Friday, October 27, 2006


You know the clich├ęs: "Life is a rat race", "He who hesitates is lost", "Run with the wolves". But you also have "Running on empty" or "If you are on the go all the time, life sucks". Ok, I made that last one up, but it is true.

Last weekend I spent the day with Refreshing Sunshine doing nothing but sitting outside and letting our minds meander wherever they roamed.

When I lived in Romania, we had time to meander, mentally as well as physically. As we walked to work, our brains could take in the sights, run through the plan of the day (not plans), or play the "what if" game. As we waited for the bus that may or may not come, we had the time to diddle with possibilities of the other passengers, what was the relationship between the man in the wool sweater and woman in the hat? Maybe they are spouses who have been happily married for 15 years - childhood sweethearts. Maybe they are in an illicit affair. Maybe former KGB agents now working as free agent mercenaries. We had the free time and free mental space to do this.

The US prides itself on time saving devices, but more often than not this produces an atmosphere of expecting to do more with the time saved. So our free time is not free.

We need time to meander, something we used to call play. Kids should go out and let their imagination wander - making up games with bizarre rules. In the third grade my friends and I would play a game called Gorilla. It had something to do with an obstacle course in the living room and the kid who was "it" jumping off the couch, growling and trying to tap the others' heads. Each day the rules were not quite remembered, so we made new ones up.

Adults need to play. Sometimes with actual balls and rules, ink and paper, blogs and comments. Sometimes we need to just let our brains meander and wonder what kind of bird is singing right now. Was Classic Coke really better than New Coke? Has my favorite show jumped the shark, and if so do I want to stop watching? How cool would it be to cross a lemon tree with a lavender bush?

The ancient Greeks actually had a winding river called Meander. Meandering can lead us to amazing adventures. How many road trip movies actually have the characters on a tight schedule getting from point A to point B? Rivers are teaming with life, sustenance and refreshment - just as mental meandering can revitalize our soul.

And the river Meander is deep, but not very wide. In our meandering we do not need to solve all of our life's quandaries. Ponder and play with one thing - one idea. It may lead you off track on another topic. If it does, more power to ya!

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

50 things meme

It is my 50th blog, which by blog law I am requires me to do a 50 things meme. (If you have 50 posts but haven't done this, consider yourself tagged and get to it toot sweet!)

I did not feel like doing all 50 questions, so here are some.

Fifty Things Meme

1. My roommate and I once: hitch hiked with gypsies after exchanging money on the Romanian black market.

2. Never in my life have I: danced naked in a meadow at twilight. I think mosquito bites in delicate places discourages that idea.

3. The one person who can drive me nuts, but then can always manage to make me smile is: any one of my students - they drive me nuts, but can turn on the charm when they want to.

4. High school was: A blast - I knew where I was going, how the world was supposed to run, and if there was something I didn't know I knew where to get the answer.

5. When I'm nervous: I ramble and jump to random topics, and munch on very sweet or starchy things.

6. The last time I cried was: during the last sappy movie, commercial or TV show. My husband always looks at me during a sentimental part of a movie to see if I am tearing up.

7. If I were to get married right now, my bridesmaids would be: The same. But the flower girl would be my new niece (if it is not too un-cool for a teenager to do).

8. Would you rather run naked through a crowded place or have someone e-mail your deepest secret to all your friends? Any chance for an exhibition!

9. My hair: Is very fine and flat. I never know what to do with it. But I like being blond. Thanks Mom.

10. When I was 5: I had my first proposal of marriage. Mark also proposed to my best friend, but insisted he liked me best.

12. When I turn my head left: My neck cracks at least three times

14. When I look down I see: boobs striving to reach my bellybutton.

15. The craziest recent event: is found somewhere in my blog. Go look and comment.

16. If I were a character on "Friends": I'd love to be Phoebe, but probably more like Ross with a bit of Chandler.

19. I have a hard time understanding: why our government is not stricter on drunk drivers (in Romania automatic 1 year suspension of your license on your first offence, plus a fine that was equivalent to three months of a teacher's salary.) We are also too soft on sex offenders (I vote for castration of the convicted!)

