Sunday, October 30, 2011

Proceed with Caution: TV Addict on the Loose

To break of the monotony of my life working from home most weekends, I subscribed to Netflix streaming. Little did I know that it would soon take over my life.

Not having the patience to sit an watch movie after movie, I started perusing the TV shows they had available. Since I like to remain about 2 years behind any trend, I chose to start watching Mad Men. (Which actually started winning Emmys four years ago, which shows you how culturally aware I am.)

And now? I'm addicted.

I write lesson plans and watch Mad Men. I laminate things for my classroom and watch Mad Men. I watch it as I put my makeup on in the morning and before I go to bed at night.

I. Can't. Help. Myself. I'm pretty sure I would get the shivers and cold sweats if I went more than a day without an episode. I'm pretty sure I'll be willing to trade in my first born child for a new episode once I reach the end of Season 4. (Too much? Thought so.)

It also makes me nostalgic for a New York that I never lived in: a New York that was glamorous and sexy, and full of rich men. (Seriously where WERE they while I was living there?) Sigh.

Eventually, I'll reach the last episode and have to wait until new ones air next year. Until know where to find me.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Jessica Simpson: All Knocked Up

While perusing fine literature online gossip rags, I notice that each has various articles about Jessica Simpson's "alleged" pregnancy.

Now, I'm not doctor, but I usually know a pregnant woman when I see one. And if this isn't pregnant, I don't know what is. 

The real question is: Does SHE know she's pregnant? (This is the same girl who thought buffalo wings were made of...buffalo.) We have to warn her!

Also, remember when Jess was just a sweet, virgin-until-marriage from Texas? Me either.


I have a lot of great qualities, but coming up with creative, funny, and classy Halloween costumes on my own isn't one of them. (No sexy nurse costumes for me, thankyouverymuch.)

In the past, I've been surrounded by a large group of girls who want to go out together on Halloween, and I usually end up being assigned a costume by default. This works for me.

Sophomore year of college, my BFF Ashley came up with the genius idea to cut holes in a tank top and go as Regina George:

Junior year, my dude BFF Jeremy and I graced everyone with our presence as Britney Spears and K. Fed:

(Because when you resemble someone who always looks like a hot mess, you just have to own it)

Once I moved to Charlotte, we always attended Gravedigger's Ball/Halloween Bar Crawl, so I needed something that I could get around in comfortably. (I.e.: I could be lazy and get away with it.)

In 2009, I chose to go as myself  Mrs. Tim Tebow:
Which wasn't that difficult and boys totally came up and talked to me to either tell me:
1) Mine was the greatest costume they've ever seen, or
2) Tim Tebow was the "gayest" man in the world. (Really?)


Along those lines, last year my faves and I decided to dress as "Fantasy Football", and wore jerseys, black jeggings, and cowboy boots. Anything that involves stretchy pants + not looking like a skank = Best costume EVER.

(Please take a moment of silence to commemorate how long my hair has gotten and
how much weight I've lost since this time last year.)
Aaaannnd once again, boys totally came up to talk to me to tell me:

1) Mine was the greatest costume they've ever seen, or
2) Tim Tebow was the "gayest" man in the world. (Really?)

I even met this cute law student from Florida, who had one of the best costumes I've ever seen:
(Did you hear me say LAW STUDENT? That's right.) We didn't fall in love, but I got a free drink out of the deal. Win-win. 

And now it's...2011. Instead of dancing to Ke$ha at Gravedigger's Ball, I'll be at a party in Windsor, NC. (I use the term "party" loosely here, there will probably be about 10 people there. That's a "get-together".) Did I mention I have no costume? Here are the front runners (the only catch is that any costume items must be available at the Wal-Mart in Elizabeth City):

1. Patti Stanger from Millionare Matchmaker

All I'd have to do is curl my hair, hitch up my skirt, and yell at people. Halloween by Bravo.

