Tuesday, February 24, 2009

High School Education

Since my pal Allison up and left me in order to explain the meaning of War Eagle! and recruit for the enemy to our West, I have been frequenting high schools a little more often until we find her replacement. She can never be replaced, per say, but we've got to get someone in here to do the dirty work because I can no longer stand for 2.5 hours straight in heels.

Today I had the opportunity to visit a school that shall remain nameless but considering the mascot is the Bulldog, it's very safe to say that I was within a 50-mile radius of Athens. It is fun to make the occasional trip to a high school because I always come back much more educated about kids today, and since this blog is my little contribution to society I feel it necessary to educate you, my three readers, as well.

To begin with who knew that blue corduroy was so popular? Granted, I bought 2 pair of cords back in the fall, but I never realized that jackets were all the rage among young men these days. I have never seen so much blue corduroy in a concentrated area in my life.Now, I happen to be a big fan of FFA because if it weren't for FFA camp that my daddy went to that summer of '74, he would have never met my mama who happened to be at FHA camp at the same place and then there would have never been me. I give much credit to the Future Farmers of America for my existence. And that's weird.
Did you know that one can letter in cosmetology? Um, yeah...me neither. My eyes have been opened to a whole new world. Imagine what nail biters (no pun intended) the region and state playoffs for French manicures are!
Dressing for the season is a thing of the past. Two young ladies come to my table together. One is wearing fur-lined boots, jeans, a sweater, and a big puffy jacket with a fur-lined hood. Her gal pal is wearing strappy sandals and a short khaki skirt with a cotton t-shirt. Anybody ever heard of a happy medium?
When speaking with high schoolers, I get asked all sorts of questions. My favorite when I worked at North Georgia was "If I go here, can I jump out of airplanes?" [Yes, because we actually are running a sky-diving training camp instead of a state university.] My favorite question today was "Does this school have pediatrician?" [No, but we do offer a whole array of grammar classes.] It's astounding the number of kids who do not realize that you have to go to school for more than 4 years to become a doctor. Haven't they ever watched Grey's Anatomy for the love of Pete?
Now, sometimes it's tough to compete with other schools or businesses that are in attendance at these programs like I was at today because they have cool giveaways. Like today, the technical school down the road was giving away viles of lamb DNA. And who doesn't want to grow their own lamb at home? Real lambs are much cooler than Chia pets any day of the week. Fortunately, I was able to provide an alternative to one student. As she was looking over a brochure, she exclaimed to her friend that "They have anime club here!" And that ladies and gentlemen is how I make the world a better place and pay my bills...by giving students the opportunity to participate in an anime club.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Child is Born

Remember how a couple of months ago I blogged about the pandemic flu billboards all over Athens? Well, Athens Public Health should consider posting pandemic pregnancy billboards around my workplace. Seriously, I think more women at work have had babies or are having babies within the next 40 weeks than not. As an added precaution I'm bringing my own bottled water and I refuse to sit in their office chairs. There's no such thing as "too careful" for a single girl like me.

The newest addition belongs to my friend Angie. Her baby boy entered the world this past Thursday. I haven't gotten to meet him yet (all in the name of RSV prevention of course...I'm pretty sure it's not kosher to show up in the hospital room of a newborn bringing a hacking cough and sneezes) but I can tell by the pictures that he's super sweet and cute. And I'm sure he's the toughest kid on the block already given that he spent his first couple of days of life at a hospital in Athens wearing a Tennessee stocking hat!

Since Baby M was born last week, I started thinking a lot about how just what miracles babies are. No worries, I'm not going to go all "NOVA Special - Miracle of Life" on you here. There are some things that are better left off of my blog and on public television. No, what is so fascinating to me in terms of newborns is that humans are the most complex and sophisticated (some of us more than others) life form there is. Yet when we enter this world, we are the most helpless. Most baby foals stand the same day they are born; they begin to gallop on day two. Babies begin to walk around day 365. Baby birds "fly the nest" at a very young age. I know some "baby birds" in their mid-twenties who still haven't "flown the nest", so to speak. Humans cannot do a single thing for themselves when we are born. We must depend solely upon our parents or caregivers to feed us, change us, nurture us, love us, etc. Coincidence? I really don't think so.

