Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Once Upon a Time Inside Room 9...

S walks up to my desk at snack time with a look that was a mix of shock and delight plastered on his face.

S: Miss T. I think I just had a vision from when I was little or something.
Me: What S? What do you mean?
S: I think I had a vision. I was eating snack. I can't believe it.
Me: What was this vision of!?
S: I think it was me when I was three. This is crazy.
Me: What were you doing?
S: I don't know it was dark, and kind of scary. But I was three... Miss T. I think I had a vision!
Me: Wow S. That is so crazy, how do you feel?
S: That was crazy. I had a vision... :::walks back to seat:::

Is it a full moon or something? 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Perfect Sip

It's here...

The time of year when the air fills your spine with a shiver, when three-pm strolls become the norm, and when frost covered windshields remind you to climb out of bed a few minutes earlier tomorrow. It's the time of year when scarves become functional, not just fashionable, and when knitting needles and yarn cover the couch. It's the time of year when pups hibernate under blankets and holiday music pours out of every speaker. And it's the time of year when nights with hot cups of  tea and heavy quilts soothe the soul.

As the holiday season creeps in, I'm thinking of the perfect most thoughtful gifts for family, and the perfect celebrations for friends. I'm thinking of crafts and games for seven-year-olds that make the wait for santa to climb down their chimney a little more bearable. And I'm thinking a lot about what's to come in the next few months.

While I am excited to spend the holiday season with my students, I know that these could be the last few months I have to work in my school. The teacher I am replacing may choose to come back after the New Year, leaving me again without a position doing the job I love. The very thought of it leaves my stomach in knots. And while I try to be sure I have a plan if I leave- a job, going to school, running off with  the gypsies... I am also trying to be sure I have a plan if I get to stay- lessons plans, projects, and "fitting it all in." This eternal limbo state is getting to me again. I don't want to dive into my future one way or another, but really both take a great deal of planning- and I may not know which way things are going until the very last minute.

This time of year makes me not only think about what I will be doing in the coming months, but also who I'll be going through it all with, and while it's hard to admit I am starting to fell a little distant, a little lonely. I have some friends who I see and talk to every single day. Others who I catch up with on the weekends, and some that I don't see or speak to nearly enough. I feel like while I am giving some friendships my undivided attention, others are falling by the wayside and it's frightening to think that I might be letting myself drift away from them. And most of my friends have a someone that they get to spend this festive time of year with, and I have to say I'm a little jealous.  I want to reach out, and bring these people into my life to fill the places they are missing from, but I want to be sure I'm making time as well as room for them; and with my crazy life right now I'm not sure there is enough room on my plate for more.

The other night I made myself a cup of tea and pulled out my heaviest, warmest quilt. The tea was hot and steaming in my hands while I waited for it to cool. Tea has a perfect drinking temperature; it tastes best when it is hot, but not so hot that it burns, and when it gets even just a little bit too cool it leaves a funny taste on your tongue. It's hard to decide when the best time is to take that first sip, to drink the cup at just the right temperature. If you take the sip too soon, you will scorch your mouth. While you still have a chance to try again for that perfect temperature,  the rest of the cup will go down with a scratch from burning your tongue and throat the first time you sipped. But, if you wait too long the tea will be too cool, leaving that bitter taste in your mouth as you drink it down. If you are careful enough, and a little bit lucky- you just might take that first sip at the perfect moment, the moment when the tea is still hot but not so hot that it burns. And oh, what satisfaction there is in sipping at just the right moment.  

I feel like I am waiting for that just right moment in a lot of places in my life right now. I waiting for just the right moment to take a breath, and start planning my future. I am waiting for just the right moment to reach out to old friends, and let someone in my life. I am waiting for the perfect time to take that first sip, to hope and wish that I'll get lucky and the tea will still be hot, but not so much that it hurts.

Once Upon a Time Inside Room 9...
:::walking in from an Evacuation Drill:::
K: Look! There is smoke coming out of the school chimney!
E: Oh yeah! That's a really small chimney.
B: It is really small! Why is it so skinny?!
K: I don't know, but it doesn't matter because Santa doesn't go to schools anyway. Only our houses.

The Daily Sneeze ((or what's fueling the fire today...))
- afternoon sun.
- being heard.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Once Upon a Time Inside Room 9...

P: Miss T. aren't you going to miss me when I go on vacation this month?!
Me: Of course I am!
P: Well, really I'm going on TWO vacations! I'm going to the beach now, and skiing in the winter. My Aunt has houses, well, like... all over the country. So we get to stay in really nice places for free! So I get to go on two vacations!
Me: Wow! You are super lucky! You're going to pack me in your suitcase, right P??
P: :::giggles::: Misss Teeee! :::walks over to seat:::
A: Hey P! You're going to pack me in your suitcase, right??
P: Nah, I think I'll pack Miss T.

