Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Frolicking Fairy

Trinity finished painting this last night for her great-Granny B (my grandma) for Christmas.

Not too shabby for a 13 year old!  We're still debating the title of the painting.  I said "Frolicking Fairy" (can you tell I'm a sucker for alliteration?), Trin said "Fairy" (try not to be overwhelmed by her cleverness), and Clint said "This Fairy Blows".  Um, bubbles.  Since all of our ideas suck (or blow), any suggestions you might have are welcomed.

Oh, I finished my peacock painting, which I'm giving to Teri now because she really wants it and I don't really have any connection with it.  It came out pretty, but the peacock is just standing there, posed on the canvas, when I'd like to have something with a little more energy or motion displayed in my home (like the one illustrated above).  I'll post a picture of it on my other blog later once I've recovered from the holidays.

Speaking of, I hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas tomorrow!  Sorry for this very un-Christmasy post.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Staring at the Ceiling

I think I must post this on my blog every year...this is my all time favorite not-really-a-Christmas-song Christmas song:

Maybe by the time I post it next year, there will actually be a decent lyrics video to go along with it.  Everything I found was mushy and full of fireplaces and hearts.

I can't make up my mind about this next song.  His voice has an interesting quality and definitely isn't what you'd call 'manly.'  But the song has been sticking with me since the very first time I heard it, so I think I must love it.  It's not a Christmas song at all, but he does mention snow, so close enough.

There's quite a few parallelisms between the two songs, actually.  They both mention dimly burning lights and empty glasses.*

*(The rest of this post has been deleted because...well, it was just me lamenting)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I just saw a commercial for the La Cordon Bleu Culinary School that got me thinking about the English language.  The commercial displayed a close-up of a cell phone receiving a series of text messages trying to persuade the viewer to join the Cordon Bleu institute.  It went something like this:

Hey U!
Y RU sitting on UR couch?
Don't U know that La Cordon Bleu Culinary School has over x amount of classes 2 choose from?
Isn't that gr8?
So get started 2day!
I think I cringed more during this commercial than I did when Trin and I had to clean out my hen's injured butt.  The thing is, ever since the influx of texting and social networking, us Language Arts teachers have been fighting a losing battle to preserve the integrity of the English language.  Unfortunately this new generation is so saturated with texting lingo and acronyms and shorthand that not only is cutting corners in writing the norm, but many kids don't know any other way to write.  On the other hand, I text entire paragraphs, which has got to annoy the hell out of people.  I use complete sentences, commas, apostrophes--the works--and I'll tell someone that this or that was "hysterically funny" or actually type out "haha" in lieu of LOL.  Heaven forbid you're not on Verizon, lest my one text comes to you in three or four segments.  Yeah.   So you can imagine how much phrases like isn't that gr8 just gr8 on my nerves.

But the question I have been asking myself lately is, do I need to just let it go?  Is this really a bad thing, or am I acting like the traditional ole' grandpa who refuses to use an ATM machine because he likes doing things old-school?  When you think about it, language has never been static.  Since the beginning of time language has been in a state of perpetual evolution, with new words and phrases--slang or otherwise--added to our lexicon every year, and older words such as "jirble" and "beef-witted" becoming obsolete.  Texting, e-mailing, and social networking have simply launched our language's most recent set of adaptations.  We live in a fast-paced world that no longer has the time or the wherewithal to communicate through eloquent expressions and long passages of writing.  Maybe it's time for me to quit being such a language purist and just deal with that fact.

Yet the moment I try to adjust, I'll come across an old historical document, or a diary entry from the past, or a letter.  The way people used to communicate was so beautiful and so right.   How can I let that go?

