Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 104- Kevin*

We weren't supposed to get along.

Kevin was a disruptive student who showed up to class every day with nothing but a bad attitude.  Literally nothing else.  No pencil, no book, no paper.  I suppose, to be fair, that I could say that he brought his iPod to class too, and he would listen to it loudly enough that I could tell which song was playing at any given time. 

I was frustrated with him on a daily basis.  He seemed like a nice enough kid, but he simply refused to give me anything but dirty looks and back talk.  Because I knew that Kevin had a difficult home life (and because this is my mission with all kids), I decided early on to tread gently with him and to do everything I possibly could to try to reach him.  However, I can only make accomodations, not excuses.  Kevin was the first and only kid I have ever had to kick out of my room and give a detention.

He took it personally.  He decided, instead of looking at his own actions, that I simply did not like him and that this would be a long semester with no hope.  I don't give up so easily.

I began practicing kindness to the extreme.  I would greet him with a big smile and a hello every day, praise him for anything I possibly could, and express interest in everything he had to say.  No excuses, Kevin.

Little by little, I saw changes.  First, he showed up to class with a pencil and his folder.  Next thing I knew, he actually OPENED the folder in class.  After that, he started to stop by during his study hall for passes to go to the lab to finish his work.  He stopped arguing when I asked him to take his hood off, and then he stopped even trying to put it up altogether.  Today, he answered questions in class... thoughtfully, politely, and correctly.  As if I wasn't proud enough, he turned in his research paper.  I'm not going to lie.  The paper was late and had obvious errors at first glance.  However, even though I'm optimistic, I'm also realistic.  I expect improvement, not perfection.

I told Kevin how proud I was of him during and after class, and he accepted this with such enthusiasm and pride that I was grinning for the next ten minutes.  I expressed my delight again when he handed in his paper.  As he was walking out the door, I remembered something and called for him to come back.  Kevin left my room the proud owner of an actual gold star.  Holler, first grade rewards!  I don't think you can ever be too old to appreciate a fine compliment and a shiny sticker.

Kevin used to annoy and frustrate me on a daily basis.  He is now a daily reminder of why I do what I do.  I'll never be too old to appreciate that either.

Thank you, Kevin, you made my day.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 103- Ice Cream Cone

I'm not an ice cream fanatic like many people I know.  In fact, I'm not even a big sweets person in general.  Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that I am a bit too sugary to begin with.  However, I squealed with delight (literally, no joke, and it freaked Tom out a little bit...) when I remembered that we had gotten ice cream and cones at the grocery store.  I enjoyed a nice little sugar cone with coffee ice cream after dinner, and it was wonderful.  I am now a happy girl with a sticky mustache.


I don't know her, but isn't she precious? :)


Thank you, ice cream cone, you made my day.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Day 102- Kittens

"Man, I should be working on my paper, but I just keep finding so many better things to do," said Tom.

I glanced to my left to see what he had busied himself with this time.  Hmm, just cruising around on the computer, I thought.  Then, I did a double take.

"Kittens?!" I said.

Yes, Tom was watching a video about kittens.  He was already chuckling to himself, but when he realized he had been caught, he kicked into high gear.  My 26-year-old husband was reduced to giggling giddily like a schoolgirl.  About kittens.  Within thirty seconds, there were tears rolling down his cheeks. 

"I can't help it!  It's... just... so... funny."

There's nothing better than seeing the people you love experience extreme happiness, even if that happiness is derived from kitten videos.

Thank you, kittens, you made my day. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day 101- Joanna*

I am finishing up my grading of all the term papers I was able to get before break.  Little Joanna, bless her heart, edited and made revisions to her paper.  It is not identical to her rough draft.  She included everything that she was supposed to, cited information correctly, and submitted a flawless works cited.  Thank goodness for gems like her!

If you've never graded an English paper (or large stack of English papers), you probably won't understand the beauty of this.  If you have, I'm sure you're nodding your head, and you may even sigh and shed a tear for me for this gift I have received.

Thank you, Joanna, you made my day.  

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Day 100 (yay)- Celebrations of Life

Wow... 100 days in a row.  All of these blogs are clearly not created equal, with some turning out much better than others (usually a function of how tired I am and how much time I have) , but I'm proud of myself for stringing 100 of them together.  265 to go!

I had decided earlier today to celebrate day 100 by writing about a really special lady in my life, but I don't have the time or energy to give that post what it deserves, so we'll save that for another day.  Instead, I'd like to focus on two celebrations of life I got to take part in today for two other special ladies.

I got to go to a baby shower for my friend Annieka today, and it was lovely.  I've known both Annieka and her husband Mark since we were little, and they hold a special place in my heart.  They are expecting their first little one in June, and I couldn't be more pleased for them.  They are a beautiful couple and wonderful friends, and I am certain that they will be excellent parents.  They have both worked so hard to build a fabulous life together, and it is awesome to get to see them begin to really enjoy it.  I can't wait for Lil P!

