8.03.2008

Hey You!

Yeah, you. I moved. New blog. Go here, immediately. OR ELSE.

8.02.2008

Psst...I'm coming home...

Actually, I'm here. It's 12:35, we just got home, and I've never been so glad to feel the sticky humidity of St Louis. Actually, I'm a wee bit apprehensive about reentering the real world. I have things to do, namely find a job, and need to not be such a philandering lady bum. Onward!

Maybe the best part about coming home was finding two weeks worth of mail stacked up. And at the beginning of the month, meaning I came home to the latest issues of Bust, ReadyMade, and Saveur. I also got a package containing this shirt I won on Tweet2Win.com, and the latest in a line of recycled bags made by Act2GreenSmart, which are ultra eco, functional, and cute. I'll be writing those up somewhere on the GreenOptions network this week.

So, I plan on getting back in the STL swing of things by hitting up the Tower Grove Farmers Market tomorrow morning, then cleaning and spending some time with WordPress. Blogging changes afoot. All my lady friends are gone having a girls weekend--the thought of traveling more after getting home so late tonight just about put me over the edge, so I had to decline our annual sleepover in Piedmont--but I'll have time to recap my trip, as long as my lack of tech skills doesn't force me into a panic attack. And, of course, the job hunt. So come on back. I didn't mean to leave you out in the cold. It was the WiFi, the WiFi (or lack thereof) I tell ya'.

7.28.2008

Greetings!

We had spotty internet connection while in DC, and I have to sit on the deck of this lodge here in northern Minnesota to get a decent connection. In all honesty, why would I be blogging when I could be drinking beer in kayaks with my brother, which is what I'm about to go do. The weather is absolutely gorgeous, the lake is beautiful, I've got trashy magazines and Fat Tire. So, you won't hear from me that much, if at all, until next week. But changes are afoot. So don't quit me just yet. Just hate me for being on an incredible vacation.

Off to those aforementioned kayaks...

7.20.2008

Gone Fishin'

Right now, Chris is in the shower and I'm getting all the final ducks in a row for our two-week trip that begins today. We're off to Washington DC for one of my classes; this one is on federal policymaking. I'm excited--we're meeting with congresspeople, lobbyists, congressional staffers, NGOs, and visiting two museums (Holocaust Museum and the Newseum), the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court. We're meeting a Holocaust survivor, as well. Our days are pretty packed, but we will hopefully have some time at night to do the touristy-monumenty stuff as well. The best part is that my professor, who is also my advisor, is letting Chris come along for everything. We're staying with our good friends, the lovely Charlie and Kim, who are aiding us in saving a few (read: shitload) bucks by opening up their futon to us.

We're there until Saturday, when we fly to Minneapolis. My brother and his girlfriend will pick us up at the airport and we're heading to Black Duck Lake in northern MN for a week at a lake house with my family. My family hasn't taken a family vacation that didn't involve a soccer tournament since before I could drive. Now that we can all drink together legally, it should be a good time. I plan on doing not much but reading for fun, solving Sudoku puzzles, and writing. And getting a tan. And fishing. Or watching other people fish. But eating fish. Definitely eating fish.

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. Chris started blogging again, and if you're a pinko hippie like me, you might like to read his politically-themed blog. He wrote about soldiers coming home after tours in Iraq. I think he's the bee's knees. Give him some clicks.

Gone Fishin'

Right now, Chris is in the shower and I'm getting all the final ducks in a row for our two-week trip that begins today. We're off to Washington DC for one of my classes; this one is on federal policymaking. I'm excited--we're meeting with congresspeople, lobbyists, congressional staffers, NGOs, and visiting two museums (Holocaust Museum and the Newseum), the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court. We're meeting a Holocaust survivor, as well. Our days are pretty packed, but we will hopefully have some time at night to do the touristy-monumenty stuff as well. The best part is that my professor, who is also my advisor, is letting Chris come along for everything. We're staying with our good friends, the lovely Charlie and Kim, who are aiding us in saving a few (read: shitload) bucks by opening up their futon to us.

We're there until Saturday, when we fly to Minneapolis. My brother and his girlfriend will pick us up at the airport and we're heading to Black Duck Lake in northern MN for a week at a lake house with my family. My family hasn't taken a family vacation that didn't involve a soccer tournament since before I could drive. Now that we can all drink together legally, it should be a good time. I plan on doing not much but reading for fun, solving Sudoku puzzles, and writing. And getting a tan. And fishing. Or watching other people fish. But eating fish. Definitely eating fish.

7.19.2008

R.I.P. Finger Nub

When I met Chris, he had a little callous, a bump, if you will, on his right index finger. He had it for many years.

This spring, Chris starting teaching himself how to play slap guitar. I heard this Andy McKee song approximately seven thousand times.

All of this stimulation made this negligible bump grow. So much so, that when Chris came to see me in Minnesota, it looked like this:



This is not a very good picture, nor does it truly demonstrate how big the "nub" got. It started to take on a life of its own. It looked like a little alien being birthed out of the flesh of Chris's finger.

I was afraid he would accidentally rip it off, spewing undoubtedly noxious nub juice, pus, and blood, all over me, probably into my mouth and nose. That would be the grossest thing ever. Consequently, the sight of the thing grossed me out, and Chris knew it. There are very few things as disturbing as watching Twin Peaks eps on your couch and feeling a fleshy, mutant nub stroking your thigh. But this happened to me. Twice. No wonder I'm slightly odd.

Finally, Chris paid a visit to the dermatologist, who shot the finger up with lidocaine, then dug that sumbitch out, leaving Chris with a small hole on his fingertip. It looks like this:



Sexy.

7.17.2008

This Aggression Will Not Stand...


While watching Last Comic Standing, the last female contestant had a bit about butch lesbian P.E. teachers. At commercial, Chris said, "Oh, hell yeah, our P.E. teacher was a lesbian."

"Me too!" I said. Then I reminisced on the ghastly elementary gym experience that was Ms. Bonnie Bell.

Yes, lip gloss fanatics, my P.E. teacher's name was Bonnie Bell.

Bonnie Bell was a 5'2" slim, greyish blonde Walter-Sobcheck-meets-Mary Martin that took her job way too seriously. She even had those tinted glasses so you couldn't see her eyes.

At Garton Elementary on the East Side of Des Moines, Iowa, when your homeroom teacher took you to PE twice a week, you were expected to sit in your assigned seat. We had designated rows with designated seats that rotated periodically. Ms. Bell was prone to making a late entrance, like pressing matters existed for her outside the gymnasium, a P.E. G8 summit that kept her a few minutes past the bell. She would stroll in, deliberately nonchalant, twirling her massive keychain. She'd lean against the wall that we all faced, sitting cross-legged and quiet.

Then she's start calling eight-year-olds out like a Maury Povich paternity test.

"Respect." Pause. "Apparently some people in here feel it necessary to socialize with classmates that are not seated near them. Apparently shouting across the room is acceptable gymnasium behavior. Apparently 'respect' is not something they see as acceptable gymnasium behavior."

Everyone would look down at their hands, nervously twisting in their laps. They dared not make eye contact as it may somehow lock them in as the culprit. Then she'd use the old proximity tactic. She would walk slowly around the gym, stopping by whoever she deemed was plotting an anarchist revolution. She would stop by you and you wouldn't look up, instead staring at her navy blue Roo's. She had posters of words, a foot and a half high, on the walls with behavioral words, words like "respect" and "responsibility".

"Kelli Best is choosing not to 'respect' when she yells across the room at her classmate." The class would sigh a collective sigh, out of the line of fire. Then, Ms. Bell would throw out the curveball.

"Kyle Wilkinson thinks it's okay to socialize across the room with Kelli. Hallway."

25 eight-year-olds hum the familiar "Ummmmmmmmmmmmm!!!" of someone being disciplined.

In the hallway, Kyle and I both protest and, almost immediately, turn on each other.

"He was making fun of my hair," I say.

"Kyle," Ms. Bell said. "Just because Kelli's hair is out of style right now, doesn't mean that in ten years, people will get perms again."



First of all, this is NOT a perm, motherfucker. Take one look at Big Ed and you will know that a bitch did not sit under a dryer with some spiral rods since age three. Do I look like a pageant kid? No, I look like an alien fucked a q-tip. So not a perm. Second, it is 1988. Don't tell me there aren't a million ladies out there getting perms. Third of all, aren't you supposed to refrain from making fun of eight-year-olds in passive-aggressive ways? Like, isn't that the first thing they teach you in teacher school? Fourth, is this Peter Pan-looking bitch really trying to flip the switch like that? You have a bowl-cut and a quilted sweatsuit. Fuck no.

