Sunday, June 29, 2008

sunny days, pushing the clouds away...

take me where the air is sweet. can you tell me how to get, how to get to davis street?

early morning sunshine dragged me out of bed at eight, thirsty but well-rested. i stumbled down the road to the beach to take some pictures and check out the surf. waves looked good. took a few pictures. i've got to sort through them before i post them.

we three went back after a long wait at the diner to sit down. one board made it pretty difficult to share. my first "lesson" of sorts went well. caught one wave with help, one on my own, and a final one that got me off my belly. not quite on my feet, but off my belly. i'm sure the real surfers were snickering.

after a resting spell, we headed to a volleyball tourney with some of clowe's co-workers. we lost a close first game, and had an epic comeback in our second. the lead went back and forth quite a bit, until we finally prevailed 16-14 as the skies opened up and ended the tournament. we finished second in our bracket.

now we're back, full of grilled food and various salads. time for a nap-and-rally.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

on the road again

i had a great week. afternoon thunderstorms led to lots of reading, which led into some good naps, which led into dinner and quality time with my parents. a little stir crazy for lack of activity towards the end of the week, but on the whole, it was good to be home.

home. i've written about it on occasion. what my definition of home always has been. florida is definitely still home, for the simple reason that i can find my way around (for the most part) without needing directions or even worrying about it. too many times in d.c. i've gotten completely lost, or so i thought, and stumbled my way into a new route somewhere. luck? probably, but it's not the same as seeing an address, most any address, and knowing not only how to get there, but the landmarks along the way. next summer will be strange for that "home" aspect. my parents are theoretically relocating to alachua. it'll be nice because visiting will also enable me to see old friends in my most recent old town, of whom there are more than those down south. it'll be weird because i'm not sure how my nostalgic brain will react to the difference. i've never really taken to south florida, but there was something strangely comforting about it this time around. maybe in leaving florida, seemingly for good, i subconsciously changed some other feelings along the way. that toes in the water, and florida will always be home mentality came home to roost. leaving gainesville finally put me in the real world, as if it was still sheltering me as in college.

just the musings of a road weary traveler. i miss my bed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

crash bam boom

weather conspired to keep her away from the beach for much of this weekend. mom's rain gauge said about four inches over the last two days. this morning, we got lucky. up and out by 9:30, we got a picture perfect beach excursion. blue skies, small crowds, hot sand, warm surf.

early on, little kids running around. no screamers, just cute ones toddling about. a toe-headed girl that was the spitting image of her mother. actually, she looked a lot like the coppertone girl, bare butt and all! two year-old boy wandering up the beach to the parking meters with his dad's hat on, oversized kids' clothes, gait like a fawn on new legs. independent little fella was captured after a walking up the dune and negotiating unsuccessfully with dad to amble down the road. a mother teaching her early elementary daughter how to dog paddle in the surf. me wondering if i'd either recognize any of these young moms as classmates, or if they'd know me.

as the morning shifted to afternoon, the teenagers, stumbling out of bed, looking angst-ridden and hungover showed up and flopped down, promptly asleep in the sand. right about the shift change occurred, the clouds started to roll in. she and i made it back to my parents' just in time for the afternoon rains to start anew. perfect time to pop in a dvd and fall asleep on the couch.

here i sit, her back in virginia, me still awake, my equilibrium still bobbing in the surf, my soul sated from the calming waters of the atlantic. how i missed them so!

Monday, June 23, 2008

pay grade

i called it. among other insults directed at me, i knew shezad would say one in particular when he met this love, "you're dating out of your pay grade." not meant as an insult to me exactly, more of a compliment to her as who's got the good looks in this relationship. this was at the end of the night, however, after he'd gotten to know her over drinks at the cove.

last week, i read her the smart ass reply to my cousin's query about this mystery girl occupying my thoughts and dreams for most of my time in the district. she laughed, and asked why i've never really given much information about her on this here blog. well, the reason that came out was lame and a poor excuse for not sharing with the readers. i'm comfortable with sharing details about my life and adventures with those of you i know, and even a few i don't know. the same can't be said for those close to me, which is why i tend towards nicknames and abbreviations that those close to me would know, but few others.

