29 July 2008


That's the number of miles I will have traveled this summer to my various destinations. In a word, I'm tired. But the beauty of blogs is that I don't have to use just one word. Because I'm also full of new memories, I'm enriched, I made new friends (some of whom were my students!), I have new perspectives, I've laughed a lot, I tried new foods, I have lots of gorgeous pictures, I learned new phrases (tuanis!), and my passion for travel is as strong as ever. I know I still need to recap (and post pictures) from VA, San Fran, NYC, and Nicaragua, and I will... just not now. I have one more trip this weekend to my cousin's wedding in Chattanooga, TN (the miles of which have been added prematurely to the total above). Oh yeah, and I'm moving on Wednesday and Thursday before I leave on Friday morning. So, I'm still alive, just not up for full posts yet. Be back next week!

13 July 2008

Mad Men

Is anyone watching Mad Men? I'd heard about it, especially when it won the Golden Globe for best drama tv series, but I'd never actually seen it. The fact that it's on AMC can't help the show garner viewers - I feel like the only time people turn on AMC is to get their Katherine Hepburn fix and then move on to Bravo or Food Network or whatever it was they were watching before. But maybe because it's on AMC, it can take risks that it couldn't on network TV.
Anyway, I was on a flight from San Francisco to New York on Virgin America (which not as great as it's hyped to be, by the way) two weeks ago, and I watched the first two episodes during the in-flight entertainment. And that was it - I was hooked. As in, order-the-season-from-Amazon-the-next-day kind of hooked. Set in 1960, it revolves around the office of a Madison Avenue advertising firm. The writing is incredible, the nostalgia is fun without overlooking the faults of the period (plus the furniture is so hot!), and the characters are unbelievably complex, with all of the protagonists seriously flawed. The next season starts in late July, and now that I've caught up on Season 1, I'm really looking forward to it.

08 July 2008

Home Sweet Home

I'm back home from two more weeks spent on the road. It was a marathon trip, first to the DC area for my cousin's wedding, then to San Francisco for a conference, then to NYC to visit friends -- all consecutively. This summer my blog is being transformed into a travelogue of sorts, except that I'm much too tired to recount all of it right now, wonderful though it was (and I haven't uploaded my pictures - what's a travelogue without pictures?).
Instead, I'm just appreciating being home, at my parents' house, in my old bedroom, with all the familiar sights and sounds and smells that come along with it. Ordinarily, I might not be all that pleased with this living situation, even if it is just for the summer. But right before I left for my trip, my parents told my brothers and me that they are putting our house on the market this fall. After 24 years of familiarity, economic forces are thrusting my family into the unfamiliar.
I've run the gamut of emotions - from sadness, to nostalgia, to anger, and back through the circle again. It's amazing when you realize how many memories are tied to a specific place; perhaps even more amazing how much you take that place for granted until confronted with the possibility of it not being there anymore.
Every week, my pastor sends out an email, and I will confess, I don't always take the time to read it. But the week my parents told us about the house, his email was titled, "Coming Home," so of course, my interest was piqued. Here is a brief highlight...

For a few folks, “home” is the only place they’ve ever known...
But “home” is also the perfect metaphor for something that goes deeper than people and places. Frederick Buechner described “the home we knew and will always long for” and “the home we dream of finding and for which we also long.”

Does it still completely suck? Absolutely. Am I still sad, and frustrated, and a little bit bitter? Of course. And will the day we actually move be one of the hardest days of my life? Undoubtedly. Still, it was a much-needed reminder for me that home really is deeper than people and places... particularly places for me right now. Trying to imagine something like Christmas morning not in my house seems unfathomable, but at least the joy and meaning of Christmas will remain a constant.

23 June 2008


It's confirmed: I'm still obsessed. The Scotland trip was awesome. Despite plenty of logistical issues with our AWFUL tour company, EF Tours (nevernevernever use them!), the kids had a fantastic time and so did we. I revisited some of my favorite places, saw some new favorites, and even sampled the nightlife as other chaperones held down the fort. Our guide, Andrew, and I became fast friends, much to my students' delight (I felt like I had 7 younger siblings on the trip - it was kind of cute), but for the record, we are just friends. More than anything, it has rekindled a desire to move there in two years (after Brendan graduates high school) and teach for at least a year. Of course everything will depend on circumstances at that point in my life, but if things are anything like they are now, it will happen.

