Sunday, January 30, 2011

Nothing to Do

It was last Wednesday that I was granted an early dismissal from work. Tomorrow will be my first day working since then. I know a lot of people think that summer break is the biggest perk of teaching, but really it's the snow day. Summer break can get filled with commitments pretty quickly, and while I'm in no way complaining of those ten weeks off, I'm just saying the snow day has a whole other feel. A snow day is a day when those commitments one has (like work) get thrown to the wayside. Suddenly a gift of "nothing" is presented. Nothing- as in "no thing" on the day's schedule.

With my schedule cleared I was able to see a total of four movies and get in a little time at the gym. I did some laundry and even put the clean clothes away where they belong. I looked over a few new recipes and look forward to making some Tuscan Chicken soup later in the week.

All in all, I did a lot of nothing.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What's Playing?

Yesterday's storm started off as a bit of early morning snow. It was followed by a little bit of rain and gray skies. My favorite weather blog said the storm would return with a vengeance at 3:00pm. Even with all the weather facts available to me I was still shocked when the announcement came that school was closing two hours early. I walked through the cold mist to my car and headed for a matinee showing of The King's Speech.

The movie was delightful. I've always loved the Queen Mum, and seeing a little more of her life story made me love her just a little more.

I got to see another movie today thanks to the first snow day of the year.

An hour ago I was completely shocked to find out that school will be closed again tomorrow. Another movie? Why not.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Whatever Happened To?

I wrote about Frankie back in September. We got off to a rocky start but managed to forge a positive relationship in the end. I haven't had a problem with him since the binder incident back in the fall.

With the hype of the end of the football season there's been a good deal of sports talk in the classroom. I try my best to promote my hometown team, the Baltimore Ravens, to a group of mostly Steelers, Redskins, and Dallas fans. With very few Baltimore fans around I never count on much camaraderie. So, you can imagine my surprise and delight when Frankie confided that he would root for the Ravens. That was on Thursday before the big game. On Friday he came in wearing a purple shirt.

"Did you wear that for the Ravens?" I asked.

He smiled and nodded.

I smiled. So much has changed since September, and that's a good thing.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Small Talk

I was chatting with one of the secretaries in the main office on Friday when I asked if she remembered the inauguration of John F. Kennedy 50 years ago. She recalled that she was in high school at the time. We chatted a bit about the passing of time and I walked around the corner to use the copier.

I turned to find the secretary standing beside me.

"You know, I was in college when he was shot. I never thought that bad things like that happened, it was then that I lost my innocence. Nothing bad had ever happened to me...until then."

Clearly, what started as small talk was not so small after all.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ice Please

I don't golf, not even on the Wii. I do own a set of hand-me-down clubs that my mom gave me. I've even enjoyed some time at the driving range in the past, but it's been at least 5 or 6 years since I've swung a club. So it just doesn't seem right that I'm suffering from something called Golfer's Elbow.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Stupid is as Stupid Does

In the stupid is as stupid does category:

I took my best friend out to dinner tonight to celebrate her birthday. We got a last minute reservation at a steak place I've wanted to try and rushed off to grab our table. They treated us right, knowing it was her birthday, and greeted us with two glasses of champagne. Not bad, I thought, looks like a pretty good place.

My steak was delicious as were the side of spinach and bottle of red wine we ordered with dinner. The conversation was plentiful, and when the dessert menu was offered up we laughed as the waitress uttered the first item on the menu...key lime pie. You see, that's my friend's favorite, it seemed like a sign...the topper for a perfect dinner.

It was perfect. Time spent with friends is hard to come by when that time is swallowed up with obligations of family and work, so two hours alone over good food and drink was a gift for me as well as her.

Until we went back to get in my car. Which wasn't there. Was it stolen? Had we really parked a block further? Had we had more to drink then we thought? No. The answer came from a passer by who asked, "What color was the car?"

"Tan." we replied. "A Honda CRV."

"Towed." was his answer. He saw the confusion in our faces and added, "Zip car parking."

Ouch. Another $115.oo dollars added to the bill, and a $5o.oo fine from the Arlington County Police.