Tropical Island, here I come!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Out-Silly Em

" I thought: this is what it's all been for, 
this moment of having my own classroom, 
laughing together." 
-Educating Esme, by Esme Raji Codell

For the past few months I have been dragging my feet as I walk in the door at the end of each day. I retreat to my room where I spread out papers and scissors, books and hi-lighters, pencils and notecards, and I work some more. I put myself to bed every night achey and tired, and wake up early in the morning just to start all over again. And I love every second of it. 

At the end of the summer fate came knocking on my door, or ringing on my cell phone, with the most unexpected opportunity: a long term leave replacement position that will likely last the whole year; and a teacher that was not only willing to hand over her classroom and students, but also all of her trust in letting me run it my way. I spend each day reading, writing, solving, snacking, guessing, and laughing with twenty-three seven-year-olds. Second grade is a fantastic place to be. 

There are some days that are difficult. The days that I have to constantly remind my students that it makes me feel frustrated, sad, and upset when they don't listen. The days when tears flow, necklaces are lost, pencil sharpeners are broken, and juice spills (that red juice that stains everything, of course). There are days that try my patience and challenge the faith I have in myself. 

But then there are other days. There are days that make me smile. The days when every child is wide-eyed and deep in thought while I read them a story. The days when games are played, projects are completed, children laugh, and that red juice goes from cup to mouth without a hitch. There are days that make me feel like I'm making it, like I might actually pull this whole first-year-teacher-thing off. And oh, are these days wonderful. 

While some days are trying, and others leave me feeling like I'm walking on air, there are days in between. Days that surprise me, days that come right when I thought I'd finally figured it all out. Days that prove that nothing is certain when what you get accomplished is dependent on the moods of seven-year-olds. Days when LJ opera sings in the middle of read aloud. Days when R hunkers down in the corner with scissors and paper and glue and won't come out for anything. Days when SI just can't help but stand up and dance in the middle of poetry. And days when little M whispers for LJ to make it rain erasers until he cracks and tosses them above his head. These are the days when try as I might, nothing will get done unless I opera sing through read aloud, unless I cut and glue every assignment, unless I dance during poetry, and unless I gently ask little M to put the erasers in his backpack sans the thunder sound effects. The mantra of second grade: If you can't beat em, out-silly em. 

I'm creating a new normal for myself once again, as I venture closer and closer to my true love: teaching. I try my best to not get too comfortable in Room 9, as I don't know exactly when this dreamy state will come to an end. But I am however using my time with these sweet-faced children to the absolute fullest. I take in every smile, every unlaced sneaker, every "ah-ha!" moment, and I bank it in my memory as a learning experience that will only help me as I move forward. 

But right now? Right now I am only thinking about what tomorrow will bring: math crafts. Unless of course it's more of an opera singing type of day; then math music it is. 

The Daily Sneeze ((or what's fueling the fire today...)) 
- snickers bars
- dry erase markers
- apples by the window
- friendly baristas 

Friday, July 15, 2011

All I Have to Say.

After a day like today, long and hard. I needed a night like tonight. And let me tell you if you ever need a night to take things off your mind spend it with friends who understand. Love.

Monday, July 11, 2011

And Just When You Thought You Got Rid of Me..

I've spent a lot of time thinking about Sneezeweed lately, but not a whole lot of time doing anything about it. I still frequent blogger to check out all the amazing-everyday-people-writers out there and always feel guilty for not taking the time to drop on over into my own corner of cyberspace. But lately, that's just what I've been lacking: time.

I'm still twiddling my thumbs in my drab office on the second floor of a supermarket, and I still remind myself everyday that it's temporary even though sometimes it feels like this will be it. But I'm also endeavoring in others things these days too; and that's whats making life extra fantastic right now.

Some things are just meant to be. Some things just happen because they should, or they need to, or they don't need to but someone needs them to, or something like that. About a month ago I got a phone call from my favorite job I've ever had: Y Camp. I am a camp junkie. I spent summers frolicking in fields, playing sardines, catching bugs, tackling obstacle courses and hiking trails, making friendship bracelets, painting pictures while sitting on the edge of serene lakes, putting on cheesy talent shows, singing songs, canoeing, should I keep going here or do you get the point? I have enough of my own camp memories- some good, some bad, some bad turned absolutely hysterical- to fill ten sneeze-posts, and working at camp knowing I'm watching kids make their own camp memories makes me absolutely giddy.

After five summers at the Y I called it quits for that lovely nanny job last summer. Remember? And now with working for my family I really thought my camp days were over. But then one of those something-meant-to-be-because-someone-needed-them-things happened to me. Just when I thought I was doomed to spend my summer in a window-less office on the second floor of the supermarket, my Y called me up and asked me to come back as a part time director. Dare I say it? SCORE! And so really what I am getting at with this crazy camp tangent is that juggling two jobs, one that makes me feel all giddy, is that I am busy these days and I don't have a whole lot of extra time.