Then it hits me. This bitch just straight doesn't like me. I'd never really noticed an adult show complete contempt for me. Most adults have to fake it.

Long story short, this bitch gave me Cs constantly through elementary school. I got Cs in elementary school gym class. Who does that? My ass played four years of college soccer and she gave me the only Cs I ever got in elementary school.

So, yeah, I had that gym teacher.

Vroom.


Of note:

1) While walking Asher yesterday, two pre-pubescent girls were riding around the neighborhood on a four-wheeler, an honest-to-god, ride-on-trails-in-the-country four-wheeler. A) Who was supervising these girls? B)Can you ride full-sized four-wheelers on the sidewalk in the city? Keeping it hoosh in Epiphany Parish.

2) Three places to whom you should give your dining bidness in STL: Stellina Pasta Cafe, The Pitted Olive, and Niche. Through the good fortune of recently celebrating my birthday, I dined at all three in the past week. All three have insanely delicious food and are run by truly outstanding people who understand what friendly, attentive service is all about. I don't think there are nicer people out there in the restaurant business in STL than Mike and Melissa Holmes at the Pitted Olive. Every time I go there, Mike himself asks about our meal. Stellina is just a few blocks from our house, and it's been wonderful to see a cafe flourish in our neighborhood (and have a non-chain place to grab a latte). I had a lovely lunch there today with this lady. Niche, well, Niche speaks for itself. Truly a dining experience worth every penny. If my bar-and-grill loving, white-tablecloth hating husband can inquire as to when our next special occasion is so we can return, right after proclaiming Mathew Rice's infamous semifreddo s'mores dessert "the best dessert I've ever had", well, you have done me a bigger favor than you know, Gerard Craft.

3. Not going to BlogHer, unlike practically every other lady blogger in STL (boooooo), but I am going to DC on Monday for a week-long class on federal policymaking. The whole thing is hands-on, Capitol Hill-schmoozing, which will be cool, but the more I read about the behind-the-scenes action in DC, the more BS I think it is. Maybe this trip will change my mind, maybe I will take my hippie ass to Canada. Who knows? After DC, we're going straight to Minnesota, where we're spending the week at a lake house with my family. Upon my arrival back home on August 1, I will panic that I am still unemployed. You may or may not see me bartending at the Hideaway. Bitch got bills, bills, bills.

4. Not to mention a broken air conditioner. I'm not going to even go into how pissed I am about this. We're afraid to even call someone to come look, since when my good friend's AC shelled out, it was like 2Gs. As AI can attest, it's not too bad in our house, particularly in the basement, but I'll be damned if I start sweating the minute I get out the shower.

Things to twist panties about, probably tomorrow: RFT's Cougar article, The Dark Knight, Project Runway, what shows I want to go to (The Pageant just puked up my iPod on shuffle), the election.

7.12.2008

Two Degrees

I'm in Chicago at my lovely friend/former soccer teammate/former roommate JP's bachelorette weekend. We ate some sushi and drank some beers. This information is irrelevant in light of other information I gathered while at dinner.

I made a passing comment earlier about how my brother's girlfriend's parents' names were Jim and Cindy ala 90210 Walsh style. This prompted my old friend Ashley, whom I've known since my very first day in college when she lived two doors down from me on the third floor of Ryle Hall, to say, "Speaking of 90210..."

Long story short, via her good friend's boyfriend, Ashley has partied on multiple occasions, with Ian Ziering, i.e. Steve Sanders from 90210.

"Bullshit," I say.

"Call him," she says, whipping out her phone, sporting a 323 area code.

You're telling me that I can prank call Steve Sanders if I so desire? Seriously?

"Do you know Mike 'The Miz'?" she says.

"Um, durr," I reply.

"I met him, too."

"So you're telling me that not only have I cut my Real World degrees of separation to TWO, but my 90210 degrees of separation?"

"Yeah."

She's acting casual as a motherfucker. What?

So right now, as I type this, we're chilling at JP's condo in Lincoln Park, watching TLC, and I'm looking at pictures of my old pal with Ian Ziering at a Cardinals game. Not just a pose-with-a-fan picture, but several chilling-all-night pictures. Motherfucker was on Dancing With The Stars and you didn't text me immediately when you were with him at Paddy-O's? Proof positive.

7.10.2008

Locked and Loaded, Dad

What the fuck is up with this commercial?



Is the courtroom in heaven? This thing is an instant classic.

7.08.2008

Hot or Not

Briefly, Things That Are Awesome:

1. Going to Niche for my birthday dinner with Chris tomorrow, then to the Muny. I've never been to the Muny, but I've been to Niche before (also for my birthday) and hopefully I won't lick the plate and embarrass myself in front of those fancy pants people.

2. Lush reissued Potion Lotion, which I purchased today.

3. The movie War Dance. A hopeful, beautiful, moving documentary following school children living in a refugee camp in Uganda who are competing in a national music competition. Get thee to your Netflix queue.

Briefly, Things That Are Not Awesome

1. Clothes shopping. Ugh. I feel like such an idiot. Will someone tell retailers everywhere to rid themselves of fluorescent lights in fitting rooms. They'd sell a lot more clothes.

2. The humidity of St Louis. But I don't have to tell you that.

3. Lady cramps. Sorry.

7.07.2008

4th of July, Iowa-Style

I am back from Iowa, and I'm still recovering. This is due to:

1. Practically non-stop drinking. Both brothers work in the alcohol industry, three major parties and a concert. You tell me.

2. Lips show rocked my face off. Mad props to the organizers of 80/35. It was a really nice festival. Des Moines is much hipper than it used to be. I can't imagine an event like this happening while I was living there. Also saw Andrew Bird, who was awesome.

3. Other than aforementioned concert, every party I went to--two 4th parties and my mom's 50th birthday bash, played almost continuous country music. No one thought this was odd except Chris and me.

4. Two words: Lee Greenwood.

Big Ed put up a darn near circus tent in the backyard for my mom's party. I half thought he was going to walk a tightrope. My parents own more red, white, and blue serving platters than is necessary for any ten households, let alone one.

My parents also bought me a shirt with this guy on it:


which you wouldn't understand unless you grew up in Des Moines during the 80s or earlier.

On tap for this week: I turn 28, JP's bachelorette party in Chicago, writing a paper on Curriculum and Ideology, pontificating.

7.02.2008

On The Road Again...

Didn't I just get back from a two-week road trip? I'm fairly certain I'll be gone more this summer than I'll be around.

Thursday we're heading to Des Moines, my hometown, for our family's traditional Fourth of July celebration. The 4th is my mom's birthday, this year the big 5-0, and we probably have more beloved family traditions around the 4th than any other holiday, other than the traditional Talk-Shit-On-Hoosier-Family-After-Christmas-Car-Ride-Home, which is equally awesome in a different way.

No, the 4th is all about Americana. As in, my parents live in a creatively-titled suburb called Urbandale. Think "Little Boxes", but smaller houses than Agrestic. Agrestic's homely younger sister fifteen years ago. Our traditions involve the annual parade, fireworks, and barbeque. My dad and his buddy Tim stake out the area in front of the old library, where they set up tents, chairs, and start making lip-burning bloody marys, which we drink copiously during the parade. Although fifteen years ago, I may have fought small children for candy thrown from floats, but I'm giving that up this year. Instead, I'll have both hands free for bloody marys, washers, hoosier golf, and smacking my brothers when they yell at my former boyfriends and point at me, which they still do. Other things of note at the parade: people watching, endless floats of little league teams, hopefully Shriners on go-carts, baton-twirlers, carnies, insult-hurling, and cadging for bathrooms after copious bloody marys.

After the parade, we go to Tim's house where our two families, plus whoever else shows up, will grill, eat, drink beer, and play in a huge bocce tournament. This is also where I will catch up on gossip from neighborhood moms, grit my teeth and grin and make it sound okay that I'm currently unemployed when people ask. This will all culminate with some type of shenanigans with my brothers and their friends and then fireworks. Saturday is the big 50th party for my mom. Good times.

Okay, off to pack up the car, take Asher to Chris's mom's, and get on the road. Happy 4th, America. I'm glad you were born. Now pick on someone your own size.