So here are some highlights, observations, and tidbits from the trip...
- Everyone thought I was crazy for traveling with a big group of kids, but I'll tell you what -- For every 1 complaint from the kids, we heard 7 from adults
- Latitudinally speaking, Scotland is just a little south of Alaska. Being that far north means that the sun goes down REALLY late (almost midnight) and comes up really early (before 5am) in the summer.
- I was told (by a Glaswegian, of course) that Edinburgh is for tourists and Glasgow is for real Scots.
- Sandy Bell's is still my favorite bar in the whole world.
- I have a new affinity for Belhaven and Leffe beers
- Having a tour guide with a sense of humor, humility, and the ability to get along with crazy kids and cranky moms beats a tour guide who knows 57 random facts about every small town you drive through.
- RIP, Tim Russert. We didn't know he'd died until 3 days later. The news, especially in this election year, will never be the same.
- Wisdom from our Edinburgh guide about sneezes: "Me mother used to say: 1's a wish, 2's a kiss, 3's a cold, and 4's a pint."
- In the U.S., people holding signs that say "free hugs" and hugging people on the street might seem pretty creepy. In Edinburgh, it's just part of life.
- A "half 'n half" is a 1/2 pint (or a "hay pint") of beer and 25 cl of scotch (slightly less than a full shot) and is my new favorite way to get drunk.
- The highlands of Scotland, especially on the coast, are unbelievably cold, even in June. If (when) I move there, it will have to be one of the cities a bit further south.
- Spam-a-lot is hillarious even though if you've seen Monty Python, you've heard all the jokes before
- When you miss your new puppy, every dog you see reminds you of him

And here are some picture highlights... See facebook for a still-edited, but much larger selection

The gorgeous view from Stirling Castle

I wasn't kidding about the cold - and remember, it's summertime!

Plant group braving the cold for a picture in our matching shirts

Lighthouse in MacDuff, Scotland, where we stayed for 3 nights

Touching the North Sea in St. Andrews, Scotland

Our whole tour group with Edinburgh Castle in the background

Sandy Bell's was just as wonderful as I remembered it being

Andrew being a gentleman and helping out Grey Friar's Bobby in the rain

When the monuments even offer free hugs, it's hard to say no

02 June 2008


1 day till our superfun end-of-the year luncheon at Channelside
2 days till I give my last exams of the year
3 days till I take the end of my teacher certification exams
4 days till true freedom
5 days till I start packing
6 days till I start totally freaking out about the fact that in...
7 days, I'm going to Scotland!!!

A colleague and I are taking a group of 10 kids to Scotland and London for a week and a half. Scotland is my most favorite place in the world. I've been three times (August 01, November 01, and March 03), and I am SO excited to go back. Here's a preview of what we'll do/see...

29 May 2008

Year 2 Retrospective

Today was the last full day of classes. Underclass exams start tomorrow morning; Graduation is tomorrow afternoon. My original plan when I started this gig was to teach for 3 years. Which would mean I'm 2/3 of the way through my career as a teacher. It was a year of incredible professional growth for me, teaching a new subject (Government) to a new grade level (FRESHMEN), being asked to serve on numerous committees, planning and running a camp for rising freshmen this summer, working on a $2.04M grant, sponsoring a club (Youth in Government), and agreeing to sponsor the Senior Class next year. And all of that on paper is great, but what did I learn? Rather than specifics (we know how good I am at keeping a journal/blog), here's a general idea...

