Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spin Cycle: Mistakes

So, it seems the post where I have the most to say is the hardest to write. I am barely getting my mistakes post in under the wire for the Spin Cycle over at Sprite's Keeper.

To set the mood:

Top reasons I took so long to start spinning:

1. I started a new unit at work and have been busy lesson planning.

2. Progress reports go out next week, and since it is the last quarter I have to call each and every parent whose child is failing or may fail my class (anyone want to be me this week?).

3. Oh, trying (unsuccessfully) to keep up with the reading in my reader.

4. My husband’s hotel is slow and he has been off more, or working shorter shifts. He seems to think me being on the computer when he’s home is rude and neglectful.

5. I was a child in the 60’s and a teenager in the 70’s. I made more mistakes than could fill a book.

6. I’m a parent. Enough said there. I’m sure the mistakes I made in this arena I should let my children write about when they get their own blogs.

So, instead of a story (or a million anecdotes), I will impart my philosophy on mistakes. Wait. Don’t go. Ah. Well. For those still here….

Number One. Mistakes are a part of the learning curve. One of the biggest, and for some people (like my son) hardest lessons is to learn to own your mistakes.

Number Two. If there is an area for growth that is meant to happen and you avoid it or try to live in denial, the mistakes will escalate until the universe makes sure you get the lesson. WHAPAH!!

Number Three. People who feel the need to rub other people’s noses in their mistakes and go overboard with the negative consequences usually are the very ones who never admit their own mistakes. I suppose they figure everyone will be as hard on them as they are on others. These kinds of people are very hard to live with as their shaming and blaming just gets tiresome.

Number Four. Remember to say sorry and mean it. Sometimes presents help.

Number Five. Some mistakes are life altering or life ending. So be careful. I always think of the scene in Vanilla Sky when Tom Cruise gets into the car with Cameron Dias against his better judgment. So, listen to your instincts.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I am on record for not being a fan of Cruise. But I did see this movie and always remember the scene where he made the fatal mistake of getting in that car.

For more spins, head on over to The Spin Cycle at Sprite's Keeper.

I also want to thank Midlife Jobhunter for honoring me with the Honest Scrap award. Thank-you Jobhunter!!

It comes with rules, but I have been pretty good about following rules of late and feel the need to break the trend. So for a copy of the rules, I'd like you to head on over to this post at Jobhunter's.

I'd like to pass it on to all the spinners over at Jen's (Sprite's Keeper).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You know it is time to go home from work when....

I have a family plan on the cell phones and we have not had a land line in a couple of years. My son and I got our phones when the plan was put together. Our phone numbers are exactly the same, except for the last digit. The last digit on my number is 1, on his it’s 2.

After school yesterday I stayed and tutored some kids.

Then I graded some stuff.

Then I checked my work email.

After that I put in my attendance..

I decided to call my son before leaving work.

I use my office phone to dial him up and while I wait for him to answer, my cell phone buzzes in my back pocket. So, I pull it out, put my glasses on (because my eyes have completely gone middle aged and refuse to see anything in my cell phone on their own – do they make cell phones with enlarged font???), and I see it is a number from within the school.

Now, the sad thing is, I keep my phone on vibrate at work, and since I keep it in my back pocket, I don’t often feel it when it buzzes. Or not until the last buzzaruni. I try not to let myself think what this says about my ass and the twenty pounds middle age has added on to it. It’s too sad.

I have two friends at work. Well, I have more than that, technically speaking. The other 140 teachers and 50 or so staff I am friendly with while I am there. But two teachers I hang with on vacations and they call me and we talk (gossip) about work, but also about other shared interests.

Anywhos, I figure it is one of these two and since I missed the call on my cell, and since reception is not so good, I call her extension from my office phone.

Hmm. She doesn’t answer.

So I redial my son.

This time my cell phone buzzes across my desk.

My glasses are back off and I go through the whole routine again, calling the other friend who also is not at her desk and probably home already having a margatuni.

How weird is that? Every time I go to use my office phone, my cell phone rings?

I’m sure everyone reading this is smarter than me and has figured this out already.

But, me, I try my son a third time. And my cell phone buzzes.

The veil of fog begins to lift from the hallways of my addled brain and I look at the number displayed digitally on my work phone.

Yeah. I’ve been calling my own number.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Money in the Bank Meets Earth Day Leftovers

Words of Wisdom from a Smart Mouthed Broad hosts a very cool blog theme, Money in the Bank. I’ve written a couple of posts for MIB, but truth be told, I am not creative with money saving ideas because we never have much after paying bills. We stopped going out to eat except for rare occasions years ago, I hardly shop, and we rarely travel. The smartest thing we did was to buy a house. Then we never did anything else except make mortgage payments, raise children, and go to the beach. Which is mostly free except for the gas...


My friend P is hosting a potluck clothes swapping party next week. This idea/event is one I’d forgotten about and is a worthy enough to make mention. P is hosting this one in the name of Earth Day, but we have been doing this for years. Most of my circle of friends come from my days of working in restaurants. Most of us have been friends for over 25 years. Some, like me, have gone into professions that provide a living but where one will never be wealthy in material things. A few others have done quite well financially. There is a definite advantage at the event for those of us less wealthy, but my more affluent friends are happy to leave with less than they came with and have room in their closets once again. They enjoy passing their clothes on to their friends much more than getting the tax break for donating them.

