Friday, September 30, 2005


My students recently began working on their first full essay for the Advanced 1 Writing class I teach. They were able to pick from about 10 general topics from our textbook, and one of the most popular topics seems to be tatoos. They had to generate an effective thesis statement, prepare a (somewhat) formal outline, and they began writing their rough drafts yesterday. Among the Asian, African, and Latin American students in the class,we have a few students who find them unacceptable. However, not surprisingly, most of these young people think they're OK. As I went around the room helping people, I told a couple of them about a woman I met last year, who, as a 50th birthday present to herself, got a tattoo on her ankle. It was fairly small, a daisy or a butterfly or something. I don't remember. Anyway, I told a young Costa Rican and a young Japanese man about it, and their mouths dropped in I don't know...horror, disgust? It was, at any rate, a negative look of surprise. I pointed out that a young person who gets a tattoo now will someday be a 50-year-old with a tattoo, and even though they agreed, still seemed to find this bizarre. I'm going to ask the entire class (after they have finished this essay, so they won't be influenced) what the difference is between a 50-year-old woman who gets a tattoo, and a young woman who gets a tattoo now and someday turns 50. Rosalia pointed out she would have her tattoo done in a place that she can hide and that wouldn't be as subject to aging (Hah!Wait until she finds out everything is subject!) but the ankle, I think, meets both those requirements. I am really looking forward to this discussion.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Looking to be target-marketed

I’ve been looking on line for a nice, warm vacation, and I’m feeling, once again, the nebulosity of my age. These things appear to be target-marketed to categories like “family” or “adult” and I’m discerning the “adult” category to be young couples, honeymooners, or senior citizens. What I’d like to go on is a vacation at which I would see a variety of people in a variety of circumstances. I just don’t want to feel out of place.

I’m not averse to doing things with people who are not just like me. Because of the time it takes place, my piano class is primarily retirees. When my husband and I took Bridge lessons a couple years ago, we were the youngest people there. When we went to a party at my friend Teya’s house, we were the oldest people there.

One of my students was at the party, and somehow we started discussing Eminem. I don’t have a huge collection (or any collection) of hip-hop or anything, but I like some of his stuff. He is also from my hometown, (really, in the town next door to my hometown) and being, by nature a “true to my school” kind of person in every aspect of my life, pay some attention to his career. I wasn’t really feeling old, but then Jo said, “Wow. You are the age of my parents and I can’t imagine discussing music with them like this.” Those moments make me feel a little goofy, and I would like to avoid them

Maybe I’m not looking for a variety of people. Maybe I’m looking for a vacation marketed to people just like me…mild-mannered women in their mid-forties with slightly older husbands, grown stepchildren, college-age children, who like disparate music, movies, etc., whose politics are liberal, who have some kind of spiritual faith, but who have a sense of humor (that is occasionally dark and twisted.)

I think I’ve just written a personal ad for a cruise package.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Sleep game 1: Casting the movie of my life.

Having suffered a few bouts of insomnia in my life (a particularly severe one about 1994) I have over the years developed “sleep games,” mental activities to get my mind off whatever I’m obsessing about that’s keeping me awake.

A particular favorite is “Casting the movie of my life.” Of course, a movie of my life would itself be a swift cure for insomnia. I’ve always thought, though, I could be a good casting person, although most people in Hollywood never cast the books I’ve read the way I would.

The problem I’ve had lately is some of the casting involves people who don’t exist. When I began this game in high school, I didn’t have anybody to play me. I found the person a couple of years ago. The problem is, she’s a cartoon character: Peg Hill from King of the Hill. I don’t speak Spanish like Peg does (but if I did, I would probably spaeak it like she does.) However, I am a substitute teacher (and a damn fine one, like Peg, if I do say so myself. We both take it a little too seriously.) We both have similar, um…”fashion sense.” My son agrees that this is a pretty good choice.

And speaking of my son…a non-existent person would also have to play him. I told him that Johnny Depp and that kid from Napoleon Dynamite would somehow have to produce a child. While he initially went along with it, he later said something to the effect of, “Hey!”

My friend/stepdaughter-in law Shari would be played by Meg Ryan, a choice heartily approved by my stepson/her husband Jay, who eagerly agreed to portray himself under those circumstances.

The choice so far for my husband is that guy who plays Toby in West Wing, but that’s just a placeholder for now because most of the people I present that to say “Maybe” but are unenthusiastic. Mostly they just want to know who they are going to be portrayed by. I’m still working on it, though, because most of the people I had previously cast were folks I knew in high school, and my choices now obscure and forgotten TV sitcom actors.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Does our geography contribute to the development of our personalities?

One of my current tasks is to research places for us to live after my husband retires, the plan being for me to continue working, only full-time at that point. We recently looked in northwestern Arkansas, which is actually quite pretty. My husband very much wants to have waterfront property, and, having grown up near a rather large lake, I like living by the water too. ( I don’t necessarily need to be on top of it; however, I do want it accessible.) Two more things, though: it has to be in a relatively warm place, and it has to be affordable for us. Arkansas offers these advantages.

The problem for me, though, is these kinds of places tend to be tucked into very hilly, very curvy places. Not only does the driving aspect kind of freak me out, but when I got up into the development we were thinking about, I had this sensation of being stuffed in an envelope. The other places that weren’t developments were very isolated, also a freaky feeling for me.

