Saturday, December 29, 2007

100 Things

Ya know how sometimes rather than continuing to repair/bandage/fix something it's just easier to tear it all apart and start over? I feel like that's been my life this year. For some reason I needed to be torn apart and rebuilt to reach the place I am now. This has been the most turbulent, worst, best, most exhilarating, most emotionally random, anxiety-filled, frustration-stuffed, stress-packed, self-discovery-ridden year of my life.

In the last 12 months so much has happened. I've moved 4 times, bought a house, had at least 4 different jobs, traveled the world, met new people, gotten in touch with old acquaintances, made friends, lost friends, lost myself, found myself, laughed til I cried, cried til I laughed, had life-changing experiences of every shape and variety, made money, spent money, found new gray hairs, lost brown hairs, noticed new wrinkles, and experienced highs and lows of all kinds. After all is said and done I think I've come out on top. I feel like I'm a better person at the end of the year. At least I hope I am. My convictions are firmer, my faith is stronger, and I feel like I'm at a better place. I'm exorbitantly happy and wouldn't change a thing about my life.

I think it's interesting that as the years pass we tend to forget the negative experiences and remember the positive. And even if we don't totally forget, we can usually smile because of the tough times. I can almost laugh about the birthday party that no one came to. I chuckle on the inside when I think of the drama that was my life in high school - and the drama that, for some reason, has continued to pervade my life since then. I smile about people, places, things that at the time caused me no end of anxiety.

On that note, I'd like to end this year by focusing on some of the more positive, and maybe for some, trivial things that have made me laugh til my sides hurt, beam with joy, or at the very least smile to myself - some of which have been stolen from an earlier list I made during a downer.

100 things that make me happy:

-Being tackled by children
-Being on stage
-Eating brownies right out of the pan
-Talking about everything and nothing with friends
-New sweaters
-Peppermint Hot Chocolate
-Sharing secrets
-Finishing a good book
-Enjoying the simple pleasures of small-town life
-At-home dance parties
-One-man dance parties
-Giving Hugs
-Getting Hugs
-Singing in the shower at the top of my lungs
-Old people and their quirky clothing
-Getting upgraded to first class unexpectedly
-Sincere compliments
-Making people wonder
-Football games with the fam
-Free dinners
-Checking out the serving staff at the local Olive Garden
-Going for long walks
-Playing the "How much is it?" game at the Gateway
-Shopping in Park City
-Expressions of love from unexpected places
-New friends
-Old friends
-Finding random reasons to celebrate
-Helping out a friend in need
-Having a friend when I'm in need
-Knowing that every once in a great while someone does, in fact, find me attractive
-People watching
-Finding an exceptional bargain
-Retail therapy
-Kisses - chocolate and otherwise
-Singing showtunes on roadtrips
-Tap dancing anywhere and everywhere
-Making people laugh
-The unexpected
-My ipod skin
-The sound of laughter
-When someone's face lights up because they're happy to see me (granted this usually only happens with 2nd graders, but that doesn't make it any less awesome.)
-Feeling my phone vibrate in my pocket
-Hairspray (the musical/movie, not the carcinogenic substance responsible for big hair.)
-When I find random things for sale
-The fact that my family/friends and especially my parents support me in pretty much whatever I want to do. I realize more and more what a rare blessing that is and I'm really thankful for it.
-Making a fool of myself in public, especially if others are involved in the tomfoolery.
-"Save the Hoo-Ha's!"
-Saving an unsuspecting victim from a fashion no-no
-Fresh air
-Emotional spouses, fake significant others, and the like
-A great-fitting pair of jeans
-All things Disney
-Food made from scratch
-Neon orange safety vests
-Finally discovering something for myself, about myself, that everyone else has been telling me all along
-Sugar in all forms
-Being busy
-Catching up with old friends
-Being Mr. B
-Pirates (the people, not necessarily the movies)
-Excellently flavored chapstick
-Watching the snow fall
-Finding out when other people have been saying nice things about me
-Those rare occasions when I look hot
-Extravagant lighting
-Having a place of my own to come home to
-My brothers
-My sister
-Fun dishes
-Mutual attraction
-Slides (The playground kind; not those normally associated with vacational nostalgia.)
-Third party compliments
-Ugly sweaters
-Sugar highs
-Weird gifts
-Sticky notes
-New CD's
-Paper snowflakes
-Pictures from my life
-My nephews
-New shoes

The list could go on, but I think 100 things is a good starting place. Feel free to add your own, and here's to a smile-filled new year!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Simply the Best

I thought it would be fun at the end of the year to review my blog.  I've read everything I've posted this year.  It was quite an undertaking, but well worth the effort.  The following are some of my favorite moments from this year.  Most from my travels around the world.

