How to Get Rich Quick

If you ever have a free afternoon, I invite you to sit down with me and I’ll tell you about my long line of entrepreneurial ventures, self-employment investments, and so-called “brilliant” ideas. I started small, with my neighbor, Danielle Brideau at my side, a lemonade (and “goodies”) stand on the side of an old mountain road where we employed our minions –err– I mean our mothers — to be the bakers while we embarked on painting a catchy sign and practicing our marketing pitch.

The success story of the lemonade stand had us holding board meetings, committee pow-wows, and executive planning sessions where we hashed out our future goals and budgeted for the upcoming fiscal year. Even when we returned to grade school, as the season changed and that market shifted, we worked hard hours whilst sipping hot chocolate and practicing dances to Ace of Base so we could charge our family and friends to come watch our haute choreography.

As we entered middle school, we each parted ways, due to her taking an excessive interest in boys, and my desire to continue building forts in the woods with my brothers (we didn’t have none schoolin’ back in that them there days). Even though my imagination was bigger than my head, I never swayed from being able to spot money a mile away and setting about to have it within my grasp in the most difficult way possible. For example, when my family took our first plane trip to the land of savannahs and peaches (Georgia, for those of you who failed Geography), I discovered a “wishing well” at the airport which was laden with coins of all shapes and sizes. Being the sensible, hard-working gal that I am and always was, I dove in head first and partook of some of the bounty. Sorry about all those wishes that may not come true folks, but don’t worry….karma got me later.

My dad made me return the money to the fountain of course, but no one could steal my gusto. Plus, I made like 20 wishes while pouring everyone’s money back in there, and I KNOW they all came true.

KidsLemonade

A few more side businesses came and went, literally side, one involved selling railroad spikes, sea shells, and rocks on the SIDE of the road as “Antiques”. I was always looking for ways to work and get paid for it, and I longed for the day when I could get my first “real job”. It was on that day, I proudly gave up my dog leashes (from my dog-walking business), the diaper bags (from my babysitting career), and my grocery wagon (from my gopher service), and began slinging pepperoni pizzas at the Jaffrey Pizza Barn (pretty sure they have the same website they had 12 years ago…..). 

As I said, it would take all afternoon for me to talk about all my work-related, life-supporting endeavors, because stories from my “6-Woman Concierge Service” would alone go on for hours. So, in the name of sparing you my long-winded chatter, I will just share with you the some of the common methods of financial growth that have stuck with me by and large for all of these years, in good times and bad times, in sickness and in health, for richer, and definitely for poorer.

1. Amazon.com

BooksI have to hand all the credit to my former college roommate, Tara, for this one. She taught me the ways of selling books on Amazon and then kicking it up a notch, and selling not just our own books but the ones that professors set outside of their department doors labeled: “Free”, as well as the ones on the shelves at the library labeled: “Free”, and of course the ones in the bookstore in a bin labeled: “Free”. Anyway we could get out hands on books, we would. I brought home backpacks heavier than I could carry full of books which we would check to see if their ISBN came up with a big winner. Sometimes, we felt as though we had won the lottery, “$25.19!!!” and other times, it was a complete wash, “$0.01”. On Amazon Marketplace, everyone wins! You’re doing the environment a favor by buying a used book, and you’re doing the seller a solid by helping support their Ramen noodle diet. The seller of course wins, the CASH. Directly deposited into their bank account on a rolling basis. It’s hard work. We spent long nights wrapping books in paper grocery bags that we turned inside out. We spent millions on packing tape when it was all said and done. But we paid our entire share of rent with that money. And we slept like babies.

PunchingBag

 

2. Craigslist 

This is where the magic happens. Missed connections, stories of long lost loves, job postings and best of all….THE CLASSIFIEDS! I’ve listed everything you can imagine on Craigslist: Cameras, punching bags, beds, furniture, computers, even massage tables. You name it, I’ve listed it, it’s sold. At prices that will have you paying rent in no time. Or splurging on wine night with the gals!

3. Tips

We all know how a restaurant works: you sit down, you chow, you pay, and you tip your server. Wait, you DO tip your server, don’t you? By now, I hope the world knows that the people who bring you your plates in a restaurant are making a pitiful hourly wage. They depend on your tipping (20% gratuity is the perfect amount to spare yourself from looking like a jerk) to pay their auto mo-bills. It’s nice to tip at times when your heart leads you to, at coffee shops, massage therapists, or hair salons (I have NEVER thought that was OK, but they have me trained to do it now), but it’s not really ok to NOT tip when you go to a restaurant. Just think, if you didn’t have someone set your table, pour your drinks, take your order, make your food, bring your food out, keep your drink constantly full, get you any condiment your heart desires, and then clean up after you when it was all said and done….you would’ve been at home, ordering take out, still would’ve had to tip the pizza guy and clean up your own darn mess. Also, trust me on this one, a tip is a server’s pride and joy, so if they did well and made you laugh once or twice, make them smile and make it worth it for them. What goes around comes around.

