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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Thursday, August 30, 2007

And I Am Telling You, I'm Not Going

This time next week I'll be greeting a new batch of third graders, my fourth batch to be exact. It's hard to believe it's been only three years since I wrote this post or this one. For those of you who've been playing along at home you might know that the fourth year of teaching in the same district is also a significant one. That's because as soon as you walk through the door the first day of your fourth year, you are officially tenured.

Tenure is a sticky subject. For teachers, tenure means you can finally breathe a sigh of relief that, barring any unusual circumstances, your job is now and will always be, safe and secure. Security in the job market is next to impossible to come by these days. Teachers are one of very few groups that have that going for them, and still many districts find ways to make their newer teachers jump through hoops before letting them get the big T. Sometimes they lay out all the hoops and let them go right before acquiring tenure. It seems the world of education has "learned" a thing or two from corporate America, too.

What makes it sticky, however, is the fact that it can give a get out of jail free pass to teachers who never should have made it that far to begin with. Even worse, it can take good teachers and make them lazy. It's like the Hollywood mentality. Even actors start to phone it in once they know they've got a fan base. Some teachers do that, too. Once they don't have to dress to impress, they start going through the motions. This is why tenure, depending on who gets it, can be both a blessing and a curse.

But tenure is not the only new thing this teacher is getting this year. In fact, my school is literally overflowing with changes. Last year a lot changes started occurring towards the end of the year with an overabundance of transfers, maternity leaves and garden variety changes. I sat by quietly and watched all of these changes happening around me, hoping that when the dust settled, I'd still be staying put.

Back tracking a bit, all non tenured teachers in my district have to get observed four times their first year, and then three the next two years until they receive tenure. Once they are tenured, they only have to be observed once, although the powers that be can technically come in whenever they want to watch you. You would think it would go four, three, two and then one, but see, that would make sense.

At any rate, as usual, my administrators "forgot" about me until mid May when it came time to shuffle some paperwork. This is when they realized I had only been observed once. So, with deadlines looming, they decided to squeeze in two observations of me on the same day. Not only is this ridiculous, it's defeating the purpose you are supposed to be "observing" to begin with.

At my school there is a principal and a vice principal, also known as the classic "good cop vs. bad cop". When my VP observes you, you know when he's coming and that he's just there going through the motions. When my principal observes you, you never know when she's coming and nine times out of ten, she's out for blood. We call these her "drive by's. On the day I was observed not once, but twice my vice principal asked if it was a good time to come and stayed for a bit. Never expecting to be observed again that day, I began rehearsing for the third grade show after lunch. Imagine my surprise when my principal walked in, all disappointed that's what we were doing because it didn't fit in to "her" schedule. Never mind the fact there were a good 155 days or so she could have come in through out the year. No, come in on a Friday afternoon after lunch in mid May. That's when you see kids at their peak learning experiences.

Long story short, she didn't want to watch us rehearse, so she told me she'd be back at the end of the day. This required me moving around my schedule and getting all flustered. This was because knowing what I knew about her dictated that the damage had already been done. She was in a bad mood walking in and definitely in predatory mode. When she came back in a second time I knew that she'd find something, anything to complain about.

The lesson went off without a hitch and I had an answer for all of her questions about my plans. So since there was nothing to pick apart there, she decided to zone in on a kid who was having a bad day and had removed himself from the group a bit. Needless to say, she wrote an entire observation around this one kid's bad day and how I had "ignored his distress". Also, needless to say, I was livid and hurt, mainly because I knew about her erratic behavior, but I was *this* close to having survived all three years without getting caught in the crossfire. The fact that it was unjustified only made it more vivid.

At this point I didn't know what to do. I wanted to stand up for myself, but I didn't want to jeopardize my job in the process. But if I hadn't said anything at all, or at least explored my options, I felt I would have been telling her that it was "ok" to walk all over me and giving her license to do it again. So I contacted a union rep and went over all of my options. The union rep assured me that I had more than enough ammo to have a case, not only on this issue but on many things, but understood that as a relative newbie, it was not my battle to face. She told me the final decision was mine but advised I stick it out considering that everyone in the district knows her reputation and that her days were numbered due to near retirement or transfer one day anyhow.

Weighing all of this I decided to keep my mouth shut, however some of my dissatisfaction did get back to her. In an uncomfortable year end review she tried to discuss the issue with me and I remained closed off. I told her that I didn't wish to discuss it and tears started to swell in my eyes. Sure I was upset, but I was biting my tongue more out of fear about what I would say, rather than the tears I would cry. Little did I know that my tears would have a profound affect as someone who doesn't deal in emotions didn't know how to react. Suddenly she started bursting out how she could change parts of the observation and that she really is happy with my performance. I couldn't believe that silence actually got this woman to stammer, but it did. In my own little way I realized I had won the battle. Under my circumstances I suppose tenure might be considered my war.

All of this, though long winded and perhaps tiring, is important to know considering what happened next. A few days after the school year ended, news spread that my principal and been transferred to another school in the district. This was the sorta stuff only dreams are made of. Rumors had been going on for years that perhaps "someday" this might happen, but someday always seemed to be something in the unforeseeable future. Finally that someday had arrived. Collectively, ninety percent of our staff's population breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Now comes the hard part. My principal transferred, we received the middle school principal instead. Early reports about him are that he's the exact opposite of my principal; things like he's nice, fair and approachable. Although for all of my old principal's "tyrant" ways there were, believe it or not, things she did well, too. She had a good head for facts and figures and more than anything, was excellent at getting what she wanted. This was great for our school because she managed to pull of the impossible. The trade off with losing that is we are getting someone a lot nicer, but as we all have heard before, sometimes nice guys finish last. Only time will tell us if we should have been careful for what we wished for. At the very least, it should be interesting.

As if all of this post wasn't exciting enough, I have one more "act now!" bonus offer to add and no, it's not a pair of Ginsu knives.

At the end of the school year, right in the middle of my "bad observation craziness" I received a phone call from my vice principal asking me if I wanted a student teacher. I was floored by this giving the emotional turmoil I was in, but I didn't show this to him. In fact, I probably came across as overly excited considering that this simple question took on much more meaning to me: Not only did this mean I would be getting tenure, it also meant I would be staying in the same school and the same grade considering I couldn't teach someone about something I had no experience in. Of course I said yes and luckily, my student teacher showed up before the end of the school year to meet me and see the school. She's been in a few times already to help me set up and it seems like it's going to be a good match.

And so now this post has come full circle. You can't get a student teacher unless you are tenured so the fact that my tenure and my first cooperating teaching experience coincide is pretty cool. I'd love to say that it's a testament to my "excellent teaching standards" that I received tenure and a student teacher hand and hand, but I know better than that. I have, after all, been around the block a few times. This is my fourth remember? But then again, who's counting?
Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tell It To Me Tuesday "AOGB Wants YOU!"

Being that Labor Day is just around the corner, that means a new school year is on the horizon, too. Anyone who's been around AOGB for awhile knows that the new school year means a hubbub of activity for the writer of AOGB, namely me. While of course the ubiquitous "back to school" post will be written, there really is a lot of back to school stuff I have to attend to.

This is where you come in. I am looking for a few men, or women as the case may be, who are interested in guest posting. Requirements are simple. There are no requirements. It can be a post you wrote for your blog that you want to introduce to a new audience. It can also be a new post that you've written with AOGB specifically in mind. Or maybe you're interested in taking on a future TITMT and Write Back Weekend response. The decision is all yours.

I plan to sprinkle the guest posts intermittently with posts of my own through the month of September, just like I've done in the past. If I get a lot of guests than perhaps those posts will extend further, but I don't see that happening since there aren't nearly as many guests here these days to begin with.

So if you are interested in pitching in, leave me a note in the comments with your email or email me directly at I promise I won't bite.

There won't be a "Write Back Weekend" this weekend because there's nothing to write back to...duh. I hope to start the guest posts as early as next week so what are you waiting for? Start volunteering!
Sunday, August 26, 2007

Write Back Weekend "Makes Me Mad"

They say there is a fine line between love and hate. After asking last week's TITMT question, I definitely see what they mean.

When I asked which songs best evoke anger on some level, a lot of you loved the idea of generating a list inspired by hate. Then when it came time to create my own list, I realized I loved a lot of songs that made me mad. I'm really not an angry person, honest. I guess I just enjoy living vicariously through the anger of others I suppose.

