Thursday, August 31, 2006

GENTLEMEN COME IN ALL SHAPES AND SIZES

... and hair colors. For instance, last night, as I was lugging the 15 millionth box of folded up boxes out to the curb, a kid with green hair from the next townhouse unit over, came running across the parking lot and said, "Let me take that for you."

YOU LOOK MIGHTY FINE

This week has been a tough week for me. I am SOOOOOO behind on work, and it doesn't matter how much I work, it seems to get me further behind. This phenomenon has me stumped (so does the spelling of that word)!

Normally, I would wander into my friend, Carrie's room, plop my big butt on one of her student desks, and moan and groan about it for 10 minutes. She would nod, tell me she's going through the same thing, and then one of us would suggest going to Charlie's for lunch of dinner! Problem solved with an order of sour cream and chive fries!

I can't do that anymore due to the small, minor detail of living 7 hours away from Carrie.

The massive amounts of coffee I'm consuming doesn't seem to be doing a bit of good either. In fact, I ended up falling asleep on my couch last night trying to screwed up motivation to grade more papers. And TO DO LISTS??? Well, I've lost three out of the four I've written in the last two days!

So, it was a welcomed oasis in the middle of my otherwise stressful week when one of my students said to me as I walked by, "Well, Miss Murray. You are lookin' mighty fine today!"

God bless him! I would have kissed him out of sheer gratitude if it weren't for the fact that it very well may have been misconstrued as inappropriate.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

INTERNET PAUSE

To all my adoring fans -- of which I probably have three -- I must apologize profusely for the long pause in communications. The move into the townhouse was torturous (much more on that in another blog), the unpacking has been frustrating (trying to fit stuff from a 3 bdrm house with basement into a 2 bdrm townhouse sans basement), and, at this moment, I don't have internet service at home. I'm writing this from work .... shhhhh.

I am now officially living at my new address in Frankfort, and I am adjusting to apartment living once again.

Hang tight as I have lots of witty observations coming your way! Love to you all!

Monday, August 21, 2006

HOW TO MAKE ENEMIES OF YOUR NEW NEIGHBORS

Simple ...

Get your moving company to show up at your door at 9:30 p.m.

Then have them start moving your crap, a box at a time, for that point until ... oh ... about 3:40 a.m.

Have them bang as much as possible!

Friday, August 18, 2006

THANK GOODNESS NO ONE WAS LOOKING

There are times in one's life that one is completely and wholly thankful that no one was looking! Tonight was one of those nights.

I went to dinner with two girls I work with. I consumed a MASSIVE amount of tortilla chips and salsa (yes, I went Mexican, yum, yum!) as well as MASSIVE amounts of water with dinner. Then, after leaving the girls, I headed to my new townhouse, sans furniture, to see if all was as it should be.

I got there and had an overwhelming urge to call my good bud, Deb. We sat and talked for a good long while, and it was during that time that I realized something ... I had to tinkle!

So, I did the potty dance for quite awhile (embarassing enough in and of itself). The conversation ended, and I realized that if I didn't make tracks for a bathroom -- and I mean QUICK -- I was going to soil the brand new carpetting! So, I stood in what will soon be my dining room, holding myself and doing the potty dance while I hopped to the bathroom! Unbelievably embarassing. I'm so thankful no one saw me, but I'm a little perplexed as to why I would now out myself in a forum such as this! Perhaps there was something more in that salsa than just cilantro ...

IF ONLY I WERE PERFECT

Have you ever had one of those days when you wished you would have turned over and gone back to sleep, ignoring the alarm clock? Possibly even getting a "do over" for that day would somehow make the circumstances somehow more palpable.

Yeah ... I'm having one of those lifetimes, it would seem. I do things and I say things, and I realize, sometimes way too late, that man!, I wished I'd approached that situation differently. As the events unfold, and as I play them over and over in my mind, beating myself up for them continually for YEARS, I long for a rewind button, but hope beyond hope that the person or persons I might have wronged will find grace in the situation. We are all humans after all. They've got to be making the same blunders also, right? Surely they recognize this about themselves and so, won't hold it against me?

