Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When To Forgive, When To Say Screw It.

I've always been a sucker for forgiveness--let me rephrase.  I've always been a sucker for forgiveness when it comes to people that seem worthy of it.  Okay, that didn't sound any better.  Hmmm.  I've been a sucker for forgiveness when it comes to people that I've allowed to use me as a doormat.  Okay, that makes me sound bad.  Regardless, I've always been a sucker when it comes to forgiveness for SOME people, but not all.  I'm just trying to be honest here.

There are those in my life that I've forgiven.  Perhaps it was for mistreating me in some way; perhaps it was just a misunderstanding where I was also in the wrong.  I believe in second chances for some indiscretions and immediate elimination from my life for others.  Just depends.

So the question is when do you forgive, and when do you say screw it?  After writing my latest article for the Glass Heel, which is on toxic family relationships, it made me think a lot about forgiveness.  When does one decide to throw in the towel versus coming to terms with the other person?  Hmmm.  If you're looking for the feel good version of forgiveness, you're not going to find it here.  And it's not because I hold grudges; it's not because I don't believe in forgiveness--it's because I believe that people behave the way you allow them to behave.  And with that belief, I have to sometimes put a stop to bad behavior.

Last night, as I sat down with my daughter for a chat, she told me that a family member of ours had recently added her back on Facebook.  "It's family, right mom?" she asked me, almost looking for direction of sort.  She wanted my approval, my permission and I want her to be able to make these types of decisions on her own.  "Marissa, I have no problem with you adding that person," I began with hesitation in my mind and annoyance in my stomach.  I cannot stand be used--not by anyone.  People behave the way you allow them to--I really believe this.  Sometimes walking away from crappy situations is necessary--even when it does hurt.  She didn't know what to say to her new Facebook "friend", and I told her that was okay.  For some it's easier to find that forgiveness--especially when you're young and haven't been screwed over by the people that are supposed to be your family.  When that happens, it hurts the most and forgiveness is harder to come by.

But for my daughter, I don't want her optimism to be skewed by my life's experiences.  There are some lessons that she needs to learn on her own.  I want her to be able to find forgiveness in places that I haven't been able to--aren't I supposed to always want more for my kids?  And I do.  I really do.

And like I told her last night, as we were wrapping up our conversation, I never would issue ill-will toward anyone--not even those that I don't care to have in my life.  After all, life is nothing but a learning experience--and who knows, maybe she's just the person who will teach me when to forgive and when to say screw it.

Check out my latest article on Glass Heel--Toxic Family Relationships

Friday, January 27, 2012

This Friggin' Zit--Are You Kidding ME?

Seriously.  And yes, the moment I start any rant off with seriously you know it's simply not good. I'm 41 years old.  FORTY-ONE years old and I'm STILL getting zits.  And this one is absolutely ridiculous.  It's as though I have a growth on my face that does everything but wave.  I swear it taunts me.  It annoys me. It spews crap out of it that scares me.  Literally, frightens me.  Seriously.

When is this going to end?  It's not as though I'm that teenager anymore, although if you looked at my face right now one would never know it.  Lucky me--blessed with zits AND wrinkles.  Oh joy.  Every night I wash my face, moisturize, and pray that I wake up without any new additions.  I'm hoping for the day when I can have more than a couple of zit-free weeks.  Until then, I'll keep picking, popping, and poking and wishing that these friggin' zits would stay the HELL away from me.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

There's Nothing Like a BFF--Part Two.

Saturday morning couldn't come soon enough--so much so, that my sister, niece, and I jumped in the car and took off around 10:30 Friday night.  I was too excited to wait until the morning.  There was this natural high spinning around in my head for the first few hours.  I just wanted to get there so badly!

Of course, once the clock hit around 3 am, I was just about beat.  I found myself hallucinating behind the wheel of the car--hitting the noise makers on the side of the road and startling my sister.  "What the...!" she started as I tried to wake up.  "Sorry!" I told her and slapped my face.  "Hey, is that truck heading for us?"  The headlights seemed to be coming straight towards us.  I slammed on the brakes, in the middle of the highway, thinking this truck was going to hit us.  Ummm, no.  I wasn't seeing clearly at all.  I drove a few more miles and just had to pull over.  Joelle would be driving for awhile...  And she did for a few hours.  When I drove again, the GPS kept taking me onto the business route.  Not knowing where I was going, I kept taking it.  Not good.  It was when I was creeping through this tiny no-inhabitants-that-could-be-seen town, when this dog came out of nowhere barking at my car.  I had to swerve onto the other side of the road to miss hitting this dog!  "WHAT THE...!" my sister started as she woke up.  "Just a dog," I replied and kept on trucking!  Always an adventure...