7.01.2008

Ten Thousand Thumbs Down


The other day Chris and I were getting movies at Blockbuster. They didn't have what we wanted, really, so we weren't very enthusiastic about our choices. We usually get three, and I told him just to pick one that he wanted to see because I didn't want to argue about our third pick.

He picked 10,000 B.C

"I heard the special effects were good."

Sweet Jesus.

The chick at Blockbuster said, "Yeah, some movies are like awesome bad." Pause. Blink.

After drinking two glasses of Pinot Greezsh to, you know, get in the mood, we set out to watch this piece of shit.

Here's the plot, which can succinctly be summarized in this brief outline:

1. Dreadlocked mother-fers live in cold dirty village, which is pillaged by dudes on horseback.

2. Hot white chick gets kidnapped; local hot and white (but cowardly) dude vows to save her, her cherry, and his people.

3.They pick up some vaguely African black dudes and go fight some vaguely Middle Eastern dudes who claim to be descendants of Atlantis survivors (?).

4.They triumphantly defeat Atlantis survivors et al, largely due to:
a. ability to harness power of woolly mammoths
b. long-distance spear throwing
c. Orion-shaped scar on hot white chick's wrist (again, ?).
d. Crusty, old slave owners and their four-inch-long Advanced
Nail Tech claws

5. Local hot and white (now brave liberating warrior) dude and REVIVED FROM THE DEAD hot white chick return to dirty village and happily make cave babies.

Like I said: piece of shit.

First of all, these motherf-ers spoke English. But the white dudes had a vaguely Euro accent, the black dudes had vaguely African accents (or spoke made-up language), and the bad guys (i.e. the swarthy Middle Eastern dudes) spoke with vaguely Middle Eastern accents. Please. You seriously made the white dude the hero, the black dudes the trusty sidekicks, and the brown dudes the enemies? And they all live within walking distance of each other? Is this 10,000 B.C.: Epcot? If you're going to be completely random, inaccurate, and arbitrary with your attention to historical detail, can you not be so ridiculously stereotypical with your choice of character race?

Sigh.

THEN, hot white chick had some hot white chicklet teeth. For real, her prized possession was a necklace made of bone and she was eating dried woolly mammoth non stop. You expect me to believe this chick had some Whitestrips? And, as a slave, she had time to rock a thick eyeliner?

Oh, and the dreadlocks? I felt like I was at Wakarusa again. They just looked so obviously fake and ridiculous, just like hot white chick's "sexy" indigenous clothing. You're making that sabertooth skin look fierce, girl, Betty Rubble-style.

Did I mention that the humans fight dinosaurs/killer birds? And make friends with the sabertooth tigers?

I couldn't even watch it in one sitting. It was that shitty.

6.28.2008

Like Cutting Off My Arm...

Chris and I left Minneapolis at 4PM on Thursday and drove home, arriving in the stifling humidity of STL just before 2AM. We stopped several times for gas, food at the Clear Lake, Iowa Bennigan's (where a hoosier in Harley gear pontificated racist, homophobic, sexist ramblings so the entire restaurant could hear), Red Bulls, and bathrooms to accomodate my pea-sized bladder.

I threw a tiny hissy when I found out them internets weren't working. I NEED INTERNETS! Chris spent half the day on the phone with SBC, who claimed several times that they either needed to fix something on their end OR come out and do something to some wires outside. Long story short, this motherfucker rolls up in here this morning at 8:30 AM only to tell us that, yeah, the office needs to fix it, so it can't be done until Monday, even though they could have done that yesterday. No internet until Monday? Huh? Um, what am I supposed to do? I guess sit here at Hartford after visiting the farmers market and try to cram in all I need to do in one sitting. Ain't happening. Just catching up on Twitter takes too long.

So, I spent yesterday pissed about the internet, napping, watching "Super High Me" (which is funny. Seriously, it's really funny--Doug Benson smokes no pot for 30 days, then smokes constantly for 30 days. Sounds lame, but is hilarious), then drinking cheap beer at Harry's with my friends, whom I missed immensely.

If I get the net fixed, I will be started MAJOR! BLOG! OVERHAUL! next week. I'm a big girl now. Also, will more than likely be attending the St Louis Bloggers Guild meetup tonight at Atomic Cowboy with this bitch. Okay, I must sign off before I'm here all day. Gotta pick up some things to eat at Local Harvest. Then I'm going to READ FOR FUN! What is that? I don't know for sure, but I think it involves David Sedaris and this month's Paste.

See you when my shit gets fixed.

6.19.2008

Intellectual Adventures



Well, my goal to post frequently while I'm here in the Twin Cities has not been fulfilled, as after five hours of critical theory every day, I'm intellectually exhausted. All I really seem to be able to do is check Twitter feeds, watch Iron Chef, and stare at the reading I have to do and pretend that I'm actually comprehending it.

Class has been really great, and hopefully I'll write about that later. I had a great meal with friends from school last night at this delicious restaurant located in the very cool Uptown neighborhood, which Chris and I will be exploring next week with cameras in tow. My fortune cookie said, "You're going to meet someone new and interesting.Unfortunately, he'll be your new meth dealer." Really? I can't say I'm sad to be out of the St Louis heat; the weather here really hasn't been over 80, and people are out and about everywhere in this great city.

Speaking of, Chris is on his way up tomorrow, and I can't wait. Really, seriously, sappily, I don't sleep well at all unless he is next to me, and he's my partner in crime, so things are much more fun when he is around. We've plans to camp Saturday and Sunday and bike a bunch, assuming the bikes don't fall off the car between here and the Lou. Then, more class next week and bumming around the city before and after.

Ooh, I missed something exciting, but sad, last night at home. Our neighbor across the street's house burned down (yes, that neighbor, if you were at last year's Trivia Night). Well, it didn't burn down, per se, but the entire inside burned up and it's all boarded up. That sucks pretty hard.

Also, while I've been here I've been posting to this Flickr group called "A Day In The Life", started by Dana. Here's two of my photos. One is my crap spread out on my guest bedroom bed. The other is Elijah, my host's dog, who looks like Sprocket from Fraggle Rock. Check out everyone else's pix if you so desire.

6.16.2008

Adventures! The Sequel!

I am sitting in a Panera (what people outside of STL call Bread Co, unless you are my mom, who calls in "Paneras") in downtown Minneapolis, catching up on e-mail, news, Twitter, etc. I feel dirty and I'm sore all over, which could either be from playing tennis and riding bikes yesterday or spending 16 hours on two buses last night. I mean, either or.

Let me say this about Megabus: it got me here safely, cheaply, and probably much quicker than Amtrak ever could. As previously mentioned, it cost me $50 from St Louis to Minneapolis by way of Chicago, and I didn't get my tickets until a few days before I left. Had this been my plan all along, it very well may have been cheaper. And, although the first bus from Chicago arrived about 20 minutes late, and my bus to Minneapolis departed over an hour late, I only arrived in Minneapolis about 30 minutes behind schedule. As anyone who has traveled Amtrak west of New York knows, that's not bad compared to the train, whose schedule depends on freight trains on the rails, who have priority over passenger trains. A train ticket would have cost $180, and a plane ticket was going to be $500. Screw that, I'm about to be unemployed (Hire me!). Megabus it is.

So, I boarded the first bus right outside of Union Station in Missouri. All you do is stow your luggage in the luggage compartment, then show your reservation number to the bus driver. No ID, no boarding pass. The seats are about the size of airline seats, with no overhead compartments. This is where Megabus lags behind Amtrak. Amtrak is much more comfortable, with seats with foot rests and room to maneuver. I was wedged next to a pasty guy reading a book on trivia. Surprisingly, I was able to read the entire Sunday Times without infringing on his personal space. There was one half-hour stop, where I stretched my legs, bought some coffee, and called Chris. I felt uncomfortable using my phone on the bus, because the sound acoustics made it seem really annoying, although the college girl talking about absolutely nothing, really loudly, for two hours didn't seem to mind. My iPod did me a solid and didn't run out of batteries the entire time, despite the fact I was playing Solitaire. The bus was clean, too. Did I mention the buses are double-decker? The best seat in the house has to be in front of the top deck, with a panoramic view of the road, but those seats go to the first in line, which, alas, was not me.

