Friday, October 31, 2008

Hawaii Can Be Scary Too

For Friday Foto, the Halloween edition, I thought I'd share a non-tropical, not exactly paradise, side of living in Hawaii. Sunday we had the rare occasion of my husband and I both having the same day off. So we went to town and had pupus (appetizers) with our two teens in a very nice restaurant with a view of the harbor and sunset. The happy hour in the lounge is very reasonable, the food is great, and the view is outstanding. On the way out I stopped to use the restroom, and when I went to wash my hands, this fellow came crawling out of the drain and scared the bejeezus out of me. Before you get to thinking the restaurant should get shut down, let me tell you that cockroaches are a dime a dozen over here, especially in Waikiki. Some are bigger than this guy - and, oh yeah, they can fly.

We also have a lot of problems, probably like most places, with crime. Especially teen crime. I live on the dry side of the island where they have been building all the new homes for the last 15 years. So, demographically, we have the highest concentration of 12-21 year olds. A year and a half ago our house was burglarized and they took all my jewelry, most of it irreplacable gifts from relatives no longer living. Yesterday, while I was having a hell day at work, my kids took my car and went swimming at Port Lock - a million dollar plus neighborhood. Despite my alarm on my car, it was broken into by smashing out the passenger window. The police said teen gangs have been hitting that area a lot. It took the police 2 hours to make a report and the officer told my kids it was because 8 cars had been hit in the area in the same way that day. The teens in gangs also graffitti everything. Overpasses, bridges, fences, you name it. Even stuff out in the middle of the fields where I walk. Like this.

Happy Halloween. Be safe. Have Fun.
For more Friday Fotos, see Candid Carrie.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'd like to thank my mother.............

My blogger friend, Smart Mouthed Broad, from Words of Wisdom from a Smart Mouthed Broad, presented me with this wonderful award. I accept with great humilty, and am not sure if I am up to the pressure. But hey. It's all good.

The rules, if I choose to accept this award, and it looks like I'm going for it, are:

  1. The award may be displayed on the recipient's blog.

  2. Add a link to the person from who you received the award.

  3. Nominate up to seven other blogs.

  4. Add their links to your blog.

  5. Send a message to each of those you awarded to tell them about the award.

I'm going to follow Smart Mouth's lead and try not to award anyone who has already received this prestigious honor.

Hope you get a chance to visit one of these great blogs. Thanks Smart Mouth!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kindergartners. Just ten years later.

Vodka Mom always has the best blogs about her kindergarten students. Five year olds say the cutest things. Absolutely precious. A recent post featured the first fifteen minutes of the day with all the exuberance and innocence one would imagine from these delightful creatures. While posting a comment on her blog, it occurred to me that my students, 10th graders, had only ten years ago been that cute and innocent. I commented casually that I should write down what I hear and see in my classroom and we could compare. Then Vodka Mom encouraged me to go through with it.

The following is a cross section of the first five minutes of four different classes, plus walking onto campus. The names have been changed to protect the little darlings.

Walking onto campus 45 minutes before school starts. I come through the back stairwell and a male student has a female student plastered against the wall. If they didn’t have their clothes on, one would assume birth control would be necessary.

Hey! Knock it off.

No separation, but dirty looks in my direction.

Seriously. You two need to get out of here.

No separation. Dirtier looks in my direction.

I have a digital camera in my purse and I’m not afraid to use it. Do I need to show your mothers a picture of what you are doing?

Girl looks freaked out (finally), but boy looks like he would gladly slice my throat.

Between first bell and tardy bell:

(Jan) Do you know how much the health room charges for a pad? (Me) Sorry, no. But do you need a pass to the health room to go get one? (Jan) What if I don’t have enough money? (Me) I guess you have to work that out with the health room aid. (Sadie)Hi Miss. Are we going to work on our poems today? (Bill) Why do we have to write poems? It’s not my thing. (Bob)I’m going to put a shriek bat in my poem. Miss, do you know what a shriek bat is? Do you play blah blah video game? (James) Why would you put a shriek bat in your poem? You’re supposed to write a poem about yourself. (Bob) EXCUSE ME. Maybe some of us are using similes and metaphors like we are supposed to. (James) Oh, my bad, you are so like a shriek bat. (Tom) Your mother's like a shriek bat. (Lily) Miss, can you sign my permission form? I’m going to be a tour guide for the students who are visiting from Japan next week. (Marie, Tilly, Helen, Fred, Kent – all digging into their backpacks or binders) OH! Me too. Me too. My form too. (Darlene) Hi Miss. I just got back from our family reunion. Do you have my work from last week? (Me) Darlene, review the make-up policy and come to see me in tutoring after school. Class, the tardy bell will ring in about 30 seconds. You need to be seated at that time. (Donald) Can I get a drink of water? (Me) Do I ever give you permission to be late to my class? (Ronald) Can I use the bathroom? (Me) Do I ever give you permission to be late to my class? Class. That IS the tardy bell. You can use the ten minutes of SST to study for your quiz. (Susie, Bobbie, and Chad)What Quiz?? (Me) The one that has been posted on the board and on my website for the last week. I’d like to remind you all that if you don’t know what is going on in class, you shouldn’t announce it. (Sadie) Miss. Lynn is crying in the hall. (Me, outside in hall) Lynn – are you OK? (Lynn, balling her eyes out) Miss, can I go to the health room? (Me) Of course. But are you OK? Do I need to call for a security cart to drive you? (Lynn) No. Snuffle. My boyfriend broke up with me just now. I can’t go to class like this. I need to lie down.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Staying Home

