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 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.