Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Secrets I've Never Told

Is it possible that there are things about you that you've never told anyone? Anyone? I asked myself that and discovered these:
1. I smile a lot in the mirror. I have everything from "pensive" to "centerfold" smile. If I had any rhythm in my hips, I swear, I'd do a catwalk too.
2. Sometimes when I got to RS functions, I feel like either the village idiot or the misfit.
3. I wanna look like Portia De Rossi (without the gay).
4. Sometimes, just sometimes I wish God were a woman.
5. I wish I'd worn a bikini when I was a teen--just long enough to get a picture so that later I could have proof that I did look that good once.
6. I think students should be able to wear hats in school.
7. I accidentally flirted with a deli-employee in Park City. (I swear, I didn't realize it!)

Any secrets too, gentle readers?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Popcorn, Pumpkins, and Giant Leeches

My Thanksgiving in a nutshell:

Wednesday: Roasted pumpkins, scooped out the guts, made homemade pumpkin pies. Then baked candied pumpkin seeds. I pretty much don't wanna see a pumpkin again for a year...which is fortunate.

Thursday: Worked out (new last chance workout video with Jillian and Bob from Biggest Loser), then Turkey time, where I ate more than 3 workouts worth of calories in one delicious sitting.

Friday: Put up Christmas everything! Took all day. My back hurt worse than that time I was 9 months pregnant with either kid.

Saturday: Made more pumpkin stuff. Guess I got over my inhibitions from Wed. Made pumpkin muffins and 3 types of pumpkin bread. (one with chocolate chips). When I did the last chance workout, I swear Bob was glaring at me like he could smell the pumpkin on me. eerie. Then watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 with some friends, while making popcorn strands for the Christmas tree. Watched Giant Leeches eat some adulterers and Teenagers from space had a contraction impediment. so yah. Good times.

Much to be thankful for.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Halloween Porn Star

When did Halloween become pornographic in nature?
I was walking down the aisles of Wal-mart, for cripes sake, and all of the costumes for women were like dirty fantasy costumes! Seriously! Even the tween costumes were dirty. Tight or flirty short skirts, fishnets, tank or corset-type tops, and topped with a seductive pose by the model. There was even a featured brand of costumes that was called MyFantasy or something tawdry like that.
I was embarrassed for my daughter, who wants to be a bunny this year. Can you imagine the kinds of costumes they had for bunnies? (eyes rolling) I mean, really? Really, Halloween industry? Kids can't just be a little fuzzy bunny or kitty without making them look trashy? You can't sell fear, monsters, and psychos without using sex? Really?
It made me wish for more of the modest costumes I've seen. Ugly Betty as a Bee and LL as a zombie bride in Mean Girls. Those were fun costumes.
Oh, and how come only girl costumes were slutty??? I'll tell you. Somehow society says it's OK for girls to wear trashy Halloween costumes, but if they put trashy boy costumes in the stores, then it might as well be a Spencer's Gifts or something like that. REALLY, Society? Really? Bring back the innocence. Taint not my child's perception of herself with PlayBoyish bunnies and thigh-high leather boots. She couldn't have even purchased a nurses costume without looking like a naughty nurse. She's 5 years old for goodness sake.


PS: After a similar rant given to my husband, he nodded, grinned slyly, and asked me: "Did you get one for you?" (eyes rolling.)

And no. I did not.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Smashing Pumpkins, Smashing Concert