The answer?  I won't.  In the same way some people insist on listening to their music on vinyls or refuse to let the tradition of the quill pen die, I can't 'evolve' myself into a creature that writes "CU later" when I've experienced and loved language at its fullest.  But maybe our world was meant to be equipped with obsessive preservationist like myself.  Without us, things like record players and calligraphy sets and pocket watches would go extinct.  Someone needs to tell the future generation what the word 'flabbergasted' means or defile the laws of texting by throwing in the occasional adverb....Why can't that person be me?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Post of Excuses

Ditto what Jodi said! Every day this week, I have felt like I need to write a post about our vacation, but there is just SO MUCH. I do not know where to begin. And Jodi is absolutely right- our pics are inconveniently scattered among several cameras. Sadly, the pics I have on my camera are very few. Even worse, an entire island isn't even on a camera at all, but is still on a CD we had to purchase for $40 (we couldn't take our cameras because we were kayaking and snorkeling). To further complicate things, I am having a hell of a time uploading pictures at all onto this blog. Egh!

By the way, GETTING to our cruise ship was the WORST travel experience in my life. Jodi will confirm this.

I will try and write a decent post about our vacation this weekend (I was secretly hoping Jodi would beat me to it). Maybe I will just do bullet points or something.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Back from Paradise

Shan and I were officially home from our cruise late Saturday night (more like Sunday morning), but I've been avoiding our blog because I'm overwhelmed by the idea of writing about our week.  It would take pages to describe ONE day of the cruise, let alone the whole eight days.  Plus my pictures are still spread amongst five different cameras, and since I'm not on facebook anymore, it's going to take awhile for me to wrangle some photos to post.  Basically the cruise was amazing, but blogging about it right now sounds like a big fat chore.

So until I get around to doing a real entry about it (feel free to step in here any time Sho), here's a 15 second video clip of us girls playing on the beach at Atlantis (Shan in gray, Mom in blue, me in red).  It was stormy that day, but my mom labeled this afternoon on the beach as one of her most memorable moments of the whole cruise.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cruise Day

This blog will be deserted for the next 9 days or so, as Shannon and I are on our way to LAX where we will fly off into the sunset (aka: Caribbean cruise). I'm typing this on my iPhone right now...it's hailing on the freeway, and we're being escorted by police. It's taking a LOT of willpower to imagine relaxing in front of a pool with a piƱa colada, but if I close my eyes really tight, I can almost see it.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

DoT - 101% Complete, yet Sadly Unfinished

I just finished chapter 22 of DoT, checked the word count, and nearly had a hard attack.  Because, well, this!

Right?  RIGHT?  I can't even describe it.  Back when I decided "I'm going to write a book," I felt excited, but scared.  Hitting my word count goal seemed like such an impossible feat.  But here it is, two and a half years later, and I did it--I reached 75k!  

Unfortunately that's where the good news ends.  Yes, I reached one goal, but the ultimate goal was to write a book, and at this point, I've written 75% of a book.  I never imagined that I wouldn't be able to flesh out this story in 75,000 words, and now I'm crossing all my fingers and toes that I can wrap up my novel in a mere 25k.  

So yeah, wish me luck as I scramble toward the new finish line.  But for now, I think I'll keep that progress meter where it's at for a little while longer so I can keep marveling at that dark green bar being all the way at the finish line.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembering the Jelly

Thought I'd drop in!

I haven't written in so long, and so I've been experiencing that phenomenon where the longer you don't write, the harder it is to write. Actually, I don't think that is much of a phenomenon. That's more like...a boring occurence. In any case, I really want to get back into the habit of writing again.

Jodi and I were texting back and forth the other day...well I wrote her this:

"Hey Jojo! It's Shan. I can't do our blog anymore. I'm so sorry. I thought it was because of my tests, but now they are done, and I just have no urge to write in it. I keep hoping I'll get the urge, but it's not happening. It's not cool that you have to keep explaining my absence. Do you want to take it over, and just have me as an occasional guest blogger?"

Yeah, I actually was gonna quit.

This is one of the things Jo wrote back:

"You've NEVER been able to sustain writing though. Remember how you used to rip all of your journal pages? This is your blogging version of that."

She is absolutely, 100% correct. My sister has shelves full of journals that she has been maintaining since high school. Me? Nothing. I have ripped or burned any journal I have ever attempted (burning is more fun).

Jodi's journals are time capsules filled with fragments of her life. What I love about them is the nature of the memories. Anyone will mentally file away significant events and milestones. But these journals document the things that most wouldn't bother to remember, the threads of one's world that seem small, but accumulate in such a way to create the whole fabric of a life.

