Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Another Year...

To steal an imaginary word from one of my students, I believe I am a very "changeful" person. I look at the post from a year ago and...well hell...so much has changed! I feel a little crazier each year, and I think that's the way I like it to be. I do more fun stuff, I have money to do more fun stuff, I have confidence to do fun stuff without caring too much what other people think...

So fun stuff, let's see. In the past year that I've abandoned this blog (which seems to be a reoccurring theme) I have changed school districts, started Kung Fu and Tai Chi, delved full force into my love of costumes (for ANY occasion, or none at all!), found new ways to introduce fake mustaches to friends and strangers, learned to poi dance, made and strengthened so many friendships, and found happiness in HULA HOOPING!!! Which might sound like a strung together list of silly hobbies, but really each one has changed my life this year in surprisingly drastic ways.

The job was such a crazy big thing, to go into it here would be tedious for any reader but me. I mention it mainly because, well, I am probably my only reader. And it is kind of nice to look back and see that personal timeline. So maybe Inigo had it right after all? But let me just say, I haven't cried this year. I feel valued. And most importantly, I don't feel at all held back from making a difference for kids.

I want to go back to writing silly posts, but felt that I had to sum up, just a little. So I'll keep it short and simply say in closing: this girl, at age 30, is happy. More happy than ever-- which is pretty incredibly happy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Land of the Lost

So, if this blog exists for my lifetime and I live for 70 more years...I could potentially have over NINETY posts!!!

Really, it's unacceptable that I go so long between stories. I love to write, ridiculous things happen to me, and I have an enormous imaginary audience. (Do you remember when sitcoms used to start with "this episode was filmed before a live studio audience"?)

I've been on two family vacations (Minnesota and Arizona) since my last post, and while I don't feel the need to go into intricate detail... let's just say lots of boxed wine and fake mustaches were involved. Summer is around the corner, and I will surely have some gems to share soon.

As for today, this is a post about nothing. After all, Seinfeld has always been my favorite sitcom (even if it did have a laugh track).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

First Day of School

When I was a kid, thinking about the upcoming school year was like a reverse Christmas countdown. Days of summer slipped by with a speed that was alarmingly disproportionate to the slow ride of mid-February. Although I liked school, I was always apprehensive in the fall as thoughts of cliques, homework, and cafeteria food flooded my mind.

I clearly remember the night before my first day of junior high school, spent frantically trying to drift off to sleep. I knew that 6am came early, and although my mom's advice to 'sleep fast' sounded like a good theory, it would not erase next-day circles under my pre-adolescent eyes.

I effectively freaked myself out enough to stay up, wide-eyed and terrified, until precisely 3:17am when I finally drifted off into a fitful sleep.

I don't remember much about the following day, but I certainly remember that night. Which brings me to wonder how many freshman inside the Theodore Roosevelt High School boundary lines will have fitful dreams tonight. All week I thought how lucky they were to be sleeping until luxurious times and watching daytime TV while all us teachers sat through exhilarating hours of professional development. But now...I'm not so sure.

I also wonder about the shiny new teacher faces at TR, remembering the looks of sheer terror on Friday as they realized they only had 48 hours until D-day.

I am so frikkin' glad I'll never again be a 7th grade kid...or a first-year teacher.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Midnight Sun

Although it has been a couple of months, I feel the need to sum up my summer in a more satisfying way than the traditional Inigo list. That being decided, I will now begin chronicling my summer as if it has just happened (may the space-time continuum be forever bent to my will!)

My trip to Alaska was long overdue and, may I say, well earned. It had been FIVE years since I had been home, and I had no idea how much I missed it! I can't say I had forgotten the magnificence of the mountains, sunsets, rivers and lakes...but on this trip I do think I realized how much I had previously taken it for granted. I felt absolutely at home in that place, and absolutely in awe.

I saw my 'welcome home moose' jump in front of the car- over the bridge on the Glenn highway on my way home from the airport. It reminded me of my dad, who always kept a butcher's knife and some extra-tuff garbage bags in the trunk for just such an occasion. Luckily the moose lived that night, but I can't say I would have been disappointed had we found the need to stuff him in the back of Deb's new SUV.