We rolled into Fort Worth around 11 in the morning.  The room wasn't quite ready (granted we were four hours early for check in), so decided to head on over to the good ole' Cracker Barrel.  The eats were pretty good (I munched on a kids' grilled cheese) and the people watching was spectacular.  Seriously.  We fit right in!  =)  An hour later the room was ready for us and we hit the hay.  Four hours later we all woke up, took showers, and got ready for the big moment.  I was so anxious and nervous and excited to see my BFF!

Thanks to my husband purchasing my amazing GPS, we got there in record time.  There were security gates closing us off to the apartment complex, so we patiently waited for a resident to pull in and creeped in behind them.  After perusing the complex for a bit trying to get our bearings, we saw the clubhouse.  Nerves started taking over again; I just wanted this moment to be perfect for her.  I could sense her sadness and want nothing but the best for her--always.  The three of us loaded up our arms with the gifts and started making our way up the walk.  The windowed doors allowed us to peer in, where we saw her sitting at the bar, her back facing us.  "There she is!" my niece whispered in excitement and I asked her to hold open the door.  "SPECIAL DELIVERY FROM COLORADO!" I yelled as I entered the room.  There was a slight hesitation as she spun around in her chair, did a double take, and flew towards us!  "OH MY GOD!  OH MY GOD!" were the only words that left her lips as she grabbed ahold of me, and cried and cried and cried.  So of course, I cried.  And upon seeing me cry, my sister got all misty too.  Can't help it--family trait I 'spose.

And it was a great moment.  It was a great baby shower.  I couldn't stop rubbing on that baby belly or hugging on her.  And yes, I  surprised her like none other.  That's just what BFFs do.

Later on that night, as we sat in her living room just BSing the night away, I learned how upset she really was about her shower.  That morning she had been in tears, wanting to cancel the entire thing.  Having been away from family and my best of friends when I was pregnant, I completely understood what she was feeling.  Perhaps that's why I wanted this surprise so badly for her.  Nothing, no one can replace your family or your BFF.  Just can't.

The best part of the trip wasn't the surprise, it was getting to baby shop and just do the things that best friends are supposed to do--have lunch, gossip, and just be.  On our last evening there her husband made all of us this kick ass dinner, and it was great.  They're a wonderful couple, who are going to make amazing parents.  Their love is real--I'm just so thankful to be a part of their life.  This summer I know I'll be making another trek down to Texas, so I can spoil my new little niece Olivia!  I absolutely cannot wait to see this little girl, as I love her already!

Congrats to Christine and Chad!  
You're both going to make wonderful parents!
I love you both...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

There’s Nothing Like A BFF—Part One.

I wrote this before I left for my trip to Texas, but couldn't post because I wasn't about to ruin my surprise...

I met her almost 15 years ago and couldn’t stand her.  She was hoity-toity, one of those rich girls whose parents seemed to cater to her every whim.  Truth be told, I was jealous of this quality—having to work from the moment I turned 14.  I was outgoing; she was more censored.  I was loud; she was reserve.  She had the silver spoon; I had the paper cup.  Complete opposites at first glance. 

When I discovered we’d both be working in the same department, in the same locked vault, I wanted to come unglued.  I’d have to spend all my time with this anti-social, has everything, pain?  The first few weeks opening Dave and Buster's were miserable.  She couldn’t stand me any more than I could stand her.  We ignored each other—only talking when absolutely necessary.  We’d steal glances at one another—judging the other’s outfit in silence.  Basically throwing out every bit of body language necessary to reveal our contempt of the other. 

And then one day she needed some help balancing the monies she was counting.  She was cursing like a sailor, when I realized, “Hey I could like this girl.”  Perhaps the string of profanities is what drew me to her—perhaps just how real she was.  From that moment forward we became inseparable.  During the day, we’d find ourselves playing “guess that song” over the phone’s speaker through the talent of whistling—usually ended up laughing in hysterics on the floor.  Don’t ask how I’m able to make every song sound exactly the same—one of my many talents.  At night when we were bored we would go zen—a game we created where we’d simply hop into the car, blast 80s music as loud as possible, and drive with no set destination.  We would end up in the craziest places, which was part of the fun.  Every other weekend would be spent dancing our booties off or shooting pool or pigging out on fast food or DJing the karaoke nights at D & B.  Good times.