So, once every couple of years, we have a clean out your closets party. Everyone cleans out her closet and brings the unwanted items. Each of us brings a dish for the potluck and there are several bottles of wine. We throw all the clothes into a huge pile and then go through it after eating, but of course while still drinking. Redistribution.

It is a great money saving idea. Loads of fun with friends. Have a fashion show. Walk about half nekkid. It’s just the girls, you know?

And, speaking of Earth Day, I came upon some really good reads lately for those of you who are interested. Salon has these articles:

Can we afford to eat ethically?

Big agriculture’s big lie.

We are what we eat.

I also have been following a blog, Reduce Footprints: Easy ways for each of us to reduce our footprints on the earth. I found the series on the Rainforests really interesting and well written. There are parts one, two, three, and four.

And while we are on the subject of green, let’s go full circle back to Smart Mouth. She gave me something green for the blog.

Smart Mouth passed on the Zombie Chicken Award to moi.

I love you Smart Mouth. But, seriously. I really would like to have the time and tenacity to find the blogger that created this one. What was he or she drinking? The award definitely stands out in the crowd. And in the theme of things, the zombie chickens probably represent what we have to look forward to if we don’t take better care of the earth.

It comes with this description:

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all...

Well then. That snazes it up – quite a wonderful write up. Thank-you again Smart Mouth for such kind words in my direction.

While there are many blogs out there I’d crush a zombie chicken’s skull to get to, I’ll pass it on to these must read bloggers.

Bern This

Captian Dumbass at Us and Them

Braja at Lost and Found in India

Mo "Mad Dog" Stoneskin

Suburb Sanity

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Noblesse Oblige

The little award that packs a big punch.

The gracious and creative blogger Kate, from What Kate Did Next, has passed on the Noblesse Oblige Award to Pseudo Land. It is a meaningful award and I couldn’t be more humbled. If you haven’t been to Kate’s you should treat yourself to a visit. Especially if you love to write. Her blog is inspiring and full of ideas for helping writers. One of my first visits there was this post, and I was hooked. I've gone back and read this post several times when I need help to slow down and not be anxious. Whenever the blogosphere gets frenetic for me, I hop on over to Kate’s to remind myself that I started this blog to connect with my creative side. Kate helps me to become centered.

Check out what Kate is doing to celebrate her 200th post.

The recipient of this award is recognized for the following:

1) The Blogger manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances that pervades amongst different cultures and beliefs.
2) The Blog contents inspire; strives to encourage, and offers solutions.
3) There is a clear purpose at the Blog; one that fosters a better understanding on Social, Political, Economic, the Arts, Culture, Sciences, and Beliefs.
4) The Blog is refreshing and creative.
5) The Blogger promotes friendship and positive thinking.

The Blogger who receives this award will need to perform the following steps:

1) Create a Post with a mention and link to the person who presented the Noblesse Oblige Award.
2) The Award Conditions must be displayed at the Post.
3) Write a short article about what the Blog has thus far achieved – preferably citing one or more older posts to support.
4) The Blogger must present the Noblesse Oblige Award in concurrence with the Award conditions.
5) Blogger must display the Award at any location at the Blog.

Thank-you Kate.

I’m a big fan and follower of Kate’s blog. In fact, her blog has shaped a lot of what I have done. Although my blog is not like hers in that I don’t write for writers and help them in their writing processes, many of my favorite posts have been written after a visit to her blog to center myself and to tap into my creative side.

When I started this blog I wasn’t really sure where I was headed. The first few months I only posted a couple of times and I knew nothing about creating a community. I had read blogs, but mostly education or news related ones, and had never commented. I liked the way the posts had links and would surf around, using the links to lead me to interesting reads.

The main reason I started a blog was that I felt like I needed something of my own. After many years of raising my children, running a home, working full time, and furthering my education; I felt sucked dry. My teens were doing more and more on their own. I had recently recovered from breast cancer and the breast cancer treatments… That experience reminded me to live my life more fully and to make time for me.

When I first got started, I thought my blog and my posts would be more centered around education.

But since it was mine to do with as I liked, it became a vehicle to rediscover my love for writing. I also learned to reach out and enter the blog world and make connections.

This post, a letter to the blog world, shows my sense of blogging discovery.

This post, the first one I really put some writing muscle into, helped me to feel like a writer with stories to tell that might reach out and touch some people.

This post got me started on my memoir writing, a genre to which I keep coming back.

My blog is helping me to carve a path into a future I did not know how to step into, taking me to place I was only dreaming of, and helping me to join communities I did not know existed.

I’d like to pass the award on to these bloggers:

Cristin at Tiptoeing Through the Tulips. How can someone be snarky, funny, dead-on honest, and absolutely fearless in her writing all at the same time? Check out Cristin and then you will know.

Don’t Worry It’s Only a Movie. Movie was one of the first bloggers I met. She is an educator who works with emotionally challenged children. Her wit and humor and her even mindedness resonate from every post. She is one of the most sincere bloggers out there.

