31 January 2006

home at last

my great-grandmother died today. not unexpected, but still sad. during the past decade in the nursing home you could always tell she just wanted to be home. she would have been 95 next month. she spent those years in south carolina caring for her family: six children, about 25 grandchildren, and dozens of great- and great-great-grandchildren. whenever i picture her, i see her as she is in my childhood memories. cooking in a summer dress in the kitchen of her tiny house by the cotton fields. in the wire lawn chairs in the front yard in the heat of the south carolina summer, fanning herself as we sat around watching the grass turn brown and the haze rise off the road. sitting in a rocking chair, crocheting an afghan for a new baby, or piecing a quilt for a grandchild, or simply reading her bible. standing on her front porch, surrounded by family everywhere, in the kitchen, in the yard, in the living room, pulling into the driveway. she was the picture of a true southern lady. yet she could always surprise you. the last time i went to visit her, she referred to me as her homegirl. and she loved that little house, with its low ceilings and big trees and the road winding by the front yard. she missed the place where she raised her six children during depression and war, and where she grew old with her husband. she loved him too, and the two children who joined him in heaven before her. through her entire life, she never lost her love for jesus or for her family. and that is a legacy that will live on. we'll miss you, grandmama. guess what, you're finally home.

bessie hodge vaughn ~ 1911-2006

phantoms and jazz

saturday i went to see phantom of the opera with menc in pittsburgh. amazing show, simply amazing. i loved the sets and effects. they brought their own stage that fit on top of the one at the benedum, so it had candles and footlights that came up out of it. i also loved the fog going through dry ice - looked so cool, like a waterfall, or something. at one point, the phantom was suspended in the air on part of the proscenium that separated and flew on its own. i want their set. the acting was fairly good, too, expecially the phantom. his voice was amazing.

tonight was guest artist - ellis marcelis. the concert was great. there's a reason why they call him the father of new orleans jazz. it was really weird not being there all day, and having no idea what was going on. we rented this cool fiber-optic curtain for the shows. had we bought it, it would have been about $20,000. i was afraid to go near it after i found that out.

today i had a breakthrough in student teaching: the seniors are sort-of talking to me and don't appear to be quite so frightened...that's more than i can say about guys at college.

30 January 2006

back to high school

so...i've started student teaching. yes, i realize that i technically started six days ago, but i've been busy. unfortunately, i get the feeling that i'm not going to have the time to update as much as i'd like this semester.

anyway. teaching. yeah. so far i've liked it. granted, i've done nothing more difficult than taking attendence in 8th grade homeroom, but still. it could be worse. i've done a lot of observing. i spent two days going to all different types of classes all over the school. math, science, english, etc. unfortunately (or possibly fortunately, depending on your opinion) i did not get to observe the classroom with the six foot biting lizard in it. this would be the same classroom that used to house the python. until it got loose in the school one day. snakes are no longer allowed in school. (i want to think it's because the python ate a kid.)

i spent most of the first day making notes on which boys to watch out for in class, so they don't run over me. i consider that very important information. we eat lunch in the custodians room with three custodians, the guidance counselor, special education teachers, and a few other random teachers. i like it. they're a fun group. my co-op says that she doesn't like eating in the teachers' lounge because they tend to be very negative. next week, they're all making wings and bringing them in for everybody for lunch.

day two was an adventure. one of my kids crashed his car into a bus. he slid on black ice on a bridge and was pinned between the bus and the side of the bridge. it's a wonder he survived, because the front of the bus went over his hood. not only was he fine, but he was in 9th period. i feel that if i had been involved in a car wreck like that, i would have just taken the day off.

thursday, day three, was the day that some of my 8th graders learned that rosa parks is my mother. i was observing somewhere else, and my 4/5 period couldn't remember my name:
kid #1: "what is her name?"
co-op: "miss parks"
kid #1: "like rosa parks?"
co-op: "yeah"
kid #1: "is rosa parks her mom?"
co-op: ...pause..."yes. yes she is."
(insert much whispering)
kid #1: "is she really her mom?"
kid #2: "yeah, she was really old. wouldn't she be more her grandmother?"
co-op: "no, she was her mom."
(much more whispering)
the thing that bothers me about this whole exchange was that the thing that bothered them about her being my mother was that she was too old...never mind the tiny little fact that she's black and i'm white. this was also the day that someone let an axe bomb off in the hallway. the whole school reeked.

friday i observed everywhere but my own classroom. the highlight was seeing the squirrel in a sombrero on the tv of the spanish class and the four foot long taco hanging from the ceiling.

i think i'm going to enjoy this semester. i love my kids. the 8th graders are adorable, and so far, the senior boys have managed to be completely terrified of me. my first day, they told my co-op that i was young enough that they could date me. (great...i attract the jailbait set.) yet they still can't work up the nerve to talk to me. at least that means that for the time being, i shouldn't have too many problems with discipline. i'm just scared of what happens when they finally get used to me.

finally - the joy of grading papers:
Q. Who heads each branch of government?
A. George Washington

Q. What is federalism?
A. power between old and young people

Q. What were the first and last states to ratify the consitution?
Kid #1. first state: Paul Revere.
Kid #2. last state: Paul Revere
(we have now stated paul revere.)

