Tuesday, December 22, 2009

putting the mantra into practice

"Get busy living, or get busy dying." ~ Andy Dufresne, from Shawshank Redemption

How I got busy living today:

  • met a parent and student for coffee; walked him through the process of writing two different types of essays (which he missed due to a serious injury that had him home bound for about six weeks)
  • took the younger two to the "boat" park (which features an eye shaped sand pit) even though it was a chilly 50 degrees here (now, now - be easy on we cold sensitive Californians. Fifty degrees to us is like 25 degrees to you)
  • strung Christmas lights across the front of the house even though Christmas is a just few days away

Monday, December 21, 2009

fake + uggs = fuggs

My Fuggs are not fugly. But they are warm. And they are fuggs. No doubt about that. The tell-tale sign is that the sole of the shoe is the reverse pattern of a real Ugg - as if someone bought a real pair of Uggs and used the sole of the shoe to create a manufacturing mold by pressing each shoe into wet plaster.

The other tell-tale signs are the obvious typographical and grammatical errors on the very real looking "note of authenticity" and "customer care" cards.

Notice in the last picture that at the end of the first paragraph the contraction "you've." There is an extra space between "you'" and "ve." Minor. Now read the first sentence in the second paragraph. "In order to arrain the sumptuous color of these boots..." Arrain? That isn't even a real word. Did they mean to spell "arraign?" Are these boots on trial? No doubt about that either. And that's what's gonna happen to these guys when the US government discovers that the "Uggs International" company has been selling fake product. And finally, at the end of that same paragraph, notice that "some dye transfer may occur onto light "colothing..."" Such as on kinickers? Oh my.

So I feel terrible. I try to tell myself that these are factory seconds and not contraband stitched by the nimble fingers of children and purchased off the black market. And even now as I wonder how such items can make it through customs, I marvel at how cleverly the packing slip refers to my purchase as a "gift."

Monday, November 30, 2009

Got a package today...

...and the product arrived safely from *China*. Actually, the package is waiting at the post office as I'll need to sign for it. Ah, the sweet smell of capitalist consumerism! The product may be conterfeit, but they do pay attention to some details...such as making sure that my fake product is delivered properly.

Looks like my Fuggs are here!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

In my defense...

...a friend found the great "deal" online, and she passed the web address on to me. Name brand sheepskin boots for half the retail price. Right then and there I should have been suspicious. But, I must confess, all that morning I had been admiring her *real* pair of tall chestnut sheep fur (okay - wool - whatever) lined boots. That was my second mistake. My first mistake was to spend most of the previous night shivering outdoors at a football game. The ol' Converse left my feet exposed to the elements, and by the end of the evening I could have used my feet to ice down a Popsicle. Mistake number three was to think that somehow the hard to believe prices were for legit merchandise. So after I made the secured payment and received the confirmation email from a company that was spelled in Chinese (a company name never mentioned anywhere on the web site), I knew I had been scammed. Of course no one from the company responded to my emails to "cancel the order." As desperate as I was to undo the undo-able, I even considered translating my request into Chinese and emailing that. But they probably outsource anyway, so I abandoned that plan. Now I wait patiently for my order of Fuggs to arrive, and I will be glad when they do come because that will mean that I'm not a total idiot. Then I can hide them in the corner of the closet next to my "Roldex" watch and "Guccli" handbag - a shrine to the demise of capitalism - while I wait for the paypal dispute to be resolved.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Am I losing my mind?

Don't answer that.

A week ago, I lost my "bookmarks toolbar" after a recent Firefox update. I spent at least an hour trying to figure out, a. where it went, and b. how to get it back. And then I just gave up on the whole darned thing.

Today, I opened up my browser, and voila, the toolbar is back. Tricky trick. So here is a tricky haiku:

toolbar gone, then here -
firefox stealth update or
computer gremlins?

A recap of the last month:

soccer games (oldest won a legit trophy; her team earned second place in a soccer tourney)

grading papers. hundreds of them. need to stop assigning work. boo.

karaoke at women's church retreat: costumes of paper, duct tape, and foil were fabulous

homecoming float building

treat or tricking

oldest turned 14

Those were the non-parallel structured highlights. I plead the fifth on the rest.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On the Corner

One an' two an' three an' twirl. That's my rhythm
this afternoon. I don't complain even though
it's god awful hot out here. Almost a hundred
an' two degrees yesterday. "All you can eat
Pizza buffet, lunch special!" Seems you'd
want a guy drivin' by to read the sign, but
they got us spinnin' and shakin' and dancin' it
around. Not that I'm complainin'. I need the job.
There's talk of closin' the plant where Mama works.

Yeah, young guys like me don't do the jobs guys
used to do. My Grampa was a printer. He learned how at
the newspaper up north in Tacoma. He tells me 'bout
how they had him luggin' around stacks of paper
hundred pounds each an' clankin' an' pullin' an'
hummin' all kinds of machines. He was thirteen when
he started. Long time ago, Mama took me to the shop, but
I don't remember. She says he always had his head stuck in a
press - inkin' it up or scrubbin' it down - punchin' buttons
and checkin' papers as they spit out the other side.
She says one press was the size of our house! Mama says
in the old days, Grampa used to smell like ink when
he came home at night - an' his sausage sized fingers
got stained black from mixin' all day. They used to
scoop blobs of ink from big tins an' plop it on
an old printin' plate an' mix it all around 'til it
was just the right color. That's how they did it way
back then. Now the colors come ready mixed, I guess.

Yeah, sure is hot out here. But I smile an' pretend
this is the best job in the world. At least I'm gettin' a
good work out. Plus I can listen to my I-Pod all day.
Kelton says he's quitting. I'll see if I can get his
shift too. Gotta work on a new routine, though. Can't
be twirlin' and flippin' all Saturday. Gotta pace myself.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Karen, I really did try....

I wanted to tell
you how much I loved the haiku
and anti-haiku.

my first comment was
poetic and brilliant,
but it would not post.

the second and third
i admit were cheap copies
of the original

those deserved to be
sucked into the nothingness
of the black hole where

my comments seem to
be flying into at warp
speed - condemned to die

and after two days
of this, i realized that
i could tell you here

that i loved your poems,
the brilliant fall out and
into a haiku.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Darkness enveloped the mountain hamlet. Pricking the tops of the thick evergreens, thousands of stars pierced the blue black sky. The night was clear and crisp and ominously quiet. As I jogged along the shoulder of the winding barren highway that snaked through the thick forest of sixty foot pines, streaks of white light brushed across the horizon. "A meteor shower," I thought. But the streaks didn't burn out. Then I realized that thousands of silver discs - no larger than a dinner plate - were frantically zig-zagging and descending onto the town. As the discs zipped by, barely grazing my head, I dropped to the ground. "Play dead," I thought, "and maybe they'll go away." But my quick and shallow breaths didn't go unnoticed; a disc returned and hovered over me. Reigning in my panic, I tried to keep still. "Be roadkill," I thought. "Maybe they'll just think you're a dead animal." And then, as if responding to the flip of a switch, a compartment popped open on the disc and out whirred a needle. I knew I couldn't hide my DNA. If the machine - or whatever it was - got a sample... On a visceral impulse, I grabbed the disc and smashed it into the asphalt until the disc shattered.

And that was only half of the dream. In the rest of the dream, for the most part, I was buying rugged hiking boots and camping equipment for my family so that we could hide in the woods by a crystal clear lake in order to escape from the impending alien attack.

So taking my lead from Jane D., of course I went over to dreammoods.com to see what they had to say.

