Monday, March 29, 2010

Just another day in paradise

Well, not really. Actually it's hard-core winds and a smattering of rain -- I don't know if that's your idea of paradise, but it certainly isn't mine.

I'm sitting here in my dining room, or rather my parents dining room, and have been wondering what to do first. I've already made the list in my head several hours ago (ever since I realized I would not be substituting today and decided I needed to be somewhat productive today), but have no desire or inclination to get started on it. It should be a typical day really, just a bit of reading, guitar playing, working on my story, taking care of yet another speeding ticket (thanks to a lovely town called Hermiston), and a few phone calls pertaining to my employment verification. Oh, and of course a lovely dance with the dishes. Somehow they will be clean....whether it's by my hand or not I can not say. I have no concrete plans, however, I should do something productive and workout, but as I said before, I really don't care to do anything. I suppose once you're a master, there is no reason to practice the skills I've worked so hard to hone (i.e.: being a good teacher).
So while I contemplate whether anything on my list contains even a pinch of "sanuk" (Thai for enjoyment, pleasure, a 'good time'), I'm going to get off my rear and do the dishes -- because I KNOW that activity is void of sanuk, but it must be done.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mike's Hard Lemonade

Saint Patrick's day is a wonderful excuse to wear green from head to toe, cram into a pub, and most of all take part of the Irish habit of drinking into oblivion. It's not as though we need an excuse -- heck, I've had a glass of wine simply because it looks good beside my spaghetti -- but having a holiday makes drinking somehow more worthwhile. Now, I've done my part in donning the green, and I've successfully crammed my way into the pub, but I refuse to follow the Irish example of getting utterly and irrevocably hammered.

That's not to say I didn't drink. I did. It was only one -- but boy was it tasty. I haven't had a Mike's Hard since last year, and it was just as good as I remember. Best of all, it was bought by a dear friend. That just made the drink all the tastier. I honestly wasn't planning on drinking since I'd rather prefer an occasion that requires a little more than one drink, but in the spirit of the holiday, and because I didn't have to pay for it, I decided to go for it. I was not disappointed.

The night consisted of fabulous company (ie: the ruggers), wonderful food (chicken strips and fries), a little lesson in pool, and the serenades of Ronan and Danny. The ruggers are always good company, and any time I go to the pub, it's usually with the same crowd on a typical Saturday night. The usual crowd was there, but also in attendance were a few of the guys that normally don't make it out with us (some for personal reasons, some for...age reasons). Our gifted Ronan is not only a singer, but also a very talented member of the team. Now the food there is always great. I tend to order the same thing, because who likes change? Fries must always be dipped in honey mustard, and chicken strips must always be accompanied by ranch. It's just the way it goes. As for pool, I've been playing since junior high, but am still just as horrible now as I was back then. It is quite possible that I have gotten worse, actually. But we let the guys we were playing against assume we are pool-illiterate and teach us a thing or two about the game. We were beating them too for quite a while but just couldn't get the 8-ball into a pocket. As already mentioned, the music was in excellent taste, and a player's younger brother even made it out to sing for us. He did a number on Jason Mraz and even sported the fedora. I wonder if he was doing that on purpose....

This marks the second occasion for drinking of the year. Two down, ten more to go. There's a good chance that I won't be using up my twelve occasions since I rather like not drinking. But it's nice to know that I am right on track and farming like a pro. Okay, I guess none of you have ever played the Farming Game. I'm tellin ya, it changed my life.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The figure moved stealthily on silent feet; staying close to the outside wall. The stone corner was in sight, simply a matter of a few steps…
Gabrielle’s head snapped up, aggravation washing across her face. She let out a frustrated growl and craned her neck to see an adolescent boy sitting atop the thatched roof. “If you’re not careful you’re going to cave in,” she scowled. “In fact, I hope you do. Papa will tan your hide good.”
The young boy laughed and swung his feet lightly as they dangled several feet above Gabby’s head. “You’re not a very good sport at this game. I get you every time.”
“That’s because you’re older. You’ve been playing longer.” She stuck out her tongue in a near pout.
He laughed again. “Not true. Jamie’s even better than you, and you’re older than him. “The point is to be sneaky. And you’re just not good at it.”
“It’s not fair when you climb on top of roofs. You can’t take the advantage like that.”
“Who says?”
“I do,” she threw her hands on her hips, pursing her lips tightly.
“Advantage is there for the taking. There are no rules. It’s all about stealth. It is clear you don’t have any,” he smirked.
“Gabby, just admit that I am better than you.”
She crossed her arms tightly and turned away.
“Boys are always better.” He laughed again.
That did it. Gabrielle whirled around, her eyes aflame with fury. She leapt up and reached for his feet, but he jerked them out of her reach. The motion was enough to send him flailing back against the thatched roof.
With a loud crack, his weight sent him crashing through to the dirt floor below. He landed in a cloud of dust on his back.
Now it was Gabby’s turn to laugh. “Ruben, ‘pride goes before the fall,’” she smirked and turned to walk away. The shed was now in desperate need of repair, and she wanted to make sure she was nowhere near when Papa found out. “Papa’s gonna tan your hide!” she shouted mockingly over her shoulder. She could hear him scrambling to his feet near the door of the shed.