Pam at McEwen’s. Pam volunteers as a giggle therapist in a hospital. That is her main gig but she also feeds the homeless, volunteers at a women’s shelter, and has even been to Africa in her service to help make the world a better place. She’s funny and a lot of fun as well.

Sprite’s Keeper. Jen created and hosts the Spin Cycle. I look forward to it and all the bloggers I have met through the Spin Cycle every week. She makes each of us feel like a personal friend.

True Blue Texan. This is the blog I thought I would have. But True Blue Texan does it so well I just read hers. Her posts are timely and she links to current events.

Words of Wisdom from a Smart Mouthed Broad. I am so fortunate to consider Smart Mouth my friend. Her blog makes you feel at home, takes you on road trips via a Harley, has great recipes, and of course, many words of wisdom. All told with wit and humor.

There are many other deserving blogs, but I’ll stop here and leave these folks some bloggers.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spin Cycle Meets Friday Foto

The Spin Cycle this week is manners. I was going to do a post on how a lot of teens leave their manners at home when they come to school. I swear we should have hidden cameras and then do an open house where we show the parents what their kids act like at the taxpayers’ expense.

But that topic might be better served in appetizer portions. One transgression at a time.

So I’ll go ahead and zero in the microscope on my own family. Teen boy to be exact. He’s one of those cases where my husband and I are constantly on the front lines of the manners battle field. Usually wondering how and when teen boy turned into such an ass.

Now I know to count my blessings. The boy has good grades, hasn’t given us any major trouble…. BUT, OH. MY. GOD. If the kid could think for one second before he opened that mouth our world would feel like a breezy day in a field of wild flowers. Instead of the jagged rocks of irritation hell.

Son, please go clean the bathrooms.

Your mother cleans the bathrooms.

Don’t be a smartass.

Your mother is a smartass.

The other day he invited two friends over for dinner. Now, according to my daughter, who has been stuck in the car with them all, these two boys are as sassy and as thinks-they-are-funny as our boy. However, at dinner at our house, they were well-mannered and quite capable of interesting and appropriate dinner conversation. When I was asking my son to help them serve themselves he said something rude and sassy to me, thinking he was funny.

I did not want to knock his head off in front of these two kids I barely knew. So instead, I stood there and let my blood pressure sky rocket and my head turn into a purplish cartoon image of itself.

Son, I don’t want to embarrass you in front of your friends, so I would appreciate it if you think before you open your mouth.

To his friends I said

You met his sister, right? So you know they were taught manners, even though Son is not representing the family well right now.

One of his friends turned to me and said,

He seems to save it for you. Our parents all like him and he doesn’t act like this at all around them.

I asked Son later that week, on a day where he was being pleasant and lovely company,

Why or why do you act like such an ass sometimes at home? I miss this you.

To which he replied

Sorry. I like to try my comedy on you guys cause I know you’ll love me even if I piss you off.

The many sides of Son , as seen through before he leaves for prom pictures.
Obnoxious Son.

Cracking himself up Son.

My Boy.
For more spins, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.
For more Friday Fotos, head on over to Candid Carrie's.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day and Doggie Stories

What? A story of body fluids is loosely connected to Earth Day.

The cast:
BC The Star

The Old Man

So last Friday I take BC (border collie) to the vet for his two year check up. I go alone.

When we first got BC the teens could not be parted from him. He was their baby and for every little step in his growth and life’s experiences they wanted to be there. They still love him and coo at him and call him to them around the house. But, you know who walks the dog. Feeds the dog. Cleans up the dog’s poop. Mom and dad that’s who.

You know how my husband pulled the “you’re a teacher card” the whole time the kids were growing up?” So he didn’t EVER help them with their homework or those horrid quarterly projects?

Well, he also does that with the veterinary visits. I worked in vet clinics for several years.
Ancient history research will show that I worked as an “Animal Health Technician,” that I majored in animal science at Los Angeles Pierce College straight out of high school, and that my first “break” from college resulted in my discovering I did not want to spend the rest of my life getting pooped, peed, and vomited on.

Not that I couldn’t handle it. I have a clear memory of pulling a shift at the emergency clinic, of a Great Dane coming in with Bloat (what Marley had twice) and of the vet on duty performing emergency surgery. As a licensed vet tech, I was monitoring the anesthesia. This happened around dinner time and someone had just dropped off my Whataburger. The vet working that night was from Las Vegas and he had a hottie blond wife. She stopped by to visit and was appalled when she walked in and found her husband elbow deep in the Great Dane’s gut, me on a stool by the anesthesia gas machine, watching the surgery, and eating my burger while looking in on the Dane’s intestines. Truly. Didn’t bother me one little bit. But that was, like, thirty years ago. I believe every cell in my body has changed about four times since then and I am now a totally different person. Blood and guts and body fluids are not my everyday if you know what I mean.

Anyways. Since I am an “expert” I get the privilege of taking the dogs to the vet.

BC has always been freaked out at the vet. The first time we went the boy accompanied me. When BC freaked out at the vet trying to look into his ears with the stethoscope, the pup shot his anal gland fluids all over the frickin place. The Old Man, who was lying on the ground, got wind of this and decided to join the melee by passing stinky sneaker farts. Teen Son was horrified and amazed that the whole examination process did not shut down and move to another room. He hasn’t been back to the vet with me since.