I was hoping that the overnight Megabus from Chicago to Minneapolis would be less crowded, so I could have two seats to myself so I could sleep. I generally have good luck with these arrangements. Once, when flying home from Germany, I had TWO empty seats next to me. Took two Benadryl and was assed out until the flight attendant woke with with hot moist towlettes (which sound dirtier than they are. They're actually quite refreshing). As the pushing hordes of people can attest, this bus was sold out. As in, no empty seats whatsoever and people pushing their way on like it's Mumbai or something. I ended up sitting at one of those table seats, where two rows face each other with a table in between. This was incredibly uncomfortable, and I had the shortest legs of anyone at my table. I probably got five hours of sleep (thanks, Tylenol PM!) which will inevitably hit me a hour into my first class, alienating me from my classmates and professor. Oh, wait, probably my disheveled appearance, musty smell, and furry teeth will alienate me. Anyway, I swear on my life some motherfucker was smoking pot on the bus. First I thought it was a skunk. Then I realized it was skunk. That's some bold shit right there. There was also a screaming baby and a dude snoring worse than my Grandma Best, and she can saw some logs. Again, thanks to iPod, I listened to a This American Life about proms and Drive By Truckers until I woke up in the morning.

All in all, I would recommend Megabus to anyone with time on their hands who wants to save money. Would I do it with kids? Not on a sold-out bus. But if you want to get somewhere for cheap in a relatively timely fashion, it's worth it. St Louisians--I would highly recommend this option over taking the train to Chicago. Cheaper and faster. You sacrifice comfort, but what do you expect for $50?

I also took pictures, but only with my Holga, because it seemed appropriate, so you won't see them for a long, long time.

Okay, I'm going to finish some reading of the internets, then go to campus and clean up, because I'm not trying to spend my entire first class paranoid that my lady parts are not-so-fresh or my breath is stank.

Oh yeah, read this. Those darn homosexuals, tarnishing the sanctity of marriage. My ass. We should all pray that any couple that makes it 55 years together should be allowed to publicly and legally be allowed to commit to each other. As long as the Britney Spears and Pamela Andersons of the world are getting married and divorced with the seasons, don't talk to me about the "sanctity" of marriage.

6.15.2008

Adventures! Part One

In three hours, I will be on a bus to Chicago. Then a bus to Minneapolis. I'll get there at 6:30 tomorrow morning. All for the bargain price of $50. You can't buy a tank of gas for that noise. Should be a little adventure, considering I'll be bumming around Minneapolis with my backpacking backpack in the wee hours and who knows what kind of characters I'll encounter on an overnight bus. I've got two cameras, digital and Holga, to document the sitch. Hopefully digital updates tomorrow after my class.

The class I'm taking is the first in my critical pegagogy sequence, which is my second collateral area or "major" in my program. The other is public policy, which I've already taken one class and will take another when we go to DC in July. It's pretty radical, literally, not in the Ninja Turtles usage.

I'll leave you with the mental image of Chris and I locking ourself out of the house yesterday and Chris coaxing Asher (95 pounds of black lab) to unlock the back door deadbolt. Swear it happened. I saw it with my own two eyes. My dog is a genius.

6.12.2008

This Week's Sign That The Apocalypse Is Upon Us...

Oh for fuck's sake...
.

I'm not drinking right now, so I don't have the time to tell you why all this is wrong. Maybe after this paper is done and I slam two Pale Ales.

Motherfuckers. Keep lowering the standards of discourse and the the IQs of Americans, Faux News.

These Days...

...I'm procrastinating writing my three summaries that are due today for my critical pedagogy class that starts Monday in Minneapolis. I will be in the Twin Cities for the next two weeks. Should be a nice little radical adventure, as the class is about as leftist in theory as you can get, and I'm taking the overnight Megabus to get there. For $50, I ain't complaining. That's one mofo tank of gas these days. Should be able to blog a lot from up there, probably about what I'm reading, which should at best inspire discussion and at worst piss some people off.

So, I'm at Hartford bumming their free WiFi, drinking an iced coffee, working on the second of nine pages, and listening to this awesome song that I heard live twice this week. It's Mates of State covering Nico's "These Days". Did you know Kori Gardner is a mother who blogs? Her recent entry is about being on Yo Gabba Gabba. I heart her as she is totally adorable and kickass.

6.08.2008

What A Long Strange Trip...


I am back and showered from the Wakarusa Music Festival, held annually outside of Lawrence, KS. This was our second year going, and I really enjoy myself there for
several reasons.

One: The bands. In two days, we caught sets by Mates of State, Arrested Development, Pete Francis (of Dispatch), Blackalicious, The Flaming Lips, State Radio, Brett Dennen, the Old '97s, and Ben Folds. I have few complaints about any of them. Mates of State were so good that I went to the Bluebird to see them last night with two of my gal pals. Flaming Lips put on an unbelievably entertaining show. Wolverine entertained himself by committing to keeping balloons aloft. Hearing Arrested Development play "Everday" took me back to 8th grade. Brett Dennen made fun of really dirty hippies without them realizing it, solidifying his awesomeness.

Two: I'm nowhere near the dirtiest hippie there. Really, I've got nothing on most of these people. Which, if you can ignore the stench of patchouli (which I only smelled three or so times, exponentially less than the smell of vomit and weed) is awesome because it means you can wear whatever the hell you want and you will probably not be anything out of the ordinary. My hair, after not showering for a few days in the hot sun, looked like Felicia from Friday, but no worries. Slap on a bandanna and my hair still looks better than a balding man with shitlocks. I debated taking the plunge and buying a straight-up hippie dress (yeah, THOSE dresses in the window at Sunshine Daydream) but thought better. So serious, we saw dozens and dozens of people dressed exactly like our front-porch mannequin. See all those girls just walking around all day in bikinis? Yeah, well, at least they have a top, which is more than I can say for the lady with her boobies painted like fairy wings sitting behind us last night.


Three: Proximity to awesomeness. We had several encounters with musicians--Chris got his picture taken with my hair twin, Chad from State Radio, and we saw many artists checking out other sets. We were also able to stand fairly close if we wanted to, or set up chairs and chill at a reasonable distance.

Four: Wakarusa is the perfect size: big enough to attract big names, but small enough to minimize the hordes of assholes. I couldn't deal with a biggest festival. I'd have a panic attack but no one would know because I'd probably look just like numerous shroom-takers or other nutsos freaking out.

Five: The weather was really good, considering it was Kansas in June. They cancelled the shows on Thursday night and advised campers to leave the campgrounds because of a tornado warning, but Friday was all sunshine and high 70s. Saturday was hot, but really, really windy and partially cloudy, which mitigated the heat, although I got a crispy burn around my neck and face. I put on sunscreen, but since I got my face rocked off, it didn't work, I guess. We had a fat little camping set up, complete with cabana and sleeping tent, which kept us comfortable while we played dominoes and pontificated on the shows.

Six: People watching. Sweet Jesus, it's awesome. First of all, you've got to estimate that approximately 25% of all patrons of music festivals are downright weirdos. Easily. Couple that with the fact that 75% are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and you're bound to see some awesomeness. One of my favorite things to watch is white guys dancing. Because they don't very often, in my realm of existence, and they do in mass numbers here. It is usually Advanced.


My favorite person I saw the whole weekend was a middle-aged dude in acid-washed jeans, a tye-dyed Chiefs t-shirt, and a fat mustache that made me ask, "Developmentally delayed, or just on meth?" No joke, this guy danced like a four-year-old girl in a field of puppies and unicorns. It was so great. I also like to watch People In Bands I Don't Know, who are wearing jeans, a turtleneck, and a stocking hat in June, in Kansas. Or Chicks With Bands I Don't Know, who wear stiletto heels. At a festival. Where it rained for the previous two days. Hey look! It's Guy Who Sells Polished Crystals! Over there! It's Girl Panhandling Money For A Ride Back To Maryland! (How the fuck did you get here?) Oh, snap, it's my nemesis: Dude With An Earth Tattoo Who Can't Be Bothered To Recycle His Pilfered High Life Can . I also saw several Dudes Carrying Around Skateboards, even though we're IN A FIELD SURROUNDED BY GRAVEL ROADS. Seriously, there's one main paved road, and cars and golf carts pretty much have the monopoly on that.

Seven (and this is really just for like, two people who read this. You know who you are.): Guess who I saw at Wakarusa and had to walk really fast in the other direction on the off chance that this person recognized me? Sterling Brown, AKA Big Sterl. Seriously, I almost called Hawaii to tell Missy that I saw her ex.

Anyway, here are some of the pictures from the festival. Chris took most of them.


