Friday, December 28, 2012

It never fails.

I convinced myself to get out of the house. I've been hibernating and obsessing about wedding many things to look at on the internet.

Out of the house, to *gasp* to go to the gym, a yoga class class no less. And I walked into the already darkened, although I was early, room, to discover that there were no mats. I walked up to a spry looking older woman who was situated at the front of the room, I assumed the instructor, and asked if there were any mats. She looked at me confused, said it was her first time at this place and that she didn't know anything. Not helpful, and not the instructor.

I decided that I could do without and claimed a corner along the wall away from the front. After a few minutes, a much more with it woman, with her teenage daughter, asked if I needed a mat and told me they were outside across the gym. Of course, why didn't I think of that?

I procured a mat and hid back in the corner. As I tried to stretch without drawing attention to myself, the woman blond and graceful, in front of me asked if it was my first day in class.

"Yes," I looked at her more closely, "You're Stephanie right?" We worked together. Of course we did. No hiding inconspicuously, we made some appropriate chit-chat-- kids, vacation, that sort of thing. It was fine.

The yoga instructor came in and set up her mat, a mere five feet from my own, because, in my attempt to sink back into a dark corner I had actually picked the front of the class. Excellent.

And in reality it was, maybe not excellent, but quite nice and there is always something great about a class where the instructor wants you to "listen to your body" to figure out what it can and can't do ways it should and should not be stretched, a class that ends with soft music and deep breathing. The man behind me congratulated me on "doing so well for the first time."

All in all, not a bad way to spend an hour.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

No so much doing.

Instead living, I'm doing a lot of that, which is "doing" in the lovliest, most mundane sense of the word.

I'm planning a wedding and that very fact makes my heart sing and sigh, and I've spent so much time looking at wedding dresses I could have possibly written the next great American novel. This does not bother me as much as it should.

Right now my handsome friend is snoring on the couch, I'm nursing a hangover and wishing for breakfast tacos, strange to say that all seems right with the world. We celebrate an early Christmas tomorrow and hung vintage thrift store decorations from a shiny gold chain, an old man cut the chain for us while making bad jokes. All of this seems important. Wedding planning is a funny beast, some decisions I am agonizing over (my dress, my hair) some I make quickly and don't question my choice (the date, gifts for my bridesmaids, flower girl dresses). It will all come together, beautifully I'm sure.

Monday, June 11, 2012


The last day of school for the seniors is one of my favorite days. There is an electric current of excitement that seems to run through everything, and as long as no one has any grand ambitions of getting shit done, it is a lovely day.

The last four days of school (for the seniors, I still have five days) our classes presented their "Do Something" projects. SO MUCH FUN! Really this project turned out better than I could have hoped. The projects were funny and empowering and exciting and such a positive way for the the year to end. What I didn't anticipate was how much each of the students' personalities would come through in their project choice and their presentation. Here were some of my favorites:

1. A visit to Ft. Vancouver on Memorial Day. There were volunteers in period costumes and exhibits. But, as my student commented, "We were the only Mexicans there."

2. One of my students went to a concert--something she does a lot-- but went with an eye towards being a journalist. She came back with some amazing photographs and found "as a journalist, I realized I was much more observant than if I had just gone to see the show. Neither role was better than the other, but it was surprising how different they were."

3. "I took my car to get my oil changed. All by myself. I mean it was very hard for me...they as me all those questions and I had to just say, "No, no, no!" It was a lot of pressure."

4. A mostly ordinary trip to Long Beach set to epic music, this presentation included captions such as "Trees!" and "Look, more trees!" and "My feet on rubbish."

5. A road trip, rather spur of the moment to California to fulfill one student's father's wish to see the solar eclipse. They just got in the car and drove. No telescope, no plan, just a map and some snacks. The pictures from this one were great. They found a group of like-minded people, gathered at some community college near the California border, she couldn't remember where but this star party shared their equipment and there is a great picture of them, father and daughter in matching goggles staring up at the sky.

6. There was a really bad karoke video and a failed attempt to be a vegetarian. A painfully shy kid joined anime club AND presented in front of the class.

