Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking Back

As 2008 draws to a close, I feel the need to take stock of what happened because, let's face it, a year is a long time, and a lot can happen. I should give the year, that 366 days of my life, its due. Big events or small, it certainly wasn't "nothing much" (as I'm prone to say when people ask what's going on with me). In 2008 I...

...moved to a new home in Columbia.
...started living with people after 4 years of being on my own.
...earned my master's degree.
...went to Atlanta.
...saw the new-to-me WWII memorial in D.C.
...attended 6 weddings.
...hosted 12 wine club gatherings.
...planned, choreographed, and directed one of the greatest signed rock 'n roll shows of all time.
...logged a couple thousand miles on the car.
...saw Avenue Q, Wicked and Sweeney Todd.
...made new friends.
...started teaching high school English.
....laughed with my grandmother.
...watched good kids grow up and move on.
...went on a date.
...celebrated the end of an era.
...watched the fireworks over Jacobs Field.
...had long talks with good friends.
...spent a day alone in Phoenix.
...finally met the producer's boyfriend.
...visited 2 zoos.
...saw 2 camels not living in zoos.
...cried in joy and sorrow.
...brought the piano back in my life.
...laid out at the lake.
...flew out of a canoe.
...rappelled for the first time.
...bought pants that fit right.
...paid homage to the summer movie gods.
...made mistakes.
...hugged the people I love.

Not bad, I say. Not bad at all.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Floatin'...floatin'...floatin' down the river (DOO doo doo doo)

Spent the weekend at a unique Missouri phenomenon known as the "float trip." As my father has pointed out, this is a bit of a misnomer. I, in truth, did not float down the river. Any attempt to do so would end poorly as I have no natural buoyancy and would sink like a rock. The floating is done via canoe. Really, it should be called a canoe trip, not a float trip. A canoe trip where one paddles along the river and uses it as an excuse to drink during the day (if you are of age). The goal is to have a good time and of course, stay in your canoe...a goal at which I was successful up until the last 20 minutes.

How exactly it happened I don't know - maybe roommate D secretly installed an eject button on my canoe seat and wanted to see if it worked. All I know is roommate C's canoe was jammed backwards by a log, the current was pulling us right towards them, I went to push the paddle off from the log, missed, canoe slammed into log right beside me, then was airborne before hitting the water. Resurfaced about 10 feet further down the river, triumphantly holding my sunglasses in one hand (while tumbling down the river underwater saving the sunglasses was of utmost importance...don't know why...) According to onlookers the fashion in which I left the canoe was a sight to behold. Since the specifics of how I wound up flying through the air (not touching anything according to one witness) are fuzzy, I really wish there was documentation of some kind. It may be the closest I ever come to flying.

Oh, and stayed tuned for the story of my grandmother, steroids, and mistaken identity...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hello Goodbye

I've said far too many goodbyes recently.

Spent the weekend with college friends in Ohio, but it felt like all I did was leave. Even the almost-24-hours spent with the architect, the longest period of time I spent with anyone, wasn't enough. I could have stayed 2 or 3 more days easily, and we probably still would not have run out of things to talk about. The time to move on arrived far before I was ready, and again, that was the most time I spent with anyone. Literally hugged 'hello' and 'goodbye' to the musician (soon to be the Scotsman) in the same instant. A 'hello' hug should not also be a 'goodbye' hug - it's just not fair.

The worst part is saying goodbye not knowing when the next hello will come around. Just two weeks ago I had a much easier time leaving the producer, the actress, and the musician. But then I knew I'd be seeing them again just a few weeks down the road. Now I have no idea when the Vine ladies will be could be another year, or even longer. There is always the possibility of another visit next summer, but a year is a long way off, and who knows what will happen in between. Every time I see the far away people I love it's like a little hole inside gets filled that I had gotten used to being empty. But when the hole is filled and then cleared out again too quickly, before the filling can really sink in and satisfy, a larger hole is left in its wake. The definitive plans of a future meeting at least anesthetize the wound a little.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for any opportunity to see dear friends, that's why I'll gladly drive 10 hours to do so. Any time together is worth the aftermath of knowing that there just wasn't enough time. Eventually the hole left by goodbye goes numb again, and the memory of time spent with friends stays fresh. But after four years of the Great Eastern Tour, leaving hasn't gotten any easier.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Wednesday is lake day.