To dream that you are running alone, signifies that you will advance to a higher position and surpass your friends in the race for wealth. Alternatively, you may be running from some situation or from temptation. Or it may also mean that you need to hurry up in making a decision.
To dream that you are in or walking through the forest, signifies a transitional phase.Follow your instincts. Alternatively, it indicates that you want to escape to a simpler way of life. You are feeling weighed down by the demands of your life.
To see a UFO in your dream, signifies your desires to find your spiritual purpose in life. Alternatively, it indicates that you are feeling alienated from those around you. The dream may also be a metaphor suggesting that you are a little "spacey" or have "spaced out" attitude. You need to be more grounded and come back to reality.
A needle is also symbolic of some emotional or physical pain. To dream that someone is using a needle, suggests that you need to incorporate and join together various aspects of your consciousness.
To dream that you are camping, indicates a need for relaxation and a long-deserved break. You need to be more in touch with nature and go back to a more basic and simpler life. Alternatively, it refers to your social circle and support group. You are looking for a sense of belonging, but at the same time be self-sufficient and independent.
To see a lake in your dream, signifies your emotional state of mind. You feel restricted or that you are unable to express your emotions freely. Alternatively, the lake may provide you with solace, security, and peace of mind. If the lake is clear and calm, then it symbolize your inner peace. If the lake is disturbed, then you may be going through some emotional turmoil.

Friday, September 04, 2009


Watermelon. Watermelon. Watermelon. Watermelon. Watermelon.

When my students don't know what to write, I tell them to write a paragraph of "watermelon."

Not sure why I picked that word - except that I was once told that if I am singing in a choir and forget the words, then I should mouth "watermelon" to cover it up.

Four weeks ago I had a garage sale. Actually, I didn't plan to have a garage sale. I was simply cleaning out my garage. But I was sorting through so much junk in the driveway that people *thought* I was having a garage sale. So I let people rifle through my stuff - even my garbage pile - and I took their money. And I made 50 bucks.

Four weeks ago, school started. I'm back teaching in my old room at my old school. I hate to say anything because I don't want to jinx myself, but classes are going well. Could it be that some of the new classroom management techniques I've employed this year are really working?! Nah. Truth is that God was watching out for me when the schedules were made because I didn't get any of the trouble makers. Although I do have 26 boys and only 6 girls in my first period class... Somehow it works regardless. In fact, only one third of my 162 students are girls. Crazy. Mostly I'm thankful that I don't have the students that are in the room next door. She's had to have security escort students to the office almost every day since school started.

Last week, I ran a 5K. Poetroad beat me by a minute. Iron Girl beat me by 20 seconds. Still, Iron girl and I placed 5th and 6th respectively in our age group. Obviously I have some training to do so that I soundly leave Iron Girl in the dust in our next race. Definitely we will have to sign up for another 5k. She hates running the 5K. I need *something* to work in my favor. Perhaps I should stop eating chocolate too.

Last week, a girl that was kidnapped over 18 years ago was found alive in Antioch. Ironically, her story is freakishly similar to the premise of the story I wrote, but never published, for the last Clarity contest. At the time, I was thinking that the plot was too implausible. Now I know that it's not. Scary.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The summer fun is over!

Took the older daughters and friends to a Jonas Brothers concert.

Saw a terrific production of "Into the Woods."

Found myself yelling at my kids, "Oh, for Pete's sake!" Then I wondered, "Why is it always for Pete's sake?" You are popular guy - hahaha.

Cleaned out my garage. Made fifty bucks because people thought I was having a garage sale. Nothing more wonderful than having a stranger pull out something from your trash and asking, "What do you want for this?"

Then today I went back to work. I gave homework to all of my students. The fun never ends!

I miss all of you all! I'll be dropping by your blogs this week to say hey!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm home!

Making my rounds in the blogosphere today, so you probably already knew. :) Thinking about Karen and her Kitty (sorry for your loss!), I'd like to say we own a cat, but actually our cat owns us. :) She yelled at my husband every day while we were in Oregon (sometimes at 3 in the morning, she woke him to complain) because she wanted to know if we were missing or dead. And if we were alive, then why wasn't he busy looking for the missing children??!!

I missed you, Cali,
the valley snug between pines,
mountains, palms and sea.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Of course you know it was raining here...

Sheesh. Every time I visit...anywhere...it rains! Doesn't matter if it hasn't rained in the mid valley region in July since...well...since the last time I was here in July I suppose. Anyway, we went camping this past weekend in one of the warmer, non-rainy parts of Oregon, and it rained. Still, we managed to enjoy ourselves tremendously.

Although the weekend was a little damp, it ended on a dry note. Today we visited Ona Beach with Grandma. Somehow my rainmaker curse doesn't extend to this magical place in Oregon. The weather always seems to be perfect every time we visit this particular beach. The best part, of course, was being able to spend some time with Grandma before we head back home.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

She's the girl friend...

...of the whirling dervish. Before I knew what one looked like, long ago in my child mind I imagined a whirling dervish was an animal akin to the tazmanian devil from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons. Just goes to show you that the old cartoons are only semi-educational. Although, I think I was watching a cartoon the first time I actually heard that phrase - Porky Pig once sang the words, "she's the girlfriend of the whirling dervish..." Only he probably said, "d-d-d-d-d-dervish."

Historically, the act of whirling is a spiritual ceremony practiced by the Dervish; it is in the whirling that the Dervish throw off what encumbers them. We have a similar concept in Christianity - there is a verse that says, "let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin which so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..." (C'mon - you knew there would be a reference to running right?!)

So even though I am neither a Dervish nor a Sufi, metaphorically I'll be doing a little whirling myself this summer. It's already been a whirlwind of a trip to Oregon (yeah - you knew I was here. Why else would I be blogging? On dial-up, no less!). And I've only begun the soul searching.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


I've been on summer break for almost two weeks now, and I haven't really done anything on my "to do" list yet. And we are going to Oregon in a few days! So that means I'll have even less time to do stuff around here.

It might help if I actually made a physical list so that I could remind myself what it is I wanted to accomplish this summer...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Too maternal to be cool

I am not sure how we got into this conversation, but a few nights ago I found myself - face to face with my youngest - describing the tattoo I would like to put on my arm and shoulder.

"I'll have a big orange koi fish on my arm here, and maybe a bluebird over here."

"Really??" my four year old asked, wide eyed and incredulous at the very idea.

"Yes! Don't you think that will look pretty?"

And then from the other room, the 11 year old yelled out, "Awe, Baylie! She's just kidding you. MOMS don't get tattoos!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Warning: reader's review...

Vacation = reading for fun

In the past week, I somehow sneaked in enough reading time to finish the two latest works by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind and The Angle's Game. From the get go, especially true for TAG, it is apparent that Zafon admires Dickens. And while I am not a huge fan of Dickens (shhh...keep it a secret that the English teacher is not a fan of Dickens...I will admit that I like the social commentary and wit of Dickens but could do without a few hundred pages worth of the excessive descriptions), I enjoyed reading Zafon. Reading Zafon is like reading a tossed salad of Dickens, Poe, King, Doyle and G. Marquez with just a dash of sexual tension a la Esquivel (only the tension is not executed as well by Zafon as what is accomplished in Like Water for Chocolate).

Both TSotW and TAG are quazi-murder mysteries that take place in Barcelona at the turn of the 20th century. In both novels, the acquisition of a mysterious novel is central to the plot. While at times the tale unfolds in a Sherlock Holmesian fashion, there is plenty of poverty and sex infused with the surreal and macabre that separates Zafon's artistry from Doyle's.

Because of the (not so subtle) celebration of "story", I love the basic concept for both novels. Let's face it: this English teacher is a sucker for the celebration of the transformational powers of words and stories. But let me remind you that I am not a professional critic - I am just a reader.

According to the professionals, there are mixed reviews of Zafon's artistry, and I would have to agree with several points on both sides. For one, I must admit, especially in TSotW (the first novel in what will be a series), there are some literary cracks. Towards the end of TSotW, for example, much of the resolution is clarified in a note that is sent to the main character. After reading more than a chapter's worth of this "letter," I confess that I wondered more than once, "Either this letter is written with very tiny writing, or it is nothing short of fifty pages long. Is it even probable it could have been written by hand in the time frame given"? Wrapping up the plot in a neat little package like that, too, seems to be the easy way out. Another concern about Zafon's style, as seen in TAG, is that even though the plot is more compelling than the first of the series, some of the scenes in TAG are lost or forgotten, the parallel to Great Expectations doesn't always work, and some of the gore is over done.