The weekend looms ahead with piles of poems to grade and next week's lessons to plan. In my free time I am planning on volunteering by making phone calls for this man.

Who is running with this man.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Foto

That's my boy.
For more Friday Foto's visit Candid Carrie's.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Parts from My Past

To all who sent me internet well wishes - thank-you very much. I'm guessing it's powerful stuff, those internet good vibes. It appears I am migraine free since yesterday after struggling with a kick ass of a headache since last Thrusday.

I'd like to invite you to visit my sister's blog today. She has a post that I wish I had written about our maternal grandfather. With my favorite picture of my grandparents taken back in the day when they were quite social in Duluth, Minnesota.

My sister gave me a book of poetry for my birthday in 1994. As I have been working with my students on writing narrative poems the last two weeks, I broke out some books to look through for poems I could share with them. This particular poem was my favorite back then, when I was a spritely 36 years old. But I found it even more relevant to me today, fourteen years later. The poetry anthology is I am Becoming the Woman I Wanted.

Finding Her Here
Jayne Relaford Brown

I am becoming the woman I've wanted,
grey at the temples,
soft body, delighted,
cracked up by life
with a laugh that's known bitter
but, past it, got better,
knows she's a survivor-
that whatever comes,
she can outlast it.
I am becoming a deep
weathered basket.

I am becoming the woman I've longed for,
the motherly lover
with arms strong and tender,
the growing up daughter
who blushes surprises.
I am becomig full moons
and sunrises.

I find her becoming,
this woman I've wanted,
who knows she'll encompass,
who knows she's sufficient,
knows where she's going
and travels with passion.
Who remembers she's precious,
but knows she's not scarce-
who knows she is plenty
plenty to share.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wordless Wednesday #4

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

Having a little bit of trouble keeping up with life of late. Work, migraines, some bummer stuff too. I haven’t been able to keep up with my online reading like usual. But I thought I’d pass on some links to some good stuff.

Abstraction has an amazingly good post about body image.

Meagan at I Kicked Cancer’s Ass always inspires me. She’s a young cervical cancer survivor who is also finishing law school. She’s opened a coffee bean site, Get the Bean, and she’s got contests going on over there. She also fundraisers for various cancer causes.

Joan Didion, one of my all time favorite authors, has a great article over at Salon, Election by Sound Bites.

Don’t Worry It’s Only a Movie had the video clip of Powell up before I was finished watching it on the news.

And of thistles and maple leaves had a link to a friend who had a friend who had the link to this a great little test. It’s called your political compass and after answering some very pointed questions about important issues, it shows you where you are placed in a political spectrum. I was pleased to see I landed in the general area as Gandhi and the Dalai Lama. Quite interesting and a reprieve from the blue and red counterpoints going on in American politics.

And speaking of politics a little, I found a new blog, UppercaseWoman, where there is a wonderful post of a first hand account of "health" (John McCain's air quotes - not mine) issues a woman might have that would cause her to seek to terminate a pregnancy.

I’m probably putting up melancholy pictures the rest of the week.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mr. Bojangles...

I want to do a post on pharmaceuticals. It’s just such a huge topic for me and I’m overwhelmed with how to break it into bite size pieces. Plus, there are so many perspectives. From just me alone. My insights, ideas, and gut reactions are multi-tiered, multilayered, paradox pilings.

Tip of the iceberg:

  • Gratitude for the good they can do. I remember what it was like to suffer from migraine headaches before Imitrex or Maxalt came along. There were days when I would lay in bed and imagine the back of my head was going to explode and create a fierce artwork on the headboard. I even think I might have wished for it when the headaches got unbearable. I’m also grateful for the advances in cancer treatments and know the data showing that my rounds of chemotherapy and radiation will increase my odds of the cancer not metastasizing or returning.