Jan. 9

During our lunchtime presentation we had two women come with their teen-aged children. The youngsters knew each other but it had apparently been awhile since they'd seen one another. About half-way through the presentation they left and came back a few minutes later slightly more disheveled, and a little happier...I love Arkansas.

Jan. 23

My manager and I saw an aged woman at Wal-mart who we surmised was trying to steal a bunch of green bananas. I observed that she might be the only person alive who Wal-mart security personnel could actually detain. She hobbled along using her shopping cart as a walker, head bobbing as the hem of her red jump suit pants remained a safe 6 inches above the floor.

Feb. 8

I met a woman today named D. Mullett Smith. Granted mullets probably weren't really around or officially established at the time of her birth, but regardless - what cruel parents she had. I almost hope it's a nickname like "Hi my name is Dee 'Mullet' Smith, and this is my friend Marge 'Hockey Hair' Jones."

Feb. 23

A woman in a bright red knitted vest read my palm tonight. She told me that a change would be occurring in my life around three months before the end of the year and if there was any hesitation that I shouldn't do it, but if there wasn't any hesitation I should go for it. She also told me I'd be successful no matter what career I chose - highly entertaining. She was short.

(A side note here. Three months before the end of the year was when I got fired. It was also around that time I got cast in Lend Me a Tenor. Coincidence? - perhaps...)

Feb. 28

I went to the gas station next door to pick up a couple of pop-tars and a chocolate milk. The chocolate milk was fortified with extra protien, so when it tasted weird I paid no heed. But after a second swig I decided it would probably be a good idea to check the date on the milk. "Sell by Feb. 04 07" - yes my milk was more than three weeks past the sell by date. But it doesn't end there. I took the milk back. The guy told me I could get a new one. Most of the milk in the refrigerator was "Sell by Feb. 04 07" however I did find one that said "Sell by Jul. 04 06"!!! Oh my gosh! What gas station in their right mind would leave a bottle of milk in the fridge for 8 months?!? I suppose the faded-to-distortion boxes of crackers they had on the shelves should have been a red flag.

Mar. 12

I was taking a break in the men's restroom and noticed that music playing over the system was very much 'sexual encounter' type music. Two soulful black people singing about how they love and want each other. In the same vein as "You're havin' my baby." Why this was playing in the men's room I'll never understand, but I got a laugh out of it.


Linda is an 81 year old woman from Brooklyn. Now normally a woman like this would be accompanied by an equally decrepit man, a wheelchair, or a nurse, but all Linda had was a large fur hat and one of the most amazing coats I've ever seen. It looked like a Persian rug. I expressed my admiration for her coat and she started a conversation with me - in her old woman Brooklyn accent - about how the people of Pennsylvania have no style and don't know how to dress. She said they all look like they should be washing floors.

Mar. 28

Today when people asked where the bathroom was, we kept telling them they could just use the planter in the hallway.

Language Alert!:

Apr. 25

My manager received a phone call as we were stuck in traffic today. He thought it was a long time friend of his whose number always appears as ‘unavailable.’ He answered his phone by saying “What up bitch?” not realizing that it was actually the 60-year-old woman in the home office who is in charge of meals for our events.

May 18

An old man came up to the registration table and pulled his invitation out of his pants. Not his pants pocket, his pants. Then I shook his hand, then I washed my hand.

June 6

The following sign was seen on our way to dinner - "Adult Toys, We bare all" and then just below that "Trucker Discounts."


Thoughts from this week's Speaker -

"The closest anyone in my family comes to watercolors is my grandpa. When he was senile he used to paint with his poop."

June 15

During lunch a Russian woman showed up late. She got past my registration table before I could catch her, and after firmly saying "Ma'am" as loud as I dare so as not to interrupt the ongoing meeting, I followed her into the ballroom and tapped her on the shoulder. She then screamed.

July 4

July 24

A girl came to our event this evening without a bra. This should just not be done. I respect that some women feel a need to be free of the restraints of the man and his social impositions, but for the sake of the rest of us, when you're in public hike 'em up or strap 'em back.

Aug. 10

I forgot to write about a man clad in a Hawaiian shirt who asked me where the company was based. I said, "It's a town in Utah called Orem." He simply said "Son of a bitch!"