Q. What are the three branches of government.
A. legislative, judicial, and olive

And some quotes...

- "The Bill of Writes"

- "Rhode Island was the last state to ratify the constitution because they had other things going on."

- "I give a lot of credit to the president because he has to put up with mean people."

25 January 2006

life goal

i want to marry ewan mcgregor.

23 January 2006


i'm back at school. it's freezing outside, but so hot inside that we're in tank tops and shorts. rachel wrapped herself up in her egg crate and ran down the hall to visit people. jenny and i fixed the tv cable. i can't find the floor. i sold six textbooks. i can't find my bed. i almost pulled the luggage rack in the luggage room down on top of myself. i have a big box of cheez-its. i've been home so long that i used "ya'll" in a sentence and got laughed at...

...yeah, things are back to normal.

17 January 2006

adventures in baby- and chicken-sitting

first, i'd like to wish a very happy 22nd birthday to rachel.

i spent the past two days babysitting. i know this sounds strange, because everyone seems to be laboring under the assumption that i am not very nurturing, per se, but i do actually like kids. i watched the 4 year old son and 12 year old daughter of some family friends from sunday afternoon to monday evening while their parents took their other daughter to visit colleges. those of you that are aware of my lack of domestic ability would be proud. i made four meals, nobody died, and nothing got set on fire. the chickens did escape, but that was not my fault in the least. more on this subject later. i enjoyed myself for the most part. nathan is quite possibly the cutest child alive, even if he did severely trounce me in monopoly junior twice. i didn't even have to cheat to lose. trust me, that can be a real blow to your ego. it did make me feel better, though, when i found out that his 20 year old brother had to check out books from the library to keep from losing to him in chess. (peter - you're never living that one down.)

about the chickens. abby, the 12 year old, has gotten onto this kick where she's raising chickens. they live in this huge coop in the backyard. she loves these things - they've all got names, she says they have different personalities, etc. so, she wanted me to come see them while she gathered eggs. you know me, i'm not really the farmer type. i'm not really an animal person. visiting chickens was not high on my list of things to do. but, being the nice babysitter that i am, i bundled up nathan and the three of us went to visit the chickens. we come up to that section of the yard, and i see two chickens wandering around. i said, 'oh, there's the chickens'. apparently this was a bad thing. they were not supposed to be wandering around. abby had accidentally left the door open, and all of them were out, four had disappeared. so here i am, standing in the yard with a four year old swinging an egg basket into my leg and jabbering about how the chickens probably got caught by a groundhog and are dead, and an extremely distraught 12 year old who is now missing her beloved pets and thinks they are dead and who is rushing around frantically trying to find them. they live on the edge of the woods. abby was convinced they had run off to find the roosters that live at the neighbors. i suddenly had visions of having to tromp through the woods, chasing chickens, and getting poison ivy. what exactly are you supposed to do in this situation? escaped farm animals is not a topic covered in the red cross babysitting course. fortunately, the missing fowl were discovered next to the house, scratching at the ground, and eating bugs. crisis averted. she wanted to me carry some of them back to the coop. i picked one up and it immediately started squawking, flapping, and tumbled gracelessly to the ground. i think it's a good thing i didn't live in the 1800s. how do i get into these situations? normal people do babysitting jobs without disappearing livestock. just another example about how my life is not normal.

a side note concerning chickens: they are absurd looking animals. the more i saw them, the more i laughed. all the cackling, strutting, waddling, and bobbing just made me laugh. i now understand why chicken characters in cartoons are always portrayed as little old women in bonnets.

the rest of the week should be relaxing. i'm going to spend some time helping bryan get ready for the march for life. if i can't go, i'm glad i'm getting to do some stuff for it ahead of time.

10 January 2006

different type of christmas letter

we recently got a christmas card from an old co-worker of my dad, a surgeon attached to a marine unit. the front said holiday greetings from kuwait. inside, she wrote about living in barracks, doing surgery in a tent, and 140 degree weather. the thing that stuck out to me was this sentence, which was her justification for why that wasn't bad: "at least no one is shooting at us now".

really makes you think. and puts your problems into perspective.

