Eric, my brother, and I are heading to Grand Junction tomorrow to spend Christmas with my parents. It has been a looong time since I've spent a holiday there and, as much as I loathed going back to The Junk when I was in college, I can't wait this year. I have been getting more and more excited all day. So exciting! Happy Holidays, everyone!
It's last day of work before vacation and, miraculously, I'm pretty caught up on my paperwork. Seriously, it's a Christmas miracle that I got through all of my paperwork this week. Anyway, since I do have a few free minutes, I'm taking a break to put up a short post.
At lunch, the counselors and I were talking about dangerous dog breeds. I know that there is a lot to be said about the effects of proper breeding and training, but certain breeds of dogs frighten me. I'm guessing that I'm a little biased about this because a) I grew up next to a terribly mean pit bull that attacked my neighbor and 2) I've been attacked by dogs twice in the last ten years (once by a chow and the other time by a German shepherd). I recognize that I'm totally biased.
Anyway, the point is that, even though I'm a crazy animal lover in general, I'm skittish about big dogs. After our talk at lunch, I Googled the most dangerous dog breeds and, although there's lots of debate about how accurate the stats are, my pit bull, chow, and shepherd were all on the list. As well as this guy, a Presa Canario. I have never seen one of these, but it might just be the freakiest looking dog I have ever seen. I'm sure they can be great pets but, with my tainted dog history, I would have a heart attack if I went to somebody's house and this thing jumped up on me... Aaaaaah!
If Eric and I ever get a dog--which we might because I really like dogs--it's going to have to be a breed that doesn't look like it could eat my face at any minute and that I can get away from. No Presa Canarios in my future.
Via my lovely hubby, I just found out that one of my high school classmates, Ross Schnell, is a pro mountain biker. And, from the looks of it, a good one. I was completely oblivious to this fact, despite living with a crazy bike guy for over a year. Thank god for Google, which allows me to cyber stalk my former classmate (you know you all do it...). Wherever you are, Ross, congrats! I can barely get on a roadbike without breaking myself, and you are a professional athlete. Well played, Mr. Schnell.
I am a bad blogger. I haven't put a new post up here in forever. The problem is, I've signed on numerous times with the intent to write, but can't think of anything to say. Nothing worthy of other people reading has been going on. Sad... I'll try to come up with something interesting sometime soon.
I have been running stats for my dissertation all day. And by all day I mean ALL DAY. It has been exhausting and confusing and I hope to god I've actually run everything I needed to. If I have to come back to the stats lab at UNC to do anything else, it might push me over the edge. When am I going to graduate? When?!
On a brighter note, my wonderful sister purchased my plane ticket for me to visit her in South Korea in March. I can't wait to see her. By that time, I should be Dr. P. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I am able to tour Asia without a care in the world in four months or less...
I'm at UNC today, so that I can run my stats for my dissertation. For those of you who haven't been up-to-date on the never ending dissertation saga, yes, I am in the home stretch. And I'm starting the home stretch way too early in the day. Working in the public schools, I'm programmed to think that you always have to arrive in the morning at 7:00 a.m. so, of course, I'm here before the stats lab is even open. So here I am blogging.
Being here is kind of a weird feeling. Even though I'm technically still a student, since the dissertation has been a slow process, it's been almost two and a half years since I actually took any college classes. And, now that I'm back, I feel OLD. Of course, grad students are old by definition but, seriously, after having been out working, I feel really out of place. And kind of nostalgic. There's something really fun about being a student--a full time student--that I miss. I miss walking to school with my headphones on, going to classes, working for professors. At the time that I was actually doing those things, I'm sure I didn't find them as charming but, now that I'm so far removed from them, I miss them.
People always joke around about how they would never go back to another stage in their lives, especially high school. When I think back, though, I probably would like to. In my case, I would love to go back and experience college and do things a little bit differently. I like that I wasn't a big drinker in college and like that I went to TONS of shows. Beyond that, there are mostly things I would do differently if I were to be granted a redo. If I could rewind my life to the beginning of college, I would invest more time in friends I neglected and later realized were my real friends. I would spend less time worrying about the ones that were throw-aways. I would take more Spanish classes, so that, now, my husband and I could actually converse in our second language and I could pull my weight when we travel. I would invest more in myself than I would in making other people happy. I would spend more time outside, camping, hiking, taking pictures.