Oh my. My friends I thought I'd seen it all, but today takes the cake. I was going to regale you with my fashion feaupax of the week - A man wearing a mesh button-up shirt and a beret, but then a woman arrived who totally and completely trumped him. It wasn't necessarily her blatant disregard for fashion that earned her a place in the annals of disastrousness, her outfit was only a bit on the quirky side - white shorts, a black undershirt with an open floral-patterned button-up shirt over the top and knee-high black socks. The part that wins her the feaux-pas of the year award is the fact that her black shirt was sheer and she was sans bra. I just about threw up, but at the same time it was all I could do to not burst out laughing. How does one go out in public like that? The three of us who were working the seminar all noticed, we can't imagine that we were the only ones. So, as a button to my day I saw nasty old woman boobs. 10 points to Mesa AZ.

Oct. 25

The other day I was teaching 3rd grade and one of the students asked, "How many girlfriends have you had?" I replied, "Two." He said, "What the heck is wrong with you? I've had like 14." I like how something must be wrong with me since I've only had 2 girlfriends. Though when I thought about it in the terms he's thinking, I counted and I've actually had 7, so eat that Mr. 9-year-old!

Nov. 24

At one point during the day I was losing my momentum, so I requested we sit and people watch for a spell. Whilst resting our tootsies on a curbside bench a group of older men came sauntering down the sidewalk. I said to Emily, "Is that Rudy Giulliani?" And sure enough, it was. He was just walking down the street...wearing a very nice suit.

Those are some of my favorites, but there's oh so much more to enjoy. Check out my shopping adventures in the middle of September, my trip to England, my sub jobs over the last few months, and the myriad fashion feaux pas that have been sighted over the year. It's all quite entertaining.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The end is just another beginning

So, it's the end of the year.  That means a lot of things, I suppose.  In the current context it means a change in my blog.  But only a small one.  I am no longer traveling the world - at least not on a consistent basis, so I've changed the name of my blog to reflect my current occupational status (but no worries, the URL/web address/website...whatever...will remain the same).  I think I like it.  If anyone has any suggestions for a better title/subtitle I'm open.  If not I'll keep it like it is.  And from here on out, I'll be Mr. B.

As of next Friday that may be more than a figurative statement.  My principal approached me last week and asked how soon I wanted to do the ARL program (alternate route to licensure).  She explained that they might have a need for a teacher at the beginning of the year - as in Jan. 4 - so I might end up with my own classroom at the end of next week.  I don't know what grade...or any details really...other than that I might be a full-fledged teacher.  So, we'll watch and wait.

Now, for the rest of this week I'm going to post several items of a reflective nature:  some of my favorite moments of the year, a review of my favorite ballroom lighting, a list of things that have made me happy etc.  I hope you enjoy my walks down memory lane.

Keep coming back for more adventures next year.  Also, I'm starting a new blog for the new year.  It can be found at starting New Year's Eve.  Check it out.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mr. Fix it

Have I expressed how much I love my job? I LOVE MY JOB!!! - seriously

I love it when little people yell, "Mr. B!!!" and coming running at me full speed to give me a hug. One of my ultimate favorites is a tiny kindergartener. This kid is a walking...or rather running...bundle of energy and he always says hi to me.

I especially love it when I get hugs from boys. It's good to see that they know it's ok to show affection - because it is. And that warms my heart. It's really too bad that won't last...

Now if I may toot my own horn for a bit:

It seems that a lot of these kids are seriously lacking in good male role models (not that I'm the best, but the parentage of the west side isn't exactly sterling). There are male teachers at the school, but most of them are either boring and old, absurdly creepy - a-la-Snidely Whiplash, or supremely arrogant. I think it's refreshing for them to have a "normal" guy there. Someone they can relate to. In fact one of the 1st graders remarked, "We finally have a boy substitute!"

Lately I've become sort of an emotional fix-it man around the school. "Let me clarify this" (if you can name the movie that comes from I'll give you 10 points and probably a cookie.)

Last week I was recruited by the sixth grade to play the piano for their sing-along Christmas program. So much fun. Especially since at the beginning of one song a girl yells, "Hit it piano man!"

At the end of last week two sixth grade boys were having really tough days. Tough enough to reduce them to tears. I was recruited to talk it out with them and figure out what's going on. I'm happy to report that their both doing fine.

Friday my boss told me that I would be working with a kindergartener who is a selective mute. That means that he'll talk at home, but when he gets to school he completely shuts down. I met him today - cute kid. He's smart, just not progressing very well because he won't talk. So over the next several months we're going to see if we can establish a relationship where he'll feel comfortable talking at school, and thus progress. (As a side-note his teacher looks like Zooey Deschanel)

Today I had to carry a kidnergartener in from recess for general impishness and disorderly behavior. It wasn't easy. He lost both of his shoes in the process.