Still, I can overlook a number of idiosyncrasies of an author if I am overwhelmingly drawn in by the story (even if the plot seems at times to be a bit convoluted - you can thank Dickens for that influence). True for both novels, the plot is nothing less than compelling. Also, Zafon's language is poetic - in particular, the concluding statement of almost every chapter is thought provoking and/or visually enticing.

Overall, particularly if you have diverse literary tastes, I would recommend both The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Patiently waiting....

...to find out if I still have a job. I already know that I've been transferred to the other high school that is on the other side of the Interstate. But, hey, at least I still have a job. For now.

Unfortunately, over the past month, my school district has been in the process of cutting almost 100 of the 550 certificated employees. Our student to teacher ratio was already 30-40 students per teacher before the cuts began. I can't imagine what the size of our classes will be with 100 fewer teachers. So the last round of cuts happened yesterday (62 teachers), and notices are going out today and Monday. I have no seniority, and, hence, I won't be surprised if I get a notice. Since I am a high school teacher, though, I have a better chance of keeping my job.

Still, the waiting is nerve wracking!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

School is out: commence relaxing

Well. That was something else. While it's only an estimate, I think I slept approximately three hours a night from June 2 to June 12. Too many papers and projects to grade, so little time.

On a positive note, Poetroad graduated with his Master's degree this past Sunday. We celebrated by running a 5k in Florida.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


fiery intangible images swirling,
only nothing is on fire, nothing burns.
rewind. repeat. the hope for a different
outcome is complicated by new variables.

if the problem is the place, avoiding
should be the answer. only it turns
out the place has no significance,
and providence turns the tables.

it's like the man who after rolling
his car three times, survives, crawls
onto the tracks, meets a train, is sent
into oblivion without a word. Unbelievable?

perhaps the solution is in running
straight for the flames. avoidance? Spurn
it. fight the urge to flee. look askance
at escape. run into the eye of the inevitable.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Baseball Experience: The American Way

So my friend, Chi, invited me to go to a baseball game last night with her, her children, her sister in law, and her mother in law. Oh, and little poet #2 went as well since Chi's daughter and my daughter are best buddies.

For starters, the seats were great - right on the first base line. And even though we were watching a triple A team play, with all of the vendors milling through the crowd and the between inning entertainment, the venue had a Major League feel. Right away they noticed that the chairs came equipped with cup holders. "Americans prepare for food and drinks for every activity," they giggled. "It's the American Way", I sarcastically assured them. Throughout the game, I explained some of the ins and outs of baseball to Chi (baseball is not as popular in Nigeria as it is here). Then Chi bought a round of nachos and hot dogs for everyone after the fourth inning (which, she was surprised to discover, ended after the third out...and it was taking forever to snatch that third out). I could not convince the sister or MIL to take a bite of cheesy nachos - which I assured them was also "the American Way." Chi noted that the nachos were a little spicy. "A little?" I puzzled. "You Americans don't know spicy," she giggled. And I know from experience that she wasn't kidding. Between one of the innings, the mascot shot hot dogs from an air gun into the crowd. Chi's oldest son caught one!

We left before the game was over. It was getting late, and it was a school night for the kiddos. On the way home, little Chi rode with me. The whole way home, all I could hear was giggling. Good times!

BTW: Anyone know how to fix my "Read More" widget? I'm not a JS pro, and even though I've had a looksy, I don't know how to fix it!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Post Mother's Day Run

flutter, flitter, flyby
ladybug fanfare!

I went for a long run yesterday - 12 miles. I didn't really intend to run that far, but I kind of got lost. Even though I ran quite slowly (I averaged 12 min miles - boo!), the great news is that my hamstring held up well. :)

While I was running, the ladybugs were out in full force. I was worried for a while that I might accidentally eat one. Next time I go for a run, I'll take a bandanna and use it to cover my mouth.

Ladybug beetle - public domain image
(from Free Public Domain Photo Database: Ladybug on a leaf)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Who knew that a ladybug would be source of my undoing?

When it comes to allowing my children to explore the world around them, I am a champion of that. When it comes to my children bringing bugs into the house...not so much. Unless it is a ladybug, because those are relatively harmless. As long as they stay in the ladybug container/makeshift house, that is... But you know I have an over active imagination that tends to jump off of the cliff of "worst case scenario." So when Gracie decided to bring a ladybug "pet" into the house, within a few days, I had to put an end to that...

It was a Thursday evening when I suggested that Gracie consider letting her ladybug go.

"But mom, I love Roseycheeks. She is the best pet ever! And I promise that I will feed her and take care of her foreverrrrrr."

"There is no doubt that you are a great pet owner, Gracie. But don't you think that Roseycheeks will miss...flying? That box is kind of small, after all." Then I went in with the hard sell, "And she might miss her family."

"Well, I could go catch some more ladybugs. Then she won't be lonely."

DRATS! "Um, no, don't do that, Gracie. I'm concerned, though, that you are too attached to this ladybug. You've named her, and really she is a wild animal. You wouldn't bring, say, a fox, into the house and name it, would you?"

"I could find a fox around here?!"

"That's not the point, Gracie. Put the fox out of your mind. A ladybug needs to have space to fly around. She is used to being in the wild. And she has a mom and dad and maybe children out there that she could be flying around with outside."

"But I LOVE Roseycheeks, Mom!"

"I understand that you love her, honey. If you really love her, though, you would do what is best for her."

Gracie sullenly took the box outside, and then returned in a few minutes with her face contorted and on the verge of tears.

"What happened, honey?"

"I opened the box, and Roseycheeks crawled away without even saying goodbyyyyyyyyye!" And then Gracie dropped to the floor in a heap; the total meltdown began.

I cradled Gracie into my arms, wiped away her tears, and tried to explain that Roseycheeks was a wild animal. Maybe if Gracie went outside tomorrow, I suggested, she would see Roseycheeks again.

Between sobs, Gracie managed to squeak out, "How will I know it's her, Mom?"

"You could call her name?"

"How will she understand me, Mom? I dooon't speaaaaak ladybuuuuuuuuug!"

It's sad to say that until that moment I had not realized what I had done. It was just a dumb ladybug, for goodness sakes, and the kid clearly was attached to it. Even thought we all know that I'm only doing the best I can, I had to make this right - quickly. Gracie had to get to bed!

"I have an idea. Why don't you and I make a new, more secure ladybug house tomorrow and see if we can't find Roseycheeks and a friend to keep her company?"

"Really, Mom?"

"Really. But you have to promise me not to get too attached this time because ladybugs are meant to live outside. If the ladybug escapes, you have to be okay with that."

"I promise!"

It was almost ten o'clock before the entire ladybug saga played out and I was able to get Gracie to go to bed.

The next day, as promised, we made a new ladybug house and easily found two residents. The house sat on the kitchen counter for a few days.

After that, Gracie didn't pay too much attention to the ladybugs. The next week, though, her sister made a terrarium for ladybugs. While the colony receives little attention from the kiddos, it is prominently displayed in our living room. Just knowing it is there is enough for them, perhaps. And what do I care if they all escape and leave staining ladybug scat all over the house? We are only renting, after all.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Happy Mother's Day?

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree... So I shouldn't have been surprised when I opened the hand crafted Mother's Day card from daughter #2 and found it double dipped in sarcasm.

It looked so cute - a red heart that opened up to a pop-up heart nested in another heart. The inside of the card read, "You are the best mom in the universe..."

"sort of"

And then nestled in a pocket in the top left corner was a smaller heart emblazoned with the words, "You did the best you could."

My daughter laughed hysterically as I read the card, overwhelmingly pleased with her perfect execution of a joke she once heard a comedian say.