4. The Random Odd Job

I usually resort to these only in a pickle. The last hurrah, the final countdown. If the electric bill is due is 7.7 hours and I have 7.7 dollars in my bank account, I will likely offer my “odd job” services which include, but are not limited to: childcare, delivering, grocery shopping, meal preparation, cleaning, dog walking, fly catching, organizing, painting, laundry, and any other skill I can pull outta my butt and make appealing to someone to pay me for.

5. Coin Collecting

A less promising, though widely available job…coin-collecting simply involves scavenging for ALL of your loose change, pockets, couches, behind your ears, and elsewhere with the goal of bringing it to the bank or Coinstar (a machine which heartlessly devours 8% of it) and at least cash in for a coffee at Starbucks with the $2.11 cents you score. Don’t ask me how an entire Mason Jar is worth so little, I’ve scratched my head in befuddlement many a time. Then again, it’s amazing how far you can get on $1.95 worth of gasoline.

Well, now that I’ve shared with you my hard-earned, hard-earnings secrets…get out there and make some cash! And don’t come crying to me if you break a nail or get dirt on your face. And while you’re chasing Ben Franklins, always keep his words close to heart: 

“Early to bed and early to rise makes and man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Ham Mock

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Fifty Shades of Gravy

A Jill of all trades– I have been, in my past life, a travelling chef. It all began with me cooking boxed macaroni and cheese for my three little brothers and quickly transformed into a love for creating food and nutrition. Eventually, I found myself tossing dough, flipping cakes, sautéing veggies, and roasting hens for a family and their guests, in France for four months. That was prior to working with raw, vegan pastries, and after many years of experimenting to satisfy my own cravings for culinary delight. martha-cooking-school-stewing-coq-au-vin_vert

While I was in France, I learned to cook a dish called “coq au vin” (not at all pronounced how it is spelled). Many of you may know this as “drunken chicken”. A French classic and Julia Child-approved meal, it’s a braised chicken dish loaded with, and generously marinated in: wine, brandy, butter, garlic, mushrooms, potatoes, and fresh herbs and spices. I made it for my family upon returning from my foreign travels and they loved it. I think a member of the bunch may have even done a chicken dance to celebrate the ecstatic state of his taste buds. Now the real reason for me telling you all that….

I have a wish bone from one of these coq au vin-ed chickens beside my bed. I brought it back to the States with me and have kept it carefully out of harm’s way to constantly remind me that dreams really do come true. In fact, the very fact that I was in France was a wish granted. And I can honestly say, there have been countless times in which I’ve been magically reminded that wishing and hoping, alongside working and taking steps in the right direction equals great gain and abundance.

One of the best wishes that has ever come true for me was meeting my true love! I am not one of those girls who likes to brag about her relationship on Facebook, I don’t post duo-selfies on Instagram just to show the world what we’re doing, how adorably we’re doing it, and remind them of how they don’t have what we have. I do however have the over-arching feeling that I finally deserve to be this happy. You know why? Because I have had my fair share of heart breaks, lonely heart disease, crushed heart syndrome, and heart wrenching sorrow when it comes to the relationship department. erm

Now, I know I am a bit of a strange bird, but for ANYONE to self-analyze and find themselves completely HOPELESS is a rather tragic thing. And, in my 25th year, that is exactly how I felt. I felt that a relationship could never happen for me because of this, that, or the other thing that had ended all of my other “relationships”. My multiple neurosis’ and overall demeanor were not looking good as far as ever sticking with something long term for your heroine, me. But regardless of having zero compatibility with everyone on the planet, I did not give up hope. I continued to wish, and dream, and make a list of all the qualities I felt I deserved in the love of my life. Although, at the time not feeling as though I was deserving of much more than a frog. There is nothing I would enjoy less than kissing a frog. Well, actually, come to think of it, I wouldn’t really enjoy being trampled by a stampede of wild elephants, nor being chained to the top of a barbed wire fence, nor being rocket launched into outer space without the proper gear. But, as far as normal-day-to-day unenjoyable activities go, kissing a frog is way up there.

Fortunately, my boyfriend entered my life as a Charming Prince right from the get-go! No frog kissing needed! Well, unless of course you ask him… then he might say he had to kiss a frog-ette in order for her to turn into the magnificent princess that I am today.

It’s been just over a year of our official dating, and coming up on TWO years of our ongoing romantic-interest-inspired correspondence and I have had my eyes opened to many of the ins and outs of what it means to be in “a relationship”. I hear men and women talking about this all over the place; the typical man, the typical wife. He always says, she always says. The media skews it, the magazines make it look like a constant day at the beach, your grandmother forewarns you, and your friends don’t really know WHAT to say.