05 January 2006

grocery shopping with 2nd lieutenants

so i'm back at home. the train ride was ok, just long. and the whole "not announcing the train station ahead of time" thing was great fun. fortunately i spotted the smoke stack at mary wash in time to grab my stuff and bolt for the door.

i'm not really doing much. shopping for christmas presents (yeah, i know, i know), working on my quilt, working on my designs for pirates (i agree with neil - so excited about that show). i tried to get some work done ahead of time for student teaching, but there's really not much i can do without knowing how she has been teaching them all year. it is so hard to remember how things worked in 8th grade. oh well.

i went to the commissary this morning for my mom. that was an adventure. gotta love the military grocery store right after the holidays. it was packed. full of moms with little kids and second lieutenants buying frozen pizza and ramen in bulk. (for those of you non-versed in military terms, a 2nd lieutenant is the first level of officer in the marine corps, usually age 22-24 and in their first year or two out of college.) i had to laugh at them, attempting to feed themselves for the first time in their lives. there wasn't anything in their carts that couldn't be cooked in a microwave. and they would shop in packs, too, like they were scared to come alone and needed moral support to buy hot pockets and chef boyardee. i do find it ironic, however, that the one time i go to that base in a sweatshirt and no makeup is the time that i spend 15 minutes in line behind three very hot 22 year old officers. sigh...

i probably won't get to update very often for the rest of break, because thanks to a) the stupidity of my computer, and b) the lovely dial-up connection we have here at the house, i have to use my dad's computer. the really-expensive-classified-information-hours-of-work-don't-you-dare-break-it one. yeah. limited internet time.

anywho, i hope everyone's break is going swimmingly. and megs - so psyched about the gilmore girls marathon we're going to have.

01 January 2006

new year

new years resolutions:

1) wash off mascara before getting in bed
2) find a job

fairly simple ones, really. new year's eve has never been a big deal to me. tonight i decided that probably the last place i would have wanted to be was times square. stand around all day freezing to get there, watch a ball drop, stand around all night freezing to get to the subway to get home. not my idea of a good time. i hate being cold. i'll probably do it once, just because it's one of those life experiences everybody needs to have (along with riding a gondola in venice, crossing the golden gate bridge, swimming in the dead sea, etc), but i can't say it's something that i would want to do on a regular basis.

this past week has been a blast. i've spent it with the evans. got here on tuesday, didn't really do anything but hang out with katherine and quinn. wednesday katherine and i went to chapel hill. there is a world of difference between that place and grove city, let me tell you. the whole week has really brought home the fact that i have completely missed out on the typical "college experience". oh well. can't spend your whole life dwelling on the road not taken. on wednesday, i also got hooked on gilmore girls. such a cute show. also, one girl should not have that many hot guys after her. i'm now totally in love with the guy who plays logan. this should surprise no one.

on thursday we collected paige (daniel's girlfriend) and headed to charlotte. we stayed in the hilton, which was really nice. the second we got there, we all crashed for a few hours. it was like the room had hypnotizing powers - pretty much every time we walked through the door, we fell asleep. we weren't in the same hotel as the boys, because the powers that be had put the nc state team in the marriot, the sfu team in the omri, and the media in the hilton. something about trying to keep the press objective. ha. in retrospect it was probably a good thing, because from what we heard, the marriot was really, really loud. lots of drunk partying. not from the players, but from the fans that stayed there because that's where the team was.

we did get to see the boys, though. they went out to eat with us thursday night, and we spent some time in their hotel on friday. for the record, aunt beth and uncle johnny know half the state. everywhere we went, they ran into people they knew. and i've come to the conclusion that college football players are really not that good-looking of a bunch. with a few notable exceptions, they were all just big and scary.

the game itself was fun, though we had to wait in line for awhile to get the tickets. (not as much as uncle paul and lucy, though - took them an hour and forty-five minutes.) our group was funny, just aunt beth and a gaggle of college girls: me, katherine, quinn, paige, kat's roommate, and andrew's girlfriend, whitney. it was like daniel and andrew had their own private cheering section. quinn kept yelling at them before the game, and they, like dutiful siblings, ignored her. it was so weird seeing them with the team. i guess i still have trouble remembering that they're not 13 any more. i think andrew made it on tv for a little while.

after the game, everybody else split off to various new year's parties, and i went with my aunt and uncle to another aunt's house. (my mother has five sisters - i have a lot of aunts.) joseph, my five year old cousin, was out of control. i don't think i've ever seen him that hyper. it probably had something to do with him eating a spoonfuls of sugar out of the sugar bowl before aunt carol caught him. i talked to camille for awhile. i can't believe she's already 10. and poor lucy has definitely hit the middle school slump. 7th grade is such an awful time. i don't know anybody that enjoyed it. aunt carol seemed at her wits end trying to get her to wear clothing besides sweat pants, huge t-shirts, and sweatshirts. i told her to relax, that it was just a phase everybody goes through. mine involved me wearing XXL t-shirts. what was i thinking?

tomorrow i head home. my train leaves at 11am (the reason why i couldn't got to the parties w/ the cousins). my goal is to make it home without losing any of my stuff, or getting hit on by any creepy old men.