Of course, I can't rewind my life and, in many ways, I wouldn't want to because I would lose a lot of the things I have now that I love--my husband, my cats, my travel experience--but it's always interesting to think how things would have turned out had you made just a few different choices. Okay, enough nostalgic, hypothetical mumbo jumbo. Time to get down to the statistics. Wooo! Happy Monday, everyone.
I am soooooooo excited to dork out tonight and watch the election results roll in! All day, I've been checking the New York Times, hoping to see some early results but, of course, I'm waaay too early. I can't wait until seven tonight, when the East coast polls start closing and the numbers start coming in. And I can't wait to wake up tomorrow (hopefully) and have a brand new president. It's like Christmas. Of course, the excitement might wear off pretty quickly if I don't get the candidate I'm gunning for but, for now, I'm so amped. Definitely crossing my fingers for an Obama win. And my toes. In the immortal words of The Smiths, Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want...
So, lately, I've been on a bit of a tear buying DVDs. Generally, I'm buying the mega bargain DVDs (good thing I have obscure taste, eh?) and, most of the time, I'm not buying anything that Eric would want to see. Truthfully, almost every DVD I've bought has been some sort of guilty pleasure: The Cutting Edge (figure skating--very guilty pleasure), Girls Just Want to Have Fun (Eric would not be caught dead watching this), things like that... I do feel a little guilty that I'm not buying movies that I know are also interesting for my husband but, really, I generally only watch non-Netflix movies when I'm by myself, so I figure it's okay.
Yesterday, I crossed several lines. First, I bought a full-price DVD--Yowza! And, second, I bought a Disney DVD. I bought...The Little Mermaid...and, I'll admit it, I was pretty stoked. Lately, I've been in kind of a girlie, moody, nostalgic mood and TLM is exactly what I needed. So, yesterday, while Eric was on a long bike ride, I busted that thing out and watched not only the movie but all of the bonus features as well. I was probably on the couch watching Little Mermaid material for over three hours. And, I might add, it was sweet. I laughed, I sang along, I teared up on no less than three occasions. How could I have forgotten how freaking awesome that movie is?! How?! SO GOOD.
Thank you Little Mermaid, for making my Saturday. THANK YOU.
So, for those of you who know me -- and I'm guessing that's most of you or you wouldn't find this blog interesting AT ALL -- you know that I'm a crazy democrat. I've always been a dem, I'm proud to be a dem, and, with friends, I'm more than happy to engage in lively political debate.
However, and this is a big however, I am not into discussing my political views at work in front of kids. It just seems very inappropriate to me for several reasons:
1. Me touting my views at school might cause friction with students and parents if their not in alignment with their political standing,
2. I believe kids need to make up their own minds about their political affiliations, and I don't feel like it's my place to influence them, and
3. It's too personal of an issue to disclose to clients.
Somehow, though, I've become the figurehead for the democratic party within our special education department here and am frequently put on the spot or goaded into debates (okay, arguments), both out of the earshot of kids and within earshot. It's all in good fun and I'm not angry about it, but I don't feel like it's entirely appropriate.
I have no idea if other teachers, especially social studies teachers who need to talk about politics in class, feel like same way, or if it's totally normal to espouse your personal political beliefs when you're in the field of education. I feel conflicted about the whole thing and am wondering what other people think about it. Am I way too conservative to think I shouldn't talk politics at work?
Yesterday was a good day. Eric and I headed down to Denver to visit Eric's sister, brother, and brother-in-law. We checked out the new (new to me--at this point, it's been there for quite a while) expansion of the art museum, had a snack at City o' City, and had tortilla soup and some bevvies at Nate and Lena's house. Which, I might add, was delicious.
Regarding the art museum, I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the new expansion. The pieces are very nice and the layout of the museum itself was pretty darn cool. It actually felt like a real, grown-up art museum like they have in other big cities. Now, I don't mean to rip on the old Denver Art Museum, but I spent many Saturdays there during college and really felt like I had seen everything I was going to see there. Now, Denver's looking all cosmopolitan and cool.
