Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Annals of Fall: First Day of School


We've done it again: We've started the school year.

The Good: I'm pumped about my curriculum and my students. My advisees are adorable. My bosses set a wonderful tone for the year with a calm, positive, and mindful first assembly.  Shef seemed happy and confident to be a "middle of the middle school" seventh grader and finished one spot out of varsity in the cross country run-off. Not bad for a sevie! Mac's teacher is empathetic and caring. When I picked him up, I could already tell he trusted and relied on her. Heart melt.  I mean, really.

The Bad: It's time for the usual exhaustion. This is not a surprise. It's an annual thing.

The Ugly: The humidity isn't doing much for my hair, as you can see in this photo.  Today, I've done a little braid, which I find to be passable. Let's be honest: I'd prefer to be pretty, but passable will have to do.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Back to School: Status Report

back to school, status, award, rating

Classroom: Is a giant pit. I'll be in there all weekend getting things situated and ready to go in time for the sixth grade breakfast on Monday.  That's okay because I'll be alone and uninterrupted, and I'll just get it cranked out. Sometimes that's what has to happen. And so sometimes that's how I do it.  

Curriculum: I'm psyched about it, both for the sixth graders and the sevies. And my second day's lesson plan for the big kids comes straight from the great Lee Heffernan. Gonna be solid.

Psoriasis: Controlled. Knock on wood right this second.  I'll be bathing in Dead Sea Salts while you continue knocking. I appear to have a stye in my eye, but my psoriasis is controlled.

Diet and Exercise: Very poor. 7 Minute Workout and dog walks and that's it.  But, as I keep reminding myself, it's the busiest two weeks of the year, and we just have to keep doing what we can. First things first is get through the annual sixth grade camping trip a week from tonight. Last year I was so tired I almost crapped out right on the field in front of the students.  This year, I'm going to be more chipper. #goals

Overall Rating: Let's go with 3.5 stars.  I've been more on top of it, but I've also been less experienced, confident, and skilled. I'm pretty good at this job.  Let's all remember that.



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Back 2 School: Social Graces

meetings, back to school, bad behavior

I think my problem is that it takes awhile to remember that there are actually other people around.  I'm used to just traipsing around by myself all summer, only having to interact with my own children. And then suddenly, I'm thrust back into a workplace with professional colleagues, many of whom demonstrate top-notch manners and act like confident, respectable adults. 

Okay, so all this is my way of saying that I failed my very first back-to-school meeting.

What happened was my boss was talking about mindfulness.  Obviously I'm down with mindfulness. I have an app and I meditate while soaking in Dead Sea Salts.  I breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. I did a whole six part meditation thing about the power of gratitude. Do you know that the science behind gratitude is solid? It is! I already knew this, way before this morning's faculty meeting. Thinking of things you're grateful for makes you more empathetic and more physically healthy, in addition to helping you make friends and improve your self-esteem. No one could argue with the benefits of gratitude, and certainly, encouraging self-care in the form of gratitude journaling is a really great workplace practice. Even better, in my opinion than free Fitbits.

It was the phrase "gratitude buddies" that made me laugh out loud. BUDDIES. I couldn't help it. BUD-DIES. 

After I disrupted the meeting by laughing out loud, I committed myself fully to gratitude buddies. I'm going to be the best gratitude buddy, and my buddy is going to be so grateful that he has me. I feel like he probably already is.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Movie Review: Jason Bourne

jason bourne, matt damon, review

Let's talk about the movie, Jason Bourne.  It's the latest in my favorite spy action thriller franchise, and it stars my celebrity boyfriend, Matt W. Damon.

Matt Damon's middle name doesn't start with W, I don't think. But, I wanted to feel like I had official information, as a professional reviewer.

Okay, I just checked google, and his middle name is Paige. Now we know.

Anyway, the good news is that the latest Bourne movie exists. The bad news is that it isn't really that good.  Here are some reasons:

  1. The use of shaky cam is excessive, even for Bourne. It's like they couldn't figure out the choreography of the fights or the play-by-play of the car chases; and instead of nailing it down, they decided to go with really tight and blurry shots that might make you dizzy, but that don't make you forget the aforementioned problematic facts.
  2. The story doesn't totally make sense.  Jason is hanging out and making bank by winning street fights.  Then, all of a sudden he's called out of hiding by Julia Stiles who doesn't provide a particularly compelling reason for him to reveal himself. In the trailer Jason says, "I remember everything," but in fact, he doesn't remember much of anything more than he already did.
  3. The Bourne franchise is kind of sexist. Women compromise their professionalism and risk their lives after taking one look at Bourne. I mean, I understand it because Matt W. Damon, but these movie women should have more self control. And then, some of the women also die while Bourne looks at them mournfully as they bleed out. I'm glad Jason is sad, but but I'm disappointed that the women are mostly dead or professionally compromised.
And that's my professional opinion of Jason Bourne. I will now check the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes to see if I've achieved convergence with critics who get paid money for their thoughts. 

Hold please.