We also attended an 80th birthday party today for my dad's aunt Betty Jo.  This lovely lady defines what people mean when they say 80 years young.  She is as funny, beautiful, and entertaining as ever.  Many stories were shared about her crazy life tonight, but I'll leave you with one of my favorites from her son.  He said that Betty Jo would always ask him when he was younger to go over to their garden and pick vegetables to bring home to her.  He did this obediently many times.  One day, he encountered their neighbor in the garden, also picking, and asked him why he was taking their vegetables.  "It's my garden," the neighbor said.  It turns out that garden a few houses down wasn't theirs after all, but that never stopped Betty Jo!  Eighty years into her life, she's still got it.

This was a great end to a meaningful week at home, and I was pleased that I was able to take part in these celebrations.  After all, celebrating life is what I set out to do in the first place (100 days ago!).   

Thank you, celebrations of life, you made my day.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Day 99- Hunt Club

It's always nice when I'm home to visit some of the restaurants where they serve the objects of my late night snacking desires to get my fix.  I swear that I've been close before to jumping in my car and driving the eight hours home just so I could be at the Hunt Club when they opened.  They serve deep fried pickles, buttery ham and cheese sandwiches, and, of course, deer's ears.  Don't worry, these are made of potato, not deer.  Here's my haiku salute to a hometown favorite.

Crunchy potato
A meatless Friday delight
Mmmm that liquid cheese

Thank you, Hunt Club, you made my day.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day 98- USB Port

My dad recently rigged up a whole complex hilbilly system on my parents' computer in order to (finally!) make the internet much more hare and much less tortoise.  It is now possible to check e-mail, waste time on facebook, and replay music videos obsessively (today's favorite is "On My Way" by Stephen Speaks) without pulling any hair out or threatening to throw the computer out the window.  Amazing. 

The only problem is that I have some assignments due tomorrow for my student teaching class, and I can't access the internet from my laptop.  All of the files I needed to upload were on my laptop.  Enter USB port. 

Through the magic of this little guy, I was able to get everything where it needed to be when I needed it, and I'm almost totally done.  Now if there was just a magic little key that could help with procrastination and keep me from watching Real Housewives instead of finishing my work entirely...

Thank you, USB port, you made my day.   

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 97- Inspector Parker

When I was little, I looooved to play Clue.  The only problem was that you need at least three people in order to play the game, and Manda and I could never find a third.  We could occasionally convince my dad to play, but usually we only had each other to fight and make up with on a daily basis.

I also really enjoyed doing logic puzzles.  The problem in that case was that the puzzle books we had around were a bit too advanced for little me.  I'd have to wait until no one was looking and do a quick flip to the back to find enough answers to get me rolling in order to complete all the little squares.  This was only temporarily satisfying.

The beauty of computers is that I have access to a million games, and I can play by myself (so I don't have to beg anyone else to put up with my trash talking and inevitable winning).  I've tried and liked all kinds of different games, and there's one in particular that I really enjoy, Inspector Parker.  This game combines many of the wondrous things I love from my favorite childhood games.  I can spend hours at a time weeding through suspects, motives, victims, weapons, and pieces of evidence in order to solve the mysteries of Misanthrope Manor.  When I just need a little relaxation and distraction, I play the easy levels.  Sometimes it's just comforting to keep my hands busy, mindlessly clicking away at the little boxes.  Other times I play the hardest levels and really challenge my mind.  I heard it's true, after all, that if you don't use it, you lose it.  I'd hate to lose my mind any more than I already have ;).

My trusty old friend Inspector Parker really helped me to relax tonight, and it was comforting to tap away at the computer in search of a fictional killer in a fictional mansion with "eery artwork."  I solved so many mysteries that I think they'll have to create some sort of game badge for me soon.  Until then...

Thank you, Inspector Parker, you made my day.

 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 96- Victor Zywiec Mierzwa

Victor: noun

1. a person who has overcome or defeated an adversary; conqueror.
2. a winner in any struggle or contest.
3. a smart, funny, faithful companion who happens to be a black Cocker Spaniel belonging to my parents
 
Origin: Michigan fight song, "Hail to the Victors"

Related words:

General Ferri (noun)
Maize and Blue Matzwa (noun)
Molly Stasik (noun)
Ivy George (noun)





Sample sentence: Victor, would you like a treat?

Thank you, Victor Zywiec Mierzwa, you made my day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Day 95- Cheap Yet Satisfying Laughter

It started with some hockey games,
in between hits of the puck
the phone would ring in the press box
and the fans would say, "Hey (opposing goalie's name), it's your mom- she says you suck."

I started teasing Tom with this
whenever his phone would ring.
He'd roll his eyes and act annoyed,
but a smile it would bring.

