Wednesday, December 31, 2008

lessons learned

You never make a lesson plan without a goal in mind.

What will the student achieve, understand, or remember by the end of this lesson?

I hate lessons.

Annoyingly, it's always what people tell you when a relationship ends. Just think of this as a learning experience, your friends say, as if that's supposed to make it all better. Granted, in a few months you will view it that way, and you'll begin to think about what you want in a new relationship. You begin to consider new relationships. You have new relationships.

Realistically, no one enters a romantic relationship thinking, "I just want to learn about myself and then move on." I don't know if it's society or genes or hormones or television but within minutes of meeting a man, most women will try to picture herself standing next to him in a white dress, making pancakes with him in the kitchen, doing crosswords on Sunday mornings and taking kids to the park. I'm guessing that within seconds of meeting a woman, most men just try to picture us with our clothes off. Tomato, tomahtoe? Who knows.

I suppose this "learning experience" approach works for someone who does not consider themselves a permanent student. But as a lifetime learner, I can't help but wonder why I couldn't meet the goal. I can accept it when a lesson plan fails in my 7th grade classroom, but not when one fails in my life. I always want to get the A+.

That elusive, elusive A+.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

on the naughty list

We're playing Secret Santa at work. All day yesterday, I kept peeking at my mailbox, anxiously awaiting my first gift of the week. Finally, after lunch, I noticed a bright red package sitting inside.

The tag read:

I'm Your Santa! Well, actually, I'm your Secret Santa, but there weren't any books with that title. Tawdry Romances may not be your genre of choice but give this book at try. I share your love of reading, so who am I?

I opened the package to find a bright, green paperback titled I'm Your Santa. After reading the back of the book, I guessed this was a typical chick lit type romance. I innocently flipped open to a random page and began to read.

Um, words like thrust, throb, grab, moan, desire, heat, and passion, mixed in with lexicon for various body parts, was not what I expected to see! In shock, I threw the book on my desk and took three steps back. I looked around to make sure I was alone - I couldn't be seen reading this type of thing at work!!! I tiptoed back to my desk and flipped to another page. Eek! It was more of the same, only this time with nipples. I shoved the book to the bottom of my purse and tried to collect myself before 5th period.

Now I'm wondering if my Secret Santa intended for me to receive this dirty gift, or if they innocently thought, like me, that this was just a chick lit book for a beach day? I can't wait to see who my Santa turns out to be. I hope that Santa really isn't a pervert, but with teachers, you never know!

ps - Remember this blog in case I die. If they clean out my house, I don't want people to think I bought that book to read. Even if the some of the pages are bookmarked ;)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

i googled you

When did "google" become a verb? Now, don't get me wrong. I love google. Who doesn't? But being told that you were "googled" is an interesting experience. Especially when you are on a date.

I actually think google can be a dating barometer. How much do I like this person? Am I curious enough to google them? If they admit they googled me, am I creeped out? Impressed? Do I need to google this question to find the answer?

Interestingly enough, someone admitted to me last night that I had been googled. He said he found some articles I'd written on helium.com . (I use helium when I am bored in the summer time, or when I can't think of something to blog about.) Then he says, "That one article you wrote, the one called "Me, myself and men", I was cracking up all day over that one."

My brain began to race. Hmm? What was that article about? Oh crap! Did I write about all my failed relationships? Did I publicly claim Puck as the great love of my life? What insane man theory of mine did I publish on the internet and attach my name to?

This morning I googled myself to find the answer.

My article was about farting.

I wrote about boys. I wrote about farting. And my date read all about it!

You can read all about it, too. You don't even have to google me. Just click here.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

yay for neighbors!


Thanks to the world's best neighbor, Natalie, I was nominated for the Kreativ Blogger award.

According to the rules, I need to list 6 things that make me happy, in no particular order.

1. Waking up in a warm, cozy bed on a cold morning.
2. Watching my students enjoy an activity I planned.
3. Being at Montreat with my pals.
4. Giggling with my sisters.
5. Hearing Kennedy say, "Mama! Mama!" when Wump and I are on the phone.
6. Eating meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green peas with my dad.

So here are the rest of the rules!

List 6 things that make you happy (done!)
Pass the award on to 6 bloggers for Kreativ.
Link to the blogger who gave you the award.
Link to the blogs receiving the award.
Notify the recipients.

Here are my nominations!

More Than Me
Daisy Days
Divinely Chaotic
Making Hay
The Second Coming
The Plug

(of course, I love to read my sister's blog, but I know she is thanking me for not making her blog about this! can't wait to see you!!)

Monday, December 1, 2008

birthday surplus

Super thanks to everyone who sent well-wishes on my birthday. It definitely makes a difference to know that people who love and care about you are thinking of you on your special day! I had a WONDERFUL birthday thanks to my friends, family, and some Latin spice! I promise to post pictures soon, whenever I find the cord that goes to my camera.

This past weekend was Thanksgiving. I'm giving thanks for my parents, who forced me to buy new tires. This tire-buying was incentive for me to clean out my car (ironically, I didn't want the mechanics to see it looking so dirty) for the first time in years. It took over four hours, but I got Macura the Acura back to her glory day standards. As a bonus, the friendly guys at Ocala Tire Service filled my new tires with nitrogen for free! I don't know what that means, but I was psyched to get something free. Yay! Free Nitrogen! Woo!!!

If you are bored reading about my blog, check out what my kids are up to.

ptfo,
The WG

Sunday, November 23, 2008

you can tube me

My pal Chris made this video at Montreat Middle School last year. So much fun! Can you see me running out of the picture?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

woo!

I did it.

I'm a National Board Certified Teacher.

I know I'm a determined person. I know I'm a hard worker. But I'm not always confident. I guess, on some level, I'm afraid of disappointment. So I kept telling myself that regardless of the results, I would still be proud that I applied. Just finishing the process is a major accomplishment.

Realistically, it actually is an accomplishment just to finish. For me, however, it's not enough. There is always a part of me that always wants to be the best. If I didn't get it, I would be crushed. Thankfully, the judges liked my portfolio because I did it! I'm in!

So today, I can say I am the best. I did it. I earned my National Certification and I am really, really proud of myself!

What else can I say!

Go me!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

27 years ago today...

a happy little girl was born and named Lindsay Meg. Don't forget to celebrate!

Monday, November 17, 2008

it's okay to be vain, this blog is about you

Hello Scorpios!

After leaving a multitude of Happy Birthday messages today, I was pleased to see that so many of my friends were scorpios just like me. Normally, I don't buy into astrology. It seems like anyone can identify with any of the signs. You could read Taurus and think, "Oh! That's me!" and then jump over to Gemini and think, "Wait! That's me, too."

Incidently, I've read in several places that Scorpio is the most misunderstood of any sign because we are intense on many levels. Therefore, I couldn't resist sharing this little tidbit of information about Scorps for those who know me best. I think they will get a kick out of it.

Relationships with Scorpio are always complicated, just like the person, their relationships are a series of extremes, they can even be downright moody for no apparent reason. Scorpios are known for their possessiveness and jealousy but on the other hand, they are extremely loyal.

Scorpios have an excellent memory and combined with an inability to let things go, they can hold a grudge against someone who did them harm forever, in fact a Scorpio rarely if never forgives and forgets. They will even go as far as get vengeance on the person. On the other hand, they will always remember a kind gesture forever and repay it. Any kind selfless gesture done to a Scorpio will gain trust and respect which is extremely important to them in any relationship, either romantic or not.

Sound like anyone you know? :)

(Fellow Scorpios, read more here )

Saturday, November 15, 2008

comedy or tragedy? seriously!

Here is my dilemma. You remember that mean girls post from a few months back?

They're baaaaaack!

Recently, I found myself deleting a LOT of people from my friends' lists on my social networking sites. What's the point of giving so many people public access to my personal life? Especially when I don't even talk to half of them, or haven't actually spoken/communicated with some of them in months, even years? I deleted over 70 people from myspace, and over 30 from facebook. (Facebook is a little different because it's mostly Montreat friends, and sometimes I only see them once a year if I'm lucky. That's just the way summer camp goes.)

