Affirmation

I am independent, although less so than I’d like to think. I like being outdoors. I like being on top of mountains and underneath trees. I like driving the boat like a madwoman. I like pretty things that look like spiders, goofy hats, and things that have wings. I’ve never grown out of loving horses. I love books. I would rather wear sandals than shoes. I like classical music, Latin jazz, didgeridoo, instrumental movie soundtracks, Rob Thomas, Pink Floyd, Elton John, and Melissa Etheridge. I like Rusted Root, too, and I like the Black Eyed Peas and some Kanye. I like to sing along to the radio. I like to dance along to the radio if I think no one can see. I like to write and I’m good at it. I still like to snuggle up with a pastel-colored afghan. I’m picky about socks but not about my hair. I’m a little bit goth. I’m a lot geek. I would rather face things head-on with a devil-take-all smile than to turn my back and let hell overtake me. I like to be in control except in matters of romance. I am a load of contradictions. I want to ride horses. I want to see a bull moose in the wild. I want to be a better photographer. I want to be a more diligent writer. I want to be a tidier housekeeper. I want to be a mom. I want to plant bulbs and have daylilies fill my yard every year. I want to learn to play guitar, or maybe fiddle, or maybe drumset, or definitely jazz piano. My blood runs cold and electric when I hear a marching band. I agree with Harry Dresden: people suck, but persons are worthwhile. I’m not good at being friends, but I’ll be your most loyal defender. I believe in right and wrong and many shades in between. I believe in glory in victory and in defeat and in just trying. I have a hero complex. I could cut pictures out of magazines for days on end. I am a spiritual, happy, deep-breathing, loud-clapping, quiet-sitting person. I am a Wolf, but only in some ways. I believe in something like magic and something like ghosts. I believe in myself. I believe that everything is going to be okay.

Fun Stuff

I quite enjoyed today’s XKCD. The mouseover will haunt me for the rest of my days. What is it about that song, anyway? It’s ruined “Amazing Grace” for me forever, and now poor Emily….

And because it’s Friday, and we all need a delightful little diversion, I bring you a preview of next season’s Dancing with the Stars:

Protected: Day 29

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September?

Is it really September already? Or finally? One of those two things…. We’ve had quite the cold snap these past few days, so a person would be forgiven for thinking it was mid-October.

School is settling down a little. They just switched around 20 kids in my classes yesterday, which was frustrating, and I’m still getting kids transferred from other English teachers – also really frustrating – but I guess no one actually expects me to be able to teach this first MONTH of school or anything. Good grief.

Not regretting taking this semester off from college ONE IOTA. Wishing the Mr. didn’t feel like he needed to take 12 credits, six of which are graduate courses; he’s going to be stressed out and cranky all semester, and I’m not looking forward to that very much.

I’m excited about working on the house. I’m figuring out a way to connect my “vision” to the color scheme I’ve wanted in the living room (an aqua/turquoise with an orangey-red that I think might be called cimarron) as well as the colors already in the living room furniture, which I can’t replace right away (navy, some sage green). The floors are “red oak” and the fireplace is more of a mahogany, none of which really helps the situation, but I’m not worried about all that very much.

Now I just need to find a bunch of smallish, cheap, okay-if-they’re-broken, busts. Not the sort you put in a bodice. This sort of thing:

And not particularly nice quality, either. Because I’ll never be able to bring myself to take a really nice one and SPRAY PAINT IT HOT PINK. Okay, maybe not hot pink. But still. Going to have a hard time convincing myself to spray paint marble. Plaster all the way, no?

Need to find something really special for Mom for her birthday, but not having much luck lately… hmmm…

Take My Own Advice

 

stop watching start living

“Programming” is what it does to YOU

I recently finished reading Rafe Esquith’s Lighting Their Fires: Raising Extraordinary Children in a Mixed-up, Muddled-up, Shook-up World. Teachers might recognize Esquith as the author of another book:

tlyhof

Apparently Esquith is a bit of a pyro.

He’s clearly an amazing dude. Unfortunately, I guess, he’s also a SuperTeacher – you know the type. Hollywood, in particular, is quite taken with the superhuman teacher (see Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, etc.), a  problem that has been brought up more than once, but perhaps best by Tom Moore of the New York Times:

No, the most dangerous message such films promote is that what schools really need are heroes. This is the Myth of the Great Teacher.

Films like “Freedom Writers” portray teachers more as missionaries than professionals, eager to give up their lives and comfort for the benefit of others, without need of compensation. Ms. Gruwell sacrifices money, time and even her marriage for her job.