Each one is different and unique, as two completely unique individuals come together to form a new life. It’s like learning to walk on four feet, when you’ve always done quite well with just two. Here are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. There are a plethora, but these are the little ones I had time to ponder while simultaneously reading, watching TV, writing a letter to my mom, and working out at the gym this morning.

Multi-tasking is Usually More Harm than Good

People can pretty much always tell when you’re not paying attention to them. That being said, people, for the most part, LOVE attention paid to them. I used to consider myself an amazing multi-tasker. Being in a relationship, not to mention getting in several car accidents, has changed all that. You realize that in order to let someone know you truly care about them, you have to listen when they talk, pay attention to them more often than simply peering up from your smartphone once every few hours, and remember things they say. This requires a great deal of focus, and putting aside your selfish tendencies. I wish I could say I’ve perfected this, but I’m coming down off YEARS of only having to focus on ME, ME, ME for the majority of my life, so it’s taking me awhile to set aside some of my old habits and bring forth the new, mindful, and focused girl that I know is hidden somewhere inside.

 

Food Really Is the Way to a Man’s Heart, and Maybe Mine Too

One thing I’ve really enjoyed about being in a relationship is not having to eat so many meals by myself. Meal time has become a real source of pleasure and togetherness, rather than simply me hiding in my room with a giant scoop of hummus and some carrot sticks until everyone is done using the kitchen so I can make something involving large quantities of vegetables in peace. Men probably don’t think about food the same way women do, they just eat it because you made it, it’s delicious, and they’re hungry. We are very ingrained with habits, rituals, and patterns involving consumption. It’s a merging of two people’s preferences in creating new traditions of this sort. I have completely changed the way that I eat, ever since the involvement and consideration of a second party’s growling belly.

wishboneDon’t Assume

Making assumptions has always worked quite well for me in the past. At least, I think it has; I haven’t really noticed how detrimental making assumptions can be until being in a relationship. Probably because I haven’t had a constant subject to project my assumptions onto. Thinking he or she knows what you’re thinking is setting yourself up for failure. Enter, communication. It’s vital that you be communicating with each other, turning over your thoughts and feelings internally before letting them loose to your partner. Is what you’re saying necessary? Is it going to be hurtful? Is there a tactful way to say it? If it’s something you’re making an assumption about, the sentence structure and timing are particularly crucial.

If It’s Your Problem, It Becomes Our Problem

You know all your best traits? Isn’t it exciting when someone brings those out in you, encourages you in them, and inspires you to be your very best? At the same time, the very worst parts of you float to the surface on a regular basis. You then realize that the skeletons you hung in your closet alongside your party dresses and cocktail gowns, are not as pretty as you thought. Things that you struggled with before you met Mr. or Miss Perfect do not vanish, they don’t go away. They move in right along with you. Waiting for you to deal with them, to travel inside and self-develop just like you were before you were in a relationship. Sometimes, our negative traits can be amplified and become embarrassing artifacts which we display to our significant others on a regular basis. Some people are more clever at masking theirs and never taking them out to play. Problems are problems, and while fewer, they are not extinct. But it’s nice to have someone who will listen to mine. erm2

Why Did I Settle and Compromise All Those Times?

I guess something major that I have learned is that up until this point, I didn’t really think that “happy” existed in reference to the way a relationship could turn out. I would compromise what I knew I wanted, and settle for something that made me feel like a squelched bug. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own. Things might be OK, but they were not what I knew they could be. Being in a relationship has added a splendid new meaning to my existence and sometimes it makes me feel so wonderful I want to shout it from the rooftops. But, I won’t. Because then, the people who are feeling like squelched bugs would be jealous and sting me.

The one lesson I have most gleamed from this love story romance novel, is that your dreams can come true. Even your big dreams. Even your hopelessly large ones. And then when they come true, it’s life. It’s new life, wild life, similar but better life. It becomes YOUR life.

It’s a wonderful life!

 

 

 

Casting Dry Spells.

Have you ever gone searching your brain, the internet, the encyclopedia, or otherwise for something witty, something clever and creative…only for any sort of concept to completely elude you? You are digging for inspiration, and turn up with sticks, stones, and pebbles, and devoid of any golden nuggets upon which to bank. Maybe this is a time when you’re feeling down and out, sick and tired, dogged and weary, like a soaking wet rat you drag yourself to safety, staring at the sky and wondering what you did to deserve this?! Despite the fact that you feel like a soggy sneaker, I call these times, “Dry Spells”. They are periods of time that leave me thirsty as your grandmother’s chapped lips.desert-1108-lg

Literally, it feels like nothing that you do is right and someone has cast some horrid spell or curse on you that is beyond your control.

I’ve gone through times like this that have seemed to last forever. In fact, it seems there have been many parts of my life in which I’ve danced in the wrong place at the wrong time, and found myself up a creek with a paddle but no but nor life jacket. I’ve wished for things to happen sooner than they were intended to, and I’ve jumped to my fair share of conclusions. Lord knows, I’ve  counted eggs as chickens, before they were even in my basket!