So, among the people I deleted was one of these girls who, as I like to say, kicked me out of the clubhouse. She hasn't returned any of my phone calls in months (I eventually stopped calling), turned down all my invitations to hang out, and basically any communication I've had with her has been cold. I took the hint. She doesn't want to be my friend. Moving on.

Well, after deleting her, I get a message that says, "Seriously?"

That's it. Seriously.

I reply, "Is this in response to something in particular?"

She replies: "I didn't know it was like that. I forgot you are still in middle school. I wish you all the best." Then she blocks me from her profile so I can't even respond. Seriously.

Umm...I'm a little confused. After all, she made it clear she didn't want to be my friend. I took the hint. Why is she so upset that I deleted her from freaking myspace??? Seriously!!!

What I want to know from you is this - should I respond? I feel inclined to explain that she was just one of many "friends" I deleted. I have the urge to remind her this is what she wanted in the first place. I'm curious as to why it makes her so upset to lose me as an internet friend but not one in real life. But do you think it will do any good? I mean, seriously?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

philosophizing, or something like it

"It is what it is."
--Thomas E. Gemkow, via phone conversation the other night

(plus, a million other people who use that phrase, his mom included)

So...

I'm back in Florida. I had a FABULOUS TIME on my vacation. I spent quality time with my sisters. I saw DC for the first time since I was thirteen. I volunteered for a successful presidential campaign. I danced in the city streets. I saw Van Gogh and Manet and Roudin. I drove through the autumn-covered hills of Virginia. I began the amazing process of planning the Montreat Middle School Conference in 2010 with a great partner in Neeley.I tried to upload the photos but I can't find the right cord. I came home to a broken tv, but also to a bunch of friends I sorely missed! Including my happy puppy, Mr. Puck.

Yet. I'm disappointed.

To go from such a high with Obama's election to come home and have a parent attack me over something I can't control (a substitute told the students she voted for Obama) and offer me up as a sacrifice to the school board is an exhausting process.

To get on facebook and read things like, "I'm not racist, but I think all black people are lazy. I mean, I have black friends who work and stuff, but Obama wouldn't have won if all the lazy black people didn't vote," leaves me uneasy and bewildered.

To see Florida pass Amendment 2 and California repeal Proposition 8 feels like ten steps in the wrong direction. Actually, the combination of all these things makes me want to vomit. Two, maybe three times.

And last night I found myself saying, "It is what it is."

Then I remembered listening to Reggie Weaver's final sermon during our "Live Out Loud" Middle School Conference. Reggie said that even though you will find yourself down in the valley, among the non-believers and people who want to bring you down, the most powerful thing you can do is live out loud. Don't give up. Live. Out. Loud.

I know not everyone shares me ideas about politics - but race isn't politics. Fairness and Equity and Civility are all things I embrace in my life. I refuse to succumb to apathy. I am going to live my life in the best way I know how, and give equal love and appreciation to all people, in hopes that some day, they will do the same.

This isn't what it is.

WE are what it will be.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

yes we did

During the past four days...

I knocked on doors in Virginia to help Senator Obama win that state in the 2008 Election.

I walked over 2 miles in the pitch black dark to a remote fairground with 90,000 others to hear his final campaign speech.

I celebrated in a bar full of democrats when he won state after state after state - including my own beloved Florida.

I was hugged by an enormous 7 foot tall bouncer when the announcement was made that Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of these United States.

I hugged and high-fived and chanted with strangers outside the White House.

I sang 'Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye' down the street while hundreds of car horns blared in the city streets.

And I did it. I finally found my self in a total sum of awe.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

you can vote however you like...

I seriously love the teacher who let the kids do this:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

paging dr freud, paging dr freud

I've had this thought stuck in my head for awhile. It's a weird one, but it's there. Actually, it's probably not so weird. But here it is.

So, usually, they say that girls want to find guys like their dad. The theory is that you will grow up to be like your mom, so you'll want to find a balance like your dad. Unless, unlike me, you had a crappy dad. Then you don't want a guy like him. Well, your subconscious might. But you'll eventually learn that you don't.

But back to me. I'm just curious. What do you do when you are a girl who grew up to be like your dad, and you have no clue who your mom was?

Friday, October 17, 2008

devil, thy name is chicken salad

It's been two weeks since I launched my cash cook challenge. I've spent $52.41 on groceries in a two week time-frame. I've had every meal - breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks - at home. Some of those, I managed to glean from others (yay! for having Kat home and being invited over for steak dinner) and some I managed to, um, steal (sorry co-workers!) but all in all, I made it. I even lost three pounds!

So, today I am faced with a dilemma. After all this time, I'm really out of ideas for lunch. I've got basically little to nothing in my fridge and freezer. I got paid today. Can't I just order from the deli like I always do on Friday? Don't I deserve to treat myself to my favorite chicken salad sandwich on a buttery croissant?

Well, when I usually order my lunch, I pay $5.50 for a sandwich. That's 10% of what I just spent on food in the past two weeks!!!

Talk about an eye-opener. Talk about a wallet-closer.

(but damn, that chicken salad croissantwich is sooooooooo good!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

trade you

Among the other fabulous tips I get on my favorite news-lite morning program, here is a fun site I found on The Today Show: www.swaptree.com

Swaptree let's the swap your old books, dvds, and cds you have for the ones you want! The site hooks you up with someone else in the U.S. who has what you want if you have what they want. You don't have to dig and search like on ebay. All you pay is shipping! So far I listed some of my books and dvds, just waiting to see if there are any bites.

Some other sites include: zwaggle.com (baby stuff) or freecylce.com (gets rid of stuff for free).

have fun! let me know what you think.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

tag: I'm it

A. Attached or single? Single, although I am attached to certain things (my pets) and people (my friends and family) and places (my couch) and ideas (my own).
B. Best friend? Hilary
C. Cake or pie? both with ice cream, please
D. Day of choice? Sunday. It's always okay to be lazy on Sunday.
E. Essential item? Deodorant. I am smelly.
F. Favorite colour? Lately, I've been enjoying orange.
G. Gummy bears or worms? Mike & Ike, original favors
H. Hometown? Ocala, Florida
I. Favorite indulgence? letting myself order something really expensive on the menu
J. January or July? July! July is not working, Montreat, and barbeques. January is grey and ick.
K. Kids? I have 100+ thirteen-year-olds on any given day. It's the world best birth control. But maybe someday...
L. Life isn’t complete without? something silly happening to me that I can retell complete with outrageous voices and exaggerated, yet hilarious embellishments
M. Marriage date? Um, I hope I don't bring a date to my marriage
N. Number of magazine subscriptions: 1 - Glamour. I miss Jane. I wish I could afford Real Simple.
O. Oranges or apples? Oranges
P. Phobias? not being able to breathe underwater
Q. Quotes? Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
R. Reasons to smile? watching my kids enjoy The Giver, having Kat home to watch Gilmore with me, thinking about going to DC to see Levana, finding time to talk to Hilary, getting text messages from Janine, volunteerings, making travel plans, the list goes on...
S. Season of choice? Autumn, though like Kim, I wish it was a bit more noticeable here in The South.
T. Tag 5 people. Emily, Jamie, Levana, Thomas, Neighbor Natalie
U. Unknown fact about me? I sing "Oops, I Did it Again" in the shower. Yes. I really do.
V. Vegetable? Asparagus, brussel sprouts, green peas
W. Worst habit? I suck my thumb when I'm extremely tired, bored, or deep in thought.
X. X-ray or ultrasound? Neither, ew.
Y. Your favorite foods? Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green peas, and Sally's triple chocolate rum cake.
Z. Zodiac sign? Scorpios, unite!

...

So, I survived the expired brinner, although I ended up not having enough maple syrup to make my pancakes worthwhile. Oh well.

I hit Publix again, and this time extended my budget to $30 and only went over by 72 cents. I managed to stock up on some good sales to help me in the weeks to come.

I liked this challenge so much that I might just extend it. Right now I'm thinking I will go at least one more week, but I'd like to keep it up until I leave for DC on the 1st.