Blame it on my continuous quest for control over my life, or blame it on the fact that I haven't really acknowledged God all that much lately, but He has really opened my eyes to a few things in the past few days. In less than 2 weeks I will be 30 years old. Sure, I'm pretty independent and I have the basics down (thanks to my mama who made me start doing my own laundry at the ripe old age of 9), but there are some things in life in which I am completely helpless. I'm learning (again) that I must rely solely on God to shape me into the person I am to meant to be. I must rely on Him instead of myself in terms of plans for my life (ugh...maybe by the time I'm 60, I'll finally get this). After all, I am His child.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Stories Behind the Status Updates

Some people paint. Others read. The really tech-savvy twitter [but not in public, I hope!]. I update my Facebook status. Primarily for no one's entertainment but my own. However this morning I was looking back over my last few status updates and became convinced that a couple of things are going to happen. 1. I will be referred to counseling. That's fine, I believe everyone could benefit from a few sessions. 2. I will be "unfriended" by those who tire of my frequent appearance in their news feeds. That's fine. My real friends are the ones I bought back in college anyway. I kid. Kind of.

Typically there is a story behind each and every one of my status updates and today, out of sheer lack of thought-provoking and insightful blog-worthy material, I'm going to share the stories behind the updates. (Brush your teeth and put the ambien away, people because here is your remedy to sleepless nights.)

Friday, 02.13.09: "Heather is convinced that her life is going to be chronicled in a very bad sitcom one day." - On Friday afternoon I finally broke down and did laundry. I'm a few dollars richer than I was the last time I did laundry...it's been that long. So I decide to load up 5 loads of laundry into one laundry basket and head on over to the apartment washers to get it done in one fell swoop. All is well until I have to drag the overflowing basket out of the backseat of my 2 door car. Laundry spills everywhere in my car. Behind me I hear a car drive up and someone ask "you need help with that?" [Who offers to help carry one's dirty clothes? Ewww.] Immediately I knew it could only be one person. I'll call him "Dko" because when he made me put his phone number in my phone last week, that's the abbreviation of his name that he provided for me. [insert eye roll here] I curtly reply with "nah, I got it." as I march off independently toward the laundry room. Well, as independently as a girl can march when she's loaded down with 4.5 loads of laundry. I almost made it the entire way without dropping anything until I dropped a couple of socks right before going inside. So I put the basket down, scurry back to get my belongings, all the while he's sitting in his convertible reading his mail (read: watching me). As I was throwing my clothes into the washer I could see him through the windows. Still there. Finally he left so I darted back to my car to get the rest of the clothes in my backseat. When I get to driver's side of my car, I'm horrified. Because there lying in the parking lot for the entire world (read: Dko) to see (thanks to Google earth) are my unmentionables. Hence the latest reason why I'm convinced that my life is going to be chronicled in a very bad sitcom one day.

Saturday, February 14, 2009: "Heather feels like the floorboard of a NYC taxi cab." - No, not because it was Valentine's Day and I spent my day reenacting the scene in Bridget Jones' Diary when she sat on the couch and played "All by Myself" over and over. Apparently during my slumber on Friday night the germs that I had been running from for weeks now caught up with me and I woke up with the crud. I think that phrase is a line from Ghostbusters. Or so I've been told. But that was years ago so please don't slime me if that's not the case.

Monday, February 16, 2009: "Heather has writer's block." - Not a good condition to have when there is a paper due in 26 hours.

Monday, February 16, 2009: "Heather wonders if it's inhumane to muzzle people." - Apparently there are some people in the world who feel it necessary to speak at a volume most appropriate for a professional sporting event or concert in the office. And it irks me beyond measure. So I tried to make a statement by loudly closing my office door (BECAUSE I HAVE A DOOR TO CLOSE NOW...HAPPY DAY!!!). The only statement made was my pants breaking in the process. Apparently I marched to my door a little too haughtily for my "grow as you go" expandable waistband pants from the GAP. Sigh. Fortunately I was able to get the pants back on track (literally).

Monday, February 16, 2009: "Heather would rather SWOT flies. Not organizations." - Just a little business humor in an attempt to overcome writer's block. Paper due in 19 hours.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009: "Heather directly blames grad school for all fine lines and wrinkles on her face." - It was 12:33 at night. I was cranky. (because I forgot to eat dinner) And sleepy. And thinking about the fact that I was still doing school work 2 weeks shy of turning 30. Which made me crankier. It had potential to be a vicious cycle until I comforted myself with a glass of chocolate milk like any sophisticated young woman on the brink of entering the best years of her life would do.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009: "Heather would rather be getting a root canal." - I've never had one, but it's got to be less painful than figuring out how to properly cite electronic sources in APA format after 2.5 hours of sleep.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009: "Heather is done!! Amen." - Paper completed with 6 hours to spare. Silly me to have even been stressed out about it in the first place.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Will the real Joaquin please stand up?

Just one example of why I love David Letterman. I couldn't get the direct video link to embed correctly, so you'll have to click the hyperlink to see the freshest face on the hip-hop scene.