There were nights when we’d decide at 3 am to start a new diet--always with excitement and ideas of the "new us".  I remember going to Walmart to buy scales, SlimFast, and measuring tapes—only to change our minds as the sun came up and dying for a Starbucks.  There were many of times she tried teaching me how to make the most delicious chicken and rice dish—just never tasted the same when I made it instead of her.  There were days we spent watching the entire Sex and the City series in our PJs—would have never become addicted if not for her.   And the shoe shopping sprees we went on.  No one has the shoe collection that this girl has.

As the years went by, she was there for every high moment, and every low moment too.  There were days when I wondered what I’d do without her and days when I wanted to strangle her.  Times we laughed until we cried, and times when the tears couldn’t stop flowing and tissues littered the floor around us.  We were inseparable.  When I learned she was moving to Texas, my heart sunk to the floor.  I was thrilled that she had found the man of her dreams, and heartbroken to see my best friend leaving me.  That was a rough day--for both of us.

I knew that the miles between us wouldn’t define our friendship.  They couldn't.  She meant too much to me.  It became work to keep in touch.  At first we were really bad at it, going months at a time without chatting...but eventually we have found our own long distance groove.  During one phone call when she told me she might not be able to have children, my heart broke for her—I even offered my womb up for her.  Although being five years older than she and the cobwebs were starting to form…it didn't matter.  I'd do anything for this girl.   Eight months ago when she told me she was pregnant, my heart filled with love and joy and longing.  I wanted so badly to be there for her.  To touch that growing belly and get grossed out if she puked for no other reason than for being knocked up.  I wanted to shop until we dropped for little Olivia and give her all the advice I could.  I wanted to share in the joys, and warn her of the heartache.  But the miles did get between us and I’ve been unable to do so.

I’ve been buying baby stuff for baby Olive as though it’s going out of style.  I can't help myself.  Knowing all she’s done for my kids and me over the years has made me want to do so much for her little bundle.  For the last two months I’ve been prying to find out when her baby shower will be.  The in-laws are throwing it for her (how sweet are they!) and I wanted to be there to help celebrate the new life she and her husband are bringing into the world.  With only 1 ½ week’s notice, I was informed of the shower.  At first I panicked just a bit—wondering how the heck would I pull this off?  Not much time to plan a trip or to talk my sister into doing the 12 hour drive with me.  It’s been 3 years since I’ve seen her and I really miss my best friend.  And while our lives have taken different paths, I know that she’s always there—always on my side to listen, to give me advice, to shoot me a bit of critical honesty when needed.

My husband took one look at my face, knew exactly what I should do, and encouraged me to take a couple of days off of work, book a hotel, and get my butt to Texas.  Luckily, my sister decided to do the drive with me.  I decided my best friend needs a bit of a surprise and it’s been SO hard not to tell her I’m on my way.  When I told her I couldn’t make it, I feigned the sadness and the misty eyes.  She sounded sad on the phone--the fake voice of happiness, but she wasn't fooling me.  When I told her the gifts were in the mail, I was completely lying to her.  When I told her I planned on coming out this summer so I could see the baby, I didn’t mention how in three days I’ll be rubbing that belly and talking to Olivia.  

This Saturday at one in the morning, my sister, niece, and I will be making the 12-hour trek out to Texas—driving straight on through to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to attend my best friend’s baby shower and surprise the heck out of her!  I can’t wait to walk into her baby shower and see the shock on her face!  Until then, I’ll keep walking around Denver with this grin on my face, just waiting impatiently for this weekend to arrive. 

Here’s to you
My friend, my pal
My girl, my gal
(A poem written to me from Christine many years 
ago--it always makes us laugh!)


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Perhaps I Am A Writer.

On Monday when I was given the opportunity to write for the Glass Heel, I was really excited.  It just fell into my lap and I'm really happy that it did.  I've been writing my entire life--times when it was used as an outlet.  I love looking back at my journals from middle school.  Other than my handwriting being an absolute atrocity to mankind, my dreams were either ridiculously meek or so far out there that I don't know what I was doing--oh, dreaming, that's right...  My goal that I had a a meager 13 years old was to own a clock radio by the time I was 18--so glad that I gave myself 5 years to accomplish that task!  That entry does tell a story though.  The story of what you dream of when money isn't an option because there simply isn't any.  Another dream I had in the 7th grade was to become the first woman quarterback in the NFL--not sure what happened there...  At 5'2 3/4" I thought for sure I had a chance--didn't quite work out.  Those journals are a great tool for a good laugh, that's for sure!