23. Take my advice: you will never be as young and as thin as you are now. So enjoy yourself! (I have read that some bloggers have lost over 80 pounds - congratulations on beating the odds!)

24. My ideal breakfast is: During the week some cottage cheese with dried cranberries or yogurt with granola. On the weekend omelets and country potatoes or waffles with raspberry syrup.

25. If you visit my town: I will take you to the dollar store that snuck in while the "slow growth" city council is protesting a Target coming to town.

29. The world could do without: thoughtless people.

30. I'd rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: clean port-a-potties.

31. The most recent thing I've bought myself: are some new under things. Nothing can make you feel more sexy and confident than good, new underclothing!

32. The most recent thing someone else bought for me is: blank transparencies for my overhead projector at work. Talk about nothing that can make you feel sexy!

33. My favorite red head is: Ron Weisley from Harry Potter, Anne Shirley form Anne of Green Gables, or Lucile Ball who is America's favorite redhead.

34. My favorite brunette is: Hugh Jackman. I could watch him for two hours in any kind of movie.

37. The animals I would like to see flying besides birds: other than pigs and monkeys, I think a flying whale would be graceful. A flying giraffe would be funny with its long limbs everywhere.

40. Last night I: fell asleep at 8:30 - right in the middle of Gilmore Girls!

42: The CDs on my player right now are: The Blues Brothers the Definitive Collection, Sting's 10 Sumner's Tails, Bruce Springsteen's We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, and Switchfoot's Nothing is Sound.

44. If I ever go back to school I'll: take classes on how to do minor repairs on my car. I hate going to a mechanic having no idea about what is going on; fulfilling the "such a girl" stereotype.

45. How many days until my birthday? Just over 4 months. I will turn 40! My mother swears she adopted me when I was 21 because she is too young to have a daughter this age.

46. One dead celebrity I wish I'd met is: Well heck I'd love to meet any celebrity, but I would have loved to meet Mother Theresa and just sit at her feet and learn or CS Lewis.

48. I've been told I look like: Drew Barrymore

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Smells of Today

What a day today. It started out with me loosing my cool during second period because for the second day in a row people let off stink bombs! Second day in a row! This time we did not go outside to work. I made them stay inside and work - if you could call what we actually accomplished that day work. It is a small school (48 kids total) so I know the students will find out who did it. In fact I am sure that the culprit is sitting at the lake bragging about how he - trust me, it was a he - was able to make me blow my top. I just hope that the students stuck in the stink will use peer pressure to get them to knock it off!

But the day ended with our first graduation of the year. Five young men have completed all their requirements to earn a high school diploma or completion certificate (this is for kids who meet all requirements except for passing the high school exit exam). Each student has a staff member give a speech about him. One student made sure that in his speech he said that he was sorry for giving a particular teacher a hard time. That particular teacher was - you guessed it - me. A dozen students looked over at me gave me a smile and head nod.

I know this speech should make everything all right. It should. Actually it did help because I could tell that he was sincere. But it doesn't quite. I had to put up a lot of crap from him, and from others who decided to follow his example. Why couldn't he have figured this out weeks or months before he left?

Well, we will see how things air out on Monday.

Is it bad that I know how many days of classes there are until Winter break?

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Monday, October 16, 2006

My Weekend

I am not sure if you are interested in my weekend exploits, but I am going to tell you anyway. And just like TV, if you are not interested, you are certainly free to turn off the machine. But I do hope you enjoy.

Even though there were only four days of school, it felt long. So I was so totally ready when Refreshing Sunshine and Fellow Fanilow restarted their monthly game night. I love the chance to chat with people I see once a month and talk about everything from missions outreach issues to how much of our wall space is given to bookshelves. The best thing is laughing at someone's phony poker face or playing Apples to Apples and winning because you can describe houseguests as chewy roadkill. I always leave the party with sore stomach muscles.

