Wednesday, December 19, 2012



Until (you're)

Monday, December 17, 2012

(Not Yet) Reflection Time

Given that I'm a difficult person to get along with and the few health and personal issues I've encountered this year, I'm thoroughly convinced that this life is mine to travel alone. Funny how 10 years ago, I was in the position to counsel a friend from feeling the same way but that was when we had youth and naïveté on our side (she has since fallen in love, got married, and created a family-- in that order *yes!*). Maybe when I'm 80 and cussing like a sailor, some hot salt & peppered geriatric 83 year old will find me delightfully funny and pleasant company-- at least I wouldn't have to worry about getting pregnant and him being a deadbeat dad (lol), leaving me to struggle through life and adolescent hell alone (again). As I near the end of 2012, I'm letting go of the hope that someone will come along soon to make this life bearable, of past hurts, of anger over situations I can't change, of the ghosts of old love. Like they say in the bible, "can't put new wine in old skin". In 2013, my attention, my dreams, my hopes, my life will be centered around me. Chivalrous knights and fated soul mates are reserved for the pages I have yet to write.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Tonight's just going to be a ramble. I've got nothing on my mind while having so much on my mind. Today, I cried for Newton. Yesterday, I couldn't, I was so in shock. But this morning while reading the updates and watching the videos, the tears wouldn't stop coming. And then I felt anger because I started thinking about how little people think of teachers, how they are considered nothing more than government paid babysitters. Yet, here, these teachers were the equivalent of heroes, saving the majority of their students from becoming that a-hole's victims while putting their own lives in danger. Education is the most vulnerable of systems. No one fights for it; they fight over it though. But I don't want to talk about that anymore.

It's almost time for me to do my reflection post. Last year, I got to talk about all the firsts I experienced in 2011 but, I'm afraid, 2012 has been rather unkind. It's been a regularly waltz through the courtyard of hell. So I'm fighting with myself not to post a rather negative reflection of the year. I believe, instead, I'm just going to do a resolution post. I would much rather tuck 2012 away to the bottom of the missing socks drawer.

On a brighter note, so far I've managed to escape the Leap Year Curse. Nearly everyone I know has fallen pregnant, even those in the 30+ category. A friend of mine graduated one child from high school and brought another into existence. My goddaughter gave birth at 26 weeks to twin girls. My college friend had her first. A family friend ended up pregnant only a year after having major body restructuring. A few cousins came down with the baby bug. But, even given the way I feel, I'd much rather have gotten a positive pregnancy test than to go through a lot of what I went through this year. Still, with 16 days to go, I'd rather not have to take a test. Thankfully, Mother Nature should be dropping off a gift for me this weekend so that'll take me out of the running for half of the remaining days at least.

There's just been a lot of heartache but there's also been a lot of growth. Here's to hoping that 2013 is an easier pill to swallow.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines

Not my list, hers
I've had a deadline of 40 ever since I was a little girl; most people said, "By 30, I want such and such". But for me it was 40 because I understood that greatness takes time. However, as I'm approaching the 1/2 way mark of my 33rd year, I'm realizing that greatness also takes courage, not just time. This year, I found myself frozen by fear, scared of making a wrong move because, it seemed, I'd apparently made a lot of them and those errors have come home to roost. So, in my paralysis, I've made no progress toward my passion and purpose. And, now, 40 is much too close. It's only a blink away really.

I still want what I want as listed in the following exercises:

Image from here
But, at my current rate, I don't know how much of those lists I'm going to be able to check off as done or doing. So this is my time at the crossroad where I can either choose to accept the way my life is now and continue along this path or I can put on my cloak of courage and follow the footpath of faith, open to the obstacles and the awesomeness that await me. Seems like an easy choice, doesn't it? But, when you have responsibilities (READ: children) and they are yours to handle alone, it's not.


Monday, November 19, 2012

The Silence of God: A Poem

i stand in front of mountains
too steep for me to climb
and i'm haunted by a troubled past
i cannot leave behind
my thoughts echo with regret
my eyes incessantly weep
i've forgotten how the prayer
goes when i lay me down to sleep
i feel His silence wrapped
as i am in the cloud
i wonder if my wails
and screams were not all that loud
i plead for His mercy and beg
the Lord for help
still His silence echoes
leaving me broken by myself
no friend i have can understand
the weight of my despair
so i pray to an absent God
staring hopeless at the air
why have You forsaken me
and left me on this road
if You don't give too much to bare
why am i struggling with this load
now is when i need You most
i've asked and not received
i'm standing in front of this mountain
waiting...intercede (or waiting for You to intercede)

(c) 2012 Queen of Mental Vomit

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Media Asset

Just finished a 1/3 of my last project for this MLT class. Got a commercial to make and a 300-500 word essay to write about the process. Joy.

Reflection: Month 2 at Full Sail

Dear Blog,

 I have neglected you and I sincerely apologize. Ever since entering this accelerated degree program at Full Sail, there aren't enough hours in a day. I'm reading scholarly articles all the time, preparing for my research paper. When I'm not doing that, I'm at work, teaching. When I'm not doing that, I'm grading work. When I'm not doing that, I'm completing my own homework, which is often filled with time-consuming technological projects. Case in point, I have another one due tomorrow that's worth 20% of my grade. And, when, I'm not doing any of that, I'm being mom (sounds backwards that this should come last out of everything). I've stolen snatches of time for myself: I read a whole (youth adult) book; I've gone out to eat with friends; and I've allowed myself to go on Facebook (but I'm off of it until after the election-- it's best that way).