As I've entered my thirties, I've discovered something. I've discovered that my blunders will follow me where ever I go, and that the only person truly willing to bestow grace doesn't actually wear skin at this present time.

I've tried really hard (without the intervention of professional help, and maybe that's my problem) to somehow silence this endless tape recorder in my head that seems to record all those times when I'm complete idiot and then replays those times over and over again. It creates negative self-talk, and I recognize that as being non-productive. But as I've said, I always thought there was grace ...

I have a friend. She is one of the dearest people I know. If ever there was a person in this world that would give the shirt off her back to someone, it is this person. She has incredible passion for others. I often tease her and say, "I know you wouldn't do this because you are just too nice. I, on the other hand, am mean and nasty, so I would."

I always said that sort of tongue and cheek, but I'm now wondering if perhaps it really is the truth ... that prospect shakes me to my core. Perhaps all anyone sees me for are those times in my life that my mouth got ahead of my brain ... to be so judged ... wow. That's a sobering thought.

What has precipitated this serious post on my otherwise frivilous blog? Perhaps it's moving away from all that's familiar and trying to find a new path to follow. Perhaps it's reevaluating my life post PINK SLIP to see how I've handled situations (see the aforementioned self-talk tape recorder) ... what I could have done differently. Perhaps it's the fact that the movers came and picked up all my crap yesterday and announced that they weren't sure when they would be delivering it here (sending me into a deeper spiral of "who the crap am I anyway" talk). I don't know. I do know that I want my life to matter to others, and it scares me to death to think that it doesn't.

I wrote the following back in February, and I find it so interesting that the pain I felt then is the same pain I feel now: "I want to be so much more than a little drip in a tiny mud puddle. I want, desparately to be a big, continuous ripple in the sea of humanity. I can't help but wonder how I can possibly ripple in my four walls in a tiny little map dot on a big, fat, expansive globe ... I don't have DNA that I'm passing on ... I don't have the great love of another that weaves me to him, creating a life of one ... all I have is this one last breath and I want it to have resonance ..."

I want so badly to have resonance, but I fear it's not meant to be ...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

HOME SWEET HOME

I got the opportunity to check out my new townhouse last night ... sign papers ... get the rules and lay of the land ... pay the deposit ...

As the property manager was talking to me, I couldn't stop a number of thoughts from bouncing around in my head:

Thought #1: No hardwood floors. This is going to be harder than I thought.
Thought #2: Pretty carpeting. Maybe I can make this work.
Thought #3: It's a blank canvas, and for monthly rental payments, it's quasi-mine!
Thought #4: Where am I going to put _________ [fill in the blank]
Thought #5: What's that odd smell?
Thought #6: It's so small. Is this really 1250 sq. feet?
Thought #7: I'M HOME!

Come Friday, with about 90 boxes stashed here and there, it will be HOME SWEET HOME!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

POWER AT MY FINGERTIPS

I have in my hand a shiny, brand-spanking-new debit card. It's power at my finger tips.

[insert scary music here]

I've never owned a debit card before. In all honesty, I've never trusted myself enough to use one. Shoot! I could barely keep my regular checking account balanced. I had no business running around with a debit card!

However, I'm turning over a new financial leaf, and I feel like I'm a big girl now ... I can handle the responsibility.


We shall see. I freaked out when the guy started telling me that I had to go back to the ATM to activate it. I'VE NEVER USED AN ATM BEFORE!

Someone, somewhere is sitting in their little cubicle laughing their fool head off and me ... and waiting ... waiting for me to make my first financial blunder. Then they will be able to write about it in Reader's Digest. I'll be the butt of somebody's joke.

Monday, August 14, 2006

THE THINGS PEOPLE SAY

I heard a great quote today. It went something like this:

"Don't set your butt on anything spikey."

I love this quote for the sheer profundity of it all, and let's face it. It has some real world applications. What happens when you do set your butt on something spikey? Well, you hurt your butt! These are great words to live by.

Another quote that I keep near and dear to my heart was uttered by a student I had three years ago. I've used it often. It goes something like this:

"Don't NOBODY want to see your underwear!"

And really, it's true. I'm not interested in seeing your whale tail, tighty whities, or any other version of your unmentionables. Please try to keep them under wraps ...