Anyway, the point of this post was to put up some pictures of a piece that I thought was sweet. Of course, I am a sucker for stuff like this, but I think most people probably found it interesting. It was a whole room with a faux restaurant set up, and dozens of sculptures of foxes were placed on the tables, under the tables, in the air, on the chairs, and so on. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here are some pictures.
Fall is my favorite season in Colorado by far. There's just something magical about it. And, as much as I hate winter and have been tempted to move to California or Mexico or wherever would be warmer to escape it, I could never actually follow through because I'd have to give up my favorite season.
This fall has, for a lot of reasons, been a stressful one for me. No matter how stressful it gets, though, there are just some things about the season that make me feel better. So, without further adieu, my favorite things about my favorite season:
1. The leaves changing. Obviously, you have to love this. So pretty.
2. Pumpkins. I love pumpkin everything--pumpkin candles, pumpkin patches, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin carving, pumpkin pie, pumpkin body wash. I heart pumpkins.
3. Sunny days and crisp, cool evenings. The best time of the year for walks with your honey.
4. Adding another blanket to the bed. I'm just weird that way. I love when it's cool enough at night for blankets.
5. Elections. I know some people hate election season, but I love it. I get all excited about exercising my democratic rights.
6. The return of comfort food. In the summer, I just can't bring myself to put together dishes like homemade mac n' cheese and chili. They're perfect for fall and are SO good.
7. Holidays. Halloween and Thanksgiving are two of my favorite holidays. I love the whole aura of Halloween and always remember how excited we were as kids to dress up and go trick or treating. I love Thanksgiving because I always have a spectacular time with my family and love getting together with them.
8. Breaking out the woolies. What can I say? I like to wear sweaters, flannel p.j. pants, thick socks... I think I am addicted to being warm.
9. Memories. Some of my best memories are from the fall, including some of Eric and my best times and the day we got engaged. I love that, every year when fall rolls around, I get to think back on and relive such happy times.
In short, I am SO THANKFUL it's fall! Live it up, people.
So, while Eric was out of town on a mountain biking trip a couple of months ago, I watched Gossip Girl for the first time. I was all alone without a whole lot to do, so I thought I would check it out. Plus, I had heard a lot about it, since I work at a high school. My first impression was that it was incredibly silly. Those were the booziest, druggiest, sexiest high school kids I had ever seen with the largest vocabularies of all time. It was such a far cry from my high school experience and didn't even fit very well with the idea I get of high schoolers from the kids at the school where I work.
Nonetheless, I gave it another shot the following week. I even got Eric to watch it and we got a kick out of just how mean and scandalous the characters on the show were. Still thought it was silly, but we were entertained...
Fast forward six weeks and I am a full-blown Gossip Girl junkie and I am so ashamed! Not only am I watching this show that is so blatantly written for 16-year-olds every single week, but I am renting back seasons on Netflix. Last night, I watched four episodes from Season 1 on DVD in a row. I didn't work out. I didn't get off the couch to eat dinner. I just sat there for five hours watching Gossip Girl. It was pitiful!
What is it about these trashy shows that I find so appealing? It's very akin to the fact that I LOVE those ridiculous celebrity gossip magazines. I can't get enough of them. I consider myself a fairly level-headed person and I generally have good taste (in music, movies, food, etc.), but I can't tear myself away from these things! I know I need to cut myself some slack, that there's nothing wrong with guilty pleasures but, sometimes, I take a look at myself, watching Gossip Girl, and wonder who kidnapped my old jaded, too-cool for pop culture self. So shameful. But so fun at the same time...
What I have on my mind right now is heavy, unfun special education stuff. However, I refuse to continue to write heavy, unfun blogs. Therefore, I am making a concerted effort to write this blog about something a little more light hearted. Here goes:
For those of you who aren't aware of this, Eric and I have two cats, Tilly and Luna. We adopted them both from shelters last year and, I'll admit it, we're into our cats. We buy them toys, we spend money to get them grain-free food, we talk to them. We even *gasp* have a piece of cat furniture for them to perch on and scratch on in hopes that they climb on and scratch our people furniture less.