She slays me!

Really, I have to blame my dad for this one. Grandpa is notorious for being a joker - it's his love language (am I right, Jane D.?). You know you are part of the family if he infamously greets you with, "Why are you so ugly?" (which was completely ironic before my dad finally had his nose rebuilt a few years ago - he unfortunately shattered it as a teenager when he ran face first into a bridge pylon while he was frantically trying to save his little brothers from being swept out to sea).

So however the message is delivered this weekend, I hope you feel loved, moms. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Welcome to the wolf pack

"What do you need, Gracie?"

It was our typical Sunday morning routine. We stood shoulder to shoulder in front of my bathroom mirror; I put on make-up while she rummaged through my jewelry for sparkly or pink baubles to borrow that coordinated with her outfit. Then the seven year old looked at me and paused thoughtfully. We proceeded to carry on the most thoughtful and calm conversation I've ever had with this child - as casual as if she were merely breathing.

"What is that green stuff under your eyes, Mommy?"


"Yes. Those dark green patches under your eyes. Did you grow up in a wolf pack?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, your eyes remind me of a dog's eyes. You know, all droopy under there and dark looking. Did you used to be a dog?"

"Oh. Well, no, I was never a dog before. I've always been a human."

"You should put on more make up, then, if you don't want to look like you grew up in a wolf pack."

"Thank you, Gracie. I'm working on it."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wow! I feel like I was on vacation...

Okay, I was on vacation.
From my job.
Only I never went anywhere.
Except for to Reno,
the editing chair,
soccer practices,
a soccer game,
and to the Jelly Belly factory.

Highlights include
hotel buffet meals,
late night paper edits -
introduction re-writes,
transition inclusions -
for Poetroad's grad papers,
a pulled hamstring,
a tie game,
and jelly bean eating.

Or are those the low-lights?

Thursday, April 09, 2009


sickly sweet fragrance.
cherry blossoms decaying;
delicious, rotten.

crimson stars bursting -
bloom profusion - neglected
crabapple tree-shrub.

between cement and
asphalt, motor and neon,
dying beauty lives.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

No, seriously, I WAS in Reno...

and while I was there, I ran downtown to check out what all this "biggest little city" hubbub is all about.

Yes, I actually RAN downtown from the hotel - a short four mile round trip run. Who does that? Who goes to Reno and jogs?!

Bonus: on the way back to the hotel I noticed that I had been gradually running up hill those first two miles. No wonder my pace was so slooooow (or at least that's what I'm blaming it on).

Anyway, the real reason for this post is to accept and give out an award...

Aerin, over at In Search of Giants, honored me with the I Love Your Blog award - totally cool!

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

I wanted to nominate my favorite blogging poets for this award because April is National Poetry Month. But then after doing a little research, I realized that many of you have already earned this award (or have currently been nominated by a fellow blogger for this award).

Oh, well - I guess you will just have to consider your blog *double* loved if you already have this award: pjd , Karen, Catvibe, Sarah , Faith, Julie, and Lorenzo.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Enough with the birthday pandering, already!

That word, pandering, is quite an interesting word, by the way. I didn't realize it had so much to do with pimping and sex...

Nevertheless, thanks for indulging the poet with your poetry. :)

So I chatted with my oldest brother for quite some time on my birthday. Seeing as though I'm a quasi-runner, turns out that we have lots to chat about now. When we were in high school, he was the tall and lanky record breaking distance runner of the family, and I was the short and squatty sprinter. But I always wanted to BE the distance runner...

Anyway, for the past few years, he has been training to compete in triathlons. He has the biking and running down - in fact, he makes the 17 mile ride to and from work several times a week, and then he runs for hour or so when he gets home; his other training days consist of him riding ten miles away to take swim lessons for an hour, and then he rides back home. He probably runs some more when he gets home too. Talk about crazy... We cook up quite a bit of crazy in our family, obviously.

He mentioned that I need to think of something "big" to conquer when I turn 40. Hey, wait a minute there bub. I'm just starting to enjoy 39. Besides, I've already run the 20 mile, the marathon, and the 50k races. And I'm not about to compete in a triathlon because, well, I would have to swim. Well, like, swim, swim. You know, something faster than what I can do with the old side stroke...

Coming soon: a random list of 38 accomplishments from the past year...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Haiku Me

thirty nine in bloom
on three twenty nine oh nine;
your best haiku, please.

share a memory
or admit how you know me,
all friends, old and new.

roast me or toast me,
sing me your birthday wishes
in 5-7-5.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Just this side of
Just this side of
ever on the verge
yet never crossing over
never quite enough
running through, breaking past
on the fringe
on the cusp
unable to pierce the veil
tear down that which is invisible
yet cements
but not quite embodies.
stand exposed; lay yourself bare
fillet from top to bottom and hope
it will be enough
even though experience whispers something
while you stand
just this side of.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

emerald and fuschia rhythmically sway
arms reaching, delicate hands opening and twisting
a wave and a snap; ebony locks swirl,
low rumbles pound the back beat
while melodic vibrations saturate
the tapestry of sound.
bodies slide and snap; hands push
and pull, arms thrust,
beauty glides, barefooted.
Just a taste of Punjabi.

Friday, March 20, 2009

"Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink."

Quarter grades are due this week. That would mean I'm reading. Papers. Student papers.

Oh, how I long to read a novel again...

Can't wait to cut loose the Albatross of paperwork from my neck and rid myself of the curse of grading. At least for one more week, that is.

Guess you will have to wait a few more days to hear about "Multi-cultural Night" and the fascinating diverse make-up of my school...such as the fact that 31% of English Language Learner (ELL) students in my school are Punjabi...

Monday, March 16, 2009

An ultra post for an ultra run

Warning: you are about to read the entire low down of my race experience. This post was written more for posterity than for the few morbidly curious souls that will actually read the entire post. Proceed with caution in reading my ramblings, interspersed with Switchfoot lyrics from The Beautiful Letdown album, as it practically took me as long to write this as it did to run the race.

“When I wake in the morning
I want to blow into pieces.
I want more than just okay, more than just okay.”

I was up before my alarm was supposed to go off at 6:00 AM. The familiar “zzzwwwrrrrr” of the grinder and the welcome smell of coffee let me know that Poetroad was already tooling around downstairs. Breakfast was waiting for me downstairs too. Gotta love that guy!

“When I'm up with the sunshine,
I want more than just a good time
I want more than just okay, more than just okay.”

D-man volunteered to be our chauffer for the day, and he and Irongirl picked me up at around 6:40 AM. We had just enough time to drive to the Cool fire station and pick up our race packets before the race began at 8:00 AM.

“When I'm up with the sunrise,
I want more than just the blue skies
I want more than just okay, more than just okay”

The sky split open with pinks and oranges as we headed East on I-80. I was glad for the beautiful distraction. And then we had to stop in Auburn to get gas at 7:30. I was a little worried that we wouldn’t get to the fire station in time before the check-in cut-off, which was at 7:45. But, lucky for us, D. sped through the hair-pin-turned, winding, eight-mile trek from Auburn to Cool like a maniac.

We made it with minutes to spare. What was I worried about?

The start of the race was fairly casual as the first section of the course was easy going. While we hit a few rocky downhill jaunts, the up-hills were tame. Even so, Irongirl and I parted ways at about mile 2 – at the very first hill. I’m sure I heard her bleating as she pulled away from me and eventually merged into the heard of runners in the distance.

“I'm not givin' up, givin' up now.
I'm not givin' up, not backing down.”

It was along this first stretch that I met Suzanne. We chit chatted about running and our experience with ultras. Of course I didn't have anything to say about that since this was my first ultra race. Suzanne talked about the experience of finding herself at mile 15 and realizing that she still had more than 15 miles to run. She said, "Instead, of thinking, 'I still have so far to go,' I learned to run in the here and now. When I feel overwhelmed with what lies ahead, I ask myself, 'Can I keep running now?' And the answer is always, 'Yes.'"