I've often said, I would love to write a book of all the random quotes I hear people say in public places. I think it would make for some very entertaining reading, but, and this is the most important part, I think we would have a book chock full of everything we would need in order to solve world peace!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

WHAT'S IN A NAME

I'm fascinated by all the quaint little names you see on these new housing developments. It's as if there is a PICKING A NAME FOR YOUR HOUSING DEVELOPMENT Thesaurus or something. I'm guessing people spend endless hours around a cold pizza in the wee hours of the morning brainstorming names like Rabbit Run or Hunter's Glen or Equine Estates ... Beaumont Place ... River's Edge Run ... Creekside Manor ... and, yes, where I will be living Silver Lake Farms. A person could begin to gag on the syrupy sweetness of it all. In fact, I have. Although, I suppose there's a certain charm in the marketing ploy of Stonewall Estates. Whereas Poop Pile Place and Hog Stink Estates or Venomous Valley ... not so much.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

FLEA MALLS AND SMALL WORLDS

When Ann first moved down here to Versailles, we spied a Flea Market, known down in these parts as a Flea Mall. The one here in Versailes is really cool ... really, really cool. Not everything is something you want, but we discovered more incredible deals than our wallets had money. And we found that the prices were drastically lower than the same items in Michigan. We were thrilled! I know Ann's spent quite a bit of change in there, and she has walked out with some pretty cool items for her home.

Now, I'm not sure about Ann or my parents, but in my mind, I automatically equated the term Flea Mall with cool and affordable. My first mistake.

We did some exploring today ... actually, a lot of exploring today, and while we were out purchasing stuff we probably shouldn't have (but darn it was fun!), we discovered that Georgetown (a cool little place just 15 to 20 minutes away from where my townhouse will be) had 3 flea markets. We could only find one, and we should have known when we saw a bingo hall attached that it wasn't going to be quite up to our expectations. However, as we piled out of my truck, our pervailing thought was, "you just never know."

Well, let me go on record as saying, we were right. You do indeed just never know, but we surely found out! If either one of us had been in the market for a Velvet Elvis painting or a ceramic fiber optic dragon lamp, then this was definitely our place! Neither one of us was in such a market ...

A cursory tour through the place was all we needed to decide that no two Flea Malls are alike, and that sometimes, you can judge a book by it's cover!

On the other hand, there were loads of antique shops in downtown Georgetown that looked like lots of fun. We were only able to go into three of them. In our last one (the place we did our budgetary damage), we struck up a conversation with one of the owners/booth operators. It came out in conversation that we were from Michigan.

"Where in Michigan?" She asked, with an obvious northern accent.

"Oh a little town in southern Michigan called Albion."

Her mouth dropped open, and after a moment where it seemed as though she were searching for air, she said, "You are kidding me!? I was raised in Albion!"

Come to find out, her father was my dad's biology teacher! She graduated from Albion College ... same as me! IO TRIUMPHE!

A person travels some 300 plus miles away, and runs into some one from their old hometown. It's a freakin' small world, I tell you!

Friday, August 11, 2006

THE BUMMER ABOUT MOVING AWAY FROM HOME

There are a lot of things that make moving away really fun. The sheer adventure, for one. However, there are a few draw backs.

One of my biggest pet peeves at the moment is not knowing all the shortcuts, ins and outs, and basically, not really having a specific clue about where I'm going.

I know how to get to work. I know how to get to Starbucks (hello! ... there's coffee involved!), and I know how to get to Walmart. But I'm used to not planning how I'm going to get there. I just go. See, I lived in the place I was born and raised. I knew that area like the back of my hand. I didn't have to think about what lane I needed to be in. I just got in it.

Here ... it's a different matter all together. Today for instance ... I told Ann I would pick up the makings for Grilled Pizza after work, if she would stop at her library and pick up some movies (more about that in a moment).

Okay, yes, I will admit that I tried to drive across town on a Friday in August at 5:15 p.m. Yes, I will admit that was a bit of a dumb move. I will further admit that I chose to go THE CONNECTOR (connects the east part of town to the west) straight to 64, a busy highway at that time of night any day, but the numbers are compounded when you add weekend travelers.