- I still have a hard time not laughing when I'm not supposed to
- The classes that drive me the craziest are the ones I secretly like the best (3rd and 8th this year)
- I have a total soft spot for kids who screw up and try to redeem themselves
- The unplanned moments are the best
- Teachers don't get paid enough, even if we do get our summers off
- A 10-minute game of "Heads Up 7 Up" is enough to bribe good behavior out of kids for a week
- I'm still scared of calling parents
- The College Board is a total scam (I'll dedicate an entire post to this in a year when I have tenure. In the meantime, I'll keep my comments off my public blog - but I'm happy to talk about it in person)
- I don't ever want to teach AP (see previous bullet)
- You're always a teacher whether it's 9am Monday morning or 11pm Friday night
- I love teaching freshmen
- I still have a hard time saying no. But...
- Being asked to participate in grants and serve on committees is incredible gratifying and humbling (I'll probably revisit this comment in a few years when I'm burned out from all of it)
- Not everyone is cut out for this job
- A job that doesn't make you cry every once in awhile isn't worth having
- Teaching 6 classes a day is infinitely harder than teaching 5
- If my county was in the Northeast, we would have gone on strike this year
- Having friends to eat lunch with makes all the difference
- It's really hard to not take things personally
- SMARTboards are so cool
- I think Ben Franklin's quote should be modified to read "Coffee is proof that God loves teachers"
- I'll take a thoughtful gift (like a pen that plays quotes from the Office!) and a heartfelt note from a student over a $50 gift certificate any day
- Friday afternoon "faculty meetings" are essential
- I think I'm going to be doing this a lot longer than 3 years...

27 February 2008

PR Finale!!!!

Ohhh I almost forgot to post - Project Runway finale tonight!!!! My mom has warned my dad and brother to steer clear of the living room or face the wrath of the fashion gods. Final predictions - Rami vs. Chris - Rami. I *really* want it to be Chris, but Rami has bored me to tears all season, and the judges have still kept him, which makes me think they really like him, so unless he comes out with 12 draped pieces of bs (which I doubt he will after the beating he took at the end of the Met episode), I think they'll pick him over Chris. Even though I love love love Chris. So then final predictions, I'm going to say 1. Jillian 2. Christian 3. Rami. I think Jillian might pull it out. I think the only thing that has held her back this season has been time, and since they were able to go home and do it, I think she'll be fine. Even though I love Chris and Christian personality-wise, I love Jillian's aesthetic the most out of everyone left, so this is probably an emotional pick, but I'm sticking with it. :-) I should also put the disclaimer in here that mom told me that she peeked online at the collections (I've been resisting because I SO want to be surprised) and said Christian's was just so-so. Otherwise, I probably would have put him first. Regardless, it's been an awesome season, especially after what I thought was such a catty (off the runway) and dull (on the runway) season last year. The only thing I'm sad about is that we'll have to wait another year before we get to see it again!

Finally, an update

I was doing SO well with the regular blogging, of course it couldn't last. I've been super lame and not posted in over two weeks. Sheesh. In my defense, I've been busy... here's what's been going on:

Youth in Government trip to Tallahassee was a-w-e-s-o-m-e. Not sure why I felt the need to "spell" that out, except to emphasize how awesome it really was. I was none too pleased I'd be giving up Ericka's single-peeps Valentine's Day party and part of a 3 day weekend to play chaperone to 15 kids (out of 400 from around the state) in Tallahassee for 3 days. But by 10am the first morning, I was texting my co-workers back at school with a play-by-play of what our kids were doing on the House and Senate floors. I was totally hooked. Anyone who is worried about the future of America needs to come to a YiG convention and watch these kids present, debate, and pass laws. By the way, only three bills made it through the Senate and the House, and were signed by the Governor, and one of them was one of my kids'. Can you tell I'm proud?

I made a webpage for my class last weekend. I realize this is a profit vs. non-profit comparison, and therefore maybe not very fair, but the blogger system is infinitely easier to use than the program we have. I spent 5 hours at the class, and came out with barely a skeleton of a page. So frustrating. No wonder a lot of teachers use blogger and other sites instead of the ones we're supposed to.