I’ve always known it was important to stay awake, pay attention, and be aware.  Sometimes though, it’s far more easy to close your eyes and drift off to the serenades of Steely Dan than to stay focused and plunge ahead. Everyone encourages you to stay positive, that it’s bound to happen, and that your ship will come in. They weave together cliché’s most expertly, simultaneously unraveling your every desire to live.

You’re sitting around bored as can be one minute, you’ve cleaned your kitchen floors 6,000 times and they’re past the point of sparkling. You’ve logged 900 miles of walking and running, you’ve made every recipe in your favorite recipe book, and called your mom over 100 times. You’re getting sick of you. She is getting sick of you. And you are getting sick of being sick of yourself.

And then, like a storm. You go from zero to sixty, in the time it takes a normal human to go zero to one. You barely have time to breathe, eat, check your email, and go to the bathroom.

Feast or famine. I’m hitting the ground running.

Sweet Dreams are Made of These

Life is about the small things, that is for sure. The small things add up and soon become bigger, and more rewarding; surpassing your hopes, dreams, and wildest of imaginations.

I used to have a problem in that I could not sleep. I couldn’t fall asleep, stay asleep, wake up late enough to be considered a normal human, and then when it was NOT time to sleep, all I wanted to do was sleep. I would have self-diagnosed myself with paranoia and attempting to combat the overabundant stresses that I gifted myself with on a regular basis. I lie awake many nights wishing it was morning and that night time didn’t even exist at all.

These days, it’s another story….I can’t possibly get ENOUGH sleep. I love sleep and treasure it like the diamond ring I will likely never have on my finger. This past Saturday, I fell asleep at just a smidge past 8:00PM, not to awaken to the light of day until 8:00AM! Last night, I slept somewhere around 10 hours, and most nights it’s a solid 9-10.

I’ve done a lot of research on the whole sleeping process as a whole, I’ve done workshops and written papers on it. I think at this stage in my life, I am thoroughly convinced that I am recovering my long-accrued “sleep debt” and making up for all my years of being an insomniac. While most young people my age were sleeping in until lunch time, I was up at 5am, had completed an entire day’s worth of errands and would sit around waiting for the coffee shops to open.

My job as a mattress Queen, has opened my eyes to how important a role your bed, bedding, and sleep environment play in the quality of your sleep. I always knew this but had not focused on making my room a “haven” in the past. In fact, my room has usually been THE ONLY ROOM in which I live, so it’s been my office, living room, kitchen, den, TV room (minus the TV), and bathroom. Just kidding about the bathroom.

Your room should really be a serene and peaceful spot, with no outside stimuli, not your media hub, or office, no pictures of clowns or freakish dolls strewn about, no additional or obnoxious light, and ideally….no electronic noise. I am one of those freaks who can hear her cellphone when it’s on silent and receives a message or alert. It’s bat-like and crazy, but it’s true. That’s how I went back to Malone my Junior year of college. Another story for another time.

So, to help you my readers, I’ve composed a little list of things that help me sleep, and things that keep me awake, which perhaps you can utilize if you too are struggling with insomnia, too much peeing during the night disorder, or other sleep-interrupting issues that have you waking up feeling like your cells have not been thoroughly refreshed.

HELPS PROMOTE SLEEP

1. The Addition of Natural Sleep Products to My Bed

I’m dying for an Organic mattress; I just have to wait until my allowance increases, but mark my words, “I WILL GET ONE.” Working at The Organic Bedroom, I’ve learned how important this concept truly is. Most beds are off-gassing, dust mite laden, hot boxes of toxicity upon which rest our heads at night. Thus far, I’ve added the following to my bed: Shredded Latex Pillow (all natural latex with organic cotton cover), Organic Merino Wool Comforter (doesn’t need to be washed, won’t bunch like down or cotton, warming and cooling, mold and mildew resistant, dust mite resistant, flame retardant, can you BLEAT that!?), Organic Wool Mattress Protector / Pad (waterproof, organic wool, moisture-wicking and cooling, adds a layer of comfort). I sleep in heavenly peace with just these few simple additions! Did you know that wool actually reduces your heart rate!? That’s just one of the MANY advantages, of course. Changing the way my bed feels has really been great for getting more sleep, and so what if my room smells like a farm scene? BedwithPillows

2. Sleeping a Cooler Room

Some like it hot. I’m one of those people. Usually, I can never be too warm, I pile at least 10 blankets on myself in the winter and curl up wearing a parka, snow pants, and at least two pairs of wool socks. Oh, I forgot to mention the hat and gloves. But I’ve learned that a cooler room, that is one that is not 90 degrees +, is actually better for a good night’s sleep. I also wake up with so many fewer hot flashes now that I have a fan in there!