I arrived at Auntie Debbie's new house and was again shocked at the raw beauty of the place. Growing up I saw my auntie and cousins move from place to place. From my sketchy little kid memory I recall them living in "The Shack" at the bottom of our driveway, their house (unfinished, like ours) in Hatcher Pass, the assortment of housesitting locales after the divorce, and the myriad of apartments after that. Then there was the tiny A-frame on Rainbow Road that I called home myself, and the huge boxy house on Muffin. Debbie certainly knew how to make real estate work to her advantage; her new place is a custom built home with a Jacuzzi tub and a million dollar view of the mountains and valley below.

It was incredibly good to be home. Mom stayed with me at Deb's, knowing that the family needed to be together. We stayed up way too late watching vampire movies and drinking wine. We grilled caribou and garlic bread and languished in the company of family. Kindra entertained me with her adult sense of humor and crazy thirst for adventure. Together we went on the road, searching for the next campfire story and the best stolen boulders. National parks didn't see us coming.

The four of us went on a once yearly hike through the mountain to Whittier. We donned hard hats (with phallic references) and good shoes and set off on the two mile hike through the rock. It was an incredible feeling to be so far beneath stone and dirt, with no short way out and certainly no cell phone service. We met a friendly fireman halfway through who gave us water and posed for a sweet pic with 'the moms'.

I went with Deb to her class and had fun playing with and teaching the pre-k kids. It made me wonder if I would teach high school forever- I found so much inspiration in my auntie's classroom! Kindra and I volunteered to lead horses for kids with special needs. The horses were great, the kids were ridiculously fun, and the ride to ourselves afterward was fantastic!

Mom and Debbie proved to be the rock stars that they are, and we went on many spur-of-the-moment adventures to various bars, festivals, and shopping ventures. Debbie invited us to meet her hairdresser, who had a shop on a small pristine lake in Wasilla. We enjoyed the Saturday Market in Anchorage and the Friday Fling in Palmer. Mom showed Anchorage the happiness of being inside the fish bowl as she made us all make 'fish faces' at passers by while we sipped ale at McGinley's Pub.

I was thrilled to visit my friends in Anchorage, though circumstances made it difficult to share stories and play dates. I played countless games with Niki and Jason's girls, and they made me smile every second. I was met in Amber and Joe's doorway by Tucker's hastily rehearsed, "Hi Kirsten!" which almost brought tears to my eyes. It made me think of my mom's friend Cher, who I grew up knowing was Mom's best friend without ever really knowing her face.

Mom, Deb, Kindra and I spent the last night all smashed into a bed together, watching old home movies and laughing over old memories. I left feeling full and happy, with plans to visit again as soon as the school year permits. It will never again be five years between Alaska adventures!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Life Story *Boring Warning!*

After my recent trip to Alaska, I spent hours on the couch reading old diaries I had dug out of Mom's garage. It made me nostalgic and a bit teary at times, and I realized how many great people had drifted in an out of my life. As the next logical course of action, I hopped onto Facebook and found many of my once-best-friends, including, ahem, ex-boyfriends. I find myself repeating my story over and over again, and while I certainly don't mind I thought it might be nice to have it all in one place. I stopped journaling in my late teens, and so many things have slipped by. Even in these past years- I don't have much here at all about the mundane details of my life! (lucky you?) So this is mostly for myself, but also for you...if you're interested...

In a place long ago in a time far away...

I graduated from Houston Jr. Sr. High School. Always the independent and stubborn girl, I shacked up with my high school sweetheart within days of my 18th birthday. Our apartment was tiny, dingy, the ceiling leaked, the Toyo stove clogged and shut down every day, and the whole place smelled like fuel oil. We loved it. I worked a LOT, attended Mat-Su college, and earned my Associate of Arts degree. I bought a little green car with no AC that had a hatchback and that new car smell. Chris and I were happy, then not so happy, then apart. He was one of the most important people in my life, and I cherish the memories we made together.

I started seeing boy number two, and when I decided to go on to art school in Minnesota he decided that was a pretty good place for him to be too. We drove the Al-Can highway in that little green car, with Dad, George and Taz in the big blue Volvo. Dad finally let me drink with him since the legal age for consumption in that great northern country is 18. I had lots of cheap nasty wine because the bottles were pretty, and because of that I was not able to ride the roller coaster in the Edmonton Mall. Dad stayed at the farm he and Mom had bought, and I enrolled in the College of Visual Arts.