My beautiful, wonderful, magical sister (who I owe a thousand hugs to) took me to the Smashing Pumpkins concert last Sat. And it was everything I'd imagined and more.
First we were not-so-gingerly frisked by a tattooed battle ax in dark eyeliner before we could get in. Then we walked through the doors, let our eyes adjust to the dimly lit club atmosphere and the first thing we saw was the souvenir table and vintage ZERO tees (with the white star) and the reminiscing ensued. Even as I think about it, I can't help but tilt my head and sigh. The 90's were such a kicking decade. 
We continued forward, pushed through gently by the crowd, and much to our surprise Billy was already playing. There he was. On stage. His bald head glittering with sweat and rock and roll sex. His shirt was one from back in the 90's too. One of those billowy long-sleeved button-downs with a geometric pattern of pageantry colors. (Much better than the black wizardly dress he wore a few years back when we saw him at the Salt Palace.)
My sister and I basked for a moment in the jagged lyrics of our high school musical heart throb. Then, glances exchanged, we plunged into the crowd. Making only about a third of the way into the close-knit crowd, my sister and I found ourselves separated by a couple heavy-set dudes. Unable to bridge the gap between us, I settled in for a good show.
The first couple songs he played (when we got there) were Tonight Tonight, and Today. A couple of my favorite Pumpkins songs of all time. So sweet. At one point, I swear Billy looked straight at me. Straight into my soul. And he disarmed me with a smile. (insert sly grin here.)
During one of the more metal chewing metal sounding songs, I took in my surroundings. What a bizarre amalgam of concert goers. To my right, I swear, John Locke (from Lost) was jamming like he just stepped out of the wheel chair! I thought I couldn't get cooler than that, but to my left a blonde girl in hundred dollar jeans (and ridiculously high heels for a concert, tho respectable for a "cute date night") was swaying with her boyfriend. I mean the girl had a flipping yellow daisy in her hair. I soon noticed that she didn't sing along to any of the songs, not even the popular ones. I wondered why a girl like that would go to a concert she obviously didn't understand or probably like.
And yet and nodded with respect. Kudos to Daisy girl for taking an interest in a band that doesn't have synchronized dancing and matching outfits. Kudos to the Pumpkins for drumming up a diverse and fresh crowd. Kudos to the deserving.
So with John Locke to my right and Daisy girl to the left, I jammed out until I too sweat like a rock star. Pumpkins live to rock another day. And their new stuff with rock your socks, gentle readers. Rock your socks.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Top Ten Summer 2010 Moments

In Disneyland:
1. Gavin clawing his way out of my grip the second he saw Mickey Mouse. I've never seen a kid so psyched to see a mouse.
2. Layne getting so shy around the princesses that I don't have any princess pictures without Layne holding her hands in front of her face.
3. 21 people wishing Cole a "happy birthday" in a single day.
4. California Screamin', Matterhorn, and Splash Mtn. were my favorite rides. However, I will not be riding the Tower of Terror or the Ferris Wheel. Yeesh. Pee my pants scary.

In Universal Studios:
5. Meeting Spongebob. Elayna and Gavin both freaked over this.
6. The Jurassic Park ride. Awesome. Right as the T-Rex snapped at us Layne screamed, "We're going to die!"
7. Layne dancing with Frankenstein in the street, and then later when recalling the incident she called him "Einstein". Took me a few hours to realize who she was talking about.

General Summer:
8. Well, I can tell you it definitely WASN'T going camping with a 2 year old. ugh. Not doing that again ever!
9. Painting my living room red.
10. Having a "Psych" marathon with Cole. "What!" (fist-bump)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

highlights of park city so far...

1. Rolling my ankle while holding two yr old son and walking down the stairs. I crumpled into him, hurt his arm and scraped up my foot and thumb.
2. My two yr old son crapped his pants so bad that it leaked through his jeans. It smelled like a truck stop bathroom in Old Navy and then I realized I had no diapers on me. Luckily I found a swim diaper in my trunk.
3. They keep feeding us junk food for every meal and snacks. i.e. pudding, brownie, chocolate cookies, taffy, soda (not diet), lemon squares, rice krispie treats, peppermint patties, chocolate chip cookies, m & m cookies, danishes, cinnamon rolls, mini candy bars, m&ms, muffins that tasted more like cake, and cake. I mean seriously. No wonder I felt fat when trying on clothes today. ugh.
4. The content. This has been hands-down the most useful and interesting conference on education that I have ever been to. love and gonna use it.
5. shopping with my sister!
6. swimming with my kids.
7. Calling my husband after they left and finding out that my two yr old was carrying my pillow around with him at home because he missed me. goo.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


1. an appendix. Really. what's it for?
2. the calorie count on unpopped popcorn? seriously, who opens a bag of microwavable popcorn and eats the kernels raw. eww. and we don't need the calories on that one.
3. moles. the only person that pull it off is cindy crawford, so I say banish them all.
4. that stupid remake of 90210. barf. The original was barf and the new one is too. I'm betting.

any additions?