6.04.2008

Start Your Morning Right

You mean, everyone else didn't just get up at 9:45? My bad.

Here's a video of David Sedaris's appearance on The Daily Show. Oh, to have his acerbic wit. I had a picture of him on my bulletin board over my desk because I heart him.

Hopefully, a post about trivia later.

6.03.2008

Sex...



After a long weekend of drinking and celebrating the arrival of summer, five girls (and one guy) set off to see a movie about four friends (and many guys). Like almost all girls who were in college or in their 20s in the early part of the century, we'd all seen every episode, many times, usually while battling a hangover on lazy college Sundays when the only energy you can muster is to go get a Gatorade and a Totinos. While waiting for Sex and the City to start, I asked myself, "After four years, have my feelings towards these gals changed, since I myself am not the same?"

Really, I didn't ask myself that. I just wanted to start this post off with a stupid rhetorical question in honor of Carrie Bradshaw.

However, I did go catch the flick on Sunday after spending much of the day in the Tower Grove sun for the SKA Tournament of Champions. We did crappy, winning our first game but losing our second. Anyway, we headed to the Chase at around 7, but it was sold out. You would not believe the amount of dressed up ladies in heels and cocktail dresses out to see this movie. It was like Laguna Beach Prom, 2005. We ended up driving to Frontenac and getting in there.

I could say a lot of bad things about SATC. I could talk about how there's seldom any characters of color (although Jennifer Hudson was lovely in the movie) and how these woman have a crazy amount of disposable income and are incredibly materialistic, how most of us would have kicked Big to the curb long ago, etc., etc., etc. But do people ever deconstruct male-oriented summer blockbusters? Nobody said shit about the ridonkulousness of the mere existence of Indy 4. So, I'm not going to talk about what's culturally wrong with SATC and instead, talk about why I did like it.

Well, first of all, I must say it was nice to revisit characters that I spent a lot of time with when I was coming of age. There were several nice shout-outs for those who have seen every episode several times over--they didn't forget the canon already established, which I can appreciate. Also, I think women of a certain age all relate to the women of the show in one way or the other (although, everyone thinks they're Carrie. Let me tell you something: you probably aren't). And the movie was funny. I definitely laughed out loud several times, including at the full peen shot. But mostly, what I liked about this movie is that it's a movie about friendships. Despite the Manhattan lifestyle that my friends and I can't relate to, at its core, this is a movie about women who are fiercely loyal to each other, and that is something to celebrate.

I spent the weekend with my best friends having really, really wonderful times, times that reaffirm why you are friends with people. Christine threw Shannon an amazing backyard barbeque on Thursday with delicious food (it's awesome to have a friend in culinary school) and lots of wine, and we ate, drank, toasted, and laughed until the wee hours. Here's my lady friends and me. We might wear Chucks instead of Manolos, but our friendship is just as priceless.

5.30.2008

Apology

Dear Neighbors--
Just wanted to apologize for the disturbance this morning. We were up really late watching the season finale of Lost on Tivo and planning for our upcoming Backyard Trivia Night. Really late. So late that both of us had Lost-themed dreams that were, well, quite disturbing and frighteningly real.

So when our SLPD-approved Club inadvertently depressed our car horn this morning for a good hour, we were so tired and dead to the world in our cocoon of a bedroom that we could not hear it! Luckily, the nice policewoman that you called knocked hard enough on our door that we jumped right up to remedy the situation, quite embarrassed, I might add. Thanks, Officer!

I hope this encounter doesn't persuade you to call the cops during Trivia tomorrow night. I promise to keep the debauchery to a relative minimum.

Thanks,
Your neighbors.

5.26.2008

Don't Forget

The Third Semi-Annual Backyard Trivia Night is this Saturday. Deets here. We've been working on categories and some entertainment (don't get your hopes up, it's not Ali Baba)and I think it's going to be a good time. You should come.


Some notes: it's ten bones a head, which includes as much beer as two kegs will get ya. You are welcome to bring your own alternative beverage, but I'm still taking your money. You can win it back. Also, please bring your own chairs and tables. Normally we finagle chairs and tables from Standard Travel, but because Sunday is the SKA Tournament of Champions, we don't want to mess with hauling tables and chairs Sunday.

All are welcome, even if you are my virtual friend and we haven't met. Please, e-mail me OR comment if you for sure have a four or five-person team on lock. We just want to get a general idea of the amount of people, in case this goes into three-keg or one-keg territory, which I doubt will happen, but you never know. If you have your team name, please leave that, as well. Let the shit-talking commence.

5.22.2008

Epiphany

I found my new blog soulmate. Bratz dolls suck. I totally had the idea for a slutty baby Halloween costume (along with slutty elderly woman and slutty Holocaust survivor) years ago. Read this awesomeness.

Hilarity

Okay, so I hate this song, and I totally understand the blatent sexual innuendos associated with it. But I spent an entire semester with teenage kids who were obsessed with it, and this video is just too hilarious. And don't you want that on your Friday morning before a three-day weekend?

5.21.2008

Youth of America

If you want to see something hilarious, listen to my kids' rap about the McDonald's Dollar Menu. No, seriously.



Also, love the Comic Sans on the video. That's hard.

5.20.2008

Team Awesome Goes Global

I mentioned that Team Awesome kickball was The Fan Show's Team of the Week on Sunday. If you want to see the segment, it's right here. Just click on the video that says "Awesome". That's me on the mound rockin' the avs.

5.19.2008

Question

In looking into doing a major overhaul to my blog, I'm contemplating templates and wondering if white text on a black background is really that big a deal to people. So, here's a question: would you really stop reading my new-and-improved blog if I had a black background with white text? Discuss.

5.18.2008

Weekend Update

I've had a great couple of days, minus the drama of Friday. Our star player decided it would be cool to participate in a walk-out orchestrated to protest the terribly oppressive regime's decision to not have Field Day this year. Unfortunately, it was the day of our last game, the conference championship, and she and 50-some other kids were suspended. So Friday was drama and emotion filled, as situations with teenage girls are wont to be.

Thursday I went to Wilco at The Pageant, which was unbelievable. I went with my friend Mike, who was my college soccer coach and all-around Cool Guy. We had fun and drank some beers and listened to the sweet setlist:

1. Sunken Treasure
2. You Are My Face
3. Hummingbird
4. Ashes Of American Flags
5. Company In My Back
6. Handshake Drugs
7. Pot Kettle Black
8. A Shot In The Arm
9. On And On And On
10. Misunderstood
11. Far, Far Away
12. Impossible Germany
13. New Madrid
14. Jesus, Etc.
15. California Stars
16. Walken
17. I'm The Man Who Loves You
18. Heavy Metal Drummer

Encore 1:
19. Spiders (Kidsmoke)
20. Hate It Here
21. Kingpin

Encore 2:
22. Passenger Side
23. Red-Eyed And Blue
24. I Got You (At The End Of The Century)
25. Casino Queen
26. Outtasite (Outta Mind)

Friday, Chris and I went and saw Prince Caspian, because I am totally a Narnia dork. It was really well done and visually cool, except for the very end when they used a contemporary pop song with lyrics for the final poignant scene, which I found to be stupid. It was as if in the final scene of a Harry Potter movie, they played Sarah McLaughlin's "I Will Remember You". Totally anachronistic.

Yesterday, I visited the Tower Grove Farmers market for the first time, where I got some asparagus and plants. Chris and I later rode bikes up to Tower Grove for his kickball game. They needed a female player, so I guest played for them. Later, I went to our own Team Awesome game, where not only did we win big, but I kicked a triple AND we were filmed for Channel 11's Team of the Week for The Fan Show. Set your Tivo for 9:30 so you see just how awesomely ridiculous Team Awesome is. We even won a Papa John's pizza party.

Capping off the day, we went to Wilco, again, this time meeting up with Reverend Emily and Big Dan. Show wasn't as good, mainly because I was tired, and my poorly-chosen-but-cute shoes hurt my feet somethin' fierce, but the highlight was meeting in person with one of my blogging community friends. Rebecca from The Prologue of My Life and the St Louis Bloggers Guild attended all three shows and knew I'd be down on the floor. She came down and found me (by looking for the White Girl 'Fro, of course) and we spent almost 15 minutes talking. I have to admit, it's a little intimidating, meeting people whose relationship has been strictly internet-based, but meeting Rebecca alleviated my fears as we got along quite well because she is what I like to call "The Shit". Although when I went back to Chris, Rev Em, and Big Dan, they asked where I had been for 15 minutes, and when I said, "I was talking to my internet friend," I did get some weird looks and fake-lisp riddled comments. To those people, I say "Suck on these nuts".