Monday, March 15, 2010


“Hush now, my child. All is well.” The woman rocked the infant back and forth gently in her arms. The small baby flailed her arms wildly, but refused to quell her cry. She tossed her head with full force and balled her hands into fists.

The dark haired woman sat in a stool and chuckled softly to herself. “You are just like your father, stubborn and insistent.” She expertly held her closer and began humming a soft melody.

After another minute the baby finally stilled, looking for the first time at the women holding her in her arms. She opened her mouth in toothless awe. Her black eyes were transfixed on the woman’s face, holding her in an unbreakable gaze. Finally she smiled and let loose a light gurgle.

The woman continued to hum the soothing tune, nuzzling the child’s head in the crook of her neck. “That’s right my beautiful baby, you just wanted me to sing to you,” she smiled. “Listen to my voice; listen child, and I will guild your step. Be open to my calling and I will bring you near to me.” Her lyrical voice held the child’s rapt attention. “Listen little one, all will be well. I have already stormed the gates of hell. There is nothing to fear when I am near. You are safe, safe in my arms.” As the final notes faded in the still air, the child sighed into blissful sleep.

Friday, March 12, 2010


They cut away
though you knew not what.
A limb removed
but you felt no loss.
Unconscious to their touch it seemed
a little less of you redeemed.
Pray, do not wake for another day,
but sleep assured without the pain.
And never know the sight you were
as the earth received your sacrifice,
and drank
The river red spilling from your veins.
See not the pity or the shame
when you gaze upon your claim to fame.
Know that the crippled body be
the one true testament of your love for thee.
This was written for a friend of mine. If it's not obvious, he was a soldier
wounded in Iraq. He survived, but paid the price with the loss of a leg
and multiple scars covering his body. This was my first reaction when
I heard the news from home. I was taking a poetry class and was working
on my next one to present when I got the phone call. It's old -- I think I
wrote it back in 2005. I found it in my old files from school. It still brings
back sober memories.

The Joy of Listing

I like lists. A lot.
But this is common knowledge.

Although list-making is pretty self-explanatory stuff, and usually takes the form of scratch paper with the typical markings from a pen or pencil. However, my note pad of choice lately has been my small dry-erase board mounted in my bedroom. It now has a permanent "To do" written at the top so I can make daily lists of what I need to do. It has worked out surprisingly well; I didn't think I would remember to check the board or change the lists, but things get done. And if I don't get it done on one day, then it stays on the board until I can successfully erase that sucker right off.

And that's the beauty of the whole thing -- I can erase each item instead of crossing it off. What's the difference, you may wonder. Here's the difference: erasing allows me to not have to think about it anymore (it's not on the list, is it?), and gives me more room to add things to it as they come to me; crossing things off simply provides an ego boost so at the end of the day I can take note of what I accomplished. Who needs that? I shall erase.

Currently I have nothing on my list for Friday. This is pretty good having an open day to do whatever I want. :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

It's a musical family

Sitting in the almost packed Rice Auditorium listening to the soothing, soulful tunes of the Chamber Singers as they belted out good ole' gospel music, I began thinking about a choir and its parts as one big happy family. As a body, they sound amazing, whole, unified. But give me one moment to share the members of this talented family.

Altos and basses: they're the heart and soul of the family, otherwise known as mom and dad. They show maturity in their deep voices and stable notes. We all know altos have full reign of the middle E and stay on it like a cat on the windowsill, (or like stubborn moms who repeat, verbatim, "because I said so"). Basses bellow a bit more, much like our fathers in their intimidating gravely voices. But no matter how they holler, we gotta admit they keep the rest of the family firmly on task.