Her behavior is not represented as obsessive or self-destructive, but driven — necessary, even…. In order to be a good teacher, she has to be a hero. [article]

Esquith is one of these hero teachers who devotes his life to his kids – and no one can fault him that. It’s just that it gives the world the wrong idea. Most of us can’t give that much of ourselves. It raises the question – how exactly does he suggest we teach like our hair’s on fire, without burning out?

ltf But that’s not what this book was about. It wasn’t written for teachers, but for parents, and the gist of the book was that we (as a society) are raising our kids pretty badly. And after I got done being irritated at him for perpetuating the myth of the hero teacher, I fell in love with (most) of Lighting Their Fires.

Particularly the part about screen time.

I can’t even begin to express how much I loath computer games/video games. I totally get that there are positives to their use: problem-solving, hand-eye coordination, military training/recruitment, and entertainment. But the negatives I can collect would require their own blog post. As regards this entry, games screw with kids’ attention spans, waste their time, and wreak havoc on their literacy by undermining their ability to visualize and get taken in by the written word.

And then there’s television. And here’s where my stomach starts to flip a little.

I did not grow up as a TV-watcher. We didn’t have the every-channel-under-the-sun cable plan, and in fact, we only had the Disney channel when they had their free preview weeks around Christmas break. No MTV, no HBO. We weren’t sports watchers, nor were sitcoms a part of our lives. I watched your usual kid shows, both when I was little and then while my little sister was a preschooler. I preferred Dumbo’s Circus to The Simpsons, which even as a middle schooler I found to be inappropriate for children.

(Okay, and I just got the biggest warm-fuzzy EVER from watching that.)

Anyway, I thought that an awful lot of people were screwing up their lives by spending them in front of the boob tube. One of the first things I did in college kill your televisionwas to put a “kill your television” bumper sticker on my dorm room door. I was one of the only people in my dorm – even as an honor’s dorm – without a TV in her room. I wasn’t radical about it; honestly, I could care less what anyone else did with their spare time. But being eighteen and all college-y, I wanted others to know how counter-culture I was being by promoting teeveecide.

Three years later, the Mr-to-be and I got to know each other on his sofa in front of The West Wing. What a great show – the sort of show that justifies television. If more programming was like that, there’d be fewer teeveecidal freshmen in the world. But from watching WW we went to watching West Wing and Trading Spaces, and from there added another show, and another. The Mr. had been raised with television, and I didn’t put up much of a fight.

Today, I feel like our lives consist of work and television. And it’s an addiction. I hate it so much, and yet I love it. Which show to stop watching? The competition reality shows are the ones that really devour me; I feel strong about cutting out TV until Project Runway or Top Chef starts up again. And don’t get me wrong; I feel like these sorts of shows have some sort of redeeming value. There’s a certain amount of educational value as well as entertainment with that sort of show. Perhaps not so much with American Idol, which I also adore – and then we start getting into Glee…. And how could I fall asleep without listening to Jon Stewart as I get ready for bed?

Gah.

I want to raise my kids, whenever they come into my life, the way I was raised. I want them to want to read instead of watch cartoons or push buttons. I’m not sure the Mr. will agree. Then again, when we got married, we locked horns over whether or not to have any hard alcohol in the house (with kids) – and now I think he feels the same as I do. So maybe by the time it’s an issue, we’ll have reached a compromise? Or maybe I’m borrowing trouble. Then again, it’s not like I’m having any more luck turning away from TV than he is. I’m not even trying.

Stuff Brewing

I don’t feel great, and I’m not sure why. I kind of suspect that I may be building another infection up – some of the symptoms are that "lovely" sort of familiar – but it’s not quite right, so I’m not sure. Unfortunately left my antibiotics (the ones I take preemptively to prevent this sort of thing) over at my folks’ house last night, so I can’t level a dose of meds at whatever it is.

Last night I got excited about my house. It had been a long time. Some time back – probably four years, maybe longer – I had a vision of what I wanted to do with our living room as soon as we got enough money. It didn’t happen, and didn’t happen, and didn’t happen. And I think, what with that sort of thing, and the gradual realization that the only parts of the house that were really mine (decoration-wise) were the office I rarely used and the bedding on our bed, I sort of fell out of love with our home. And I think it’s fair to surmise that this has something (not everything) to do with my problems in being a decent housekeeper.