  • Skepticism. The pharmaceutical industry runs too much like a capitalistic monstrosity with their moral compass equivalent to that of Wall Street and our financial institutions. It seems that since it is not very good business practice to keep us completely healthy and balanced, the goal is to get using as many prescribed drugs as possible. One med helps one thing, but throws off another. Like dominoes.

  • Distrust. Physicians seem a little too much in bed with the pharmaceutical companies. They partake of A LOT OF FREE STUFF. I’m really not comfortable with the fact that when I go to the doctor’s office, the sign in sheet clipboard, the pen, the calendar on the wall – pretty much everywhere you look is marketing of pharmaceuticals. I mean, don’t the doctors make enough money to pay for their own, non-merchandizing, office supplies? My radiologist looked perplexed when I mentioned this to him.

  • Disapproval. More on the physicians/pharmaceutical inappropriate relationship. I put myself through college, grad school, and the first 6 years of teaching by waitressing (teaching alone wasn’t paying enough). In my last gig, an upscale fine-dining restaurant, the banquet room was often booked for pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical reps invite the docs and their wives, order an expensive four course meal, plus cocktails and wine, and then while the docs are eating, they put on a presentation. That was over 10 years ago, but friends who are managers and event planners tell me the pharmaceutical companies still book the most expensive parties. It’s the docs equivalent to prom.

My friends and I were sitting around discussing the likes of these dilemmas the other day. One friend was saying that her doctor wanted to put her on meds for high cholesterol. The doctor was poo pooing the idea that supplements (like flax seed) or holistic approaches would make any difference. She has since started going to a naturopath.

I go to my medical doctors. I have shopped around and have an excellent team of physicians that I like and trust. But I also go to an acupuncture clinic and physical therapy for my recovery. Right now, I can’t afford the naturopath because my insurance won’t cover it.

So, I can’t even get started on the insurance companies.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Since snorkling was out of the question, we went for a walk instead.

Then we saw this brave guy. I was just glad it wasn't my son.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It’s Just Another Hill Baby

In the theme of breast cancer awareness month, please click the pink ribbon in the sidebar.

In October of 2006 I returned to the classroom following a six month leave for breast cancer treatments. My first day back to work presented many obstacles. One, I wasn’t ready to go back. Two, I needed to decide what type of fashion statement I intended to make with my fuzzy bald head. Three, I had to figure out how much I should share with the students about my illness. Four, it was the middle of the second quarter and I didn’t even know my students. Five, I wasn’t ready to go back to work. I’m sorry? Oh, I already listed that? Too bad. Let’s just make I WASN’T READY TO GO BACK TO WORK numbers five through ten.

I wasn’t ready to go back to work because I felt like crap. I was weak. The chemo and radiation treatments had left me anemic, depressed, and with all kinds of digestive system challenges. Seven months before, when the peanut size malignancy had been discovered, I was capable of body boarding five foot waves, not to mention duck diving the same wall of water should it break in front of me while I was paddling out. I could paddle out 150 yards and catch a wave within minutes of lining up. I could power walk for miles with a friend and gab the entire time. I was also capable of waking up at 4 AM, grading and prepping for two hours before work, teaching all day with the necessary energy to face a room full of 25 to 30 teenagers every 70 minutes, and then, at the end of the day, attending meetings after school that usually managed to make me feel like an unfocused and bored ADD wannabe. Then I’d go home to my family and attempt to keep pace with all that is required to run a home with teenagers.

Seven months later, I was not the same person. I needed to sleep eight to nine hours a night, plus a two hour nap every afternoon. My husband was taking me for walks to help me gain my strength back. Even going slowly, I would break out in a cold sweat and sometimes my legs and hands would start trembling. I was just two weeks out of treatments and gaining back my health was requiring my full time attention. But my sick days had run out. My doctors would have preferred I take more time off, but taking off without pay was not an option. I preferred the physical challenge of going back to work over causing even more financial hardship to my family.

I wasn’t looking too pretty and I sure did not want to scare the students. Rumors can run rampant with teens and their dramas and a colleague had already warned me that the kids were saying I was dying. Or dead. Tough as they act, I didn’t want to walk in looking like a tale from the crypt. My students from the year before would remember how I’d been, but the poor kids in my class this year didn’t know me, didn’t know my pale, sallow, mushy, and bald self was not the norm. But I had a problem in that I wasn’t wearing wigs. That’s another story, but for multiple reasons, wigs and I were not a suitable partnership. At home I went sans headwear. Trips to the store – baseball cap. Fancy outing? A scarf.