Sopranos: ah yes, they're the flighty females in the family. Age is of no consequence, they can be twelve or twenty-two, but these ladies sure have one thing in common: they know how to soar. Reaching the high notes sends these girls into high-pitched giggles (no pun intended). They are also given to flights of fancy and often go from zero to sixty -- or in musical terms, A to high B flat -- in the span of a quarter note. Ah, what fickle creatures these sopranos are.

Tenors: the typical teenage boy. Not just any teenage boy; however, he is the popular kid at school that the women vie for, and his buddies stay close to just to get a whiff of his popularity. Their jubilant notes encourage everybody to cheer up and reach for the stars. Solid and jolly when in the presence of his pals, and smooth and soothing when trying to woo the ladies. Tenors also show their young age through their voice range: right on the verge of manliness but still able to crack on the middle C. Oh to be young again.

There are a couple other members in this family that help round out the sound, but main members are what count, and that's all there is for tonight.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

"Rain on My Parade"

Don't tell me not to live, just sit and putter
Life's candy and the sun's a ball of butter
Don't bring around a cloud to rain on my parade
Don't tell me not to fly, I simply got to
If someone takes a spill, it's me and not you

Who told you you're allowed to rain on my parade
I'll march my band out, I'll beat my drum
And if I'm fanned out, your turn at bat, sir
At least I didn't fake it, hat, sir
I guess I didn't make it
But whether I'm the rose of sheer perfection
A freckle on the nose of life's complexion
The Cinderella or the shine apple of its eye
I gotta fly once, I gotta try once,
Only can die once, right, sir?

Ooh, life is juicy, juicy and you see,
I gotta have my bite, sir.
Get ready for me love, 'cause I'm a "comer"
I simply gotta march, my heart's a drummer
Don't bring around the cloud to rain on my parade,

I'm gonna live and live NOW!
Get what I want, I know how!

One roll for the whole shebang!
One throw that bell will go clang,
Eye on the target and wham,
One shot, one gun shot and bam!
Hey, Mr. Arnstein, here I am ...

I'll march my band out, I will beat my drum,
And if I'm fanned out, your turn at bat, sir,
At least I didn't fake it, hat, sir,
I guess I didn't make it
Get ready for me love, 'cause I'm a "comer"
I simply gotta march, my heart's a drummer
Nobody, no, nobody, is gonna rain on my parade!

I'm going to Thailand in July to teach English! It's 8th grade (not quite something I'm prepared for) but an adventure nonetheless! I'll be gone for two years, Lord willing, and I haven't felt more at peace about the whole thing. I know there are going to be a lot of unforeseen challenges -- I've never been to Thailand before -- but I know God is going to be with me the entire way! Best part is, I won't be going alone. Jes is coming with me! It's going to be an adventure of a lifetime.

So please.......don't rain on my parade!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

And thus the war begins

I want to boycott US Bank. They do not follow through with the promises they make. Oh... kinda like the vast majority of men. Hmm....there might be a connection there.

But that's beside the point. The point is, as soon as I leave the country, I am taking my money with me, and leaving US Bank behind. You see, I get paid once a month by the school system (which blows by the way), and that magic date is the 25th of every month. I pay my credit card online, and the new magic date of payment is the 23th of every month. Now, if you look at these numbers you'll notice that they're two days apart; however, they are not in the right order. How am I expected to make a credit payment if I don't even have any money to begin with?

I called the bank last week and spoke to some lady who said she could take the late fee off my account as soon as I make a payment. I made a payment as soon as I hung up the phone. I check a few days later, and the $40 late fee is still on my account. I call back today and they say they have no record of my phone call. BULL SHIT, excuse my french. And now they tell me they are unwilling to waive the fee since they waived it last month -- of course they waived it last month since payday is still, and always will be, after I need to make the credit payment. This is absolutely ridiculous. I am so angry that it's made me lose my cool. Since I can't fight back in any other way, I shall use my words (like they always recommend in elementary school) to let you know what an uncooperative company they are.

Also, since they are horrible at recording my calls and who I speak with, I'll let you know so you can back me up on this...
I spoke to Shane, and then Gavin (supervisor) at 11:50 am on Thursday, Mar 4, 2010.
And since we're living in the technological age, my phone has record of my last phone call with this company on Thursday, Feb 25 at 3:23 pm.
Take that Gavin!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Day in the Life...

Ok, so this story is slightly embellished, but almost all of it is true. It happened after church a couple weeks ago as I unsuccessfully tried leaving. Only in real life. Seriously.