2. Nicki Minaj

Colorful wig, colorful leggings, and butt padding and I'd be ready to go. 

3. Lisa Vanderpump from RHOBH

Tight dress, little dog, and having to talk in a British accent all night? Sign me up. 

4. Kate Middleton

Um, besides the fact that I would need to lose 20 lbs in the next 12 hours, I think I could by myself a big fake sapphire and roll with it. 

Which one would you pick?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Life Checklist: The Year All of Your Friends Get Engaged

In every woman's life, there are certain milestones that mark your progress along the way: your first kiss, graduation, first "big girl" job, and The Year All of Your Friends Get Engaged.

2011? Is the year I cross the last one off the list.

In the four short months since I left the Queen City, three (yes three) of my besties have gotten engaged.

(Sidenote: I would like to go on the record saying that each of these beautiful women has found a great man with whom they want to spend the rest of their lives with, and for that I'm incredibly happy. Plus, they all got great pieces of jewelry, which excites me even more.)

So now I'm stuck with the same problem that any 20 something living in the middle of nowhere can relate to: I have all these weddings to attend, and wouldn't be able to find a date if I tried. (Ok, that's an exaggeration. I'm sure if I went muddin' this Saturday I could find someone to ask, but that's about as likely to happen as me shooting the prize buck of the season with a homemade bow and arrow.)

Don't get me wrong: I love weddings. (Well, actually I just love parties in which the booze is on someone else's tab.) But how can all of these people be getting married when I can't even manage to find someone to go on a second date with?

I have to remind myself what a gift it is that I wake up each morning with only myself to please. Deep down, there's a part of me that has to prove to myself that I can make it on my own before I depend on someone else.

But still-if you know any great single guys, let me know. I've got three Plus Ones to fill.

Alternate titles for this post:
All Dressed Up with No Date to Go
My Cats Are My Friends
I'm Really Into My Career Right Now
Why Doesn't Anyone Love Me

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We've Become Those People

I used to pride myself on my penchant for work life balance. Work was work, and I had plenty at home to keep me occupied, refreshed, and entertained.

That was before I started teaching.

Now work is work and home is work. I work at night and I work on the weekends. When I get together with my friends, we talk about work.


I never wanted to be one of "those people", the ones who had no lives outside of what they did for a living, but these days I don't have much of a choice. It's all I can do to keep my head above water. (Also, no one else here watches Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. So our common interests are limited.)

What's a (working) girl to do?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Meet the Parents

Never mind that all most of my friends are getting engaged. Last week, I got the chance to introduce my parents to the most important (middle school) men in my life: J. and T. 

My parents had come into town to visit me, and seeing as how they're retired and have diddly-squat to do all day, agreed to come in and help me out in my classroom. (How kind of them. Really.)

But this wasn't just any old visit. Since they've chosen to spend their retirement traveling on a sailboat, I figured we could incorporate some social studies and geography in there somewhere. That, and using the fact they both used to be in the military to scare the living daylights out of the boys.  

So we prepped. I had the boys practice shaking my hand, looking me in the eye, and introducing themselves. I instructed them that the only correct reply to questions contained ma'am or sir. I also had them prepare questions, which I had relatively low expectations for. I mean, these kids wouldn't really be able to grasp the concept of living on a boat, right? 

Wrong. Their questions were awesome, and included the following:

How do you get fresh water?
How do you decide where you're going to travel?
What made you want to live on a boat in the first place?
When you were my age, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I would like to take full credit for their intelligent journalism, but I can't. It's all them. 

An amazing transformation happened as soon as my parents walked in the door: the two boys who had just gotten in trouble for "hiding" their worksheets in the trash can transformed into shy, tongue-tied thirteen year olds who looked genuinely intimidated by my parents. 

Minus the fact that my parents showed them embarrassing pictures of me (not unlike how they act when they meet a boyfriend for the first time), everything was perfect. I was proud of my boys, proud of my parents, and satisfied with myself for getting their behavior under control enough so that we could learn something new together. 