Our school has a no hat or scarf rule inside the buildings. Well, OK, it’s actually no hats. But it means anything on the head. I realized, of course, that I had a fairly good reason to break the rule. Now I can be a lot of things, including a hypocrite sometimes I suppose, however, I try not to be a hypocrite whenever possible. Like the “no drinking except water rule,” do you have any idea how many mornings I could go for another cup of coffee? But don’t. Since the kids can’t drink juice or soda or coffee or whatever, neither do I. Still, I was thinking that the kids would rather I wear a scarf wrapped around my baldness than deal with the uncomfortable situation of my egg head in their face at the front of the room.

Despite all of these dilemmas, early one morning I found myself getting ready for work. I dressed nicely and brightly, including a floral printed scarf. I carefully applied makeup and used a dark shadow to simulate a hint of eyebrows. I packed lunch and snacks that would keep my energy up. And off I went.

While walking from the administration building, where I had signed in and picked up my mail, to my building I found myself breaking out in a cold sweat. We’re talking all of fifty yards. I shuffled along at the pace of someone moving from breakfast to bingo in a convalescent hospital. One of the VP’s swung by me in a security (golf) cart.

Want a ride to your building?

I glanced with real desire at the other side of his bench seat.

No thanks. Gotta get my exercise to get my strength back.

He smiled and asked if I was sure and sure I was sure and as he drove off the wimpy half of me was screaming inside Come back, come back…….

For my classes that day I suspended work on whatever the substitute teacher had been in the middle of doing. I told my students that since I had missed the first days of school, and since they were all familiar with each other, I wasn’t going to make them all do introductions and bonding activities all over again. Instead, I would let them get to know me. They could ask all the questions that day. A little role reversal. I told them they could ask me anything they wanted. Hesitant at first, the students soon warmed up. My classes flew by and this turned out to be a great ice breaker. Lots of the questions were to be expected:

How long have you been teaching?

Are you married?

Do you have kids? How many? How old are they?

Are you a hard grader? (This is relative to the fact that the long term sub had given A’s to 95% of the class first quarter)

Some got brave:

Is it true you had cancer?

Are you better?

This activity meandered into places I had not intended. Once the kids discovered that I was completely comfortable talking about my illness, they got braver and started asking questions that had been on their minds for quite awhile, long before a teacher’s cancer had entered their lives. Some of them had family members that had gone through or were going through cancer. These students were leery of asking those relatives questions as they were afraid of upsetting a loved one. Me? I had not only given them a green light, I had pushed them into the street.

What is chemotherapy? How is it different than radiation?

Why do people get sick from chemotherapy?

By the last class of the day, I felt right at home again in the classroom. I was sitting in a chair at the front of the room by that point (I had only lasted standing on my feet for half of the first class). This last class was an exceptionally bright group of kids and for the first time that day, one of the students felt brave enough to ask the ten dollar question:

What kind of cancer did you have?

I had mixed feelings about using the breast word with a large group of teenagers. In any other case scenario, the male students would undoubtedly say or do something inappropriate. But I took a deep breath and just went for it.

I had breast cancer.

How did you find out? Was it a mammogram?

Actually no. I found the lump myself five months after my last mammogram. Ladies, that’s an important lesson. Remember to do your monthly self exam.

Out of the corner of my eye, a hand was being raised in the front row, just to my right. When I turned my attention to the student who I thought had a question, a curious sight. The girl did have her hand raised in the air, but her eyes were not meeting mine. They were reflective of the activity she was engaged in. You see, her other hand was busy feeling herself up. Evidently, my mention of self breast exam had reminded her that she had been remiss of late. Spontaneously, apparently without much thought, she had embarked on a little impromptu breast exploration. As she was facing me and her back was to the rest of the class, no one else had noticed. I think I had to shut my mouth which was hanging open.

I didn’t even know her name yet. I definitely didn’t know her well enough to know if she could handle a little gas from me on what she was doing.

I pointed to another hand raised in the back.

Class, and life, went on.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Meditation and Guitar Hero Part 3: The Final Chapter

If you are just just starting the story, you should begin here.

If I could draw a cartoon of myself, this is what it would look like. A gigundus head filled with words and phrases and images, of plans and lists, of retold conversations, of categorical meanderings. The head would be 2/3 of my total self. If you think I’m kidding, I actually had someone tell me that was exactly what my aura looked like. About 15 years ago I used to go to a chi kun massage therapist. An amazing woman who had studied with a master in China. She was the only entity on the planet that could do anything about my migraine headaches before vasodilators were invented. One day, while I waited for my appointment, the master that she had studied with in China and who was staying at her place, he started talking to me in broken English, but mostly Chinese and I couldn’t understand a word he said. The more I looked perplexed, the faster and louder he talked at me. Finally, my massage therapist came out to the waiting area and I looked pleadingly at her for help. She cocked her head to the side, spoke to him in Chinese, and then started laughing.