For whatever the reason, anger is an emotion that a lot of us feel guilty for having, especially in retrospect. Maybe we're mad that we let our anger get the best of us, or specifically letting someone get the best of us. From a writer's perspective, I have to say I was always challenged more creatively when I was angry or passionate about something. When I was happy, I didn't get the urge to write flowery poetry, but when I was angry or hurt, I did get the urge to express those emotions more freely. Hey, it could be worse, at least I didn't channel my anger into boiling some bunnies on a stove, right?

The list I came up with is a group of songs that reflect different shades of angerm, complete with links to their lyrics. Just don't hate on me if yours isn't on the list.

1. I Don't Care Anymore- Phil Collins
When most people think of Phil Collins they think of the mild mannered singer/drummer who was behind hit after hit in the pop laden eighties. But a few songs of Phil's solo and group efforts have really struck a chord for being packed with emotion. In my opinion, I Don't Care Anymore is the best representation of Phil's darker side although not as well known as some of his other hits. In this song, Collins is essentially telling someone they can go to hell cause he...just doesn't care... anymore. It builds slowly as someone who has been pushed to their limits often does, before Collins is screaming at the end of the song about how much he just doesn't care. Me think he doth protest too much.

2. Positively 4th Street- Bob Dylan The first time I heard this song I was in middle school. I was listening to Bob Dylan's greatest hits at a friend's house trying to understand what all the fuss was about. When it came on, I was equal parts amused and appalled. I had to listen to it a few times before my middle school mentality could wrap my mind around its meaning. This is when I realized that I had found it at a perfect time in my life, during my adolescent years when falsities ruled supreme. The one verse was the part that got me, and everyone for that matter: "You see me on the street, you always act surprised. You say, "How are you?" "Good luck", but you don't mean it. When you know as well as me, you'd rather see me paralyzed. Why don't you just come out once and scream it?" For years after the fact I referred to it as Dylan's "paralyzed" song since I didn't know its title.

3. Killing In the Name- Rage Against the Machine Sure, everyone has a bad day every now and again. Every once and awhile though, a band comes along that just exudes anger to the point you can't imagine them ever being complacent or happy. Rage Against The Machine is one of those bands. Hell, even their name advertises that. They are the type of band that is typically too angry for even me, but Killing In The Name is a song I found in college and one we used to blast to pump us up. Its beat draws you in, but its lyrics keep you there. The repressed man's anthem kicks in towards the end when he starts repeating, "F**k you I won't do what you tell me!" over and over. If you weren't angry going into this song, you will be by the time it's over.

4. Dear Mr. President- Pink This is perhaps the most controversial choice on my list considering the timeliness of this recording and where you stand politically. In short, it's a hypothetical Q & A session with our current president from the point of view of a non supporter. I love how she chose to sing this song in a beautiful quiet way, but its message is anything but. The most powerful part to me is "What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away? And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay? I can only imagine what the first lady has to say. You've come a long way, from whiskey and cocaine." In that way I suppose it can evoke anger in all sorts of people. If you agree with Pink (like I do) then you are angry right along with her, if you don't agree with Pink, you become angry at her.

5. Nugget- Cake The deeper I got into creating this list the more I realized I had a lot of songs that evoked great anger from my college years. I'm not sure what that says about me, I'm just saying. At any rate, Cake's Nugget is another one of those songs. A lot of the time I'll admit I have no idea what Cake is trying to get at. Yet that didn't stop me from wearing out some of their albums from loving them so much. Nugget has always been one of my favorites because it's chorus is great to chant to yourself when you're pissed at someone. Cursing in a chorus has a way of doing that sometimes.

6. A Better Son, Daughter- Rilo Kiley Although I LOVE Rilo Kiley, I sometimes wonder what happened to lead singer Jenny Lewis to turn her from straight laced teen actress into an introspective, indie music queen. I'm not sure if her journey is why she she conveys being jaded so well or if she's simply... acting. I'm also not sure I really care. Either way, A Better Son/Daughter is a great song about the pressure to live up to expectations that sometimes just seem too much to handle. As Jenny sings, "And sometimes when you're on, you're really f***ing on, and your friends they sing along and they love you. But the lows are so extreme, that the good seems f***ing cheap, and it teases you for weeks in its absence. But you'll fight and you'll make it through, you'll fake it if you have to, and you'll show up for work with a smile. And you'll be better, you'll be smarter, more grown up and a better daughter or son, and a real good friend. You'll be awake, you'll be alert, you'll be positive though it hurts, and you'll laugh and embrace all of your friends. You'll be a real good listener, you'll be honest, you'll be brave, you'll be handsome and you'll be beautiful. You'll be happy." So many of us make mental "to do lists" about our own imperfections but very few of us have managed to make it so easy to relate to.

7. You Outta Know and Perfect- Alanis If there's one person in the world who knows what Jenny Lewis is going through, it's probably Alanis Morissette. After all, they both came from the happy go lucky world of child acting and they both grew into thoughtful and sometimes jaded observers on the world around them. In the case of Alanis, it was very hard to pick just one song to add to the list. Instead I chose two and even that somehow doesn't seem to be enough. You Outta Know is here because it's a classic in terms of the "jilted lover" anthem era and needs no extra explanation. Perfect meanwhile is like the prequel to A Better Son/Daughter in terms of impossible expectations. Whatever the subject, no one does anger like Alanis.

8. Thanks for Showing- Adam Schmitt- Many of my favorite songs over the years have been bargain bin discoveries that I took a chance on. I always loved the wild card element of purchasing an artist you'd never heard of before for a dollar or two and found I was usually very good at picking the types of artists I would like merely by looking at the cover and the titles of songs, much like that of browsing for a good book to read. Adam Schmitt's album Illiterature was one of those finds and on it, the angry song, Thanks For Showing. Unfortunately, as it often is with bargain bin discoveries, there is little information on Adam or this album online, including the complete lyrics. Its tone is sarcastic since Schmitt says he's "thanking" the girl for her involvement in his life, but it isn't far into the song before you realize his true feelings. "So thanks a lot for going, you said you'd never leave. But thanks a lot for showing, it was me you didn't need." Oh yeah, and it goes on like this for over six minutes. Since it's complete lyrics are not online, you'll just have to take my word for its awesomeness or better yet, download it for yourself.

9. Song for the Dumped- Ben Folds Five If you're looking for a good break up song, especially one from a male perspective, look no further than Ben Folds Five's Song For the Dumped. It's quick and to the point and does not mince words when Ben Folds sings, "Give me my money back, give me money back you bitch. I want my money back, and don't forget to give me back my black t-shirt." Nuff said.

10. Tyler and Possum Kingdom- The Toadies- Journeying back to the college years again, a friend of mine actually bought me this album in high school. I never much listened to it until I got to college where we would play both Tyler and Possum Kingdom on heavy rotation. In fact to this day, I still interchange both songs and need to read the lyrics to remember which one is which. Mainly, Possum Kingdom was a mainstream hit where Tyler was not. The band itself never did much past this album worth mentioning. To this day I'm not completely certain what either song is actually about, but they are both great at evoking anger.

11. Untouchable Face or Fuel- Ani DiFranco Although Alanis is the queen of the jilted lovers, even she could learn a thing or two from the wrath of Miss Ani Difranco. In Untouchable Face, Difranco "gives her blessing" to the guy she used to have (or the guy she never did have) and his new girl. In Fuel meanwhile Ani is still angry, just this time it's not of the relationship variety. In a nutshell, it's a song about her dissatisfaction with society in general and is full of lots of rants that seem to just be flowing out of her. She makes sure to throw in her feeling about conformity in the music business, too. "People used to make records, as in a record of an event, the event of people playing music in a room. Now everything is cross-marketing, it's about sunglasses and shoes, or guns and choose."

12. You're So Vain- Carly Simon While I never have been (and probably never will be) a fan of Carly Simon's music in general, one of my favorite songs of all time is her classic, You're So Vain. Who it was actually about is irrelevant now, although speculation is what fueled the success of this song initially. It's a sarcastic take on being in love with a man who is really only in love...with himself. It's actually perfect that Simon never revealed the actual subject of the song if there was one. It makes the lyric "You probably think this song is about you, don't you? Don't you?" all the more delicious.

13. Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home- Sinead O'Connor
Ask anyone who remembers Sinead O'Connor from her heyday and they will tell you that was most definitely a woman on the edge. But what most people don't know about O'Connor is that she was actually much more than a one hit wonder, without the actual "hits" that is. One of my favorite songs of hers is Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home, its subject self explanatory from reading the title. Because O'Connor has such a sweet voice, her manic transformation by the end of this song is all that more dramatic as she incessantly chants, "And am I not your girl?" over and over. No one does damsel in distress desperation better than Sinead.

14. It's Not Right, But It's OK- Whitney Houston
Once upon a time Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive was the anthem of choice for jilted women, but many decades, many songs and many weddings have since made the song seem played out. Music lovers who are looking for angry alternatives need to look no further than the dance club hit, It's Not Right, But It's Ok, the type of song you scream at the top of your lungs at a club where you're drunk and partying with the girls who have your back.

15. Ain't No Doubt- Jimmy Nail I first discovered this song when I was in high school. They were playing it late one night on a new music showcase and instantly I was hooked. Now follow me here. At the time we were watching a movie called Lady Jane in history class that I didn't expect to enjoy, but actually did, mainly because of Cary Elwes. (Many people fell in love with Elwes during The Princess Bride, but it was Lady Jane that did it for me.) At any rate, in my mind, Ain't No Doubt and Lady Jane went hand in hand then and still do now because I discovered them at the same time. The spoken word portion of this song emphasizes Nail's heavy British accent and sounded exactly like Elwes to me at the time. As a result, I imagined Cary Elwes was singing this song about a man who had just been dumped and given the "I still want to be friends" speech. After seeing what Nail actually looked like, I still much prefer my version.

16. Freshmen- The Verve Pipe Yet another song that reminds me of college, I actually believe Freshmen came out when I was a sophomore, though that is neither her nor there. Freshmen itself was more symbolic than anything as the lyric kept singing "We were only freshmen" eluding to the first time discovery part of life as a grounds for dismissal for any sort of responsibility. While I never knew the actual meaning of the song, I always interpreted it as this girl killed herself over this guy. Whether or not they were an actual couple was debatable, but his knowledge of her interest was there. Fast forward all these years later and wikipedia's wealth of knowledge tells me that the song was inspired by true events, but the lyrical hint at suicide was just "poetic license." Instead it was a song about a guy who's girlfriend had an abortion. Still pretty powerful stuff, though I prefer the poetic license part, personally.

17. Just A Girl- No Doubt Before Gwen Stefani went solo and decided to make crappy music, she created some kick ass stuff with No Doubt. Just A Girl was the world's introduction to Stefani and is a great anthem for all the girls out there who aren't feminists, but do believe women have something to say. I love how she manages to sing the song and evoke anger, while being playful all at the same time.

18. Just Like A Man- Del Amitri I swear it was not planned that Just Like A Man came after Just A Girl in this list. Seriously. Del Amitri was one of my favorite bands in the early nineties and they had many great songs, I still don't know why more people didn't get to realize this. Anyway, Just Like A Man is great because it's about repressing anger, or more specifically jealousy. The guy in this song is involved in a triangle where he once had the girl, but he lost her. Now he's trying to pretend like he doesn't care she's moved on, just "like a man" would. "And just like a man he holds you gently. And just like a man he strokes your hair. And just like a man I still pretend that I'm immune to the whole affair. But I wanna die, I wanna cry, I wanna tell you I was wrong. Yeah I wanna die, I wanna cry. But it's too late, so I soldier on, just like a man."

19. I've Done Everything For You- Rick Springfield Anyone who knows AOGB and me knows a list like this wouldn't be complete without a little Rick Springfield in the mix. If I'm being technical, I've Done Everything For You was made a hit by Springfield, but it was actually written by Sammy Hagar. Regardless it's a great song from a guy's perspective who just woke up to the fact that he is in a one sided relationship. As the lyric states, "I've done everything for've done nothing for me."

20. Date Rape- Sublime If you had asked me years ago if I had ever believed there could be a catchy song about the subject of date rape, I would have scoffed at the idea. But lo and behold, in the early nineties, now defunct reggae/rock/rap band Sublime actually managed to make that happen. Not only is it a song about a touchy subject, it's actual humorous at points. It still manages to get me angry because of its subject matter, but it has a happy ending, no pun intended. It's a shame that talented lead singer Bradley Nowell died before knowing true success, and that ultimately the potential for more great music died with him. On some level, there's a whole other layer of anger that comes with this choice.

21. Voices Carry- Til' Tuesday Sometimes I think the world would have been a scary place had Til' Tuesday singer Aimee Mann and Sinead O'Connor met in say, high school. They would have been the scary goth chicks that managed to both intrigue and terrify the male population. Voices Carry, Til' Tuesday's biggest hit, best captured the always sullen Aimee Mann on lead vocals. In this song she's carrying on a relationship with a man who wants to keep her a secret. Incidentally, the video of this song is just as powerful as it was made in a time period where music videos actually reflected the song itself.

22. Dear Mr. Jesus- Powersource When I was a little kid, the first news story that caught my attention was the horrific tale of Hedda Nussbaum and Joel Steinberg and how he beat his adopted kids and his wife, who remained silent out of fear, or blind devotion. This story always struck a chord with me because the kids were about my age. Around the same time a song came out that eerily seemed semi-inspired by those events though the time line indicates it was not. What was haunting about this song was that it was told (and sung) from an actual child's perspective who was writing letters to Jesus about being witness to and a victim of abuse. For years I searched for this song without being able to find it. Listening to it now still gives me chills and makes me angry for all the kids out there who have been (or will be) in a situation like this.

23. We're Not Gonna Take It- Twisted Sister Some songs just scream I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore. We're Not Gonna Take It personifies this feeling. Not only is its message one of anger, it's delivered in a way that pumps you up, only getting you more angry. The video itself was also a classic, the sights of which you really don't see much of anymore these days, yet another reason to be angry.

24. Signs- Tesla First of all, let me say that I know this song is a remake of the Five Man Electrical Band hit from the seventies. I included their version though because that's the version that I knew best. I discovered this song as this version when I was in middle school and acoustic was just starting to become cool. I love the hypocrisies that are present in the lyrics. Even more so I think it's telling that hypocrisies that were relevant in the seventies were still relevant in the nineties, and even so now. Basically the song is about judging a book by its cover and how the "signs" of the world sometimes put rules and restrictions on things that aren't necessary.

25. Kiss Off- Violent Femmes Everything about Violent Femmes songs seems to scream angst and anger. They always seem to be teetering on the edge of insanity, and yet they grasp a good concept of the world around them, too. Kiss Off is a classic song because it's a good way to tell off anyone about anything. So if anyone has ever done you wrong ever, just tell them to kiss off, Violent Femmes style.

Honorable Mentions (And there are a LOT of them!)

Nothing But A Fool- PC Quest
One Step Closer- Linkin Park
Last Resort- Papa Roach
Never Is A Promise or Sleep to Dream- Fiona Apple
Everything About You- Ugly Kid Joe
Break Stuff- Limp Bizkit
Little Liar- Joan Jett
Did He Do It To You?- Tami Show
Loser- Three Doors Down
Pressure- Billy Joel
Losing A Whole Year- Third Eye Blind
Father and Son- Cat Stevens
I Don't Care- Coward
Another Brick In The Wall- Pink Floyd
Anything by Creed
What If God Fell From the Sky?- Danielle Brisebois
Barely Breathing- Duncan Sheik
Everything She Wants- Wham
Epic- Faith No More
Pardon Me- Incubus
Since U Been Gone- Kelly Clarkson
Smile- Lily Allen
What A Day- Nonpoint
I Hate Everything About You- Three Days Grace
Cold Hearted Snake- Paula Abdul
Jeremy- Pearl Jam
Like Father, Like Son- Rick Springfield
Strut- Sheena Easton
Anything, Anything- Dramarama
Circle- Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians
Silent All These Years- Tori Amos
Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I Wanna Go Back And Do It All Over, But I Can't Go Back I Know

Last weekend my parents and I decided to take a little trip to a local college campus. We were scouting out possible locations to take pictures for the wedding since where I'm having the reception really doesn't have a lot of scenery. It's a long story, but the campus came to mind because it's local and since I went there for graduate school, usage of the campus is free. It's a pretty campus and houses the building that was used as the mansion in the movie Annie. The only down side is we have to wait 4 to 6 months prior before booking. Yet as my mom said when we were walking away, "She thinks we're gonna like it here."