Also today, I was talking to my boss about a young man who I constantly see in the Alternative Classroom (that's where you go when you're being bad in class...or at recess...or if you don't bribe Mr. B with cookies on a consistent basis). He's a spunky little first grader who has a mischievous glint in his eye. So, I'm going to spend some time with him every day teaching him appropriate behavior - much to the relief of his harangued teacher. Apparently his mom has been in tears a number of times because she doesn't know what to do with him. His teacher described him to me as "naughty." Should be an adventure. P to the S he was home-schooled in kindergarten and thus doesn't posses a vast knowledge of appropriate social skills - is anyone surprised?

On top of that I'm working with the ESL (English as a Second Language) kids, I'm adored by the kindergarten, the 1st grade, the 2nd grade (who I've impressed with my mad soccer ball kicking skills), the 3rd grade (because I'm part of the 3rd grade posse), the 6th grade (from whom I'm constantly getting requests for nicknames, so far we have Daytona, Raylicious/Flavoray/Ray, J-dog, Mac Daddy, Little Wayne, and Paco) and their respective faculty members. I haven't had much interaction with the other grades - mostly because they reside in the creepy hallway at the end of the school whence I dare not go.

And the faculty is all-a-jitter trying to line me up with everyone they know.

I love my job.

Monday, December 10, 2007

My chemical shmomance

From A Brief History of Nearly Everything:

Any visitors to Earth from afar would almost certainly, at the very least, be bemused to find us living in an atmosphere composed of nitrogen, a gas sulkily disinclined to react with anything, and oxygen, which is so partial to combustion that we must place fire stations throughout our cities to protect ourselves from its livelier effects.

It's funny because it's true.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Magically exhausted

I have been remiss - I took a trip to Disneyland and didn't mention a thing. Perhaps that's because nothing note-worthily humorous least that I can remember, but I'll share some highlights from the trip nonetheless.

We flew down Thursday, were Disnified Fri/Sat, and came home Sunday.

Friday was cold and rainy - I was torn about this. On one had we were wet and cold for a good portion of the day. Plus the "parade" on rain days consists of a car containing Santa and Mrs. clause, and a double decker bus with a random assortment of characters. On the other hand there was no one at the parks so we walked on to everything. We hit up most of our favorite rides, some of them twice. In fact, we were the first people on Splash Mountain. We stayed in our log and were also the second people on Splash Mountain. Also the moisture did not detract from the full enjoyment of a churro...or two.

Saturday was dry, but cold. The coldest day that week in fact, or for a number of weeks following - sadly. But we still had a good time. More churros, more rides, more magic. Also, due to the lack of rain we got to see the full parade, the fireworks show - complete with Disney 'snow', and Fantasmic! Saturday happened to be Dec. 1 and the first day of the Disneyland candlelight processional. Basically they turn off the lights on Main Street USA while myriad choirs march along holding candles and caroling with all their might. It was a pretty cool sight. While waiting for the processional we became acquainted with a delightful crowd control expert named Kyle who happens to be from Price. We ended up seeing him about 4 more times during the night in random locations.

Overall it was a vacation. It's been a while since I've had any Disney park magic. Oddly enough I sometimes miss the overpriced mediocre food and blatant sales tactics of those marketing masters.

One interesting facet of this trip was the company. As many of you know I did an internship at Disneyworld a few years ago (and I almost wrote that I served an internship) and made some amazing friends while there. There were four of us that seemed to bond especially well, and to look at the four of us you might not think us the most likely of friends - although judging from this photo, you might...nevertheless. (These are the same friends which were involved in the England adventure) At this point in our lives we're kind of like family. We get along, we have our moments of utter joy, and our moments of not-so-happy-ness, but when all is said and done we still love each other. This is the first time the four of us have been together at Disney since we did the internship, and let me tell you it was magical. We got pictures with princesses, cried during the fireworks (don't judge me!), and sang in harmony to the holiday music in "It's a Small World," it was wonderful.

And as exhausted as I was at the end of two day's worth of running, screaming, eating unhealthily, and wearing myself completely out, I can't wait to go back.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cold and Aloof

I quote "Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat. If you don't, I don't care, I'll pull down your underwear." - It's good to know that the rhymes haven't changed in the last twenty years or so.

The playground is not only the site of childhood mischief and youthful fancy, but apparently faculty gossip. It's like the educational water-cooler, and it makes me giggle.

A brilliant man named Eric Snider - who I believe I've mentioned before - writes columns of a most hilarious nature. He wrote one on the current nature of children's names. To his list I'd like to add the following from my school:

Giek (pronounced 'geek')

I never realized how un-subtle children are until I started teaching them. I see more note-passing, cheating on tests, etc. etc. etc. than I ever thought I would. I wonder if I was equally obvious...