Great life advice, if you ask me.

Not long after our conversation, I passed the first aid station. Soon found myself several miles down the trail. Where the previous 10 miles had been easy going, this was where the real work began. I prepared to tackle my nemesis, the first “moderately” steep hill that summits at “Brown’s Bar,” by popping in the earphones and letting the musings of Switchfoot distract me.

“More than fine, more than bent on getting by.
More than fine, more than just okay.”

I knew Irongirl was powering up this ascent without stopping – just as she did in all of our training runs. However, I was content with my hike, run, run, hike strategy. I continued that strategy all the way to the first aid station on Auburn Lake Trails, too.

By the way, as advertised, a half of a mile before the aid station, the lead runners met the last 100 runners on this track of trail. Those five passed me on their way down. I wondered if I was really one of the last 100 runners in the race. I promised myself that I would be somewhere closer to the middle of the pack.

“Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead
Yesterday is a promise that you've broken
Don't close your eyes, don't close your eyes,”

Even before I began that four miles of winding, single-track trail ascent, I had already run out of water, so I was relieved finally arrive to the aid station. And I was starving. Who ever thought that red potatoes and chicken broth would taste so good in the middle of a run?

“This is your life.
And today is all you've got now.
And today is all you'll ever have.”

And then I began the next loop of the run. The first half of the loop went fairly fast; I found myself leapfrogging with a conga line of 10-15 runners. Somewhere along the way, we passed the infamous Barbara Schoener Memorial. Apparently, Barbara was training alone on this trail when she was “fatally injured by a mountain lion.” With that in mind, I tried to stay with my pack of runners so that I wouldn’t be singled out for “lunch.”

Over the course of the next mile, I passed four or five people as I flew down a twisting and turning descent. For few minutes, I ran alone, and then I realized that the runner behind me was talking to me. “We are almost there. Just about a quarter of a mile ahead, at the clearing, is the first of two hills. There it is. I see the sign. The hills are pretty steep. Just take it one step at a time.”

Was he channeling Dr. Misono, my sensei of running?

I rounded the corner, and at mile 20 I reached base of the dreaded “Ball Bearing” ascent.

“This is your life, is it everything that you dreamed
That it would be when the world was younger,
And you had everything to lose?”

They say that the “Ball Bearing” is only a .70 mile ascent. It was steep. It was rocky. I had to grab onto boulders and pull myself up through parts of the ascent. Like a trail of ants, the other runners steadily moved to the top of the hill. I moved like I just ate ant poison.

“Welcome to the planet
Welcome to existence
Everyone's here
Everyone's watching you now
Everybody waits for you now
What happens next?”

Then as one runner passed me on the way up, she asked – get this – “Are you a runner or are you just a hiker?”


“Um, yeah, I’m actually running the race,” I said as I showed her my number.

“Welcome to the fallout
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be”

And all of the other ants trickled on by me as I struggled through this personal hell. Silently, I cursed Irongirl for talking me into this whole race thing in the first place. I was no ultra runner. Real ultra runners know how to RUN hills. I am good at running downhill. Anyone can run downhill.

I summitted the beast, and then made my way to the next aid station.

“I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
Like today never happened
Today never happened before”

Luckily, aid station number three welcomed me a few miles beyond the summit of Ball Bearing. Which was good because I had run out of water AGAIN. And I was starving AGAIN. And my hands were beginning to swell up – always my first clue that I am dehydrated. I needed to ingest some salt. This time I saw someone dip the red-potatoes into salt and then eat them. Brilliant!
And then I began the return run, retracing my steps that brought me there almost an hour before.

I was mostly alone on this four-mile stretch. There was one other guy – another virgin ultra runner – who leapfrogged me, but I could hear him talking about cramping, and his trainer/running partner suggested that they walk a bit.

“It was a beautiful letdown
When I crashed and burned
When I found myself alone, unknown and hurt.”

I was glad I ate the salt.

For another mile or so, another guy and I ran together. Then he had to stop and walk for a bit because his knee was hurting.

Now don’t get the idea that I was ONLY running on this stretch of rollers. I walked up every hill. Even the baby hills. I took every chance I could to rest. But in the back of my mind, I knew that this portion of the race was really downhill even though I was sometimes running uphill. I was trying to take advantage of my “strength” as much as possible.

Eventually, I crossed the little wooden bridge once again, but there wasn’t anyone there to tell me which way to turn. I knew was that I wasn’t supposed to run back the way I came. Also, I knew I was supposed to run up a hill named “Goat Hill.”

For ten long seconds, I stood alone in the middle of the forest and contemplated what to do next. I could hear runners in the distance drawing closer, and I seriously considered running back to them to get a second opinion regarding which way to go. While I saw the familiar pink caution tape blocking off where NOT to run, I wanted to read an actual sign that said, “Run up this hill, dummy.” Or, at the very least, I would have liked to read a sign that said, “This is Goat Hill.”

“In a world full of bitter pain
And bitter doubt
I was trying so hard to fit in,
Until I found out
I don't belong here
I don't belong here
I will carry a cross and a song where I don't belong.”

Then I noticed that there was a nearly inconspicuous serpentining trail carved into the red clay of a steep hill. I went up the hill.

“It was a beautiful letdown
When You found me here
And for once in a rare blue moon
I see everything clear”

On the way up, I saw another runner ahead of me, which confirmed that I was headed in the right direction. Now I knew that they said the Ball Bearing was the longest ascent, but this goat hill was almost as steep and it kept going and going and going up, up, up.

Did I mention that I suck at running up hills?

“I'll be a beautiful letdown
That's what I'll forever be
And though it may cost my soul
I'll sing for free.”

At the top of that ascent was the next aid station. This time I ate chips and refilled my bottle once again.

And then I kept on running. Knowing that only four more miles were between my and the finish line was almost invigorating. If only the rest of the trail were downhill from there on out. I even asked someone at the aid station, “Are there any more hills?” He replied reluctantly with, “Yes, but not like the one you just climbed. Still, there are a few more hills.”

“Twenty-four oceans, twenty-four skies,
Twenty-four failures in twenty-four tries.
Twenty-four finds me in twenty-fourth place,
With twenty-four dropouts at the end of the day.”

I ran the next stretch with two guys and two girls. I passed them on the downhills, and they passed me on the ups.

“Life is not what I thought it was
Twenty-four hours ago.
Still I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You.”

One benefit of not being time and space oriented is that I cannot conceptualize what a “mile” is or what “a half hour more of running” really means. One drawback of not being time and space oriented is that I cannot conceptualize what a “mile” is or what “a half hour more of running” really means.

“And I'm not who I thought I was
Twenty-four hours ago
Still I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You.”

I remember that I looked down at my watch and realized at one point that I only had two miles more to run. Those last two miles were the longest two miles I have ever run in my life. There was a part of me that said, “Hey, you’ve already covered a marathon worth of miles. Just walk the rest of the way.”

“Twenty-four reasons to admit that I'm wrong
With all my excuses still twenty-four strong.”

Still, I kept running.

“But see I'm not copping out
Not copping out
Not copping out
When You're raising the dead in me”

Finally, I crossed highway 49 again, stopped for a quick drink at the aid station, and then headed toward the finish line that was a mere 1.3 miles away. Of course you know that most of that was uphill.

“And You're raising these twenty-four voices
With twenty-four hearts
With all of my symphonies in twenty-four parts”

As I reached the top of the final hill, I saw the grove of ancient oaks in the distance. I knew the trail flattened out there. And I knew that soon I would be within eyesight of the finish line. Which meant I needed to run the last half mile because to walk that would be lame.

“But I want to be one today
Centered and true
I want to see miracles
To see the world change”

In the last steps, an older, wiser, more experienced runner began to overtake me. He said, “Let’s cross the finish line together.”

And so we did.