I had to neglect you, Blog, and my household chores (ugh, my house looks a mess) and cooking (my body's not happy with that because it's been nothing but fast food over here). I just haven't had time. But, before I get into the third class next week, I'm making time for all three of those things-- you, the house (I have to, inspection), and a home-cooked meal (maybe two if my kids get lucky). 
So catchup time. That first month of class was just hard. The teacher was demanding but not helpful or clear. I bombed my paper (a 68) but I did squeak out with an 83% in the class. What a relief. This second class, I've been doing a whole lot better. The teacher is fun, funny, helpful, open-minded, and clear. So far, I've had 100s on every assignment (2 more left to grade) and I got a 93 on the second portion of my paper. (Yeah!). 

Today, I'm going to take the kids to see a movie (maybe), have some bonding time, play board games. My oldest son got hurt (hip fracture) so he's on crutches for the next three weeks. That meant no school for the last four days. That also means that I'll see him for the next three weeks. That's definitely the shiniest silver lining to the whole thing. Ever since this summer, I barely see my son if it's not a school night. He's developed some really deep friendships and he prefers to spend time hanging out. I didn't want to deprive him of that because he was hanging with good influential kids but I've missed my son. This week, we joked around a lot, laughing and having fun. Yes, definitely a silver lining.

Bad note, my other son revealed that he's getting bullied (gosh I hate that word-- it's so ubiquitous) again. What's a mother to do? He's in a school he loves; the teachers like him; he likes his teachers; he has real friends (finally); and he's getting the academic help he so desperately needs. He's also getting resources outside of school so I don't know what more I can do. I had the therapist and the school counselor talk to him. It's like everything I missed with the first kid is happening to the second. Wish I could have been fortunate enough to have both of them escape the harsh realities of growing up. But this world is so perverted and I have to stay vigilant, even with the oldest, thanks to the Sanduskys of this world. This world makes it hard to not hate men. 

Anyway, don't want to end this post on a sour note, so below I've put some of the projects I've worked on these last two months as a token of my apology.

My videos for month 2: Multiple Learning Theory

My videos from month 1: Methods of Literature Review (Can't remember the name right now)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Effort v Quality

This piece was in response to a discussion question at school

Effort v. Quality

Yoda says, “Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try”. Putting that quote in the context of assignments completed by students for educational purposes, one could argue that quality holds more importance than effort. “Aw, I tried” is hardly an argument of achievement. People don’t want to hear from President Barack Obama that he gave his best effort; they want to see results, quality results. The same should be expected of our students.

I read an opinion piece the other week that stated the downfall of the younger generation is the expectation of adulation, the stickers and praise for every attempt at a deed, not just its completion. The result in this way of thinking is seen in the kinesiology major, Jason Greenwood, mentioned in the New York Times article, “Student Expectations Seen as Causing Grade Disputes” by Max Roosevelt:  “…putting in a lot of effort should merit a high grade.” He goes on to argue that effort is what really matters. But this leaves the question: what is effort without (quality) results?

Does Effort Count

Sure effort counts in the consideration of a grade for an assignment. It has to. A quality assignment is the direct result of effort. Even while there may be people more naturally talented at some things than others, there still has to be effort somewhere—maybe in the cultivation of that talent, if not directly for that assignment. Barring a learning obstacle such as a mental or physical disability (or a very unethical teacher), it is next to impossible that “maximum effort can only be average in a teacher’s mind” as asserted by the very same student mentioned above, especially given that what he deemed to be exceptional, “goes to every class and reads every chapter”, is really just what is expected. I mean, is that not outlined on the syllabus? An A is given for the exceptional, a C for the average.

Now, there has been a time when I had a student who was teetering on the edge of a better grade, i.e. a 3.48, and, given her output in discussions, the quality of her work (except one or two assignments out of many), and her preparedness and attitude in class, I added a class discussion grade solely for the purpose of bumping her up. In this instance, her quality of work was still high, just not impeccable on an assignment or two. That warranted me taking her effort into account.

Get v. Earned

Granted, if the abovementioned student is, also, passing assessments with grades in the upper level of the grading scale, then that student has earned the A as opposed to just being given an A. Again, this is an illustration of effort directly affecting quality output. And it is indisputable. There is no subjectivity in the grading at that point; the professor isn’t cajoled by the beads of sweat dotting a student’s forehead. That grade is honestly earned.

This question of “get versus earned” is one that bothers me because I have students who tell me I “gave” them a certain grade when it is, indeed, the grade their work deserved/earned. That grade is payment for the work given in the educational bartering system.

My philosophy of learning

Honestly, I never gave much thought to whether or not I had a philosophy of learning. I just learned and I feel like almost anyone is capable of learning. I guess you could say that thought emerged thanks to one of my high school classmates, a girl who was completely blind and who read all of her books by braille. This girl was in my Advanced Placement classes and graduated in the top 10% with me (actually higher than me because she was a good student; I was not). She, also, was accepted and attended the same prestigious university I attended, the University of Miami. That she was gifted with a pure and crystal-clear singing voice (I was not) was just icing on top of an already-generously iced cake.

