WTF Wednesday #I’m Too Lazy to Look-Liebster Edition

I was nominated for the Liebster (my autocorrect really wanted that to be ‘lobster’. Mmm yum!) Award by the lovely Gloria at We Are Holistic.


I haven’t done an awards post in awhile, so I figured it was the perfect timing to be nominated for one!

(I think I owe Angela at You Are Awesome a book tag post! I promise it’s coming!)

Also, I’ll just be honest. I had nothing ready for this week’s post. I’m so busy and stressed that I’ve had very little motivation to write.

So, I’ll apologize now, as this’ll probably be a stinker! I really hope I can do right by Gloria, though. She’s a super cool chick!

That intro went on way too long, so why don’t be just begin…

The Rules
I’ve found that the rules vary slightly but they’re all similar!

Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.

Answer the 11 questions the person asked you.

Nominate 5-11 people (comment on their blog to let them know).

Ask the people you have nominated 11 questions.

List these rules in your post.

And most importantly…….have fun!

When are you at your happiest?

When I’ve just started in on a full pint of Ben & Jerry’s with the promise of, at least, 20 minutes of sweet, creamy gluttony. BUT, before the I’ve-eaten-it-all-again disgust sets in.
If you were to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, whose would it be?

Any shoes belonging to someone who is independently wealthy. I’d like to walk in some shoes that get to travel more than once every ten years, too. Also, can these shoes be stylish and plantar fasciitis-friendly?

What’s usually the first thing to pop into your mind when you wake up each morning?

“Are you effing kidding me? I just went to sleep. Noooooooo. Can I get away with a tenth day of dry shampoo? Do I really need my job? Oh, fuck all!”

I’d like to say I feel ashamed that I start my days like this, but really, who doesn’t?

Quit lyin’.

What’s your biggest regret in life? If any!

Since we’re all friends here, I guess I can just say it. I really, super regret shaving the baby hairs on my stomach. Ladies, listen to Aunt Fatty. Put down the razor. I repeat, back away from the razor. 

Go ahead and blow out your lips with some insane lip plumping contraption. Shit, wax off all of your eyebrows so you can paint them on again, nice and thick and fake. But, do.not.shave.your.belly.button. You will end up with a stomach that rivals a 70s bush.

If you were to be reincarnated as an animal, what animal would you like to be and why?

A sloth. Hands down. 

What’s your favourite smell and why?

I love the smell of rain, because we never get any. I love the smell of my classroom before farts rule the school. I love the smell of coffee brewing, because it tames the bitch within.

Are you a slow writer or can you whip up a good post in a couple of hours?

I take ages to write posts, because I seem to feel compelled to write full novels every week. I’m also paranoid about my grammar being perfect, so I have to read everything over 8,572 times. Sometimes, in a great while, writing just spills out of my brain. That’s very rare.

What household chore do you hate doing most? Or is there one you actually enjoy? 

I was just complaining about this to myself as I was driving to the store to get the laundry detergent I forgot the first time. I hate doing any and all household chores, but I love a squeaky clean house. If the laundry would just stay done and if the toilet would just remain pristine and errant pube-free, I’d be a lot happier and less stressed.

What colour dominates your wardrobe?

Black. I’m almost entirely goth. Or, is it emo? Black calms my fat just enough.

What’s your laugh type? Quiet & Polite, loud & boisterous, more of a chuckle, or a musical ha ha ha ha?

Loud and boisterous doesn’t even begin to describe what comes out of my mouth when I laugh. Hyena on crack/excited donkey hybrid if I have to be specific. However alarming it is at first, its contagious as hell. I’ve heard I’m fun to take to the movies.

Check out this video on YouTube:

Are you a romantic?

If date night means staying in so I can fart in my favorite position on the couch and eat pizza without judgement, then, yes. Super romantic.

The boyfriend enjoys these date nights, so it’s totally mutual!

So, I am not going to nominate anyone in specific. You are all nominated! You can also answer the questions in the comment section-I would love to see them!

Here they are:

Describe your personality using ice cream flavors. 

In your opinion, what is the easiest and least sucky exercise? (Asking for a friend)

Where is your favorite place on earth? Paint a pretty picture with words, please. 

What is your opinion on KFC? 

If you had to eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

What is your least favorite fashion fad? 

If you could transport one famous person to a “human” planet in another galaxy, who would it be?

What do you do to relax before bed? Let’s keep it PG, ya freaks! 

If you could go back to relive one day or moment, what would it be? 

What’s your favorite meme? Let’s see it! 

You can’t have your phone or any other electronic device for an entire week. Do you lose it? Rejoice? How do you spend your unplugged week?

Some Teaching Truths

In honor of Back to School, I decided to drop some fun teaching truth bombs (Also, I’m swamped this week and list posts are the easiest #sorrynotsorry). Even if you’re not a teacher, you’ll likely relate. If your job is high stress, but also high reward, you’ll for sure relate. Because I really should be labeling all the things instead of writing a blog post, let’s just begin:

1. Unless you’re crazily devoted to a fitness plan or you have a superhero’s will and control, you will eat every carb in your house after a bad day. 

2. Forget about the college “Freshmen Fifteen”. There’s such as a thing as the “Teacher Twenty”. Or, sometimes, the “Educator Eighty”. Also, this can happen during year one or year ten. 