My time was 6:38. I took 325th place out of 450 runners. I was 88th in my age group out 144.

Don’t knock it. I wasn’t in the bottom 100 as I suspected I was. As a matter of fact, I finished an entire hour faster than I thought I would.

In addition, you’ll be glad to know that no 63 year olds were injured on my way to the finish line. I think she finished the race in 5 hours.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...

...is the big run, and I am feeling mighty anxious. It's my first ultra trail run (50k - which is 31 miles for those of you who live in the United States). What makes this run special is that it draws world class runners from all over the country. Apparently, it's the start of the ultra running season, and serious ultra runners are working towards a qualifying time for the Western States 100m.

Of course knowing that I'll be competing against *real* runners - people who know what they are doing out there - is ridiculous. And embarrassing. Oh, it will only be embarrassing when those people are sitting in their lawn chairs that will be lined up along the last mile of the trail so that they can cheer on people like me to the finish

....because I will be walking that last up-hill mile.

Luckily, I know for sure that there is at leas one 63-year-old woman signed up for this race. And I'll tell you straight up - I'm not afraid to knock her down just so I can pass her at the end of the race.

That is if I can catch up to her in that last mile...

Saturday, March 07, 2009


Tonight as I close my eyes,
forgetting what has transpired,
looking beyond the last frame
ignoring the creak and tremble
siren, rush, and electric hum,
releasing until unrestrained -
I will fling myself and tumble
head first into

Check out Dave King's thoughts at Pics and Poems in his post Kandinsky did it first...(and read the post he references too) in regard to Wassily Kandinsky. Actually, Kandinsky is really a catalyst for King's thoughts about creating with eyes shut tight.

Along that same vein, I've often found that I am feverishly creative in the last moments before I drift off to sleep or right before I become fully conscious just as I am waking up. Some of my favorite pieces have been scribbled on whatever scraps of paper I can find on my nightstand, in fact. Perhaps I need to tap into that more - to value the artist's vision more when I am seeing with my eyes shut tight.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Nigeria Q & A

"Do they have technology?"

"How do they view homosexuality?"

"What exactly is "female circumcision"?

These were the burning questions my students had for the special guest speaker who visited two of my classes earlier this week.

My dear friend - who happens to be Nigerian and a member of the same tribe highlighted in African novelist Chinua Achebe's book Things Fall Apart - generously agreed to work the visit into her hectic schedule. Since the majority of my students are reluctant readers, I thought that hearing first hand what it is to be Ibo and Nigerian would help draw them into the novel (as if Things Fall Apart couldn't do that on it's own, but the novel does lack a critical component practically required by many of the readers in my classes - and I quote - "lasers shooting out of heads, killing people").

I wish I were joking about that...

My students were immediately enraptured by my friend, "Chikosi." Who wouldn't be? Chi is beautiful inside and out, and her voice is strong and smooth and melodic. She sat tall on the stool at the front of my classroom, all smiles, and was crowned in tightly plated hair - a river of braids - tiny ropes - that fell to her lower back and were neatly secured between her shoulders in a bundle. She was dressed all in black, a combination of sheer and silky, leather and pleather - head to stiletto heeled boots - looking more like a fashion model than a lawyer/wife/mother of three. My students were mesmerized by every syllable from "hello".

More than that, she was smart and articulate and sincere; every question was answered honestly, completely. I learned so much about Nigerian culture that day - more than I've learned over the past few months in my study and research in order to prepare for teaching this novel.

Although, I confess, I was afraid to have her visit because my students have the potential to be kind of...naughty...and chatty...and disrespectful. Typical teens, you know.

But they were good! And they listened! And they were polite and asked questions!

Okay, they really did ask about circumcision, but Chi answered succinctly without hesitation.

Chi was great! And now my students know a little bit more about what Nigeria (a country) and Africa (a continent) really is, and they have encountered the reality of who an African woman is today.

Plus there was that brief, yet insightful, biology lesson...

Monday, March 02, 2009

"No Line on the Horizon"

Looks like I will be staying up late for the next week. U2's new album will be released on March, 3 in the United States, so in honor of the release, U2 is performing on Letterman every night this week!

Yeah, we don't HAVE TIVO.

Poetroad is seriously considering driving around tonight to see if he can buy the album at midnight. Right, he does know about this new crazy technology called "MP3s" that are downloadable right to his computer. But he wants to HOLD the disc in his hands. And perhaps hear the rush of gossamer wings and angelic voices singing "LAAAAAAAAAA" as he unwraps the jewel case.


When I woke up this morning, I knew immediately that I was ill. And in pain. And that this illness would require a doctor visit and antibiotics. Not a big deal - just a little urinary tract infection (which I realize will be TMI for some readers here, but I promise that there is a point in me telling you all this little detail...).

Someone in line casually asked me if my illness was going around.

"No." "As far as I know, urinary tract infections are not contagious," I wanted to add.

To be fair, I'm sure that person meant no ill will (most likely...). Nevertheless, the inquiry began a brief and awkward discussion of me telling the truth yet allowing the other person to believe something completely different.

Feeling embarrassed, I disengaged from the conversation as quickly as I could and instead became engrossed with hair driers - as if I were carefully studying each particular model with the scrutiny a scientist might study a Petri dish for positive signs of bacteria growth.

Eventually, I picked up my prescription and got the heck out of there.

Next time I find myself in that situation, I will be better prepared with my response. Here is the list so far of possible "reasons" [all fake, I assure you] for my future pharmacy visits:

1. Gonorrhea flare up.
2. Picking up husband's Viagra prescription.
3. Picking up MY Viagra prescription.
4. Bleeding hemorrhoids.
5. Picking up my methadone because, you know, I'm trying to shake that dirty heroin habit.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Ah, Pierre, you shouldn't have...

No, really. No one wants to see a 70 year old man fold in half and touch his nose to his knees (and, he let me know, that he could have contorted himself more fantastically right there in front of the "Grind" coffee shop, but he wasn't wearing the right clothes to get the job done).

While I didn't hit the trails yesterday, I did wake up early and run around suburbia in order to get in my daily run. In the last leg of the run, I took an extended break at the Grind - the local coffee dive - and met with my "girz" for our once a month chat 'n pray.

Afterward, I took a few minutes to stretch before running the last two miles of my run. That is when I met Pierre. He looked like this younger version of Jack Lalanne. (When I say young, I mean the "70 years young" look.)

Speaking in a lovely accent, French I suppose, Pierre told me that he was an accomplished yogi. When he was younger and living in Monterrey, he sudied two and three times a week from an infamous yogi.

"Oh, so can you wrap your leg behind your head?"

"No, not in these clothes. But if I had on the proper attire..."

I was a little disappointed that I wouldn't get to see the entire show, but that thought dissolved as Pierre pulled in close.

"I am a psychologist. Where do you live?"

"I live in this area - a few miles from here."

Pierre came in closer. He paused to read the caption on my sweatshirt. I explained it was from a church camp.

"Church, too? Well, you are the compete package, then. You and I would have been perfect together. A perfect match."

As we chatted about this and that, I tried not to be distracted by the neatly trimmed forest of ear and nose hair that encroached proper ear and nose boundaries.

"And no children, I suppose?"

"Actually, I have four daughters."

"Well, then, that is something else we have in common! I also have four daughters. The youngest, she is 23 and a UC Davis graduate."

"Wow! That's wonderful. You must be very proud. Do your daughters live close?"


His pause was pregnant with regret. I wondered about his past - a life lived half a century ago - that included yogi study and psychology and the Monterrey coast.

"Well, my children do not live close. My children, they are divorced, I am very sad to say, and living here and there. But who am I to judge as I also am divorced. You understand, as I assume you are also divorced."

"But I'm not divorced. I'm married; I just don't wear my ring when I am running because my hands swell when I run."

"You tease a man, so, and give him false hopes! You are married!"

We laughed uncomfortably.

"I'll let you run home now. And I promise I will not run after you."