Then there was tonight. Tonight I was paroozing my favorite internet spots for a quick one liner, a feel-good quote. And well, I couldn't find one. Now I'm not one of those google "inspiration quotes" kind of people. I turn to other blogs, author's websites, and artist's projects for my one liner needs, and tonight none of my usual go-to spots had what I was looking for. I was frustrated, clicking in internet circles on my hunt. I finally thought about coming up with something on my own, which naturally lead me back here. And then, then I thought "damn I miss writing." And I do! So before I get all jumbled up and go on some more about my need for something creative in my crazed life, let me say this. If I can clear fifteen hours out of my week to devote to camp, something I love that makes me absolutely giddy, I can surely clear one or two hours to devote to writing, something that brings me solace and contentment.

And what do you know, the perfect one liner for my night popped up right here in this very post.

Some things are just meant to be. 
Some things just happen because they should, 
or they need to, or they don't need to but someone needs them to, 
or something like that.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

And Today Came Spring..

there is this notion, that we should want
the wind at our back
for that extra push
to ease the load
for a faster pace.

but what's the use? we get
a clearer view
a crisper feel
a leisurely step, with
the wind in our face.

The Daily Sneeze ((or what's fueling the fire today))

- children's chatter.
- a quiet house. 
- compliments. 
- small dog ears. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Friday Night Well Spent

Some days I leave work and think I could really use a glass of wine.

Other days I head home with a nice cold beer on my mind.

Most of the time I walk out of that windowless office craving a night of laughing with friends.

But once in a while, on tiring days like today, I leave work thinking a bowl of ice cream, cozy pajamas, and a good movie is just what I need.

Sometimes life's that simple. Really, it is.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Dream Machine

"When they ask what you do for a living
tell them what you do to live."
-Mia Johnson

I've been getting all too good at letting my job grab hold of me and my precious time lately, and it is beginning to wear down on me. I've been tired and moody and quiet and busy for the past few weeks, and well, it's just not like me. And then I stumbled upon Mia's words while paroozing the internet during a moment of escape one day and it all seemed to click. 

My job is terrible. I run around all day pretending like I know what I'm doing, always trying to please someone else. Some people are kind, but many are hostile and my head is usually swirling with "what if's.." all day as I think about the millions of other things that I would rather be doing. I've always wanted to be a teacher. What if I were doing that right now? I've always wanted to rock climb. What if I were doing that right now? I've always wanted to travel the globe. What if I were doing that right now? And then I look around and I'm still right there, in that office with no windows, desperately trying to stay afloat. But Mia reminded me that my job isn't my life and I need to start to do things that make me feel like I am living; and I've been thinking a whole lot about what those things are lately. 

Mia Johnson asks that we all share what it is we do to live, and when I think about what it is that I do to really live I can't help but think about all the things I've always dreamed about doing. When I was little I set out to be and do so many things. I craved adventure and sought it out, even if it was only a matter of pitching a tent in my living room. It was fun, and it was real, and I was alive. 

This post is already beginning to feel choppy and not as coherent as I'd like, so I think I'll get straight to the point. When I was little I begged my mom for tuxedo saddle shoes. I remember shopping with her and seeing them over and over, and she always refused to buy them. Every year when it was time to start  shopping for pencils and marble notebooks, sweaters and hair clips, I'd wish and hope that this would be the year I would get my shiny black and whites. Every year I went back to school with another pair of ordinary sneakers. When I ask my mom why I couldn't have the shoes back then, she tells me she was worried that all the other kids would make fun of them. That they really weren't as stylish as I had thought they were. But even still, to this day, I've always longed to strut my stuff in a pair of tuxedo oxfords. If I had a pair of saddle shoes today, I'd rock them like no other. I'd close my eyes, walk down the street and pretend that I was that little kid who *finally* got her dream shoes, and I would be so alive in that moment. 

So as I was sitting at my desk in the office with no windows, paroozing the internet and reading Mia Johnson's words, thinking about how strolling around in my saddle shoes would make this childhood dream come alive, I realized something. I am not that little kid who needs her mom to get these shoes for her. I am grown, and I can get them. Myself. I immediately started scouring the internet for a stylish pair of tuxedo oxfords. I've spent the last few days weighing out my decision; which pair is just right? As I searched and searched this dream grew and grew. I realized that I wasn't just buying a pair of shoes. I wasn't just satisfying this childhood craving. I was taking control of this whirlwind life, and I was doing something to live. 

When I finally settled on creating a custom pair of black and whites on the Keds website, realizing this childhood dream had grown into a full blown creative project. How awesome would it be if we all took the time to make one of our childhood dreams come true? How amazing would it be if we could document it? Show it to the world and say "hey look! I'm living!" Day to day life is often rushed through, looked over, and passed by. Sometimes it feels like we are spinning out of control, and just making it through an ordinary day can seem like some crazy miracle. Sometimes we loose sight of what is important, who is important, and why these things are important. But if you take a moment to look back at your hopes and dreams from when you were a child, you will likely find that you had the right idea back then. Maybe you wanted to swim in a bathtub filled with Jello. Maybe you wanted to wear a space suit and rocket to the moon. Maybe you wanted to be a cat. Maybe you wanted to eat ice cream for dinner. Maybe you always wanted to be a teacher or travel the world. Or maybe just wearing a pair of tuxedo oxfords would have made you ecstatic. No matter your big dream was when you were a child, you deserve to see it through now as an adult. You deserve to know what it feels like to live the way you always wanted to. And now, you have the mind and means to make it happen. So get creative. Find a way to make it happen, and do it. 