I love to write.  The first story I ever had published was in the 10th grade.  It was awful.  I won the contest for my age group because I'm almost positive I was the only one that entered it.  Maybe not, but my story really was awful.  It was about a girl with a disability and how I'd befriend her.  I was, however, paid $50.00 for my submission!  Big bucks in 1987 or at least it was to me.

Poetry, short stories, memoirs, one novel, a dissertation, a bazillion papers--I've written more words than I've probably ever spoken.  Okay, that was a bit of a hyperbole there, but still.  You get the point.  I write a LOT--and continue to do so several times per week.  It soothes my soul like none other.  It renews my spirit when I'm low.  It's me.

So tonight when I see my name on someone else's website, under an article that I wrote, it feels great.  Check it out if you can!

Get Up Already--You've Been Down Long Enough by Dr. Meredith Collins

Monday, January 16, 2012

In Remembrance Of...

Today I was lucky enough to be able to celebrate the life of a pretty amazing woman.  While I wasn't lucky enough to have ever had met her, just hearing the stories about her brought a smile to my face and a warmness in my heart.

My husband, Kent, was adopted when he was just a baby.  His birth mom was young, single, and alone.  Her father wouldn't allow his child to remain in the house while pregnant.  She left home, had the baby, and unable to support a child on her own, made what was probably one of the hardest decisions any mother would have to make.  A decision made out of love, out of compassion, out of wanting to give this child the things she was incapable of giving.

Kent was almost 30 years old when he went on his quest to find his birth mom.  His parents were moderately okay with his decision to do so.  As a parent, I can understand the angst his mom must've felt when searching for the other woman that gave life to such an amazing man.  The age of technology hadn't quite hit the world when his search began.  Kent's first stop was at St. Anthony's hospital, knowing he'd been born there.  They led him to the Catholic Charities, who had been the go-between for his adoption.  After spending two months collecting as much information as he possibly could, there was a "break" in his case.  He discovered his biological grandfather hadn't renewed his driver's license, and realized this was probably due to one of two reasons: 1) he no longer drove or 2) he passed away.  Kent was sitting among the stacks at the Denver Public Library scanning through the obituaries on microfiche, with a date of his last license renewal.  When lo and behold he found the name he was looking for.  While his biological grandfather had passed away, it was from that obituary that he discovered his biological mom was alive--as well as three half brothers he never knew he had.

From there he learned for 30 years his biological grandparents lived a mere 10 blocks from his home.  From the home his mom still lives in.  From the streets he played on as a child.  From where he rode his bike and went to school.

With names in his pocket, and forever engraved in his heart, he quickly learned where his biological mom was.  With only two names in the Anchorage phone book matching her's, he called the first one listed.  She didn't live there.  Next, he called the second number.  She was at school.  I can only imagine how his heart was racing, how sweaty his palms must've been.  The emotional tug in his throat that held the tears at bay.  And so he did what any son would do, and began to write her a letter.

She received the letter, and within a month, it was his phone that rang.  When he answered the phone, the conversation was easy.  He met her for the first time a month later--just the two of them, at a steakhouse in Denver.  Kent kept his emotions in check until she handed him the baby hospital bracelet that had linked him to her so many years prior.  Knowing she had held onto that momentum, that piece of him, made the tears well up into his eyes and spill down his face.

And from there it's history.  He met his brothers, and that's exactly what they have become to him, his brothers.

So today as we stood around the "filing cabinet", as Bruce's (one of Kent's brothers) partner Jeff so lovingly calls it, toasting her life with the cheap champagne that she was so fond of, I couldn't help but think "What an amazing woman."  And as they told their stories about their mom--funny, sad, silly, and just talked about who she was--I kept thinking the same thing.  Although I wasn't lucky enough to have ever met her, I am lucky enough to be a part of the lives she brought into this world.

Here's to you, Barbara Nather.
Thanks for being one amazing woman!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Stay Glorious.