here's the better reason, and the one that seems to be more accurate. it builds on the lame, incomplete answer i gave her. technology makes it easy to be lazy about keeping up with our friends. click here, click there, i can find out who's going to medical school in the u.k., whose daughter just turned two, and what couples broke up this week. i don't mind that with me. sure, i'd like to talk to my friends, but we all lead busy lives. that's a lame excuse for not calling, and i apologize for using it more often than i should. technology should not be used to find out critical information about our friends. conversations convey way more meaning than myspace or facebook could ever hope to. my closest friends know that. i get phone calls, or at the very least an email when i find out about engagements or pregnancies. you want to know about our first date? super, let me tell it with the laughs and smiling eyes that would accompany it when i orate. you want to know what we have in common? it's a different answer each day.

long story short, i'm happier than i've been in a long while, maybe ever. i'm more mature in this relationship and realistic about the struggles we may face. life isn't all gumdrops and jellybeans, and i'm no longer naive enough to think that. contrarily, i'm also no longer closed off and jaded. i'm open to whatever may come. i'm madly in love with this amazing woman, and i thank god each second i get to spend with her.

and that's all you're going to get on this. then again, those of you that have met her or talk to me know all that.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


one of the hardest parts of visiting gainesville was choosing who i would spend time with and who i would even inform of my visit. the people that feigned sadness at my departure, but haven't heard from since? nope. the people that were excited for my departure because they knew i needed to do it? sure. they were excited not because i was leaving, but because my life would become richer and they knew they'd see me again.

last night, that came true. i met the moms from work at conestoga's for lunch. i ask for healthy, they choose conestoga's. i have a country fried steak and mashed potatoes. not exactly what i had in mind. it was good to see them. they gave me the third degree about my love life. gathered what was left of my gainesville possessions at christie's, got to catch up with leda, and headed to candler's. we hit the rock gym and flouted that new grg edict of no guest passes for non-first-timers. candler, kaleigh, and i had fun crushing plastic. flaco's, sadly, was a disappointment as far as the food went. the company couldn't be beat. thank you to all for showing up. it was great to see you and catch up.

stubbie's and its smokeless brilliance led to sculpturing, the gainesville kissing cousin of buildering. good times, war wounds this morning. to all involved, sincerely, my door is open to you if you want to visit.

surely, next time i visit the 'ville, it'll be for more than 18 hours and maybe i'll open my mouth to more than those of you who were in town.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

chasing cars

let's waste time, chasing cars. 700 miles or so down south on interstate 95. hookah and mediterranean food. beer. mike, mike, mike, and margarita. smiles.

tomorrow, beach, then alachua. today, driving, my mp3 player spit out all kinds of awesome. right as i left virginia, it played our song. slight play on the heartstrings. choked up at piano man for some odd reason. maybe the wedding memories of friends' past that have been hitched, and those yet to come. perhaps my own yet to be, who knows?!

time for bed, time for waking up in the a.m., taking pictures of the beach, read a little of my books, and hitting the road back to the place i called home for the last 10 years. my comfort level is increasing in arlington, but i know alachua county like the back of my hand. i don't need directions to get where i need to go for the rest of the trip. i hope...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

fashion definitions

social engagements are tricky round here. not so much because i don't know how to act or who to go with, but because of the whole what to wear. yes, i know this is far out of the realm of my expertise. that's where the trouble comes in. there's been far too many times where i've shown up somewhere in the district and been severely under- or overdressed. first time, georgetown waterfront. pretty nice place. how the hell do i know. all i knew is that it was outside, and the weather was nice in the fall. jeans and a polo shirt. wrong. it was the after-work set with their loosened ties and full on suits.

memorial day weekend, i thought i had it made. megan's wedding. invite said hawaiian or beach-y wear. got it. white linen shirt, linen pants, flip flops. wrong. looked too much like the groom. wound up borrowing a shirt.

upcoming, my mom's birthday. the restaurant's website said "casual chic". not even the fashion boss knew what that meant, so a-googling i shall go.
Here's what casual chic usually means: casual, yet with a twist of dressiness. An idea is to wear a DARK wash pair of jeans (express men's has some nice affordable ones), and a nice button down shirt (preferably in a solid color--black, navy blue, and burgundy would be excellent choices). Shoe-wise try to find a nice pair of black dress shoes--nothing shiny or too pointy in the toe region. If nothing is to your liking, go for a pair of black sneakers. To dress the outfit more, throw a blazer on as a jacket. Go with black or tan for this.