What’s so funny?

Master Wong says you look like an upside down pear.

At first I thought she got it backwards and this old healer was telling me to take some poundage off of my big fat ass.

She smiled.

No no. Nothing you don’t know already. He says you think too much. All of your chi, all of your energy is in your head. That is why you have headaches.

Well, duh.

My massage therapist moved to Maui ten years ago and my head has been blowing up like a balloon off and on ever since.

Back to last summer, my elephantized metaphorical head, and my inability to get the constant stream of chatter to shut the fuck up so I could find out where I’d put my happy place. I mean, I couldn’t go for two hours walks and exhaust myself every day. Well, I could. It WAS summer. But I was enamored of blogging and wanted a quicker fix for my conundrum.

Blogging equals writing equals a creative outlet.

Blogging came with fringe benefits: Internet friends and blog buds.

Sitting in front of the computer for too long at a time couldn’t be good for my long term health care.

Not meditating and not centering oneself is not conducive to being creative.

A freaking vicious cycle of events was presenting itself.

In June there was Father’s Day as well as Son’s B-Day. They collaborated and together they acquired an X-box and the infamous game – Guitar Hero. Except for Son, we are not a big video game family. Husband, Daughter and myself have never joined Son for long when he’s gone through video game fazes. But we weirdly bonded over Guitar Hero. It started with Son and Husband. Which was fine with me because they weren’t on the computer and I had the office and internet all to myself. Then Daughter got on board. One day they pushed, pressured and cajoled me into trying it out.

I WAS BLOODY FRICKIN AWFUL. Screech scratch. Booed off the stage.

Son gave me some pointers.

I barely made it through “easy” level on Pat Benetar’s Hit Me with Your Best Shot.
But I was transfixed by those descending color notes. I started getting up before everyone (not unusual here –I am the early riser in this family) to practice. A video game. Who’d have thunk?
Before I knew it, an hour or two would go by, where I would tell myself, just one more song.

Was I hooked on the feel of air guitar??? Not exactly. It actually aggravated my carpal tunnel crapola.

The thing that hooked me the most was that in order to follow those descending notes, in order to score the highest for a song (OK. Highest on the easy level. WHATEVER.), I COULD NOT THINK. Incessant conversations were banned from my brain. Needless prattling and list making and planning and all that mind fucking chatter was cleared.

After my Guitar Hero session I would do my 10 minutes of yoga stretches and 15 minutes of “meditating.”

Once school started I stopped my jam sessions. I stopped stretching. I stopped even trying to get back to attempting transcendence. I recently read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Now I’m convinced I need to go to an ashram in India and get professional help to find the silence and stillness while sitting cross-legged.

Until I can work that out, I’m heading for the X-box. Or a stretch and a silence. Whichever works.

Meditation and Guitar Hero Part 2

If you didn't read part one, you might want to start here.

Then, in March 2006 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in for six months of treatments. A lumpectomy, followed a month later by surgery to insert a port. Then four months of chemotherapy and two months of radiation. I was both afraid and conflicted. Although I knew these treatments were needed to staff off the chance of the cancer metastasizing, I was also aware of the devastating effects the treatments would have on my healthy body. I needed some proactive tools of my own. I needed to DO SOMETHING. Help the doctors out while they shot poison into my body.

I read everything everybody gave me and stuff I found on my own. I read an article on Melissa Etheridge and another on Sheryl Crow; on how they had both dealt with their breast cancer treatments. Both of them said that mediation practices got them through cancer treatments. One of my closest and dearest friends sent me a book on healing and meditation. It was all about using meditative practices for helping the mind in healing the body. Huh. I could put my busy mind to work for a good cause. Except that it meant meditating.


So, I read the book and it was very helpful and inspirational. I sat cross-legged everyday and “meditated.” I used the mantras, which also were in English, but very practical and geared towards healing from a devastating or terminal illness. Some of the mantras were too long and I figured it did not help my meditation attempts to stop and read from the book every time I took a breath. I settled on one that I could manage.

Deep Breath. White light in. Visualize the light of heaven streaming towards you and entering with your breath. Focus on this light moving through your body. Let it reach each and every cell. Picture it surrounding any cancer cells.

Exhale. Black smoke out. Visualize the diseased cells being carried by your exhaled breath, through your bloodstream and out through your lungs, being expelled from your body.