So Friday, BC is sniffing around the exam room, having a hell of a time with all the smells and I’m thinking maybe this won’t be so bad after all. He’s two now. Mature adult dog. The vet comes in and says get him up on the table. As I place him on the exam table he immediately starts going into the freak zone. I arm lock his head with one arm and wrap the other around his body and start to lay my weight into him as he equally tries to scramble out from under me.

NO. Down boy.

The tech, who is right behind me, tells me to let her hold him. That way he can see me. I know she thinks she can do a better job because she does this twenty times a day, every day. The vet tells me to let the girl hold him. The vet also calls for back up and two more techs come into the exam room.

Seeing me step away from the table and having three people try to hold him down turns BC into a paranoid schizophrenic freak. The vet thinks they can handle it and starts to move in towards his ear with the stethoscope. I can literally see the whites of his eyes and as he starts the insane doggie dance I warn the crew,

He expresses his anal glands when he’s scared.

The tech on the rear end duty chirps,
Yes, he does.

The three techs are practically lying on him, he’s still scrambling, and the vet is still trying to get that monstrosity of a torture device, the stethoscope, in the spoiled brat of a dog’s ear.
As the observer of this fiasco I see a pool of yellow fluid expanding under BC.

He’s peeing, I tell them.

The vet, being the smart one in the group, steps away.

Because she stepped away, he calms just a bit and the girls, who are really giving this their all and have their heads tucked into the process of holding him down say,

We’ve got him. (You sure about that?)

The vet steps in again, pee and all.

BC has got his eyes cranked at the 1 AM position and when he sees her coming he puts all forty pounds into lifting the three girls just enough to whirl his legs like a hamster on a rodent wheel. The doggie piss, which a moment before had been pooled under him, is now being sprayed into the air by his flailing limbs. It looks like a yellow, liquid, Ferris wheel of urine fun, flying out from under the cartoon blur that has replaced my lovable pet.

At two feet away I see it coming and dodge.

The vet gets it all up her front and right in her face as she takes a step back.
I'm horrified, yet stifling a giggle all the while.

She tells the girls to clean him up and goes into the exam room next door to take care of a cat.
As she exits, she odes not even look at me.

When she comes back I ask if maybe I should hold him and this time they let me.

After a cursory exam she leaves and the techs try to call me out of the room.

I feel bad about bringing this up, but I really don’t want to come back.

He’s got a rash on his belly. I wanted her to take a look at it.

The techs look at me incredulously.

The vet sees three other pets before venturing back in.

The whole ordeal cost me $259.65.
Seriously? I don't remember.
Do I look like I would cause so much trouble?
Happy Earth Day everyone.
A little reward for those of you who stuck it out through the long post.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bella? Did someone say Bella?

So pretty...

OK. Reading all four books of the Twilight series has me wired that way.

But, seriously...

Jess over at This Life is Mine passed this pretty award on to me. Thank-you Jess!

Here are the rules:

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.

2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Well, 15 huh?

I’ve been fortunate to have newly discovered a lot of great blogs and bloggers the last couple of months. The list could be quite long. But it will spread like wildfire so here’s 15 great blogs that I have discovered lately – some a couple months ago and some just this week. Have fun with the links.

And here we go…

1. Rikki at Cowgirls Like Me

2. Casey at Half as Good as You

3. Julie at Midlife Job Hunter

4. Fragrant Liar

5. Heather at Riding the Short Bus

6. Melissa at The Scholastic Scribe

7. Amy at Keeping Up with the Schultz Family

8. Lisa at Transcript of a Significant Life

9. Mrs. Bear at Outnumbered Two to One

10. Jane at Gastion Studio

11. Darsden at Rambling about Why

12. Midlife Mama at Midlife Musings

13. Janie at Midlife Slices

14. Michelle at Michelle’s Blog

15. Mary at Holy Mackerel

Monday, April 20, 2009

Giveaway Winner and other Stuff....

And the winner of the Hawaii goodie box is...

Kathy from My Space My Blog, My Life

Congratulations Kathy!!

Winner comes courtesy of the random number generator at Psychic Science Website.

Thanks to all of you who commented. Especially thank-you for the spirit of the giveaway, which was for me to show appreciation to those of you who come here, who read what I write, for encouraging me on this journey. Blogging has made writing fun and absorbing for me again. The biggest reason is because people, whether it was those first two readers during my beginning months or a slew of folks on a more popular post, people read what I write. And some comment. There is interaction. I really appreciate the support and camaraderie that comes from blogging.

When I began the blog last year it was a bit of an experiment. To be honest, I thought if it turned out to be something I liked, I would start a new blog using the skills I learned from this experiment. I even have a name for that blog, but have never advanced to make that change. And now I have all these great blog friends and am comfy in my spot. So I am Pseudo. Maybe that other name will get the chance to be a title for a book someday…………………………..

The seed of the idea for a giveaway began in my mind as a way to celebrate my three year anniversary of being a breast cancer survivor. That date is April 10th.

