Summer Reads

 

Lecture et coquillagesOk, it’s 87 degrees in North Georgia today…so summer it is!  I’ve just finished my first of many books on my “summer reading” list.  To find the latest in your desired genre, I’ve found that Pinterest is a great resource.  And don’t forget that you can order from Thriftbooks.com and get most of your books for less than $4 with free shipping if you order $10 or more.

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The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell is, in fact, a jewel. Set in modern England, the characters are edgy and unpredictable. You will be guessing who-done-it until the very end. The plot plays out in a serene and private common garden where old-money, new-money, and no-money collide.


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Giving up Alaska!

My friend said to her husband, “If she takes him back, it will be for Alaska.”  I didn’t learn of this until later when I actually hadn’t taken him back.  But in reflection I had to admit that I was so entrenched with the life-long desire to experience Alaska that I had been willing to accept a relationship that wasn’t fulfilling.  And if I’m honest, his willingness to indulge my gypsy spirit was most of his charm.

Alaska represented new and stimulating; a place to explore a new frontier and possibly find myself; a last-ditch effort to bring back my gypsy days of wandering off for the heck of it and just seeing what happened; a new teaching experience with an unknown population with their own struggles; and perhaps breathe some life into my own floundering relationship.  Thus Alaska.

Receiving my Alaska Teaching Certificate in the mail recently was a soul-crushing moment when I reflected on how much I’d invested (emotionally, financially, personally, and physically) into this new endeavor.  I wanted it so much!  But just like spring brings light and life back to Alaska, the realization dawned on me that I would lose more than I would ever gain by leaving “home.”  alaska

I DID leave him and the dream, but what I FOUND cleansed my soul much more:  friends that had always been there and would always have my back; colleagues that made me feel like what I did mattered every single day to my kids; a new respect and love for my sons who I’d learned COULD live well without my constant nagging; and new uncharted territory.  I didn’t have to leave to find me, I found “ME” reflected in the eyes of those relationships I’d worked hard to build and cultivate.

Now, I will be seeing Alaska at some point – but only for an extended vacation.  And with the help of a great friend (thanks Lisa!) I learned that I could have adventures AND stability.  One didn’t necessarily preclude the other.  I was reverting to my old scorched-earth method of forcing change.  I’m slowly learning a new, softer method of discovery.

So far it seems to be working…but I won’t lie…there are moments when I think, “what the heck…I’m going to Alaska!”  The gypsy in my heart surfaces on occasion.

 

There’s an APP for that!

Technology…a curse and a blessing.  Technology for the sake of technology is not a good enough reason to use it for me….it must make my life easier and better.  I have found a few apps that I consider worth the effort of remembering my ITunes username and password.

Venmo – touted as a “free digital wallet that lets you make and share payments with friends.  You can easily spit the bill , cab fare, or much more.”  How I use this:  a friend needs to borrow $3 cash for the vending machine.  I have cash so I give it to her and she transfers money from her checking account to my checking account.  This is good when we are all ordering out food especially.  You will set yourself up with whichever account you want to withdraw and deposit money in/out of.  You can then invite/send a bill/send money to anyone who also has Venmo.  Very convenient if you have kids away at college.

GoodRX – this is my #1 go-to app for prescriptions.  “Drug prices vary wildly between pharmacies.”  In today’s ever-changing climate of healthcare, prescription drugs are out of control.  How I use this:  I always have my doctor write or print my prescriptions – not call them in to my pharmacy.  That way I can check the app and see where the best prices are.  Often times, GoodRX has a better price than running it through my insurance!  And the prices vary by which pharmacy you use.  For example, the drug Hydrochlorothiazide – a popular blood pressure medication – generic (ALWAYS the better  price) is $7.11 at Kroger; $10 at Walmart; and $21.00 at CVS.  It would be $10 through my insurance.  I’ve saved $3 using GoodRX.  You can use it on your phone or you can sign up and they will send you a card.