So I tried it on my family too
and much to my delight
this is the sequence of events
that happened here tonight.

Ring ring ring
Me: Hello?
Grandma: Hi, Jess.  Is your mom around?
Me: Yes, yes, would you like to talk to her?
Grandma: Well, I suppose I would.
Me: Mom, it's for you.  It's your mom.  She says you stink.
Grandma: No, no.  I say she sucks.

We all know that my mom doesn't really suck and that Grandma doesn't think so either.  The buy in to this joke really made all the difference :). 

Thank you, cheap yet satisfying laughter, you made my day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 94- Hymns

One common thread I have begun to notice throughout these past 94 days is music (clearly family/friends, food, and my job are others).  Even though I can't sing a tune to save my life, and even though I never practiced piano enough to win Miss America with my talent, music plays an important role in my life.  I love the ability that music has to make me really feel.  I can use some songs to cheer me up and others when I need to let out a good cry.  Music has helped me feel like an empowered, strong woman.  It has also helped me feel like a silly little kid again.  My tastes have varied drastically over the years, and I can appreciate a great variety of different styles and flavors at this point in my life.  One thing that has remained constant for as long as I can remember is my love of hymns.

Many of the songs I remember from my childhood were learned from Mr. Glazer (I may be spelling that wrong)-- a man with unnaturally long and always tapping fingers who taught music at CCD (Catholic Sunday school type classes).  What he lacked in charisma and talent, he more than made up for with his access to the best musical content of all... hymns.  I have such fond memories of the freedom of being a child in music class.  I think being able to sing hymns at the top of my lungs, free from the self-consciousness and awareness of an adult with a sub par voice, was one of the most freeing and joyful things I could do for my soul. 

As I got older and joined the adults in church, I discovered that, for many, singing in church was a more polite and restrained act.  I learned to mouth along with the words like everyone else in order to avoid the embarrassment of others giggling at me.  Then I went to college.

When I was in college, my parents would come every Sunday to take me to church.  This practice started when my sister was at U of M, and I think my parents were excited to get an opportunity to attend St. Mary's Student Chapel again.  This place holds many special memories for them, but that's a story for another day.  I quickly realized five minutes into the first mass that this was a special place.  Instead of a dusty old choir taken from the opening scenes of Sister Act, the music was led by people with strong, powerful, wonderful voices.  The traditional hymns that I had come to love so much were turned into musical masterpieces.  The music was loud, which meant our voices, however bad they were, could be loud too.  I could sing my heart out but still blend, and I forgot to worry about what other people would think of it all.  When my cousin Lauren joined us at U of M, she joined us at church too.  We'd often joke about "raising our voices unto the Lord," and we'd grin as we belted out our hymns each week.  Holler, Jesus.

Yesterday I sang some of my favorite hymns as we said goodbye to my grandpa.  Today I was thankful to have these hymns on my iPod.  I listened to them on repeat and let myself feel sad.  Then, I took the time to really listen to them.  Once again, I was amazed at what was right there in front of me when I took the time to look and to listen.

"How Great Thou Art"

When Christ shall come,
With shouts of acclamation,
And take me home,
What joy shall fill my heart!

Then I shall bow
In humble adoration
And there proclaim,
"My God, how great Thou art!"

Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!

"I Am the Bread of Life"

I am the resurrection, I am the life
He who believes in me,
Even if he dies, he shall live forever.

And I will raise him up,
and I will raise him up,
And I will raise him up on the last day.


Some people only pray quietly, internally, when no one else is looking.  That's just not me.  For the first time in a long time, I sang at the top of my lungs and let my heart feel every single thing that it wanted to feel. 

Thank you, hymns, you made my day.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Day 93- Michigan Hockey

2 (goals) + 3 (Krupnik) + 1 tournament MVP + 1 automatic bid to the NCAA tournament + 1 "I am incredulous!" (Dad referencing an uncalled penalty) +  1 CCHA Championship + 2 (Mierzwas + Matzwas + Ferris) =
Thank you, Michigan hockey, you made my day.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Day 92- Sex on the Beach

Let's get some practice writing test questions.

Sex on the beach is:

a. a drink composed of peach schnapps, vodka, cranberry juice and orange juice
b. a fond memory Grandma shared with us of a special time with Grandpa
c. the reason(s) why there may be mispellings and grammatical mistakes in today's blog


Answer?  D!  All of the above.

Thanks, Sex on the Beach, you made my day.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 91- Family

Today we dealt with our grief the best way we know how.  Together.

We came together to tell stories, to celebrate, to grieve, to talk, and to share.  We took turns crying and comforting, contemplating and laughing, aching and mending.  We made inappropriate jokes and honored appropriately with a toast.  We watched the beautiful slide show that my sister made and talked about where and when and why and how with each picture.  We ate, we prayed, we drank, and we loved. 