But on April 2nd when I went in for my mammogram the radiologist needed to take a better look. I was called from the waiting area, where I was completely absorbed in the preparations for a vampire war. (Book Four of the Twilight series)

The radiologist just wants to take a couple more images.

While I waited for those images to develop the tech told me to go ahead and just wait in the room.

Bella and Edward kept my mind off any negative projecting.

Mrs. Pseudo a voice called from the hallway.

I came out expecting to be excused to go home. But it was a different tech.

Hi. I’m the ultrasound technician. The radiologist sees something in your mammogram that is a little suspicious. She wants to take some ultrasound images.

Fuuuck me.

A cold wave of air started spreading from the center of my gut like a hollow, expanding pit. I felt detached from my body and as the girl led me to the ultrasound room, used the gel (which is now served warm), and began zeroing in on the suspected blip, I could feel myself floating in a twilight zone.

You know when you are dreaming, and you suddenly realize you are dreaming? How you can manipulate the dream? Seriously, I can do that.

The other night I had a dream that I was driving over an incredibly high bridge with a sapphire blue, incredibly surreal ocean below me. It was definitely Maui, the coastline from Pa’ia to Hana. Suddenly I realized I had been so absorbed in the view that I had driven off the bridge and my car was hanging 1000’s of feet above the ocean in mid air. I drove the car like a plane and suddenly I was on the beach.

Well. Anyways.

While I lay there letting the tech take images of my breast, part of me thought I could will myself from the path that had suddenly reared its ugly head and seemed determined to take me for a detour.

The rest of the ordeal lasted for two weeks. An appointment with my surgeon. An ultrasound guided core biopsy. A bruised breast and a day a rest. Twenty-four hours of not being allowed to shower. Three days of not lifting anything heavy.

The results are in and it was benign.

Life goes back to being a survivor of cancer and not a victim.

For a minute there, I could see each path before me and was suspended between these two realities, prepared for either one.

Either way, life is good. But I have to say, I am very thankful to not have to go down that path again for now.

Yea! Three years.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

8 Meme

Today is the last day to enter the Hawaii Goodie Box Contest.

I got tagged by the meme of eight by Jane over at Gastion Studio. If you haven’t checked out her blog , go on over and say hey. You won’t be sorry.

And here we go…… oh, by the way, my birthday is on an 8th of a month, so I really like the number. Plus, the number 8 looks like the symbol for infinity.

8 Things I’m Looking Forward To
1. Summer
2. Summer writing projects
3. Hearing about the boy’s night at Junior Prom (but he might not tell me much…)
4. Each and every cancer free day
5. A vacation somewhere off the rock (although there are no plans at this time)
6. Having my student loan paid (hopefully before I retire)
7. Getting in the water and doing some body boarding
8. A day off with my husband

8 Things I Did Yesterday
1. Read your blog (stole this one from Movie – but so true)
2. Walked the Border Collie here
3. Balanced my checkbook and paid some bills
4. Went to the salon and had my roots touched up and a hair cut
5. Picked up flowers for my son’s prom date
6. Helped son get ready for prom
7. Took pictures of son before he left
8. Did a bazillion loads of laundry

8 Things I Wish I Could Do
1. Travel, travel, travel, and travel (yeah, I stole this from Movie too – but got my own pics)
2. Play piano
3. Buy a piano
4. Sing a song decently enough to survive at a karaoke outing (very popular here)
5. Not let my teenage son push my buttons
6. Draw or paint
7. Take a year off of work and write full time
8. Fly (like this)

8 Shows I Watch (mostly netflixed or DVD’s, but I guess that counts)
1. Weeds
2. The Office
3. Dexter
4. The Closer
5. The Daily Show
6. Food network
7. Reruns of Law and Order
8. Friends on DVD

8 People I Tag
1. Joanie at Joanie’s Ramblings
2. Casey at Half as Good as You
3. Liz at Inventing My Life
4. Jan at Jan’s Sushi Bar
5. Captain Dumbass at Us and Them
6. Mama Dawg at Two Dogs Running
7. Suzanne at My Journey
8. Julie at Midlife Job Hunter

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Foto: Happy Hour

Don't forget to enter the Hawaii Goodie Box Contest.
Last month a friend came to visit. First night we stopped in Chinatown for martinis (hi Vodka) at Indigo's and then went to Little Village for Chinese food. Why do we always live better when we have visitors?
For more Friday Fotos, head on over to Candid Carrie's.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spin Cycle: Celebrity

Don't forget to enter the Hawaii Goodie Box contest.

What a mixed bag of ideas the topic of celebrity represents for me.

I grew up in Southern California. Various Los Angeles suburbs. My dad was a film editor and my uncle was a cameraman. I was allowed on sets and saw a few celebrities in the process.
For the most part, I have narrow and somewhat negative opinions on celebrity. I admire and respect artistry over celebrity. Although the two may come hand in hand, I turn sour at a person who works their celebrity past the level of his or her artistic ability. I admire the artist recluse.

I boycott movies by Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt because they gross me out in their celebrity. I never see the character they are supposed to become anymore. I only see them acting. And full of themselves.

I don’t buy magazines which feature photos taken by paparazzi as I try not to contribute to that mess.