Yesterday I had an awesome Saturday: Farmer’s Market, French-ish brunch, cool antique/commission furniture store, Keva, haircut, pizza, goofy movie. (Bride and Prejudice is one of those movies that is just painful enough to be wonderful, and worth watching for the gorgeous clothes along. Hooray, Bollywood.) In the middle of all that we spent a little bit of time in Urban Outfitters, which sometimes leaves me cold but was full of win yesterday. And something – in between flipping through hipster decorating books, and skimming Etsy the night before – clicked. Suddenly I had a vision.

So yeah. I’m excited about  my house again.

And no – it’s not a hipster vision. It’s more… updated retro sophisti-kitsch. Just saying that makes me want to go eat at Donnie Mac’s.

I need to put the housecleaning into high gear and throw out a LOT of junk. I need to acknowledge that even though it’s not crazy-lady-on-TLC style, what I do is still hoarding. I don’t need this much clothes, and I don’t need this many knickknacks or coffee mugs, and I probably don’t need this many books. Probably.

I’ve come up with a decorating plan that weds just about everything together:

  • age of house (1954) and vague desire to honor its birth era in the decorating
  • love of saturated color on accent walls
  • starburst clockthe joy of hunting through thrift stores and yard sales for a very specific sort of knickknack, plus the accumulation of  some pre-existing "treasures"
  • craftiness (and spray paint!)
  • the starburst clock I’ve already bought for the living room, which is still hiding behind the sofa waiting for use (the clock, not the living room – bad sentence there)
  • existing design of kitchen
  • my quirky personality

I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I want for the living room, although less so how to handle the morph into the dining area (it’s one big room). I  have a few ideas for the bathroom, but am not sure how to implement any of them cheaply. And (tres pathetic) I have an almost fully-visualized nursery in my head. Oh well. On the flip side, I would like much of the planned decor in my office, too – and it’s the same room – so I could still begin playing with it.

I’m not sure that the design extends to the main bedroom; it’s separated off from the rest of the house by the laundry area, anyway, so maybe it can just stand alone. And I’m not sure what to do about the old master bedroom. I hate to repaint it, because I love the way it looks so much – but it doesn’t fit my new plans AT ALL. And the Mr. would like to repaint it and use it as a college-themed retro logogame-watching room (which, let me be clear, is something I’ve always wanted, too – we’re not talking  about one of those horrifying things that our husbands want to do to our homes). That, however, also doesn’t really go… UNLESS I  could somehow find or reproduce 1950s memorabilia from our college! Hey, see what happens when you write things down! Your brain starts working!

Other questions to play with while doing the hard, unpleasant pre-decorating work:

  • what sort of rug goes in the living room? (there are hardwood floors, and I think the sitting area needs a rug)
  • eventually, what  kind of furniture? (current idea will work, temporarily anyway, with current sofas – but those sofas would be moved into the college-themed room if we ever did that due to their color)
  • which walls get colored?
  • can I learn to spray paint better than I did in seventh grade metal shop?
  • does brass need to be primered before spray painting?
  • light fixtures!
  • bathroom?!?

I think I’m on a little journey of self-awareness, and this is a part of it all…. Part of reconnecting to me has to include reconnecting to my habitat.

Anthem

Anthem

Cat and Stars

Interior with Cat and Stars by Marcio Melo

Looks like a nice place to be, don’t you think?

Undersharing?

I’m not sure whether I want to tell anyone where to find this blog yet.

At the beginning, I had a short list of people to whom I planned to provide this new blog address. Just a few kindred spirits, you know?

And then I started wondering if that wouldn’t undermine my efforts to just get back down to the root of me. Part of what “went wrong” with my other blogs is that they weren’t journals – they were publications, things written for an audience rather than for myself. Even now, the way I’m writing this entry sounds like I’m writing it to an exterior audience.

Part of self-actualization (or do I mean self-awareness, or something else entirely? Self immolation?) is making the rest of the world quiet down enough so that you can hear your own thoughts again. I remember being little, riding in the back seat with my parents as we trekked around the backcountry of the Colorado Rockies, and trying desperately to understand whether I was actually hearing the voice in my head that did the thinking. I couldn’t decide whether it counted as hearing, since my ears weren’t doing anything. I couldn’t make the voice in my head be quiet – the more I tried not to think, the more I self-narrated. (It’s like The Game – impossible to win once you’re snagged.) But there are long stretches of time now, as an adult, when that voice in my head is nowhere to be found. I’d like to get it back.

I’m not sure that inviting friends to this blog would hurt that. I’m just not sure it would help, either.

Well, I’ve got plenty of time to think about it. I can always invite people over. I just can’t un-invite, so I need to be sure. 🙂

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Some are baffled, but that one is not - that one knows me.