To say my family is close knit would be an understatement.  We are experiencing great loss, but we will get through this together.  Before my grandpa left for heaven, he divided his strength among us in order to keep this unit strong.  I know that he enjoyed watching us today as we filled a room (and a bar) with love. 

We have two more days together to celebrate his life, and then we will go back to our lives to spend them honoring Grandpa and each other.  We will scatter across the country once more, gaining new members and losing others, but we will stay deeply connected through our memories and our love.

Grandpa, Grandma, Mom, Dad, Manda, Jason, Geno, Peach, Tom, LuLu, Mitz, Matt, and my Tom-- I love you with everything I have.  I am so blessed to call you my family. 

To my extended family-- We have appreciated your thoughts, prayers, notes, e-mails, phone calls, and kind words more than we can ever express.  I love you too.

Thank you, family, you made my day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 90- Ugly Betty

This show is funny, courageous, moving, heartwarming, and heartbreaking all at the same time. 

Betty is going to get her braces off soon, and the show is going to end.  I bet that even once the braces come off, she'll still be beautiful on the inside.  She doesn't have to be "ugly" to radiate beauty from the inside out.  When the show goes off the air, this message will linger.  

Thank you, Ugly/Pretty Betty, you made my day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 89- Grandpa Gene

This blog is a positivity only zone, so here’s what I have to say about today. My grandpa got to meet God today. How cool is that?


My grandpa is part of a three way tie with my dad and my husband for the greatest man I have ever known. If there was a build-a-grandpa workshop, I could not have built him better myself. He was equal parts honesty, sincerity, and hilarity; kind as can be and tough as nails; sassy and sweet. He was a devoted husband and father and grandfather and sports fan (go blue!) and Catholic church goer and beer drinker and…

He was a big flirt, never having met a waitress or salesgirl he didn’t like, but I have never seen a man so devoted to his wife. Even after 55 years of marriage, he still referred to Grandma as his young bride, and he’d ask at any chance he got, “Isn’t my Katie a beauty?” He and my Grandma would bicker about limburger cheese or the details of a story or a number of other things, and these arguments would end with “Christ, Kate!” and “Jesus, Gene!” and all of us in tears from laughing so hard. Underneath their silly disagreements, they shared a love so deep that it was intimidating. I often hoped and prayed that I would be able to find what they had, but I worried that it might be impossible to find.

My grandpa had the all the answers, though, and he addressed this concern easily. Each year when I started back to school, he’d ask me, “Do you have any Eugenes in your class? We just need to find you a nice little Eugene.” I never did find his namesake, but I was elated when he and my grandma approved of Tom. Dancing with my grandpa at our wedding was one of the most special moments of my entire life. As “What a Wonderful World” played, he twirled me around as much as his arthritis would allow, and we shared some happy, watery eyes. Don’t tell him that I told you that, though, because he liked to keep up his no nonsense image.

The older my grandpa got, the blunter he got. He had put in many years as a nice guy, and he was entitled to a little fun and to say whatever he wanted to whenever he wanted to. “Well I’m not sure how my meal tastes yet. You just gave it to me. How could I have tried it?” He couldn’t fool me, however, because a heart as big as his is impossible to hide away. I remember attending a hockey game once in Detroit with my parents and grandparents. Before the game, we stopped in Greektown for a baklava fix. On the way out of the bakery, a homeless man approached us begging for money. Grandpa scowled at him while discreetly handing him a twenty. He didn’t think anyone noticed, but this gesture did not go unnoticed.

None of it was lost on me, and I sure do hope that I told him that enough. I loved every single thing about Grandpa. I loved that he always told me what a nice hairline I had, even though I wasn’t sure for many years what that meant. I loved that he’d allow us a glimpse into his private moments every year at Midnight Mass. He’d sing Polish Christmas carols, and I knew that he was talking to God and to his relatives. We’ll still share that every year. I loved that every summer when all of the grandkids camped in his backyard, he’d stand at the window and howl- even when it scared us enough to come inside… and even years beyond the point when we believed it. I loved that my grandpa always had a great story for everything. One story I remember hearing over and over again involved him standing patiently in an elevator waiting for the operator to come in and press the button for him. After quite some time, another man joined him and pressed the button, and my grandpa was initiated into the world of technology. I loved that my grandpa could add more than twenty double-digit numbers in his head and come up with the right answer. I loved that he earned his MBA at Michigan, starting a whole line of super fans and alums. We still sit in his football seats every fall. We’ll still share that with him too. I loved that he’d fry us up some buttery ham sandwiches every time we had a half day off from school. I loved that he was never too embarrassed to break into song (“Someone keeps callllllling my name…”) or dance or laughter. I loved that he loved show tunes and used them to introduce us to a whole new world. I’ll always think of him as younger than springtime. I loved that he and my grandma picked up and moved their lives to be closer to all of their grandkids. We always knew that we were a priority. I loved the way he smiled. He and my grandma took us all to New Orleans one spring when I was little, and I have a perfect mental picture of him on the train ride down. Everyone else had fallen asleep, but I was still up coloring. I tapped him awake to show him the beautiful picture that I had colored (very badly, I’m sure). He wasn’t mad that I woke him up. In fact, he praised my picture up and down and gave me the kind of smile that made me feel like I was the most special little girl on earth. I loved how he would take us to the horse races and give us money to bet, even though I picked horses based on which one I thought was prettiest and even though he knew I’d never win. I loved that he couldn’t eat a meal without getting something on his shirt. We’ll still share that too. Most of all, I loved the way he loved us with his whole heart and soul. He’d take a moment each Christmas to tell us all how much he adored us and how lucky he was. We are the lucky ones, Grandpa. The loss we feel now is only a reflection of the immense joy that you brought to our lives. We are so incredibly blessed to feel so deeply and to love so strongly.