Chris took some photos at the show.


5.15.2008

Uniting For Human Rights


Bloggers Unite is sponsoring a day of blogging for human rights (thanks to AI for the tip), and I have a few words to say about something that I've been thinking about lately, as have many people in St Louis.

Phyllis Schlafly is set to receive an honorary doctorate from Wash U. There is considerable outrage about this: many Wash U faculty, staff, and students are protesting what they see to be an honoring of someone who is against academic and intellectual inquiry, dissent, and gender equality.

I am completely against what Phyllis Schlafly stands for. I protested her speaking engagement at Truman as an undergrad, for several reasons. I also asked her a question which she skillfully deflected and did not answer, basically calling me a crazy feminist instead of acknowledging the flaw in the rhetoric she was presenting. Frankly, I don't really care if Wash U honors her; like it or not, she is well-known and well-respected by a portion of our nation.

And I'm not against her message of honoring and respecting the role women play as homemakers. I am totally in support of women choosing to work in the home, and that work is difficult and important. I'm just against women being forced into that role, and I don't believe that women hold exclusive claim to that role; I believe men can be wonderful working-in-the-home husbands and fathers, just as women can have successful careers. Every family has the right to decide what works best for them.

I am completely against what Schlafly has said (and this is my segway into human rights) about marital rape. Schlafly believes that if you get married, you are consenting to sex. Forever. A woman cannot be raped by her husband. This is something that I completely disagree with. A woman has the right to say no to sex at any time. A man, even a husband, is not entitled to sex whenever he wants it. This is why feminism did not need to die with the ERA, as Schlafly suggests: because there are significant portions of our population who still believe that women cannot lay claim to their own bodies and that men assume control of a woman, mind, body, and soul, when they are married. Schlafly believes that women who accuse husbands of marital rape are just trying to use those accusations to get out of "legitimate" marriages.

Sigh.

Because women are never abused by their husbands. Because women never fall out of love with their husbands. Because women are never trapped in marriages by poverty, children, lack of opportunities, physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse. Because it's impossible for a marriage to deteriorate to the point where a woman would be repulsed and violated by engaging in sex with her husband. Because men would never use rape as a tool of power and oppression over women, women who just may be their wives.

Because, sometimes, just sometimes, after a long-ass day of any combination of working, cleaning, childrearing, and cooking, a woman may not have the energy or desire to be sexified.

Because sometimes women just don't feel like it.

And that is our basic human right.

Mix Wit Version One




Here's my first MixWit mix. Something I was listening to the last few days when I was so stressed I got a canker sore and three fat zits on my face. Gross. If you want to cheer up, listen to it.

Finished my stuff for one more class. One more to go! Wilco tonight with my old friend, then again on Sat with Chris and Lonewolf.

5.14.2008

Busy, Busy, Busy.

I'm trying to wrap up some assignments for the end of the semester, namely, the culminating assignment for my policy class. I'm looking at the recent Mo legislation that makes it ever easier to become a teacher. Just take an online test! Looking at that policy through theorists Kingdon and Edelman. Really interesting, but I'm totally down the rabbit hole--expanding what I've discovered, but unable to pull it all together, although I'm almost there.

So, until I finish all that, I'm going to be M.I.A (missing in action, not the Sri Lankan rapper). When I finish everything and throw my hands to the heavens, thanking God for getting me through the insanity that was this semester, I'm going to see Tweedy and the Boys and drink gratuitously. Twice. Maybe then I'll have some ruminations of substance.

I am taking a paper break to try lunch with Shannon and Christine at Revival, which has mostly been raved about over at STLBites.com, which is my favorite little gathering point for foodie nonsense in STL. Thanks, Bill!

Enjoy your Hump Day.

5.13.2008

Wilco Tickets

Anyone need Wilco tickets for Thursday? I've got two general admission tickets to this sold out show. $90 for the pair. And you get to see me really drunk for free!

5.07.2008

VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION

Some Twitter folks and I were just discussing John Mayer, whose music I hate with the fire of a thousand suns. I noted that "Your Body Is A Wonderland" might be the worst song ever.

That, however, maybe be hyperbole. But that raises an important question: what is the worst song to ever hit it big? The worst song that actually had a significant following? I thing VH1 said it was "We Built This City".

Please, leave your comments as to songs that you absolutely, positively cannot stand because they are shitty. Spirited debate could/should follow.

Rainy Morning

This video is brilliant and hilarious. Kermit the Frog covering Elliott Smith. That is not a typo. Perfect for a rainy Wednesday when I'm not in the mood to be depressed this early.

5.06.2008

Announcing...

What: The Third Semi-Annual Backyard Trivia Night. Ten rounds. Ten questions. Winner takes all.

When: Saturday, May 31. Keg tapped at 6, trivia starts at 7.

Where: Our crib: South City. E-mail me if you don't know where. kbestoliver {at} yahoo {dot} com.

Who: You. And your four OR five person team with an awesome original name. Doubt you can top Miss Piggy's Taint Blister, but you can try.

Why: Are you asking?

Other pertinent details:

Cost: $10 per person, includes free beer until two kegs run dry and awesome prizes. Winning team takes all entrance money minus host costs.

Bring: Chairs and a table if you have one. Food so you can drink longer. One dollar bills, for the infamous DICE GAME or the East Side post-trivia. Your obscure knowledge A-game.

Do Not Bring: your drunk neighbor. We've got our own.

RSVP via comments, e-mail, cell phone, registered mail. Questions? See e-mail above. Detailed account of trivia nights of yore? Here and here.

Awesome Student Quote

My girls were on fire today during our game. I swear I'm not making this up.

Situation #1

Ref to my player, during the game: "Can I ask you a question?"

My player: "Sure."

Ref: "Those two Black girls on your team--are they from Africa?" (Note: we actually have five Black girls on our team, but apparently he was referring to the two darker-skinner girls)

My player: "Umm, pretty sure they're American."

Ref: "They just look African. They're pretty dark."

My player: "What?"

Later on bus, while relating story to team:

Other player: "Yeah, if he had asked me that, I would have said, 'No, they're not from Africa, you ignorant motherfucker!'"

Situation #2:

Girl on other team keeps yelling about things (her coach, other player, etc) being "gay"

My player: "You don't mean gay. You mean stupid, annoying, or obnoxious. Say what you mean. You sound really stupid when you say "gay".

We also won. So that was nice.

Brief Update

Trivia Night info is not yet finalized. This lady and her dude got caught up watching Cloverfield last night. There are finanacial/logistical conversations to be had over free burritos tonight. Know this: Saturday, May 31st. Mark it on your calendar.

Yes, I said free burritos. I'm eschewing my aforementioned self-imposed ban on burritos because that vow did not include free burritos. Chipotle is celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week, like the ballers they are, and giving all teachers free burritos tonight. Woot!

The new Augusten Burroughs book is really good. I cried my eyes out at the end. I may write more about it later.

Cool news #1: Happy Birthday, Big Ed! My dad's birthday is today. He is the coolest dad evah! He even has a bobblehead that looks just like him! And he's a white dude with an Afro! Fun Ed fact: Ed was born on his dad's birthday. Amazing!

Cool news #2: good friends Mike and Gena just celebrated the birth of their first baby, Christopher David. Big ups for virile sperm. I knew you had some swimmers, Mike. Congrats to both of you!

5.05.2008

Monday Morning Mix

I've got something cooking on several fronts that I may be able to hit you with later--the Global Ecology conference I went to this weekend, a dramatic recap of the Team Awesome victory over the Redneck Ninjas (Chris's team) on Sunday, and the long-anticipated information on the THIRD Semi-Annual Backyard Trivia Night. Check back later for that noise. Right now, read this column on concert manners. I wrote something similar in Chris and I's zine. There's a lot of heated debate in the comments of this post, and I can see some people's points (particularly that of tall people). Two things I can't compromise on: talking and talking on a cell while a band is playing. Neither are particularly rock and roll, just rude, douchey behavior. I paid good money to hear a show, not you talking about something completely unrelated. But anyway.

Also, I got DJ Trackstar's Sill Dreamin' soul mix this weekend. $5 at Vintage, worth every penny. We grooved in Creative Writing this morning to some Erykah Badu and Blackstar.