I think athlete celebrities should represent better as role models instead of the way that many of them behave as if they are too good to live by the rules the rest of us are supposed to follow.

I wish Americans were more interested in their own lives than in celebrity gossip.


We moved in 1968 from the San Fernando Valley to live full time at the mobile home park on the beach where we had only before spent our weekends and summers. Most of the weekenders at the park earned their living from the film and television industries. Most of these industry people were from behind the camera. Other film editors and cameramen. My sister remembers the names and occupations much better than I do. She’s good like that; check out this post. I was a daydreaming child who loved to be active. Remembering details like names and occupations even then was not my strong suit. There was a man in his thirties who we of course thought was old (being adolescents) but still a hottie. He was a stunt man. There were some retired actors, some who had had their days of glory, but they were eccentric old people to me.

There was one resident I was mightily impressed with though. Sheriff John. Sheriff John had a TV show for kids in LA and I had grown up watching it. My friends and I would walk by his place hoping to catch a glimpse of him. If he was outside we would smile and wave and he would smile and wave back.

The daydreamer in me had a fantasy where he sang the birthday song for me, and give me a private wink on his show.

Put another candle on my birthday cake, my birthday cake, my birthday ca-ake. Put another candle on my birthday cake I'm another year old today.

I thought he was awesome.

For more spins, head on over to our wonderful host, Sprite's Keeper.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ain't Too Proud To Beg

My site was nominated for The Blogitzer!

This little ol' fish in the big pond is asking a favor. My blog is nominated for "The Blogitzer" bloggee award. If you like what you read here, please go vote. It is listed as the "phhhst" URL, instead of the full, equally uncool Pseudonymous High School Teacher.

Last year when I began the blog as a creative outlet I had no idea of the wild ride I had embarked on.

Once you register, you can vote for as many blogs in each category as you like. A lot of our friends are up.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hawaii Goodie Box Contest

Well, I haven’t done much to thank those of you who come to read this blog. Who comment. Who follow. I’ve been meaning to.

It’s a difficult week to come up with new stuff. Between the flu and then a migraine, I’m having some writing blockage (difficulty getting up from naps). So I thought I’d go ahead and run a contest this week.

The bounty? A box of “stuff” from Hawaii. It will include essentials like chocolate covered macadamia nuts and lilikoi jam. Plus surprise stuff. Ten prizes in all.

Leave a comment for an entry.

If you are a follower you will get another entry.

If you link the contest you will get an entry. Come back and let me know.

If you read the favorite posts (or read them in the past) and leave a comment which post you liked the best you get another entry.

Summer is coming faster than we realize. Your comments and feedback will help me focus my writing projects for the summer.

The contest will run from today through Sunday. Winner announced a week from today!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spin Cycle: Conspiracy Theories

Is it the flu? Or food poisoning? Or the flu?

My rambling thoughts Tuesday night as I lay curled up on the wonderful bathmat. With a blanket and pillow of course.

I was drifting in and out of sleep when I heard the distinct sound of my husband, home from work. His voice was filled with anxiety and his tone was irritated; he was punching each syllable for emphasis.

I ordered a Jumbo Jack and a regular shake and I got a Jumbo Jack with cheese and a large shake.

I knew where this was going. He had the same thing happen to him last week and I got the whole story then. According to my husband, cheese ruins a good burger. There is a delicate balance of taste in the pickle, the onion, the burger, the bun, the sauce that is absolutely ruined by a slice of melted cheese.

He wasn’t sure if the girl had just made a mistake or if she had actually up sold him on purpose.

I had told him that the last time I went through a drive through fast food joint I had ordered a meal and the price the girl tried to get off me at the window did not match the one on the menu board so I had questioned her and found out she “accidently” larged up my meal. I had already counted out the exact change for my meal and when she asked if I still wanted the regular size or to go ahead with the big version I put on my huffy voice and waited for a fresh, regular sized meal.

My theory is that the fast food workers are told to push the up sale, but being the minimum wage workers, often with language challenges, that they are, some of them just up sale you without asking. And most people don’t notice…

Tuesday night, my husband did not notice he was charged a couple dollars more than he should have been until he got home, bit into his burger, and discovered to his horror that it was ruined, AGAIN. SECOND TIME IN A WEEK, with a slice of melted American cheese.

I ambled my weak and flu ravaged self downstairs to see the show in person. I figured my daughter, usually on the computer late at night doing college work (social internet surfing) was his hostage audience.

But he was on the phone. Sitting next to our daughter in the office. Daughter looked amused.

He hung up, after getting the name of the manager and letting her know he was reporting this offense to the national Jack in the Crack authorities.

Daughter smiled at me. Well aware how to trigger a complete story from her daddy she winks at me and says

They put cheese in daddy’s Jumbo Jack.

And off he went again. The story always begins with the balance of taste and the importance of the pickle.

So. Is it a conspiracy? Anyone else supersized without permission?

The Spin Cycle this week is a free spin, for more free spins, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Keys, the flu, and not resting

Son argued admirably that he HAD put the keys RIGHT BACK ON THE COUNTER. He said he was 99% sure.

Call dad at work and ask him if he grabbed two sets of keys by accident.

No one grabs two sets of keys and does not notice.

Just call and ask.