I've decided that I want to turn this idea into a community art project of a sort. This is me doing something to live. So here is what I am asking. 

-Think about your childhood dreams. What did you want to be? What did you want to see? What did you want to do? It can be as simple as purchasing that coveted pair of shoes, or as complex as finding a way to rocket into space. 
- Get creative. Make it happen. Will I ever be able to be a cat? Well. No. Can I put on cat ears and drink milk from a bowl with my tongue? Yes. Can I take long naps in the sun on lazy afternoons? Sure can. Can I play with yarn? You bet I can. Get the picture? and speaking of pictures...
-Document it. Get a good photo or two of your dream come true. Record the moment when you consciously decided to live this childhood dream. Make a memory, please. 
- Tell your story. Take a few minutes to tell where your dream started, why it hasn't happened yet, and definitely tell us how it felt when you finally fulfilled it. 
- Give it a tag line. Tell your story in one sentence, fifteen words or less. 
- Share your experience. Send off the complete package to me via e-mail. The photo, the story, and the tag line. 

In a few weeks I plan on launching a new blog dedicated solely to this project, and this first batch of dreams from you will be what I launch. And while you'll likely find that living this dream is prize enough, I'd still like to show you how much I appreciate you sharing it with me. So if you'd like to send along a mailing address with your image, story, and tagline I will send you a lovely 5x7 matted version of your dream. Photo and tag line on the front, story printed on the back, and a thank you note from me. I can picture it in my head, it will be lovely. Promise. 

I may have to show up to work everyday to make a living, but this is what I am going to do to live right now. Displaying childhood dreams come true will be an honor. It will be fun. It will be real. And oh how it will make us all feel alive. 

The Daily Sneeze ((or what's making me feel alive today))
- melted chocolate ice cream.
- tuxedo oxfords in the mail.
- small dog.

oh and...
p.s. yes, this does mean I am back to Sneezweeding. for real this time. so please, keep checking back. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Daily Sneeze Tease

The Daily Sneeze ((or what's fueling the fire today))

-busy schedules
-dried fruit

yes yes I've neglected the sneeze again. but well, with getaways and birthdays and roadtrips and things it's all been in the name of happiness. more later :) 

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Little Bit of Show and Tell


Did you win the Superbowl yesterday?

If so

If not
let’s work on that.
You’ve got an entire year.
Unless of course
you are not eligible
because of your age,
or the fact that you don’t play or like football.

If that’s the case
let’s find you something else to win.
There are plenty of things:

Just pick something
whatever it is
and hurry up and give it a goso that this time next year
the rest of us can cheer you on
and possibly dump beverages on you
because we are so happy
that we can’t control ourselves
and this is the only thing that makes sense to do
in celebration.

-Dallas Clayton

I'm sure Dallas didn't mean for this to be taken literally; but really what a wonderful idea! No matter who you rooted for on Superbowl Sunday, why not celebrate yourself on Monday? So I'm sitting here eating a brownie sundae (with an imaginary candle on top) celebrating all I've done in the last year. I've worked, taught, loved, graduated, traveled, learned, played, saved, failed, tried, succeed, talked, thought, and smiled. And well, if all of that isn't something to celebrate I don't know what is. 

So please, go get the best treat you can imagine, put an imaginary candle on top, and celebrate yourself today too. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Daily Sneeze Tease

The Daily Sneeze ((or what's fueling the fire today))
- the pause button.
- babies.
- the perfect song.
- and this.

Monday, January 31, 2011

On Laughter and Friends and Tears and Weekends

disclaimer (LL would be smiling and nodding right now "here it comes! the disclaimer.." she would say. "you're all fabulous writers, we don't need the disclaimer! but go on if it makes you feel better.." oh how I miss that wonder-woman.) like I said, disclaimer: this is one killer of a post. seriously long, but something I totally needed to get out. please bare with it and me. I applaud anyone who has the patience to read all the way through :) 

"What do you do? You laugh, you know?
I'm not saying I don't cry, but in between I 
laugh and I realize how silly it is to take everything
too seriously. Plus I look forward to a good cry. 
It feels pretty good."
-Garden State

We headed home this afternoon, five of us all piled up in the car surrounded by ginger ale cans and yellow paper napkins. Each of us smooshed up in the back-seat looked a mess with sweatpants and moccasins and last nights makeup smeared on our faces, and the boys in the front were all tired-eyed and chatting during the lulls in the hockey updates that were coming in over the radio. The ride home is always tough. It's mostly quiet but it's sprinkled with moments of giggling and "remember whens" from the weekend that slipped by; and we always manage to get on the subject of how much we miss being together all the time and then the quiet settles in again. This time, I couldn't get Sneezeweed off my mind anytime the quiet came. I couldn't quite figure out how I would describe this weekend in my little mountain town. 