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I've had some weird dreams in the past. Some so funny I woke up laughing. Others so terrifying that I had to watch 2 hours of HGTV after just to get the axe murderer out of my mind. I've dreamt in plot. I've dreamt in episodes. I've dreamt in color and black and white. And then there's the bizarre ones. These have no sense and no plot and must be true representations of my inner-psyche.

Here's a few tidbits of my dreams.

Once I dreamed that my friend Ashleigh --who is on a successful quest to lose weight --got accepted to America's Next Top Model and won!

I dreamt about a sociopath who kidnapped pregnant women and then taxedermied their babies right after birth. (This was an HGTV one.)

I dreamt I was a peasant in a fast-walking race with a king.

I dreamt that my brother fought off ninja cats in a warehouse.

I dreamt I flirted my way into a conference where Neil Gaiman was the keynote speaker. Had to give my number to a kid half my age with a flashlight and a name tag, but it was worth it to bask in Neil's syrupy British voice. (Also, during Neil's speech, he fainted into the first row of people. weird. He recovered nicely, however, and continued to tell us about his fascination with gargoyles.)

What does this say about me?

Got a couch?

and a Freud?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Riveting Reads: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Yup. You read that right. It says Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Now, I’m not an expert on American history or anything, but I do know that Abe Lincoln is known for far greater things than offing a few vamps. Ending slavery, for example. Holding the office of President, for another. What I did not know about “Honest Abe” was his personal history with fang-toothed night-dwellers. This chilling and widely debated wedge of the former president’s life (Wink. Wink.) was discovered by none other than Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

The tale begins with a frame story, one in which Grahame-Smith discovers several lost journals of Abe’s, documenting his secret quest to rid America of vampires. Then, as Grahame-Smith reads through the journals, he pieces together this dangerous and secret part of Lincoln’s past.

As a child, Lincoln is tall and lanky, though not too muscular. Indeed he doesn’t have much need for weight training until he discovers that a vampire is responsible for his dear mother’s death. Lincoln vows to avenge his mother’s death by destroying the enemy at every turn. To train for the inevitable battles to come, Lincoln takes to chopping wood until his muscles bulge like a steroids ad, and he learns to throw his axe until he can splinter a tree from twenty yards away. In addition to his physical regimen, Lincoln pours over any piece of literature he can find on vampires; journals, folklore, and myths, etc. Soon, Lincoln is ready to face a real vamp.

Lincoln gets lucky on his first kill. Then, on a hunt for what he wanted to be his second kill, Lincoln makes an unlikely friend; a noble vampire named Henry who is on a mission to save humanity from bloodthirsty, unethical vampires. (The Angel similarities aren’t lost on Buffy fans, I’m sure.) Then, they work together to hunt and destroy undeserving blood suckers; Henry discovers them and Lincoln kills them. The story continues with twists, turns, and a bizarre ending. Spoiler alert: John Wilkes Booth’s lust for blood has a metaphoric and literal meaning in this book.

Grahame-Smith mingles fact and fiction in this fun-filled concoction, and I can honestly say, I’ve never read anything like it. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a satire on the typical biography. It’s homage to our incredible founding father, while adding a darker side to his motives. This version of Lincoln starts out driven by revenge, fury, and self-discovery. He slowly grows into the man we Americans know and love. A man of substance, integrity, and political savvy. Only, here Grahame-Smith creates us a version of Lincoln that could remain standing in Thunder Dome.

Other quasi-biographies that I’d like to see Grahame-Smith invent are Ben Franklin and the Flesh-Eating Garden Gnomes (It’s a stretch, I know, but those little guys are from creepsville) and Audrey Hepburn: the Secret Ninja/Sasquatch Hunter. As if Audrey Hepburn could get any cooler. But, hey, that’s what I thought about Lincoln and clearly…he can. Thanks, Grahame-Smith. Keep ‘em coming.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I got called a dill hole today. It was by one of those kids straight out of Touching Spirit Bear or King Dork or Catcher in the Rye. Seriously. If I asked if he respected anyone, he’d probably say BAM. Funny thing is he's probably just ready for summer.