And yes, maybe T. got a referral later for stealing some kid's pencil in Spanish class. But Rome wasn't built a day, right? 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rest In Peace

A colleague of mine passed away a few hours ago. While more of an acquaintance than a friend,  we spent a lot of time together during training this summer, where she impressed me with her intelligence, wit, and, and tenacity in the fact of the cancer she was fighting.

And now she's gone.

Having people pass away is often the wake-up call that we need in order to rise above the petty annoyances of everyday life and focus on the big picture. I found that particularly difficult today, at the end of a long work week. All I could think of was: how can I live life to the fullest when I work 70+ hours a week and barely have time to eat or sleep? How can I live joyfully when I can barely get my students to speak to me (and each other) respectfully?

But maybe living life to the fullest isn't about how much free time we have or how many vacations we take. Instead, maybe it's a decision we have to make each day to be our best self, to find the value and worth in every person we meet, and to ease each other's burdens along the way.

Cynthia, I was glad to know you. The time you spent with us was short, but your infectious optimism and inherent belief in the worth of your students will live on.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ms. G: 7th Grade Relationship Guru?

One thing they don't tell you about teaching is that emotionally charged, hormonal lives of preteens can and will set the tone for your day. When things are good, they are very, very good, and when they're bad? Eh, it's middle school.

I knew something was wrong when T. moped into the classroom this morning and refused to speak to me. I'll tolerate a lot of behaviors, but failing to greet me with a "Good morning Ms. G" is not one of them.  (When it's 8 am and I've already been up for three hours, I'm really just not in the mood for rude.)

I let him know that I would be ready to speak to him once he'd had a minute to gather his thoughts. He sat down, and I piddled around the classroom and pretended he wasn't there. I straightened papers. I sent emails. And the entire time I secretly wondered: What if he just never speaks again? 

Who was I kidding? His Marcel Marceau impression barely lasted before I heard:

"Ms. G, did you know Tiara broke up with me?"

Hmmm....let's see. I spent most of yesterday trying to teach you how to add negative numbers, identify vowel blends, stop using double negatives, and improve your character in general. Then I went home, ate a disgusting microwaved dinner, wrote lessons plans, and fell into bed around midnight.

Amazingly enough during that time? I hadn't heard that Tiara broke up with you!

I told him I was sorry, that he could write about it in his journal if he needed, but I still expected him to get to work. (He spent the rest of the day with a tissue pressed against his face saying "My eyes hurt, my eyes hurt".)

So while adulthood has some drawbacks, it has its benefits as well. Because while the dating world may be tough, at least I'm not dating in middle school. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Country as Cornbread

Back in Charlotte, my weekends were usually a whirlwind of shopping, lunches out, babysitting, walks through Myers Park, and nights out on the town. I rolled into school every Monday tired, happy, and full of (what I thought were) hilarious stories.

Then I moved to Small Town, USA.

Creepy van behind me? Check.

Here is what my Saturdays now consist of:

6:00 am: Wake up sans alarm. Roll over and attempt to go back to sleep.

6:05 am: Check the clock.

6:08 am: Check the clock.

6:11 am: Resign yourself to the fact that, due to your 5:00 am wake up calls Monday-Friday, sleeping in until 6:00 is doing alright.

6:15 - 8:00 am: Make vegan pancakes, clean up kitchen, straighten couch cushions, sweep floor, make grocery list for the week.

8:02 am: Realize that it's only 8:02 am and you have already accomplished a Saturday's worth of chores. Bang head against wall.

9:58 am: Have new friend pick you up to take you to the town auction, which, based on the excitement it seems to generate, will be quite the attraction.

11:00 am: Realize you are in a room full of feathered bangs, flannel shirts, and trucks being auctioned off for $600.

11:01 am: Question life choices.