I will also sit here with a bit of shame as I fess up to entering Walmart at the exact time as half the population of Frankfort was doing the same, all with long grocery lists, short patience, and recently cashed pay checks.

But it really burned my butt to round the last curve, in a series of curves, in THE CONNECTOR, and see a line of cars the size of Cleveland all waiting to go in the same lane I wanted. CRAP!

So, unwilling to sit in that mess, I drove the indirect route AROUND Walmart to actually get there, narrowly missing cars as I weaved in and out of lanes trying to get into the right ones. They don't do lanes like they do them in the north. It was a fiasco, and, might I add, they don't lay out Walmarts like they do up north. So, I wasted a large amount of time wandering the aisles looking for the few items I needed to make the Grilled Pizza.

By the time I'd fought my way out of Walmart and back on to the main road, I was in no mood to merge with traffic onto 64 ... for fear I might actually drive off the Kentucky Bridge. So, I went out of my way, back to THE CONNECTOR, to get back to Versailles.

I just inherently knew that if you were late for an appointment in Battle Creek, you went over the Washington Street Bridge, or you got caught by a train that was at least 20 minutes long!

It was an automatic thing I knew to do when I hopped in my car, that I didn't want to be in the right lane heading to downtown Jackson, until after I'd passed the old Jacobsen's Store. I didn't have to think about it.

Here, I've got to think ... I've got to plan ... I've got to consult maps ... I've got to look for road signs ... I hate it! I just want to automatically know it.

Oh well ... I guess that's part of the adventure.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

SADIE THE DOG

My mom just called ... she thought my sweet Sadie needed to hear her momma's voice. Seems she was moping around their house.

I almost cried when I heard her sniffing and panting at the phone. I MISS MY SADIE BUG SO MUCH! I get to see her next week! I can't wait.

Oh, I'm looking forward to seeing my parents, too. :)

IT'S RAINING, IT'S POURING ... THE OLD MAN CAN FINALLY COOL OFF

It feels normal around here now ... thermometers are sliding down to normal temps. Gotta love a good ole' fashioned summer rain storm.

As I sit and write this, I'm watching the horses across the road. They are right up at the fence (the closest they've ever been). It doesn't matter that much to them that it's raining; they merely stand under a pine tree and munch. That ... or they were coming down to gawk at the emergency vehicles that just flew past. I fear there's been a bad accident as rescue crews just followed the fire truck ... a good ole' fashioned summer storm creates a bit of chaos on the roads too.

I'm finally getting used to the accents down here. I'm a little ashamed to admit that they were grating on my last nerve all last week. DROVE ME CRAZY!!! It's not a lilting accent like what you might here in South Carolina. This is something all together different, and for what ever reason, it rubbed on my every last nerve. I would sit and stare at the TV just to hear folks talk like I do.

This has me thinking ... does my accent bother them? I had one kid point out to me the other day that I said the word LOCK funny. She tried to repeat it, and she sounded insane. I mean, flat out, gotta be institutionalized, INSANE. MY GOSH! Do I sound insane???? Does our northern accent make people sound deranged?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

BOOBS, BOYS, AND TOBACCO PLANTS

Sixth grade boys have discovered boobs. I'm not sure when this occured, but since they are all talking to mine, I think we can safely assume they have now enter the ranks of manhood as talking to boobs seems to be a constant malady of men.

Now, grant it, my boobs tend to be rather hard to miss, but it makes me a bit sad that these boys, hanging somewhere in between boyhood and manhood, must become so crass so early in life. There's still so much time for that, gentleman. Ah well ... there really is no hope, especially when you consider that grown men still think passing gas is a freakin' riot!

The tobacco plants down here are all turning yellow. I wonder if this is suppose to happen. In Michigan, many farmers grow soy beans, and I know those have to turn brown before they will harvest them. Perhaps the same thing needs to happen with tobacco.

If not, then the tobacco farmers down here have some real issues in the coming days ...

Monday, August 07, 2006

ORANGE CONES ALL AROUND MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE

So, today was almost laughable. I sat in a staff meeting and listened to one of the principals announce to us that for the first time the district was in a serious deficit that would cause the powers to be to look at cuts.