It's always refreshing to step out of the car and into the only place that feels like it was made just for me. I feel more calm, more comfortable, more grounded when I am there. I feel like I've just arrived home, despite the fact that I no longer live there. And from the second I enter that mountain-town-bubble, I can't help but feel the dread for when I will have to leave it behind again. At the same time though, the mountain-town-bubble is just that- a bubble. You are always surrounded by familiar faces and places. You can't hide or escape from anything, and if you try to run you can't go more than a mile before hitting a wall of nothingness. Most of the time the bubble is comforting. I can walk that town with my eyes closed. I know exactly who and what I can expect to see when I go in any given store or cafe or bar. Navigating my way through this place is like navigating a map of my own heart: friends around each bend, a comforting spot on every corner, a memory every-where I look. 

But other times, going back to this bubble is a reminder of how emotional living in it can be. You can't escape anything or anyone. You can't drive ten minutes away and expect to find a field of new faces, you can't go into Starbucks and expect a quick undercover trip. You can't get out of bed in the morning and expect to walk the dog without last weeks date seeing you in your pajamas in the driveway. And you certainly can't expect to go to the local bar and not see the bear thats been lurking in the den of your mind for months. The bubble forces you to face people and situations that you may not be ready to face, and it makes you face them in a larger-than-life kind of way.

My weekend started off with a night out at our favorite spot. We sang and danced and laughed the night away. We played games and told jokes and hugged old friends, and we had so much fun. We stayed until the lights came on and the last song played, and then we went to grab our coats for the chilly four AM walk home. I was chatting with a friend who works at the bar while the others went to dig to the bottom of the coat pile, and when they came back we were one coat short. My coat short. We searched and whimpered and laughed all along, because really after four years of coming here every weekend having my coat stolen on a three day visit is exactly what would happen. So knowing that it was thirty-degrees and a fifteen-minute walk, I did the only logical thing and grabbed the nearest black coat before heading toward the door. My friend who works there saw me heading out and asked if I found my coat and I said no. He asked if I was just taking someone else's and I said yes. Then he told me to "go, go, go!!" and so I turned and darted as he pinched my side while I slid out the door. I pouted the whole way home while my friends laughed and laughed at me stomping my feet. It really was great fun. 

The next morning we had the killer breakfast that I anticipated. The cali-x breakfast burrito was not created for those with a dainty stomach, and I demolished the whole thing before entering an afternoon food coma. We spent the day lounging in friends beds watching bad movies and grumbling about how little sleep we had gotten. We mustered up the energy to walk to town and take in some of that crisp mountain air, a cup of coffee, and a whole lot of nostalgia. Then after a quick dash to buy a new coat up-town, we got ready and headed out to have dinner and play pool with some friends. We spent hours playing and laughing at how little skill most of us have at at the game. And in case you are wondering about playing as an ameture in a pool hall, you might want to avoid referring to the balls as "stripy red one" or "all purple one." It is sure to blow your I'm-an-expert-too cover. We couldn't believe how quickly the time had passed and when the band stopped playing and the waitress scooted us out we hugged and goodbyed in the cold before the group dispersed. Half of us headed back to our favorite spot that we went to the night before, and oh was I prepared. 

When we arrived I hung my coat in a new top secret location, while also hanging up the coat I had taken the night before. I thought that in the name of having good-coat-karma, returning it was the only right thing to do. Especially because it was two sizes too big anyway. Half way through the night I decided that a proper apology was in order, so I asked the bartender to borrow a pen and scribbled a note that went something like "I'm sorry I took your coat last night, but someone took mine and I couldn't walk home without a coat. It's cold. But don't worry I brought it back so you could get it tonight. Love, Ashley" I marched over and stuffed it in the pocket of the coat, praying it would put my karma in good standing. Another night of fun slid by and before we knew it three-thirty rolled around and people began to shuffle out into the snowy night and head home. 

As we watched them leave, I also watched my bear walk in. My heart raced and my hands jittered and I didn't quite know what to do. So I walked. I walked all around the bar waiting for him to spot me. And of course he did. He was sitting up on a ledge with his feet on top of a table that was nestled between two benches, surrounded by a few friends. He looked at me with that shimmer that makes it impossible to turn away and gave a little wave before motioning for me to come over to him. He held out his hand and helped me climb up so I was standing on the table looking him right in the eye. I wish I could describe the type of hurt that runs through my whole body when I get that close to him. 

