Monday, May 12, 2008

Jameson's Birthday Shenanigans

Friday was the 41st birthday of everyone's dear friend and actual Guitar Hero. He started the day with golfing with Lids and CC's brother, while I slaved to bring home the black tri-tip from Lunardis. Marinated in herbs and garlic and something that clearly makes it turn black, it was a feast for the senses.
As good luck would have it, Darryl was able to join the festivities. As bad luck would, CC was floored by either a boozy week or a stuffy nose. (Which is more likely? Hmm...) He arrived in fine form (i.e. 2 sixes and Chevy's chips and salsa) and the good times just start rolling. Now, there had been rumors of a night out on the town, but if you can believe it, we got plenty sauced at the homestead!
Highlights (or things I remember):
  • Darryl's potatoes/beans/mushrooms
  • A million dollar idea that I had that was met with some actual interest!
  • A very special "Happy Birthday Douche Bag" cake
  • Led Zeppellin
  • Singing/wailing/guitar playing (I'm a joker, I'm a smoker, I'm an all day toker...)
  • Strong White Russians and stronger Jackn Cokes. Which led to...
Lowlights (or things I did or want to forget):
  • A very sloppy game of dominoes (all me)
  • Bad text messaging at midnight
  • Stuck on the couch ALL DAY Saturday. One day I will learn! I swear!
These are my favorite kinds of nights. Impromptu parties with your favorite people. Perfection. And in honor one of the truly good guys out there. Good stuff.

A Professional Move

I wrote the following at the last reunion of my summer writing class...which was also the last time I posted on this blog...loser! Blah, blah, school, blah, blah, busy. Anywho, the assignment was to think of a way that our personal lives are reflected in our teaching. So this is what I thought of on or about April 5, 2008. Enjoy!
Eight days ago I was the meanest I’ve ever been to anyone I wasn’t related to. I actually yelled in a man’s face, called him a liar, repeated a half dozen times at escalating levels, “you mean to tell me…”, called his boss a dozen times, and generally was a raging bitch. This all stemmed from feeling I was horrendously ripped off by the men I had hired to move my heaviest possessions from my cave of an apartment into my glorious, sunbeam-streaked house.
While the actual move was an exercise in frustration, sexism and general exposure to the shady side of things, I couldn’t be happier with my move because of the new living situation I find myself in. While the house has all the trappings of the finer life—washer/dryer, tall shower heads, excellent water pressure and a dishwasher that works so well silverware comes out so hot and clean it actually feels soft—this isn’t the thing that makes me beyond delighted and happy.
For the first time since college, I have a roommate. His name is Mike, and he is the kind of friend that you can have an amazing day on the lake with, or just recover from a hangover while watching movies. We have a tremendous amount in common, are both easily amused by one another, and have a similar outlook on life, and things we find entertaining.
Mike suggested at the start of a weekend in Tahoe that we should think about getting a place together. I remember not even hesitating, it just seemed like a perfect fit. After returning home, I started to have doubts about whether moving in with a roommate was more of a step back in life. Don’t people start with roommates, not get one at the age of 32? I could afford to live alone…what’s the deal?
Time passed, we found a place, signed a lease and started packing up, but the thought of, “why am I doing this?” didn’t leave, though I still felt like it was the right decision.
It was only after my moving maladies, and then my first week in the new place that I realized that what I needed was a fresh start. My year at school had been very taxing. New grade level, new team members, no classroom partner, my best friend at the school left, and a whole new batch of problems that couldn’t be solved with the simple kindergarten discussions “Nice people don’t hit” that had been so effective only months before.
I realized that I would go home and really dissolve into my cave. In previous years, my teaching partner and I would laugh daily about things that happened, talk about problems we were having, and strategize moving forward. This year, while I was surrounded by teachers, I was much more isolated than in the past. There was no one to laugh with, pressure was increased due to TESTING, and the burden of feeling like I had to handle and deduce all these psychological problems and parental issues on my own was overwhelming.
I need to have less of a cave to obsess over my students. I need a place to escape their problems, reboot my own system, and connect with an adult who gets me.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

It Just Gets Better!

As many of you may know, this was the first year in ten years that I have not attended a houseboating trip. Given that this is my favorite kind of vacation with my favorite people, I was pretty bummed on the whole bit. But due to upcoming babies, weddings and being out of the count-try, we couldn't wrangle an entire crew. Boo-hoo.

So I figured, might as well earn some $$, so I signed up to teach summer school. But the regular staff size was cut in half, so I wasn't chosen. Crap.

Then at the last minute, I signed up and was selected to be in the writing class that lasted 5 weeks. Got paid, had a great time and met amazing people. Great enough in itself...or so I thought.

Returned from my trip Tuesday night (30 minutes early!) to find a message from a program I'd heard about my first day of the writing class from Linds, who I'd just happened to sit next to on the first day. It is a program that has teachers (me!) chaperoning kids on trips around the world. And the teacher goes FOR FREE! All food, hotels, transportation, tour guides...the works! The night I heard about it, I scrambled to their site, filled out the form and hoped for the best...