As we were getting in the car and driving away, I noticed a college student walking up to another car. Suddenly a twinge of sadness came over me. This is not the first time this has happened, but the setting definitely had something to do with it. It occurred to me that my purpose of being on a college campus that day was a very different one than before. Here was a student who was still in the midst of his formative years, yet to feel the cruelty of a world away from meal plans and keg stands. A world where people stop being polite and start getting real.

While part of me doesn't envy the whole "awkward years experience", I can't help but feel sad when I think about the finality of how that part of my life is over...for good. Ever since I graduated college, this part of the summer has caused me to become a bit melancholy. It starts when I go to the stores and see all the cheap back to school dorm furniture and it overflows into my own back to school preparations. No longer am I preparing as a student, however. In fact the closest I'll ever get to preparing for that again is the preparation I do for my students or, dare I say it, children of my own one day.

If there's one regret I have in life it would probably be the way I lived my college years. In short, I don't think I really lived them enough. Don't get me wrong, I made some really great friends and had some valuable experiences, but being shy and reserved also closed me off to a lot of experiences, too. When I set foot on a college campus the first time I was petrified about the prospect of being two hours away from home and starting over. Now that idea sounds like heaven. It's the unknown that makes it exciting and the knowing that that sort of exciting uncertainty will never happen to me again that makes me sulk.

When you go to college, you have a chance to start fresh and form new friendships, and enemies as the case may be. I wrote just recently about how I found one of my best friends during college orientation by not being afraid to break out of my shell and meet new people, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Historically, after I find a few people I am close and comfortable with, I tend to lose the ability to be instantly charismatic. In survival mode, I can be rather charming, but once I've found my niche, I annoyingly go back into my shell. Because of this, I think I missed out on some of the more fun moments that college has to offer.

I'll never forget being so was excited to learn who my new roommate was going to be. I'm a firm believer in your relationship with your roommate setting the tone for your college experience, at least at first. I don't think I would have gelled well with a total partier, but the girl I ended up with was at the opposite end of the spectrum. Don't get me wrong, she's a sweet girl who I still talk to till this day, but she made ME look outgoing. Had I been paired with someone who was more of an extrovert I think it would have forced me to discover that side of my personality. But instead it never panned out that way.

There are a series of events that lead me to have the type of college experience that I had. Some of them were within my control, others were not. Regardless of the reasons, my memories of college leave me wanting more. What's even worse is that even if I could do those years over knowing what I know now, I don't know if I'd have the guts to live them the way I'd want to. Every year that passes reminds me I'm only getting further and further away from that time of my life. College freshman who are heading off to school for the first time are lucky to be purchasing the shiny new notebooks and over expensive text books. They are even lucky to be inheriting brand new means of angst and agony.

Unfortunately, they probably won't know it until it's too late.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Let's Get Ready to Rumble!"

A few weeks ago I asked the question regarding which songs evoke the most emotion. I came up with a rather comprehensive list, but of course the overachiever in me just wasn't satisfied. This is when I decided to create another question. A sub category of emotion, if you will.

So this week I want to know...

What are the best songs that evoke anger and why? These can be songs where someone is angry at a situation, a person or a circumstance. It really doesn't matter. If the singer and/or author has managed to anger you in the process, that's all the more reason to include it here.

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Write Back Weekend "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"

I realize that these weekend entries are blurring the edges more and more as it becomes harder and harder to finish a decent post by the time the actual weekend rolls around. I swear, the summertime should, in theory, give you more time. I think the problem is that in the summer, I start to throw all budgeting of my actual time out the window, just because I can. As a result, you get last minute responses like these. What doesn't help matters is that my connection is suuuuper slow when I'm at home.

In short, I'm sorry.

Yet, somehow the time I've taken to respond to this post connects to the post itself. Last week I asked my loyal readers to introduce me to a few new blogging friends. I did this for multiple reasons. For one thing, I find that it is harder and harder to make connections in the blogging world. I think this is in part due to the large amount of blogs out there that one can choose to read. Suddenly it's very hard to stand out. If I can make any sort of analogy, blogs are like reality TV; very few of them are actually worth reading and even then it's very hard to hold your attention if you have any shred of ADD.

The other reason is because fewer people have a vested interest in this blog, I have found I have less of an interest lately in it myself. I never knew this about myself, but I enjoy writing for others. I mean I started writing with no one reading it and that was cool, but back then there were still the anticipation of new people finding the site and liking it, which they did and they...did. But then it becomes a game of living up to the hype, and to the quality of your last post and the post before that. This is another way blogging is like reality TV. In one moment you are today's sensation, but just as easily you become yesterday's news, even if your talent only ever bordered on the mediocre. If you don't believe me, just ask the Man Band.

That being said, I have taken the time to visit some of the blogs suggested to me although the suggestion process itself confused some. What follows is a list of blogs that I have visited, mostly as I type this post. Very few are going to show up on the actual blogroll yet as I need to see if we survive the courtship period, so to speak. Some are blogs I've been to before that I just added to my blogroll, others are blogs that were suggested to me for the first time this week. At any rate, since I'm visiting them now, I figured we could conduct a bit of an experiment to see just how many of them are as as entertaining AND as friendly as their blogging friends have made them out to be. Maybe you'll even find a few new blogs to check out too, via my suggestions or the ones who have done the suggesting. No pressure or anything, really.

Mia from Mom's At It Again made a few interesting suggestions. Technically Mia might seem like a new addition, but she's not really, she just changed digs. If you browse my blog roll, she also might be new to you so check her out too while you're at it.

But back to her suggestions.

The first blog she recommends is entitled, Temporarily Me. My first impression is that I really like this blog's design. It's simple, yet chic. I am a bit worried that she might not readily welcome me into the fold as she seems to be a mommy blogger. I have nothing against mommy bloggers, au contraire, but sometimes bloggers of a feather tend to flock together and all that jazz. I decided to comment on a post that dictates Matthew McConaughey is hot while Fabio is so not. This statement alone made me realize we really might not be so different after all.

Her second suggestion was a blog entitled, Space Your Face. I'm taken in by this blog instantly, mainly because it's a blog after my own heart, even using the first ever template I used when I started blogging (ahh, the good old days!) In the post I encountered, she's ranting about how lame men can be, especially when they are at bars. Discuss. (Since writing this part of the post, this blogger has already been to visit. Yeah! Only she linked to yet another blog of hers so it looks like she's moving already. Will the real space face please stand up?!:))

Moving on now to Becky from Searching For Oz's suggestions. First of all let me say that while I love Becky, she had to go and make it hard for me by including names of blogs she recommended, but no actual links. This required the extra step of going back to her blog and hunting them down on her blogroll for myself. Had to make me "search for oz", didn't you Becky?:)

First up here, Sizzle Says. I had a hard time finding this blog at first because it looks like Becky's link is wrong so heads up to her. After finding the blog, however, I'm having blogger's deja vu as I'm sure I've been here before in some blogging life or another. In her top post she simply links to a video by The Weepies for a song called "The World Spins Madly On". I love this song. I loved it before I ever visited Sizzle. So with Sizzle, you get two recommendations, a new blog and possibly a new song. So there.

Becky went on to recommend two other blogs, Logtar and Inn of the Last Home. Logtar's first post seems to be geek oriented literature of the tech guy variety. Me thinks he'd get along better with my fiance than with me. However, if you keep scrolling down, it looks like Logtar fancies himself a good meme from time to time. If that's the case, maybe we will have a future TITMT participator in our midst. At Inn of the Last Home I discovered a home cooked meal waiting, how appropo. also discovered another meme maker and a lover of baseball. Oh well, as Meatloaf once said, two out of three ain't bad.

Anyone who has been visiting AOGB for sometime now is familiar with MCF and maybe even the contributions of Rey. More interesting is that not one, but both of them decided to recommend B13's photoblog to me. They say a picture says a thousand words and from a quick glance at his blog, it looks like B13 has a lot to say. I already added him to the blogroll as we've already interacted a bit and he comes approved by two out of two bloggers and really how can you ignore a recommendation like that?

Edwin McCain lover Monica suggested two new blogs as well. First up, My So-Called Strife whose title reminds me of the late, great My So-Called Life as does anything so-called by the way. I also was instantly taken in by the blog's warning label: This blog contains concentrated doses of sarcasm, pop culture references and bitter, caustic realities. Viewer discretion is advised. Sarcasm? Pop culture? Bitter realities? Stop right there. I wanna know right now, will you love me forever?