The other day, I stumbled upon my old "MySpace" account. My profile is set on private, and I can't remember the password, but I was able to see a dozen or so old "blog" entries I had written. Here is what one of them said (dated 10-09-2006):

"Okay, I had a dream that my kids turned into different jars of jelly. Samantha was butterscotch (butterscotch jelly? I don't think that even exists). Either Cassidi or Dylan was strawberry preserves. That's all I can remember."

This got me thinking. If I hadn't written this down, I would have NEVER in a million years, remembered that I had this dream? And this reminded me of a quote from my favorite book EVER:

"If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?”
― George Orwell, 1984

Back to my dream. If I am the only one who has a memory of this dream, and I LOSE this memory, did this dream even happen? Even actual memories...If a man in a purple shirt almost hit my car with his bike 3 years ago, but the man has no recollection of the event, and I no longer remember it, does this incident even exist? Nobody can see it, hear it, touch it...It doesn't take up any mass in space....if the only place this incident ever existed is in the mind of the man and the mind of me, but it no longer exists in his mind or my mind, whose to say it even occurred?

This is probably just an annoying extension of the whole "If a tree falls in a forest..." question, but...I get stuck on these silly thoughts sometimes.

Basically, I want to try and keep writing. I'm afraid that if I don't, my memories will start to evaporate, and then it will be like they never happened at all.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Goodbye Facebook

I made a big decision.  Well, big for me.  Can you guess, can you guess?

Yeah, I deactivated my facebook account.  I guess that doesn't seem like that big of a decision.  It's not like I decided to move out of the country, start a peacock farm, or adopt a Chinese baby.  But it's big for me.  I've been on facebook since 2008; my account was very well-established with five years worth of pictures and memories.  So why would I deactivate it?  Here was the reason I gave facebook when it prompted me to "please explain":

I guess I'm sort of taking an ethical stance.  I hate how social networking has replaced flesh-and-blood interactions.  Moms who used to go on play dates and take their kids to the park now sit on facebook all day posting pics and playing Candy Crush.  Facebook breeds nothing but laziness and pseudo-friendships.
That's my reason in a snapshot, but that's not the entire reason.  I think part of it is feeling perpetually annoyed by all the fakeness on facebook--those who feel compelled to talk up every mundane aspect of their lives--but the other reason is lately I have just wanted to keep a lower profile.  Last year, I had to take one of those personality/learning inventories at a training I attended, and my results came out 100% "intrapersonal" (some other inventories call it "introvert").  I was shocked by this.  The last time I had taken one of these tests was in high school, and at that time I remember I was very much on the "extrovert"-side.  But more than that, I have always considered myself as a social butterfly who thrives on being around people.  I also like to lead, and have almost no reservations speaking to a large audience.  Yet no matter what version of this test I take, I keep getting the same result: introvert.  So I think sometime in the past few years, my personality has changed.  I  still get energized when I'm in social settings, and I love talking to people, but I have a huge introspective component to my personality that wants to do nothing more but sit in a quiet corner of a coffee shop and work on my novel, or curl up in front of my fireplace and read a good sci-fi.  Somewhere in the last few years, regular "alone time" not only became desirable for me, but necessary to my sanity.  On the other end of this, one social gathering can keep me satisfied for months.

That being said, facebook is an extrovert's faux-paradise (faux because, let's face it, interacting on social networking is like skiing on Wii; fun to a degree, but pale in comparison to the "real" experience)  Unfortunately it's draining on introverts.  The average newsfeed is chattery and convoluted and overwhelming in mindless stimulation.  For the last year, this fact was begging the question: Why are you forcing yourself to be a part of something that's such a burden to you? My answers were always the same: 1. My family is on facebook, and it's become our way of sharing our lives with each other, and 2. I hope to be published someday, and I will need my facebook account to glean support and to possibly promote a future novel.

Both of these were valid points--and still are--which is why I chose to deactivate my account, as opposed to deleting it all together.  Deactivating my account gives me the option of returning to facebook in the future and fully restoring my account whenever I'm ready.