AND I'VE BEEN SELECETED!! The brilliant, incredibly soul-seeing and beautiful Linds had given me such a tremendous recommendation, I was practically in before he even spoke to me! So just a day after returning, I learned that next summer I'll be heading back! I'll be spending two weeks with 5th and 6th graders on a trip called a Tale of Two Cities. The tour takes you to Paris and London and the surrounding areas. I am thrilled!

Of course, there is a fair amount of work before hand, but it's spread out over the entire year...but once I get there, I don't have to "teach". I just make sure the kids aren't jerks. And since I get to interview and choose them, no problemo! Clearly one of my questions will have to assess their game playing skills. I'll need someone to play dominos with on the plane.

I'm up early due to jet lag...heading to the classroom for the first time. If any of you would like to come take a peek/read a book/do an art know you are so welcome at any time...

Just don't do the project on the right...I'm saving that for Paris!

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Real French Toast

Was enlightened to this beauty today:

Here's to the breezes
That blow through the tree-es
That raises the skirts
And exposes the knee-es
That leads to the spot
That teases and pleases
What a snatch
Down the hatch

That's from a real Frenchy! Use it at will!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

My Irish Eyes are Smiling

Back in Geneva again. Great road trip with amazing weather, but when we returned, so did the rain. Perfect time to send y'all an update!

First the big news...Baby Boy Ethan has arrived! Word around SJ is that he is mellow, perfect, and has super soft skin. Must be my nephew! Finally talked to B last night. It was hard to imagine him doing the dad thing. But he really sounded like a dad last night. Weird, but really cool. I guess we are old enough to get married and have kids. And my mother was delighted with the auburn hair he is sporting...

So...back to me! The stories will follow based not on when they happened but my mood to tell stories! While in Dublin, we went to this musical pub crawl. We were only there for two nights, and decided to go our second night. Knowing we had to leave our hotel at 5AM. Hmm...sound like a good/smart plan?? I don't want to spoil my own ending, but I was the sensible one--even suggesting that we ought to head back early. Can you believe it?

Tour started in the touristy part of town. (We'd had an amazing dinner upstairs the night before). Went from there to two different pubs. There was a guitarist and a fiddle player, and they were just amazing. Plus, they taught us a couple of Irish songs, and you know I love a good sing-along. It end at 10 and we (along with our new South African friend) ended up hanging out with the musicians after and going to a "locals" bar in dublin. All these musicians just come and jam. It was really outstanding. Of course we stayed til they closed. Debbie (in hopes of talking me up) told them that I played the guitar...could have killed her. I think I would have looked like Greg Brady strumming as johnny bravo...("clowns never laughed before...") but with better hair obviously...Didn't want to make her look like a nut, so I just said, no, no, I didn't want to play (they repeatedly offered me their instruments). I suppose that is what shy/humble people act like. Hm! Anyone can play any instruments and just join in. I was chatting with this one guy and asked after a bit if he played anything and it turns out he is the Irish Harry Connick jr. of the fiddle. Like he's been a minor celebrity since he was a child prodigy. So, yes, he did play. But he was very cool regarding my ignorance. Which was nice. Debbie decided she's taking up the fiddle, I'm going back t o my naked teacher, and we'll start our own pub jamming sessions. It was really great. I mean, I can't even tell you. I can't imagine that anyone wouldn't just love it. If any of you go, I'll have to make sure to tell you the bar we ended up in. No tourists (other than us), and just the coolest, friendliest people. It was truly wonderful. Can you tell I liked it? We rolled back to our hotel around 3, got up 1.5 hours later, and started a 12 hour journey in cabs/planes/trains/buses to meet G at an airport in Paris. Oo la la!

I'll fill in the missing days later...lots of good stories! BTW, I'm not Irish, but sometimes I have green eyes, so that's my post title. This trip has been a bit of family heritage fact, I'll tease you with the bit that we just heard by chance about how one of our recent ancestors was in possession of all of Napoleon's belongings. And how that ancestor was a certified looney. Any guesses who is the famous offspring?

Friday, July 27, 2007

How Does that Feel?

Posting in the wee hours seems to be the time that works for me...just like at home! The day was relaxing in that we hung out til noon and then walked to the local beach. Great lunch, better gelatto, then a quick water taxi to the tram that took us to Carouge. This was recently cited in the SF Chron as a great small town to explore. Debbie's mission had us doing some shopping for some household items that can only be found there. What for, you ask? What are you a fucking cop?

We returned and I promptly fell asleep and woke up to a great b-day dinner Deb had cooked herself. (What a bad guest!) Then we peeled out of the house to meet up with her friends for some cocktails at 7. Great group of people from all over Europe and one other American. One girl in particular I like quite a bit is Corolla (like the car). She is Swiss German and quite cool. Also met a guy who is organizing a foam party next week which we will miss, sad to say. He was fabulous, if you know what I mean.

Around 11:30 pm we went to a beach (on the lake) party. It was beautiful--almost a full moon, smooth water, lights shining across the lake. Very cool. I keep thinking I'd like to organize events like these at home. There is that casting pond sort of near my house...I got totally lost driving there that one time, so maybe not. Besides, probably wouldn't be quite the same.