Monica's second recommendation is Okay Seriously, yet another blog that uses ye olde template. As I started to read the post at the top entitled, "Put It In Your Bay" I thought wait, maybe this IS me, as she apologized for long posts...and then proceeded to write a long post anyway. So far this Sarah chick seems like good folk to me.

Then there is The Write Jerry who, in Abe Vigoda fashion, reminded me neither he nor his blog are dead. He also went on to tell me about two new blogs that he has since started, Bent Sense and HairyU. Bent Sense has a cool format and once you get past the Alice In Wonderland post style, you realize this blog has all the great content without the lame layout. HairyU, on the other hand, actually scares the hell out of me. I'm sorry Jerry, I ain't hating, I'm just not gonna lie. In his own words, this site is, ..."My social network experiment centered on people showing off their hair styles (anything goes except hair on the privates, so beards and weird body hair are welcome) and sharing hair tips." All I can say here is seeing my friends, is believing.

Sometimes perception is everything. Apple took my blog post and put an interesting spin on it. She used it on her blog as suggested each week, but she actually put her recommendations for ME up THERE. I thought this was a great way to have the bloggers she recommended know that she pointed them in my direction. In that respect she's paying homage to both them and me. Pretty clever that Apple is!

Her suggestions included House of Lime, Hillbilly Mansion, The Educational Tour Marm and Walking the Berkshires.

House of Lime was first up on my tour where there seems to be a little something for everybody. In her most recent post she's talking about attending an ice cream party at a farm. Who doesn't love at least one of these things? I can tell you at least 42 people love lime (give or take a few) as she had quite a few comments on this post alone. I learned in one little post that she has great taste, and has great friends as well.

Apple included Hillbilly Mansion because she is a teacher who likes to be sarcastic. Sold! In her first post she's talking about laundry and back to school, two things I am quite fluent in. Now we're off to visit The Educational Tour Marm. Once again, Apple tried to appeal to the sense of the teacher in me. This site really does look like a virtual brochure for field trips galore. It's all the fun without the huge budget and pain in the ass busing! Finally we have Walking the Berkshires which is another personal blog routed in history and culture. I completely admire blogs like these, but I am always at a loss for what to say. After all, I have a degree in POP culture which is a whole other ball game entirely.

Rounding out the mix are what I refer to as the confused souls. These people didn't really link to anyone, but they are all relatively new here, so I figured I'd take a moment or two to point them out, too. First there's Sue of The Torn Pages who didn't really link to anyone, but lamented that she too hates when bloggers disappear so I figured her kindred spirit might make her a welcome addition here.

Then there was Mr. B-G's English Blog who also seemed to link with reckless abandon. He is a teacher though who has already blogrolled me so I found him to be a welcome addition as I always love to find new teachers, especially at the beginning of a school year since it's like a new slate for teachers so all stories can be followed from the beginning, as it was meant to be.

Finally we close with Kerri Anne who also has been here before and I've been there. I know she was confused about the format, but she was very apologetic about her confusion which was refreshing to say the least. We all make mistakes, it takes a big blogger to poke fun at them. I love her site too. She writes about the mundane in a non mundane way, if that makes any sense at all.

So there you have it. The list of blogs you and I should both be reading according to, YOU. Join me on my journey as I find out which ones are finders keepers and which (if any) are loser's weepers.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Make New Friends, But Keep The Old. One is Silver, The Other is MIA."

Recently I finally found the time to sit down and visit some blog friends I hadn't visited (or heard from in awhile). This group would probably be better known as my extensive blog roll.

After popping in on much of my blog roll, I've come to the conclusion that I'm like the Scott Baio of the blog world. I used to know all the hippest places to hang out, but a lot of them, unbeknownest to me, have gone and closed their doors, no longer open for business, or blogging.

This is where you come in. I've done this before, but obviously it's time for a tune up.

I'd like you to recommend a few new potential blogging buddy friends to me. The criteria is simple:
1. The blog is an interesting read, humor (sarcasm) and pop culture knowledge being a plus.
2. It's updated frequently or fairly frequently.
3. The author likes to meet new bloggers as much as they like their own blog.

If people actually participate here, my plan is to once again highlight the few new additions mentioned to me in my post this weekend. Of course the participation part is a catch 22. If my old friends aren't reading that would hurt their chances of answering, right?

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!

I am going to go ahead and Mister Linky this one, just in case you too want to find new blogs to read:

Monday, August 13, 2007

Write Back Weekend " One Five Moments In Time"

Last week I took on the daunting task of asking you to pick five defining moments in your lifetime. I realized this was a tall order after I sat down to work on mine. I also realized that no matter your age, you can still have lived a life rich with experiences. Some people have lived more in twenty-five years than others have lived in fifty. If you don't believe me, just ask one of last week's participants, Katherine.

Still, as always, it wouldn't be fair to ask those who played to choose five and then not manage to narrow it down to five myself. So here we the order in which they have occurred.

1. Driveway Birthday Party- When I was six years old, my parents had my birthday party at my house. Being that my birthday is in June, we had it in and outside, but somehow the bulk of the party ended up happening on my driveway. Never mind the fact that we have a HUGE backyard that is literally vacant. Back then though we had these annoying prickly things that were all over everyone's yard and made it hard for the little ones (like me) to run around barefoot.

I chose this moment because I needed to pick something that represented an important era in my life. I distinctly remember moving to that house when I was five years old. I can still recall how I met my closest friends back then, defining moments in themselves, although I didn't know it at the time. I am still friends with some of them today. Although that time was full of a lot of times with friends and family, I picked the party because it was the one moment I remember when everyone was together; our new neighbors and our relatives. This was before petty drama and time drove a wedge between some of us. It also represents a time when kids played outside and neighbors were neighborly. I don't know about where you live, but that driveway seems like a foreign country now.

2. The Not Prom Weekend
- Fast forward about eleven years or so. It was my senior year of high school and it was prom season. Some of my friends were going with boyfriends, some were going with friends, some were going stag and others weren't going at all. I fell into the latter group. When I was younger, the prom seemed like something that would happen far into the future. I always assumed I would go with my then boyfriend as it always seemed to happen in the movies. But when prom came around and the boyfriend was nowhere to be found, I didn't see the point in attending. I wasn't particularly fond of the kids from my high school, so I didn't see the point.

Complicating matters was the fact that I had developed feelings for a good friend of ours. He was a little bit older and from another town. Ironically, he was attending my prom while I wasn't. Now stay with me here. His best friend was the boyfriend of one of my close friends. She was going to the prom, however, she wasn't going with her boyfriend, she was going with a friend of hers she had a crush on before she met her boyfriend and someone she still crushed on even though she had a boyfriend. Got all that?

Needless to say since I wasn't going to the prom and her boyfriend wasn't going to the prom, he offered to take me. But being in the middle of a drama like that was the only thing LESS tempting than going without any drama at all. So I opted instead, to do what many kids did back then, I decided to take part in the prom weekend festivities post prom. In my town, prom had long transcended being about "one night" and instead had morphed into this weekend extravaganza.

That night after the prom, we went down the shore. The next morning we went to Great Adventure. To be perfectly honest, I can't even remember if I went to Great Adventure with them. There were way too many entanglements at the time. The prom weekend was really a catalyst for future dramas with the same players, culminating in the boy I was crushing on ultimately hooking up with the same friend of mine who offered to help me land the guy. I put it here because it was my first real experience with heart break. Looking back on it though, the weekend was such a classic prom scenario. There was so much angst and pining going on in all different directions. Some people said I'd look back one day and regret that I didn't go to the actual prom. I'm still waiting for that day to happen.

3. College Orientation- I was a jumble of mixed emotions when I was getting ready to go away to college. On one hand, I was excited to start anew. College has long represented new experiences and friendships. But with that came so much pressure to "reinvent" myself. Suddenly I knew I had the power to start over, but still the idea of leaving my old, comfortable life scared the hell out of me.

Although I've always been a shy person, I have found that I can easily switch into outgoing, self preservation mode when necessary. So when I went to college for orientation weekend I made a promise to myself that the first person I saw I was going to talk to. After my parents went their way and I went mine, I saw a girl standing outside a building. I went over to her and started talking at what seemed like it must have been a mile a minute. She looked at me with a mixture of horror and interest, the interest ultimately winning.