Keepsake – a beautiful way to take those photos you have in your phone and frame them.  Yes, you could do it yourself, but for about $25 (actually if you use this coupon code “Kay15” at checkout, you will get a 15% discount) you get a beautifully framed and matted copy of your picture.  All the hardware is already attached and ready to hang right out of the box – they even send you a nail!  On the app you can resize your picture, filter it, change the color and shape of the frame…the variety is endless.  How I use this:  My grandmother always had a “family wall” so I’m starting one.  I’ve gotten my first 4 pictures back and everyone has commented on how professional they look.

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Who’s lickable?

With teachers you gotta take the laughs when you can get them, hence the interesting exchange during class change yesterday.  In that 5 minutes of “did you get mauled by a bear?” to a student wearing the now-trendy ripped jeans and “stop hugging on that boy,” a snippet of conversation was mistakenly heard as “he’s lickable.”

ERRRR!  What?  Did someone just say someone was lickable? To which one of my colleagues (and let’s be honest here, it’s hard to use “colleague” for this conversation) says, “I’ll tell you who’s lickable…Jax.”  This brought a chorus of agreement from the others.  Now I’ve not seen Sons of Anarchy and couldn’t relate, so of course I googled him.  In a later discussion last night I explained to another friend that I didn’t get the hoopla.  She said, “oh yeah, you won’t until you see him in the show.”  So, I guess that will be my next Netflix binge.  Can’t pass up a hot (and evidently lickable) guy!

But that left me thinking…who do I think is hot enough to be labeled “lickable?”  That’s a tall order.

Who is lickable to you?

 

 

Get your read on…for a lot less!

If you haven’t discovered Thriftbooks.com, you are missing out.  And you are definitely paying too much money.  I’m a lover of reading and prefer the feel of a real book in my hand.  And I like to read while soaking in a hot bath…thus no electronics.

In the past, I would peruse “the lists” and make my own list of books I’d like to read and off to McKay’s Used Book Store I’d go in blissful searching mode.  I LOVE used book stores IF I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for…then it’s a nightmare.

I have found the solution!  Thriftbooks.com.  Practically everything is under $4 WITH NO SHIPPING on most orders.  This is a no-brainer really.  Happy reading!


It’s On!

It’s spring in the South! Beautiful and unpredictable. The trees and flowers are blooming. The thunder storms are rocking. And the birds are nesting.

I’m honored that these cute little birds love my front porch. Seriously, sweet bird song is the best morning greeting…as a single female, that’s all I’m getting for now..

I like to think I’m low maintenance overall…and my yard maintenance reflects that. No bushes. No roses. Therefore, I buy 2 hanging ferns and a couple of flower baskets each year for the front porch. Very simple. Neat, clean, and minimal.

Here’s the problem…the birds LOVE my ferns. They are determined to find a mate and build a home on my front porch. I am equally determined to thwart that plan. It kills my ferns. I can’t water after the eggs and babies come. So every day…yes, every single day…I have to do bird nest reconnaissance and inspect my ferns. The hope is that they will give up and relocate.

And they did…to the wreath ON MY FRONT DOOR!

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So this is my theory…obviously the daddy bird is in charge of relocation. No momma in her right bird-mind would put her babies on a door! And they almost won…I was totally distracted checking ferns that I almost overlooked the new nest.
Whew! That was close. The nest was near complete. I’d have been exiled from the front porch for weeks! I won…for today anyway. As I post, a cute little red-headed bird sits out in the tree near my front porch just fussing at me…it’s momma bird no doubt saying, “I told you that wouldn’t work” to daddy bird. Meanwhile, daddy bird is giving me a look that says…”your sleeping-in days are over!”

After Midnight

My grandmother always said “nothing good happens after midnight!” What is “good” is very relative and changes with age.

My 20 year old self: “oh my! We don’t even get dressed to go out until dark!” This is hysterical now because I can’t drive after dark…well I can…I just shouldn’t.