I wasn’t aware of it then but she taught me something about imagined limitations. And when I look around, I see the results of this invisible bondage—people shackled by their dreams deferred, imprisoned by the mere act of settling and their minimally-paying hourly jobs. I suppose, my philosophy of learning is, also, that education is simply the key to unlocking doors, which stand otherwise shut. So I push and push those around me to go back for their education, even if it means incurring a small amount of debt. There’s no point to dreaming if you refuse to take action when you’re awake.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Radical Teacher on the Loose

I wish I could do as my action research capstone project  along the lines of "the fight against standardized testing and the dumbing down of america's youth". I realize, I really am a radical in this thing called teaching. Today, when we talked about static and dynamic characters, I brought it all the way down to my 9th graders level of understanding-- I dragged in the fish movie. That's right, FINDING NEMO. :) I also managed to bring them closer to the surface of my thinking. By the time we were finished with that movie, they realized that story is just as deep as the Big Blue and has just as many surprises too. I'm finding that the harder these politicians and public education killers fight to strangle creativity of thought, the harder I fight back. Oh, I read the assigned stories and I talk about the skill that's there but I don't leave it as just that story. I drag in allusions to all the other stories read so far, having the kids make connections across the board. I fill their head with movies and news stories that match what I'm talking about. I haven't written a lesson plan since 2005-- yes, the year I began teaching because I realized that shyt doesn't vibe with who I am. Planning sucks the life out of living. Thank goodness for pre-made pacing guides.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Uninvited Passenger

While driving home on Old Cutler today, a green lizard fell into my car, landing near the window where my arm had been not even thirty seconds earlier. He stared at me, unblinking, obviously waiting for me to invite him in. 

When it finally registered in my mind that this was a real reptilian being joyriding on my car, my brain scrambled for a course of action. I tried waving him back out the window but he must have mistook my hand movements for the expected invitation because he crawled across my dashboard and settled just over the passenger seat. 

So I grabbed an umbrella to make sure he perceived my next actions as the threat they were intended to be. He got the message and, instead of aiming for the open window, he jumped to the floor of the car and I lost sight of him. 

For twenty minutes, I drove with absolute paranoia, the slightest movement of anything against my foot caused me to flinch, draw up my legs, and clutch the steering wheel in a death grip while barely swallowing the scream that longed to erupt from my throat. 

Finally, I pulled up to the school to pick up my son and swung open the door. There was the stowaway, blended an ugly brown, on the side of the seat. A quick jab with the umbrella preceded his hasty departure. I guess it was his stop. 

I should have asked for gas money.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

I Want On This List

The website CELEBRITY NET WORTH recently put out a list, showing the top 25 WEALTHIEST Black female actresses. Here is the list:

The 25 Richest Black Actresses:
    • #1: Janet Jackson Net Worth – $150 Million
    • #2: Halle Berry Net Worth – $70 million
    • #3: Queen Latifah Net Worth – $50 million
    • #4: Whoopi Goldberg Net Worth – $45 million
    • #5: Raven-Symone Net Worth – $45 million
    • #6: Angela Bassett Net Worth – $28 million
    • #7: Vanessa Williams Net Worth – $27.5 million
    • #8: Jada Pinkett-Smith Net Worth – $20 million
    • #9: Thandie Newton Net Worth – $17.5 million
    • #10: Rosario Dawson Net Worth – $16 million
    • #11: Nia Long Net Worth – $13 million
    • #12: Gabrielle Union Net Worth – $12 million
    • #13: Brandy Norwood – Net Worth – $12 Million
    • #14: Regina King Net Worth – $10 million
    • #15: Loretta Devine Net Worth – $8 million
    • #16: Zoe Saldana Net Worth – $8 million
    • #17: Tia & Tamera Mowry Net Worth – $8 million (combined)
    • #18: Taraji P. Henson Net Worth – $6 million
    • #19: Garcelle Beauvais Net Worth – $6 million
    • #20: Rashida Jones Net Worth – $5 million
    • #21: Sanaa Lathan Net Worth – $4 million
    • #22: Viola Davis Net Worth – $3 million
    • #23: Paula Patton Net Worth – $3 million
    • #24: Tracee Ellis Ross Net Worth – $2.5 million
    • #25: Lauren London Net Worth – $2 million
    • Bonus: Oprah Winfrey Net Worth – $2.7 Billion (hover me right around this Oprah number)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Feeling Satisfied

It just occurred to me that I have a very fulfilling life with the people I have in it.

I cut out a lot of people over the last few years, the hardest cuts of all this year, and I thought I would miss them. I did in the beginning. But, now, I'm finding my life richer.

I'm no longer drained by people who just take, take, take my time, my money, or myself for granted. I'm no longer bothered by people who call me their best friend but either steal from me, compete with me, or don't include me in anything but their problems. I'm no longer hurt by family who chose friends during a time when family mattered most.

I may have a couple of more cuts to do on Facebook (I'm watching and waiting) but I'm satisfied with my circle, very deeply satisfied. Those around me push themselves (and me) to be better. They don't settle. They not only want something out of life; they're working to get it. Welcome to 33, girlfriend. Thank you. Glad to be here.


Friday, August 10, 2012


About a month ago, I wrote about how bothered I was by the use of the word "deserving" in The Biggest Loser's search for season 14's cast. I read elsewhere that "BL said they wanted contestants that needed, and were due for, a break…."


If they actually watched to the end of my original video (and they didn't), they definitely would have seen that I'm a person who sorely needs a break. I can't share why because it's not completely my story to tell. All I know is, just when I think I've hit bottom and I'm, finally, starting to see a way out, a sinkhole opens up. I've been hit financially, physically, emotionally, maternally, externally, internally, mentally over for a very long while but, this year, my tolerance for pain was tried and stretched.