There are times in my life when I realize just how much of a Cheesehead I truly am.  Like the time when I just HAD to go to Lambeau Field and see a game to start off the year 2000--that was quite the road trip, complete with a snowstorm.  Nothing like seeing a game in a field of Cheeseheads!  I was in absolute HEAVEN!  Or the time when I decided to get all dressed up in the green and gold--it was in the early '00s and the Packers were playing the Broncos in the pre-season.  I didn't have tickets, and neither did my BFF, but I had to let the world see my Cheeseheadom.  It was quite the day!  Just hanging out with the tailgaters in my green and gold.

When I became a teacher, there was no doubt what the theme of my classroom would be--a Cheesehead's paradise--with a bit of Language Arts crap thrown in for good measure.  My walls are filled with Packer posters, jerseys, bumper stickers, magnets, framed pictures of the great Pack--heck, I even have a GB Packer Mr. Potato Head in my classroom.  It's awesome.  Of course, the flag is hung right above the great Aaron Rodgers.  That's so all my students have to stand in respect to the great flag of ours--oh, and Aaron Rodgers too.  Coincidental, I'm telling you.  

I have Packer undies, socks, sweatshirts (both pullover and zip-up), t-shirts, sweatpants, workout pants, yoga pants, TONS of jerseys, Cheesehead beer holder, Cheesehead, cheese beads, Packers beads, silk PJs, PJ bottoms, bracelets, jackets, even a Packer robe (courtesy of the parentals for Christmas, thank you very much)--I'm talking just a ton of Packers gear.  I rock the Packers gear every single Monday--and when the playoffs begin every year, I wear a different Packers outfit until they lose throughout the entire playoff run.  

So yesterday, when I was getting my nails done at the salon with my friend, Tina, it was no surprise to anyone that knows me that my nails and toes were done in green and gold.  They're my colors this time of year.  It's what I do.  To say I was excited about today's playoff game is an understatement.  I felt good about this game--my team has had an unbelievably strong season.  15-1 record, home field advantage, even a bye in the first round of the playoffs.  They haven't lost at the great Lambeau field since October 17 of 2010--yeah, they are that good.  I felt great about today's game--so sure of their success.

I decided to do something different this year--meet up with a local Packers fan base at the Blake Street Tavern.  I walked in with my husband--complete with Cheesehead, jersey, and rockin' the cheese beads--and saw a huge group of Packers fans.  It was awesome hanging out with a group that would actually be cheering for the same team as me!  Awesome, until the game began that is.  

What the hell happened?  From the get-go nobody seemed capable of catching Rodgers' throw.  Seriously.  There were times when the receiver was WIDE OPEN and still missed the damn ball.  I was finding myself getting agitated--realizing that while nice to be in the sea of green and gold, I couldn't be myself around these people I just met.

When halftime approached, I looked at my husband and asked him to get the bill.  "You sure you want to go?" he asked me and I nodded my assent.  I needed to scream at the T.V., curse like a sailor, and rant like a crazy person.  This was my team and they needed my outrage.  Okay, perhaps not, but I needed to vent and it wasn't going to happen in public.  I do have SOME couth.  

We got into the car and a few minutes after we pulled away the game came back on.  The Packers were having an amazing drive down the field until...FUMBLE and Giants recovery.  As I screamed an obscenity into the air, my husband laughed just a bit.  I glared over in his direction.  "I knew you wouldn't last in there," he said to me with this absolution in his voice that was making me crazy.  "Why would you say that?  I had a great time in there," I interjected.  "No, you can't be you in there.  Screaming and cursing," and with that nodding over to the radio as another horrid play was being announced.  "Please, just get me home so I can yell at the T.V.," I said and started to stare out of the window.  

Getting home didn't provide any other comfort for me as I watched my team fall completely apart.  The defense was horrific, the offense not worth mentioning--just simply could not get the job done.  Disappointing to say the least.  When the clock finally wound down and the final score displayed, complete and utter disappointment set in.  I wanted to feel the high that I felt last year when my team clinched that Lombardi Trophy.  I wanted it to stay where it belonged--where it originated.  Not going to happen this year.

So as the football season came to a close for this Cheesehead, I put on my cheesy PJ bottoms, my cheesy PJ shirt, and my fuzzy cheesy robe.  And with a downtrodden look on my face, I cuddled next to my honey, waiting for this cloud to pass on over my head.  And it will--it always does when my team loses.  Mostly because there's always another game, another season, another year for this Cheesehead to get lost in her love for the Pack!  