I only have 5 more weeks of school left and I am so glad. I can barely control the students anymore. They are acting like cattle right before a lightning storm, all anxious and wide-eyed. Not that I blame them. That’s how it is in the last few weeks between spring break and the summer.

Things I’m looking forward to this summer:

1. Flip flops. I am a shoe nerd, it’s true, but come summer, my flip flops reign in shoedom.

2. Disneyland! We are going to Disney for the first time as a family. I haven’t been since I was six or seven and Cole has never been. I am psyched.

3. Working on the novel. Geez, I have been so lazy in this area. I can’t wait to have the time to type again. Type until my fingers ache.

4. Trampolining –yes, I verbafied it.

5. Laying out on the trampoline

6. Eating my fresh veggies from the garden

7. Getting a back lawn…maybe.

8. Going to a conference in Park City. (shopping in Park City is on that agenda too.)

9. Buffy fest 2010

10. Gilmore Girls fest 2010

11. Listening to “I Can’t Stop Partying” (Weezer) in the car with the windows rolled down.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

broken dreams

I haven't updated this in a while b/c i broke my thumb drive. I'm going to do better though. promise.
Books I've reviewed, but haven't posted yet:

Abe Lincoln the vampire hunter --awesome.
Make Lemonade

You'll just have to look forward to these.

Monday, March 8, 2010


I’ve had a copy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho for about six months. When I first brought it home, after borrowing it from a fellow teacher, I placed it neatly on my nightstand next to my radio alarm clock and water bottle. I was intrigued with the book, as it had drudged up a lot of discussion from our lunch group at work. Some loved it. Others hated it. And I was excited to read it.

Anyway, the same time I brought this book home, my two-year-old son developed a fascination with books of all shapes and sizes. You put a book down and he’s got it. He runs away and usually the book will end up at the bottom of the stairs. He just loves throwing things down the stairs. Books, toys, dishes (grr), anything. So naturally, The Alchemist went missing a mere minute after it was placed on the nightstand and seemed to vanish without a sticky-fingered trace. I looked everywhere. First the bottom of the stairs, then behind the nightstand, and under the treadmill. But it was nowhere to be found. Then two weeks ago it reappeared; the sticky-fingered bandit somehow waddled past my defenses and brought back the missing book. I am so glad he did, because from Prologue to Author Info—The Alchemist (HarperCollins) is inspirational, simple, and sweet.

The story begins in with a young shepherd named Santiago who has big dreams. A literal dream that Santiago has is of finding a secret treasure in Egypt. He begins searching for this treasure casually at first, until he meets a mysterious man who desires to help him find his “Personal Legend”. The concept of the Personal Legend goes something like this: every person has a Personal Legend or something that they desire above all other things. The universe works together to realize this dream, while not interfering with free will and choice. Now that Santiago has determined that treasure in Egypt is his Personal Legend, he takes the plunge and goes looking. He encounters several obstacles in this endeavor, including his own doubts and inhibitions, but in the end, Santiago follows the magnetic pull toward his life’s goal. After setbacks, adventures, side-jobs, and distractions Santiago finally realizes his dream.

Coelho’s real life would make a thrilling read. A native of Brazil, Coelho knew from an early age that he wanted to be a writer. His family did little to foster this ideal, and instead tried to sway him from his dream. Eventually his inability to change life goals angered and confused his family and landed him in a mental institution on two different occasions. Later as an adult, Coelho was a journalist with his own magazine called 2001, and then joined the Brazilian rock group as a lyricist. Soon his political ties and progressive ideals upset the repressive government. He was kidnapped and tortured for his protests on freedom. In the years to follow, Coelho took up writing again. He became successful and has published more than half a dozen novels, including Veronika Decides to Die and Eleven Minutes.