This year, even the warden of Hell shook his head in pity and asked me what I was doing time for. This year, I've cried more tears than the cumulative number of tears I've shed in the years before. This year, I've written and performed speeches about failure, blogged about failure, talked to my students about failure-- all while wading neck deep in the stuff; I felt like a failure as a person, as a woman, as a mother. This year, I thought about something I hadn't thought about since I was sixteen.

This year, being a teacher went from being the bane of my existence to being a large reason for my continued existence.

Having something to get up for everyday just so that I could continue to provide for my children was quite the unexpected lifesaver. But needing one propelled me to seek out a therapist for myself because the things happening in my life and the life of my son were just too much to handle alone and friends had no idea how to help-- it's just that big.

Thankfully, I know trouble doesn't last always and death can be a permanent mistake.

I smile, laugh, and joke about the complexities of life. I have to because every step I take forward finds me flying a few feet back. Even the therapist was in awe of how I'm still standing with the number of hits I take/have taken. I have to stand strong because I have children; I can't let them see the cracks in my shell. So I sit in my car, shed tears, and talk to God.

Yeah, I would say I'm someone who could, definitely, use a break.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Job Wisdom I Have Now That I Wish I Knew Then

Dear young people with jobs,

Here are a few nuggets of wisdom you need to carry with you:

1) show up to work every day

2) show up to work ON TIME every day

3) treat every day like a learning experience (because it is)

4) volunteer to do something that is not part of your job description

5) go in to work with a GOOD attitude

6) remember your employers don't need you and don't owe you anything

7) make sure you're valuable enough to be considered irreplaceable

8) don't be a kiss-ass

9) pick your boss's brain

Great quotes about work
10) don't lose yourself in a job

11) move on when there is nothing new to learn

12) don't burn bridges b/c life has a way of humbling you; the people you see now may be the people you'll meet later

13) don't allow yourself to be treated as less than you are

14) dress for success (that means shower every day-- yes, there was a person at work who could have used this advice, a post-it note on his office door, or a soap and rag left on his office chair).

15) NETWORK! Don't be anti-social

16) DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT EVERYTHING: every meeting, every praise, every accolade, every email. Paper trails are important in business.

17) there's no substitute for experience; find internships, apprenticeships, or part/full-time jobs with titles that can take you to the next level

18) never stop learning; if you ever have a thought of being a director or a head honcho, get your masters

19) a mental health day at the beach is a good way to keep the balance

20) remember to leave time for your friends.

Additional wisdom from my Facebook friends:

21) If you think you deserve a raise, ask for it and back it up with good reasons (see #16); the worst that could happen is being told no.  ~Thanks, Tq.

22) Never post anything negative about your job or anything incriminating on social networking sites ~Thanks, Leslie.

23) Leave your emotions at home; they have no business in the workplace. (see #19) ~Thanks, Jill.

24) Work hard but have a life outside of the job so that you don't burn out. (see #10 & 20) ~Thanks, again, Tq.

Do you other 30 and older people have any other advice? Yeah, I know I just asked a question at the end of my blog post. Whatevs. Go ahead and comment below.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

World Listen Up

Another essay for another 'ship:

I stepped to the podium, palms sweating, throat constricting, tongue drying, cumbersome in a mouth that’s suddenly parched. As I looked at the crowd of fresh-faced high school seniors, fidgeting with their caps, eager to hear the words beginning this first of many momentous occasions in their life, my mind raced, tripping over the lines to the speech I was to give.

I was asked to open this ceremony via a student-generated online petition. Apparently, the few pieces of fictional fodder I had written were popular enough with the young adult set to temporarily label me as “cool” (something I was not during my own high school years) and to warrant the press’s presence as evidenced by the cameras trained on my face.

The pressure was on to say something as “cool” and entertaining as the black scribbles across their e-reader screen. I wrestled for a fortnight, tossing out ideas, copying, pasting, and rearranging my thoughts on my computer, trying to force sense on the nonsensical, to share a life lesson the kids can carry with them in the 140-character restricted format in which they think.

But life doesn’t make sense; sometimes-- most times, the good loses and the bad wins—initially. Like any good book, life is filled with unexpected plot twists, brilliant antagonists, and, seemingly, unending struggle.  But, also, like any good book, those trials are there for character building.

And, just like that, I knew what to say: “You are the author of your own life.”

Essay Schmessay

Here's an essay I submitted for a 'ship (gotta pay for school somehow). Hope it makes you laugh as that was the point.

I remember the sides being muuuuch lower;
this may not be the same slide.

Florida is known for its beautiful beaches, boys, and bikini babes. Well, my story contains none of those. It’s about the time my slightly pudgy seventeen-year-old self allowed two classmates to pressure her into boldly (foolishly) donning her first bikini and climbing up the tallest water slide located in one of Orlando’s water parks.

As I transcended the Babylonian stairs, I saw disapproval in the birds’ eyes as they flew by me. Shame draped my body and, once at the top, fear congealed my blood. My feet rooted to the platform; my ears heard only the muffled instructions from the ride attendant.

Instruction one: cross your arms, cross your legs. Two: you will feel nothing beneath you for four seconds. Three: do not uncross your arms or legs. There were no guardrails attached to this slide; a wrong move could mean death.

I lay down, crossed my legs and my arms, closed my eyes and sent up frantic prayers, “Dear God, make me a bird so I could fly far, far away…”

Rough hands pushed against my shoulders. I felt the slide give away to…nothing. Panicked, my arms flailed; my legs uncrossed. After what seemed like eons, my back crashed onto the hard wet surface of the slide and I jetted down the watery chute, water painfully shooting up the exit orifice of my body.