3. No Weird Foods / No Eating Close to Bed Time

You have to pay attention to your body and what it’s communicating/demanding of you. For me, if I eat onions, peppers, or garlic, in any form, than I’m probably not going to sleep, and if I do, I wake up on multiple occasions having had the strangest dreams and a burning stomach. Alcohol, especially as a beer containing wheat, usually guarantees bags under my eyes tomorrow due to tossing and turning, and an overall feeling of unrestedness upon awakening. Things in your diet can cause you pain, or just overall agitation. It’s important to pay attention to your body and determine what these are so you can R.I.P. Eating too closely to bed time, I think this is more of a problem for women than for men, but it can disturb your sleep. That being said, I’ve also known people who can eat a full meal before bed and have the easiest time sans sheep counting. Perhaps it’s all about your mindset, and why you’re eating late. If you’re eating late to enjoy a meal with friends and family, that might lull you into sweet dreams, but if you’re eating because you’re bored lonely, or having a midnight snack attack, you might be in for a nightmarish spin cycle. If you do choose an evening snack to chomp on, try things that are carbohydrate-based rather than proteinous. Protein takes far more effort for your body to breakdown and utilize and can create more sleep disturbances.

4. Working Out or Putting in a Full Day’s Work

On my more lazy of days, I have a hard time falling asleep. Perhaps it’s guilt, perhaps it’s restlessness, but unless I have gotten some sort of work out in during the span of the day, or accomplished something mentally, I have a hard time quieting my inner demons that are reminding me of my non-productivity. But when I feel satisfied with myself that day, something I’ve done, or working out, all systems are go and I can crash and burn in my comfy bed sans problema!

5. Valerian Root, Chammomile, etc.

Ok, this is sort of a last resort. But if you still have trouble sleeping, a feat I could NEVER master, for various reasons whilst overseas in France, than you should try a natural sleep remedy. Like say, Valerian Root. In tea form, it’s the stinkiest, dirty-feet-smelling concoction, and it’s really hard to make it palatable. I would highly recommend it in capsule form, in which you can barely smell it and it’s gone within seconds. These things became my best friend and they are great for helping you calm down while on airplanes, in cars, when you mess up your sleep routines, wherever it would behoove you to catch some shut eye and you’re finding that you simply, for the life of yourself, CAN’T! Also, taking it as a pill ensures you won’t have to pee seventy times throughout the night. That introduces a whole slough of other problems!

6. Stay Regular

I love talking about poop. But this is not the kind of “regular” that I am referring to. I am talking about consistency with when you wake up, and when you go to bed. It has to be workable with your lifestyle, but ideally you should be falling asleep somewhere within the hours of 10-11pm. REM sleep is in full force between 10-12pm and you want to catch as much of that as possible. Keeping your sleep cycles more regular and constant keeps your whole body more regular. Your cells will become used to their rejuvenation times, and the process will be streamlined and efficient, like a German bus schedule. Some people have a much more difficult time with this concept than others, I know I naturally LOVE routine, but I naturally create disorder and non-routine in my life. But as I’ve strived to stack up the building blocks of regularity, I’ve built a fortress of perfection in which I pretty much do things at the same time, in the same way MOST days.

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A few small changes, and slight adjustments to your sleep habits, and ewe might never need to play Little Bo Peep again! Don’t take it from me, try these things out yourself! And as Levar Burton used to say (on Reading Rainbow circa 1990), “I’ll see ya’ next time!”

Saved By the Bell

SchoolParkingDespite the fact that today, Sunday, I am spending doing as little as possible (besides relaxing, that is), I’m usually quite a thrill seeker. I find myself getting bored with life when everyday is “same old story, same old song and dance”. Perhaps that was the underlying reason for my submitting my application to the Wake County Public School System for substitute

SChoolteaching. Or, perhaps it was because I actually think kids are pretty cool, I want them to learn more, and I found the extra side cash appealing. The first substitute teaching job I signed up for was actually on accident. In a 10pm bleary-eyed frenzy, I had just downloaded an app on my phone that would send me an email when there are teaching jobs available; this way, I avoid the 6:22AM phone call from the Aesop system which sends out the proclamation for the morning and upcoming jobs. I was trying to navigate my way through the app when a job popped up for the next day. It was a half a day and I just so happened to have the day off from work, so I clicked “Accept”. “Congratulations! You are now assigned to job #34348938083,” my screen declared. It was, much to my surprise, as easy as that! In fact, I have to be ultra-careful every time I check my phone to make sure I don’t swipe a stray pinkie and end up at the School of Hard Knocks for a weeklong assignment.

I slept lightly that night, anticipating a blog-worthy story, wondering if I was ready to face 25 voracious 4th graders, and looking forward to making new friends with whom I could play hopscotch or matchbox cars with.

I arrived with ample time, pulled into the parking lot fearlessly, found my way to the office, received the lesson plans for the day and scurried my way up the bathroom, which I knew I would be using for likely the last time in several hours. One of the many reasons I would not make a great full-time teacher, I don’t have the bladder for it. Or the guts, for that matter.