I am saving up money to party with my sisters (or, to be more specific, be a huge tourist dork and hit up all the stuff I didn't pay attention to on my 8th grade fieldtrip!) One favorite memory of this trip is a certain someone getting caught with a certain other someone underneath the seats on the train! What's your favorite Washington trip memory?

Friday, October 10, 2008

cash cook challenge update!

Well, I almost made it! I'm down to my last weekday of not eating out. So far this week, everything I've consumed has come from my fridge, freeze, pantry, friends, or unsuspecting co-workers. Here are the high-lights:

Moment to remember: My delicious chili! I've never made chili before; it was surprisingly easy, healthy and scrumptious.

Moment to forget: Forgetting my Nalgene and filling up an empty water bottle with OJ from the fridge in the faculty lounge in order to prevent using the vending machine for a drink.

So, it's nearly the end of the week and I'm running really low on supplies. My only option for dinner is pancake mix. While I love the idea of brinner (breakfast for dinner), I am a little nervous that the expiration date on the pancake mix box reads Sept. 2007.

If I post again soon, I'll be living proof that expiration dates are nothing but cheap threats from major food processing companies to discourage penny pinching teachers such as me.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

a happy day

This morning:
blissful thirty minutes of alone time, outside in the courtyard, with a nectarine, lesson plans, and a plenty of refreshing October sunlight.

This afternoon:
After reading about "special" dreams in The Giver, one of my students says:

This reminds me of this movie called 187. Have you seen it? It's this movie where they don't let people have intercourse unless they are wearing intercourse helmets. And the helmets let you have intercourse, but not with a person, it's like you're having intercourse with the helmet. Ms. L have you ever seen this movie?*

This evening:
delicious cup of homemade chili, made from ingredients in the house and purchased on $20 budget, about to watch Obama face off against McSame...

oh, happy day!

*and yes, this is totally true! I can't make up the things my kids say.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

cash cook challenge

Did you know I started this blog to try and blog my way out of debt in one year?

I quit blogging about money and had to give up that goal. I discovered that my goal was unrealistic and it became increasingly uncomfortable to blog about my finances on the internet. However, I did make progress and paid down one card by 30%...not 100% debt-free, but at least I didn't totally give up!

Motivated by the recent financial, um, DISASTER on Wall Street, I've been reading about finances and found a lot of interesting articles on ways to save money. None of them sound that appealing to me. Most of them require a dual income. Because I'm naturally competitive, I've decided to create my own challenge to pay off my debt. I'll post more about that later. But in the meantime, I need short-term challenges, and little perks along the way to keep me going.

My first mini-challenge will be a grocery store challenge. I looked at what I've spent each week at Publix for the past three weeks. It ranged from $30 to $50.

My goal is spend only $20 on groceries this week and try to subsist off what is in the fridge, pantry and freezer. The rules are:

1. Any food item must come from the $20 budget.
2. Meals must be healthy and balanced. This is not your roommate's ramen noodle diet.
3. Make it fun! Look for recipes and don't just rely on easy-to-cook frozen foods.

The first $4.03 of my $20 budget has been spent. Tonight, I went to Super-Target and purchased 2 Weight Watchers yogurts, 4 Dan-Active cottage cheese containers, and 1 can of Black Beans. After surveying the interior of my freezer and pantry, I've decided to make chili this week using a recipe from my WW "Pure Comfort" cookbook. Tomorrow I will make a shopping list and spend my $15.97 at Publix.

Tonight, I used 1 red bell pepper, leftover chopped onions, frozen peas, 1 can of tuna, mayo and mustard to make these stuffed peppers for my lunch tomorrow. All of which was in my fridge! Looks yummy, no? (Well, they taste good, even if they don't look super appetizing to you.)

Here's to putting my belly on a budget!

singleville: the update

As I blogged yesterday, I went into last night's events with a "What's-the-worst-that-could-happen" attitude.

That all changed when I pulled up to a house covered in McCain-Palin signs. My brain went into panic overload. Abort! Abort! Abort!

What should I do? I didn't have Anne's number to call and cancel due to a sudden illness (conservatitis) It was too late to do anything but take a deep breath and walk to the front door. Immediately I heard a dog's ferocious bark (could he smell my liberal fear?) and began to sweat. This was going to be a long night.

Thankfully, the very nice McCain supporter who answered the door was not Anne, but rather her next door neighbor who politely informed me that I was at the wrong house.

Hoping that would be my only embarrassing moment of the night, I counted down two houses and found myself in the right place. There were some other women from work their with their husbands, so we made polite conversation for awhile. It was kind of awkward, because the deck could only hold so many people. Eventually, we wandered inside and ate (mmm...seafood).

Her son, R, was really great and tried to make me feel like part of the conversation. He looked a lot like Anne, which I found cute. He asked the requisite questions - where did I like to go out at the beach, do I like teaching, do I like sports - typical guy stuff. He told me bit about himself, where he lives, etc. One of his friends was there and they both seemed pretty interested in the baseball game, so I felt a little out of place. I tried to leave when the others did but Anne insisted I stay and chat with her. R disappeared and we found him as I was on my way out.

The one bad thing is that when we found him, he was smoking in the garage. I noticed this earlier in the night, too. I hate smoking. I've never even tried to smoke a cigarette, and I'm really susceptible to the smoke. I woke up coughing this morning. Gross.

Then, as if knocking on the McSame supporter's door earlier in the evening wasn't embarassing enough, I preceded to shove my gigantic (yet freshly exfoliated) foot inside my mouth.

R: Well, it was really nice to meet you. We'll have to go out for beers sometime, when my parents aren't around.
Me: Yeah, I'd like that. It was nice to meet you, too.
R: Finally. My mom has been saying, "You've got to meet my friend Lindsay" for over a year now.
Me: I know. It's a good thing I like your mom, because all the other ladies at work are always wanting to introduce me to their sons, too.
R: (Silence. Then crickets.)
Me: Soooo, um, I guess I'll get going.
R: Yep. Drive safe.

Not only did I manage to insult him by pointing out that his mom is setting him up, but I also pointed out that I'm the big loser who needs the moms of the world to introduce me to potential suitors.

I also didn't do the whole, "Yeah, you should call me," bit after he said let's go out for drinks, to which he would've said, "I don't have your number" to which I would have replied, "Let me give it to you" instead of "You need your mommy to get you girls."

Smoooooooooth!

I have a feeling I am destined for a long, long life in Singleville : )

Saturday, October 4, 2008

tales from singleville

Tonight, I'm being set up. My friend from work, Anne, is playing matchmaker and setting me up with her son. She's a guidance counselor so I trust her guidance, even though I am very aware it's guiding me towards her offspring. She's hosting a dinner party (low country shrimp boil - yum!) but I know the premise is for me to meet him.

She's been trying to get us together for over a year. I think Anne's invite is sweet. Also, it is much less terrifying than the time my stepmother tried to convince me to date my stepbrother. No, I'm not kidding.

There are a lot of ladies at my work who've offered to set me up with their son. "Oh, he's such a catch!" they say. "You are, too!" they assure me. I think they find it odd that after all these years (going on 27 of them) I am, wonder of wonders, still single. Occasionally, I've considered accepting their offers. One of them actually has a son who is Very Hot. But she is Very Crazy and I don't want to go down that road.

Last week, I went to church with a work-friend to meet her grandmother's neighbor. (Note: he was not old, he was exactly my age. And he goes to church with a little old lady - who doesn't think that sounds super cute??) Alas, he looked so much like a cuter version of one of my exes that I spent the whole service trying to remember if said ex had a little brother with a little old lady fetish. Sorry, God.

Dating the son of a friend you work with has it's pros and cons. Right now, all I can think about are the cons. Everything-Is-A-Possible-Tragedy Linds is taking over my brain. What if we don't hit it off? Will she hold it against me? Will things be awkward at work?

However, Oh-Shut-Up-You-Wimp Linds is trying to channel my anxiety. Honestly, I work at a middle school, so how much more awkward could my work atmosphere become? Also, I've known Anne for five years and know she is a genuinely caring, down to earth, realistic person. Chances of her slitting my tires over not giving him the green light are slim to none. Lastly, she even said that if I don't feel a connection to her son, she would love to set me up with one of his many friends! Who doesn't loved being pimped out?