At the bottom, I opened my eyes to the sight of my girls out of my bikini top and a tourist’s camcorder in my face.

Going to Full Sail University!

Ok, just got the phone call and it's official: I'M GOING BACK TO SCHOOL (as a student myself)! Yay! With a $12k scholarship! Yay! And the possibility of another $3k after my first year. Double yay! First step to leaving the teaching profession: getting my master's degree. BIG SMILE over here.

I'm really excited (and a little worried). Can't wait to begin.


Snake Dream

Just dreamed of a random dude at my mom's yard sale picking up a large green snake and stuffing it in his mouth. Then when I tried to hurry by him, he was pulling it out of his mouth to throw at me. I jumped awake really quick before it could land. 

A snake dream = betrayal/false friends. This is a warning to me and let it be a warning to whomever it is who calls me a friend but who intends to hurt me either with their words/gossip/actions. Don't. 

People who hurt me pretty quickly see their lives take a downward turn. God said, "Do my anointed no harm", promised "no weapons formed shall prosper", and assured me He will "smite mine enemies". So if that dreams was about you, I'm not the only one who has been warned. Have a great day. I got another hour of sleep to find.

My other two dreams were: I dropped my iPhone (putting my case on it today) and my son had most of his room cleaned and needed help (will do that today). Then I had this snake one-- it was stupid and random up until that point.

Back to School

All those 1st day of school posts on Facebook page are giving me cramps. I'm trying to be all, "Oh, how sweet" but, in a shadowed corner of my mind, there's a shriveled up woman, clutching a bottle of wine with one hand, throwing once-bitten apples with the other, shrieking, "I don't wanna go back there". 

Yep, my teaching days are numbered. Just gotta get through the next 1-2 years. If I don't get out by then, I might as well stay and do another 10 years or dance in an electric storm wearing nothing but aluminum foil or place a cyanide pill in my mouth during the opening-of-school meeting or donate my body to the National Federation of Fat Teachers Who Have Finally Had Enough or-- you get the point. 

I'm getting depressed just thinking about the upcoming school year. I gotta prepare my kids for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, PERT (I'm teaching 11th and 12th), FCAT (9th grade is on the computer this year), district assessments, and AP exams (Lang & Lit). When do I get to teach? Plus, in order to score high on my teacher evaluation, I have to plan field trips, bring in speakers, and compete in contests. Oh, yeah, and I have to help my 11th & 12th grade students prepare college essays, all while completing recommendation letters. I think I'm breaking out in hives just thinking about it.


My original -ism: Once you come through a lot of personal darkness, you want to spend forever dancing in the light, even in the rain, for that matter, because it means, at least, you’re being watered for growth. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dear Young One

Dear young one,

Please take care of your body and your mind. The jobs will wait; your education can't. Enjoy your summers and your friends. Cherish the moments when your biggest stressors are passing all your final exams, not paying all your bills (on time). Avoid the credit cards and, if you can't, only take one, spending only what you can/WILL pay off at the end of every month. Technology changes, only invest in it if it's in the form of stocks. Otherwise, materially speaking, everything today will be outdated tomorrow. Go for quality instead of quantity. Take pictures, not of yourself but of your moments. Remember, today is always here and tomorrow never comes. YOLO is not just a catchy phrase over a groovy beat but the truth. A friend is not just a title on Facebook; cut off your computer/laptop/cell phone device and get some. "Yes" is not a word everyone deserves; neither is "no". Figure out on who and when to use them. You are just as good, if not better, than the next person. Live with these things in mind and you'll be just fine.


Your older self

Just some things I got flitting through my mind. What other words of wisdom would you share with your younger self? Take the challenge and write that letter.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Part 3: 30 Things I Want to Be

Now for the final installment of this writing exercise. For the next seven minutes, I will write out the first 30 things that come to mind about what I want to be. Just like the previous exercises, this can be anything. It can, also, repeat from the first two exercises but, of course, with the idea of "to be" planted firmly in the mind. Another part to this writing exercise follows but I'll mention it below.

Side note: Seriously, when will I learn to do these blog posts in a timely fashion; it's nearly 3AM and my eyes are drooping.

30 Things I Want to Be

 1. happy
 2. secure
 3. in love
 4. loved
 5. accepted
 6. wanted
 7. a professor
 8. a published author
 9. a motivational speaker
10. an accomplished actress
11. a produced screenwriter
12. a better mother
13. thinner, quite thinner
14. neater
15. more proactive
16. a doer, not a procrastinator
17. a wife
18. a world traveler
19. fulfilled
20. desirable
21. sought after for my knowledge
22. an awards show hostess
23. settled
24. taken care of
25. dr. cannon
26. focused
27. inspiring
28. unforgettable
29. respected
30. appreciated
*~~~*~~~*still going*~~~*~~~*
31. understood, as much as i can be
32. a go-getter
33. more spiritual
34. loving
35. patient
36. kinder
37. obedient to God
38. important
39. remembered for my good work like shakespeare
40. tactful
41. living up to my potential
42. degreed
43. owner of many houses
44. present in the present
45. organized

I actually completed this well ahead of my seven minutes, in fact, I still had a minute and a half left when I felt the well go dry.  I managed to squeeze out a few more important things but I was still left with 30 seconds. I jotted down that last and, oh so, important thing I want to be as the seconds dwindled. Do I bother to number them? I shall.

Another note: the first 11 are in no particular order; my mind raced with answers before I even hit start so the words tumbled over each other to be written.