Until next year--GO PACK GO!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Those Late Night Talks.

I remember when I first met my husband.  It was January of 2008 when he "asked to be my friend" on a popular social networking site.  He looked harmless enough, and after all, it was just online.  He was one of the few people I met online that wasn't a complete creep.  When he said he wanted to just be friends, that's exactly what he meant.  I loved the way we would email each other every day--just filling one another in on our jobs, family, or a crisis that was developing in our lives.  I remember him telling me that my emails curbed his "Meredith Fix" for the day.  I would laugh, and happy that he was just listening.  We progressed to phone calls, a whopping eight months later--those long late night talks that became my fix.  Late into the night we'd be asking question after question, sometimes with long pauses in-between--contemplating between fact and fiction.  This entire time he never hit on me--not even in the slightest of manner.  And I loved it.  I craved it.  It was nice--no, it was absolutely glorious to have intellectual conversations.  Even though we both fell at different sides of the political arena and completely different sides in the religious arena, there was a respect--almost a validity of sorts--toward the other's point of view.  We could discuss without arguing; argue without belittling.  Never experienced anything like it before.

When we met for the first few times, we became fast friends--real friends.  He was, and still is, the kind of guy that everyone wants in their corner.  He's strong, passionate, intelligent--not a womanizer in any sense of the word.  Even as friends, when we'd hit the gym he'd never check out others in front of me.  When we went for coffee, he listened when I talked, offered advice when warranted, and was a friend in every sense of the word.  And the late night talks continued.

It was amazing the way our friendship quickly blossomed by all those late night talks.  I loved every moment.  It was no surprise that when he finally did ask me out, that I'd have to have a chat after our first day for us to decide whether to date or just remain friends.  I didn't want these late night talks to ever stop.  After our first date at Carmine's, we headed over to Washington Park and had an almost 3 hour conversation.  Just us, the ducks, and the stars.

And those late night talks have continued.  Last night when we lay there baring our souls to one another, it reaffirmed all the reasons I absolutely love him.  I love the way I'm able to talk about sensitive subjects without him shutting down; without him shutting me out.  I love the way he doesn't interrupt me, even when I'm taking one of my ultra long pauses because I'm trying to find the correct verbiage for how I'm feeling.  I love the way he is reflective; the way he is thoughtful; the way he looks at not only his perspective, but mine.  I remember being afraid that our late night talks would only last during the time of our friendship--during the time when we were just starting to date--during the time when we were dying to know every single thing about the other.  And while our late night talks aren't every single night, I know he'd drop whatever he was doing in an instant to have that late night talk with me.  And for that I'm ever so grateful.  He's my husband.  He's my best friend.  I love you, Kent.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mystery Shopper.

Me in my Star Market smock--1987

Oooh.  Just the name "Mystery Shopper" has always intrigued me.  I mean, who ARE these people?  Coming into different businesses, unannounced, judging everyone and everything in the immediate surroundings.  Oooh.  Scary.

From the time I was little, the mystery shopper was a source of intrigue.  I wanted to be one of these mystery shoppers.  For once, I wanted to be the one doing all the judging and in such a passive way.  I could eyeball, critique, observe and absolutely no one would know.

I remember my first "real" job (not counting the much hated, child labor, illegal act of detasseling corn in good ole' Wisconsin) at Star Market in Olneyville--the project, ghetto, just yuck part of Providence.  Dressed in my bright blue smock and this god awful green and blue hat thing.  Just horrific.  I was told there'd be these mystery shopper coming through my line--and could be there at any time.  It was always this looming threat that I'd better not screw up or the mystery shopper might just catch me.  Star Market--just saying the name makes me shake my head and smile just a bit.  I was a junior in high school and had no choice but to work.  Most of the "monies" I handled were in the form of food stamps--back then it was like Monopoly money--different tenders for the poor.  People were constantly trying to steal diapers, formula, and cigarettes.  I would be the "bad guy" when I gave them a gentle reminder of the diapers under their cart, under the jackets, away from sight.  I think I got cursed out every day I worked for "catching" the merchandise before it left the store unannounced.