The lesson plans were extremely detailed and laid out step-by-step instructions. This teacher was obviously well-prepared and had high expectations for her students. At 1:07, on the dot, I was to pick up the class from lunch. I meandered downstairs into the cafeteria where I had to duck to avoid oncoming food being thrown across the room, and dodge a sludge of blue jello being slam-dunked into the garbage can I foolishly chose to stand close to. I was greeted by Nisseem, Tyrese, Suzette, Oscar, Dahlia, Michelle, and many others, and instantly walked into blur of questions, at least two questions per child, which in case your 4th grade math is not up to par, that’s a total of 50 questions.

“Who are you?” “Are you our substitute?” “Have I gotten any points yet?” “Are we done?” “Are you going to call the Mudcats to get in line next?” “Do you like Jello?” “Are you going to read to us when we get upstairs?”

I told them I would answer all of their questions once we got to the classroom and dismissed their tables one by one into a quiet….well….it was supposed to be quiet…..line. At least five times during being lined up, kids would escape the line to come ask me if they had any “reminders”. These reminders are when I write their name down and they accrue bad points against them. The teacher asked me to give them any that I needed to as she works up a total for each child for each week.

On our way from the cafeteria to the classroom, the kids are allowed to use the bathrooms. They have two “bathroom monitors” which ensure that only four children go to the bathroom at one time. This is their only opportunity to go between Science and until after PE is finished. After everyone had gone, we walked up the stairs, with several mandatory pit stops to ensure everyone in the group was with us, and up to the classroom. Once inside, I felt calmer, and at the same time, petrified. I started to feel self-conscious like the unsure 10-year old, I once was. Will they like me? What if they think Im too mean? What if they tie me up and start waging WW III in the classroom? Did that kid just give me a dirty look? I wonder if he’s talking about me with his friends….

I got over myself and began following the instructions the teacher wrote down for the lesson. Much of what I was telling them to do was met with protests and loudly announcing “We already DID that! We want to read! Can you read to us!?” I navigated my way through several challenging moments, and then we got to the interesting part of the lesson, Chemical and Physical Weathering. You know, like when rocks get sanded down by a river and become nice, smooth stones. Or when large pieces of rock break into smaller, more manageable stones thanks to acid rainfall or water erosion? That’s weathering. We had all of five minutes to spend on that before it was time for the kids to pack up their stuff, make the room neat, and get in line again. I was still facing a barrage of questions at every turn, and one boy burst into tears thinking I had written his name down on my reminders list. Little did these children know, I’m not quick to give out points –brownie or otherwise. After quelling the boy’s fears about his pending doom, and making sure everyone else was still in good spirits,  I managed to drop them off with the PE teacher without incident. Then I got to go “relax”; time I used to write my notes to the teacher telling her what a great class she had and how smoothly things went, and how little time we had to complete the lesson.

I don’t know how teachers do it! Half their day seems to be transporting kids to and from bathrooms, lunch, and then getting them ready for the transitions by lining them up, quieting them, and telling them they’ll get in trouble if they’re not quiet! When does the learning happen?!

I never went to school for fourth grade, so I had no idea that it was run with such pristine regiment. I know routine serves kids best, and so I was quite impressed by how the routine was so defined and timely.

This experience had me reminiscing and missing school, the easy path to success, if only you study and follow the clearly laid guidelines, the daily routine that leaves you feeling safe and comforted, and the plethora of friends to meet. Not to mention, I love learning and I love school; it is to me, one of the best feelings in the world when you’re mind is simultaneously open and BLOWN in coming to new realizations and acquiring new facts. I only hope that kids today get to feel this, of how amazing the learning process can be. School2

I know they are looking to change a lot of things about our educational system as we know it, I think that’s absolutely fantastic and I hope it further challenges children to really latch onto and grasp topics that interest them.

And maybe my next subbing opportunity will result in a better story….

How You Know You’re Getting Old

Last year, when I crossed over into age 26, things changed for me. A wave came over me that send me careening into new and refreshing waters, and I knew that for the first time, there was no escaping the undertow and no turning back. EM

You see, like many 20-somethings that don’t have their mind made up, my past life was a downward spiral of moving from here to there, and jumping over obstacles, as though life was a game of leap frog. It was when I turned 26, and tried to put on that short, gauzey, flowery skirt, which I had somehow outgrown exponentially, that I realized it was time to grow up. Growing up does not mean you have to set aside your youthful spirit, your aspirations, and ridiculous belief that wishes made when the clock strikes 11:11. It does however require you to face the reality of bills, car insurance, and watching to make sure your teeth don’t rot out of your face because it’s the last set you’re gonna’ get.