The steak was good, as was the wine, but I can't say it was that good.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Like Yesterday

Mary and I became friends over twenty years ago when I was charged with showing the new kid in the office how to input personnel data...or something like that. I really don't remember what I was showing her I just know we met as lowly clerk-typists at the Smithsonian. We were both recently out of college trying to figure out what was next while working pretty mindless jobs in the nation's capital. Neither of us had much money. We helped each other out. Mary read over my resume and helped me make the most of my lack of experience in the work world. She would call me when the ATM "didn't make the money sound" and I would offer to pick her up from her night job at the Kennedy Center. With Mary, you never really knew what was going to happen, but whatever it was always included a few giggles.

We were supposed to meet in Arlington for dinner at 6:30 tonight. My phone rang about 5:15; she needed to change the time because she was waiting for furniture to be delivered to her office out in Great Falls. We talked about the best possible plan and decided I should head out her way, we could wait for the delivery together and head out to eat from there. "It sounds like a good ole' Mary adventure!" I remarked.

It was. The furniture delivery was late, the desk barely fit through the door and we had quite a few giggles. Just like old times.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Passing Notes in Class

I've always regretted the day I threw away the notes I passed back and forth with my friends throughout high school. I remember looking at a shoe box full of folded-up notes on loose leaf paper, notes that chronicled my life in high school, and then deciding to toss them in the trash. What was I thinking?

As a teacher I've intercepted quite a few notes. At one time I thought it would be fun to publish a book of the notes I've found or confiscated. This week I came across a note on the floor that really made me giggle. I opened up a small piece of paper that had been ripped from a notebook and found the following words scrawled in pencil:

I found this piece of paper


Sunday, January 9, 2011

And the Tree Came Down

The Christmas tree came down today. Sure enough, there wasn't a drop of water left in the tree stand. I wrangled the 6 foot Fraser Fir out the front door and was left with thousands of tiny green needles marking my path through the living room. For now the decorations are scattered on the window seat, waiting to be stored until next year.

The tree will be picked up sometime this week and placed in a wood chipper by my condominium maintenance crew. At some point next Spring I'll have the condo association deliver a bag or two or free mulch. The pine mulch will smell much like my house did a few weeks ago when I first brought in the Fraser Fir. Symmetry? Not exactly, but something like it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Writing is Hard

"Writing is hard."

That's what a friend said to me yesterday as I admitted I hadn't been feeling very inspired to write lately. Writing group was meeting that night and even though I pretty much had something together to share it wasn't something I liked that much.

Yes, writing is hard. It requires a good deal of thinking and sometimes I just don't feel like thinking that much.

I left work yesterday afternoon with that uninspired piece of writing waiting for a fresh look. I still had two hours before writing group so I figured I'd get some distance and look at it again in another hour or so. As I drove home I started considering other possibilities. What if I started the story at another point in time? Could I use some part of that piece I'd shared two months ago? Yes, I could.

Things were coming together by the time my ten minute commute came to an end. I walked in the door and got right to work. Twenty minutes later I was done and happy with the result.

That's the kind of writing I like.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Tired Start

As usual it was a quiet Monday in the classroom. I counted on that. Most Mondays are pretty quiet anyway, but throw in an 11-day vacation and what you get is a silent roar of non-enthusiasm.

What I didn't count on was the number of kids who were out today. There was at least one student missing from each class period. My fifth period class took the record with 3 absentees...until Josh walked in about 15 minutes late.

"Hey, class started 15 minutes ago. Where've ya been?" I asked.

"Uh, I was asleep." he replied.

"Asleep?" I questioned. "Where were you?"

"At home," came the reply.

"Wow, must be nice." I joked. Well, sort of, I joked.

I looked out at the class and described my utter surprise to find out it's dark at 6:50 AM. It's been 11 days since I stepped outside at such an early hour. They nodded their heads in exhausted agreement and we pushed on with the lesson at hand.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


The first ache I felt this morning was not in my head. It was more in the form of something known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. DOMS, as it more commonly called, is really nothing more than your body reminding you that it's been quite some time since you've challenged yourself physically. My challenge came in the form of kettle weights. I'd heard a lot about them and decided to give them a try.

The DVD workout went pretty well, in fact I was feeling so motivated after that I decided to get outside and go for a walk/run.

I awoke this morning to stiff, sore legs. I know the best cure for this muscle malady is a walk to stretch the affected areas. Knowing what's best and doing what's best are very different...I opted for stretching out on the couch most of the afternoon.