Over the past few months I have played this moment in my head over and over, and wondered exactly what of all my thoughts would actually make it into our conversation. But my mind went blank the second he said "it's been a long time." All I could do was look down at my boots, and agree. After exchanging the standard "what have you been up to?" and "how have you been?" I wanted so bad to question him about everything that had happened and everything that didn't. But all I could manage to say was "I'm standing on a table" and all he could do was look down at my boots, and agree. It hurt. It was a moment that hurt. It was a moment that could only be created by the bubble-town, and the pain became larger-than-life. After climbing off the table and taking what felt like my first breath in minutes, I paced around the bar until it was time to go. I tried to be fine, I tried to have fun, I tried to laugh; but watching him unfazed by our chat made it impossible. 

The bear looked over and waved before he headed out the door, and I then began tearing through the endless coat pile to find mine. And let me tell you, who ever makes the decisions about coat-karma apparently didn't find my note sufficient, because my newly bought coat was gone. Things get a little fuzzy, but I believe this was the point where I began to loose it. Two nights, two coats, and it had never happened before in all of the four-and-a-half years I have gone there. Please excuse me, but what the fuck? This time I found a sweatshirt that belonged to someone I knew who had left, and so I put on the four sizes too big fraternity sweatshirt before bee-lining towards the door to try to find an escape, only to run into the bear with his arms draped around some girls shoulders standing in the cold. I  flew around the bend and into my friends arms with hot tears rolling down my cheeks. I cried the whole walk back. 

I walked back with one of my mountain-town roommates and her boyfriend, two friends who know me better than most. They kept asking if I was upset about the coat or the bear, and I'm pretty sure not answering was the clearest answer of all. I cried while they cracked jokes about the bear to get me to crack a smile. They've been there through it all and their patience for him has worn two times as thin as mine. He kept asking me if I wanted to burn the bag of the bears clothes I had with me (I had all intentions of trying to return them), she kept assuring me there were plenty of lighters to use and fried rice to snack on in the house. And while the tears rolled down my cheeks they made me laugh a comforting laugh, and they'll probably never know how happy they made me in that moment. They reminded me that while I may not have the bears affection, I do have theirs and it's ten times as big as his  could ever be. 

When we got back to the house, we didn't burn the clothes, but we did eat the rice before all piling onto the air mattress and mumbling about the night, before all nodding off. You know you have some really fantastic friends when they don't mind you bunking up with them on a queen size blow up bed, while you toss and turn and wipe the last tears away before falling asleep. 

It was a larger-than-life ending to what was an overall fantastic weekend. And while it would be really easy to let that last half hour of that night take over the way I feel about the trip as a whole, I know better than to take it all too seriously. Instead of getting all caught up in that bubble-induced tearful ending, I will think about how I have friends who I can laugh with despite the tears. I will laugh when I think about how A is on some crazy banana diet and we watched him eat six (SIX) bananas for breakfast. I will laugh when I think about how me and M tattled on the girls smoking in the bathroom. I will laugh when I think about B shouting "societal!" every time he had a good hand in the card game. I will laugh when I think about I coaching me through a game of pool. I will laugh when I think about J trying to find a dog-sitter. I will laugh when I think about me and M singing and dancing the whole night long. I will laugh when I think about loosing two coats and leaving a note in another. And I will laugh when I think about he and she convincing me to burn the bears clothes while I had tears rolling down my cheeks. 

It's easy to take your friends for granted because they are always there. It's easy to forget just how important they are to you when you are lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But stick yourself in a little-mountain-town-bubble, throw in a couple of heart wrenching moments, and you will quickly see it's your friends who will make the difference in how you feel at the end of it all. Without my friends by my side there would be a lot less laughter to drown out the inevitable tears. Without them there, the occasional good cry would be nothing to look forward to. Without my friends the little mountain town would be nothing but a map committed to memory, and not a map of my heart. 

I had a lot of time to think about this weekend while I was all smooshed up in the back-seat of that car, and I have to admit it was not easy to sort it all out in my mind. It's difficult to peel another finger back from the grip I have on this idea of me and my bear. Everyone wants to ask "are you okay?" and it's not easy to just say "yes" or "no." But sitting in that back-seat, I knew that I was surrounded by some of the biggest love I will ever know; and the occasional bout of laughter that filled the car was enough to get me to be able to answer their question. "I'll survive." And with all of them by my sides, I will do even better than that. I'll laugh. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

I'm off to Find Some Mountain Air

So I am going to keep this short and sweet...

My room looks like the third world war just occurred in it. There are clothes draped over my favorite chair, tangles of yarn covering my couch, boots and shoes littered in unmatched-pairs across the floor, and coats and sweaters piled high on my bed. The sewing machine and thread and material lying in the middle of the floor are making the walk from my overnight bag to the closet a near impossible task. And I wouldn't even dare think about trying to find a space on my night-stand to put my coffee cup down. But I don't mind one bit because I am tossing boots and sweaters and headbands galore into my big-blue-canvas-weekender and taking off to my little mountain town for three whole days.