And just because I'm such a Dave fan, here's an added bonus...

Top Ten Messages Left on Alex Rodriguez's Answering Machine
10. "Hey, it's Mark McGwire. Want to get together this week and not talk about the past?"
9. "Joe Torre here -- thanks for helping book sales"
8. "Could you find a steroid that keeps you from choking in the playoffs?"
7. "Are you worried this will taint all the championships you didn't win?"
6. "It's Bernie Madoff. Nice try but I'm still the most hated man in New York"
5. "Michael Phelps here. Got any snacks?"
4. "This is Sammy Sosa. Just pretend you don't speak English"
3. "Michael Phelps again. Did I call you or did you call me?"
2. "Hey, it's Rod Blagojevich -- I'll say you're innocent, if you say I am"
1. "It's Madonna. You got a phone number for

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Just me...Paparazzi HP

I've discovered that it's both a blessing and a curse to have my camera with me at all times. It's great for those Kodak moments that life brings like running into a celebrity on the street...or seeing a puppy and small child playing in an open grassy field...or winning a couple of grand at a slot machine. But I don't really have those kinds of moments on a regular basis. Unless once every 29.75 years constitutes regular. Instead I have my trigger finger ready for life's blogable moments. I'm certain that one day that will get me into trouble and I might even be so lucky as to end up with a black eye. For a few fleeting moments this afternoon, I thought that today was going to be that day. It started out like any normal trip to Publix during the lunch hour. Until I turned down an aisle and spotted it. Immediately I reached for my purse to grab my camera, but I couldn't stop because there were cars behind me. So I parked. All the while I was weighing in my mind the pros and cons of blatantly taking a picture in the middle of the parking lot. During the lunch time hour. On a clear, sunny day. So I chickened out. As I walked toward the store, I decided that if the opportunity presented itself on the way out of the store, I would take the picture. For the sake of my lacking-in-updates blog. And the 3 readers who read it. On my way out, I reached into my purse and got my camera out of its case. I scanned the parking lot. All was clear except for one person behind me, but there was no way he would be concerned with the fact that I was photographing a random car in the parking lot. However I decided to be discreet just in case because he was a big dude. With long hair. And white Converse low-top sneakers. So as I was walking toward my car, I quickly snapped this picture...Am I the only one who sees the humor in an "uppity women unite" bumper sticker on a 1990-something Honda Accord? Please tell me no. Sure the economy hasn't stolen your senses of humor. The fact that it's an Oconee county tag makes it even better because Oconee county is all that and a bag of chips these days. And then just when I thought it couldn't get any funnier, I realized that the sound of the cart behind me was fading. My first thought was "oh no, I've been busted" so I quickly got into my car and turned around to see this...
I guess he was just picking up a few refreshments for Bridge Club tomorrow afternoon.

A Cupcake of Epic Proportions

This past Saturday we celebrated little Miss Caroline's 1st birthday. I'm pretty sure it was the social event of the year for everybody who is anybody falling into the Pre-K and below age bracket. Who am I kidding? It was the social event of my year, thus far. I remember when this sweet baby girl was born just like it was yesterday. Ok, in reality what I remember more than her actual birthday was the afternoon before her birthday. See, she came a week early and for anyone who knows me and my need to be in control of most every detail of my life, it should come as no surprise that my best friends are wired in a very similar fashion. Needless to say, Suz was bound and determined not to birth that baby until she had acquired the much needed ribbon from Michael's to put the finishing touches on the nursery. And what an impeccable room Caroline had waiting for her when she arrived home!
But I'm not here to talk about a nursery and the great deliberations over furniture placement in said nursery. I'm here to post pictures because that's all people really want to see anyway. And since I don't have kids of my own, I'll just post pictures of other folk's kids. All the fun in showing them off, none of the ballet lesson expenses. I like it. Fortunately, Angel's parade of princesses was also at the party. However it was difficult to get a good picture of her oldest because she's very camera shy.
Honestly I don't see how Angel keeps up with 3 girls who are ages 3 and under. Just the thought of it makes me want to take a nap. Especially when I see how much they keep her on her toes...
Caroline's party was a "Snow" theme which I thought was snow clever given the winter season. It came complete with "yellow snow" and everything. No, it wasn't in a cold part of town where unleashed dogs roamed freely...popcorn was served! Along with snowda pop. Have I mentioned that it is a pre-requisite that all of my friends must be witty and clever before I forge a friendship with them? My friends are also very smart which inevitably results in a very smart future generation.
For all of you non-parents of small children born in the early to mid-2000's out there, Caroline is signing the word "more". More cupcake please. You got it, Birthday Girl. I'm so excited about watching this baby girl grow into an amazing young woman. (I'm sure that she is equally excited about watching her mom's friend with the crazy curly hair develop age spots.) I'm so thankful to be included in these milestones and look forward to so many more.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Are you gonna eat your tots?