In general, I enjoy dogs, but have always been more of a cat person. For me and, thankfully, also for Eric, cats' personalities just jive better. Plus, we both enjoy the fact that cats are relatively low maintenance. Assuming you leave them enough food and water, they can survive a few days without you, thus facilitating impromptu vacations. I have no shame about preferring cats or about the fact that, in particular, I prefer our cats. They're pretty cool. They make me happy.
However, I've noticed the trend to label people who own and like cats "cat people", which makes me crazy sometimes. Yes, I joke about being a crazy cat lady but, in all actuality, I am not one. I do not have forty cats. I do not live alone with only my cats to keep me company. I do not cook special meals for my cats or subscribe to Cat Fancy magazine. I would say that, overall, Eric and I are just responsible and active pet owners.
I have an awful lot of friends who are WAY more into their dogs than Eric and I are into our cats. People, especially in our neck of the woods, actually passed a bill designating dogs "sentient beings" and prefer the term "companions" to "owners" when describing their relationships with their dogs. I have never heard these people referred to as "dog people" in the sarcastic manner reserved for cat owners. I've certainly never heard anybody being referred to as a "crazy dog person". Come on, people.
What is it about cats that has somehow made their owners fair game for labeling and psychological diagnosis? 99.99% of us cat owners are pretty darn normal and devote the same amount of attention and love to our cats that our dog-loving counterparts do. And please recognize the tongue-in-cheek tone of this blog, but I do find this whole phenomenon strange. Perhaps this is something that will always be an unsolved mystery (I loved that show!)...
My second year as a school psychologist has been much more difficult than my first. I've been told that this is because, by the time you reach your second year, you finally are on-the-ball enough to know what you're doing wrong. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose. Overall, I think that I'm pretty good at my job. I'm fairly organized, I get my paperwork done on time, and for the most part, I think kids like spending time on my. The things that's been difficult during my second year has been the overwhelming realization that there is no magic bullet to fix kids' problems, no matter how hard I look for it.
Of course, I've always known this and have been told this a million times. All through grad school and my internship and even through my first year as a school psychologist, I was able to maintain the mindset that, if I was there and providing a positive, trusting relationship, I was helping. Now, though, I feel like I'm needing to provide these kids with some concrete solutions in a field and a society where everything is so nebulous. These kids are carrying some pretty heavy loads and sometimes it's really painful not to know what to do or say to help them find ways to cope. It gets stressful.
Don't get me wrong--there are so many things about my job that I love. I love working with high school kids. They're funny, interesting, and insightful. They make me think and make me smile, at least most days. On really stressful days, though, especially the days when I'm hit by the realization that my professional mistakes could have serious (shall I say dire?) consequences, I find myself wondering if ignorance really is bliss. Would I be less stressed out if I were a secretary or a landscaper? I would be great at those jobs and, at the end of the day, if I were to have misfiled a document or overpruned a hedge, I wouldn't beat myself up about it.
Ah, the drama...
My lord, do I need a hobby. Back in high school, I was involved in so many sports and clubs and social events that I can't even imagine how I fit them all in. Now, when people ask me what I like to do, I struggle to think of things to say. I like to watch movies. I like to meet friends for lunch. I like to read. I like to hang out with my husband and my cats. Really, though, I wouldn't consider those things legitimate hobbies. Don't get me wrong, I love doing those things, but my idea of a hobby is a skill that you cultivate over time, that you're continually working on.
I keep catching myself wondering how I got to this point and it's finally dawned on me. BOYS. Boys have taken away all of hobbies! I know that sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. All through undergrad and grad school and internship, I was in one long-distance relationship or another. No, they weren't extremely long-distance relationships--I was always within two hours' driving distance--but they were time consuming. I was on the phone every evening and driving to or from my boyfriends' houses every single weekend. And, of course, when I only got to see my boyfriend on the weekends, I was using every minute for quality time, not for pursuing a hobby. Finally, Eric and I did actually live together last year but, once again, a boy issue (i.e., planning the wedding--only tangentially a boy issue, but you get the point) took up all of my time. Yes, there were other things going on in my life, like school, but boys are much easier scapegoats. So, there you have it, boys took away my hobbies.