Good news: It seems like I agree with many of the critics, most especially this one from NPR.   That's a relief.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

End of Summer: Movie Round Up


movies, summer, movie review, bad moms, me before you, secret life of pets

I decided to do some round-ups of the summer.  Why not? Let's start with movies.  I wanted to see more movies in the theater, and I accomplished that goal.  In fact, I saw 8 movies.  I'm now realizing that naming of the top 5 of 8 seems sort of... well, dubious, I guess.  I only have to cut out three of the movies and then I'm listing, like, the best.

Good news, though: I just looked at my list, and cutting out the three was pretty easy. I cut Ghostbusters, The BFG, and The Angry Birds Movie.  Here are the rest in order of how much I enjoyed them, least to most.

5. Now You See Me 2.  Magic, mayhem, and some good anti-capitalist sentiment.

4. Finding Dory. Family, loyalty, epic bridge crash.

3. Me Before You. I started sobbing midway through, and I couldn't stop.  My friends didn't have the same issue and thus didn't look as wrecked on exiting the auditorium.

2. Bad Moms. I saw this with my mom.  Two hour PTA meetings about bake sales.  LOL because #truth. The message is familiar: Do your best and forget the rest.

1. The Secret Life of Pets. Wicked funny and very sweet.  Let's end with a quote from that fine film: "You aren't doing great, but you aren't drowning and that's something."



Monday, August 8, 2016

Annals of Summer: Sad Letters from Summer Camp


We all know that Camp Foley is the best place on earth. It features endless fun for school-aged children, as evidenced by the iconic letter from Shef we received two years ago. That letter is pictured above, and we store it on our refrigerator.

I feel great about sending my kids to camp.  And, gosh darnit, this feeling could not be dampened by the the letter we got from Mac today.  He says, and I quote, "Dear Mom and Dad, I want to come home I am crying [or dying. I can't really read it]."

Truth be told, I'd be more worried if I hadn't gotten a text from my Camp Director pal, Alli yesterday.  She told me that after three straight days of refusing to dip even a toe into the lake, they sent an assistant director down to coax or coerce him, I don't really care which. Sure enough, he passed the swim test on the first try after flat out refusing to take it for three days and crying and/or dying. The next postcard from Mac better say, "I had so much fun learning to wakeboard."  It better, but I'm not holding my breath.

Mac refusing to take swimming lessons (and my own long chin hairs)

Mac emptying his dresser, item by item. A true classic.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

#NovelSnip: Elizabeth Waits for the Results

novel writing, novel, writing

#NovelSnip is a tiny portion of my fiction writing project. I had a pretty good summer of writing, and I'm taking a break now. I have some other things to do like teaching the youth of America. Or, to be more precise, teaching a minuscule percentage of the youth of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro Area. Still, I'm sharing a little segment of the book, starring Elizabeth Abbott, one of my main characters. Woot! Here it is! Let me know what you think, if you feel like it.

At lunchtime, Elizabeth’s phone pinged the arrival of a text from Helen. “Julian says cast list will be posted at 2:30.”


Elizabeth inhaled sharply, her heart rate rising. While Tracy had been busy doing pull-out enrichment projects with Cirrus, Andrew had tried out for every theater production since sixth grade, He’d once, as an eighth grader, been cast as Ticket Seller #2 in some incomprehensible show about a shipwreck. Still, Elizabeth and Henry had built sets on a Saturday and hosted the end-of-run cast party, and the very next year Andrew had been rewarded for her efforts by being assigned the role of the Prop Master.


Of course, she’d been livid.  Nonetheless, she’d gritted her teeth and smiled when Mr. Derus complimented Andrew’s impeccable organization after opening night.  “He found all of it!” Mr. Derus gushed.  “Even the emerald-green, size-11 pumps!”  Of course, Elizabeth herself had scoured every second-hand store in the greater Liston area to get her hands on those asinine shoes.  Who’s ever heard of a high school girl - a thin one at that! - with size 11 feet? And with an untrained alto?  In a lead role?  


At the Percys’ holiday party she’d put a bug in the Faculty Staff Parent Guardian Alliance chair’s ear about Priya’s faults as a romantic heroine.  “She was four inches taller than Allen,” she’d hissed. “Of course,” she clarified,  “I’m 100%  in favor of a multi-racial lead couple.”


Henry’d placed a protective and warning arm around her shoulder in the lobby of the auditorium after the conclusion of Witches Over Willow Street.  “Andrew sure is multi-talented, Mr. Derus,” Elizabeth’s husband said warmly, offering a handshake.  “And congratulations on a fabulous show.”  Henry steered Elizabeth toward the coat-rack, rubbing her shoulder in a calming, clockwise pattern.

This year’s show, Ellis Island, had a perfect mid-sized role for Andrew, who had dutifully taken voice and dance lessons every week through the summer.  Meanwhile, she’d ingratiated herself to Allen Song’s mother at the juice bar after hot yoga. Melanie had breezily offered Elizabeth the Publicity Coordinator position on the Theater Booster Board.  And now this, quite simply, had to be Andrew’s moment.  As a junior, the time was right for the part of Inspector, with a short vocal solo and several humorous lines.  As a senior then, he’d be primed to headline just in time for college application season.  2:30 couldn’t come soon enough.