I was able to stay in this mode for fifteen minutes, sometimes twenty. I still never got to what I imagined was “transcendence,” but I did manage to keep out other thoughts.

Then I got well. OK. I realize I need to make it to the 5 year mark to truly say that, but once you are fully back in the swing of things at work, once you can physically do everything you did pre-chemo etc, and once your hair is grown back… It’s difficult to remember you are officially still in recovery. I let things slip a little. I stopped meditating. I went back to having a cup of coffee and reading news and whatever on the internet in the early morning instead of meditating. Each day I’d say TOMORROW. I MUST STRETCH AND BE SILENT BEFORE I START MY DAY.

This is about where I was at the beginning of last summer. After a very busy year at work and my new personal project (yep, if you are here you are reading it), my mind was busier than ever. Now, while I tried to meditate, blog ideas clogged my brain, developed in my brain, transformed and morphed and got better or funnier or more poignant until, before I realized what I was doing, I not only did not attempt to shut my mind the fuck up, the next thing I knew I was at the computer. And I’m not even talking about other mindful pursuits. Lesson plans. Research. Assessment. There are a lot of ideas that can float one’s cognitive boat.

What?!? Still no guitar Hero! Shame on me. Tommorrow will be the final chapter.

Don't forget to please click the pink ribbon link in the sidebar.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Meditation and Guitar Hero Part 1

A blog I like to read, Unmitigated, introduced me to the concept of mulit-part postings. I enjoyed it on her blog. So, since this post ended up quite long, I'm posting it in parts.

I have had a long term relationship with the voice in my head. I used to think it was me, but after extensive reading I have learned that is not necessarily true. According to many reads, including my latest read, it is “ego.” I’m not sure how Freudian this latest author intended to be. But there it is.

Juxtapose this with my sincere desire to meditate myself into a state of nirvana. Since my late teen years, which means 30+ years ago, I have been fascinated as well as envious of those who can “transcend.”

However, this is what goes on inside my head while I meditate:

Happy place. Check. Deep breath. Check. Happy place. Deep breath. Happy place. Deep breath.

I should type up and copy one of the better student essays on an overhead and have the whole class discuss and point out what is working.

YES! Maybe a list of common errors for their binders.

Suzie’s was great. Maybe Dana’s. Yeah. Hers was not only good, it was quite unique.

Oh shit. There are thoughts in my head.

Happy place. Check. Deep breath. Check. Happy place. Deep breath. Happy place. Deep breath.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. I have been blessed cursed with a busy mind. I’m a planner when I’m sitting still. Task orientation takes over. The list of things that I think about while meditating is both endless and exhausting. And that is on a good day. When someone has pissed me off or something is not going right, I ruminate, I relive conversations, I have witty and sarcastic comebacks.

The only way to get away is to GET AWAY. So, instead of meditating, I take long walks. I boogie board. I snorkel. These activities release the preeminence of mind and channel my energy into physicality or nature contemplation. It may not be meditation, but it’s the closest I can get.

Twelve years ago, a friend asked me to go to a meditation workshop with her. It was very cool, very vegan, and the instructor informed us that it is not absolutely necessary to sit cross-legged to meditate. One can lie down. Ahh. We were also given meditation mantras. English versions. I’m not allowed to give them away, but according to this group of meditative instructors, these are actual phrases that have been passed down since the time of Jesus. Someone, somewhere, sometime, tore these meditative practices from the bible for some unscrupulous reason. That’s what they said and I figure it’s plausible if not probable.

So, I lie down, and take the deep breaths and let the phrases attach themselves to my breath. And voila! Not exactly meditation, but, BEST NAP EVER! The instructor told me that was fine. If I fell asleep, that was what my body needed. So, for ten years I practiced meditation by lying down and going to sleep with these invaluable tools.

What?! No Guitar Hero even mentioned? Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2.
Please give a click on the pink ribbbon in the sidebar. Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Swaps and Hikes and Intercession

My package arrived today from Scribbler In San Antonio! I love everything, but that punchy kangaroo is just the cutest. I played my CD all morning. The Fall Swap was hosted by The Claw, where you can go and see more pics of Fall Swaparoo. Thanks Sherri at The Claw for hosting!
After the fun of presents in the mail, I met a friend and we went hiking to Makapu'u Lighthouse. The trail starts like this.

Then there's this.

Finally, you get to look down at the lighthouse. My daughter tells me that this is the lighthouse from 50 first dates.

You get very high above the ocean. Me, I love heights.

And if it was a month from now, we could have watched for whales.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Friday Foto

Are we there yet? Huh, huh...are we?