The next day My Sweet and I drove 90 miles up to my mothers, because she made it lovingly clear that we need to see each other face to face every couple of months. My sister and her family came up as well. One of her stepson did a research project on My Sweet and we wanted to see how it came out. Instead of bringing it, he brought some of his ideas for a Japanese style comic book. My Sweet gave him some advice to make it more authentically Japanese.

I am trying to think of something profound to tie this up, but on the way up to Mom's I came down with a bad cold. Therefore my profound-ability is out of whack. If you can think of something, please leave me a comment to give this post a good ending.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Funny things said to me today

I am trying to remember that just because one class gave me some gray hairs, or another student threw a banana across the room and broke a window, it was not a totally bad day. In fact I think some of the strangest things happened or were said. Some are strange ha ha, some are just odd.

Student E, whose early use of drugs has put a serious hamper on his brain ability, joined a new class, and I knew it would be hard to catch him up with the novel we'd been reading all month. Another student gave a quick summary of what we've read so far, and I had them continue reading and answer the comprehension questions. E started his usual vacillating between talking to his friends about the party he went to last night and screaming over and over that he doesn't get what to do. So of course I snapped, "If you'd been paying attention then you'd know what has happened so far." He then rattled off the entire summary word for word. Egg on my face.

Student R, who was a major pain in the you-know-where last year, said something so amazingly mature. "I wish I had an older brother to set me straight. In elementary school I screwed around but figured I'd get my act together in middle school. I didn't and figured I could change at the high school. And then I screwed around in high school and ended up here. I am keeping my baby bro on the right path. He's getting straight A's and shit." My little man is showing signs of growing up.

Then today right out of the blue in the middle of grammar, student J asked, "Do raccoons run in packs?" After my confused admission that I have no idea, he continued, "I hooked one with a fishing pole and sardines when I was fishing at my friend's place."

You just never know what you will find out in school.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ballet in the Sky

This is ballet that even manly men would enjoy.

This past weekend My Sweet traveled down to San Francisco to watch the high light of Fleet Week - the Blue Angles. Now I am not one of those people who hyperventilate at the idea of spotting an A-10 over head. Heck I probably couldn't differentiate between that and an AK-47. But My Sweet does, so we went.

The Blue Angels were Amazing! It really was ballet in the sky! When they were in their famous diamond formation, they were as close as 18 inches apart! And they flew with such precision and grace. It took my breath away.

What takes your breath away?
Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Fresh New Day

The red is fading a bit.
A weekend of old friends and videos helped. Getting together with college friends I haven't seen in years was refreshing. Although I did something I thought I never would. Amos asked about my trip to Japan, saying I probably had a lot of stories. And I did. But instead of launching into my escapades with high tech toilets, I told them to check out my blog's post. Can you believe it? I passed on real life entertainment.

Today I had a heart to heart with one of my students. The vice principal made him do it because of some, shall we say unflattering, pictures he drew of me. The conversation started out they way any other forced apology goes, "Sorry I did it, I know it wasn't nice, blah blah blah." After getting over the wave of emotion, I started to talk to him about his real problem about not do anything to earn his credits so he can graduate some time this year. His eyes glazed over with the heard-that-speech-before-so-I'll-tune-out-till-she-stops-talking look. I grasped at something to say before I lost him, and I mentioned that he was too good to be "stuck" here at school. I think that saying he was worthwhile struck a chord somewhere because his eyes misted up and he suddenly got interested what was going on out the window. And later that day he worked more than he has in an entire month. We'll see how tomorrow.

If you are interested, Lucky Number Sleven is a wonderfully quirky black action comedy, and the Inside Man is not to bad when want an intriguing bank robbery movie.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!