To my 19 year old son: “please don’t get in any trouble! And if you do, call your dad!:

And here is the reality of that statement…after 10pm, I’ve likely taken my Ambien and will not remember a single, solitary thing we talked about.

Hence this conversation with my BFF at lunch yesterday:

Me: we still going to Harrah’s Casino Thursday?

BFF: huh? (Total confusion)

Me: we had a whole conversation last night when you texted me after midnight.

BFF: we did?

Me: uh, yes we did. We talked about taking a day trip; what time we should leave; what ur wearing to a job interview tomorrow; a text you had earlier with a mutual friend…along with pics!

BFF: (getting her phone out and scrolling messages) hmmm…guess we did!

Me: Ambien?

In her defense, she’s a newbie to the Ambien amnesia. I can say that because I DID remember the conversation.  Matter of fact, I was already dreaming of what to do with my winnings.  But as a good friend I had shared my own hilarious experiences.

For example, Lord forbid you be on my shit list AND in my contact’s list. Let’s just say more than one man has disappeared from my life under what seemed like an un-called for disappearing act.

Giving essay writing advice to my son for his college essays…he DID pass English but barely and clearly not on the merits of my advice.

Personal advice…write your blog anytime the mood hits you, but DON’T post until morning! Trust me on this!

Ambien is like a truth serum so if you don’t want to know exactly what I think, don’t ask me after 10pm. On the other hand, if you’re my kid and you want permission or money, it’s hands-down your better option.

And for the love of God, do not use me as your one phone call from jail…I will often wonder why you’ve disappeared from my life so unexpectedly. And you will wonder where the hell I am, because I will possibly say I’m on my way to get you and go back to sleep. I’m so sorry! Don’t take Ambien while you’re in jail.

Anyone that calls me late at night and knows me well starts with “have you taken your Ambien yet?” before they proceed. I have smart friends.

Like all things in life…it’s relative. Best sleep of my life and a great excuse to tell it like it is!  If this is anything like my future, old lady, tell it like it is, self…I like it!  After all, “the truth will set you free” they say…unless you’re in jail…remember, don’t call me after 10pm!

Traveling Solo

According to the latest statistics, as of 2014, “124.6 million Americans 16 years and older were single, or 50.2 percent of the population (Christian Science Monitor).”  That’s an increase of more than 15% in the last 35 years. More than half the world is single.

So why does the travel industry assume and price according to double occupancy?  It’s the travel and leisure industry’s way of appearing at the hostess stand and looking down their nose at you and booming “Just one???”  YES!  I’m single and I choose to eat in public by myself damn-it!  One day I’m going to grow some kahunas and say that very loudly…and perhaps over the intercom system.  That would be very tempting except I will already be the single beta fish in the big tank all by myself being watched with a wary eye by everyone else…”poor thing”

I’ve lived under the misguided notion that I needed to wait for that significant someone to enter my life and take me away from all THIS….my life.  It finally occurred to me that I like THIS life.  A LOT.  And I like to eat out.  And travel.  Why am I waiting on someone to become the other “occupant” to make me “double”?  I’m not.  Thus the new journey of solo travel has begun.  My new goals for this plus-50 life are:

Summering on a beach.  A luxury I’ve always dreamed of since I came to teaching.  That dream will happen this year on Tybee Island, GA.  Total island immersion!

Taking a cruise.  Currently researching the “single supplement“…more to come

Flying somewhere exotic.

Visiting a quaint New England town.  I’m thinking Stars Hollow-like, the fictional town of Gilmore Girls.

Finally seeing New York City.

Seeing Alaska.  Short of moving there permanently (and leaving friends), I’ll have to visit.

Teaching internationally (even if it’s just for the summer).

All of these WILL happen and I will be happily blogging about those experiences.  Here’s the dilemma in the planning stages….evidently no one travels alone!  Obviously that is not true!  So why does the travel industry continue to penalize solo travelers?

So the research begins.