I don't have any expectations going in to this. Honestly, I have not felt like dating at all lately. It's complicated and messy. I'm complicated and messy enough on my own - why add to that equation?

Oh well. Worst case scenario - I eat some free shrimp and Anne keys my car.

Right?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

remember that dream?

You know, the dream where everyone sees you in your underwear?

Tonight I had a similar experience. Only, I was awake.

I was asleep on the couch. Clad in only boyshort undies and my pajama top - an over sized t shirt with a giant pig face on the front that I've had since I was LITERALLY eight years old - I felt a wet doggy nose pressing against my cheek. Alas, the weakened bladder of my elderly canine was at it again. Bleary eyed from sleep, I stumbled into my flip flops and put Puck's leash on to take him out to pee.

"No one will see me," I yawned. "It's the middle of the night."

Um, wrong.

Actually, it was only about 10:30 p.m. And EVERY SINGLE ONE of my neighbors was in the parking lot watching a fire engine circling the parking lot trying to find the house that called in a kitchen fire.

Puck, still feeling nature's call, bounds over to the bushes and proceeds to pee for a good sixty seconds, completely eliminating any hope of making an unnoticed escape.

So, not only did my neighbors get a good view of my butt cheeks and giant pig-face t shirt, but about six firefighters on Engine 33 did, too.

Tomorrow I am online shopping for adult doggy diapers and never leaving the house again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

NE Florida's Barack-Through

I'm so proud of Jacksonville!

Not only did we turn out to support Senator Obama at his pep rally yesterday, we turned out in a big way. Ten thousand people inside Metropolitan Park, and eight thousand crowded outside. We waited in the sun and the rain. We bought buttons and made tshirts. We high-fived and chanted and cheered. We welcomed neighbors from all over Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

And finally - he came!

Senator Obama's speech was motivational. He spoke about his plans to change things. He says he will end the war in Iraq. He plans on funding green technology to protect our environment, decrease our dependency on foreign oil, and create new jobs. He wants to give tax cuts to middle and working class families to help stimulate the economy. He will work to provide fair and affordable health care to all Americans. He will fight to make college affordable. He wants to support teachers so they do not have to, and I quote, "teach to the tests."

I agree. Can we do these things? I hope so. I really do. Getting him elected is the first step.

It was truly an amazing thing to know that I was standing in the Florida heat, listening to history happen, listening to the next potential President of the United States ask for my vote. Seeing my community come out in masses to show their support and appreciation for his campaign. Watching little children on their parents shoulders, chanting "Yes We Can!" and hoping in the next eight years, they will sit in classrooms in a much better America than the one we have today.

This day, for me, was inspiration personified.


ps - Here's the slogan I chose for our tshirts. Go see more photos, including me and Janine's Top Model Audition shots, from this wonderful day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

play with words

Tomorrow, something fabulous is FINALLY happening in Jacksonville.

We are having a rally downtown for none other than BARACK OBAMA! The best part is - the man HIMSELF will be in attendance. Lately, I've been volunteering for the campaign and being proactive makes me feel useful and excited.

And on the eve of the night I will hear the Future President of the United States of America speak in my town, all I can think is....

What makes the best tshirt?

Obama Baracks!
I Had A Barack-Through
Party Like Barack Stars
or ... Vote Obama 08 (I know, this ones a clunker!)

What can I say? Political volunteering aside, I'm still me!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

the working girl at work

So, for any curious readers, these are some pictures from my classroom. I thought you might be interested to see where I spend most of my weekdays. This is where the Working Girl gets her work on, educating the young minds of America.

This is the top of my filing cabinet. All the essentials - lesson plans, bottled water, Nelson Mandela biography, piggy bank, and a starry, starry night.
Ahh, the elusive bathroom pass. Everybody wants one.

A shelf of our classroom library. Note the color-coded labeling system.

Our "Word Garden", where vocabulary grows. It's amazing what I can do with a little fabric, wire fencing, brown paper bags, hula skirts and a staple gun.
The Student Help Station - keeps us organized and feeling happy.

This is what the room looks like from my desk. It's a bit more interesting with twenty hormonal pre-teens sitting in those desks. I promise.

Woo! Desk surfing!!! (Also, that's the giant mirror in my classroom.)
My messy desk at the end of the day.... ok, and the beginning and middle of the day, too.

Tell me what you think ... and yes, your comments will be graded. - WG

Saturday, September 6, 2008

my life in text messaging

Here's another fun game to play. These are my last 15 text messages (other than the "ok" and "yes" responses) in order from furthest back to most recent:

- True, punchies for life.
- to get the crazy Sri Lankan bitch off my ass
- not as much as you do!
- wet and irritated. you got a red spot coming for you.
- took a sweet job in kentu
- cky
- no power, two days, this sucks
- you're my person!
- not making cuts til next week
- you little drunky
- be safe, Ms. Frustration
- Yes. Yes, you are.
- I am drugged and horny.
- I need Mike's man meat.
- No coke in 3 days. Go buy a webcam.
-Colton in amazing. I am in love. Hopefully we'll go home tomorrow, depending on his test results.

Sometimes, I prefer my life out of context.

my life in pictures

Taken from Emily, here's a fun little photo game to play. Type the information into google images and see what pops up!

My First Name (No big shock this hooker popped up! LiLo move over. It's time for LiLay!!)

My Middle Name (oooh, scary!)

My Last Name (this was the first image...a guy named Stephen - which is my dad's name! )
and I couldn't help adding that the 5th image in all of google is a picture of MY parents in MY house! I don't know any of these kids though - are they replacing me in mass quantity??

And then there's my age (apparently not something you should spread around)
A place I'd like to visit (I was just talking to one of my students about this...It's Tokyo)
My Favorite Place (no big shock there):
My Favorite Animal (A BLT no "B" please):
Favorite Food (LOL, try and figure this one out):
Favorite Color (add the blue!):
Favorite Bad Habit (probably the only reason I pay a cable bill):
My First Job (although I didn't work for the Red Cross):

My Favorite Restaurant (if you live in Ocala, you should go check it out! Order the BadWich and tell them Lindsay sent you!):
Where I Was Born (that's supposed to be New Jersey):
Where I Grew Up (I do love streets like this - but watch out for chiggers!):

Where I Live Now (our downtown is actually quite pretty) :

and finally....what I'm doing right now! (big shock):
and on that note, I guess I better get my ass off the couch and do something productive. Honest to blog, people!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

new neighbor


So, for the past two weeks, I've been greeted by this "little" guy on my front porch. You can't really tell from the pictures, but he is about 8 inches long and half an inch thick. Not your average friendly Floridian lizard!



He's also got these creepy little scales that change color in the sunlight. Today, when I snapped this picture (before he shot like lightning into the bushing enticing my most high-pitched scream) I noticed he was a brownish-green. However, this weekend he was more of a silvery-blue. I don't know what the hell he is, but the fact that I can see him as soon as I pull up in my car, lurking on the porch and waiting for me ... freaks. me. out.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

party like barack star


So, those of you who know me, know I'm a very much a liberal. I'm not as educated on the issues as I should be, but I do have a deep belief in taking care of people and making sure that government does not interfere with people's personal life decisions. I struggled with the Obama v. Clinton issues. I really, really, really would love to see a woman run for President. Ever since I was a little girl, and I took those tiny steps onto my woman's rights soapbox, I knew that someday it would be possible. But I believe it will come in time. I believe in many things.

And I believe in the good in people.

I work with adolescents, but that isn't what makes my job frustrating. What makes my job so difficult is working with an endless supply of jaded people. I am constantly told that I'm too idealistic, and when I "wake up", I'll realize that these kids will never change. They tell me, that when I "get a life", I won't waste my time trying to help these kids. The negativity of my co-workers is very overwhelming. It's part of the reason I escape to Montreat each summer - just to be surrounded by people who don't think I'm naive for believing in the good, to be surrounded by people working overtime to bring happiness to kids they don't even know.