YES! We're there....finally.

For more Friday Fotos, head on over to Candid Carrie's

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Many Faces of October Intercession

Friday 10/3
Stayed at work until 5 grading story quilts. Went to friend/colleague’s house with other colleagues to drink margaritas and commiserate how exhausted we all felt.

Saturday 10/5
There were a lot of hours spent with dogs. Walking dogs. Bathing dogs. Obedience class for BC (Border collie). Pretending I didn’t notice every time when he got bored and would roll on his back and do the wiggle scratch dance. It doesn’t help when others keep telling him he’s cute.

Sunday 10/5
I’m not sure I did anything. At least to completion. There was a lot of half done housework. Oh yeah, some dog walking.

Monday 10/6
Went in to work and graded two more classes of story quilts. Came home and read exhaustively on the internets. Did a half ass job on some more household chores. More dog walking.

Tuesday 10/7
Tried to do some work. I now have some half done lessons for next week. More dog walking.

Wednesday 10/8
Husband was off and we had a date day; we went to the North Shore with BC. Husband suggested we leave the cooler and beach bag locked in the car so we could take a walk first. Walked with husband and BC for four miles through soft sand. It was a beautiful day and there were points when I even thought about coming home and writing something, maybe even a poem, to catch the amazing beauty. But my legs feel like overcooked spaghetti. So my brain is claiming exhaustion based on how my legs feel.

More reading on the internets. This article was the best. Warning! It's politics. But it's extremely well written and from The New Yorker.

I have four days left and one of my goals is to have ONE day where I am in my PJ’s until at least noon. Maybe longer.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday Mixed Plate

October is breast cancer awareness month. Think pink. Encourage someone to get a mammogram if you know they have been putting it off. Check out Thistle’s idea of having a group mammo outing: The Pink Ribbon Club.

If you haven’t been knocked silly with Palin news coverage, consider these:
Michael Berube’s thoughtful article.
Or at Salon there is The Dumbing Down of the GOP or How Sarah Palin Blew It.

I got an email with a copied and pasted post on the Alaska Women Reject Palin Rally. I googled it and found the original post, which was September 14th, so I imagine it is old news for most. But it was the first time I’d seen it. The post says to share the pics so here are a few.

"So, if you’ve been doing the math… Yes. The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin’s rally that got all the national media coverage! So take heart, sit back, and enjoy the photo gallery. Feel free to spread the pictures around (links are appreciated) to anyone who needs to know that Sarah Palin most definitely does not speak for all Alaskans. The citizens of Alaska, who know her best, have things to say."

"Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. I was absolutely stunned. "

For more pics plus a video, head on over to Mud Flats.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Insane Mama is having a Halloween contest. I haven’t done a contest yet and I love Halloween, so…why not?

Instead of one great story (I don’t really have a hit-it-out-of-the ballpark Halloween story) I have a few fond memories.

Circa 1960’s
When I was young and growing up in the San Fernando Valley with my two sisters, Halloween was a huge deal. Very similar to Jan, we COULDN’T WAIT for dinner to be over and dark to descend so we could go trick or treating. My dad had this horrid awful mask that he would drag out, not only for Halloween but also for slumber parties. It beat the shit out of anything they sell today. It was MORE REAL. Not so rubbery. It was the scariest, creepiest, wrinkled, evil face ever. At least that’s the way I remember and I’m sticking to it. He’d wait until our guard was down, which means sitting on the floor, sorting our candies, and with mask, trench coat, and big ol’ boots, he’d slam open the back screen door and come tearing at us. Clenching hands and BRUUUUUHAHAHA. I’m surprised we never pissed our pants. That’s how much we fell for it every year.

Halloween 1991
Daughter was just over two and we had mostly managed to keep her from chocolate and sweets. Instead of taking her trick or treating, we all dressed up and took her to a restaurant/club. You see, my husband and I met working at Bobby McGee’s. I was cocktailing to pay my way through college and my husband was a waiter. EVERYONE wore a costume at this crazy place to work. Even though we had both moved on, we still had a lot of friends there and they did a happy hour thingy on Halloween. So we dressed as the Flintstones. Cave clothes- mine and Daughter’s hair twisted around big, fake bones. It’s a great picture of back in the day when my husband and I used to both work out. Daughter was two and was the most precious Pebbles ever. Not that I’m prejudiced or anything. We went at, like 5 PM, and even after a shitload of fun and frivolity, we were back home by 8. Within 5 minutes of sitting down some kids came trick or treating. There was no hiding from the two year old the fact that I was giving stuff away and that was the end of her not getting candy for Halloween.