We hung around together most of the weekend and discovered we actually had more in common than either one of us would have anticipated since we were random strangers after all. Neither one of us were particularly into the "ice breaking" activities, especially of the athletic variety and relished the fact that we had an accomplice to sneak out with. We also discovered that we had similar interests (pop culture and sarcasm being two big ones) and similar disinterests as well (heavy drinking and random hook ups). We also met another girl that weekend, a commuter, who we clicked with.

When we all said goodbye we exchanged addresses with the promise to write (yes, the old fashioned way) in the few weeks before school started. Unlike many other people, when I get phone numbers, and addresses I actually intend to write. Whether or not the person I'm exchanging with is for real is really up to them. We all did actually write each other.

When we moved in that first weekend I ran in to that first friend again in the college bookstore. We both were with our parents and were tired from running around so although we had kept in touch, we gave each other less than enthusiastic greetings. We laugh about it now because we both interpreted the other as to be less than thrilled to see us. As it turns out, we really were just that tired, and scared. Although distance keeps us from seeing each other more often, I am still friends with both girls.

I chose to include this time because it is one of the most defining moments in my beliefs that everything happens for a reason. I'm sure I would have made good friends had I not mustered up the courage to talk to the first person I saw, but it was in that coming out of my shell in that exact moment that I met someone who was so like me in so many ways, someone that under different circumstances, I might have never come in contact with. While I do wish I could do certain elements of my college experience over again, this is definitely not one of them.

4. My First Real Job- After graduating college I had the all too common, tumultuous experience of finding a decent job. My first mistake was majoring in Communications, my second mistake was not being honest with myself about not wanting to work in NYC. Needless to say, choices were scarce and salaries were pathetic. After temping for some time at a local college I found my first "real" job with with a local insurance company.

The salary was insulting and the position not one you needed a college degree for, but I was happy to finally have a steady job to go to every day for the time being. Little did I know how symbolic that job would be in the grand scheme of things. Upon my first day of working there the first person I met was my now fiance. We ultimately had the unfortunate circumstance of having a "fishbowl romance" in a small office. We slowly came to find out the place was corrupt and we actually tried to change the system together. When we realized it was a lost cause we quit the same day.

While living in the hell of working there I had a hard time understanding the significance of the experience. Now I know it was the best thing that could ever happened. Not only did I meet my fiance, that job was my first real indication that office work was really not for me. Had it not been for that experience, and a series of short-lived ones after it, I might have never left dead end office jobs and become the teacher I am today.

5. The Icy Road- A few winters ago I was on my way to work. It was one of those days where it hadn't snowed, but it was cold enough to be quite icy outside. Most school districts close or at least open later on days like these, but not the district where I work.

As I turned to get on the ramp that led my way to work, I realized instantly that it was a bad idea. The car in front of me fish tailed a little. Instinctively I slammed my breaks, though that was not the right thing to do. Suddenly I felt like I was being flung around in a pinball machine, watching my car go from side to side in slow motion on this ramp, praying that I would end up right side up and not smashed in. Since I didn't have any speed, I had no choice but to literally have those moments where they say your life flashes before your eyes. It was terrifying.

When my car finally stopped moving, I shakily breathed a sigh of relief. Even though it was probably the wrong thing to do, I got out of the car as I wasn't thinking clearly. While the accident itself was horrible, amazingly so many factors were on my side that day. I could have skidded out into oncoming traffic or cars behind me could have hit me, too. Somehow the two cars behind me managed to have enough reaction time and both men whose cars were not damaged in any way wanted to stay with me until help arrived, despite freezing temperatures.

Since one of my tires was busted the car wasn't drivable at that moment, not that I would have wanted to drive it. Just walking around on the icy on ramp angered me as it was clear that it never should have been opened in the first place. Had it not been my accident, it certainly would have been someone's. I just had the unfortunate circumstance of being in the wrong time at the wrong place.

While waiting for the police and my dad to arrive, we had no choice but to stand there on the on ramp. Out of the blue, one of the men suggested that where we standing might not be the best spot considering that the ramp was still open and that it could happen to another car, too. Both men brainstormed the best positions to be in. One said we should get in our car, the other said that would be worse if the cars got hit. So we decided to move to the other side of my car instead as a last resort.

Moments after moving a HUGE truck came barreling down the on ramp. Good or bad weather aside, he had way too much speed. Soon it was apparent that he was going to lose control as he went right into my sidelined car. If my car hadn't been there as a buffer he probably would have gone over the edge. Had my car not been there as a buffer, I probably wouldn't be here today to tell you the story.

In the long run my car ended up getting totaled, but it was a monumental moment for many reasons. One, I had to face a life long, some would say unjustified fear of driving after an accident. I had been fearful of driving my whole life and now I finally had justification not to. It took all of my strength to get back behind the wheel again, but I did.

It also was a defining moment for another reason that might be harder to understand had you not experienced it yourself. Just like with meeting my college friend and my fiance, there was a serendipity to the occurrence. It also was the moment that I decided for sure that I believe in guardian angels. Remembering the one man telling us to move out of the way moments before that truck came down the on ramp still gives me chills.

So there you have it. Five defining moments in my thirty year old life. Check back in with me in another thirty years to see how much they have changed!
Friday, August 10, 2007

Our House, In The Middle Of Our Street

One of my pet projects this summer has been working on getting my fiance's house in order. Admittedly, I'm not the best candidate for the job. I've only done light cleaning in my life and I'm not exactly the most qualified person to be doing hard, manual labor. I didn't see what was so bad about cleaning via "It's A Hard Knock Life", but then I realized that's because there was a whole gaggle of girls and they cleaned (and sung) in harmony. Unfortunately real life just doesn't work that way.

Just because I don't have a lot of experience in this sort of thing doesn't mean I don't give it the old college try. Plus we have no choice. We have to spruce up the home because his house is being put on the market. Here's the plan: His house goes on the market and sells and then we turn around and buy something new, closer to me with both of our incomes. In theory the plan works, but there's this little thing tune called "It's Not A Seller's Market" that keeps playing over and over in my head. It's annoying so it's probably Emo.

Now here's where all of you real estate gurus come in. When he decided to put the house on the market he originally went to the agent who helped him find the house. As it turns out, that guy is no longer in real estate per se, so he somehow hooked him up with the guy he has now. Since I don't live there full time, I wasn't there for this meeting. Of course now I'm learning the hard way that all real estate agents are not created equal.

One thing this agent did was prepare a report that included a range that his house fell in based on the house itself, the location and similar properties that sold in the area. This is something most real estate agents do. Now here's what most real estate agents don't do. He started off the house at the lowest end of the range. I understand the house isn't perfect, but if they had gone a few thousand dollars higher, than they could always come down to that lowest amount. Starting off at the lowest, however, almost guarantees that you are going to have to go even lower. House selling isn't like playing limbo people. We don't want to know how low you can go.

So not feeling "at home on with the range" was the first red flag but again, the deal was done. Moving on. When he signed up, he went for the 6% which included an MLS listing, virtual tour and open house. Soon after he signed, we worked hard on trying to finish last minute projects associated with the house. It still wouldn't be perfect, but every little bit helps. Finally, the agent comes to take pictures to put on the website. It was then that he dropped the bomb that the first showing would be that night.

While the house looked a lot better than it did before, I didn't feel it was ready to be shown yet. Of course we wanted it to be shown though, so I was torn. After he left, I went on a cleaning frenzy, trying to add a woman's touch and have it look as good as possible. There are little things here or there that I have heard make a difference, too. I wanted to buy Plug In's, but he thought they were too expensive and opted for candles instead. The problem with candles is that you have to remember to light them before people come over and then remember to blow them out before they actually do. I know this is far too much remembering for him but then I remembered it's not my house, it's his.

There are other little tips I picked up along the way. Everything should be as well lit as possible, there should be next to no clutter and a good curb appeal. We'd score low on the last two probably but if I could get a nice apple pie baking under a really bright light, maybe they'd disregard the rest.

A few days later we had another person come check out the house. (Let me back track a bit here, every time someone has come to check out the home it has been because of the MLS listing. Our actual agent has yet to bring anyone physically to our home. He also took over a week to add the pictures he took to the website, along with putting the sign on the lawn and the lock box on the door. Nice, huh?) Now back to my story. I guess this lady liked the house because she came back again with a friend or a relative or someone that she wanted to show the house to, no matter who they were.