ah ha! why not say that? business casual. casual chic. evening wear. black tie optional. do women even know these definitions? men sure don't. how about this: there's two sets of sizing, men & women's, right? why not two sets of attire requirement languages? tell us guys what to wear, uncategorized. jeans and a button-down shirt? done. khakis and boat shoes? lame. coat, no tie? done. flip flops and board shorts? you got it!

emo kid? skinny jeans, tiny t-shirt, scarf, big watch, hair in my face. yeah, about that...

gettin' on down the road...

this figures to by my summer road trip finale. it promises to be a short one, not like last year's I-95 windsprints, or the mind-numbing boredom of I-65 through indiana. with gas prices getting into the stratosphere, $4 gas adds up to quite a bit more than a plane ticket. i'm excited to see my friends in other towns from behind the wheel of my geriatric pickup, but 23 mpg is going to squeeze my wallet.

before i wander off randomly, here's what it's looking like. wednesday departure from the district. wednesday night arrival in jacksonville to see the reunited mikes and relive some 5622 g&t goodness. thursday departure to gainesville. random, olde tyme fun in my recent favored overgrown small town. friday departure to visit the folks for mom's birthday brouhaha. saturday she flies in, we get to spend time with my family. she leaves on monday. i leave on friday. back to jacksonville for some waves and rays and ill-fated surfing lessons(?) and more g&t. then back on up to the district for the end of june month and a woman that loves me moving to less than a mile away.

so, back to this road warrior status. it's going into retirement. a new(er) car is a certainty this summer. i just hope that the danger ranger makes at least half of the trip. i've got a road bike in the shop that should get me from point a to point b quite nicely. perhaps i'll figure out the safest route to school that may turn into, "where's a closer school so i can forgo this whole commuting-by-car nonsense?" carpooling to work is a viable option too, with two coworkers within county limits and both on my current gas-guzzling commute.


Friday, June 13, 2008

no more pencils, no more books...

no more teachers' dirty looks!

today is babysitting day. i'll put them to work cleaning and whatnot, but it's pretty much a wasted day. a time to say goodbye and good luck. this year is different than those past in my career in that i'll actually get to see these munchkins next year. i'll get to see them grow and change all the way through sixth grade. the last four have been particularly difficult on the last day because i knew full well i wouldn't see the kids again. teaching at a school where second graders were the oldest kids was simultaneously awesome and heart wrenching. there were often tears on both sides as i said goodbye to students that i knew would never be able to visit irby again. houses too far out in the country. moving elsewhere. parents unwilling or unable to bring them after school or bring them to school events. last year was the hardest. telling my kids i was leaving a school that i loved for an uncertain future overseas. it was rough. one girl in particular, i'll never forget. her sister was in my first class, she was in headstart that year. i'd seen her grow into a pretty amazing little girl in four years, and me leaving was pretty tough on her. we keep in touch with email now, and maybe i'll get to see her in alachua when i pass through town next week.

the parents always ask me at the end of the year, "aren't you glad it's summer?" with a twinge of jealousy in their voices, since they don't have summers off jobs, or they've got the kids at home and less peace and quiet for 2 months. it's a bittersweet ending every year. each class is different. the fresh start in the fall is always interesting, but getting to know twenty or so new kids isn't as easy as seeing the same ones and knowing their quirks and how they learn best and what they enjoy.

next year figures to be a mix of old and new, if i indeed do teach third grade. some of this year's goodbyes will undoubtedly be some of next year's hellos. we'll see how it all shakes out...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

elections don't matter

turns out this onion video has a bit of truth to it.

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

the difference is, in the interest of satire, the onion says mccain will win because he was picked by the same people that pick all the presidents. can anyone say skull and bones?

anyhow, last night i went to an academic talk by uf professor dr. stephen craig. he's a wicked smart political scientist, and in a town like d.c., i'd think it'd be a little intimidating to speak to people who are all pretty knowledgeable about national politics. osmosis is interesting. his talk was about political campaigns and whether or not they actually matter. he laid out the conditions for this year's election. according to allan lichtman, there are 13 conditions that predict before the election that a given party will win. zero to five false, incumbent party wins. six to thirteen false, challenging party wins. they've retroactively applied these conditions to past elections, and it's been accurate in every single one back to 1860!