Nate took his kindergarden daughter and 5 other elementry school students to the zoo for a day. I did two things visited the planetarium and went to see The Wall.

The planetarium was okay.
I was warm and sleepy from drinking too much wine at dinner. I was also underwhelmed by the planetarium director at Mt. Hood Community College. He looked the part of a crazy scientist including bushy moustache and nearly bald hair that he kept combing over the top of his shiny head. He wasn't an overly speaker. The audience was at least 30% kids and he skipped over simple things like defining the terms he was using over and over. But, I did learn about the transit of venus, which took place June 5th, the following day, which I even remembered and looked tried to spot. It was bright and clear (weird!) but, using two pair of sun glasses together I was able to see the tiny speck --a whole planet--in front of the sun.

The Wall however was amazing. And the subject of it's own post. Just not today.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Do really, go do it.

(A picture from the last time I went out and "did something."
A Portland Timber's game on April 21st.)
On Friday, we assigned our final project for our graduating seniors.

I was so excited about it I was bouncing off the walls--that combined with having real coffee for breakfast instead of the iced tea I've been using as a replacement-- so excited that one kids told me twice to calm down and another, looked a me with sleepy slightly annoyed confusion and said, "What did you do or how much caffeine have you had this morning?"

So, the project, which is mostly my brain child, is essentially a challenge for them all to get out and do something. Ideally, it's something they've never tried and have always wanted to try. It's something that will challenge or stretch them a little and my co-teacher Nate and I were prepared for it to flop. Both, nervous because we were so excited about it, we desperately wanted them to like it, and to see it as an opportunity to do something THEY were interested in.

They loved it.
Really, one kid (who is smart and super arrogant), said, "This is bad ass." We didn't know if he was serious or being sarcastic. He clarified, "No, really, this is awesome, all we have to do is go out, do something we're interested in and come back and talk about it. This is the best final ever. Who wouldn't like this."

Two kids struggled, they apparently hate everything and both said more than once, "I hate change." Exactly.

Here are some of the cool ideas they came up with:
1. Drive to Seattle and watch a Beatles cover band
2. Go around the city and take photos with a 35 mm camera
3. Various girls want to try Zumba
4. One kid wants to panhandle for a day....this made us realize we desperately needed a permission slip.
5. Visit an alpaca show
6. Wear ear plugs for a few days and try to use the ASL he's learned
7. A huge Hispanic kid wants to go ice skating
8. A girl raised in a very devout Catholic family is interested in going to a different church. She's a cool kid, interested, intelligent kind of a spit-fire. I suggested she try the awesome Unitarian Church in downtown Portland. I did not however suggest she try the Euthanasia Church, which is what she thought I said, so that's what she looked up. She was freaked out, apparently with good reason. However, she was quite interested in the Unitarians.
9. The kid who called our project bad ass wants to do a 24 hour survival type experience
10. On kid is going to research dog fighting, and then fight his dog....literally, he is going to fight his dog. Then make a video of it. Yes, stupid. But this will be hysterical. He's even planning on building a ring.

Nate and I also decided we would participate. Both because we want to and to demonstrate that this is what REAL people do, we are not just our jobs. We experience things and do things. I'm thinking of going to play golf. He's thinking about geocaching. Neither of those are considerably outside our comfort zone...we're still coming up with ideas. Luckily, the project is not due 'till June 4th and we've got time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Co-teaching realization

I realized today that I am enjoying co-teaching.

I haven't hated it for a while, which has been amazing, but today my co-teacher Nate was back after being sick the first part of the week. As we prepared for the day, I had all sorts of funny things to tell him about the days he was out, things students had said, the weird sub, the fact that one of our students was no longer pregnant. In much the same manner, he had things he'd graded that he set aside to show me. It was like catching up with a friend and while we were teaching, both of us trying to put out mini-fires, I was definitely appreciating that he was there.