CVA was an indescribably good place to be. I spent my time painting, drawing, and discovering the amazing world of printmaking and book art. Did I mention the beer and free popcorn at Fabulous Fern's? I was surrounded by like-minded people, and I had finally found a place where I felt right. I became an ink slinging feminist who performed slam poetry and went skinny dipping. I dyed my hair red and pierced my nose. I was an art school kid in a city that digs that sort of thing, and I had a family who supported anything I was passionate about.

Time went by, graduation approached, and I felt Paul and I drifting apart. While he went home to Alaska in the summers I spent time with Dad at the farm and Geo at the lake. Paul and I always treated each other well, but were not quite the right fit. We ended things on relatively good terms and lived together as roommates and friends.

With a year left before graduation I met a boy on Yahoo Chat. My family laughed nervously and called him M.R. It did not stand for Mister or Magical Rabbit. The name they (actually, Grandma...) bequeathed on this friend I had a small crush on was...Mad Rapist. We talked online, then talked on the phone, then he offered to buy me a plane ticket to visit him in San Antonio. To which I promptly replied, "uh...no!? What if you're a crazy Internet stalker?" So my stalker bought a car and drove up to visit me instead. I can't explain what happened that week, but we both knew that was it. We had found ourselves in each other and began a torturous long-distance relationship.

After six months it became too much for us and Jason left everything he knew in San Antonio to be with me in the frozen north. He struggled to find work and a place in life, but as much as I felt at home in the Twin Cities I knew he did not. I graduated and both my parents came to hear my senior thesis presentation, Girl Slam: Feminism in Spoken Word Performance. It was a success, I had my Bachelor of Fine Arts, and I began making contacts in hopes of a job. Jason and I drove down to San Antonio to visit his friends and get the rest of his belongings.

I saw just how much he missed it. I decided it was time for my next adventure, and we drove back with an empty car to gather my things instead. On the way back down I realized my folly in buying a car without air conditioning. We lived on Craig and Gene's apartment floor on an air mattress for two months. Jason started TechAde with two clients and a Tupperware computer desk, and I got a job at Asel Art Supply. We were flat broke and happy. When the lease was up the four of us moved to a much bigger place with three bedrooms, a garage, and a purple monkey dishwasher. I became friends with Jason's group, and I realized exactly why he had missed them so much.

Time went by, we got a few more clients, and I got a promotion at work. I was only the second manager in about 30 years, and although it was a silly retail job it was hard. I began to feel like I had ordered the same tube of paint a thousand times without making any difference in the world. Jason surprised me one day with a membership to a dojo, and we began our Kenseido training together. The physical activity and excuse to spend time together made me feel better, and we happily progressed in our ninja skills. The dojo grew, as did my friendship with the family who owned it. When they opened an after school program, they asked me to leave my job at the art store and work for them.

Throughout the years Dad had various surgeries and treatments to try to stop the tumor in his brain. He was a fierce survivor who never asked for sympathy. He lost his fight with cancer on April 11, 2005, and it was the most devastating thing I have had to live through. The love of my family and Jason's support helped me get through, and over the years I have managed to heal.

Shortly after this great loss was our beautiful wedding day. We were married in Maui, where Jason is from. There were blue skies over our heads and grass under our feet, and a perfect ceremony officiated by Auntie Kathy. My family was there, and my very best friends. We had bought a house together just three months prior to the big day, so we came home to what has been named by our friends, "The Republic of Ferretakistan" (see first post for explanation!)

I loved my job at the dojo, though things ended badly because of monetary and other reasons. I had to move on, so with Jason's love and support I enrolled in school once again at Our Lady of the Lake University. After my first year of school I began teaching Redirection at Theodore Roosevelt High School. It was terrifying and exhilarating, and I finally knew I was doing some good in people's lives. I work with children who struggle with emotional disturbance and behavior disorders. Some have conditions such as Schizophrenia and Bi-Polar disorder, some get in trouble for drugs, gang affiliation, and/or other illegal activity, and all of them need a lot of love. Last December I graduated with a Master's in Special Education, and I have half-formed plans to go on to doctoral study.

I have also taught painting classes at night to fill the art void in my life. I worked for a while doing murals and commissions, and I still take small projects as time allows. Our computer business has grown to over 40 clients, and we are working toward expansion to include employees and a central office. Jason is an exceptionally hard worker, and I am very proud of him.