When I talked to my grandpa on the phone yesterday, we made plans to have dinner next weekend. Well, Grandpa, I guess we’ll have to take a rain check on that one. Until then, I’m sure you will enjoy a few Manhattans up there (with at least three cherries, of course) and have a good chat with Bo Schembechler about how to turn our boys around this fall. I thank God so much for letting us end our last conversation yesterday the same way we always did.

I love you, Grandpa.


I love you too, Jessi.



Thank you, Grandpa, you have made so many of my days.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day 88- Students Following Directions

Not every student will get an "A"
or be totally and completely aware,
Which is why it can be so exciting to be met
with more than a blank stare.

What I really want the most some days
is just for them to listen.
And to see that they're completing their work
instead of having assignments missin'. 

Sometimes I smile as light bulbs go on,
and students make connections.
While other times I jump for joy
when they simply follow my directions.

Today I worked on commas with my students as part of a revision lesson for their research papers.  I showed them how commas can save lives (think "Let's eat Grandma!" vs. "Let's eat, Grandma!), discussed examples of comma usage possible in popular song lyrics (they liked the Ke$ha example in my PP the best), and started them on the path to "comma sense" (like common sense... get it?).  I spent a lot of time crafting the lesson, and I was worried that all of my cheesy jokes and efforts to make grammar interesting would be met with crickets and blank stares.  However, I was both suprised and pleased to have most of my students laughing, particpating, taking notes actively, practicing the material, and FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS!  If you've ever dealt with students or teenagers in any kind of capacity, I'm sure you know how meaningful the following of directions can really be.  I may or may not have danced a little jig.  If for no other reason than that, I think it was a good day for my students too :).

Thank you, students following directions, you made my day.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 87- Freshly Washed Sheets

I have really earned my sleep today.  I am confident that I will fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.  I am also confident that I have given as much of myself as I can to as many people as I can today. 

I can't wait to go to bed in my freshly washed sheets.  Clean sheets are a reward, a pleasure, and a luxury that I do not take for granted.  I will greatly appreciate them... if I ever find my way to my bed tonight :).

Thank you, freshly washed sheets, you made my day.

P.S. Beyond the whole clean business, I sure am glad that I let Tom talk me into splurging for a higher thread count when we purchased our bedding!  It is worth every extra penny.

Day 86- To Do List

I didn't always used to be this way.

I used to be completely laid back and fancy free (that phrase just does not get used enough anymore).  I would procrastinate as much as possible, and, except for the few panicked hours before something was due or needed to be done, I was in a constant state of relaxation.  I could spend an entire day watching a marathon on tv guilt free and just use the few minutes of commercials here and there to get things done. 

Then I grew up.

Now I make lists.  Ok, I don't just make lists.  I enjoy making lists.  Sometimes I even need to make lists in order to fall asleep at night.  I constantly have everything I need to do, which is quite a bit these days, racing through my head.  Making a list helps to empty this out and to set productivity into motion.  I make a weekly grocery list that is even crazier and more organized than my dad.  I make lists at school about things I need to do at home and lists at home about what I need to do at school.  Sometimes I even make lists of lists.  I love to make packing lists to ensure that I will not forget things, even if I'm only packing to go somewhere for a night or a weekend.  I think I forgot to bring pajamas somewhere once, but that will never happen again, thanks to my sweet lists.  Sometimes I make mental lists too and annoy Tom as I have to mentally check each item off before I can leave the house.  After a few years of marriage, though, he occasionally does it now too.  I have post its and pads of paper in every room and place and car that I frequent for all the lists that I just have to write down.  One of the greatest rushes I get on a daily basis is when I get to cross something off on a list.  There's a temporary satisfaction once a list is complete, but then I just get all excited, make another list, and start all over again. 