What a happy change.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Reading Part 1

Since my favorite roommate has moved in, and honestly since we've started dating I read don't read as much. This makes me quite sad, but I'm willing to concede those pages as the benefits outweigh the lack. There are other things to do and my reading before bed has turned into his nap time before his night shift, I could still read, but it usually seems so much nicer to just sleep.

But, I have recently finished two books very different and very good. The first The Passage, by Justin Cronin was a huge non-sparkly vampire apocalypse book. (I got it off an amazon list) I loved it because it was huge in scale, it covered the inception of the virus all the way through the fall of North America and the initial stages of rebuilding, but it didn't get bogged down in the details. Cronin did some clever things to get through the messy parts of the story (blah, blah, downfall of the nation blah blah) and focus your attention on the rebuilding and people. Cool story. It's the first of a trilogy and now I have to wait until October for book two.

The other book was Northern Lightt, by Jennifer Donnelly. This book has been sitting on my shelf for a number of years. I think my FB-BFF gave it to me during one of her library purges. It is based on a real murder that took place in 1906 in upstate New York. Apparently, the book An American Tragedy was also based on this murder and though I haven't read that, it is on my shelf and now I'm interested. This was a nice example of a strong voiced female protagonist in teen lit and at the book's end when the heroine starts out on a new journey, I also wanted to know what would happen.

Both of those books got passed along. Nik and I went to the beach for a few days with her delightful daughter and as I have been doing for years I left these books with her. As per usual, she also had one for me, Let's Take the Long Way Home, which she says reminded her of me, but looks sad, so it might have to live on the shelf for a while. My next undertaking is George Martin's, Game of Thrones, so I can eventually watch the series everyone has RAVED about.

This is the strange part about books and reading. Reading is a mostly solitary activity, but books are social. I'm not just talking about book groups, (I belong to only one, and strangely do so reluctantly.) but sharing books, talking about books, giving them, borrowing them and receiving them as gifts are all social activities. Books invite conversation and dialogue. Nik and I have been sharing books since high school. Her mother used to be a major source for my reading material, I remember in college I would raid her book shelf over summer break and I'm sure I borrowed far more than I ever returned. But, reading is so interesting to me that books and conversations about books are important...

(There are a few notable exceptions (my handsome friend, my brother and my Portland Based-BFF) --and this is funny because these are the people I probably spend the most time talking with but none of them read much fiction)

....but with almost everyone else I talk books and share books and suggest and get suggestions. Which is probably why I can't imagine getting a kindle type device. But, that's another post.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Right now.

The view out my window is spring time. There are birds making bird-type noises and I can hear them because, although it's 5:25, the back door is open. It's cool, but not cold; the doors are open to let in to move the air around, it's stale in here from months of preserving the heat.

There are one inch buds on my tulip tree. I can't tell if they will be flowers or leaves. The maple in the back is shooting it's unadorned branches into the blue sky. The moon, somewhere around two-thirds full has taken residence in the sky already and is framed by the limbs of the gigantic pine tree that inhabits my back yard.

The crazy dog is making circles in the too tall grass. Her tummy is making funny noises and she is doing all her best instinctual dog tricks to make herself feel better. Sam is in his newest favorite spot. He likes to lie in the doorway. I think it has to do with his failing eyesight and being able to smell all the wonderful smells of outside, while still in the relative safety of the house. I would indulge him more often, but its still so cold.

My handsome friend is snoring upstairs. He worked this morning and will work tonight, a quick turn-around because I had hoped to visit my sister next weekend. It didn't work out but he arranged his schedule just for me. Some days it takes all my self restraint to let him sleep.

My hands smell like onions, and green chilies, and cilantro. A pot of pork and green chili stew is in the early stages of simmering on the stove. I'm making a huge pot. Some for a new mother. I also promised some to my brother, it's his favorite and he bought me breakfast this morning. We also went for a long walk around Kelly point, along the river in the sunshine.

There is a woodpecker surveying the yard from the top of the maple tree and the moon has moved since I took this picture. I'm also sure there is something I'm trying to say in this post. Something about sunshine on Sunday afternoon and the fulfilling rightness of my domestic existence. Yeah, something like that.