this year's gonna be close. if they're wrong, consider political science's name changed to "political hunchery" (dr. craig's wording) from here on out. go look at the list, and see what you think they're all predicting. lichtman used his list in november and came to the onion's conclusion, but the political landscape, ever shifting, isn't quite the same.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

icy cool refreshment

this time of year, the yearning returns for my north central florida. a lazy float down a cold, spring-fed river. a six-pack of modelo especial. hillbillies and cut-off jean shorts and jailhouse tats and tobacco-stained doors on four-wheel drives. i need to find the tubing spot around here, buy a random pool float, tie a six-pack cooler, and fight the oppressive summer heat.

swimming pools around here are a hot commodity. few homeowners have them, rarely do apartment complexes, and community pools are membership only. 28 years or so, all i had to do was call a friend or open the sliding glass door. in childhood, hop the fence and say hey to the neighbors that had them and didn't mind (too much) if a few of my friends cooled off. during cross country practice in high school, we went pool hopping on long run days when it was like slogging through soup. those days, we were often met back at school by the police and a lecture from coach fecteau or brantley, "if you do this one more time..." morphed in gainesville among the climber set to pool hopping at hotels and apartment complexes, late night swims were a risky gambit, but security always asked us to leave, nothing more. we often knew someone who lived there, so it wasn't a problem. last year, we could throw the proverbial stone and hit our pool. a three a.m. impromptu swim at our pool after our going away party was the last in the era. i'm searching for that lax security around here, but something tells me "boys will be boys" is more of a southern attitude towards late-night pool trespassing.

bring on the summer. bring on the water.

Monday, June 9, 2008

american beauty

i don't know what it is lately. the photographer's eye growing within me. the change of scenery. the happiness that's not going away anytime soon.

no matter where i am lately, i'm finding the beauty in everyday life. kinda like ricky fitts,
It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And this bag was, like, dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. And that's the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and... this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video's a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... and I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in.

ok, so that's a little weird. not quite dancing with plastic bags yet, but you get the drift. there's bountiful wildflowers up here. wildlife like i've rarely seen. i still get excited at the graceful beauty of deer munching greenery in suburban front lawns, the sides of the highway. the sunlight glinting through the leaves at sunrise, or how it reflects off everyday objects at sunset.

i suppose it's partly due to my observant nature, which is even keener now with so much new hitting my optical nerve...

Sunday, June 8, 2008


only my parents remain. something tells me i'll hear the same thing i heard from granny and the rest of the ebensburg crew. hold on for dear life. she's a keeper.

thus far, from the top. granny, irene, barb, bob, bernie, joanie, angela, leah, arlene, carrie, billy, judy, marlon, brie, kara, shila, audri, abby, fred, nidia, leah, nicole, buddy, janice, jeff, rowland, lynn. ma & pop only got an hour dose way back at thanksgiving. they're not addicts yet. we'll talk at the end of june. i've lost track of the friends thus far, but it's quite a few. florida, get your asses up here and visit, so i can add you to the list.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

i'm melllllltiing......!

so, the wicked witch of the west, tempest though she was, had no lasting ill effects on my abode. power was about for about 24 hours, i presume. it was back on when i got home. thank you, dominion power! my fridge was devoid of any spoiled food, thank goodness. i've got the a/c cranked and the fan running to cool the place off. that pesky trash can, which isn't run by power, seems to have malfunctioned with the funk of a chicken tray gone bad.

today at work, power was out when i got there. no food in the cafeteria. common sense was overtaken by concern for standardized testing, and the decision was made, sans power, to go on with the school day. we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches shipped from a high school that had power. they postponed the test until tuesday when the power didn't come on. spelling test by sunlight on scrap paper. windows open because it gets pretty stuffy in a classroom with 21 warm bodies rehearsing their asses off for their final fable play performances tomorrow and next week. power returned at about 10:15. on with the show!

no more wizard of oz references, i swear.

a twister, a twister!

auntie em! auntie em!

growing up in florida, land of the thunderstorm, lightning capital of the world, you'd think i'd've been through a tornado non-drill or been stuck at school because of weather on occasion. today, that changed. power went out at the assembly. principal and assistant principal herded us out the doors "like it was a fire drill". kids, tornado positions!

tears from my kids. howls of displeasure from the autistic kids. all in all, they were pretty well behaved. rain coming down in sheets, loud thunder rocking the windows upstairs. buses delayed.