So, it is no wonder that someone like me can feels a connection to Barack Obama. His campaign, his story, his message - it's all so hopeful. It's empowering for me to watch him. He has overcome a lot and seen so much more than me. And even though some people say it's just feel-good-political-fluff, I can't help but feel excited that he united so many people with this message of hope.

Oh, the audacity of hope. Yes, we can. I believe in Barack Obama - and even if it turns out that he's not the Political Prince Charming of the Democratic Party - I will still believe in change, and hope, and happy things like that.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

under - rated

I am officially obsessed with the following things today:

1. The Law & Order Criminal Intent marathon on USA
2. The Law & Order Criminal Intent marathon on Bravo
3. Law
4. & Order
5. Criminal Intent

Doink-doink!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

over-rated

I am officially over the following things today:

1. Living alone
2. Constant rain
3. Jacksonville
4. Laundry
5. Freecreditreport.com commercials

Ugh! Please let me go back to work!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

and the teachers are already complaining...

Dear Fay,

You know, at first I was psyched that you were heading this way. They said you'd be a Category One, bringing lots of wind and rain. I bought supplies. I filled my gas tank. I emptied my minuscule bank account just for some emergency cash.

And then...you veered off course. Was it something I said? I can't think of any other way to welcome a storm . We closed our schools and opened shelters! My neighbors boarded their windows and took all their potted plants inside. The mayor got on tv and scared the crap out of us.

This is all we get? Some drizzly rain and wind. A few leaves on the ground. What more do you want? You better bring something a little stronger, Miss Fay. Or else I'm going to put you in the same category as all my ex-boyfriends - Masters of the Bait and Switch.

With disgust,
A Floridian with a bad case of cabin fever

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

hey fay

Woo! A storm is coming. I love hurricane season. Oddly enough, this is the first time I've lived alone and had to prepare on my own. I stocked up on water, peanut butter, batteries, and gas. I made sure Puck and Zoey are stocked up on pet food. Another necessary item that many people forget is a cord-phone. Cordless phones can't work without power to charge the base, and cell phone towers are down. An old-fashioned plug-in phone is a hurricane must.

And, in case of power outages, and I can't watch my daily dose of Gilmore Girls or Scrubs, I bought Twilight, which I can't wait to read. Does that count as classic literature, Emily?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

my mom would be proud

Inspired by Kim, I took the 1930s Housewife test. I used ex-boyfriends as substitute husbands and used situations with my students to answer the kid questions (except the part about tucking them in to bed at night!) And, as most of you can probably predict, my results indicate:

16

As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Poor (Failure)

Take the test!



That's right. I failed. Totally, completed, failed this test. Apparently, cooking in my pajamas, getting a job, swearing, and wearing red nail polish would make me a very, very bad wife. Hooray for the modern woman! I can blog and burn my bra all at the same time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

books, blogging, and kids, oh my

Emily's blog about books she's never read greatly inspired me at work today! In my county, I am required to help students meet a "25 Book Standard". Basically, I'm really against the idea and think it's a giant waste of time, HOWEVER, I'm required to do it. The kids have to do a "book report" after each book.

I was thinking ... what if they built their own blogs for book reports?

For each book, I would give directions and they would respond in a post on their blog. It would be much less paper (go green!) and it would be incorporating technology (go nerds!). Also, I could grade it from home without having to lug home a bunch of papers. Lastly, I think I'll require them to read each other's blogs and leave textual feedback.

Now...there are many "pros" to this idea, but I know there are some cons. First, I don't know if every kid has an email account, and I don't want them setting one up without their parents knowledge. Second, I don't want them putting too much info about themselves on the internet. Third, not every kid has internet at home (however, we do have computer labs at school).

So...I need your help. Do you think this will work? What other pros/cons can you find?

I'll keep you updated.

Monday, August 11, 2008

money for nothing and your perks for free

When you first start teaching, you think, " WOO! Summer's off!! Teacher perk!"

When you start the first two months off, you think, "This is awesome! I don't have to work again until August. I love this job."

Then, in the middle of the summer, you wonder, "Um, when am I going to get paid?"

By the end of the summer, you find yourself eating popcorn for dinner with a side of canned peas.

And you think, "Oh, shit."

Yep. Oh. Shit.

Friday, August 8, 2008

freeze tag 2.0

I'm a sucker for stuff like this. Also, it keeps me from making an ice cream run to Publix. Thanks, Kim!

4 places I 've lived:
1. Clifton, New Jersey
2. Ocala, Florida
3. Gainesville, Florida
4. Jacksonville, Florida

4 shows I watch
1. The Colbert Report
2. Project Runway
3. Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List
4. Scrubs Reruns

4 jobs I have had
1. Blood Bank Telerecruiter
2. Target Photo Lab Team Member
3. Assistant Athletic Director
4. Middle School Teacher

4 places I've visited
1. Mt. Vernon, Jamaica
2. London, England
3. Hydaburg, Alaska
4. San Juan, Puerto Rico

4 blogs I read regularly.
1. Emily
2. Levana
3. Kim
4. Jami

4 favorite foods
1. Meatloaf
2. Fresh steamed Broccoli w/lemon
3. Perogies
4. Fish Tacos

4 places i would rather be
1. Orlando w/Janine on her birthday weekend
2. trapezing around Europe
3. buying the winning lottery ticket
4. in Tennessee

4 things I am looking forward to this year
1. Colten being born (September)
2. Kat coming home (October)
3. Obama is elected (November)
4. 2 weeks off for Christmas (December)

4 things I do in my spare time.
1. Watch bad tv
2. Read
3. Hack the planet (read: internet)
4. Rack up enormous cell phone bills

4 favorite things to do with kids/family
1. hang out at Hollywood Pulp Kitchen
2. go to North Carolina
3. hang by the pool (when it's clean)
4. watch Young Frankenstein

4 people I tag: Emily, Levana, Thomas, and Jami

ps. I promise one day my blog will contain more interesting posts!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

a sometimes food

that last video sparked my new youtube addiciton. i couldn't help but share this:

nerd alert

Yay! I'm so excited.



p.s. - My birthday is in November. It's like a special gift just for me!

Monday, July 28, 2008

mean girls

Don't you hate that there are some things you just can't put on the internet? A part of me has wanted to blog about this for some time, but I've resisted.

You never really know who reads your blog. And even though certain people have made it VERY OBVIOUS that they do not want to be my friend anymore, I can't help but wonder if every now and then they try to find out what I'm up to on one of the endless social networking sites we are all addicted to these days. I sincerely doubt it. But I sometimes wonder.

I've had to cut my internet habits down quite a bit. I realized early in this year that it is ridiculous to publicly rank your friends in order of importance on a website. I realized it is also ridiculous to determine your self worth based on where you land in a "top friends" list.

You'd think this was something I discovered earlier in life. In some place like middle school, perhaps? But I've never been treated this way by girls before. It was always the boys who hurt my heart. Girls were always a go-to comfort for me.

I've never been so purposefully pushed away. I've never felt like I wasn't good enough. I've never been told I was "too much drama". I've never met people who don't accept apologies. I've never been held to high standards by girls who don't hold themselves to the same.

Basically, in my life thus far, I've been spoiled.

My big sisters always protected me. Even though we bickered as kids, Janine always made me feel like a priority in her life. She always made sure that no one hurt me and that I never hurt myself. Levana constantly gave me the courage to be different and take risks. She's always been my rock star.

Hilary is basically the closest thing I have to a soul mate. It's an incredible blessing for me to have someone so insightful and understanding in my life. She always makes me want to be the best Lindsay I can be, and she always makes me feel like it's okay when I'm not. In fact, she tells me it's ridiculous to think there is a part of me that isn't good.

The plethora of other ladies in my life are also insanely incredible. Hanging out with Heather, my one college friend, is like being with a sillier, slightly more neurotic version of me. No one laughs at me more than she does. No one remembers me in the positive more than my British buddy. Kat, my Peace Corps African Queen, found time in the midst of her travels to help Aids orphans to respond to my tearful letters about a boy and a broken heart. My cousin Star and I have been freakishly linked since we were babies, and it's nice to have someone in your life who is able to pick up wherever you left off.