The Alchemist is a touching read for people of most ages.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Riveting Reads: The Bone Series

I get that one of my major flaws as a book review columnist is that I tend to flock toward popular adolescent literature. But…it’s my job! It’s in my nature. I’m an educator; a high school teacher who specializes in teaching struggling readers. In one class, for example, I teach about fifteen sophomores, all of which hate reading. I’m not talking about mild discomfort around books. No, I mean these kids loathe reading. They loathe the very act of picking up something—anything—with words on it. Motivating this particular class is like trying to get them to rip out their own teeth with a rusty spoon. (In fact, I’m willing to bet that many would consider that a viable alternative to reading.) So, I spend a good portion of my life hunting down, slicing open, and devouring the meat of good adolescent literature. No apologies.
I don’t just want your kids to read. I want them to love to read!

That said, here’s my latest endorsement:
Get a copy of any of the books in the Bone series (Scholastic: Graphix, 2005) written and illustrated by Jeff Smith. It’s a graphic novel series appropriate for teens! What do I mean by that? The violence (blood, guts, and gore) is almost non-existent, and the women in the series aren’t…bursting out of their costumes, so to speak. And if you’re one of those who think reading graphic novels is a step backward for your struggling reader, please be aware that almost all, if not all, elements of literature can be applied to graphic novels. Most themes are equivalent to themes in classics, and graphic novels with their masterful art and thrilling plots are infinitely more captivating to teens; the Bone series included.

There are nine books the series beginning with Out from Boneville. In the beginning of the series three bone-shaped and colored cousins, Phoney Bone, Smiley, and Fone Bone get kicked out of Boneville because of Phoney’s “shady business deals”. They quickly become lost and wind up in a bizarre valley full of giant bugs, scores of locusts, a red dragon, a cow-racing grandma, and the love-able, yet vicious, quiche-loving rat creatures. Fone Bone even meets and falls in love with a girl named Thorn, who incidentally is the key to saving the world from the sinister King Dok and the locust-orchestrator, the Hooded One.

Artistically, Bone is unparalleled. The illustrations of the rat creatures are layered with personality. On one panel, the rat creatures can look like furry fat bowling pins with red-eyes like jewels and ears that express emotion much like a dog’s: perked for curiosity or stooped for subordination. They converse innocently about quiche (usually) and for a moment you just want to buy one of those cute-little guys for your kid. However, in the next panel, Smith transforms them into feral beasts! The rat creatures snarl to reveal a mouth full of dagger-sized fangs. In this same stance their eyes slant slightly back, their claws seem to double in length, and their ears take on a horned-shape like a devil. And if I’m not doing it justice, trust me! Smith is a brilliant author and artist.

Find the complete Bone series in one huge omnibus for forty bucks at www.boneville.com or purchase the series from scholastic or at your local bookstore. Also, for mature readers, Jeff Smith writes graphic novel series called Rasl.

Enjoy. These books won’t put you or your kid to sleep like the way say…Moby Dick might. (That comment merits a wink-wink for the die-hard Bone fans.)

(As published in The Foothill Breeze Feb. 3, 2010)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Riveting Reads: Shattering Glass

In the spring of 2008, I took a Reading Endorsement class on adolescent literature. While in this class, a fellow student introduced me to an author that she swore I would love. That author’s name was Gail Giles. Apologetically, I didn’t get around to reading anything by Giles until this last Christmas break. It was then that I picked up a copy of Giles’ Shattering Glass (Simon Pulse, 2002) from a library. Granted it isn’t as current I would have liked, but still worth the title of Riveting Read.

The cover of Shattering Glass sold me. There’s this haunting close up picture of a boy’s pale and corpse-like face behind glass. At the center of one eye is a small hole (perhaps, from a bullet). Branching from the hole, the glass cracks in a spider web, and all the while the boy stares back with an expression that can only be described as a sad regret. Tucked under the title, the selling quote by Publishers Weekly endorses the book with this description: “Suspenseful, disturbing…” And this is an understatement.

The first lines of Shattering Glass are thick with mysterious intensity. “Simon Glass was easy to hate. I never knew exactly why, there was too much to pick from. I guess, really, we each hated him for a different reason, but we didn’t realize it until the day we killed him.” Told in the perspective of B’Vale High School student Young Steward, the novel begins with the arrival of a dark and intriguing new student named Rob Haynes. He quickly gains the respect and esteem of the popular crowd, and begins a project that will change B’Vale High forever. Rob’s plan: to remake a nerd—Simon Glass—into a cool kid. It’s an old plot—you may have seen it in Grease, Mean Girls, Can’t Buy Me Love, She’s All That, Clueless, etc.—but this rendition is laced with secrets, unexpected danger, and murder. Secrets fill each character like the jelly in a doughnut, only there’s nothing sweet about the events as they are revealed.