I know, I know, just go ahead and start putting up the orange cones around my professional life!!!! No one came right out and said staffing cuts, but I think a lot people started reading between the lines.

Now, I gotta tell you, that I'm convinced that I'm down here for a reason. Stuff just wouldn't have fallen into place as quickly as it did otherwise. I am second guessing the whole education as a long term career goal, but I believe there is a purpose for me being here in Kentucky.

I sit here, slightly confused, a bit perplexed, and more than a little concerned, but knowing full well that there is a force greater than I working through all this. I will continue to do my job ... do it well ... and move on from there.

More to say about this subject, I'm sure ...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A WORD ABOUT WAFFLE HOUSE

You can't spit without hitting a WAFFLE HOUSE down here. After days of my yapping about what it might be like, Ann and I finally went today for lunch. Let me just tell you, I have my carb quota for the week! There's alotta carbs, baby!

It also was a little disconcerting to watch them make the food in front of you on the grills. I was a little put off by they way they handled some of my food ... kept telling myself, "just don't look ... just don't look." But it was an okay breakfast for lunch. The eggs weren't runny ... the toast was just right ... and the hashbrowns were decent.

Will I go there again? I'm thinking not for a while. But at the very least, my curiousity about WAFFLE HOUSE has been satisfied. I suppose I can knock that off my TO DO list.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

CONQUERING THE BRIDGE AND GETTING THE FUNK

I drove over the narrow bridge on 64 that crosses the Kentucky River. Not a problem! So, I guess, I can safely assume that I've conquered that issue ... it's a non-issue for me.

What is an issue today is the funk ... I've got it. Not the smelly kind, but the kind that causes my throat to be scratchy and my nose to be runny and my eyes to burn. I'm thinking it's allergies. However, just in case, as soon as this is published, I'm heading down stairs to brew an AIRBORNE concoction. I soooo believe in the stuff!

For those of you following my fingerprint/certification sagas, I've got a new installment. Yesterday, I found out that my Kentucky certification arrived at my house in Albion. I had my dad open it up and read it to me over the phone ... I was so excited. That excitement lasted until he read the part that I was only certified K-5! GOOD GLORY! WHAT ARE YOU PEOPLE TRYING TO DO TO ME!?!?!?!?

Now, I spoke with my principal today (she was in the building with the rest of us dedicated educators killing trees with copy machines today), and she said it wasn't any big deal. All the Board (aka, someone at Central Office) needed to do was call the State Dept. and make the change. No biggie.

Hope she's still feeling that way when my fingerprints come back denied, because we all know they will! I'm going for a full dozen times fingerprinted in 2006, and I just betcha I make it too!

On a final note, I will be moving into my townhouse earlier than expected. By August 19th, I should be homeless no more!!! I'M DOING THE HAPPY DANCE .... I'M DOING THE HAPPY DANCE!!!

Friday, August 04, 2006

BUS EVACUATION DUTY

I have survived a week at my new school, which included a lesson in BUS EVACUATION. Yes, you read that correctly. I did, indeed, spell B-U-S E-V-A-C-U-A-T-I-O-N!

Please, if you will, close your eyes and envision 60 plus 6th graders on one bus with three teachers and a frazzled bus driver. Okay, now, add into that mix, a handful of yahoos actively seeking out strategies with which to employ, ensuring that one of us will rip them a new one.

Now, stir in some humid air and a bit of 6th grade funk, and you, my dear readers, have a recipe for disaster, or at the very least, a mild case of STRESS HEADACHE.

The good news is, my students can exit a bus in under 50 seconds ... as long as we are there to make sure no one loses their mind and "acts a fool."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

IT ONLY TOOK THREE DAYS ...

.... yep, three days was all it took for me to put one of those ugly, nasty piles/knots of hair on the top of my head and attempt to pass it off as a good hair day. It's sad, really, but it's so ding-dang hot, and I was just not awake enough this morning to even mess with it. From the ear lobes down, I looked like a million bucks (okay, may $199,995), but from those ear lobes up, I looked like your average, everday street walker.