Halloween 1993
We had just bought our home that summer and it was Son’s first Halloween. He was 16 months old. He had the CUTEST fucking tiger costume. He toddled along and I swear our block looked like that scene in ET, where swarms of kids come out right at dusk. Being a new neighborhood, it was a beehive of toddlerhood. I was holding his hand and waited on the sidewalk as Daughter and our friend’s kids went up to the first house. Son could barely talk, but he sure let it be known that he had observed what went on at the front door. He grunted and grumbled to see inside the kids pumpkin buckets. When he figured out that they were partaking of give-away stuff, he pulled and pulled on my arm until I walked him up to the next door. That was the beginning of his professional status at trick or treating. Everyone thought the baby tiger was too too cute and gave him twice as much as the other kids. But half way around the block he figured out how to unwrap a piece of candy and that was the end. Afterwards he wanted to sit in the middle of the sidewalk and eat his whole loot. My friend had to take all the kids around so I could haul his little butt home and check his candy before he scarfed down a razor blade or an LSD tab.

Halloween 2006
My children are 17 and 14 and they have made plans to go out with some friends. Son is actually trick or treating in a friendly neighborhood that lets the teens keep up the good work. His professional status is still intact. Daughter is in a play and after rehearsals they are having a party. My husband has to work. I have the night to myself, but I’m being a Halloween Homebody and have decided I don’t want to answer the door and give away candy by myself. So I turn the porch light off and all the downstairs lights too. I go upstairs and treat myself to an aromatherapy bath with candles. As leave the bath I look at myself in the candlelit mirror and contemplate the effects of the last few months. I’m still officially bald, but the first soft down of baby soft fuzz can be felt more than seen. My radiation treatments, finished just two weeks before, have left a thickening of red welts under my left arm. But it’s not as bad as they said it would be. The aloe must have really helped. My scars are still fairly new and jagged and my skin still has the sallowness of all that chemo. But I made it. I’m done with the treatments and have returned to work. I walk to the upstairs window and peek through the blinds to see the families on the sidewalks with their ballerinas and spidermen. I don’t feel the least bit sad to be by myself. I had insisted my kids not stay home for me; I want to make up for all those days and nights they had hung out with me in my room the previous summer. I curl up in bed with a book, grateful that the worst is over. Happy that life is moving forward and back to normal.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday Foto

This is my favorite beach on the North Shore. Lots of wonderful memories here. My husband and I came upon it when we were dating. It's not easy to find, you have to know where the beach path is between the houses.

When I received my bachlor's degree from UH we rented a beach house here and stayed a week with my family from the Mainland. After we had my daughter, we stayed here again. It's also the beach where I stay with my women friends every year for Laborless Labor Day weekend.

Both of these pictures were taken on the same day last spring during whale season. That day was just my daughter, Border Collie, and I. See the point at the end of the reef? The next shot is only about 50 yards past that point.

That big spash there is a humpback whale. It put on a show for us for about 10 minues. This is the best shot that I got that day. But that whale was breaching over and over. It would shoot its tail up into the air and SLAM it down like it knew we all were watching.

This was a great day.
For more of Friday Foto, check out Candid Carrie.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's Almost the End of the Quarter

As the scene the following parts will be played by:
Me: phhhst, 10th grade English teacher
MSHT: Male student who is having a hard time paying attention
GCP: General Class Population
FSMU: Female student who hopes to get the education she needs to move to the mainland and go to a University.

Me: May I please have your attention focused over here to the dry erase board. It’s the last week of the quarter and you have an exam and a writing project. Let’s go over the due dates and after school tutoring hours.

MSHT (to female student to his left): blah blah blah yada yada yada

Me (according to PC code of not singling out a student and causing needless embarrassment): Excuse me, can everyone FOCUS THIS WAY. We don’t have time for fooling around. As soon as I’m confidant you all know what to do, you have the rest of the class to get it done.

MSHT (to male student on his right): blah blah blah yada yada yada

Me staring at the back of MSHT’s head and waiting for him to notice.

GCP (in both whispers and hisses): she’s waiting for you to pay attention.

MSHT turns and smiles

Me: OK now, everyone…

MSHT turns in seat to say something to the student behind him.

Me: DUUUDE. Seriously.

MSHT (baffled): Did you just call me dude?

Me: Can we go on now?

MSHT: You called me dude. That’s weird. That’s like a word I’d use.

Me: My generation made the word dude popular. And I think it actually originated in Southern California, where I’m originally from. Technically, every time you use the word “dude” you are supposed to pay me a dollar.

MSHT: Really?

FSMU: Oh. My. God. Seriously.