Then there's my church friends ... Jami, Laura, Marcia ... I can't really say enough about how our friendship stood the test of time since our days as kids at FPC. They are my positive Ocala association, along with Jenni, who fills my memory with crazy band trips and days at FHS. My Fletcher friends, especially Erin and Lynn, serve as awesome mentors for me in more ways than one in my five years of teaching. Also, my internet gals who leave me comments and make me feel like my life is worth reading about ... I heart you bunches!

The boys are good to me, too. Danny, who still takes an active interest in my life and encourages me to find time in each day to dance around the house in my underwear. My brothers, Joe and Jeremy, who laugh at my jokes and give me big, reassuring hugs. The guys at work, who listen to my dating issues and buy me beers and paint my bookshelves, find ways to make me smile when I'm about to cross over the line.

Even with all this wonderfulness in my life, even with all these fabulous friends of mine ... what these girls did still really hurt. I know that I made mistakes that hurt them as well. I know that I made mistakes and said hurtful things. What I don't know is why they didn't accept my apologies. What I don't know is why they think I'm a bad person. What I don't know is why I wasn't good enough to be their friend anymore.

The bottom line is that I am a good person. I know this to be true. One on hand, I know my friends spoiled me because I do not have the best communication skills, and they always forgive me and love me just the same. But ... I do the same for them. And I will always do that for them. They are good people. No one is perfect. There are a million reasons, but simply... that is what friends do.

Do these girls know how much it hurts to be pushed away? I think they do. They made choices that I can't control. It's not up to me.

In most breakups, I claim the title of Victim. It's role I've comfortably found myself playing a lot in my life. It's not something I'm proud of. This time, however, I am determined not to let myself think I am a victim of their mean girl behavior. After all, every break up ends in a lesson. My lesson for this - my friends are perfect, fabulous, and irreplaceable in every way. I will continue to think this for every new friend I make.

I will continue to love all my friends. I will love the new and the old. I will love the people who no longer love me. I will love the people who never loved me.

Because I am Lindsay, and because that is what I do.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My Last Day in Jamaica

Larry drove us to the airport. He went to give me a hug but I shook his hand instead. Awkward.

I was sad to leave the friends I made. They wouldn't let me check my bags yet, so I waited at ticketing for two hours. When I finally made it through, I found a restroom and got sufficiently chewed out by a Jamaican cleaning lady who didn't think I could understand her Patois. It isn't my fault it took three flushes for the damn tampon.

I perused the duty-free shopping and bought some dominoes to practice with until I can come back again. I would like to go back to Jamaica, specifically Mt. Vernon, one day. The people were so friendly. I'd like to bring the children some new books.

When the plane left, I was sad to leave, but I couldn't wait to get back to the comforts of home. I may be a spoiled American, but I couldn't wait for a hot shower! As Zulu told me, even prisons in America have hot showers.

All in all, it was a great experience and I'm glad I did it. It's something I can always look back on and appreciate. Thank you to everyone who helped make it possible :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Friday

Woo! It was Friday. Rachel was nervous about asking Larry if we could go to the city with Jennifer, but I had a plan. Over breakfast, I just announced that Rachel and I were invited by Jennifer and were going with her to Morant Bay. Larry seemed fine with it.

I went to school in the morning and got a list from the main teacher of supplies she would like for next year. (I want to have a drive at my school so I can ship them to the school in Mt. Vernon.) We went back for lunch, during which Larry announced that he would take the whole team into town. We were a little annoyed - we wanted to escape him! - but what could we do? Rach and I set off to meet Jennifer while Larry loaded the others into the rental car.

The ride with Jennifer's son was terrifying on many levels, to say the least. He drove as fast as possible, passed semi-trucks on one-lane streets, and stopped frequently to pick up strange people who climbed into the back seat with us. I spent the trip praying that I would a) survive and b) not get car sick.

Morant Bay was nothing like Mt. Vernon! It was much more urban, and the streets were packed with people. We were the only white people. We were reminded of this with shouts of "Whities!" or "''Ey white girl!" as we walked past. I didn't mind it. I liked being the odd one out, but Jennifer kept shooting them dirty looks.

Jennifer took Rachel, myself, and the two young boys through the open market, to the bakery, and (ick) the butchers. We wandered by ourselves for a bit when she went to order supplies for her store. After buying bootleg sunglasses and hats, Jennifer wouldn't let us walk around alone anymore. Apparently, we were sufficiently ripped off.

On our way back to meet Larry, we discovered our ride's car had a flat tire. Jennifer let the two boys walk back by themselves and then got worried about them being lost. She kept stopping and asking people if they'd seen "two white guys".

Eventually we found them and then met up with Jennifer's husband, Leighton, at a bar near the beach. I was itching to get out to the ocean, even though the coast was rocky. I couldn't get over how turquoise the water appeared. There wasn't an easy way to access the ocean, though, so I had to settle for the view from the parking lot of the bar. Leighton and my future husband, Mr. Johnson, were pretty sauced by the time we showed up. Larry was pretty ticked that we were half an hour late - but we couldn't help a flat tire and the two MIA whiteys.

After Larry took the boys back, Leighton told me how he really felt about Larry. We were basically on the same page. I was happy to hear that I wasn't the only one feeling this way, even though I knew my team members were also frustrated. Then Mr. Johnson kept trying to convince me to be "his waitress" and I kept trying to change the conversation.

On the way home we got another flat tire. The great thing about being with locals, though, is that they know everybody! The first car that pulled up instantly recognized Jennifer and gave us their spare. We were one life-threatening car trip away from home.

That night, Rachel and I went down to the shop for one final farewell. We took pictures with all the kids and indulged ourselves in Red Stripe Lights, which you can't find in the U.S. Later in the night, the younger guys in town showed up and we talked them into teaching us how to play dominoes. The first time I played with a coach, I won! When I played by myself, I lost a lot. I finally won a game, but I think the guys let me win. I didn't care, though. They were incredibly nice...they made sure to blow the smoke from their weed in the opposite direction.

That night, as I felt asleep with the rain dripping on my toes in my cot, I said a thank you prayer to God for letting me meet these people and spend time in Jamaica. It was an adventure, and not always the most fun. But meeting the Jamaicans, especially the children, really helped me gain perspective on my general daily outlook.

We are so lucky in this country. Not only do we have every opportunity at our fingertips, but we often take them for granted. I spent a week around toddlers who never once had a tantrum or needed a nap...children with a handful of clothing and one pair of shoes...babies with ringworm in their legs and open wounds from machete accidents. And not a one of them complained.

I feel asleep to the sound of Jamaican June bugs, and woke for the last time to the sound of our neighborhood rooster. It was time to go home.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

thursday

Thursday got off to a rocky start. Larry turned away a child who came to the house looking for food during breakfast. It really upset me. I knew the child's back story and knew he came to the house because he was legitimately hungry. Larry said it was policy not to just give hand outs, but I really had a problem with not feeding a hungry child!!! I tried to let it go and packed some of Rachel's granola bars in my bag to give to the boy later at school.

The day got much better when I left the house. I went back to the school and for the first time on the whole trip, I knew my presence was appreciated and expected. The grade six teacher never showed up, so I spent the entire day with his class of four boys. They were a blast! We did some math (which I had to double-check without a calculator - yikes!) and then Language Arts. After lunch, we did a writing exercise. Afterwards, I taught them a song in about greetings in Spanish. Ironic, since I speak very little Spanish, but they wanted to learn.

After school, Rachel and I spent the rest of the afternoon playing with the kids at the church. It was hot and exhausting, but a lot of fun. We stayed until dinner time and promised the kids we'd be back in the morning. Later that night we went up to the shop and were invited by Jennifer to spend the day in Morant Bay, the largest town nearby. We knew the next day was supposed to be a half-day as far as work was concerned, but we didn't know how Larry would react to our fieldtrip. We decided to risk it and made plans to meet Jennifer after lunch.

happy birthday shaffay

That night we met for our Jamaican Jerk BBQ and Shaffay's 11th birthday. It was another cultural experience with time. The event was to start at 6:30, so all the Americans were ready and waiting at 6:27. The party really didn't start until after 8pm.