We have found ourselves falling helplessly in love with so many animals along the way- some are rescues from the street, some from the shelter, and some from the pet store. To date we are the proud parents of three dogs, three ferrets, three bearded dragons, one snake, two indoor aquariums, and one extremely large koi pond. All of our fish have names. We plan to have a baby soon.

I would like to take a moment to honor those who have gone on from this world, who I am lucky to have known. My dad, Truls Dominic Bjore, my grandma Nancy Cullen, my grandpa George Bjore, my great-grandparents Marcella and George Hamilton, my great aunt and uncle Mildred and Jimmy Bjore and their son Marlen, and my elementary and high school friend Amanda McElwee.

I am so excited to have the new little bundles of joy who have brightened this dull old place up, my little niecie/cousin Jillian Shale (thanks to Sarah and her cute hubby Josh!), Courtney's beautiful Natalie, Annie Banannie's Joey (and one on the way!), Jessica and Brett's Amy, Emma, and Alice, Niki and Jason's adorable girls Salem and Briar Rose, Amber and Joe's Allison and Tucker, and too many others to name!

I think this pretty much brings me up to date, although I've terribly glossed over many important highlights. Maybe someday I'll go into it all, but I'll keep it safely tucked away on my Mac rather than bore everyone on the Internet. (Yes Mom, you can have a copy.) Wow, this was very cathartic! I recommend it. Get typing. Go!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mullets and Boxed Wine

Blog? Blog? Where are you? Oh, THERE you are!!

After a year of neglect and, to be quite honest, forgetfulness, my ramblings have been given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by a mulleted friend at the HEB grocery store.

He was glorious. Curly locks flowed gracefully to his waist, his face framed by delicate bangs. His black wife-beater shirt (complete with obscure death metal tour dates on back) gave the distinct impression that he was a true "manly man." Despite his unmistakable Anglo features, the dreamcatcher tattoo placed strikingly upon his pale bicep was testament to his love toward our Native brothers.

His wife/girlfriend/babymomma was equally fabulous, black bra straps on display above her shoulderless neon top- and black daisy dukes riding up to where the sun don't shine.

I stared (while trying to remain inconspicuous) throughout the 15-minute-ring-up while the inept clerk finally realized that lactose-free milk doesn't fall under WIC criteria. I decidedly did not wonder, while fingering my hard plastic bank card, how they could nonchalantly pay for tonight's meal with four crisp new twenty-dollar bills.

Then I looked down at my scant 4-item purchase. A loaf of fresh-baked French bread, fancy Camembert cheese, sashimi-grade tuna steak and...

a BOX of wine.

Next time I go shopping, I better dress the part.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Drinking and Ebaying

Friends don't let friends drink and Ebay.

I am four glasses of cheap wine in, and finding myself fascinated with retro 80's spandex body suits. Well, maybe not the body suits...but DEFINITELY the bike shorts!

I think I have just had a major craving for my childhood these past few days, as the reality of "Summer Vacation" has gradually sunk in. Oh, have you noticed that I haven't posted for almost a year? Could be the whole "first-year-teacher" craziness, mixed with teaching community ed night school classes and that little matter of grad school. I have been a tiny bit busy.

But NO EXCUSE! I could have spared 10 minutes a month...

Ahhhhh....no time now for repentance. The blog must move forward! So I repeat: I LOVE SPANDEX!!!

But the bod must follow the passion. Remember Jim? Poor Jim. I've been cheating on him with Ben. And I also had a fling a while back with Jerry. I visited Jim exactly once during my adventure teaching this first year of high school, and immediately afterward...I puked. Dammit Jim, I thought we were friends!

But tomorrow baby, it's all us. Us and the new collection of Flogging Molly...yeah...

I think that's all I've got in me for tonight. I feel like I should recap my year, but as our friend Inigo would say...well, you know the drill...

1. Crazy kids need love too
2. Crazy kids sometimes try to jump off balconies
3. It is my legal and ethical obligation to stop them
4. There are some babies I can't help
5. There are others I can...and will...
6. There are other teachers out there who will dance on tables with me
7. I sometimes feel like a hypocrite telling my students to behave
8. Jason buys me emeralds when I come home crying for a week straight
9. My bosses agree with me that I should cry more often
10. I have found a place where I can do some good

Ahhhhhh...how's THAT for therapy?!? 2 more months of freedom...stay tuned...