Until then, I'm going to enjoy this break.  I've been without facebook for a full 110 minutes, and so far, it feels wonderful. You'll have to excuse me now as I make myself a cup of hot tea and curl up with Cinder, my latest sci-fi read, and NOT check my latest notifications.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Things You Find in a Desert

I probably should post Halloween-y stuff tonight, but I already wrote this entry four or five days ago (minus this sentence) and forgot to post it, so I'll write about Halloween later.

I've complained several times in previous blog entries that I feel like I'm stuck in a time loop, repeating the same events of my life, over and over...events that should break the monotony of a normal person's life, like parades and community clean-up days and blanket-making and...so on.  Not that it's a terrible thing, but it makes it hard to write a post about said-activity when I've already written about it x-amount of times in the past.  

Well, staying true to that premise, here's "Community Clean-Up Day Take 6."  Or 7.  Or 9.  Crap, I don't know.

This year I thought I'd do my first (and last) annual "Things You Find in a Desert" Edition.  So here you go, ladies and gentlemen...things you might find in a desert:

 A king-sized mattress.

 A roll of carpet.

 A box of broken doll parts (creepy).

 A couch.

 Another mattress.

An abandoned car.

 Some more carpet.

A baby tarantula.

You might also find 20 broken television sets, a refrigerator, a few drug needles, two more fully grown tarantulas, mountains of discarded concrete, broken glass, enough artificial foliage to start a pseudo-garden, and a Bible (but you might not have your cell phone available to take pics of those things because you gave it to one of your students to hold for you because girls' jeans' pockets are too damn small).

So that concludes the 6th (or 7th or 9th or whatever-th) edition of Community Clean-Up Day.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My [not so] Little DoT

This warranted a quick post:

Yes, this is my little DoT, almost completely grown up.  I can't believe I'm at 70K!  I've never written this much in my life.  I seriously have goosebumps right now, looking at this word meter.

Less than 5,000 words left, people!  Holy geez!

That's the good news.  The bad news is there is no way I can finish this story in a mere 5K.  NO WAY.  I haven't even reached the climax yet.  So, I'm going to have to bump my word count up to.........100K.  That's the maximum advisable word count for a YA novel.

BUT--since my original goal was 75K, I think it's only fair to give myself the thrill of reaching that goal first before worrying about the new word count.  I really, really want to see my little meter get to a 100%.  Thus, for now, I will keep my goal at 75K.

Oh my gosh I'm doing it!  I'm writing a book!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pepper for Breakfast

I'm feeling pretty moody with blogger.  Last night I wrote a big, beautiful post, but for some reason there were inordinately large spaces in-between paragraphs and I couldn't get rid of them.  So I switched over to HTML.  I successfully deleted most of the spaces, but then accidentally deleted the closing tag for a certain section.  When I hit the "undo" arrow, my ENTIRE post disappeared, along with the "redo" option.  I thought, "No big deal, I'll just go to the previous page before my changes are saved."  But the second I went to back out of the page, it auto-saved my blank blog.  Ughhhh.

Okay, that was a long-winded way of saying I lost yesterday's post (by the way, it's only a "big, beautiful" post because there's no evidence to the contrary).  I'll never recreate it, so that's that.

So new stuff.  Yesterday I was at a training with the rest of my department, when we got the news that there had been an incident at school.  It happened in my friend Jen's class (Niecy's former classroom).  Jen was sitting at the same table with me at the training when she got the news.   A student brought in a pepper bomb, which is basically pepper spray in powder form, compressed into a ball.  He never intended to use it; he just brought it to show his friends.  He had procured it from his dad, who's a correctional officer.  But it accidentally came apart when he was rolling it around on his desk (the sub either didn't see it, or thought it was a red toy ball).  Three girls who were sitting directly next to this student immediately ran out of the room, unable to breathe.  The rest of the class followed soon after.  Eight students were treated by ambulance before being released, and a correspondent from Channel 2 News interviewed our school about the incident.  Poor Jen had to relocate to a different classroom today so that her room could be deep-cleaned and her filters replaced with new ones.  Several kids left their backpacks, and they weren't even allowed to retrieve them.  RMS Cafe was supposed to be held in Jen's room this morning, but it was relocated to Naomi's room (my other language arts colleague/friend).  In addition to the usual splay of donuts, fruit, and coffee, Naomi supplied a plate of...peppers.  