So I called and husband says, no of course not.

That’s about when I wrote yesterday’s post.

Husband called a couple of hours later to ask if we had found the keys.

Nope. I was deciding between a locksmith and a nap.

Husband said don’t call a locksmith yet. He’ll go check.

Husband called back and said yes indeed. He has no idea how THAT HAPPENED, but he does have the truck keys.

Although I am thrilled to have the keys back and our fortress uncompromised, I am not so thrilled by the idea that now every time the gangly teenage boy loses something (which is often) he will say something along the lines of,

I bet someone took it. Remember the time dad took two sets of keys to work?

I rather liked flurrious’ comment yesterday “the only good thing about living with a teen is when you can make them stomp around and say, you are so UNFAIR!"

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Thinking about calling a locksmith...

It’s shaping into one of those weeks. Back at work yesterday I either was coming down with the flu or I had food poisoning. It wasn’t pretty.

I stayed home sick today, but instead of the rest I was supposed to be getting, I spent two hours helping the boy look for a set of keys this afternoon. We have not found them. He swears he left them on the counter, but I am worried that he left them in the front door when he came back from getting something out of the truck.

Now I am too paranoid to go back to napping.

It’s only Tuesday. Fuck.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Friday Foto : Hiking Kuliou'ou Ridge Trail

Spring Break is almost over. I spent way too much of it doing forgetable things like house fixing up projects, grading, prepping lessons, blah, blah blah....

We celebrated our 20th anniversary with a couple of lunch dates. Same with hubs birthday.

Oh. I read all four books in the Twilight series. Days lounging around in PJ's with Bella, Edward, and Jacob.

My friend P called and asked if I had anything fun planned and I did not and she asked if I did one thing what would I like it to be and I told her hiking.

Be careful what you ask for.

I've been all sassy pants with my speed walking and beach walking. P took me a couple of miles UPHILL to the top of Kuliou'ou Ridge. I was a bit pathetic in the amount of times I had to slow or stop and catch my breath. Casual chatting was out about 20 minutes into the hike. My digital camera stopped working at the beginning of the break so I asked P to bring hers. After stopping her three times to take a photo she let me carry it. Which gave me a good excuse to stop some more.

The beginning of the hike looking out over Kuliou'ou Valley.

I loved this tree. I thought it looked like something that could come to life, shake my hand for making it this far, and toodle on behind me if it felt so inclined.

The bushes and ferns were incredibly beautiful. Here we are starting to get a glimpse towards Hawaii Kai.

Hawaii Kai and Kokohead Crater in the background.

These berries were all over the place.

Yeah, there were several places like this. This is one of the last hills before the top. On the way down I slipped once and fell on my ass. P was surprised to see that after that I chose to sit on my ass and slide down. It was actually more fun that way.

Despite my panting and near dizzyiness, I was so proud to get to the top.
Amazing, isn't it? 1,929 feet above sea level.

Seriously. I want to go again. It might take me longer than most (I was not so thrilled with the two twenty-someting young ladies who blazed past us on a steep hill, talking nonstop...nor the woman with her four children who also passed me up), BUT I MADE IT!!
Don't expect Friday Fotos like this too often. I have to recup you know.
For more Friday Fotos, head on over to Candid Carrie's.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Red Wagon Philosophies: Part Three (AKA The Final Chapter, I Think...)

Part one is here.

Part two is here.

And here we go...

My own red wagon was what first introduced me to the concept of balance.

Work and play.

Being responsible and letting go.

Practicality and throwing caution to the wind.

One of the problems I find with kids these days is that many of them don’t know how to work through boredom and earn their fun. There are the overscheduled kids of the Type A parents. Between back to back sports schedules, lessons, and whatever else they fit in, they get very little down time. Certainly not enough to push them to their limits of creative imagining. Then there are the kids whose parents are either are at work, or just plain don’t want them out of the house, or just don’t encourage it. These kids watch TV, play video games, or they are on the computer all day.

I’m just finishing up To Kill a Mockingbird with my classes. Did you ever notice how Scout, Jem, and Dill always start their summers out lounging around, bored, and figuring out what to do with their summer surplus of time?

Apparently this topic of not allowing our children to work through boredom and hand feeding them entertainment needs to be left for another post of its own. But you get the idea, yes?

So, moving on.

I introduced the years we lived in a mobile home park on the beach in Malibu before. Across from Big Sycamore State Park. When I was eleven and we moved from the San Fernando Valley to the beach, the red wagon came along with everything else. At eleven, I believe I had mostly outgrown the wagon, which had seen its own wagon train days on our Wonder Years Street years before.

So, one summer day, my friends and I were lazing around in my yard trying to think of something different to do. Hiking? Mmm. Not today. Rock climbing? Swimming? Raft riding? Tree climbing? Fishing off the pier? Been there, done that. Want. New. Entertainment.

I don’t remember who saw the red wagon and decided we should take it tobogganing down the steepest trail on the hill at the front of the State Park, but that’s where we ended up.

Epiphany Number One. The handle of the wagon is not just for pulling. Sitting inside the wagon, you can use it for a steering wheel, a rudder. I remember being blown away at discovering this. It amazed me that this potential had laid latent and pending and waiting to be discovered. That I had almost never uncovered this gem of engineering. (OK. I was a bit slow. My friends acted like I was retarded for not knowing this, so I had to tone down my surprise.)