I head out to my car in the church parking lot, say goodbye to a friend as he makes his way to his car, and I almost make it to mine…just another ten feet. And then he spoke.

“El dia es muy bonito, no?”

I glance around and don’t see another Mexican around so I assume he is talking to me. I pause as I turn towards him, “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“Oh, I thought you spoke Spanish. Aren’t you Hispanic?”

I give a small laugh, “No, I’m sorry.”

“Oh, I thought you were. Were you in the Hispanic service?”

“Nope, sorry. And my Spanish is really bad so I try not to use it.”

“My English is really bad, so I try not to use it either,” he laughs. “My name is Mac*.”

“Hi, I’m Lissa. Nice to meet you.”

He is an older man—40s I’m sure. I didn’t think too much of him talking to me since members of the Hispanic church are often very friendly even to strangers (strangers from church, that is). I didn’t mind talking to him at first—it’s what you do at church after all, but he didn’t seem to want to quit. My car was right there. Just ten feet behind him. I could be home-free if he’d stop talking…

Small talk small talk small talk…

“Yeah, my wife—well ex-wife—left me about five months ago—last September actually.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Must be tough.”

“It is, it is. I have three children, and my wife won’t let me see them.”

“Aw, that’s too bad. How old is your oldest?”

“He’s eighteen—going to the high school.”

Small talk small talk small talk…

“No, I’m not actually from here. I just came back to visit some family for the weekend.”

“Oh, so you don’t live here?”

“No, sorry.”

“So do you come back a lot?”

I gave him a fake—but sympathetic—grimace. “Not really. I live in Monmouth, so I only come back once in a while for family visits. I really don’t make it back here that often.” I was finding it more and more necessary to stretch the truth into a lie.

“Monmouth? Isn’t it by Independence?”

“Yes, they’re right next to each other.” I was more than a little surprised that he would know where my tiny town was. “How do you know Monmouth?”

“I used to live there—well in Dayton. And McMinnville…Dallas…Amity.”

My eyes started wandering. Specifically to my car ten feet behind him. I was glad I wore my sunglasses to church.

“…I lived there a long time ago, when I was eighteen. But I got speeding tickets—five of them—and they sent me back to Mexico.”

“Oh yeah?” I humored him with a small laugh. “Did you go to school there? Western Oregon?”

“Oh no. I was living with my parents. We worked in the fields.”

Big surprise, I thought without remorse.

“So what are you doing in Monmouth?”

“Oh you know…finishing up school.” The truth-stretching became an outright lie.

“That’s cool. I have a friend down in Corvallis.”

“That’s nice.”

“Yes, I visited him a few months ago. I go back there fairly often to visit.”

“Well that’s cool.”

“Maybe the next time I go, I can stop by and see you.”

“Oh yeah? Well I really like Monmouth. My fiancĂ© and I have an apartment together. You know, living in sin and all. It’s not so bad when we live right across from our church. We just hop on over to church and confess our sins, and start the week with a clean slate.”

He stared at me blankly. I had never been so glad to be wearing sunglasses. His small talk questioning had finally focused on his evident interest in me as more than a fellow church-goer. He was interested. And I was mad. Not the insane mad, more like the upset, irritated, you-are-really-annoying-me, kind of mad. At this point, lying had become less of a convenience and more of a necessity. Oh, and it also gave me some satisfaction to be making an outright mockery of him by exposing his interest. What can I say? I am a cruel heart-breaker.

“I should give you my number in case I’m ever over your way.”

Now it was my turn to blink blankly. Did he not get it? Here I am, trying to dismiss him and he doesn’t get it. Wow.

“You can call me the next time you’re in town too.”

“Um, yeah sure.” I stumbled over my words. I can’t believe he doesn’t get it.

“Do you have a number I can reach you at?”

“Um, I’m getting a new phone soon so I don’t know what my new number will be. If you just write yours down, then that’ll be fine.” Why was I encouraging him?

He handed me his number on the back of the bulletin. I took this as a cue to get the hell out of there, pardon my French. “Okay, well it was nice meeting you. Have a good day.”

“Yes, you too. Give me a call sometime so I can have your number.”

I just smile tersely as I get into my car. This is insane. Utterly insane. He’s old. He has a child who’s a scant six years younger than me.

I am NOT step-mom material, nor am I interested in providing a green card, thank you very much.

*Name has been changed to protect his privacy (but not his dignity).