Today I made a whopper of a list.  It was big and long and included a bunch of things that I have been meaning to do for quite some time now, things that have been transferred across more than one or two lists.  Although I only finished about half of the "To Dos," this was a huge achievement, especially since this is my day of relaxation.  I get happy just thinking about what an accomplishment half of this list is, and I can only imagine the elation I will experience when it is complete.  I'll probably have to write a whole new list about it- ways to celebrate or new things to do or things I can do now that those other things are accomplished.  If you think about it, this blog is just one big ol' list of things I am thankful for (I have thought about it, and it's so exciting). 

Thank you, to do list, you made my day.
 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Day 85- Inside Out Sweatshirt

My comfy lounge pants shouldn't get all the glory.  They are only half of the total relaxation comfort outift picture (my own version of the fleecedo- the sweatcedo?).  The other half?  My twelve year old inside out sweatshirt. 

Anyone who has known me and lived with me in the past twelve years could easily identify it in a lineup.  It's a Western High School Track sweatshirt, maroon and gray on the inside and fuzzy and white on the outside.  I don't remember exactly why I started wearing it the wrong way, but once it went inside out the first time, I've never looked back.  It traveled with me to years of track meets.  It laid with me under many "quiet trees" (the areas we designated for focus and peace before races).  It was waiting for me on the infield to congratulate me every time I qualified for an important race, and it comforted me every time my coach forced me to run the 400m.  Somehow, magically, it warmed me when I was cold and helped cool me when I was overheating.  Perhaps I'm onto something with the whole inside out business after all.

My sweatshirt and I have retired from any type of athletics more serious than a romp with the Wii fit and the occasional run and bowling game.  Hopefully that will change someday when I share my love of track with my own team.  When I come out of retirement, my sweatshirt will make its triumphant return to the public eye.  Until then, I know that it is content to wait faithfully for me at home, the perfect complement to any pair of comfy lounge pants and any Friday night.   

Thank you, inside out sweatshirt, you made my day.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day 84- J the Custodian

Characters: Mrs. Ferri, high school teacher
                  J, custodian and handyman extraordinaire

Setting: After school around 4 pm.  The school is nearly deserted.  As Mrs. Ferri walks down the hall, she hears the faint sounds of music playing off in the distance.  The music grows louder and louder as she approaches the school exit.  As she turns the corner to the Senior hallway, she spots the boombox and the custodian at the same time. 

J: It's the hooooooooooooooonky tonk women.  Gimme, gimme, gimme the honky tonk blues! YEAH.  It's the--

J the Custodian spots Mrs. Ferri out of the corner of his eye.

T:  Oh.  Oops- well, I guess you caught me!

Mrs. F.: I suppose I did.  It's a nice way to catch you, though.  Good times.

T: Good times.

Mrs. Ferri and J share a chuckle and a twinkle in the eyes.  Man, there's a guy who knows how to have fun at work, Mrs. F. thinks.

Mrs. F.: Well, have a good night.  Keep rockin'!

T: Sure thing.  Gimme, gimme, gimme....

T adds in a shimmy and a little spin move with the broom for good measure.  Mrs. Ferri exits the building and heads to her car.  Inspired, she cranks up her "Glee" cd and sings at the top of her lungs all the way home.  At a traffic light, she is caught by a random stranger, who giggles at her performance.  Another chuckle and twinkle are shared. 

Pay it forward.

Thank you, J the Custodian, you made my day.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day 83- Applesauce

How to become a kid again in three simple steps.

  1. Become a teacher.  Spend your break time conversing with students about whether or not Twilight is good reading (it's not, sorry) and explaining how everything they're learning is important (it is) and discussing how Shaun White's private halfpipe is the sweetest thing to ever exist (it might be).   
  2. Start taking a lunchbox to work.  Swing it while you walk, embrace it, love it.
  3. Pack applesauce in your lunch every day.  An applesauce a day keeps the old age away. 
In the initial lunch packing stages of this semester, I always made sure that I had some kind of little sweet treat included to enjoy at the end of lunch.  Over the past few weeks, little applesauce cups have also become a part of the daily routine, and I enjoy this just as much.  I love how it tastes.  I love the little perfectly portioned cup.  I love that eating it makes me feel good and does not add to my waistline. 

Next stop... juiceboxes!  Or fruit snacks... or PBJ.  Or pudding cups.  Or peanut butter and celery.  The lunch world is full of endless possibilities :).

Thank you, applesauce, you made my day.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 82- Bright Yellow Sweater

Today I made a choice to be happy.  You might say I had sunshine on a cloudy (and rainy) day.  This came in the form of a bright yellow sweater.  After all, I think sunshine is a state of mind (and the fact that my classroom doesn't have windows allows me some wiggle room with the ol' imagination).   

I knew that it was supposed to be rainy today, and I knew that it would be a long day of running around, especially because Tom is traveling again.  I selected my outfit carefully this morning and found one of the brightest things I had to put on.