I'm taking a personal finance class on Wednesday nights. I'm not listing details, but seriously... it's been a wake-up call. At first in a scary way, though now I'm seeing it as definitely a good thing. I'm 26 and I've never made a budget before. Is that ridiculous? At first I thought so, but I'm also the youngest person in the class by probably 15 years, so maybe it's just the state of America today (no but really, it's still ridiculous). Anyway, I'm hoping to be on my way to better financial management in 4 weeks... wish me luck.

Upcoming excitement in the form of Spring Training and St. Patty's is approaching and I couldn't be more thrilled. My parents and I have a long-standing tradition of skipping school/work on Yankees Opening Day and going to the game... but our ticket connection ended last year (long story), and for the first time, we won't be doing it. I'm trying to make myself feel a little better by thinking about the fact that it's on a Sunday this year, so the thrill of taking the day off for such frivolity wouldn't be there anyway... but I'm still bummed. I did score a couple of great tickets to some Phillies games and will hopefully get some Yankees ones, too (just not opening day). Nothing says spring like drinking beer and watching baseball with the snowbirds.

I'm headed to Savannah to visit for St. Patrick's Day, which should make for a ridiculous time. Everyone who hears I'm going who has been before seems to be very excited, so that's a good sign. Bagpipers, here I come...

09 February 2008

arrrgghh, gasparilla! (run)

I ran the Gasparilla 5K this morning, and despite not really being in shape to do it well (and therefore having to stop 4 times to stretch my calf muscles), I had a lot of fun. I decided not to care about how I finished, if I had to walk (or stop to stretch), etc... and it ended up being the most fun one I've done. I saw a lot of students and friends, and just had a great time, which is really why I signed up in the first place, so it was perfect. The first person I saw when I crossed the finish line was my friend and coworker, Mike, so that made it even better. Seann and his fiance Elizabeth came in town to run the 5K (both of them) and the half marathon tomorrow (him). Poor Elizabeth is waking up at 4am with him to get ready and head down for the marathon; I'm compromising by meeting her at 7:30 with coffee and bagels to watch him finish. I think that's pretty fair. When marathonfoto puts up their pics, I'll try to put one up here.

05 February 2008

cheers and jeers

- planning a girls weekend in Miami at the end of the month
- running podcasts on iTunes.  especially Podrunner and Techno Sweat Workouts.  I highly recommend them - and the best part is, they're FREE!
- this article on NYTimes.com
- Bill and Ted's excellent surrogate showdown (I'm squarely in Ted's corner) and all the fun this Super Tuesday brought
- apartmenttherapy.com.  Have I mentioned how obsessed I am with this site?  No, really...
- my lunch bunch at school.
- long weekend this weekend (hallelujah!)
- national signing day tomorrow, and one of my kids is going to Wake! 
- Nana comes tomorrow!

- stressing about money, especially for over the summer
- The new parking lot at my gym with teeeeeny tiny spaces, when everyone (but me) drives an SUV (I know, if that's my biggest issue, I'm probably doing okay... but it's the little things).
- This article on NYTimes.com
- cooking for one person.  I'm not good at it... not to mention, it's not very fun.
- giving up my other long weekend in February to chaperone a school trip to Tallahassee

04 February 2008

"we do what we do"

It's not the natural order of things, parents burying their children.  In the midst of a sad weekend, we were comforted by words from Tony Dungy, as friends who just lost their baby daughter asked the question, how do we get through this?  Dungy's answer: "We do what we do."  
We love, we cry, we hug, we cry some more, and we keep loving, keep calling, keep supporting... we do what we do.

Rest in peace, sweet baby Andrea

01 February 2008


There's nothing I love more than fresh flowers in my apartment, but I've been having a hard time lately reconciling my love of flowers with my concern about the environmental costs of importing them, so this winter I decided to grow paperwhites.  Now, in full disclosure, the bulbs came from Israel, but somehow I felt better about having flowers growing in my apartment rather than ones with stems cut that would die in a week (baby steps, I know).  After weeks of the bulbs sitting in a paper bag in my fridge, then a few more just sitting in the pot, I was reconsidering the decision I'd made of buying mine at Home Depot, instead wishing I'd ordered from White Flower Farm, like I did for Jill before Christmas.  But finally, right as I'd almost given up hope, the green stalks poked out, and now the sweet scent permeates my apartment.  Mmm... if only they bloomed all year instead of just in the winter.  Here's the one in my kitchen (the one in the bedroom has sadly already finished blooming)...