27 came with an even bigger realization, the realization that in three years, I will be 30. It’s a challenging moment, when you scan your life’s accomplishments, experiences, and current placement, and introspectively soul search to determine whether or not that is “good enough” for you, and satisfying. The only opinion that matters is yours. And if you’re shaking your head in disapproval, there are changes to be made. Although 26 was a bit rocky at first; I felt suffocated, I flailed my way through the water, nearly drowned as I became forced to learn new swim strokes. 27 is better. More comfortable. And there it is, the word that, based on your response to it, tells you whether or not you’re getting old.

When you hear “comfortable” and breathe a sigh of relief. 

No longer are the days when you contort yourself into tight, ungodly outfits all for the sake of fashion or impressing a member of the opposite sex. You prefer to walk around the block, go to the grocery store, and run your errands to pay your electric bill in your most comfortable, spacious pants and your favorite basic t-shirt. Comfortable is a night in, relaxing, reading, and listening to music or catching up with your mom on the phone. Comfortable is a rainy day watching a movie. And comfortable is being with someone you love that loves you back, unconditionally, which is both comfortable and exciting. But mostly, comfortable.

You not only do the crossword puzzle, you speak crossword lingo

I’ll admit, I love me a good crossword, and not just the ones that are easy and I can whip through and understand, I like a real, down-to-earth brain challenging one. I understand what the crossword says when the clue is something obscure like: “Fall mo. pl.” and “This, in Toledo”. Though, I do sometimes have to look up some of the actors and actresses from the 1960’s and prior, but there are so many clues I shock myself with knowing the answer to (and scare myself by knowing the answers only the “old” people should get); I can cruise my way through the world of crosswords like….well….an old person in an armchair. The only part of the picture I haven’t completed is smoking a pipe.

You actually read and appreciate books

After college, I swore I would never read another book. I burned mine, sold them on Amazon and used them as a makeshift coffee table in many an unfurnished apartment. But, a good book to me, is like a good meal. Nourishing, mind-bending, thought-provoking. Books are the new Ecstasy, and I’m hooked. When a book is not rich enough for me, full of paltry words and unintelligent dialogue, I poo poo it and call my Grandma for suggestions for this week’s top reads. 

You actually start to believe it when you’re Nana says, “Nana knows best.”

Taking other people’s advice has never been one of my strong points. I like to pave my own paths and blaze my own trail. But after awhile, you start to realize that this lands you in a mountain of debt, no friends, and with the prospects of a lifelong career as a cashier or waitress. You want to succeed in achieving your goals? Take advice from those who have done so. Once I stopped turning a deaf ear to my mom and nana, my father, my boyfriend, my friends who have been there…things began to get remarkably easier. They get harder at first. But then….ah….

The people you admire are 20+ years older than you

For starters, most of my best friends are 20+ years older than me. One of my best friends is 67 right now, and the other day I befriended a 68 year old. I can talk to these folks just as well as I’ve been able to confess to my childhood BFF’s and collegiate acquaintances. When I look at what I should be doing, I consult these folks first, and look to them to help dictate my age-less, timeless fashion.

You cook, you clean, you sew.

When people enter my home, they take their shoes off at the front door. It’s clean. You know you’re getting old when no one has to pick up dirty socks to sit on your living room furniture, to brush aside the dust that has accumulated on your coffee table before placing their mug on it. You know you’re old when you HAVE a coffee table to place your mug on. You wash your sheets once a week and you clean your entire bathroom and kitchen, including the sinks, oven and shower. You know you’re either growing up, or your Cinderella.

You go to Trivia Night. Consistently. In fact, you have a trivia team and are part of league.

That’s Tuesdays, Wednesday night is tennis.

You go to anything. Consistently.

You fall asleep at 9:00pm no matter where you are

I’m not a great party date, because if the party just so happens to involve socializing past the hour of 8:30 pm, my brain becomes mush and I’m searching for the nearest surface to lie down on. You know, truthfully, this has been a trait I’ve had all my life. A girl needs her beauty rest! Sleep

You drink tea.

You’re too jittery when you have coffee, and it makes you see double? You drink tea instead, non-caffeinated, herbal tea, the kind with health benefits like: Ginger, Licorice Root, Rose Hips, and Yerba Mate. You know you’re getting old when getting yourself as high on caffeine as possible is no longer a sport, it’s a catastrophe and throws off your bowels.

Age is a mindset, this is a cliche, and a truth. I don’t think feeling old is necessarily terrible, it’s simply what happens when you feel the magical transformation into a new phase of life. A life where modesty and being a grown up is praised. Where sitting up straight, and chewing with your mouth closed will get you further than a keg stand. I want to say I was never really the immature one at the party, and was instead usually the one who brought her checkbook to balance and then designating herself to drive everyone home….but I’ve definitely noticed a shift as of late, as I’ve come to realize what this age acts, looks, and feels like. If anything, I think the number one way you know you’re growing older is that you have gained and grown to love the word “RESPECT”. Respect for life, for yourself, for others, for consistency, and for the present moment.