Anyhoo, I'm sleepy. I'll do the next part of the exercise tomorrow. This involves looking at all three columns/lists and finding recurrences/patterns within them. I'm pretty sure you can see a definite pattern in mine. Hope I can find my book tomorrow.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Videos That Made Me Go :D

Yesterday, while perusing several news sites (as is my daily habit), I came upon two articles with embedded videos that made me go :D.

The first one was about a fan video made by a young boy that copied the editing and the choreography of Beyonce's Countdown to 99.9% perfection. Lip syncing is nothing new; Beyonce fans are nothing new; dancing to a Beyonce video is nothing new. What excited and awed me was the editing. Yes I'm a bit of a dork but this BOY pretty much taught himself how to do what people get paid loads to do. I don't care that he's Asian (as some commenters on the video pointed out); his ancestry has nothing to do with the persistence, determination, skill, and healthy dose of nuttiness/obsessiveness it took to remake this video. He did a GREAT job and is to be commended (and hired?) for that. Even Beyonce took notice and put his video on her tumblr page under the headline of "Brilliant". Good job, Ton! See below:

The second article drug up a decade plus of nostalgic moments as it talked about Tevin Campbell's YouTube video which showcased him singing Can We Talk. The video was posted earlier this month. Listening to him sing made me long for the 90s in the way these two articles (spitefully) pointed out the chronological gulf that exists between the 90s and today (boo, maker of the article). This tumblr page doesn't make me feel any better either (boo, maker of this tumblr page). His voice sounds nearly the same and not like the tragically strangled sad notes of long-gone R & B artists. I want him to take his voice on a tour. If Jon B sounds the same, round him up too. Grab some other awesome 90s artists if they've kept their voices up and put them on stage. I would totally pay to be transported, even momentarily, back to my childhood. Enjoy.


Part 2: 30 Things I Want to Do

I've got to put in earlier hours; it's nearly 1AM. Man, I'm tired. But, as promised, here is part 2 of the 30 Things exercise.

30 Things I Want to Do

 1. Get published
 2. Produce movies
 3. Host an award show
 4. Travel more
 5. Spend more quality time with my children
 6. Find a mate, a life long mate
 7. Lose 70lbs and keep 'em off
 8. Get a house built from the ground up
 9. Sky dive
10. Snorkel
11. Get over my fear of success
12. Stop procrastinating
13. Stop biting my nails
14. Finish the four screenplays that are flitting through my head
15. Finish the two fictional/romance books I've started
16. Write the children/young adult series that's living in my brain
17. Create positive traditions for my family
18. Take my boys on an awesome plane ride
19. Make my vision real
20. Direct movies
21. Create my girls' symposium
22. Leave an indelible mark on history
23. Create scholarships in my grandfather's name
24. Complete my doctorate degree
25. Forgive myself
26. Move forward
27. Sever ties with my painful past/use it as foundation for my stories
28. Find love
29. Love
30. Live fuller moments
These three things came to me as I was going back to number the ones above after the time went off (pretty amazing that I got 30 in just at the timer-- I thought I was short). I guess, my mind was still going.

31. Have more kids
32. Adopt
33. Eat better

Tomorrow's post will be the 30 Things I Want to Be. This one, if I remember correctly, gets seven minutes as opposed to five.

Anyhoo, g'nite.


Teacher Becomes the Student

This morning, I woke up with school on my mind. No, not teaching school but learning in school. Not just any school but Full Sail University. No lie. After answering a crazy number of text messages (guess I was very popular this AM), I had Full Sail on my mind. Might've had something to do with the 30 Things exercise I did last night/in the wee hours of this morning.

So I sat up, grabbed my laptop, and pulled up their website, intending to look further into their Creative Writing MFA. But there was an ad for another degree that gave me pause-- Education Media Design. And, yet, another degree-- Entertainment Business with a Sports Management Elective Track (this one I drooled over). And another degree-- New Media Journalism. This one, I was like, eh. That narrowed it down to just three choices. All three are just a year long but, at $30k per program, I can't afford to pursue all three (I wish I could) so I needed to whittle it down again.

In looking at their scholarship opportunities, I saw they offered a nice size one, up to $12k, for teachers if they are pursuing either the Creative Writing degree or the Education Media Design masters (there was another degree choice but it wasn't on my radar), as well as two smaller ones for which I qualify. Well, that narrowed down my choice to two-- Creative Writing and Education Media Design (but I would still really love to do the Sports Management degree). So I thought about the range of possibilities for work/finding another job.

The Creative Writing degree would help give me the discipline I need to finish my screenplays and my other works of fiction. Plus, an MFA would allow me to become a college professor of the same subject, Creative Writing. Some of my dreams are to be a college professor, produced screenwriter, and a published author. Also, I would receive tuition reimbursement from my job considering that I'm an English/Language Arts teacher, and, up until this year, the Creative Writing teacher.

But the Education Media Design degree will not only help me (better) utilize technology in my lessons, it will, also, open the door into me leaving public school teaching all together because the skills I'll acquire are perfect for the corporate world, giving presentations and/or being a Corporate Trainer. It's still teaching only with a better salary and more opportunities for growth.

But that's not really what persuaded me to complete an application for the Education Media Design program; it was the possibility of getting the scholarship(s) and using the unused loan money to pay for and finish my MFA in Creative Writing degree at National University while earning the MS degree at Full Sail. I'm halfway through the program and it's been a real source of depression/disappointment that I have been financially unable to complete the program for the past five years. I only have five more classes until I have my degree in hand. The possibility that lies before me, the ability to obtain two Masters, to finish what I started, is an absolute dream. I want it. I want it soooooooo badly.

