straight.

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Your personality type is SLUAI
You are social, moody, unstructured, accommodating, and intellectual, and may prefer a city which matches those traits.

The largest representation of your personality type can be found in the these U.S. cities: New Orleans, Albuquerque/Santa Fe, Greensboro, Memphis, Providence, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Salt Lake City, Portland/Salem, St. Louis and these international countries/regions Puerto Rico, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Turkey, Ireland, Ukraine, England, South Africa, Greece, Wales, Brazil, Switzerland, South Korea

What Places In The World Match Your Personality?
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