Hoots and Hollerin’

Recently, an article was published in the Indy newspaper, a local, NC Triangle Area publication featuring views, reviews, and news on a global and county level. The article was written by a woman who was complaining about being shouted at / harassed /cat called by men while walking, running, entering grocery stores, driving, etc. I know what you’re thinking, because I always do, you’re thinking, “Hey, lady, you can’t help it if you’re hot and everyone wants a piece of you, right!?” Count your blessings, we should all be so lucky. But, I can tell you from personal experience, that this phenomena occurs regardless of size, race, creed, and whether or not you’re having a good hair day; being hooted and hollered at when you’re trying to get in a relaxing workout is not flattering, it doesn’t boost my confidence, it’s just plain annoying. ME IN GERMANY

Many people know that my part-time job is walking. I love walking and I can usually muster up the energy and gusto to walk no matter what, despite my old age, whenever and wherever. Walking is delicious and on days when I need to work out stress and emotions, or when I’m just passing the time and looking to spark a freight train of thoughts through my brain, it’s the perfect medicine.

When I lived with my parents in Gastonia, there were no sidewalks per say, but I managed to devise my own 9-mile walk on road shoulders, which looped around the city and gave me a variety of scenery. I also apparently provided some scenery for the locals. Never in my ENTIRE LIFE have I been honked at, shouted at, whistled at, and verbally “harassed” as much as in that town. I dare say, that would NEVER happen in New Hampshire. At least, not in my 26 years of experience living there. I’ve been pulled over by a cop while I was walking, but I have not been the object of someone showing off their vocal chords and amplified pick up lines. I tell you what, the South is worse! So much for Southern hospitality. Perhaps I have magically turned into a beautiful princess moving down here and now I am the apple of all the gentlemen in all the land? Mmm….yeah, I don’t think that’s it.Dublin1

Fortunately, upon moving to Raleigh, I rarely find this happening to me anymore, although it DID happen today coincidentally, as I was pondering this very topic. In a demented way, before this incidence today, I was starting to wonder if I had lost my strut, was I not attractive anymore? If no one hits on me at the gym these days, does that mean I’m becoming soft? See how society has me trained?

It’s derogatory

So, while one might THINK that being whistled at is a compliment; I can even remember personally wishing someone would do that very thing when I was younger, and I felt “cool” if someone yelled “Hey Baby!” at me and my friend Abbey when we were walking to go get ice cream, choosing to believe it was me they were praising and not her.  I believe it, I believe that you do look really sexy in that blouse today, but when someone shouts it to you, “Check out dem’ titties!!” it’s actually quite demoralizing. You see, the guys who are doing the yelling don’t care if you’re a living, breathing, moving being, or a chick with a bag over her head, they just see legs, identify that it’s a member of the female species and raise up their war cry out the driver’s side window. While I’m thinking about how I love sparrows, and noticing the comforting blue of the sky, they’re informing me, loudly that I’m nothing more than a piece of meat with a pony tail. It makes me feel a twinge of anger inside, and makes me dislike them, which makes me dislike myself for disliking someone, because I don’t dislike anyone.

It’s pointless

Does it really accomplish anything? Do you think girls like that? Does it turn us on? Do you think that is how you’re going to meet your dream girl? Dream on, cowboy. Dudes who do this are probably so dumb that their mistaking middle fingers for ring fingers. I don’t know what it accomplishes for these hicks, other than a feeling of overarching power and a sense of freedom, but it encroaches on the freedom, happiness and peace of those it’s inflicted upon…so, man up and quit it!

It’s uncouth

I think I’ve belabored the point plenty, but honestly, I’m going to take a moment to think of whether or not anything POLITE can be SHOUTED from the window of a car or to a lady. Yeah, no, got nothing. I can think of politely saying, “You have beautiful eyes,” or perhaps, “Your neck is that of a swan, ” or maybe even, “Would you like to join me for a fancy dinner upon the morrow, ma’ lady?” But pretty much anything else that you holler while beamin’ in your Beamer is going to be rude and disgust me. So save your breath.

It’s obnoxious and unsettling

Sometimes, being a woman is scarier than being a man. Sometimes we’re worried about not being strong enough or unable to defend ourselves. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and not everyone is nice with good intentions. Personally, when someone shouts at me, or honks their horn at me, I about jump out of my skin like a snake with fear because I don’t know what on earth is happening. Thanks for jolting my perfectly tame nervous system into fight or flight mode, jerk.
I’ve often thought about carrying mace with me when going for a walk or run. I know for a fact that mace in the eye does not feel good. Is that the kind of world we want to create? A country where mace is as common as a pair of socks, rather than a special twice-a-year Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Apple Pie spice?

I was really happy to see the article that woman wrote in the Indy Week. Unfortunately, for both she and I, our audiences are not exactly the type that need to be reading these words. But perhaps by making others aware, change can begin to occur.

GA