Also, FINALLY was awake to feel the tiny quake this morning. I'm certain the big one is coming, which is probably the only thing that would persuade me to purchase bottled water.

4.29.2008

Validation

Yesterday was one of the longest, but most validating days I've had as a teacher in a long time. Nothing really eventful happened in my classes, but I had three separate affirming experiences with two former students and a current student that reminded me why I became a teacher in the first place. It's been a long, long time since I felt like I was making any real difference. It's easy to get caught up in the everyday drudgeries: the contraband cell phones, the general apathy of students, uncompleted homework, grading, etc. I know I've been feeling less than committed for a while, which is part of the reason why I think I need to be out of the classroom. But days like yesterday, while long and tiring, reminded me that I can impact kids.

The first thing that happened was with one of my current students. This kid was in my very first Environmental Sustainability class and is in my advanced class right now. He's been apathetic about college and what he's going to do next year and hasn't had any real motivation. Yesterday, he spent two periods in the Writing Center enthusiastically researching and brainstorming what he wants to do while he goes to school: start a biodiesel co-op. He did an outstanding project on the relative ease with which you can create your own biodiesel from used vegetable oil and use it fuel diesel cars. He decided that he's going to become a self-made expert on making and using biodiesel from used veggie oil. This sounds like a crazy pipe dream, but it's actually much simpler, cost-effective, and practical than you would think. This is a kid who didn't even recycle when he started my class. Two years later, he has motivated his whole family to live a little more lightly and wants to pursue a sustainability-based career. Great success #1.

Last night, I was Facebook chatting (shut up, it was the very first time I ever used that feature, and he messaged me first) with a former student who has graduated and gone far away to college. This kid was also in my very first sustainability class. He's now decided that he's going to be a sustainable farmer. He can major in it at his hippie-ass college, and he's going to intern at a farm this summer. Great success #2.

The best teacher validation I had, though, far and away, was running into a former student who moved away at the Cardinals game last night. This student is very near and dear to my heart and I hadn't seen him in over a year. My first two years in my district, I worked half-days at our alternative school, where I served a very small population of the most difficult to reach students. This kid was with me for both years, and he was quite a challenge. Not only was he completely disengaged from school, but he was ADHD, dealing with issues stemming from his family, and had gaps in his learning from so many suspensions. Despite this, and despite the fact that he drove me crazy, he was, at his core, a sweet kid who was whip-smart when he wanted to be. I desperately wanted to know that this kid would be okay, that he would "make it", but just when things were going well, he'd get suspended. Finally, after his sophomore year, his mom moved him to a bigger school. I saw him once right after he moved, and he was still trying to adjust to this bigger school, but I hadn't seen him in forever. Lo and behold, he was at the game last night. He gave me a big hug. I asked him how he was doing, if he was going to graduate on time this spring. He said he was, that he was doing really well at his new school. I asked him what his plans were for after graduation. He said he was going to college! He got into Mo.State and will be heading to Springfield in the fall. I wanted to cry I was so happy. I felt like the auntie you never see that fawns all over you once a year and embarrasses you, but I didn't care. I can leave teaching knowing that if a kid like that can make it, any of them can.

So, yeah, I had to blog-brag about it.

4.28.2008

Burrito Overdose


I finally did it.

I overdosed on burritos.

I thought it could never happen. I though I could happily tuck in meal after meal of glorious Chipotle or Qdoba without ever tiring of the yumminess, like that guy who tried to eat Chipotle every day to lose weight (??). I lambasted Chris when he said, "I don't feel like burritos..." for the first time. How can you not feel like burritos?

But it happened.

See, what had happened was, I ate Chipotle twice in two days when I went to Minneapolis. It's generally part of my routine: when I get downtown, I hit up Chipotle during the time between getting off their light rail from the airport and when my class starts. Or, on our Saturday class lunch break, a group of my classmates and I will grab our favorite combination of goodness. But I did BOTH in less than 24 hours. My Chipotle standard is a vegetarian burrito, half the amount of rice and black beans, two scoops of tomato salsa, a bit of tomatillo salsa, cheese and guac, thank you very much. Actually, I just switched to a burrito bowl with chips instead, because I was feeling feisty (in case you could not tell by by reckless burrito eating).

Still feeling good after two in two. But Friday, a mere week after the binge, Chris picks me up from my rained-out game and says we're going to Qdoba before we hit up Mokabe's for the Break the Silence party. My standard vegetarian queso burrito, half rice and black beans, salsa verde and double pico, cheese and guac just didn't sit right. Couldn't even finish it.

It's over. And we just got a Chipotle in the Loop, too.

It's not you, burritos. It's me. It's just a break. I just need time to figure some things out. Then I'll be back. I need you to trust me on this.

4.25.2008

What Will You Do To End The Silence?

Today is the Day of Silence. Day of Silence is a national day of activism where students around the country will exercise their right to remain silent in honor of those LGBTQ youth who have been forced into silence simply by being who they are. Over half a million students will participate in this year's Day of Silence, including almost 50 of Chris's and 25 of mine (although our DOS is Tuesday due to MAP testing today).

Supporting LGBTQ youth is something I'm very passionate about. Adolescence is hard for any teenager, but to start acknowledging your sexuality and realizing that you aren't what is considered "the norm", and that any number of your friends, family, or acquaintances could immediately reject you if they find out, is incredibly difficult.

According to a study done by GLSEN, 4 out of 5 LGBTQ teenagers report being the victim of physical, verbal, or sexual harassment at school, and 30% reported missing at least one day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety. If there's one thing I believe in with my whole heart, it's that EVERY kid deserves to feel safe and comfortable in their own skin at school. Unfortunately, LGBTQ youth are not only overtly harassed in their schools, but are the victims of subversive harassment in classrooms where slurs like "faggot" and "homo" are all but ignored by teachers.

Hate crimes against LGBTQ people, particularly youth, are not a thing of the past. Lawrence King, an 8th grader from California, was shot and killed by a classmate because of his gender expression and sexual orientation. An 8th grader. Shot. For being gay. This happened February 12 of this year.

Fortunately, when students approached me to help them start a Gay/Straight Alliance almost three years ago, I had a supportive administration, and we jumped through relatively few hoops. We've experienced backlash from a small number of students and a smaller number of staff, but for the most part, I think myself and these ladies have provided a safe haven for our kids who are LGBTQ or Allies. We are still fighting the battle for our gay male students to feel comfortable coming out. Chris has been fighting a different battle. His district is larger, more bureaucratic, and more conservative. He's been fighting for his kids to be able to have GSA, a fight that has gone all the way to the School Board. Today's day will hopefully go smoothly, without any vandalism or harassment, but anything could happen. One of us has a student who, after coming out to her mother, was told by her mother that she wasn't allowed to join the "AIDS Club". One of us has a kid whose parents already reject him for his personality and mannerisms, and he is afraid to come out while he lives under their roof. I have a former student who will hide her sexual orientation for an indeterminate period of time because of the profession she has chosen to go into. I have close friends whose parents have all but disowned them for their sexual orientation. One year, we had two teachers publicly denounce Day of Silence to their classes, one going so far as to tell students that God didn't want them to participate.

Events and organizations such as Day of Silence, Ally Week, and GSAs are vital to not only providing LGBTQ youth with a safe haven where they can be themselves, but to creating a visible program of understanding and tolerance that all students can witness. These days aren't about gay rights, sex education, promotion of sexual activity among students, or drag shows. They're about promoting a culture where bullying of students is unacceptable and understanding and tolerance is the norm. ALL students deserve the chance to go to school in a safe environment. Period.

Update: Good news! Chris's district is approving GSAs at the high school level with full support of building principals and district attorneys. He's got well over the estimated 50 kids participating today--everyone from jocks, to Muslim girls in hijabs, to anime kids in cat ears. This is going to make a difference in so many kids' lives, and I'm so proud of him for helping those kids fight for their right to assemble.

4.21.2008

Laptop Halp!

In the next month or so, I'm going to be in the market for a new laptop. My current laptop belongs to my school, so I must give it back when I peace out of this bitch. I've been using a MacBook for school for the past four years. Love the Mac OS, but leery of staying with a Mac, for two reasons: one, the added cost; two, the horror stories I've heard (and experienced) about Mac's planned obsolescence. My own hard drive crashed and was irretrievable, same with my good friend's less-than-a-year-old HD.