One thing that stands out in my mind was a few hours before the incident, Jen was expressing her nervousness over having a sub in her classroom for two days.  But then she comforted herself by saying, "I have really good kids this year, so I really have nothing to worry about."  That right there is why I'm a strong advocate of KNOCKING ON WOOD.

Clint's schedule is brutal this month.  He's driving a train from Needles, CA, to Winslow, AZ, so he's gone for six days at a time.  Poor guy; he comes home with enough time to mow the lawn and repair things that need to be repaired, and then he's gone again.  And there is always something that needs to be repaired.  I swear this house very calculatingly waits for him to leave, and then decides to dump problems on me.  Like the smoke detectors that went all manic a few weeks ago.  Or the ice-maker last week, which would do nothing but growl every time I pushed the button, but then the second I opened the freezer, ice would explode on me.  On the plus side, I was showered with the specific ice I had requested, whether it was cubed or crushed.  So ten points for accuracy there.  Now our latest problem is the voltage on our electric fence around the petting zoo...it's too high.  I'm not sure what changed...maybe the fact that the ground has been moister than usual lately?  But on top of zapping two sparrows, the fence fried one of our hens.  Now I have more unfortunate critters to add to the ever-growing Why You Don't Want to be a Bird in Our House list.  So Clint will have to tweak that on Monday, plus get rid of the dead chicken that no one wants to touch.  Thankfully by next week he should be back to shorter routes, where he is gone for only 2-3 days at a time.

Clint's parents are taking the kids to an insect fair tomorrow.  Trin is all sorts of excited because there are supposed to be a few entomologist there from UCR, and she plans to pick their brains about the world of entomology.  Right now she's torn about what she wants to be when she grows up; either an entomologist or an aviary veterinarian.  The aviary vet idea has me laughing my head off.  How great would it be for a child whose family has a history of unwittingly massacring winged creatures to become a veterinarian of BIRDS?

Teri invited me to go along to the insect fair with them, to which I gave her a very polite hell no.  With Clint gone all the time, I'm saturated with kids 24/7.  The thought of some peace and quiet (aka: uninterrupted writing time) sounds like pure bliss.  I'm hoping to go to Starbucks tomorrow and make my word-meter bar grow.

Oh, I wrote a vignette (exactly 500 words in length) on my other blog, but I'm not crazy about it.  It was in response to another end-of-the-world-type writing prompt that one of my twitter followers mentioned me in.  I love creating short stories...they make for fun little interludes between chapter revisions.  But for some reason I only like to write them when I get a prompt of some kind.  Same for painting--I like being given some direction, like "paint an angel or paint a willow tree"--I feel too aimless if I'm just supposed to "paint".  Anyway, I failed a little on this one.  500 words was too shrimpy of a word count for me to flesh the exposition out, or to get the reader to care about the character or her plight.  I guess this highlights my shortcomings as a writer.  Although Apathetics is a flash fiction of sorts, and I managed to pull that one off in 440-some words.  So I don't know.  Maybe the repetitiveness of the topic was a problem too.  I do love the concept of vignettes--and flash fiction--so I might look for some more prompts here and there when I'm feeling ready to take breaks from DoT.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Still breathing

Just a quick post to say I'm still alive, and my life totally sucks right now!

Four more days until my test...

Most Sincerely,
The Sad, Pathetic & Joyless Twin.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Enchanted Forest

I don't have any writerly juices tonight, so here's Family Theme Night, Picture Edition:

Teri did a beautiful job decorating

 These lights were stunning in the dark

 Carey and Teri dining

 Getting ready for appetizers

The kids ready to eat

 One-eyed, one horned, flying purple...diva?

 Me and Clint (the tiny blue fairy)

 Full after dinner

 Mike and Moo (she's a dragonfly princess, we don't know what he is)

 The kids--a fairy, Tardis, flying squirrel, and troll
(don't ask me what a Tardis has to do with an Enchanted Forest)

 Trin and Elijah
Moo made Trin's costume and Teri made Elijah's.
I helped by oohing and ahhing over them.