1:17 pm: Take a stroll with your roommates through the town's Annual Peanut Festival, which doesn't seem to actually contain any peanuts (perhaps because of allergies?) but rather consists of a bouncy house and a lemonade stand.

1:21 pm: Question life choices. Weep silently to self.

5:01 pm: Cocktail hour. (Maybe life here isn't so bad?)

8:09 pm: Roommate says something about "wasting our youth" and talks you into walking downtown to the one and only restaurant/bar that's still open so that at least you can get out of the house.

8:21 pm: Man with a puppy in his arms walks by the restaurant window and shows you a sign that says "DO YOU WANT THIS PUPPY?" Decide you need more wine, but not a puppy.

8:44 pm: Get called hot by an attractive young local who then tells you he's "country as cornbread".

8:44 part 2: Sigh.

9:01 pm: Call it a night.

If this were a Nicholas Sparks novel, a young but sensitive fireman would be about to move into town and sweep me off my feet. I'll keep my fingers crossed...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Straight From the Mouths of Babes

Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.  
~Gail Godwin

A teaching degree should really require some theater classes. (Or perhaps I should start my own class entitled Teaching as Theater.) Luckily for my students, I love drama as much as Lindsay Lohan loves being on house arrest. Take this script (an excerpt from my actual classroom this week) as proof. 

Scene: Tuesday afternoon, Ms. G's classroom. Just by the very act of existing (much less trying to teach him something), Ms. G is annoying her student T. Every (simple) request is met with an "Oh my GAWD!" or "Ms. G, you 'bout to work me to DEATH!", followed by a dramatic sigh,  throwing down of a pencil, etc. Since it is just Ms. G and two students in her classroom, she decides to give them a taste of their own medicine. 

Ms. G: Let's play a little game. It's called Who Am I? I'll act something out and you guess who I am. 

Ms. G proceeds to take T.'s baseball cap off his desk and buckle it around her belt buckle like all the 7th grade guys do. She then pushes in her chair while sighing dramatically and rolling her eyes. 

Ms. G (as T.) :  DAAAAAAAAANG Ms. G! You's about to work me to DEATH! I'm 'bout to get on up outta here. (Sucks teeth.) DAAAAAAAANG. Why I gotta do all this work anyways? Can I go home? I wanna go home. DAAAAAAAANG. (Walks across the room, using the trash can like a basketball hoop to throw away the worksheet that was in her hand.) Yo, J.! Did you see that? DAAAAANG Ms. G! You be gettin' on my nerves real bad. DAAAANG.

At this point, Ms. G pauses, and turns around. 

The two boys stare at her silently, eyes wide. They slowly raise their hands from where they are frozen on their desks, and begin to applaud. 

Ms. G: (taking a bow) Thank you, thank you very much. 

(Yes, I really did this, and yes, they applauded. Since then, the teeth-sucking and DAAAAAANG-shouting have been drastically reduced. Wouldn't YOU take me Teaching as Theater class? )

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Rapper's Muse

My two boys and I eat lunch together in my classroom every day. It's a lightning-fast 20 minutes that I usually spend telling J. he cannot, in fact, have all of T.'s chicken nuggets, even T. is willing to trade for them. 

(FYI: I still am unable to stop J. from continuously shouting "Hey T.! can I get some of those? Some of them nuggets? Hey T.! Can I get some of those? Some of them nuggets?" over and over  until my eardrums are about to bleed.)

They usually spend about half of the twenty minute time period making gagging noises and pretending to vomit over whatever I've brought for lunch, since it:

1. Usually contains vegetables of some sort, and
2. Isn't fried. 

I ignore them (it's become an art form, let me tell you), but yesterday they decided they needed a new medium to get their point across: a rap song. 

It went a  little something like this:

Ms. G is a nice teacher
She eats nasty stuff for lunch
Spinach, cabbage, spinach, cabbage...

Which, while lacking in general beat and lyrical quality, was too funny not to laugh at. I look forward to starring in the music video. 

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