We selected a trail that zig zagged up the side of a hill and then went straight up along the ridge, perpendicular to the ocean. When we went up the straight edge high enough to get the speed for the turns, and turned to go down, we were facing the ocean. The turn looked like the edge of a cliff. Which it was in a way if you did not make the turn. But contrary to the optical allusion, you would not drop off into the ocean if you did not make the turn, but actually land on the Pacific Coast Highway.

The wagon could only hold three of us and there were four. We took turns being the one to push the toboggan off.

We started off not going too fast and this ended with the wagon anticlimactically sludging to a stop just beyond the first turn.

We gradually worked our starting point further and further up the hill.

By the last rounds, we were careening around the corner on two wheels, our hair blown back by sheer speed, our grins and laughter screaming out from the deepest depths of our souls.

It was the Most. Fun. EVER.

When we realized the rubber was shredding off the wheels we kept going until the wagon could go no more.

My friends asked if we should hide the wagon so I would not get in trouble for trashing it.

We all stood there staring at what remained of the wagon.
It was made of metal and bringing it to the beach had started it rusting. It was old. And now its wheels were gone.

I confidently told my friends the wagon had long been forgotten, was on its last legs anyways, and not only would my parents not be mad we had fast forwarded the wagon’s trail to the dump, but they would surely buy me a new one when I explained I had discovered the most fun activity on the planet.
Epiphany Number Two. Parents don’t always see a child’s perspective of living life to its fullest.

I stood there in shock while my dad stomped and yelled and made a big production of throwing the wagon in the back of the station wagon to take to the dump.

I still could not believe, once I explained EXACTLY how much fun we had, the once in a lifetime thrill, the feeling that we had discovered a true purpose for life itself, that not only did my parents not agree to buy a new wagon…they grounded me. Talk about adding insult to injury.

I remember thinking, and I believe I had about a week to think about it, that if they had a clue what my friends and I had discovered, they would apologize. See the light.

Work and play.

Being responsible and letting go.

Practicality and throwing caution to the wind.

Turns out it was a once in a lifetime experience. I never got another wagon and we found our thrills in new ways. But for months I yearned to experience just one more ride down that trail in a wagon, careening around the corner, smiling and laughing like there was nothing better in the entire world.

As an adult I try to remember to let go of responsibilities once in awhile and take the time to be creative, to relax, to enjoy.

As a parent I try to get my kids to be more responsible.

Ah. The irony of life itself.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Red Wagon Philosophies: Part Two

If you missed yesterday's post, you may want to start here.
When my kids were toddlers, a red wagon was in my top five list of playthings they needed to have. I had fond memories of my own childhood red wagon. When we went to buy a wagon for our kids, I wanted to buy them exactly the same model I had enjoyed, but times had changed and the wagons were made of plastic instead of metal. This was before the heyday of online buying, and we settled for a model the toy store offered.

My children’s wagon lasted many years and served many purposes for them. The activity I remember most was them playing Wagon Train with all the neighbor kids. There is not much that says childhood than ten or more kids lining up the trikes, bikes, scooters, and the infamous wagon to play Wagon Train down the access alley. The first time they got this idea, the wagon had the pristine first position. Our dog, the one we call Old Man now, but back then was a strapping young fellow, always hung outside with the kids when they played. He was never leashed; he was like a babysitter to them. The kids would try and ride him, lead him, order him around. He played as if he went along with it, but there was no getting around that he was in charge more than they were.

The first time the Wagon Train was good to go, the kids had tethered the dog to the lead and wanted him to pull the wagon and lead off the posse. I was sitting outside watching the fiasco, half reading a book.

Giddy up they yelled at him.

He played dumb and just turned his head to look at them. My son, riding a trike further down the line (having given the wagon riding spot to someone’s young sibling who was too little to ride in anything else) got off his trike and tried pulling our dog by the collar to get him started.

I raised an eyebrow.

You might hurt him, I admonished. Take that rope off of him and let him go.

After much argument from my then five year old son (a mere preview to his debating skills as a teenager) he finally unhooked the poor dog. He allowed another kid the spot on first trike and my son went ahead and pulled the wagon with toddler to get the ol’ western styled parade a goin’.

Old Man that was a Young Dog was sitting next to me with his head cocked to the side as he surveyed the action. As the Wagon Train kicked into high gear and all the vehicles were clunking along down the alley with yipees and whoopees singing out, the dog took off at a gallop. He ran alongside the Wagon Train and gracefully propelled himself into the back half of the wagon.

He spent the rest of the day getting pulled by the kids, who had to take turns as Wagon Train Leader (wagon puller). The dog never looked happier.

After that, every time the kids started lining up the trikes, bikes, scooters, and wagon for an afternoon of Wagon Train, the dog would claim his spot INSIDE the wagon. Sometimes lying down so he did not have to share the wagon with undeserving children.

The children came to accept this as the natural order of things.

I have thought about this sometimes over the years when my kids have out maneuvered me. When it seems I am doing more for them than they are doing for the family.
Old Man is now 16.