22 January 2008

Modern Design + Affordable Art = Love

Check out this sweet page on Etsy by local Tampa artist (didn't know there were any? think again), Jen Renninger.  I bought the Eames lounger print for Chip for Christmas and met Jen, who is as lovely as her art, to pick up the print.  Needless to say, he LOVED it.  I'm currently coveting the Eames rocker and the Saarinen chair... for $25 a pop, it's certainly more doable than the real thing.  

21 January 2008

A template post today

Ten years ago: 16, junior in high school.  Had just gone to Israel over Winter Break, which was incredible.  Things coming up that semester were Gasparilla, college trip for Spring Break (including first trip to Wake), taking the AP US History exam (which seemed like the biggest deal in the world then so I had to include it), Beach Week at Indian Rocks (a bit of a bust, which made us determined to make it amazing the next year... and we did).  

Five years ago: 21, living on the Grand Canal in Venice during my second stint in Casa Artom, this time as an employee.  Had been there for 2-3 weeks, still settling in and getting to know everyone.  The next two and a half months were some of the most fun times of my life.  

One year ago: Had just made it through my first semester of teaching, was feeling more settled and comfortable with my subjects and my students.  Had just started with two new Sociology classes and a new Psychology class.  I almost gave the Psych class up because I didn't want another prep, but it's a good thing I didn't because it ended up being my favorite group of kids so far.  Getting ready for Gasparilla coming up and trying to figure out a strategy for how to not see all my students there.

Yesterday: Slept a lot, making up for staying out laaate Friday for Shannon's wedding and meeting Nancy out at New World after.  All four teachers went as each others' dates and we had SUCH a fun night, as you can see from the pictures...

Right now: Enjoying my day off by being a lazy bum.  Trying to motivate to go to the gym, the dry cleaners, and the grocery store, but none of that has happened yet.  So I'm procrastinating by blogging instead... :-)

19 January 2008

The Monster in my Livingroom

I inherited a TV this week from a coworker whose husband had just gotten a fancy new HD one.  I took it sight unseen, hearing that it was a 36" flatscreen.  Let me be careful in how I phrase this,  because the TV is actually really great.  However, the box itself is about 2 1/2 feet deep and about 3 feet wide, including the side speakers.  I'm sure I'll get used to it, but so far I feel like it kind of takes over my living room (I keep my TV on a credenza, not in an armoire).  I can't decide if it's because of the placement, so I'm considering rearranging so it's against a bigger wall that will make it look a little smaller.  But for now, it just seems kind of monstrous... 

15 January 2008

I Didn't Get It

Sherlyn, Esther, and I saw Atonement this past weekend at the Tampa Theatre.  I have seen some great movies lately - Juno, Charlie Wilson's War, and Enchanted (ok, I'll clarify: Juno was amazing, Charlie Wilson's War was good but a little fluffier than I thought it should have been, and Enchanted was cute, but I got sick of Amy Adams by the end).  Anyway, I can't say that Atonement fits anywhere near the great category.  And yet, the night after I saw it, it won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama.  I think the biggest problem I had with the movie is that I just didn't care about the characters - I just knew that I didn't like one of them (won't give away which one).  I also didn't understand the depth of the relationship between Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.  All of that made it really hard to follow and really care about.  But as if that wasn't bad enough, I could not for the life of me understand what the actors were saying to each other.  The British accents were part of it, but the real problem (and this pains me to say it because I love the Tampa Theatre so much) was that the sound was absolutely awful.  Sherlyn and Esther said the same thing as we were leaving the theater, and as we talked, it occurred to me that I think every movie I've seen there either a) I've seen before or b) was a foreign film (so it had subtitles).  So I wonder if that's why I've never noticed it before.  Anyway, I still think the movie sucked, but the sound issue sure didn't help.  

13 January 2008

She's Crafty...