come to find out that two tornadoes touched down near my house, one in falls church, one in arlington. i came home to a dark apartment, cooked my dinner on my thank-god-it's-gas stove, and showered by candlelight. ran to the grocery store to get 30 lbs. of ice to keep my fridge from spoiling since the power's been out for at least five hours. been through this before when my power was turned off soon after i moved in with $180 in new groceries. lord willing, and the creek don't rise, my power will be back on sometime tonight and i won't have a whole lot of spoiled food in my fridge.

then again, there's still a flood watch in effect. anyone got a cooler and a grill?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


it seems when i plan to make a meal, it doesn't turn out the way i expect it in my mind. leftover vodka sauce, frozen for months, on frozen gnocchi turned out to be a far better meal than the night i first made the sauce. unplanned meals lately turned out pretty well. thought i'd share.

recipe one. ok, so it's not a meal, but it's a damn fine vegetable side dish. ingredients, two tomatoes, one small onion sliced thinly, three cloves of garlic minced, scallions, olive oil, rice vinegar. almost forgot, a pound of string beans. first, clean and cut the beans. sautee the onions, garlic, and scallions in oil in a skillet. when the onions carmelize, add the beans and cover. cut tomatoes into bite-sized chunks. when skillet lid is steamed up and beans begin to sweat, add tomatoes. turn down heat. cook beans to your liking, i like 'em crispy. turn off heat, toss with rice vinegar. serve on side. even better the second and third day.

recipe two. this one's a product of actually learning from a reality show on how to play with flavors. ingredients, chicken breasts, bacon, coconut shavings, fresh pineapple, onion, garlic, vegetable oil, rice. butterfly the breasts and roll with bacon. skewer them with toothpicks or skewers to hold their shape. sautee onions, garlic, pineapple, coconut and about a half-cup of rum in oil (onions and garlic first, then add the remaining ingredients). when alcohol has cooked off, put chicken in pan, and cover. turn down heat. cook 'til chicken's done. serve with rice and the sauce. it wasn't perfect. i'm going to try to get it together into some sort of casserole so the flavors all go together better. the sauce it cooked in was great, the chicken was a little tough. needed the flavor of the sauce.

bon appetit!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

is this what the world is coming to?

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has argued that his Web site makes human relationships more "efficient."

Sure, he said in a speech last year, two friends "can communicate offline if one of them picks up the phone to call the other, or if they take some time to hang out, or if they randomly bump into each other. But these methods are all synchronous -- they're kind of inefficient. In order for them to work, both people have to be paying attention to each another at the same time.

"There's a better way to do this; and on Facebook, it's simple. These people can read each other's profiles any time they want to see new information about each other. They can look at each other's media, and they can send each other messages. On Facebook these real connections become more efficient. People get more value out of all their relationships."

facebook is lame. that's the common refrain from many of my friends. that aside, my friends and i certainly use it to plan trips and such. i do keep in touch sporadically with 'villains, though i'm finding that i regularly keep in contact with nowhere near the 200 or so friends i claim on the site. are those people still my friends? sure. just because i don't see them doesn't mean they're not friends. the verbal sparring back and forth with my closer friends is more often accompanied by phone calls or long-distance travel plans. facebook users organized a farewell to boozing on the tube party in london this weekend. egypt squashed a possible uprising by students critical of the government, organized on facebook.

and this is what mark zuckerberg has to say about the site? "improving" friendships? horseshit! taking friendships and figuring out how to market them. brilliant in its entrepreneurial spirit, but completely lame when it comes to people who exclusively communicate with their online friends in this manner.


that's how much a tank of 87 octane cost me at seven this morning. hadn't earned a cent yet for the day, and i was deep in the hole. lately, i've only been putting in a half-tank at a time. somehow, it lasts for a week; yet when i fill 'er up, it doesn't last two weeks. could someone please explain that to me?!

next year, there are two huge gas-saving changes in habit that i didn't have to do a damn thing for. one, she's moving to south arlington. a mile or less from my place. that'll save a 20 mile round trip to spend time with her. that should cut down on both of our consumptive habits, and much less painful than a breakup! two, a co-worker is moving to south arlington also. different direction than she, but co-worker wants to carpool. i may be able to kick this nasty petroleum habit after all!

attempt three to save gas is continually in the works. craigslist is befuddling me with timing issues. i've been trying for a few weeks to replace my stolen bike, which in a twist of dramatic irony, i bet was sold to the highest bidder. got any tips on getting what i want from craigslist? anyone?