So, does anyone have any recommendations of a moderately-priced reliable laptop?

4.18.2008

Quake!

Yeah, so unbeknown to me, I was in an earthquake this morning. I woke up to the bed shaking. In my post-wake haze, I thought Asher's tail was hitting the bed, which it is want to do. Then I thought it was Chris having some leg spasms. I hit him, like I do when he snores, steals covers, or is talking in his sleep. He didn't react, so I just rolled back over and went to bed. Was getting ready this morning and saw via Twitter that there had been an earthquake. In St Louis. Glad it didn't happen during the school day.

This minor quake did not deter me from boarding a plane to Minneapolis via Chicago. I had pleasant travels, including my first coffee in a week, a cup of the new Starbucks house blend. So it was just one cup, no big deal. I plan on keeping with the green tea most days, though.

Really had a crazy week. Soccer was horrific. Although we escaped 2-1, we dropped a game to a team we previously beat, basically because we showed up five minutes before game time. Then, our bus driver got lost trying to pick us up (despite the fact she has taken us to this field multiple times) and we sat at the field for thirty minutes waiting for her. Good times. In our next game, the girls forgot the balls, and, although we managed to pull off the win, one girl on our team got a concussion and one girl got a broken nose. Oops.

I've got class...gotta run.

4.17.2008

Hi Pointe Closing?


WTF? 52nd City is claiming that the Hi-Pointe theatre is closing. Noooooooooo! First the beloved bar, now the theatre? Bunk City! Say it ain't so.

Update--Good news! Hi-Pointe is only closing for a few weeks, then will reopen under new management.

4.16.2008

Great Scott!


Wow, where was I when all this went down? I think I saw a flash of it on the news, but didn't really read about it until today.

This is so fucked up on so many levels, but not really surprising. We had some middle school girls get in a fight and put it on YouTube, so if it happened here, it probably happens all over. The fact that these girls' parents were making excuses for their behavior just makes me want to vomit. If there's one group of assholes I hate more than any other, it's entitled kids and their trifling-ass parents who raise them that way. See: parent nonsense, bubble-pizza bitch. Damn, people. You are not doing your kid any favors by fighting every battle for them that they come across, particularly if their kid is in the wrong. The foolish idea that children and teens don't make mistakes, let alone need to learn from their mistakes, is ridiculous. That's what growing up is: learning from the mistakes you will inevitably make. If there are no consequences to your actions, all you are learning is that your mom and dad will bail you out (figuratively and literally) any time you make a poor decision.

I see this all the time with my kids. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that the majority of my kids would pull some cheerleading beat down. I believe they know better than that. But a whole lot of my kids lie, cheat, and manipulate on a daily basis, with little care for any potential consequences. A huge percentage of my kids actually work harder to manipulate their way out of a given situation, whether it be homework or something else, than it would take to actually do what is required. They do not fear consequences, because either they will not have any consequences, or, if there are consequences, they either will disregard them or they're minimal. The threat of in or out-of-school suspension is laughable. Don't even think about detention--they won't go. But their problem-solving skills only extend to getting out of things. They can't use problem-solving skills to actually do anything of value.

Is this new? Or was I so busy actually do shit in high school that I didn't realize that everyone else was clowning? I mean, I told some lies in my day, but I have kids who lie ALL THE TIME. About stuff that doesn't even matter. I hear bullshit excuses every damn day. Just tell me the truth. Life happens. I am a master procrastinator/ball-dropper. But take some responsibility for your lack of completion.

Chris and I were talking about this idea the other day: nothing is really special any more. There's no such thing as a real "treat". When not owning an iPod is the norm, not the rule, you know times have changed. I think back to ten years ago. No one even had cell phones, let alone $250 gadgets. Granted, those $250 gadgets did not exist, but was there something similar? When I was 14, the coolest thing a kid could own would be a moped or roller blades, preferably both with a tow rope, and you know only one or two kids you knew had a moped. Almost all of my kids have iPods and cell phones. Seriously, it is an anomaly for a child to not have one or both. Had I asked my parents for something that cost $250, they would have laughed hysterically, then handed me the classifieds.

Jesus, now I just sound like my grandpa. But honestly, I just worry about the level of values kids have these days. I'm not talking about premarital sexin' or religion. I'm talking about honesty, hard work, compassion, kindness, and integrity. These days, it seems like everything is about material possessions, money, fame, and getting attention/seeking approval from potential love interests.

I feel as though American culture is perched precariously on the verge of either totally annihilation or enlightenment. Kind of like on Back to the Future 2, when Marty goes to the future and Biff owns everything, and everything is porn-organized-crime-vice related because Biff gets the sports trivia book and makes a fortune. So Marty has to make it so that his kids aren't complete fuck-ups in the future. Is there a pivotal event that we could go back and change to fix this situation? Is this really an issue, or did I make it up in my mind, or is it just the same tired "kids-these-days" crap old people have based their bitching on for generations? Have I asked enough Carrie-Bradshaw-esque rhetorical questions for one day?

4.11.2008

Thoughts for a Friday

Sorry I've been absent this week. I was busy with soccer games and furiously trying to finish homework. I'm about to peace up to Kirksville for our annual soccer alumni weekend. It is official that I will be one of the three oldest ladies there, which means I don't have to play a minute of the game if I so desire. Sidenote: the Holiday Inn in Kirksville has some nerve to try to charge $100/night for a room. For that price, there better be an open bar in my room, a bidet in the bathroom, and free limo rides to the Dukum Inn. I will take my $47 room at the Super 8, remove the comforter from the bed, spray some Method Cinnamon air freshener to cover up the smell of smoke, and be on my way for cocktails, thank you very much.

Because of my impending departure and the fact that I probably should do some real work even though I have 27 days left up in this bitch, at most, I am just going to holla some quick thoughts at you. BTW, if anyone wants to pay me a lot to do very little, I'm totally available. I'm thinking about starting a business where people pay me to deal with awkward situations that need to be dealt with. Some lady microwaving stank fish every day in the office, but nobody wants to say anything to her? Don't use a passive-aggressive note. I'll say it to her face for you for a nominal fee. Dislike your best friend's new baby daddy? I'll tell him he needs to stop wearing socks with sandals and talking like Borat all the time. Won't faze me. Think about it. It's like a courier service, but I deliver the truth.

* Can we talk about the much-anticipated return of The Office? It was like every awkward dinner party you've ever been to morphed into Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and then slapped the dinner party scene from Go in the face. Chris's observation pretty much summed everything up as the episode wound down: "It's so funny, I never want it to end, except it's so awkward, it feels right that it does." True.

* A kid in my room right now has his own picture on his shirt. Him playing basketball with a biblical quote underneath it. Granted, he is a phenomenal athlete, but who does this? Really?

* The new Raconteurs is freaking unbelievable. I would highly recommend that you get it. In other music news, one short week after we got our tickets for Wakarusa, Ben Folds and Built to Spill were added to the lineup. I saw Ben Folds in 2004 with Guster and Rufus Wainwright, and hearing him and Rufus duet Careless Whisper by Wham! changed my life. In addition, I would also recommend Wakarusa if you want to go to a festival but don't want to be completely and totally overwhelmed by the crowds of insane people. Waka is fairly small, the lineups are sweet, and camping chill. I could never do Bonnaroo because I could never deal with that many assholes in one place. This is something I realized while waiting in line to go up in the Space Needle: I can't deal with large groups of assholes, which is why I should stop working at a high school. Plus, Wakarusa is only four hours away in Lawrence, KS, a lovely college town.

4.07.2008

RickRoll'd!

Take that, hate mongering assholes!

Support Tower Grove Farmers' Market

I've mentioned before how much I love the Tower Grove Farmers' Market. It's a true grassroots market that I've watched grow over the past two seasons thanks to the efforts of Patrick Horine and Jenny Ryan (the duo also responsible for Local Harvest Grocery). Everything there is locally grown, several of the vendors are certified organic, and those that aren't still use more sustainable methods than industrial agriculture. The market is always bustling with something new, be it yoga, speakers, or a fresh crepe stand.

They run almost entirely on donations and volunteer hours, and they're in need of some funds to keep things going and growing. This year, they've added a series of political speakers, a farm to table program for schools, a kitchen incubator project, and now accept food stamps. They're really doing things right over there and I'd hate to see it falter due to a relatively small amount of money. Keep this great community event going by becoming a friend of the market and donating. You're getting $600 soon, anyway.