I didn't look back to see if he was following me.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

And that's the news from the American River Canyon...

Apparently, between work and running and cooking dinner and NOT cleaning my house, I've lost time to be creative. Speaking of creative, you have to drop on over to Faith's blog, "Stones from my Heart" to check out some very cool collages. I left her blog thinking, "I wanna do that!" If I ever figure out the "how," Faith, I'm dedicating my first one to you and your lovely blog.

Ooops...I got lost for a second there...reading poetry at Keeping Secrets again. :)

Back to the post. Since I have no time to be creative, I'll talk about running. Three more weeks to race day, and I'm still wondering how Irongirl talked me into tackling this run. If she tells you it was the other way around, don't believe her.

Here's the low down on the race: 50K, American River Canyon, rugged trail run, popular trail race with many expert runners competing (not against me, mind you...I'll be competing for "last runner") - REAL ultra-runners competing and not "wannabe" runners like me who hardly know how to run correctly let alone run correctly for 30+ miles, March 14.

That being said, in light of my defeatist attitude, it might not surprise you to know that yesterday was a difficult training day for me mentally and physically.

Here's the low down on the run: didn't feel confident from the beginning of the run, wanted to cry on the first ascent at mile four, started feeling very ill by mile ten due to the sudafed/caffine-laced-energy-jelly-beans/two-cups-o-coffee cocktail surging through my body, walked some, wanted to quit several times (but what was I going to do seven miles deep into the wilderness - we all know that walking would take longer than running back to the car), stopped at the port-o-potty at mile 13 (yeah, I know. too much information. get over it. it's my blog. remind me later...i have a poop story to tell you all), and we still ran that 15+ miles faster than we did the week before.

Wow. That was THE most mentally challenging run that I've ever...run. Irongirl calls these types of runs "mental training days." She ain't kidding.

And yet, it was beautiful up there in the canyon.

rugged mind numbing ascent.
you seem unfazed, which is
maddening. I trudge along,
regardless, imitating
your form; full foot, heel to toe,
and I walk 'til i reach the
mossy covered tree seven
paces up then run to the
next; run and walk and run from
tree to tree to rock to tree
and slog through stream and muddy
muck and slip and slide and run
to the top, to the top. Where
is the top? Winding, descent,
ascent, descent; steadily
climbing but not completely
aware under canopy
of evergreens and live oak,
brushing fern and moss and rock
and ruddy salamanders.
Then I break through at the top
and wonder how far I've come
and how much longer it would
be until I turn around
and head down hill, away from
the light, to be enveloped
by the inviting darkness
once more.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

In the last few moments of Valentines Day...

...let me say Happy Valentines Day to you all!

Poetroad gave me one of the best Valentines gifts ever - new trail running shoes and the opportunity to spend part of my day running with irongirl up in the American River Canyon. We ran 15.5 miles (I swear, I think for 10 of those miles we were running up hill - how is that possible?). It was brutal. It was beautiful. My legs hurt.

For Poetroad's gift, I sent him away (okay, I didn't really "send" him...he just drove downtown) to see the Prologue of the Amgen Tour of California. Today Poetroad saw some of the top cyclists in the world, including Austinite Lance Armstrong (photo 1) and newly off drug suspension rider Tyler Hamilton (photo 2). Later when we watched national coverage of the event together, I saw Poetroad there - on TV - in the front of the crowd snapping this photo of Mr. Hamilton. Very cool.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Phew. Made it through another week....

and only once did I hear, "This class is boring...because..." (cue drum roll...) "We are always doing stuff in here."

Hmm. What the heck are you doing in all of your other classes!?

You know you are a successful teacher when you've been accused of "doing stuff" in your class.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Check out what Karen said...

I loved what Karen said so much over at Keeping Secrets that I had to share part of the post here:

"Of course, I believe that all writing is autobiographical in many ways. It shows the deepest heart of the writer, revealing parts that are not apparent to the rest of the world. Writing reveals, and poetry may distill the essence of the person most of all. Yet, as much as it reveals, it also allows one to become someone else, and therein is the rub for those who know the writer. Which person is authoring the piece? Is it the one who is opening her heart for all to see, exposing her truest self, or is it the one who is creating a new reality that has little to do with the author herself but provides a wonderous landscape in which she may wander? Maybe the answer is both."

Yes. She gets it. But I wouldn't expect anything less from a poet. :)

Sometimes I'm afraid to share what I write or think here because I know that some readers - readers that I care about dearly - will make false assumptions or judge me harshly. No one wants to be judged. Other creative types, however, such as Karen, get it. We want to go there. We want to linger in someone else's thoughts, moods - someone else's landscape - for whatever reason. Perhaps we find a commonality, which is comforting to say the least, but more than anything we are intrigued by someone who thinks or acts or believes differently. It's a bit like what I imagine an actor might do in order to prepare for a role...step into someone's shoes and walk around awhile.

Thanks, Karen, for making that post even though your secrets aren't so secret anymore.

A poem i'm working on

Not sure what to call it yet...

glassy eyed we wander
through endless isles of solitude
greeting cards, post its, lamps
nothing in the cart but randomness
through veiled despair
we linger at the precipice
of the 1000 count sheet set that we pretend to admire

Friday, January 30, 2009

"Ginger Ale reminds me of my days in the Boy Scouts."

Really? How?

"Well, we had our pack meetings at the American Legion Hall. We had to walk through the bar to get to the meeting room. They always had cases and cases of Ginger Ale there. We took some every time."

You stole Ginger Ale from the bar?!

"Yeah, we were the renegades."

Renegades? Funny how things haven't changed much.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mile 17

I'd like to stop now.

And then?

That would be it, then, I guess.

How would you get back?

The same way I came.

But how?

Walk, I suppose.

Yes, you could walk.

That would take too long.

Yes it would.

What are my other options?

Keep going, I suppose.

I knew you would say that.

What did you want me to say?


I see that you aren't walking.

Like I said, that would take too long.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Ok...maybe this will only be exciting to me,

but I just found out on Friday that I PASSED *ALL* THREE OF THE CTEL TESTS!!!!

For those of you not in ear shot when I was whining and moaning about having to take these tests back in December, listen to my tale of woe...

Actually, it all started back in August when I was hired to teach at the local high school. California is all desperate to hire teachers, etc., etc., I thought it would be a cinch to transfer my current credentials (you pick a state, I thought, ,I'm licensed to teach in three states). Not that simple, I learned. Besides having to fill out all of the forms, submit the finger prints (twice), pledge my faith to California with the promise of a blood sacrifice (okay, not really, but it *felt* like that's what they wanted), I ALSO had to take a few hundred tests (okay, four tests). So I put down my first three hundred dollars (not an exaggeration) and made an oath to attempt to pass the holy trinity of the California Teacher of English Learners tests. This battery of tests is only offered twice a year, and while one does not have to take all three tests on the same day, there is an awful long wait-time in between test opportunities. I wanted to just get the whole thing over with. Of course I signed up to take all three that fateful December day.

I mean, I had a whole 6 weeks to study from the time I dished out the cash. SIX WEEKS! AAAAAAHHHH!

After I saw the content of the tests, I thought, "Who am I kidding. This is crazy."

But I pressed on. And I called Maria (PJDs wife) and asked her to graciously loan me a few of her textbooks. Which she did. And then I left them there. And then Peter and Maria graciously brought them somewhere where I could meet them and get the books. Where I got lost. But then they found me, and all was good.

To make a ridiculously long story shorter, I got lost on the way to the testing center on the day of the tests. Then I found a throng of other dazed and confused late lost people and found my way to the testing center. On the way in, the guy I was walking with assured me, "I've taken these tests three times already and they never start on time." Great. That sure boosted my morale.

To make matters better, I sat by another ENGLISH teacher who was on her second try. She only passed one test the first time around. And, she said, the only reason why she passed that test was because she took quite a few linguistics classes in her undergrad work - practically minored in linguistics. Great. More morale boosting.