I am going to dance and sing the nights away at P&G's, wander into the Bistro for breakfast, stroll through Peace Park with a cup of coffee, and stop in at my little Levi's favorite pet boutique for some yack cheese to bring home for him (and some for his friends too!). I am going to take in every bit of crisp mountain air that my lungs can hold and treasure it for as long as I can after. And I can't help but feel that something fantastic may come out of this mountain town weekend. Maybe something big, or maybe something really small; but I am pretty certain that I will have something wonderful to share with you come Sunday. Even if it is just about the killer breakfast I'm sure to have tomorrow morning...

Happy Weekend-ing everyone!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Daily Sneeze Tease

The Daily Sneeze ((or what's fueling the fire today))
- snow days.
- bad tv.
- finding the star-shooting-indian.
- giant chocolate chip cookies.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I've Found the Silver Lining, and Oh, How Bright it is!

So I do believe I have found the silver lining.

Today was the first day of interviewing at work. There were papers scattered across desks and tables, printers beeping and jamming up, heels clicking on the tile floor of our itsy-bitsy hiring trailer, and several cups of coffee littering the counter-tops. Each potential employee came into the (again) itsy-bitsy hiring trailer, closed the door gently behind them and politely gave their name while sitting in a folding chair against the wall. I greeted each and every one of them with a big smile in an effort to hide my true expression; one that would have shown that I was completely in over my head.

I lead each person into a room where I asked a series of totally expected questions like "how did you hear that we were hiring?" and "describe to me one time you had to deal with a difficult customer or frustrating situation." And of course there is my favorite "from your point of view, what do you think makes up a good work environment?" Please, you try to keep a smile on your face when you see how puzzled people are by this question. Near impossible.

After I am done grilling them and listening to their voices quiver as they try to give that perfect answer, as if any word will be the one to make or break them, I get to stray from the "procedural" question sheet and talk to them like they are a person. And let me tell you, they all have a story to tell. Some are older with children and grandchildren, trying to get a job to support a growing family. Some are young and want to earn some spending cash. Some are trying to show their parents how responsible they are. Some are captains of sports teams and on the honor roll. Some are applying to college and need a flexible job for the fall. Some are playing guitar and are looking for something to tide them over until they make it big. Some are retired and want to get out of the house. Some are looking for a second job to pay the bills. Some have been  out of work for a year. Some want to be teachers or lawyers or butchers. Some want to spend more time with their sister by working together. Some just need to work near their home so they can get to work by foot or public transportation. But despite what the story is, you can bet they are excited to tell you about it.

After we talk about their passions and stories that I so love to hear, I get to the part when the sun starts to poke out a bit from the side of this big-gray-"this is not my dream job"-cloud. I say to them, from across my big desk covered in papers and coffee cups, "I think you're wonderful for this job, and we're excited to have you here." And then it happens. There is this beautiful moment where they begin to realize what they just heard. They begin to see flashes of birthday presents and proud parents, college classes and arenas filled with people, the bill pile shrinking and the amount of time spent with their sister growing. They begin to see themselves as a success, they start to feel a bit of relief. And then after this second of blissful shock has worn away they look up and they smile the most genuine smily you could imagine. They say "thank you, thank you, dear lord thank you" over and over while small tears well up in the sides of their eyes. And it is because I had the honor of telling them "you're wonderful."

This job is not for me. I don't belong behind the big desk shuffling papers from folder to folder, or answering phones and making photo copies. This big-gray-cloud is just not for me. But despite that, today I came home on a high of knowing that I was the reason that sixteen people were able to go to their families today and say "I got the job;" and in the next two months I will get to give this gift three-hundred-and-thirty-four more times. I will be physically tired and emotionally drained, and I will most certainly be begging for a classroom by then; but knowing that I had the opportunity to tell three-hundred-and-fifty people "you're wonderful" just may be the brightest silver lining anyone could ask for.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A little Bit of Show and Tell

I think I've professed my love for Dallas Clayton here before, but his most recent poem tugged on my strings a little harder than usual. As a notorious wisher-on-all-wishable-things, I'll just pretend this was written just for me:


I’d like a study done on ratios of wishes being made
to wishes being granted
and which god turns up more victories for the wisher:
coin fountains,
shooting stars,
stray eyelashes,
birthday candles,
The clock turning 11:11,
simple prayer.
Whichever is proven the most reliable
will be given a moment to rest
and give the others a chance to catch up.
Spread it around a bit so all the wishes don’t get spent
the same as fossil fuels.

- Dallas Clayton

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Daily Sneeze Tease

The Daily Sneeze ((or what's fueling the fire today))
- candles on cakes.
- clean pups.
- everyday boots.
- leopard print.
- oh, and friends. the friends that you may not see and speak to frequently. the friends that pop up on occasion and remind you just how loved you are. like an unexpected gift. yes, this it to friends like that. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Daily Sneeze Tease

The Daily Sneeze ((or what's fueling the fire today))
- the near end of the alphabet.
- changing plans.
- blueberry pie with whipped cream on top.
- a nervous smile.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Little Turbulence to Rock the Box

"A sad story means, this storyteller is alive. The next thing 
you know, something fine will happen to her, something marvelous
and then she will turn around and smile."
~ Little Bee, by Chris Cleave

So I am ready. I am ready to face what ever is coming my way, and I decided the best place to start facing real life is right here on Sneezeweed. You've probably noticed I've been avoiding the blogging world for almost a month now, and I wish I could return with stories about some far away adventure or  an unexpected surprise that took over for a while. The truth is I have been dealing with some real life muck for the past few weeks. 