Tomorrow we are off to a winery tour that focuses on using the five sense when wine tasting. I'm not so looking forward to how differently wine might feel. I'll let you know how that goes. Did realize that I've spent the last threee years teaching the five senses to kindergarteners...I wonder how this experience might influence future lessons. Maybe I can use old milk or OJ. Hmm.

On Sunday we need to catch the 5:30 am train to make our flight to England. These early mornings...I don't even get up that early for work!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

That's MY Island

Well, I'm once again in the land of chocolate and cow bells. Arrived a little early, which was nice considering I'd had some "trouble" on my flights. I'll sum it up with one seat companion got in a fight with the stewardess and police action was threatened, and I fainted. Neither had anything to do with the other. But I'm fine, no police came, and now I'm here! Tonight we actually went for a concert (French rap) and a cocktail making get-together.

The latter involved a group of Debbie's extended friends meeting in an oo-la-la bar and learning how to make kick ass drinks from cute bartenders. It didn't suck. We're home now, and I'm going to toddle off to bed and take a miracle sleeping pill. Tomorrow is D's b-day, and Sunday we are off to the UK. I did learn on my flight that Ireland is an island. I think I knew that at some point, but it had escaped me. So we need to figure how we will get from Scotland to Dublin. I guess taking a car is out of the question...I realized just now (see the above title) my favorite character in Bravehearts' best line.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

First in a Series

So Brad's kid is due today. So far, no kid in sight. I did write this sonnet about a week ago in anticipation of the big event. I heard about creating a "sonnet wreath" in which you write a series of sonnets about a particular subject and add on to the series by taking the last line of the previous one and making that the first line of the next one. So the subject will be nephew __________. I'm a big fan of Kevin because that is the name of the boy who chased me in kindergarten. Plus capital K's are just good looking letters.

I don't profess that this is any good mind you. Sonnets can only have 10 syllables per line and need to have every other syllable accented. Which makes rhyming in an abab pattern quite difficult. See, it rhymes on paper, but you can't hear it when you read it out loud. Except the last four line stanza. And the last two lines need to rhyme and present some sort of unexpected change. You should try it. It is hard, but kinda like a puzzle. And it makes your vocabulary (or thesaurus) work overtime.

What I Imagine

It’s the 19th on which we’re set to meet:
But earlier than thought I am hearing,
“He’s just been born!” and my heart skips a beat,
To think that Brad’s a dad, eyes start tearing.

Fidgeting fingers and ten twinkley toes,
Your head trumps Nathan’s and now I’ve just seen,
That there’s no escape from the Bamford nose,
A tow-head no doubt, not one titian gene.

I’ll hold you on this your only birth day,
Perfect white skin a magnet for kisses,
Is an honor and gift, for which I’ll pay,
All that I have, plus three magic wishes.

But aunts ask questions not all of them sweet,
“Can-those-be-Foss tiny fingers and feet?”

The Last Four Weeks

Reflection on ISI 07

When I first entered the ISI program, I was excited about all the great writing I was going to create. Our first task, to write about our name left me stumped. But I figured it was ok, I mean what can you really say about the name Karin Victoria? Well, Karin Smith and Victoria showed me in quick succession that there is a lot you can say, and I suddenly wished I’d written their pieces. Mine was lame. I thought I was out of my league, and decided to be the selective mute of the group. But over time and through gaining confidence from my writing group, I found I had a voice and a desire to share and impress the people I have come to admire, enjoy and like a great deal.

In my normal life (outside Sweeney Hall that is), I find myself frequently wondering/worrying/obsessing over the way I am perceived by those around me. People rarely take the time to tell you, either professionally or socially, unless you’re about to get fired, dumped or engaged. And you never forget those conversations…but it’s unusual that as adults you walk into situations with a clean slate and are evaluated on the merit of your actions from that day forward.

For me, this class has been an opportunity to hear people’s honest reactions to something I’ve created and to take the time to share mine with them. One of the best experiences I’ve had this summer was also the quietest. Anne shared a piece in the afternoon group that had started as a prompt about someone’s hands and evolved into a devastating and gripping short story. After explaining how great I thought it was, I asked questions to clarify things I didn’t understand, and made a couple small suggestions (one was I didn’t know what the word supine meant, so I thought she should change it). She listened took some notes and I thought that was it.

I was surprised and touched when she came up to me the next day and expressed how happy and satisfied she was with my edits. I also received the following note:
“You are my first editor. How incredibly fortunate I am that you listened to my first ever short story that day.”
To be able to help someone who I think is crazy talented and have her to be thankful to me is an amazing feeling.

I’m not much of a planner when I can avoid it, so I came here with no set plan on what I was going to take away with me. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of teaching high school and college literature, but was scared because I didn’t think I could edit the work of others. I believe stupid maxims, i.e. those who can’t do, teach. So I figured I should probably teach math in high school. Thanks to Anne’s honest feedback and those of my other peers, the knowledge I’ve garnered about my profession and myself is inspiring. I see myself now as an evolving educational professional with many avenues of opportunities to explore. And papers to edit.