It turns out that the world not only looks brighter from behind a smile, but it's also pretty bright from behind a vibrant yellow sweater.  Instead of just matching my clothes to my disposition, it seems as if I can actually use them to help create a sunny disposition.  Whatever works, right?

Thank you, bright yellow sweater, you made my day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 81- Clean Laundry

It's been a while since I wrote a really awful poem.  It's about that time...


Something that you may not know
or might not even think to guessy
is that I've grown into Tidy Jess
and out of Messy Jessi.

In the past you'd find my clothes all wadded up
and strewn about the floor.
But now I wash and fold and fluff
and place them neatly in the drawer.

When the alarm goes off,
and I fumble for the light,
there's nothing more to stumble over.
Oh, clean laundry's a delight!

My glass is always full,
and now my dresser is too.
Perhaps it's finally time to tackle
that big ol' pile of shoes.

OR

When my clothes are nice and clean,
they make me feel brand new :).


Thank you, clean laundry, you made my day.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Day 80- Girl Scout Cookies

Dear Girl Scout Cookies,

I might as well come right out and say it... I'm addicted to you.  I'm not sure that I can pinpoint just one reason for this obsession.  Perhaps absence really does make the heart grow fonder, and I adore you because I can only experience you once a year for a very short time.  Maybe I love the fact that I am supporting little girls.  It might just be that you have found a way to combine peanut butter and chocolate into some sort of circular perfection or that you come in another delicious flavor that I can poke my finger through and nibble at like when I was a kid.  I can't explain what you do to me, but- oh!- you do it well.

In reality, I have every reason to hate you.  I'm a Girl Scout reject, after all.  Remember?  Amanda and I both saw our Girl Scout careers come crashing down one fateful day at the Parma Girl Scout Picnic/Bingo.  Manda was a Brownie, I was a Daisy, and my mom was an extremely busy lady.  She rushed home from work to make us a cake to take to the event, but she didn't have time to let it cool before slapping the frosting on.  We were mortified to discover when we arrived at the event that our delicious cake looked less than desirable, with the frosting all settled to one side after a trip in the car.  Matters only got worse when we noticed our Meijer paper bag and plastic silverware sat in stark contrast to the other girls' picnic baskets and delicate flatware.  We were the last to win a Bingo prize, a pair of pineapple towels left over after all the other prizes were picked through.  The final knife to the heart came when we went to claim our cake pan to take home, and we realized that it was still completely full of our cake.  So much for not judging a book by its cover!

Yet, somehow, someway, you have weaseled your way back into my heart year after year.  I can't help myself.  You.  Are.  Just.  That.  GOOD.

Thank you, Girl Scout Cookies, you made my day. 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day 79- Zach Galifianakis

"I've been in Canada, opening up for Miles Davis.  Kilometers Davis."

"I like dark comedies.  That's why I like the Wayans brothers."

"I went to my high school reunion not too long ago and, uh, it was very weird because I was homeschooled.  Just me there by a bowl of punch listening to Kool and the Gang.  Why I rented a limousine, I have no idea."

"Sometimes I do something, and I'll think to myself that is so Raven.  And then other times I'll do something, and I'll be like that is so not Raven."

"If you read my blog you'll know I'm a pilates freak, and by pilates I mean waffles."

Ahhh... Mitch Hedberg is smiling up there somewhere.
http://involution.com/mitch-quotes/


Thank you, Zach Galifianakis, you made my day.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 78- Gentle T

I don't know "Gentle T."  He doesn't know me.  My CT had him in class when he was a freshman, and she pointed him out to me in the hallway a few weeks ago.  He was hard to miss at 6'2" and probably at least a solid 200.  "He's one of the nicest boys I've ever met," she said.  I experienced this today.

I was walking into the library behind my kids when I felt someone rush up behind me.  Gentle T popped up and jumped ahead of me to open the door.  I smiled from the inside out and thanked him, and he acknowledged me with a slight nod of the head and a soft smile back. 

Perhaps this is a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, but it is important just the same.  These little gestures are becoming endangered species as we move more and more toward communicating with each other only in texts or in messages of forty characters or less.  Sometimes we just forgo interaction altogether.  I'm thankful for my interaction today with a teenage boy who has a solid set of manners.

Thank you, Gentle T, you made my day.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 77- Pottery Barn Catalog

Oh Pottery Barn Catalog, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

I love that you always seem to arrive on slow mail days to brighten the trip to the mailbox.

I love that you're like a favorite book or photo album.  My husband and I obsess over you for at least a week after you arrive, sometimes more. 

I love the dreams you encourage me to dream.  Someday I will have that house (you know, the one with the lofty ceilings and the beachy bathroom and the excellent natural light) that is terribly cute right down to the adorable mudroom.  Who wouldn't want an adorable mudroom?  Little baskets and bits of cuteness in the most unexpected places?  Please.  And the holiday decorations? Ahhhhh.  How about that bedding?  Perfection.