The problem, I guess, is I’m a quasi-city girl who grew up and has always lived up here in the flatlands. People who come from hilly places tell me they get a strange sensation when they drive and they can see for miles ahead of them. I, on the other hand, find that very comforting. I am like that in other areas of my life, too. If I’m going to have a medical test, first I want to look at and touch all the equipment. If I’m going somewhere, I will try to find out everything I can about that place. Although I like certain kinds of surprises, when it comes to things I’m going to do, I want to see what’s coming.

I don’t know, but I imagine the “hilly” people have a greater sense of joy and discovery not knowing what’s around the next curve (and also greater reaction times to deal with the unexpected deer or pedestrian.)

An elderly lady I know told me about a lady from Kansas that she knew that didn’t like to drive here because all the trees seemed strange to her. She didn’t eeven like the ivy growing on my friend’s house. Hearing this story made me feel slightly less weird, and just how geography shapes our fears, goals, aspirations, and general eccentricities.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

My piano lesson

It was so fun! I signed up for an adult beginner piano class, eight people for eight weeks. It's at a music store, and I can tell it's basically designed to sell fancy electronic pianos to people. Most of the students in my class are retired seniors, except a minister and his wife who can't keep a pianist at their church because "they won't follow orders." (I'm the youngest person in the when I took bridge lessons a few years ago. I've found the secret to feeling young!) We played the Star-Spangled Banner with our right hand (fingering comes next week) and we had music, but little red dots showed us where to play. She did actually teach us the keyboard and how to find the notes between the black keys (I know this sounds ridiculous, but I'm a total newbie!) I don't have a piano (I signed my husband up for the waiting list for a possible evening class, and maybe that will rectify that situation. When I was in real estate, they called that the "puppy dog close"...let the person take the puppy dog home for the night, or actually use the item, and you will sell it.) I am very excited to go back next week.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Plans and irritants

Plans for today: Shop for b-day cards and gifts for Joe and Shari. Write vocab quiz for tomorrow. Correct/grade journals and paragraphs for next week. Go to piano lesson (First one ever in my life. Very exciting. Will write about tomorrow.)
Irritants (Language department.) When did everything start happening "ahead of" other things instead of simply "before" them? For example, "They had left new Orleans ahead of the hurricane?"
And where have the articles gone? I hear this sort of stuff frequently on NPR and various news shows: "FDA said…" "According to CIA…." These things are "agencies" or "administrations" ((hence the "A" in the acronym) and are countable and require a frickin’ ARTICLE, people!!! THE FDA, THE CIA…
Finally, why are the adjectives coming after the nouns? The particular phrase annoying me these days is "date certain." As in, "He wouldn’t commit to a date certain," for example, to confirm a nominee or get out of Iraq.
I know. You think it doesn’t matter. It’s simply an evolution of language. No. No. These are violations of the rules correlating with the whole breakdown of the system. I don’t have time right now to find links for the specific examples (see the very important things I must do today at the top of the post.) I do know, however, I have been hearing them for months, because they set my teeth on edge every time I hear them.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Resolutions for the REAL New (school) Year

In a previous post, I talked of this time of year being my "new year," and one of my "resolutions" is to pay more attention to my blog and try to do more things on it. I want to make a list of links to the blogs I read regularly, but haven’t found out how to do that yet. I will say I check Dana’s and Neil’s blogs every day, and also I’m going to try to post every day just for the personal discipline aspect, like keeping a daily journal. I don’t know how to make one of those lists on the side yet.
Maybe I will start posting pictures, too, now that we have a scanner that works with our newer computer.
I’ll write about work, books I read and movies I see, and the 25th anniversary party I have planned in August. So far I have booked a venue for it and lined up a decorator (Shari, of course) and a cake maker( Jamie). I also want to do a DVD slide show (or, more likely, have it done for me.)
It’s kind of hard to write about some things on my mind, because it gets into other people’s lives and issues, and that’s somewhat difficult when using this kind of forum. I will also try to relate things more closely to the theme/title of the blog.
I’m going to try to take it up in terms of quality, but in order to motivate myself to do that, I’ll have to concentrate on quantity. A favorite quote of mine, attributed to Woody Allen, is something to the effect that 80% of success in life is based on showing up. Therefore, that’s what I will concentrate on for a while.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Who are these people?

All the hurricane news, in particular, the mismanagement afterwards, is causing me to feel very cynical. I'm sure there will be plenty of blame to go around, locally, statewide, and between both major political parties, but I especially don't get it at the top, federal levels...people find things out exclusively by aides handing them memos?? Can't anybody turn on a television? This is what gets me...the disconnect, the bureaucracy. Who are these people? How do they live? How are they supposed to help people, and assist in situations, about whom and which they have no understanding? The older I get, and the more I see what kinds of things cause people to get elected or appointed to high offices, the more I despair. I guess the only thing to do is develop our self-reliance, because the people who are supposed to help us won't be there for us when they're supposed to be. An eighteen-year-old kid, Jabbor Gibson, seems to get this.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Back to "normal"

Whoa, I went through the entire month of August without posting. I'm sure that was profoundly disappointing to my reader (if she's even reading this anymore). Life has returned to some semblance of normal (although not really ideal) after a rather strange summer (see previous post). As a teacher and perennial student (not in an advanced degree kind of way, but a let's see how many licenses and certificates I can get in my lifetime kind of way) I have always regarded the beginning of the school year in later August/ September the real beginning of the year, full of promise, opportunity, clean slates, and renewed energy. These, then, are the things I'll be working on: planning, creating, and organizing stuff for my 25th wedding anniversary party in August; going through all my stuff for disposal, garage sale or donation; and organizing my work life. I will override my shyness and introversion and meet more people and develop new friendships. I'll also try to post, at least occasionally, about more important things than what is (or is not) happening in my life.