Every Wednesday we go and hang out at the lake, reading, swimming, and people watching. Today I watched someone burn herself to a crisp. It wasn't even an all-over burn. There were easily identifiable bright pink patches, against pasty white skin. From 10 or more feet away it was easy to tell this poor women was going to be very sorry when she finally got out of the sun, to the point where we felt so bad for her that we almost went over and said something. Yet the friend standing right next to her did nothing.

This friend was a failure.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ignorant Question

There are a couple of "standard responses" that come out of people upon learning that I teach deaf students:
"Oh wow, that's really interesting."
"So then do you know sign?" (so often I want to reply to that one with "Duh.")
"That's really good of you." (why is that exactly?")
"Really? Okay, this may be an ignorant question but..."

My favorites are the questions that show people's ignorance. Most often they're pretty benign questions, things about sign language or how I teach Deaf kids. Generally information one would not know without having some experience with the Deaf community. The other day though I got a question that actually caught me off guard: "how do Deaf children think?"

Say what?!?

Upon further discussion, it turned out that the underlying question really was, "if Deaf children can't speak, how do they think, because I think in the words that I speak." Well there's a loaded question!

Now I hate to sound judgemental, but there are some types of people I might expect that kind of question from. A seemingly well educated college professor and former teacher is NOT one of those people. Thus it was quite difficult for me to compose an answer to this nearly offensive, possibly condescending, clearly ignorant question implying that people who can't speak can't think (was he perhaps channelling Aristotle?).

Eventually I came up with an answer that seemed satisfactory. Having never been in a Deaf student's head I can't say that it was an accurate answer, but it appeared to be sufficient. Theoretically everyone walked away from the experience a little smarter. For certain it gave me a whole new perspective on the phrase, "Now this may show my ignorance but..."

Friday, March 16, 2007

Teacher Watching

I love watching other people teach. Especially students who are still trying to figure it out. They'll do anything. Not-yet teachers are often way less inhibited. Seasoned teachers are great too. They have wisdom of experience backing them up. You can see it in how they interact with the students and hold their audience. I love watching other people teach.

Today is a perfect day for teacher-watching. I'm back with the MWP, teaching my own lesson at a youth writing conference. The morning was filled with getting up and running, learning 25 new names (thank God for nametags), keeping it interesting, and getting them writing. The afternoon is for break-out sessions. There are 10 different mini-sessions happening twice in a two hour time period. Theoretically, this is 10 different opportunities for teacher-watching. Realistically, I can't sit in on just 10 minutes of a lesson. In fact, I've spent the entire first session in just one place. But the teacher watching is fascinating. I'd almost rather stay than go back to my own teaching this afternoon.

In other news, never get bronchitis. It's miserable. I fell ill last Thursday evening, and I'm still feeling it. The medicine is causing detached head moments, my voice is unrecognizable, and when I cough I can literally feel my lungs shaking. I'm slowly making it back to the land of the living, but it's not a fast process. So there's my advice for now: never get bronchitis; just say no.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


On several occasions, people have told me how brave I am for moving to Missouri. True, I didn’t know anyone, had never been here before, was starting a new job, and was 900 miles away from family and friends. To many, this constitutes bravery. I always just felt like I was doing what I had to do.

Last Tuesday night I went to a going away party for a friend who is moving to Africa. Africa. She has joined the Peace Corps, and will spend the next 2 years tending to sheep and goats in the town of Niamey, Niger.

Let’s take a moment to compare: I moved to another state; she is moving to another continent. And she’s committed to two years; I knew that my time here was a limited engagement if need be – I only had to survive until the end of the school year. Most importantly, she is choosing to do this. I didn’t really choose to start my life after college in Missouri. I needed a job and I needed to start my career, and Missouri was the only option at the time, so that’s where I went. My friend, however, doesn’t need to go to Africa. She has a job, a home, a life, right here. But she made a conscious choice to devote the next 2 years of her life to the completely unknown and unfamiliar. That, to me, is true bravery.