The party was a sight to behold. An elaborate table was decorated and then covered with a veil. A master of ceremonies, Mr. Johnson, was appointed. Many people gave spoken tributes to Shaffay, the birthday girl. She was praised as a quiet, thoughtful, and beautiful young lady. Even I was asked to say something on behalf of the volunteers!

Rachel had spent the day going to fetch her luggage. She finally came back and we busted out the container of granola bars she'd stashed in her suitcases. That night at the party, Larry offered them to our hosts and then turned to ask Rachel if she minded sharing. Obviously, she didn't mind, but it was awkward. It was fun to watch the kids try the granola bars for the first time though.

The table was unveiled and Shaffay took part in the cake-cutting ceremony. She and Kenar, another 11 year old local boy, stood on opposite sides of the cake and simultaneously cut a slice. Rachel and I were asked to help cut the cake into tiny pieces and roll them into napkins to disperse among the guests. I carried the pieces on a silver tray. I walked over to a group of men. One of them was earlier introduced as the "Justice of the Peace".

He said to me, "I want the waiter and the waitress. Come back when you're done."

I didn't get it. I said, "Excuse me?"

He said, "I want the waiter and the waitress."

Again, puzzled. I mean, I know what flirting is, and I gathered this was some form of flirting, but was I supposed to find a guy for him, too?? I felt so clueless.

Then he said, "The waiter, you know, that silver thing in your hand with the cake on it. That's the waiter and you're the waitress."

"Ohhhhh. Yeah, I'll be right back."

I basically ran.

Rachel and I spent the night, literally, avoiding the clouds of weed smoke and the advances of many Jamaican men. We bought Jamaican-colored belts from a woman selling them out of her van. We tried to hang in for the dance contest, but were a little disturbed when the young kids started doing graphic dance moves. We ended up calling it a night around 11pm, even though Mrs. Graham, our eighty-something neighbor, was stilling going strong.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

brand new day

It was Wednesday. I woke up (at 5:30 when the roosters crowed) and decided it was a new day. I would continue to look for opportunities to be of service throughout the day.

At breakfast, I told Larry that I was going to walk up to the school and look for work. He had some crazy idea about me going back and forth between the school and the toilet project. Now, here's the thing about the church toilet project. It was a much needed project. The town has no area large enough for everyone to get together with functioning bathroom facilities. Also, the church service lasts for hours and everyone was having to go back to their houses (read: hike the mountain) if they had an urge to purge! However, there were plenty of people to work on the project. Also, the Jamaican men were not real big on letting the women close to the construction. They tell us, "Go relax, go relax, I got 'dis," and then send us off with a wave of the machete. I didn't see the point in my going back and forth between the toilet and the school, so I decided to walk up to the school and see if they needed my help.

After breakfast, Stephanie, Riel and Cheviess left for the airport. Cheviess had been sick since Day One, and her mom wanted to take her home. Luckily, Rachel was able to catch a ride with them to get her luggage, but it also meant that she would be riding back the 2 hours alone with a man from the community. I gave her my cell phone just in case. Why Larry couldn't take them in the Global car, I don't know, but whatever.

(Oddly enough, my cell phone worked in Jamaica. I can't get a signal inside my condo, but I got five full bars in Mt. Vernon Jamaica. Way to go, AT&T.)

When I arrived at the school, I was greeted by Mrs. Pauline. She looked instantly relieved to see me. I watched the children go through their morning devotion, which consists of saying the pledge, the Lord's prayer, the Jamaican National Anthem, and ends with the children saying "Good morning classmates, good morning teacher." I instantly fell in love with the Jamaican National Pledge. It is so uplifting and positive compared to our Pledge of Allegiance. My mood did a complete 180.

The school, although small, is a happy little building. Mt. Vernon Primary serves children ages 3 to 12. It basically consists of one giant room split into three sections. One section is for the "basics" school (age 3-6), another section for grades 1-5, and a third for grade 6. There were approximately 20 kids present that day. I spent the morning reading to the children. The sixth grade teacher showed up, and Mrs. Pauline sent me to the "basics" school to wait for their teacher while she started the lessons for grades 1-5.

Taking the 8 little ones was a bit daunting for me. I know kids. Big kids. Preteen, awkward, hormonal kids. I don't know three year olds. However, the kids energy and smiles won me over and gave me the confidence to wrangle with them for an hour until their teacher arrived. I was very impressed at how many of the littlest ones could write not only their name, but the names of their classmates! I read about three books, and broke up some minor fights about who got to sit closest to the book. (At some point, Larry came by and took pictures.)

When Cari-Ann, the basic school teacher, arrived I went back to help Mrs. Pauline. I sat with the first graders and helped them with spelling and penmanship. I taught a lesson about the difference between "is" and "are". It was difficult, because I had to share a chalkboard with Mrs. Pauline and the 6th grade teacher (who was writing on the opposite side of the board). The kids seemed unfazed, and I couldn't help but think of all the "accomodations" we make for kids in the U.S. who have trouble paying attention. They'd flunk out of Mt. Vernon's school.

I walked back to the house for lunch and found that it was quite empty without Rachel, Stephanie, Riel and Cheviess. However, we had cock stew (read: rooster soup) for lunch and I couldn't stop giggling. It cheered me up.

After lunch, I power-walked it back to the school with Maureen and Larry. Maureen helped me work with the kids and Larry taught a math lesson to the 6th grade boys. The afternoon sun was microwaving that building in the Jamaican heat. Mrs. Pauline rang an actual bell to release the students, who had to say a prayer of thanks before leaving. The kids hugged me and said, "We'll see you at the party!!"

"The Party" was a birthday party for eleven-year-old Shaffae. It was the most culutural experience of the entire trip. And therefore, you'll have to wait for it to get it's very own post. Until then, I'll leave you with the Jamaican National Pledge:

Before God and All mankind.
I pledge the love and loyalty of my heart
The wisdom and courage of my mind,
The strength and vigour of my body
in the service of my fellow citizens.

I promise to stand up for justice,
Brotherhood and Peace, to work diligently and creatively,
To think generously and honestly, so that,
Jamaica may, under God, increase in beauty, fellowship
and prosperity, and play her part in advancing the welfare
of the whole human race.

WG

Thursday, July 3, 2008

more deets

Day Three:
A new day! We awoke as a team rejuvenated and ready to work. Luckily, there was work to be done! The men headed off to work on the church toilet project and the women stayed behind to paint the volunteer house a vibrant shade called 'Caribbean Blue'.

We began our project. There were four of us and four paint brushes, so we didn't have to stop and switch off. We were having a good time.

Then Larry came back.

He was very upset that no Jamaicans were helping us, however, we really didn't need the help. We only had four brushes. He commented that the policy of Global Volunteers is to work with the community, but the people in the community can't take a vacation to help us! Most of them had work to do on their farms. We didn't mind doing this project solo, since it would only take a day to complete. But Larry was very adamant and stated, "If they're not working, neither will I." He spent the day walking back and forth between the projects and threatening not to offer any of the Jamaicans lunch even though there was plenty of food and money in the budget for that purpose.

Needless to say, I was pissed.

My teammates and I tried not to let it bother us. Eventually, some young guys showed up and helped us paint the parts of the wall we couldn't reach. Rachel and I took turns with the paint brush and giggling when giant bags of ganga fell out of the painter's pockets. We bonded with our other teammates by complaining about Larry. I know that's immature, but it made me feel good to know that I wasn't the only one feeling disgruntled. He just seemed to have tunnel-vision about the way things ought to go. Also, he was doing nothing to help Rachel get her bags...even though Global rented us a car for two weeks. The frustration was adding up.

Later in the day we had another cultural shock. Since the painting was done, some of us grabbed trash bags and gloves and began picking up litter. The Jamaicans were appalled. It was unnecessary, they said, even though there was a significant amount of trash lying around. Then they told us this was the top of the mountain and the rain would wash all the trash down to other places below. Hmm...okay. The only other system for getting rid of trash is to burn it. Obviously, they don't have government trucks driving around to take garbage away. We didn't want to argue, so we stopped the litter patrol. It was hard not to try and explain the environmental and health hazards of throwing trash into the valley, but, I didn't come to lecture people. Also, who am I to tell them to stop doing something they've been doing for decades?