Who's crafty, you ask?  My mom, that's who.  A few months ago I bought some Porch/Tomato Branchberry fabric on sale (and it still is!) from Maine Cottage (here's a link to their fabrics, I couldn't get one directly to the one I bought).  It was cute and inexpensive, but it was essentially an impulse buy - I knew it would go well with my couch, but actually executing a design was another story.  Enter my mom, sewer extraordinaire, with her Bernina.  She figured out a pattern, I picked out a contrasting navy to use for the cording, and we were off (and I even did some of the sewing!).  

A few hours later, I went from this...

To this...

And here's a pillow up close*

*side note: does anyone know how to rotate a picture in blogger?  I have it saved vertically (when I open it, it automatically opens vertically), but it keeps getting put into blogger as a horizontal picture :-(

10 January 2008

Is Keeping a Blog Vain?

This semester, I have 5 new classes - 3 American Government and 2 Sociology (in addition to my 1 year-long American History course).  At the start of the semester, I always have my kids write me a letter telling me a little about themselves, what they like and don't like about school, what they hope to learn in the class, etc.  The group of kids I have this semester wrote me probably the most interesting, personal letters I've ever gotten.  I wish I could share some here, but I'm afraid they'd be too identifiable (you know, in case the 2-3 of you who read this happen to know those kids).  But one I can share is from a girl wrote this:
"I really like to write.  I don't keep a journal, or a blog or anything (because that's so vain), I just write stuff down when I feel like it."

Of course strains of Carly Simon popped into my head at Starbucks as I was reading the letter, and I couldn't help but laugh as I considered the irony of the fact that I'd just started to blog again.  :-)

09 January 2008

Awkward, hilarious, and... rather clever

It would seem to me that all of those separations in the mattress would actually be uncomfortable, but apparently "The Love Mattress" is actually quite comfortable... and it's winning design awards, to boot.   My only beef with it: even though the website says you can put a "bed linen" (have we gotten to cool for the word "sheets"? seriously) on it, I'm a little skeptical of how that might work... which begs the question, how do you clean it???  But all of that aside, you have to admit the concept is pretty clever.

08 January 2008

New Year, New Blog

When I got my Mac, Jill said it would be just a matter of time before I started blogging again... it's been 4 months since I've gotten it, and it looks like she's right (as usual).  :-)

I'm way too tired for a full update right now, but I'll do my best...

I haven't been the best at keeping in touch with people the past couple of years (or updating a blog - I can't believe how long it's been!), so here's an introduction, or reintroduction as the case may be.  

I'm still teaching... still loving it, albeit with eyes a bit less starry.  I have 101 stories about the funny or amazing things my kids have done and probably only 5 about the things that have really let me down, so I feel like that's a pretty good ratio.

I'm still living in Tampa, in a lovely garage apartment ("carriage house," if I feel like sounding fancy :-)) down the street from my family (yes, the same street).  I've been in this apartment since April 07, and I absolutely love it, though it's still a work in progress.  I'll post pictures someday.  

I'm still single, and more at peace with that status that I have been maybe ever.  I laugh with my kids (students) when they tell me I better get married before I get too old, instead of going home and fretting about it - which I would have done not so long ago.  Just because a lot of my friends are getting married (and having babies - yikes!), doesn't mean that's what I'm supposed to be doing right now.  

Friends have come in and out of my immediate vicinity, and the leaving part is never fun or easy, but it's happened enough in the past 5 years that I'm realizing that they don't leave my life... unless I get lazy, which is a really lame reason.  So I'm trying to be better about that.

2007 was a year of some great highs (especially trips... to Connecticut, NYC, DC a few times, Toronto, Niagara Falls, the Maryland Shore, Northern Virginia and Charlottesville, all over NC, Charleston, Savannah, and last but not least, Italy), some tough lows (loved ones passing away, dear friends moving away, other dear friends hurting), and just some blahs after a pretty great 2006.  I'm hoping 2008 will be a year of rejuvenation, of looking forward, and of celebration (6 weddings and 2 births on the calendar... and counting).  Cheers!