Then the guy next to me kept letting out a heavy sigh every five minutes during the test. This went on for the first three hours. And continued after the break and went on for the *next* three hours. A girl can only take so much out-of-normal-context heavy sighing. I wanted to kick him.

Afterward, I was quite sure I didn't pass any of the tests. There were a few answers I didn't know, and the essay questions were not easy (oh, yeah - didn't I mention that I had to write *four* full length essays in addition to taking three 90 + multiple question tests????????). Even the best BSer would have had trouble getting around the fact that they were looking for specific terminology to be used competently. For example, one question might read, "name the sociocultural and sociopolitical factors that affect a language learner's development and, in light of that, describe specific instructional strategies for an intermediate language learner currently enrolled in a sheltered bilingual program so that these factors do not hinder language acquisition." *Easy* stuff like that.

I was doomed. There was no way. I decided to just forget about the whole thing and gear up for the next round. And then I got an e-mail on Friday...saying, in bold letters beneath each test, "PASS."

I had to go to the web page and confirm those preliminary scores. Couldn't believe it! Of course only the typed document is official (wouldn't that really *bite* if there was a mistake!).

Anyway, I'll let you know in a few days if it is official or if this has been just another delusion from my feverish nights from last week.

Feeling Good

Not everything about last week was straight from the pit of hell. I was able to catch up on my blog reading, for instance. :) I might even go for a jog today (last week ruined my training schedule!).

Again, thanks for the well wishes! I will be posting more soon as I have some fantastic news to share! (well, it is fantastic to me anyway...)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sick and tired

This week, I had the pleasure of contracting the flu. Up until a few hours ago, I was thinking that, perhaps, death might be the merciful option. Being run over by a truck might have felt more pleasurable.

My toe muscles hurt. The backs of my eyeballs hurt. My teeth hurt. Anything on my body that could possibly feel pain *hurt*. And the sweat. A 500 lb fry cook manning the grill during the dinner rush at the local Grease Shack Trucker Grill might sweat more, but barely. I changed my clothes three times today.

Fortunately, the fever has ended! And as long as I keep my talking to the minimum, the extreme coughing fits are bearable.

I might even attempt to go to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


"Fabulous" is my four year old daughter's favorite word.

"Do I look fabulous, Mom?"

"This outfit is fabulous!"

"This cheese sandwich is fabulous!"

"You are a fabulous mommy."

"My sisters are fabulous!"

Of course her other favorite word is "poop." Go figure.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hop on over to "The Clarity of Night"...

...and check out the talent in Jason Evan's latest short fiction contest entitled "Ascension." Look for my entry entitled "Karma." (Yay, Aerin, I met fiction writing goal for the month!)

Happy reading!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What might that scent be????

So I was checking out my favorite cheapskate shopping site - craigslist - and came across an advertisement for "Lotion, candles..." etc., etc., and "Biblical Oils." [No, I wasn't shopping for lotions or oils. And if I were, I would hardly buy them from a freelance lotion dealer. Well, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't.]

Of course curiosity got the best of me, so I clicked on the link to find out what kind of "Biblical Oils" someone might be selling right here in Sacramento. I was thinking "special anointing oils" - you know, the kind of holy anointing oil that is blessed and used for healing or an Exorcism or something such as that.

Turns out that these oils are not those kind of oils, but they do come from Israel in a range of "biblical scents."

"John the Baptist Musk"? "Essence of Shepherd"? "Eau de Trinity"?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Apparently, I there is more room for crazy here...

You are right. I don't need to commit to one more thing in my life. (Did I mention that I am currently training with my good friend and trail running partner Telle to run a 50K in March?) That being said, I have been avoiding this commitment - the commitment of "writing to be read" - for quite awhile... No time like the present, eh? Here is the challenge:
Aerin at In Search of Giants is hosting a writer’s challenge to foster inspiration and community. It's pretty low-pressure: 1000 words a month. At the end of the year, you'll have a total of 12,000 words, which is not even half a NaNo entry. Go here to sign up!

BONUS: If you sign up for this challenge by January 14, your entry to the Ascension Clarity of Night contest counts as all 1000 of your words for January!

Thanks, Aerin, for laying down the challenge! Now go sign up, people.

"To sleep..."

"...perchance to dream..."

Hamlet III, i

Never mind the dreams. I would just settle for some "sleep." Since Poetroad has been gone, I have not been sleeping well. Maybe 3 hours a night? And then I lay awake until the sun begins to rise and eventually fall asleep for a few more hours...if I'm lucky. Totally sucks.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Fun with dirt and other readings

The best part of vacation is that I have a chance to do stuff that I usually don't because, let's face it, I'm not organized or disciplined enough to schedule these activities into my life. Unfortunately, the stuff that gets pushed into the margins and avoided are activities I really enjoy doing...such as *reading* a book. Not so this vacation.

So far, I went running in the mud, up and down hills, in a storm, and around the track, I went for a walk on the beach, and I read five books in the past two weeks. Of course one book that I read was for work (Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe - and I will share my thoughts on this book eventually, but I have much more to think about before I attempt to share those thoughts). The other four books I read, however, were for the sheer pleasure of being transported into another world.

You might have heard of the Twilight Saga - a four novel series by Stephenie Meyer of which book one was recently made into a movie. Honestly, I originally decided to read the first novel of the series since this is a popular novel with my students, and I wanted to know what all the fuss was. So although the story is marketed for teenagers, once I began reading, I was hooked; the teen audience intent didn't matter.

In book one, Twilight, Meyer introduces readers to the life of teenager Bella Swan who moves from Arizona where she lived with her mother to Forks, Washington in order to live with her dad for awhile. In Forks, Bella meets and falls in love with her soul mate, Edward. Of course her destiny with Edward is complicated by the fact that her true love might not actually have a soul since he is a vampire.

Love, vampires, battles, part myth and part mysticism, and the Northwest. I was totally sucked into the story from page one.

Surprisingly, what drew me to the story more than anything else was the setting. There is something undeniably mystical and magical about the coastal region in the Northwest. Although this story takes place in the Olympic Peninsula, the rugged beauty of the land, the dense, mossy forests, the typically overcast days, and the rain could easily describe more than half of the Oregon and Washington coastal region. My mom was born in Newport, Oregon, and most of her family still lives there now. Needless to say, throughout my childhood the Oregon coast was practically my second home - it's still one of my favorite places to visit.

Don't get me wrong - I know I could not live there again. But I have to admit that my soul sometimes aches to clear a path through the mossy forests and dense underbrush again. Maybe that's why I've taken to trail running this past year. I yearn to be there. And in particular, I feel that yearning more strongly when I travel from Corvallis to Newport. It's as if I'm entranced...or possessed...by an intense longing that I consciously know can never be requited. My creative side wants to be there. My logical side (do I have that side?) knows that living there would kill me. Literally.

Besides the setting, I was also intrigued by the plot of the novel on several levels. You should know that I am not a fan of romance novels or love stories. Still, the second draw to the novel was the love story. Sappy. Ridiculous. Close to home. I was 18 when I met Poetroad. I knew within a week that he was "the one." He knew it too. In Twilight, Bella is merely 17 when she meets Edward. From the beginning, she knows they belong together - for better or worse. I understood that. Of course their relationship is complicated - there is the whole human vs. vampire thing, for one. But I liked the symbolism (unintentionally written in?) of the type of struggles all couples face.

There is more to love about this series - realistic characters, intricate but believable plot, treachery, scary stuff, sad endings, happy endings. I won't spoil it for you any more than I have, though. You should know that these novels are more of a fun read than literary genius. Most of the complaints I've heard regarded repetitive language and metaphors. And even though one of the main characters is a vampire, there is a moral quality that constrains the plot. For example, when some of the characters finally do get around to it, the sex scenes are hinted at rather than described. Which is one other reason why I *liked* the series. It's a good novel to read *with* your teenager.