This happened to me just this morning:  A vacation package company called me, Grand Select Cruises, and offered me a seemingly great deal – all for $776 per person ($1552 couple).  I explained that I travel solo and wanted a price for that and was redirected to a “supervisor” who explained that he could hook me up for $996 for the trip.  So technically I’m paying a penalty of $250 because I travel alone.  This should be against the law.  If nothing else, it’s rude and patronizing.  The unsaid tagline is “bless her heart, she can’t find anyone to travel with so obviously she will take what she can get”…obviously these people don’t know me…settling is not my thing!

Stay tuned.

I can’t make you more by making me LESS!

I love me a hard-working man…a manly man…a man that will climb out of the truck and whoop someone’s ass if necessary.  And I’ve rarely passed a passel of blue jean-clad, hard-hat wearing, up at dawn, men that I didn’t feel the testosterone barrier suck me in.  Something deep in my primitive brain says “that man can take care of me.”  And that’s where it starts ladies…right then and there…the hair twirling, the exaggerated sway of the hips, the licking of lips, the slight glance and innocent smile as you daintily skirt the construction zone that you can’t possibly navigate without the help of a big, strong man.  It’s a beautiful dance and one every southern girl worth her grits has mastered from an early age.

Whoa….yes, you could sop him up with a biscuit (the good ones your grandmother makes, not the canned ones) IN THAT MOMENT.  Been there, done that…several times…and loved every single moment of those early days.  And then the white collar/blue collar dance begins.  Some people can meld their lives into a beautiful shade of pale blue…but for most it’s an oil and water solution that no amount of simmering heat can mix together seamlessly.

Now before you get all up in arms and assume I’m saying that all construction workers are dumb, I AM NOT!  Far from it, skilled labor is an art that is quickly diminished in our society (that’s another post conversation) and a skill set few possess.  What I am saying is that the well-educated female brain harks back to its primitive brain and makes decisions only on that.  Which is fine for about 3 months and then you have to talk, go out in public, introduce him to your friends and family…all of which require long hours of talk….and  you have 2 choices at this point:  be who you are and risk it or start chipping away at yourself to make him appear “bigger and better” to you, to him, to them…

While I’m sure both men and women do this “downplay” of themselves, women surely hold the record.  I’ve yet to meet a woman that hasn’t stepped back from who she really is to make her partner feel more secure.  Maybe it’s the “I work so I can pay” or “I’m going to sell my house so we can start new in something we’ve both built” to a long myriad of excuses for the new partner that everyone knows IS less but you love anyway.  At least temporarily.

But the grip of someone dragging you beneath what you’ve worked, sweated, and clawed so hard for will eventually wear you down.  The “but he loves me” and “damn, he’s good in bed” only lasts through the glow of a honeymoon stage of the relationship before you inadvertently notice you’re slipping.  If you’re lucky, you will have friends that will support your new love but also won’t allow you to sink below who you really are….it’s usually in this period that you realize your two worlds don’t mesh.

AS I post, a gaggle of hard hats and safety vests pull up to the restaurant and I begin to fluff my hair….purely instinct I’m convinced.

 

Gotta love Steve Harvey

If you aren’t a lover of Steve Harvey, you are sorely missing out on some great entertainment.  I am particularly fond of his advice to young people and show it yearly to my high school students.  What I have found is that by the time students get to high school, they have been so conditioned to sit, absorb, and regurgitate that they are ill-prepared for a world that expects them to act….to think…to contribute.  And this is a terrible shame because, for the most part, these young kids are bright, respectful, and yearning to change the world.  Of course there are bad ones…always have been…but they are few and far between.  Our demise is not just around the corner as some would fear…at least not from the teenagers anyway.

As parents and teachers we must give them the skills to JUMP!  Resilience is vital.  Students need the buffer of the teen age years to mess up, regroup, and jump again.  Life is scary and fun, terrifying and triumphant, a roller coaster of emotions and events, but mostly, it’s very short…guidance and role models are essential.  I think Steve Harvey is a great example of doing something great with the powerful platform of entertainment.