The other awesome thing is that when we met people, they wanted to ask us about Barack Obama. One man, Zulu, told me that electing Obama is America's opportunity to get back in the good graces of the outside world. Zulu introduced himself by telling us he used to live in the states, then proceeded to rattle off all the prisons he'd frequented. But he was friendly, kind, and loved showing off Jamaica for us. He quickly became our "go-to" guy on the island.

So, after lunch, Rachel and I finished painting and then rounded up the kids to play at the church. We were worried that since the house was done, there wouldn't be any work for us to do in the daytime for the rest of the week. After some discussion, I planned to walk up to the school the next day and look for opportunities. It made me slightly uncomfortable, because I knew the students were supposed to be preparing for their national exams the next week and I didn't want to interrupt.

After playing with the kids, I was covered in a tasty combination of bug spray, sunscreen and sweat. So I decided to risk it again and...shower. Rebel that I am, I stayed in as long as I could bear it (so, like 5 minutes tops) but was dismayed when I got out to discover half my team went on a hike to Zulu's farm. When they got back, they told me about how he pulled out his machete (they almost took off running) then used it to hack his way through trees to get to his farm (which was a bunch of random vegetables interspersed among a bunch of weed). He told them to watch out for his limp, because his leg still had the bullet when the cops shot him. I wish I could've been on the hike with them.

After that, we all met for dinner and pondered what work there was to be done the next day. I decided to go up to the school and find out. Little did I know what I'd find when I walked up the mountain the next day.

WG

Sunday, June 29, 2008

some details

Well, originally, I planned on arriving back from Jamaica today instead of last weekend. As I'm sure you can see from the pictures, I had a great time on my trip!! I decided to come home early....well, you'll see. First, here's a little rundown of my week.

Day One: I arrive!
I arrived in Kingston and met my leader outside customs. He was, for lack of better description, very nice and knowledgeable. That opinion would change as the week went on. We gathered the rest of our team and left for Mt. Vernon. The team included an older couple, Jeff and Maureen, who had a tough time adjusting to our accommodations but who worked very hard and were quite lovable by the end. We also had two boys fresh out of high school. Dan was super-easy-going and fit in great with the Jamaicans. Lee was painfully shy but always polite. There was another younger girl, Rachel, a nurse and mom from New York. Lastly, we had Stephanie and her two older children, Riel, 21, and Chavies, 17. Unfortunately, Rachel's bags never made it to Jamaica. She was very even-keel, which I found inspiring, because I'd of been crying my eyes out.

The journey was pretty crazy. The roads up the mountain were rocky (literally), teetering on cliff's edges and sprinkled with a variety of animals - dogs, cats, goats, chicken and even a pack of donkeys. Larry was a great driver. As we drove up the mountain to our location - Mt. Vernon - we drove through Morant Bay, Seaforth, and Trinityville. Sometimes people shouted things at our car (I swear someone called us rednecks) but mostly people just waved.

When we finally got to Mt. Vernon (2 hours later) we arrived at the house. It's a house the community rents out to volunteer groups or individuals. It's better suited for individuals. I was a little nervous when I saw my blue cot, but it was surprisingly comfortable. We met our cooks and had an uneventful dinner. Everyone pretty much crashed and went to bed.

Day Two: Rain, rain...rain
It rained. All day. The road flooded. We were stuck in the house. No phone, no tv. I read The Devil Wears Prada (some other volunteer left it behind) cover to cover while everyone else read Obama's biography. During a quick break from the storms, we hiked up the road to the school at the top. Two little children lead us into the bush to show us the water tank Larry's team helped construct ten years ago. I was trying to catch my breath after the hike when I looked down to notice my legs were coated with mosquitos. Nice! Sensing more rain, we ran back to the house and made it just in time for the next downpour. We were all really worried that the rain would persist all week. I went to bed with the roof leaking on my feet.

Day Three: Meet Mt. Vernon
I decided to try the shower this day. I can only be greasy for so long. It was ice cold, and the tub had bugs crawling from the drain. I kept reminding myself that ten years ago there was no running water in this community, and people had to bathe in the river. Later in the trip, Zulu, our biggest local fan, would tell me that a) even prisoners in America get warm water and b) not to worry because you won't get ringworm from the river in the summer months. I learned to appreciate my icy, bug-infested shower.

Oddly, some people were irritated with how long I spent in the bathroom. However, my room had no doors, so I had to get dressed in the bathroom. My team leader made a weird comment - "Did you enjoy your nice, long shower?" instead of mentioning to me that he felt my 20 minutes were inappropriate for a house of seven other people. This was the first warning sign that he and I would butt heads.

We met in the church with some of the community members. I got anxious because Leighton, the Jamaican leader, told us today was just a day for touring the community and tomorrow we could start work. I had just spent the previous day cooped up in a house with grumpy Americans! I wanted to get started! This was my first lesson in cultural difference. Jamaicans are much more laid-back. They have the attitude of "things will get done when they get done." I'm really envious and wish I could have this mind-set; however, in America, we're always go-go-go! The Jamaicans don't view time as an item. To me, time is a noun - something to kill, to waste, to find, to manage, to plan. I could sense the same thing from my teammates. I wanted to stay respectful of the culture, but I wanted to start working.

Luckily, Leighton took Larry to town for supplies and another man, Mr. Johnson, put us to work. He gave us two hammers (to share between the 9 of us) and told us to smack the concrete against the church's outhouse. I looked at him a little quizzically, but I didn't want to insult him, so I grabbed a hammer and started swinging. So there we were, a bunch of white people whacking a concrete wall with hammers on the mountainside in Jamaica. It was a little weird, but we all had a good laugh over it and took turns whacking away.

Later that day, the kids appeared on their way home from school. We met Tommy and Tameesha and Kootch! Then more friends showed up. They flooded our house. They were fascinated with our ipods. We brought out some of the supplies we'd brought for them - bubbles, coloring books, crayons - and let them have fun. It was the best part of the trip so far for me.

What happened next? Did I whack more concrete? Did I take an even longer shower? Check back soon for more posts : )

WG

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I'm baaaaack

a few days early but in tact and happy. Here's a little teaser from my trip:

Friday, June 13, 2008

on hiatus

Hello faithful readers far and few,

I'm off to Jamaica for my two week volunteer vacation! I won't have internet while I'm there, but I promise to journal and blog from that when I get home. Wish me luck!

The Working Girl

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

i can't wait for april 09

... because almost everything I buy for Jamaica is a tax deduction.

And I have a long list. It's

Fundraising Alert:

I sent out letters to my friends and family asking for support in purchasing my plane ticket. The cost of the trip was $2000 and does not include air fare. My plane ticket was $400. I only had enough for half the ticket. I appealed to my wonderful friends and family for support. I sent out enough letters so that if half the people responded with the amount I was asking, it would equal $200. The response was overwhelming. My friends and family sent enough to cover the entire cost of the ticket and renewal of my passport (additional $100). I am so wonderfully blessed and lucky and a whole other world of thankful emotions. From the bottom of my heart - thank you, thank you, thank you.

Other Tax-Deductible News:

Check out my friend Karla's fundraising page by clicking on the widget to the left. She's raising money for First Coast No More Homeless Pets - am amazing organization working to educate and help the public spay and neuter their pets. This is the one of the best ways to help stop the euthanizing of thousands of adoptable animals a day. If you feel inclined, send Karla and FCNMHP some love.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

my blogging disclaimer

I really hate sentences that begin, "No offense, but..."

Why not just say, "I'm about to say something hurtful, but you can't get mad because I used a disclaimer."

When will people realize that no matter what you put before a 'but', it doesn't take away from what comes after. So, if you're going to insult me, or anyone else for that matter, just come out and say it. Or keep it to yourself. Not everyone is interested in your opinions. Disclaimers are for people who do not want to take responsibility. However, if you say it, take the damn responsibility or keep your mouth shut.

I don't believe in disclaimers and I don't believe in hurting people's feelings. I will always apologize if something I said hurt you. If you know me at all, you know that is not my intention.

So, no offense, but this blog does not come with a disclaimer.