On the upside, the day was a great one! G-R-R-R-EAT! My third block is going to kick my butt, if I don't kick their's first, but the kids are just such cool kids. Day three, and I'm loving my job!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

BAD OMEN

I should have known when I, literally, poured coffee down my good, clean, vintage white blouse this morning, that it wasn't going to be a stellar day. I just should have known!

If the coffee down the front wasn't bad enough, I recieved an email from my principal saying that the team meeting was in a colleague's room at 8:15 a.m. Right in the middle of my planning time!!!! This would not have been an issue if I'd actually done work last night. However, I was so bone-tired, that I decided I would save it for planning. BIG MISTAKE! I spent the rest of the day pulling stuff out of my butt to teach these kids!

On top of it all, my overhead STILL isn't working, and I'm allergic to chalk ... the back up plan. Now, my throat feels scratchy due to all the dust. If that weren't enough, I'm tired, and I've already had to assign one student to D-Hall (detention), and I can't get into our automated system to post attendance or grades and no one seems to understand why.

Thursday can't be any worse, can it? Wait! Don't answer that. I don't want to know.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

FIRST DAY ON THE JOB

___ Complete my first day as a middle school teacher.

Check.

___ Complete my first day as a middle school teacher without losing blonde hair or causing gray hair to grow.

Check.

___ Complete my first day as a middle school teacher with a smile on my face.

Check.

The first day is done ... under my belt ... baptism by fire. But the fire wasn't bad. Here's one thing I've learned from my first day as a middle school teacher:

Sixth graders are just third graders in big, smelly bodies.

So, we walked down to the gym where ALL the kids were converging (only about 200 or so kids altogether K-8. My very first thought as I walked down?

"My gosh! These kids are all taller than me!"

They introduced us. My principal told everyone I was from Michigan. This seemed to really grab the parents' attention. Everyone seemed to zero in on me ... I was imagining their thoughts:

"Hmmm ... they grow 'em big and hippy in Michigan."

Then I headed down to my room to wait for my homeroom. They were nervous, just like third graders are. We got lockers and combination locks (what a ROYAL PAIN, people!) taken care of, schedules were handed out (looks of terror were then the order of the day as they imagined what 6th grade math might be like ... or science ... or ... or ... ), and then I sent them off.

I began my planning time. Okay, teacher friends, please don't hate me or throw things at your computer, because honestly, there was a HUGE amount of guilt with this, but my planning time??? 72 minutes! Yep, one hour and 12 minutes!

Now, yes, I did felt guilty about it today, as I remembered days as an elementary school teacher of sprinting to the bathroom, doing the potty dance in front of the door while you waited for all the other poor schmucks just like you that had sprinted down there ahead of you, then sprinting to the copier, cursing it for jamming when you only had 12 minutes left and 10,589 copies to make, and then being snagged by no less than six people all needing something ASAP as you rush, winded to your classroom and get the evil stare from the specials teacher because you were late yet again. Oh yes, I felt guilty. Having said that, I think my guilt will last approximately one day. Then I will be feeling really good about those 72 minutes!

Special Reading Group is with 6 girls. They are sweet, and I can't wait to start tapping into their abilities. Reading is a challenge for them, but I know we can make some headway.

Then it was Block I Language Arts. These guys are going to test me. In fact, I had to put the smack down on two of them today, and one of them got my pretty little signature on their Cub Card. One more time, and she will be visiting D Hall (detention). Gotta grab 'em right away, or they'll stomp all over you.

Block II is my best block, I think. These kids are just really sharp! They will keep me on my toes.

Block III ... it's the end of the day. Need I say more? They will be a tough group to keep engaged, so I've got to use all the ammunition I have in my arsenal.

The little dears were off and running by 3:25 p.m., and my day was complete.

Oh, I got to meet one of my kids' parents, and boy was she awesome. We talked about doing a YOUNG AUTHORS contest inconjunction with the Courier Journal (Frankfort's newspaper). It means publishing for the kids that win, and some awesome publicity for Second Street School. Don't you know that I'm going to want to jump on that band wagon. I want to get my kids published!!!!!

A day in the my new life as a middle school language arts teacher. Yep, I think I'm really going to like this.