I need it for my kids. They don't need to continue hearing from me the phrase "I can't afford..." They need to see me in pursuit of my dreams, my passion, my goals so that they can understand the sacrifice and dedication it takes to achieve their desires.

I need it for my grandfather; as I type this with my eyes closed, I have a vision of him smiling behind my tear-stung eyelids. It's like he's saying, "It's about time you understand". That's crazy how his face just popped up, his (mostly) salt and peppered mustache resting like a caterpillar above the curve of his bottom lip, two smaller hairy caterpillars sit one above each eye, which are filled with the ever-present twinkling essence of the stars. In this moment, I feel his approval draping my soul as if he spoke the words aloud.

I need it for me. I need the completion, the open door, the ability to take control of my life. Teaching is a trap door for those who have no calling for it; once you fall into the job and the longer you stay in that position, the harder it is to pull yourself out of it because it creates complacency.

I'm entering my 8th year as a teacher, the longest position I've ever held with little to no upward mobility. My raises have been laughable, if at all existent. Thankfully, recent government actions have made the job uncomfortable. That was just the kind of push I needed to seek the fulfillment of my potential.

So, today, I've completed my FAFSA; I've sent in my application for admission into the Education Media Design & Technology program at Full Sail; and I've committed myself to my pursuit of passion.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Part 1: 30 Things I Want to Have

I've got just enough time to create this post before I go to bed. I've had a lot of things on my mind lately, trying to figure things out and sort through the muddled mess of my mind-- not in a depressing way, mind you, but more in a prioritizing way. I have story segments running into life dreams, desires colliding with fears, tail-chasing questions endlessly circling, creating another furrow in my brain. Just thinking, thinking, thinking.

Something I've been thinking about over the past week is a book I read a few years ago (maybe 5 or 6 years ago) called Write It Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser. The premise behind the book is that writing things down sets the wheels in motion for action. By reading and doing the exercises, you start rooting around the subconscious, unearthing desires that you may never have fully acknowledged. 

 The one thing about this book that stuck out the most for me is the 30/30/30 list you're supposed to create within a set amount of time. I love this exercise so much that I do it with my students before they make their vision board. Now, my mind's a little rusty but the categories are: 30 Things I Want to Have; 30 Things I Want to Do; and 30 Things I Want to Be. I don't remember the timing for the writing of each category but I know it falls between 5-7 minutes. Because I'm tired and it's late, I'm going to do just the first category tonight then I'll follow up with another one tomorrow and the last one on Thursday. 

The Sandman cometh. 

30 Things I Want to Have (5 minutes):

 1. long pretty natural fingernails
 2. a beautiful afro
 3. two more children, girls
 4. a husband
 5. a house by the beach
 6. a personal chef
 7. a personal trainer
 8. enough money in the bank to be comfortable and a help to society
 9. my girls' organization
10. published books
11. produced screenplays
12. a few more real friends
13. a wonderful car w/o a car payment
14. a job that doesn't feel like a job
15. my doctorate
16. a projector
17. a number/weight on the scale that is less than 200
18. a real chance at happiness
19. a spacious apartment in New York
20. a swimming pool
21. a pool boy
22. a close family
23. a Canon camera that also records video
24. an iPad
25. a writing studio within my house
26. the life i dreamed
27. a house that i designed
28. house parties
29. fun
30. freedom
31. security (I didn't have these numbered while the timer was going but this is definitely a major one for me-- physical, emotional, and financial security are BIG deals to me)

Well, that's all for tonight.

Until tomorrow,


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Condolences to Colorado

They said he was forgettable.

Early Friday morning, the Batman Killer made sure we knew his name-- James Holmes. Somehow, this brilliant young man, a medical student with prospects of being a doctor, the guy with twinkling eyes and a shy smile that spoke of secrets and mischief, the kind of which Dennis the Menace would be in awe, transformed into the stuff of which nightmares are made, a red-headed bogeyman who penetrated the excited yet peaceful atmosphere of the Aurora, CO movie theater just fifteen minutes into the midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, terrifying its dark spaces, indiscriminantly wielding weapons no human should ever point at another human-- an assault rifle, a shot gun, and pistols. In his wake, he left a score or two of people injured and a dozen dead, including a girl as young as six.
His AdultFriendFinder profile obtained by TMZ

Yet he was arrested without incident, calmly gave himself over to the police without any resistance. On top of that, he told police of his explosive-outfitted home, knowing full well the investigation would extend to his place of living. The police turned up months of planning as well as this degenerate's booby trapped lair.

I have to ask why. Why would a man, hell-bent on the destruction of peace and innocence and humanity, give up his final hurrah? And why didn't he resist arrest? Why did he stop shooting? Why didn't he kill himself? He had to know that there was no happy ending waiting for him. What was his motive? What did he hope to accomplish?

Until now, I never gave thought to the safety of the movie house. There's something very sacred and American about the shared experience of watching moving displays of creativity under a blanket of total dark. I don't ever give a glance at my unknown neighbor (unless my eye is grabbed by the glaring blue screen of a cellphone); I don't ever sit in apprehension of the exit door. Now that will all change. At least, for me, this incident has just ruled out midnight showings; they're too isolated in that the parking lot is emptied of people strolling to and from their cars into the theater. That first layer of protection is gone, the layer of the public. At a midnight showing, everyone is inside, ensconced within, captivated by the action up on the screen, vulnerable to such an attack.