 Teri and Carey (Mother Nature and a garden gnome)

 Family Photo

 Sweet Pea with her amazing birthday cake
(yes, that's a cake, courtesy of Teri)

 Trinity preparing Sweet Pea for a skit

 Releasing a Chinese sky lantern into the air

 Sweet Pea's dream cake again

The fam was celebrating my birthday too,
so Teri made me my own chocolate "villain's" cake
to go with Sweet's.  Holy cow was it delicious.

The only other thing worth mentioning is when we released our Chinese sky lantern, it went straight into a gigantic car-sized bush.  That was a fun little moment of panic as everyone lunged for the lantern, trying to grab it before the bush caught on fire. 

Oh, and our skits.  We had a target on the wall with character's names and random settings/activities.  Each one of us threw a velcro ball against the target until we hit one character's name and one setting.  For example, I got "Ariel singing rock karaoke."  Then we had to act it out in front of everyone, and see if they could guess who we were and what we were doing.  It was super fun.  My favorite was Mike's skit, and Clint's.  Mike had to pretend to be a scared camper jumping from flower to flower.  It was really cute.  Clint, on the other hand, had to act out "Big Bad Wolf in a hair salon."  So he sits down in a fake barber chair and starts saying, "My, what BIG SCISSORS you have.  My, what a BIG HAIRBRUSH you have."  It was hilarious.

One more thing. I got an old-fashioned gumball machine for my birthday.  I've wanted one ever since I wrote my "Gumball" story.  Although ironically my new gumball machine is full of peanut M&Ms right now.

Okay, now I'm done for real.       

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Just Dance Already

Family Theme Night was downright fun this year.  The one thing that made all the difference was at the end of the night, when almost everyone had left, Teri blasted the music and we all danced in the dark beneath those gorgeous projected laser sparkle-thingies that I am so enraptured by (my crush on them began a couple years ago at the 2011 Dojo Halloween Party).  Even Clint's dad danced.  It was impossible to not be on a high that night.  I am telling you, if you are someone who doesn't dance, DO IT ANYWAY.  Blast an upbeat song, dance around your living room like a crazy person, and enjoy the endorphin-rush that follows.  According to Healthy Living, "The body releases endorphins during periods of physical activity, resulting in feelings of well-being and sometimes, euphoria. While nearly any kind of physical activity has the potential to release endorphins, dancing is particularly effective."  Euphoria, people.  EUPHORIA.

On a somewhat related note:  Men, dance with your wives.  I'm not talking slow dancing (although that's great too), but go out there and fast-dance with her, even if you think you look like a fool.  The reasons you need to do this are simple: 1. The above-mentioned euphoria.  2. No one cares what you look like.  3.  Even if you do look like a fool, you've only got one life to live.  Someday when you take your last breath, you're not going to care if you looked stupid "that one night."  You're only going to remember that it was blurry and euphoric and beautiful.  4.  It's HOT.  When you first start fast-dancing, you and your partner may not know right away what you're doing.  But after a minute or so you get a rhythm going, and it's energetic and intense and feels sexy as all get-out.  Without planning it, you find your bodies coming together and parting again; his hands will be on your hips one second and gone the next.  For slow dancing, the female expects to be pressed up against the male's body the entire time.  But with fast dancing, you don't know what to expect, and there is something exciting and unpredictable about that.  Which brings me to my final point, #5. If you're not dancing with her, someone else is.  Clint refuses to dance with me (except for the occasional slow song), so I usually get on the dance floor with the girls.  But it doesn't take long before I'm swept up into some male's arms and dancing with him, and now, I'm put into the awkward position of going through point #4 with someone who isn't my husband, when hubbies are the first person us girls want to share that kind of experience with.  So husbands, in the words of Lady Gaga, "Just dance, [it'll] be okay."  

Well damn, I got a little side-tracked.  This post was supposed to be about Family Theme Night.  Now I'm already bored with blogging, so I'll save FTN for my next post.  Guess I better change my title too, because "Enchanted Forest" no longer seems to apply.