Friday, February 20, 2009

How Could I Compete?

An e-mail I sent to a couple of my far-away ACE friends. Jackie and Zeiser are my housemates.

Last night, Guadalupe Regional had a fund raiser at Mr. Gatti's (pizza and arcade; kinda like chuckie cheese), which Jackie, Zeiser, and I attended. The three of us sit down at a table some distance from the "cool kids". Five minutes go by before one of my 8th graders comes over, points at Zeiser, and says, "Is that your boyfriend?"

With as straight a face and as flat a voice as I could manage, I said no. So she looks at Jackie, points Zeiser again, and says, "Is he YOUR boyfriend?".

It gets better. As the three of us are leaving, a 7th grader stops us, asks me the same question and gets the same answer, and likewise with Jack.

"Then why did they say he was dating one of you?" She looks at Zeiser, and says in a tone of voice that suggests HE wouldn't lie to her, "Are you dating either of them?"

Straight face, Zeiser goes, "Them? No. You ever heard of Shakira?"

Happy Friday, y'all.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Perhaps the best valentine I've ever received

The note says, "to a hardcore teacher/friend. when i'm up on the red carpet I'll give you a shout out. Happy valentine's day." I keep telling them i'm not their friend, but i like it anyway. And yes, that's a skelebunny.

Awkward Fest 2009

Staring Joaquin Phoenix and emceed by David Letterman.

Wow. I've heard a theory floating about that he's faking this whole thing as performance art or some such nonsense. It's either that, or high doses of... something.

Best line: "I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight."

h/t to List of the Day (Explicit content. You have been warned).

Southern Australia Needs Prayers

I have seen surprisingly little in the blogs about the series of bush fires blazing away in Australia. Certainly, it deserves our attention and our prayers. 181 have lost their lives, and something like 7,000 are now homeless.

In other news, the sky is blue.

Louisiana's Education System Needs Help.

Whaaaaaat? Naaaaaaaaaaahhh.

Seriously: people like my aunts Missy, Tara, and Kathy, who probably have several decades experience teaching between them mostly in Louisiana, and the teachers I met in New Orleans in '07 are a big part of the reason I'm in this gig. They inspire me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Readers of this blog who know my distaste and distrust of Obamamania (see here, here, here, and here) will understand how freakin' refreshing it is to me to see a big fan of the guy come right out and call him human.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ripping off the bard

i once told my sister the sun was like God's eye. It might have been right after reading Shakespeare's sonnets, i'm not sure.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I'm Torn / I Lied

Just a couple days ago, I suggested Christ Be Beside Me was my favorite church song. I think I meant to say Morning Has Broken is my favorite. Of course, a little while ago, I said How Can I Keep from Singing was my favorite. Then yesterday, at mass, the communion song was How Can I Keep from Singing, which I have checked the missal for almost every week even though I know it's not in there. And, of course, I pretty well burst into tears the moment I heard the first strains.

What I'm saying is, I retract any previous statments that any of the above three songs are, apart from the others, my one favorite. I can't decide. I just can't.


Salesian Sisters' Provincial House
San Antonio
May 2008

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Neil Diamond and My Favorite Church Song

My dad is a huge dork. Always has been. He paid over $700 for a VCR when they first came out, and spent a good chunk of his life recording everything of even mild interest he saw on television. I think he once figured out he could watch his recorded VHSs 24 hours a day for more than a month before rewatching anything.

One of these low-fi gems is a Neil Diamond Christmas special (we also own the accompanying CD). That special, watched year after year... until he met and married my step mom, come to think of it... anyway, it included Mr. Diamond singing Morning Has Broken. Before I was quite old enough to listen to and "get" the words, I loved that song. It's melody struck me and stuck with me.

Incidently, I don't care at all for Cat Stevens's version of the song. I'm just not a folky girl.

Then, I got to Notre Dame this past summer, and one day in mass, what to my wondering ears should come wafting through the air but another song with that same tune.

Christ be beside me, Christ be before me
Christ be behind me, King of my heart
Christ be within me, Christ be below me
Christ be above me, never to part.

Christ on my right hand, Christ on my left hand
Christ all around me, shield in strife
Christ in my sleeping, Christ in my sitting
Christ in my rising, light of my life.

I now find myself humming it constantly, thinking half the time of Morning Has Broken and the other half of Christ Beside Me.

If you're thinking, "Hey, didn't you blog about another Notre Dame song you're now, like, totally in love with?" You are correct, sir. There's just a lot of reasons I love Notre Dame.

Ferris Wheel, Chicago

Navy Pier
July 4, 2008

Friday, February 6, 2009

Loo Hoo

December 2008

Brilliance (Mine) and Guardian Angels (God's)

I know I posted some of these pictures of my black eye before, and I know y'all probably don't want to see more. But, I can't stop thinking about how it happened.

It's not a big deal at all. I'm 100% fine and so is my eye, even if my pride still stings a little. That's exactly the thing, though: it's not a big deal, though it very easily could have been a huge deal.

(Morning after, quite swollen)

What happened was this: We have a weight lifting thingy in our house. I was taking the weights off the bench press bar, thinking that the bar itself was heavy enough to stay down when the disc weights were off one end. All three of my male housemates, who have weight lifted for real for years, say they've done exactly the same thing (which makes me feel better). They also said that works most of the time, "unless you're dealing with a cheap home set".

Which, evidently, is what we have.

The instant I slid the last weight off the right end of bar, the weighted left end plummeted to the floor, swinging the right end of this 50 pound solid steel bar up through the air. The left end slammed into the floor and the right side swung around and fell into the window. I stood stunned, thinking, "Wow, that could have really hurt me."