I love that you have started to send me Pottery Barn Kids as well.  Even though I don't have any of those yet, I am a planner.  It is nice to know what their rooms will look like when they begin to arrive in a few years.

I love that even though you are too pricy, and even though I find the cheaper Pier 1 versions of your treasures when I actually decide to make purchases, you don't judge me.  You show up all the time anyway and don't seem to mind that our relationship is completely one sided.

Did I mention the bedding?  I love your bedding.  Thanks for the color combination ideas and all the other ideas.  I file them away, both literally (in a little manila folder) and figuratively (in that color coded system in my head).

I love that you always encourage my vision for a guest room so lovely that everyone will fight over getting to stay in it to the point that I have to start a calendar where people book their time slots months in advance just to partake in loveliness of the room.  We'll get there someday.

Thank you, Pottery Barn Catalog, you made my day. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 76- Scott*

*Name changed as part of my Student Protection Program :)

Today Scott turned in his notes for his research paper.  Completed.  On time.

I felt like this:


I don't expect you to understand how miraculous this is.  I could tell you that he doesn't always turn things in when he should or that he has trouble completing his work.  I could tell you that he sits in the back, listens to an iPod whenever possible, and generally seems to be too cool for school.  I could tell you that he struggles, even when I spend a lot of my time helping him, and I have no idea if I'm getting through or not.  You still might not get it.

That's ok.  I got it.  I realized the moment we had today while it was happening.  As I paged through Scott's beautifully completed notes, notes that I know he must have worked so hard on, I got the feeling that he has finally decided to want for himself the things that I have wanted for him all along.  I shared my excitement with Scott in the form of an "OhmygoodnessI'msoproudofyoulookatthiswonderfulwork!"  I may be mistaken, but I swear that before he got embarrassed, he allowed himself a faint smile.  That's all I need.


Thanks, Scott, you made my day.

   

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day 75- Yellow Ribbon

On the way home today, I drove by the same houses I've driven past a hundred times.  For some reason, I really noticed them today, and I was quite pleased by what I found.  On one house, I saw a big fat yellow ribbon tied around a big fat tree.

I love this simple gesture and what it stands for.

I remember when this practice was much more commonplace during Desert Storm, and my parents drove all over our small town taking pictures of the ribbons posted everywhere.  My cousin was overseas, and my second grade class spent a day writing letters to him.  He was so touched by his packet of letters that he found me a music box and sent it back to me.  It looked like a couple little kittens crawling out of a box and played "Memories" from-you guessed it- Cats.  I'm not a huge fan of cats, but I love Cats, and I cherished that music box as much as he cherished our letters.

This yellow ribbon business also lead me to a great appreciation for "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" by Tony Orlando.  I would sit by our record player and move the little arm back over the song again and again and again.  I even figured out the exact spot to place the arm to hear my favorite verse,

"Now the whole damn bus is cheering

And I can't believe I see
A hundred yellow ribbons 'round the old oak tree
I'm comin' home "

I remember hoping and praying that everyone could come home to this kind of reception.  I still do.  As much as I appreciate the yellow ribbon down the road, I will be happy for the day when everyone returns home safely, and it can be taken down.  I know that world peace is a lofty goal to reach for, but I hope that we can begin to achieve it one yellow ribbon at a time.  God Bless our troops!

Thank you, yellow ribbon, you made my day.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 74- One Shoulder Dresses

When I was in high school, I always dreamed of having a spectacular light green one shoulder formal dress. 

I didn't ever find it.

However, I had more fabulous dresses than I can count.  There was off the shoulder light blue tulle.  I had sparkly white criss crossy straps and strapless white with hologram triangles.  There was a hiccup in the line of gorgeousness with a little pink halter snakeskin looking number, but I got back on track quickly.  The black and gold macrame spaghetti strap gown (much prettier than it sounds, I promise) and deep purple velvet were dazzling enough to make me forget all about the elusive one shoulder dress.  I took the plunge in backless black and silver and jumped back out in shiny red.

The most wonderful gown I've ever had was, of course, my wedding gown.  Much like the groom, I could have found it in a room of millions (in real life it was hundreds-- of gowns, not grooms), and I would have still known it was the perfect one for me.  It was slightly off white and strapless and lace with little details and buttons and sparkles, and it was all kinds of ideal for me.

So many dresses in so many years, and me- I loved them all!

After all these years of perfect dresses, I have yet to find that perfect one shoulder dress.  Imagine my excitement when, in a wondrous twist of cyclical fashion fate, I noticed all over the media and tv today that ONE SHOULDER DRESSES ARE BACK!  I am thankful to be given this second chance at true one shoulder love :).

Thank you, one shoulder dresses, you made my day.



P.S. Imagine how much you would make my day if I found a reasonably priced one of you that fit me well and could be worn to a wedding!  I just might have to break the rules and use the same thing on here twice.