Today I had the opportunity (this word is used very loosely here) to visit a high school for work. Back when I first became a professional working girl with income, recruiting high schoolers for the purpose of higher education was the way that I spent the majority of my work days. I loved it. And then after about a year I got really tired of living out of a suitcase so I switched to a more internal role. Which I loved even more so when I moved to another college, I was more than happy to remain a more "behind the scenes" type of person. Besides, I don't really like the combined aroma of tater tots and rectangular shaped pizza. Oh, did I neglect to mention that many of these school visits take place in high school cafeterias? Well, they do in case you were wondering why in the world I made mention of tots.

I'll tell you one thing...you can really learn a lot about today's youth by spending some time observing lunch time in a school cafeteria. Obviously I'm a little out of touch. Much more so than the high school letter jacket salesman and National Guard recruiter that I shared two hours of my life with earlier today. Kids today have it so much easier than I did. I had to go all the way to Marietta with my mama to order my letter jacket. Oh how I loved my letter jacket...I think I'm going to put it on and wear it around the house the next time I go visit my parents. Just to relive my glory days. Personally I take pride in the fact that I was the only softball player that had the sailor collar on her jacket. Let's just say that I wanted to make it very clear that even though I played softball, I was very much a girl. My coach especially loved that I got my nails done every two weeks during the season. Speaking of, I'm pretty sure I met the high school softball coach today. I can spot them a mile away. I digress. Kind of.

Anytime I'm in that kind of environment, naturally I think back to my own high school days. I pretty much hated high school. Since I graduated (er...almost 12 years ago)I have gone back to my school a handful of times. Each time I walk through those doors, all those feelings that I had for most of those 4 years come rushing back. Talk about anxiety attack waiting to happen. And what's terrible is that I had friends. And we were "cool". If I could write a letter to my high school self it would read something like this...

Dear Heather-
In just a couple of years you are going to realize how you worried so much over things that have so little significance. You will meet friends who will love you for you...not for what you think they want you to be. You should probably eat more than 900 calories a day because pretty soon you're going to freak yourself out when bad things start happening to your body due to lack of nutrition and too much exercise. Your class rank really doesn't matter either so lighten up a little bit. Those glasses you hate wearing so badly? You will not wear them forever. That terrible frizzy hair you fight with everyday? It'll calm down. That boy that you sneak rides home from school with without your mom knowing? You'll never hear from him again. He'll date one of your friends for about five minutes a couple of years after graduation, and you'll be jealous as all get out. But don't worry, he will be able to see through her very quickly. And guess what - your mom knows you are sneaking rides home with him. It's ok to talk to the kids that no one else talks to. You know how uncomfortable it makes you feel when they are being made fun of? Remember that feeling and disassociate yourself from the people who are so cruel. While these little lessons that you are learning now aren't easy and you feel as if your world is just going to end if your parents don't let you go to that party on Friday night, one day you'll be thankful that your parents said no. They are smart, and they will keep you from getting into all sorts of potential trouble. You might even thank them for it one day. Most importantly, trust me when I say that there is so much more to life than these 4 years.
Older, wiser, and wittier Heather

Honestly I wish that I could write so many letters to those kiddos that I observed today. Some need letters like I wrote myself. Others need letters telling them to get off their high horses. While others need letters that I don't even know how to begin. I saw a few kids today who just broke my heart. They were so alone. I couldn't imagine having to sit by myself at lunch. (Talk about a fate worse than death to a 17 year old Heather). And here these kids are who do it everyday. Probably not by their choosing either. Humans by nature are social creatures. We like to be near people. We need human contact and human touch. But these kids weren't just physically alone. They looked almost empty on the inside and that was the part that got to me the most. Other kids cruised right by them as if they were invisible. I wondered how many kids like that I cruised by on a daily basis while in high school. There was one little boy in particular sitting all alone at the end of table close to where I was "stationed". I didn't even notice him myself until I saw a teacher walking up. All she did as she walked by him was simply pat him on the arm and say hello. The kid lit up like it was Christmas morning. I was reminded right there how far simple acts of kindness can go. It really makes my heart heavy to know that there are kids in this world who are walking around without the kind of support system that I've always had. So instead of sitting around with a heavy heart and wringing my hands like a helpless little damsel, I'm going to work on showing kindness to those who need it the most. This will totally force me out of my comfort zone but that's ok. I pray already that my (future) kids will be well-adjusted socially, but now I'm going to also pray that they will show compassion towards those who are not.