I know what you're thinking cause I thought it too. This is only the second person to see a house that's only been on the market for a week and we already have an interested buyer in a competitive market? Great! Only when they came back the second time our agent committed a big NO NO in my book. He did not tell us they were coming. The other agent went through all the proper channels and had made the appointment hours before. No one, however, called to confirm with us.

Now call me crazy, but when you are selling your home, everyone knows it behooves you to keep it as neat as possible all the time. But a heads up when someone is coming over, even if you are not selling your home, gives you the opportunity to straighten things up here or there. Even if the house itself is in perfect order, maybe you aren't. You could be exercising. Pooping. Cooking cabbage. Whatever. Even a twenty minute head start can make all the difference in the world.

So when they showed up, initially I panicked. As it turns out, I wasn't pooping, cooking cabbage or exercising, but I was still mentally scanning my brain for things that could have been cleaned, put away, spayed or neutered. But in the moment, I was in a dilemma. Turning them away could jeopardize a potential deal and make us look suspicious in the moment. Letting them in "as is" however could do the same thing. Ultimately I decided to not look weird, explain that I didn't know they were coming, and let them in. We're all adults here. Let's just call it like it is.

My fiance was out of the house when they showed up so when he returned, he was floored to find out we had visitors. Immediately he got on the phone to the agent and went off about how we needed some sort of notice and how, essentially, he wasn't fulfilling his end of the bargain right now. To give the prospective buyers some privacy, we took a walk around the neighborhood. My fiance's cell phone rings and it was the real estate agent. The conversation that followed isn't verbatim, but allegedly it went something like this.

Apparently the woman decided she wanted to make an offer. My fiance was still fuming about being inconvenienced but in the moment, I wasn't focused on that if an offer was on its way. This is when I began to ask 20 questions. Did she quote an offering price? Did she quote something she didn't like about the property? Something, anything! I got nowhere with this line of questioning.

Now here's where it gets sketchy. The offer itself never came. Even odder, it was never discussed again, ever. This is where I get frustrated with everyone involved, my fiance, the real estate agent and well, I guess that's about it. I think the real estate agent should have told us what happened, but I also think my fiance could have asked what happened. It shows both parties are interested. But now it seems to be a standoff of sorts. I still wonder if the agent did that to say face, considering the call came moments after the "you're not doing your job" rant my fiance gave to him. My fiance, on the other hand, seems to have decided that the silent treatment works best and hasn't (as far as I know) reached out to him in any way since that day. If you were 10 and on the playground at school this approach might work, but when YOU need HIM to sell the house, taking your ball and going home really isn't an option.

I know it's early on, but I think that he needs to be much more pro active with the agency itself, complaining about what has been done (and what hasn't been done, as the case may be) instead of resting on his laurels about it. Maybe the agency itself can light a fire under this agent's ass or better yet, give us another agent within the company. He signed with them for six months. I don't even know if there is a way out of it. Right now it doesn't seem like a big deal, but a year from now, when I'm ACTUALLY MARRIED AND DON'T HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE it might be. I'm just saying.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Leave A Tender Moment Alone"

Months ago, Mojo wrote about how the TV show Lost did something about the top five moments in your life. I've bookmarked this idea for awhile, but now I think I'm ready to share it with all of you.

So today's question is...

What are the top five, defining moments in your life so far and why?

If you can't think of five, that's ok. If you think of more than five, that's ok, too. After all, the life span of a 25 year old would probably have less to choose from then the life of a fifty year old. Just ask those chicks on Age of Love.

If you are participating on your blog, the rules are simple:

1. Answer this question ON YOUR BLOG and THEN link back to it via the box below.
2. Leave a comment letting me know you played along.
3. If you are interested in adding the box to your site, please visit Mister Linky.
4. If you have any questions or you're confused just ASK!

**Right now I can't put up a Mister Linky box since it seems the link isn't working. How ironic. If you are participating and the box still isn't up here, just leave me a note in the comments.**
Sunday, August 05, 2007

Write Back Weekend "Exit Stage Left"

When I asked the question, Whose time do you think is up in Hollywood? I always assumed I'd get some answers we'd all agree upon. What I didn't expect, however, was to get no answers at all. Zilch.

While some of you half-heartedly contributed to the cause via the comments, no one took the plunge and wrote a full on post about the matter. Up until now, neither had I.

Come to think of it, when it came time to make my selections, I pondered how different this list would be depending on when I wrote it. Looking back on things, I would have loved to have had a crystal ball to know if time would ultimately run out on a few key selections. For instance, I would have hoped by now time would be up for people like Antonio Bandaras, Keanu Reeves or David Hasselhoff, just to name a few. Unfortunately, time isn't completely on my side. On the other hand, God answered my prayers by seemingly extinguishing the careers of people like Sean Young, Shania Twain, Melissa Joan Hart and yes, finally even William Hung.

But the past is the past and the present is the present. All we can do now is look forward towards the future. So here are, appropriately, fifteen folks whose fifteen minutes are up, in of course, no particular order.

1. Britney Spears- When Britney Spears first started "singing" I was cool with her. I was well aware she didn't come across as the sharpest tool in the shed and she probably didn't have a talent for doing much than being cute, but she was harmless enough. I tagged her as the nineties Debbie Gibson or Tiffany (although if I'm being honest, given me either Gibson OR Tiffany over Spears any day). This, however, was before up was down and left was right and she somehow, someway... took over the world. As if that wasn't enough, it got even more ridiculous when her white trash train derailed Oops, again and again and...again. Stop please, I want to get off.

2. Paris Hilton- While I'm not quite sure I ever knew what Britney's actual talent ever was, I know for sure I still don't know what the deal with Paris is. Someone help me understand this please? She takes "being talented for doing absolutely nothing" to an all time high. She's almost as bad as regular reality stars, plucked from obscurity who now think the world owes them something. Almost. She's Hollywood's answer, however, to when nepotism goes bad. Not to mention she looks like a bird, but I just did.

3. Nicole Richie- Take everything I said above, minus the bird thing and multiply it by a thousand. Now you have my feelings for Nicole Richie, too.

4. Kelly Ripa- When Regis was paired with Kathie Lee Gifford (another prayer since answered) I seriously thought no duo could be more annoying. And yes, while Regis is annoying by himself sometimes, the combination of him and his female counterparts (his wife Joy excluded) are like too much of a bad thing. So I was relieved when Kathie Lee was replaced by the daytime soap star, perky Kelly Ripa. But then something weird happened. She became annoying, too, and SO SELF OBSESSED. In fact the more she acts like she isn't into herself, the more she proves the contray. It's gotten so bad that I can't honestly say who would win a more annoying contest, Kathie Lee or Kelly. Maybe it's a K thing or a Regis thing. I can't decide. He just might bring out the worst in people.

5. Dustin Diamond- If I'm being fair, most would say Dustin "Screech" Diamond's fifteen minutes ended simultaneously with his Saved By The Bell years. Unfortunately, no one told Dustin this. First he tried to get people to give him money via the internet. Then when that didn't work, he made a porno and acted like it was "no big deal and he never wanted it to get out". Riight. The last pathetic straw was his part in the latest Celebrity Fit Club addition, playing the role of the argumentative, overweight bad ass, not the skinny geek we all once knew and loved. Sorry Screech, sometimes the past should just stay in...the past.

6. David and Victoria Beckham- Listen, I acknowledge the fact that both David and Victoria are good looking people. I'll even go one step further and say that I'm certain that David is very good at playing soccer or looking good, or looking good playing soccer, whatever comes first. Victoria on the other hand, is just good at looking good at good looking David Beckham. I mean really, she's a former Spice Girl for Pete's Sake and not even the (gulp) MOST TALENTED ONE! How can I take her seriously?! All I'm saying is former members of girl groups like that are supposed to be properly collecting dust on proverbial spice racks somewhere. It's for the greater good.

7. Eva Longoria- When Desperate Housewives first came on the air I remember thinking that Eva Longoria was a pretty woman, or at least a woman who looked good in a fantastic array of velour track suits. But the more I looked at her, the less pretty she started to seem to me. Suddenly, she just seemed like an average woman who would look really pretty if she was one of your friends, just like with the Desperate Housewives gang. Oddly enough, as this was going on in my world, in Eva's world she was operating under a different vibe. The public was starting to think Eva was great and really, who was Eva to argue? Now there's stories of diva like behaviors and demanding of high salaries for movies that have yet to be made. Please world, deliver yourselves from the clutches of Eva.