Melanie at BK--1988

From there it was Burger King--this time I was a senior in high school.  We moved from the hood on up to North Providence.  Oh yeah.  I was big time.  This time I donned these magnificent polyester maroon pants, maroon smock, and maroon visor.  Boy I looked good.  There was nothing like the "rich" kids in their Irocs from school coming through the drive-thru to see this wonder--yeah, that was me.  I was told all about the ever impending mystery shopper that could come on in and order a whopper.  I'd best be prepared or else.  Of course this didn't stop me from jumping the counter one afternoon and almost strangling a customer.  Totally not my fault.  See my little sister worked there too.  I worked the 6 am - 2 pm shift on the weekends (both days) and Melanie worked the 2 pm - 10 pm shift.  It was about 10 minutes before I got off of my shift, and Melanie had just arrived.  I was working the counter that frightful day, and was counting my drawer before getting ready to leave.  Melanie was just getting started when this bear of a woman came up to her register.  "Can I help you?" she asked with a voice of innocence and hard work.  "Yeah, get me a shake and make it strawberry."  Melanie rang up the shake and went to make the shake.  Maybe it was because she was just getting onto her shift; maybe she was tired from a late night before.  Whatever the issue, she mistakingly poured a vanilla shake instead of a strawberry.  The woman grabbed a straw, took a sip, realized it was vanilla, wrapped her claws around the cup and proceeded to whip it straight at my sister.  With horror in my eyes, I turned to see my poor little sister covered in vanilla shake.  AT THE BEGINNING OF HER SHIFT!  Oh, HELL no! was my first thought before my body took over.  I leaped over the counter in one move, pushed the woman toward the wall, and enclosed her witch-like neck with my hands.  I don't recall the exact words I used at this moment, but I can tell you that a) she apologized before she left and b) I didn't get fired, thankfully.  When all was said and done, my sister and I traded clothes and I wore her vanilla-soaked uniform home.  Yeah.

And from there I worked at Pawtucket Mutual Insurance, First Community Industrial Bank--both the Denver and Colorado Springs office, ran my own daycare, Dave and Buster's, and Land Title before I became a teacher.  And at each of these jobs there was some form of the mystery shopper.  I wanted the role.  I wanted the POWER.  Hmmm.

So with these memories in mind, I decided to give it a go.  2012 is going to be a trip.  I find myself trying new things--weird things.  Things that I never thought I'd actually do.  I did my first mystery shop during Christmas break.  It was fun.  I was observant.  I wrote this amazing report and got paid for doing things I'd be doing anyway.  The funniest part was when my daughter saw me writing the report--"What are you doing mom?" she asked, confused with my notes about the car wash.  As I explained this "job" that I was doing, her eyes just lit up.  "Can I go next time, mom?  I want to do this!"  I couldn't help but chuckle just a bit.  The mystery shopper just might be hereditary...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Honey Badger

As I'm sitting here watching the BCS Football Championship, the announcer keeps calling one of the players "Honey Badger."

"Babe, did they just call that guy Honey Badger?" I asked, clearly clueless about college football.  As everyone in the free world knows, I'm all about the GB Packers--basically, no other team is worthy of my cheering, loyalty, or fanaticism.  The reason I had to ask this question is this past year, as I headed into my 9th year of teaching, another fellow teacher shared the most hilarious video on YouTube of this honey badger.  It was seriously ridiculous and had me laughing all day.  Even now when I think about it, I can't help but chuckle just a bit.

And so I learned there is a real Honey Badger and he plays for LSU.  It's a good thing this guy is a football player because if he weren't there's no way he'd wouldn't be teased incessantly with that name.  Seriously.

P.S.  If you haven't seen this most ridiculous clip that exists (and yes, it's profane for those of you that are insulted by vulgarity) here's the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIyfCtYQz6s

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Back to School, Chica.

There is nothing like the excitement that the new school year can bring.  There's this giddiness that I feel ever single year, as I anticipate the new group of kids that I'm about to meet.  Each year, without fail, I have the same nightmare--and let me tell you it's a doozy.  My dream consists of me walking into my 7th grade classroom only to be met by a group of kindergarten students.  I mean, oh HELL no!  Panic sets into my chest as I try to figure out what the heck I'm going to do with them.  In this nightmare there are tears (from them), really crappy teaching strategies (from me), and I'm always lining them up in the hall making them hold hands.  After the first ten minutes, I've run out of ideas.  I always wake up as I'm attempting to teach them "1 + 1 = 2".  Just a nightmare.