Being an idea girl, I've committed myself to getting started on some new hobbies. I want to feel accomplished and busy and wonderful. So, anyway, here is my list of possible new (or recycled) hobbies I'm kicking around:
1. Learning to play tennis
2. Re-learning how to play the violin
3. Becoming totally bitchin' in the kitchen (a.k.a. cooking)
Any more ideas on how to transform this grandma-ish, hobby-less woman into a superstar talentmeister? Let me know. I'm all ears.
Rich, a good friend of Eric and me, passed away from brain cancer this past Saturday. It's been really hard to accept that it happened, even though he has been sick for several months. Rich has always been an incredibly warm, vibrant, funny, and genuine person. He was one of those people who you could just be with and feel more relaxed and content. He had the best sense of humor of anybody I know and was one of the best huggers. He made people truly happy.
I know that, as he began to realize that treatment was not going to work, Rich questioned whether he had accomplished as much as he could in his life. I hope he knew how incredibly proud we all were to have him as a friend and how much his just being there enriched our lives. I hope he recognized how just the day-to-day triumphs he experienced--leaving everything he knew to move to San Diego on his own, learning to surf, traveling to Costa Rica--were so special and so meaningful.
I've been friends with Rich since my freshman year of college, ten years, and it was amazing to see how far he came and how much he grew in that time. His personality mellowed and matured, his humor became even more fine-tuned and witty than it ever had been before, and he took risks that, I think, helped him see his strength. He was a wonderful friend and an amazing person. I know that, as much as I miss him now, I'm only going to miss him more over time because there are going to be so many instances where I will have wanted him there to share with me.
This past July, Rich was a groomsman in Eric and my wedding. Rich introduced Eric and I in 2003 and, from the very start of our relationship, frequently said to us, "just don't make me an usher". He knew Eric and I were right for each other. At the time of the wedding, Rich had already undergone some treatment for his cancer, but Eric and I had no idea how serious his condition was. I think that's how Rich wanted it to be. He wanted us to be happy, and we were. We were so proud to have our friend by our side, to hear him give a toast during the reception. It was a perfect day and Rich made it all possible for us. Looking at the wedding pictures now, I love seeing the huge smile on Rich's face in every single shot--he was so pleased that two people he had played matchmaker for, two of his close friends, had ended up together.
From the time of the wedding, Rich's health gradually declined. He began to lose his eyesight, his sense of balance and, eventually, his clarity of thought. Through it all, though, Rich maintained his wit and charm and strength. He took advantage of every second until his body wouldn't let him. Even on days when he had been struggling, he always perked up for a visit from Eric and me, cracked some jokes, reminisced with us about the past. The last day we saw him, the Wednesday before he died, it was so quiet and dark in the room and Rich was so different. On the way out, though, he squeezed my hand and something inside of me knew that he was saying goodbye and that, despite his health, he was the same Rich. I'm so thankful that I was there to say goodbye to him that day. I will never have another friend like Rich.
Rich's memorial service is this coming Saturday. It's the first time I've had to go to a funeral for a friend so close to me and I'm nervous. I've volunteered to say something at the service and I want to get it right. There are so many wonderful things to say that I don't know how to pick one. Or how I'm going to get it out. I think we all need that time, though, to commemorate Rich's life. As nervous as I am, in a way I'm looking forward to spending time with other people close to Rich, sharing all of our funny, lovely stories about the time we spent with him. He will truly be missed. He is already missed. I miss you, Rich. Thank you for everything you added to my life.
I always try to be diligent with these things -- I have both myspace and facebook accounts and have failed miserably at both lately -- but figure I might as well give blogging another shot. At the very least, I can do my best to keep up with it so that my little sis, who is currently living in Korea, can see what I'm up to.
It seems like, generally, people become consistent bloggers once they have kids and Eric and I aren't there yet. Yes, we have the cats, but if I blog about our cats I run the risk of looking like a crazy cat lady, which I would like to avoid if at all possible. This isn't to say that I have nothing else going on in my life besides Eric and my pets, but I don't think I have anything else going on that's as cute as a baby, so...
Regardless, I am going to give this the old college try and hope it goes well. Here's to a second (or third, or fourth) attempt at keeping the blog alive! Woo!