Stylistically, I love how each chapter begins with a witness or character statement made from various students and parents surrounding Simon Glass. One student, Caroline Davids, says this about Rob’s popularity project, “It’s like Rob went to the pound and picked out the ugliest dog there. Because nobody else was going to. After a while, the dog kind of grows on you and you actually think it’s sort of cute. You get that, right?” Each of these interviews gives a little glimpse of the events that shattered Simon Glass. A few allude to the imprisonment of the viewpoint character, Young, and makes the reader wonder about his involvement. He is the character we’re supposed to root for, right? Yet, how did he end up destroying another human being. Every word will fuel you to keep reading. Every secret will make you crave resolution. And of the ending, I’ll say this: it was satisfying. (Trust me. There’s irony in my word choice, but you won’t catch it until you read the book.) Happy reading.

(as published in The Foothill Breeze Jan. 2010)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Riveting Reads: No Choirboy

I believe in semi-fate. That is, I believe that some things—not all—happen for a reason. For example I don’t believe that there was anything serendipitous about what I got for Christmas say…twelve years ago. (Frankly, I have no idea what I got. An awesome flannel shirt and Timberlands, maybe.) On the other hand, I believe that fate can and does happen. So when the school I work in had a water-pipe explosion in the library last year and many books were destined for the dumpster or placed on a “free books” shelf in the library, fate waved its magic wand and voila! I possessed my very own mostly mold-free copy of No Choirboy!
No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row (Henry Holt) by Susan Kuklin is a non-fiction book made up of several unedited stories of teens on death row. Kuklin summarizes each of her highlighted teenage criminals’ cases, and then lets the criminals tell their stories in their own words. Some claim innocence. Others are guilty of their crimes, know it, and confess it in a raw, not necessarily guiltless manner, but they are more matter-of-fact about their crimes. They also discuss their environment, life on death row, other inmates, daily challenges, visitation, and family on the outside.
One inmate, Roy, was removed from death row due to a change in his case. He states this about his experience with his crime: “Have I learned anything? Truthfully? The name of the game is this: Think before you act. Think about the consequences” (34). Much of the criminals’ dialogues are about how they wish they could go back and change what happened and how they wouldn’t make the same mistakes again.
Another boy, Mark, was sent to death row at fourteen. Of his guilt, he says, “I killed a man. […] I knew it was wrong. I knew it before it happened. I’ve had people telling me, ‘Oh, you didn’t know no better, you were just fourteen...’ And even though that’s true, in effect I’m the one that did it. And that’s the bottom line. I haven’t had a day of peace since then” (36).
My disclaimer is this: Susan Kuklin is against capital punishment, and at the end of the day No Choirboy is persuasive in nature. Kuklin strives to put a stop to the victimization of teens in the system. The whole sixth chapter is about a lawyer named Bryan Stevenson who is an advocate for both Mark and Roy. Stevenson states, “I reject the view that the world is divided into two sections: the victims of violent crimes and the offenders. Some of the offenders we are working with are people who have horrible, horrible losses as a result of violent crimes” (190).
I am not recommending this book to convince you one way or the other on the subject of capital punishment. I simply found these stories mind-boggling. I was enthralled to discover how these boys went from being innocent kids in Disney sneakers to hardened criminals behind bars. Their stories unfolded their motives which were often fueled by skewed logic and the manipulations of peers, adults, and drugs. Sad stories.
Although Kuklin’s book is persuasive, I didn’t feel like her views were jammed down my throat. She took the perspectives of many people involved in the legal process to develop her argument, and still managed to make the book interesting. It read nothing like an essay nor a legal report.
In addition to No Choirboy, I’d also recommend There Are No Children Here as a companion. It deals with children raised in ghettos.
(as published in The Foothill Breeze on 1/7/2010)


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