I started getting the nightmare again last week, knowing that I'd soon get my classroom again.  For those of you that don't know, I've had a student teacher for the last couple of months.  He's now merrily on his way, in hopes of securing a teaching position down the road.  So on Monday night, as I scoured over my planner (I did get planned out for the next 9 weeks), I knew there would be no way I'd fall asleep.  And I didn't--even after taking a Tylenol PM.  Yeah, not even that worked.

Monday morning I was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed at 4 am.  I got a whopping 4 hours of sleep.  Knowing there was no way I'd get back to sleep, I got up and took a nice, long shower.  By 6 am the dog was fed, dinner in the crockpot, kids up, and I decided to head on out the door.  I was at school 10 minutes later--wishing the kids were there.  But no, they wouldn't be arriving for another 1 1/2 hours.  I was a bit anxious to get there...  I wrote my agenda on the board, prepared their handouts, and sat at my desk to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  By 7 am, a couple of my colleagues had arrived--I grabbed another cup of joe and waited some more.

FINALLY, after what seemed like an eternity, my students began to arrive.  I couldn't understand why their excitement level wasn't at the same as mine.  I was giddy, excited, couldn't stop smiling--practically singing my way through the day's lessons.

What can I say?  I love my job.  I love my students.  I love what I do every single day.  And I missed it so much when I had to let go and have my student teacher take over.  Last night I got ready for bed, was absolutely exhausted, and still could not fall asleep.  This morning I found myself, once again, at work before the sun even thought about coming out.  And I waited at my desk for my room to fill with the sounds that only 12-years-old can make.  It's bliss--absolute bliss.

So tonight, as I'm sitting here watching my daughter cheer and typing away on my MAC, I'm hoping that I get some sleep tonight--although tomorrow's lesson IS friggin' awesome and I'm so excited to teach it that I'm afraid I'll once again be tossing and turning, just waiting for the morning to arrive.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Hamster Wheel

I love the new year!  I love the way everything feels as though it can just begin again and cleanse the plate, so to speak.  On the 31st of December, my husband and I finally got our booties back to the gym.  Believe me when I say it was desperately needed, as we have been avoided the gym for way too long...about a month or so.  Yeah, you know how that goes.  Needless to say, on the 31st I had no problems getting on the good ole' hamster wheel.  There wasn't a line; every machine was not in use--as a matter of fact, it was a bit nice.  I was able to get in a nice, good, strong workout--the kind where I'm sweating up a storm and down my entire bottle of water.  I love those workouts!

Every other day we interchange between cardio and weights.  On the 1st of January I was a bit worried.  After all, resolutions have been made.  We decided to hit the gym over by my parents' house.  Granted it was before noon, but once again no issues with the weights.  Every thing I needed was neatly on its little rack in the section of the gym that's all free weights.  It was nice.  No, it was more than nice.  It was awesome!  I didn't have to go running around the gym trying to find the match for the one that I needed; there was no looking high and low trying to see where the 17.5 pounders were.  Nope, none of that.  Everything, EVERYTHING was in its place.  Nice, huh?

And then there was yesterday.  January 2nd.  When all the "I'm going to lose weight this year" wannabes entered the gym.  The ENTIRE section of hamster wheels was taken.  THE ENTIRE SECTION.  I mean, really.  I've been a gym rat for SEVEN years, and every single damn year it's the exact same thing. January sucks for me and the gym.  Not due to motivation.  Not due to a resolution gone astray.  No.  January sucks for me and the gym because suddenly all the gym rat wannabes come crawling out of every crevice imaginable and plant their stake on my territory.  Not cool.

When a hamster wheel was finally opened, I was squished between the "he's going to die at any moment, but God bless him, he's still going" guy and the "my magazine is more important that this workout" chick.  The guy to my left was wheezing so hard that there was a moment when I almost asked him if he was going to be alright.  I was seriously concerned.  Of course, the gym rat in me wanted to smack him upside the head and tell him to get the hell out of there--his wheezing was a distraction and god forbid he keel over--I was SO NOT about to help him.  Not because I'm mean or heartless, and those that know me can attest to this--I just can't stand anyone who appears to be ill or injured in any fashion.  It frightens me.  And the chick--did she seriously think she would lose any weight at a whopping 2.0 miles per hour?  Please.  Ridiculous.  And taking up a valuable hamster wheel for what?

So today, as I rolled into the gym and saw the weight section completely crowded, I knew that my workout would suck.  I stayed, did five leg machines, and got the heck out of there.  I cannot WAIT for February--when all these wannabes get back to their couches and all the equipment, once again, becomes mine.