I had all intentions of coming back here after the New Year and sharing photos and stories of all the love and fun that filled my holiday season. And well, I still can I guess, but after my month long hiatus Christmas and New Years seem like such a distance away it seems better to leave them as they are: my own thoughts and smiles about time spent with friends and family. 

(I will, however, share this one moment from New Years Eve- because it paints a pretty clear image of all the fun that was had this holiday season. And also because if you and a friend ever get caught warming your behind in a fancy fireplace, you deserve to have the evidence shared. 

Jenna and me, caught in the act. Thanks Danielle. 

ok... you get the picture. Holiday show and tell over.)

Like I said, nothing but love and smiles this holiday season. 

After we wrapped up a pretty fantastic Boston New Year get-away, I jetted off to Florida with my family for a long weekend. A long weekend of a stomach virus and amusement parks that is. It was a long weekend. But we had a blast, despite the nausea, and all made it home in one piece, despite the turbulence. 

And really, while all of this fun was going on I kept dreaming up ways that I could write it all on Sneezeweed, but something kept stopping me from being happy with all this happiness. Something kept getting in my way and interjecting every time I tried to sit down at my keyboard, so I made a choice to walk away for a while. 

I do this thing, I place each piece of my life into it's own pretty box where it has to live all on it's own. One part of my life never gets to know the others on the inside- they only get to see the pretty packaging on the outside. When I am at home, nothing about work, or school, or friends, or relationships can spill all over the pretty home box. And when I am at school, friend happenings, and work happenings, and home happenings rarely make an appearance. I like to think of it as keeping things in their place, so if one box gets all filled up with muck for a while the other boxes never have to know and they can go on living pretty; others call it compartmentalizing. And I've gotten pretty good at it. 

Lately, my work box is all mucked up. I left my job watching the sneeze-baby to work for my family business doing Human Resources. I'd like to say I think I made the right choice, but I just can't. If I wasn't sure about what I wanted to do professionally before, I sure am now. And let me tell you, I've learned that I am made to cover the walls with finger-paintings and not hiring charts. I am made to create lesson plans and not training programs. I am made to read children's literature and not e-mails. I am made to attend school concerts and not corporate meetings. And I am certainly meant to sit on little chairs with my arms around children trying to master multiplication, and I am certainly not meant to sit behind a big desk staring at grown adults trying to land a job. I could go on and on about all of the reasons this job is just not for me, but the bottom line is it isn't. And it's going to be a long while before I can reverse this huge mistake I've made. But hey, I've been doing a pretty good job of keeping all this muck inside its rightful box. 

But then, you see, there was that turbulence I mentioned. We were on the plane ride home from Florida on a Sunday night. I was curled up against the window when all of a sudden the plane began to dip and tilt, leaving an unsettling feeling in my stomach. The pilot came on the loudspeaker and assured everyone that despite the "uncomfortable conditions" everything was just fine. Babies were screeching and adults were making nervous eyes at one another. I, on the other hand, had an entirely different reaction to the turbulence. I had this sudden realization that I am alive. As the plane dipped and tipped, and my heart rate picked up, I felt like for the first time ever I was aware of my own life. I've flown dozens of times, but I have never felt as venerable in a plane as I did that day, and let me tell you there is nothing like a little turbulence to make things begin to spill. In that moment the love in the home box tipped, the fun in the friends box splashed, the muck in the work box oozed, the promise in the school box splattered, and whatever was left in the bottom of that dusty relationship box puffed out; and they all mixed together right there on that plane- my whole life right in front of me, each piece jumbled with the next. It took that turbulence for me to realize that maybe I'd been giving this work box too much attention. It had no more or less presence in the big mixture than any of the other bits that were scattered there, and yet it seemed to have consumed every bit of my happiness. And just like Chris Cleave said, maybe the bits of unhappiness were mere signs that I was living. Signs saying "hey, this is not euphoric, but this is life." And some turbulence, whether it be on a plane or in the muck of your work box, is just a way to remind you that you are alive. 

From the beginning, I have thought that Sneezeweed should be about the happiness in life. And while it's true, I'm trying to get to the nitty gritty of happy here, we wouldn't know the happy without the sad. I wouldn't know just how much I am meant to teach if I didn't go down the wrong path first. And someday, when I find my way down this winding path that will go all around in the wrong directions before I finally get to the right one, someday when I get to the right path it will be marvelous, and I will turn around and smile. 

The Daily Sneeze ((or what's fueling the fire today))
- frogs. 
- sweaters. 
- snow. 
- tea. 

and hey, keep your eye out for something new this week. it's almost ready, and it's fantastic.