Two of my girl roommates were standing behind me. "Oh my God! Andie, did it hit you?"

"No." ...I don't think so, anyway.

"Did it break the window?"

I checked, then turned to them, laughing. "Nope! What a close--"

"You're bleeding!"

"What? No I--" I touched my forehead. Sure enough, they were right. They whisked me off to the kitchen, cleaned me up, and helped me find preemptive pain killers and an ice pack. We marveled that it didn't hurt at all -- I still barely felt it -- and how much worse the whole situation could have been. It was starting to sting, but I felt totally lucid and my eyeball istelf was (and remains) fine. I went to bed.

All the next day, as I deflected my students' questions about my shiner, my mind kept wandering back to what a nearly miraculous thing had happened, or perhaps not happened. I truly don't mean to make a big deal out of the whole thing or read too much into it, but had I been leaning even half an inch further forward -- which I had been a second earlier -- well, suffice it to say I don't think I would have gotten off with just a sweet shiner.

(Swelling down, colors becoming flashier.)

As I mulled all this over, I remembered the time my baby sister, at about two years old, escaped out the sliding door and was missing for about five minutes, until our mom found her in the middle of an intersection with cars coming at her from three or four sides.

(Tiny Baby Melissa, wearing everything in her dresser.)

And I remembered the time my best friend and I in my Grand Am were almost rammed by an SUV. And all the other times, as a kid, when I should have been seriously injured. And all the close-call stories my dad told me. And plenty of other stories in which, had one thing been a millimeter or a half second off, the ending would have been decidedly less happy.

I'm an odd sort of Catholic, probably because I wasn't really raised Catholic per say, and where some people have devotions rooted in childhood, I barely have an awareness. It's taken me years and conscious effort to get to know the Blessed Mother and make her a part of my life. Guardian angels, frankly, sat for a long time in the same place in my brain as fairies.

Like my faith in God itself, though, I am beginning to find the existence and presence of angels an undeniable reality.

See, I don't believe in luck or coincidences. That I and so many I know have skirted disaster so many times does not mesh with pure chance. Like so many other things, my rational brain forces me to look elsewhere for an explanation. It makes perfect sense that the same loving God who made us and redeemed us would keep us safe from our own brilliance, and would do so through whatever means He knows will serve us best.

I could easily have broken something not easily fixed, either on me or the window, or gashed myself wide open. I should have, in fact. If you look closely at those pictures, you can see several neat and parallel scrapes along my eyebrow from the threads of the bar brushing right by my eye. Could we explain this away with simple chance? Sure, this one event, but that leaves... well, pretty much the rest of my life to account for.

My nuns in the convent last year often prayed to their guardian angels, and often had the kids do so as well. A few weeks ago, in a situation where I was concerned about my safety, without thinking I called on my guardian angel and instantly felt assured and secure. My point (finally) is that I'm finally paying some attention to my angel and hoping to get better acquainted.
That, and giving him some public recognition for keeping my graceful tail out of trouble and my eyeballs intact for almost twenty-four years.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Life of Christ in Cats

When kitsch and faith meet, ludicrous and wonderful things happen.

Found at Amy Stein Photography (though I'm pretty sure that's not her photo).

Little White Lies... and Telephone.

A student who was absent and missed yesterday's shenanigans examines me incredulously while I explain the work she missed.

"Ma'am, I heard you rescued a baby from a shark. I don't believe it."

On my honor, I never once mentioned a shark. I wish I'd thought of it.


Brownsville, Texas
January 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Little White Lies and the Amazing Technicolor Eyelid

last night

this afternoon
(note the purple, blue, and red around my eye)

Let me just say upfront, I'm fine. My pride sustained far worse injuries than anything else did in this incident. I write tonight, aside from the interesting study of mild swelling turned to multi-colored lids, is to give you a word of warning:

Avoid, at all costs, any kind of visible injury if there is any chance you will be seeing middle schoolers at any point and in any context while said injury is healing.

It's been a humbling day. Comments I got:
  • "What happened?!" (that was from a coworker)
  • "Ma'am, what happened to your face?!"
  • "You look like Popeye."
  • (slack jawed look of disgust)
  • "Ma'am, just let me know who I need to beat up and I got 'im."
  • "Holy crap, are you okay??"
  • "Ha ha ha ha ha! Uh, I mean... (chuckle) Sorry. Ma'am are you (snicker) alright?"
  • "Eeewwwwwww."
  • "Listen, you don't need to be in that relationship. Just break up with him, you don't need him."

...And of course, everyone wants to know what happened. I change the story every time.
  • Raccoons.
  • Badgers.
  • I saved a baby from a run-away horse.
  • I was trying to build a tree house and it fell down on me.
  • You should see the other guy.
  • Ninjas.
  • Pirates.
  • Ninja badgers.
  • Pirate raccoons.

That's Usually Called a "Wrong Answer"

During a vocab quiz that requires the kids to use words in an original sentence.

Student: Ma'am, does it have to be the definition you gave us, or can it be another one?
Me: What word are you thinking of?
S: (Points to "hermit".)
M: ...There's only one definition of that word.
S: I was thinking of the animal.
M: I don't think there's an animal called "hermit".
S: I know, I was going to make it up.

Sometimes, it's best not to ask questions.

You Know You're a Big Dorky Teacher When... get a grant to spend someone else's money on whatever you want and gleefully flip through teacher catalogues oohing and ahhing over "A to Z: Reading Activities for Middle Schoolers", "Root Awakenings", and Shakespeare and Poe action ficgures.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Know

Camp Hope
St Bernard Parish, LA
January 2007

I think this was my very favorite little piece of art at Camp Hope, tucked in an out of the way hall. I should write about that here sometime, since that whole experience was before I started this blog.