I truly feel for the people of Colorado and the family of the killer. My condolences go out to them. But I, also, feel saddened for America. Yet, again, we are stripped of our innocence, separated by tragedy and fear from one of the last safe places left within our nation.

I can't begin to think what ramifications have yet to ripple from this frightening event.


Fat Wishes

This time around, when I regained the weight, it all settled in places different from where it left but mostly in my stomach. I was told that has to do with age now that I’m clearly in my 30s (just turned 33 a few weeks ago). Apparently, weight settles in women’s stomachs when they get older. That explains why older women tend to have thicker waists. Wish I knew that before hand, not that I’m certain it would have made a difference.
I remember being on that scale when I was younger, saying I don’t want to pass the 150lb mark. Then I remember, saying I’m good as long as I don’t pass the 200lb mark after having my 2nd baby at 20. I remember the heaviness on my shoulder when I first saw the scale say 206lbs. But that didn’t stop the line in the sand from moving to 250lb then 300lb. I never got up to 300 but, at one point, I got close. Luckily, my health gave me a good wake up call when my right leg would swell just from sitting for a little while and heartburn erosion ate away my voice. For three months I could not speak without getting winded, I lost the ability to sing, and, metaphorically speaking, I realized how much I needed a voice, my voice. That scared me enough to get into the gym and down to 251lb.
But, a couple of years ago, I climbed back up to 264lb. Lost down to 228lb, now I’m back at 245 after losing 10lbs this summer. I definitely feel like I’ve done more damage this time around even though I’m still about 26lbs lighter than my highest recorded weight (271lbs). If I have more fat in my stomach than before, as evident in the mirror, then that means that fat has to go somewhere, probably around my vital organs.
While I would love a shot a being on that Biggest Loser ranch, getting the time away to focus on just me, realistically speaking, for me, each video I sent out was like buying a lottery ticket. There are lots of people trying to have their number called but only about 20 out of the 200,000 will be given the golden ticket. So while I do have a voice in my head saying, “Why not me”, I have another one saying, “Why not now?” So I can’t wait, especially after reading articles that say belly fat is linked to many cancers, especially after reading that fat requires an increase in estrogen, which leads to those cancers. I don’t want to have the wasting away death I’ve seen in some cancer victims or to stick myself with needles to test my insulin or to wake up in the middle of the night clutching my heart. This may seem morbid but those scenarios are not the way I envisioned living/dying.


Sprint vs TMobile

So I left Tmobile last week and jumped over the edge, landing on the dark side (iPhone).

AT&T's new shared data plans ruled them out of the contest for my money. Verizon's notoriously high plans kicked them out as well. That left me with either sticking with T-Mobile and dealing with their increasingly shoddy service and customer service (the service was such that I left mid-contract) or returning, like the prodigal daughter, to the place where I got my mobile phone start-- Sprint. 

Given that my son's 16th birthday is next month and the iPhone was the only thing for which he expressed a desire, I made the leap from where I've been for the last decade, a part of the T-Mobile family, to Sprint. I wish I could say that I felt like I made the right choice but I can't. I'm a person for whom loyalty ranks pretty high on the list of values and, until T-Mobile took away my ability to tether my HTC Sensation to my laptop, I was torn about leaving. Even as I stood in the Sprint store, my heart felt as heavy as lead. Even with the iPhone in hand, my feet dragged slowly from the store, no smile to be found upon my face.

For five day, I hated the iPhone, hated its small screen, hated it's fragility, hated the necessity to purchase a case that disguises the sleekness of the iPhone (the one thing I love about it), hated Sprint's inability to access data while I chat on the phone, hated the true 3G (slow) "speed" of Sprint. I never had those problems with my Sensation or T-Mobile. 

But, at least, I can talk on my phone in my apartment. My biggest complaint with T-Mobile, one to which there seemed to be no solution, even after talking to numerous techs and pointless customer service personnel within the company. I threatened to leave but they knew there wasn't really any all-around comparable company out there. And there isn't. Not one that offers fairly low rates, great speed, good overseas signal (with no roaming fees) and useful phones (I really liked my Sensation). 

However, Sprint has them beat on customer service and has comparable rates with discounts for teachers. They also have the best plan for the iPhone, as well as an old phone purchasing plan. I got $100 for my old phone towards the purchase of my iPhone (but I could have gotten $200 on craigslist as I found out today much to my chagrin). So while I miss the internet speed and being able to access Google while talking with my best friend on speaker phone, as well as using my Cardio Trainer app (not an available app on the iPhone), I'm content with what I have. My son's happy with his early birthday gift and I'm happy with my slightly lower bill (and Siri). 

I may not be enamored with the iPhone itself but I do love its apps and Sprint in general. One app that I’ve found most useful this past week has been MyFitnessPal. I’ve been wanting to keep a food diary for years but I was never the diary type, often losing my books or forgetting to write but this one is right on my phone (I rarely forget my phone). I love it because it is very easy to use, it gives me nutritional value of everything I eat, and it calorie counts for me. I went to IHOP a few days ago and had the deeee-licious strawberry pancakes dinner. Wouldn’t you know it, that whole meal was already one of the choices on the phone. (Good lordy, that meal was over 1000 calories by itself and packed a LOT of sodium). I’ve found myself consciously thinking about what I’m eating and if it fits in my calorie allowance. But last night, I started thinking of my sodium allowance too (I have high blood pressure– makes sense to use the information). I actually decided against two slices of pickles (only 5 calories) because I was already over my sodium allowance.

Anyhoo, here's to hoping these next two years with Sprint/the iPhone are uneventful with relation to my cell phone service .