8. Kelsey Grammer- I took Mojo's...mojo on this one. If you look up the words "One Lucky Son Of A Bitch" in the dictionary, I'm pretty certain you'll find Kelsey Grammer's picture. Ever since his Cheers days I haven't the foggiest idea what this man's appeal is. If I'm being honest, I've seen old footage of Kelsey, pre Cheers and receding hair line. Now that Kelsey I can deal with. But that's not the Kelsey that became famous. Frasier was a good character I guess amongst the others on Cheers. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine him pulling his own weight in a sitcom of his own and for nine years no less!

9. Marilyn Manson- While the success of all fifteen of these people irritate me, the one that gets under my skin the most is Marilyn Manson. If you've ever seen a video of Manson's or really, heard anything about him, ever you'd know he comes across as one sick dude. But then you hear him talk and amazingly, he often doesn't come across that way at all. He comes across instead as a relatively intelligent and rationale guy who just happens to be into shocking and aweing the American public. Call me crazy, but that annoys me more than anything else. Here's a smart guy who had the power to do good, but instead he's created a character that low self esteemed teenagers can wrongfully choose to emulate. Wake up kids, Manson's not your savior. He's just a man out to make a buck.

10. Ant- There are a lot of good comedians out there. Simply put, Ant isn't one of them. What's more frustrating is that you never see any of the supposed winners of any season of Last Comic Standing. Meanwhile there's Ant, who didn't win season two by the way, who I can't seem to get rid of! And no, it's not because he's gay that he's not funny. It's because any comedian who only does humor about their station in life is what I call "selectively funny". If Dave Chappelle only did jokes about African Americans I'd say the same thing. If Roseanne only talked about being overweight (which I know she did a lot) I'd also feel the same way. The same goes for Jeff Foxworthy's being a redneck. Wait, he does only talk about that. Never mind.

11. Jericho- Since I've already spewed my feelings about Jericho on this blog I will only say this to recap, there are so many good TV shows out there that barely get five good seconds of air time. Jericho, on all shows, meanwhile gets a second chance. Where's the fairness there?

12. The Cast of Seinfeld- I know I'll take heat for this one, but there's always at least one inclusion on my list that requires me to get out of the kitchen. Here's my feelings about all things Seinfeld. I just don't get it. I know, I know, how could I not get it, especially given my sense of humor. I guess you could say I just never thought it was that funny. And the only thing less funny than the cast of Seinfeld I learned, is each one of them, sold separately.

13. The Jessicas: Alba and Biel- I don't mean to be a hater, but every generation has their share of hot chicks who stand there and look good, but they're not good for much else. Enter Jessica Alba and Jessica Beil. It's hard to say which one is more useless cause at this point, it's really anyone's game. Alba wins in the hotness category, while Beil takes the lead in the actual acting. Where either one of them will be in five years? Not being blogged about. At least, one can only hope.

14. Zac Efron
- I don't dislike Zac so much as I don't really like Zac. I mean don't get me wrong, he's held his own in the High School Musical franchise and seems to be carving out a niche for himself in the genre, now appearing in Hairspray, too. But given all the dreamy pin up boys of the past, I just feel that Zac pales in comparison. I also don't know how well he's going to age. I do know, however, that my third grade students would kill me for saying so.

15. Anna Nicole Smith- As sad as it sounds, I couldn't write a list like this without including someone that the public simply will not let go of, though time has indicated they definitely do otherwise. While many celebrities fit the bill here, the most appropo (and current) is the late Anna Nicole Smith. I never understood America's obsession with this woman. She was hot years ago, I'll give you that, but overshadowing her old school hotness is an overwhelming sadness. I alternate between feeling sorry for her and feeling sick for her.

Either way, I ended the list with her because she's the one everyone truly needs to let go of and let rest in peace, literally.
Thursday, August 02, 2007

Don't Call It A Comeback

The song says if you catch a falling star, you should put it in your pocket. Reality television, however, subscribes to a different theory, preferring to catch falling stars and put them on television for all the world to see.

While programming that features former celebrities, semi-celebrities and even wanna be celebrities is far from a new concept, more and more people seem to be jumping on the "my life is a fishbowl, won't you feed the fish?" school of thought (no pun intended). Many of these people are the same ones who you used to see in movies and sitcoms, but as the years wore on, their sitcom and movie offers dried up. Now they are out there, attempting to breathe life into their careers by putting their own daily "lives" on display.

But depending on your station in life, developing a show about yourself can be a blessing or a curse. If you know who Jessica Simpson or Nick Lachey are today you most definitely have MTV's Newlyweds to thank (or scold) for that. The same goes for The Simple Life's Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton. Just think, had some suit somewhere never thought the idea of rich bitches milking cows would be mildly amusing, many tabloids would have closed up show years ago.

Admittedly, I initially didn't think it could get more surreal than the Surreal Life, until it seemed they started running out of celebrities to get real with. This is further supported by the fact that even celebrities like Chuck Woolery, Gary Busey and Ed Begley Jr. have all taken rides on the reality television Merry Go Round at one time or another. Then there are the celebrities who used to be cool, by some standard or another, but that ship has long since sailed.

As hard as it is to admit this, Scott Baio is definitely one of those celebrities.

Growing up in the late eighties and early nineties was a true testament to Scott Baio's teen dream status. Here he was technically past his Joanie Loves Chachi/Happy Days prime, but all little girls I knew grew to love the older man that was Charles In Charge. It was never quite explained that Charles and Chachi were indeed the same people, but it didn't really matter. All we knew was that this new boy in the neighborhood lived downstairs. It was understood.

Once Charles In Charge ultimately ended, however, it seemed Scott Baio's career flat lined along with it. Even the doctors of Diagnosis Murder couldn't fill the prescription for the fever of Scott Baio. Ultimately the teen and pre teen fans moved on to greener pastures, or at least to younger ones, and Scott Baio the heartthrob seemed to fade into oblivion.

Fast forward many years and now we have the VH1 reality show, Scott Baio is 45...And Single. When I first saw previews for this show I was both intrigued and disgusted at the same time. It's the exact same feeling of morbid curiosity that washes over you when you're passing an accident or watching a couple fight in public. You know you shouldn't give in to it, but something inside of you doesn't know how to look away.

As if the title alone wasn't bad enough to make me spit out my pasta, the contents of the previews themselves were equally as repulsive. Everyone knows the urban legend of Scott Baio's once Lothario-like status and penchant for bedding blonde babes, but it's like The Fight Club. The first rule of Scott Baio's bedroom behavior is you don't talk about Scott Baio's bedroom behavior. Now all of that has gone out the window. Suddenly seeing Baio face his inner demons, also known as his ex girlfriends, made me both squirm and squeal with delight. Rarely do we get such insight into a former stud's conquests.

But FYI, there is such a thing as TMI as evidenced in clips that featured former Growing Pains cutie and ex-girlfriend Julie McCullough exclaiming, "I had my first AIDS test because of you." or first episode eye opener Scott Baio's revelation of losign his virginity to Erin Moran of all people. Even worse was her admittance that it wasn't all that and a bag of chips. Ouch. Not only is that one surprisingly celebrity revelation, that's three times the amount of shock and awe. I don't know about you, but I'll take things I never needed to know for 500 1,500, Alex.

As painful as it is that it's come to this, there is something surprisingly, dare I say real about it. I just can't understand how it's anything but real. I mean why would Scott Baio willingly want people to know he is struggling to commit to his current long time girlfriend, and every girl that has come before her, so much so that he is resorting to speaker phoning The Fonz for guidance? Who in their right minds would want the American public to know that you were known having a less than average sized manhood? And if you had any doubts about how much time has exactly transpired, just take one look at Scott Baio's friends, including The Wonder Years, Jason Hervey. With friends like that, who needs a "Buddy" like Willie Aames?

Now, if you want to see staged and confused I advise you check out A&E's (yes, I said A&E) The Two Coreys. Back in the eighties, these "lost boys" they were known for being messed up and in love... with themselves. As the Talking Heads song once said, "same as it ever was".

These days I'm not sure I'd want Charles In Charge of me, but at the very least he's trying to work out his own wrongs and rights. What can I say? I'll take my reality TV hard boiled, with a side of Baio.



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