3. You will eat your weight in mini-size chocolate candy. Sometimes in one day. 

#goals

Source

4. If the day after Valentine’s/Christmas/Easter clearance candy has been cleaned out, you can thank a teacher. 

5. You will get fat. So fat.

6. If food isn’t your happy place (congratulations on not being “pregnant” every year), you will drink copious amounts of wine and at some point in your career, consider rehab, but only the facilities that are more like spas and only because it would be the best sanity-saving vacation ever. 

7. If it comes down to toilet paper or a shiny new pack of Expo markers at the end of the month, markers win-hands down. 


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8. You save straws, bits of fabric, tissue boxes, and one 3 inch piece of string, because it all just may come in handy at some point. 

9. They never come in handy. 

10. Your teacher cabinet/closet/cupboard is a portal to Narnia or another dimension, because it’s where all of your supplies go to never be found again. 

I Googled “messy teacher cabinet” and this popped up. Two things: 1. Ya’ll lyin’ and 2. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Maybe someday I’ll be brave and share my Closet o’ Shame.

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11. No matter how poor you are, you always find a way to buy $80 worth of crap from the Target Dollar Spot. 

12. No matter how frustrating your students can be sometimes, you’re fiercely protective of them when they’re criticized by another teacher who doesn’t know them as well as you. 

13. Your students are your family. Your tribe. You love them. Every year, your heart opens up to allow for 20 more spaces. 

14. You crop dust. It’s only fair. 

15. If you weren’t an emotional person or crier before becoming an educator, you can kiss your shyness/pride goodbye. 

16. You will cry over everything.

17. You will have to kindly remind your students that, “Maybe someone needs to go to the restroom” after toxic waste lunch bombs are dropped all afternoon. 

18. If your student’s book order money is short, you pay what they’re missing without a second thought. 

19. You only go to the bathroom during the day once a week, but during that exact time, admin will walk in. It’s basically a scientific fact. 

20. Your teacher look is such a work of art that an eyebrow raise, lip purse, and nose wrinkle can mean 875 different things and no matter the day, the kid, or the teacher friend, the message is always received loud and clear. 

Trainer at inservice day says, “Pick a partner”-Teacher Bestie and I look at each other like…

Source

Tell me, who was your favorite teacher and why? Or, make me laugh and tell me an hilarious school or teacher story. 

Comparison is a Bitch, Man

We’ve all heard the quote: “Comparison is the thief of joy” by Theodore Roosevelt. If you’ve never heard this one before, you’re welcome. 


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Ever since coming across this six word, seemingly inconspicuous sentence, my view on comparison has been utterly transformed. I think I’ve always known, we all know, that comparison kills the joy you possess for what you have in life. 

But, it’s just a subconscious understanding, only nibbling at your consciousness when you feel like poop after comparing your cracking pleather Target purse with your friend’s (still nice) pleather Coach bag.

So, I’ve always known on a deeper level that comparing myself with others never ends well, but it wasn’t until reading that quote did it marinate and sink in.

But, because I’m me, it was not a quick fix. I still compare myself, despite knowing it’s not helpful. This is akin to eating a donut everyday for breakfast. I know it’s not good for me, yet I still have chocolate cake donut in the corners of my mouth on a daily basis. 

I’m about to be real with ya’ll.

(I think by now you’ve probably gleaned that this isn’t my usual satire post. I hope I haven’t lost any of you from forehead-on-keyboard boredom.)

Lately, despite considering that quote on a regular basis, I’ve been comparing hardcore where I’m at in life, and with my blog with literally everything and everyone I deem “better” than me. 

Here are some examples:

So and so (x 10) bought a house, so now I feel like I’m failing at adulting. Some of my friends and acquaintances own more than one bed and the latest front-loading washer and dryer. The largest appliance I own is a fucking microwave. It’s easy to get down when you aren’t there yet, despite trying really hard to be. It’s especially fucky when you’re in your mid-30s and you’re still not quite sure how to become a real adult. 

So and so goes on luxurious vacations twice a year and I’m just over here like, “I went to IKEA in Sacramento…” It’s too easy to feel anxious and stir-crazy jealous when you witness endless world traveling on Facebook while you sit on your couch with a pint of ice cream and your only door, at the moment, to the rest of the world-Karl Pilkington and An Idiot Abroad. 

So and so can wear a tank top without fear of knocking over someone with their swinging turkey wings. This ones rough, because nice arms can be obtained, but it’s harder than all the effort needed to achieve everything else in this post combined. 

So and so has thousands of followers after less than a year and gets hundreds of likes on their posts in less than 24 hours. When I come across crazy successful bloggers, I wonder what I’m doing wrong. Why have my posts never gone viral? Why have I never been Freshly Pressed on WordPress (and what is that even)? It’s almost scary how easy it is to compare yourself with other bloggers. When I do this (all the fucking time), I instantly feel less than or worry I’ll be completely irrelevant tomorrow*. 

After many discussions with my blogging buddy, An Historian, I’ve decided enough is enough.


Not only is comparing myself to others depressing, it’s killing my inspiration to be creative in my own unique way. 

It’s time I re-read, more than usual, if necessary, my favorite quote. Here are some truths I’ve learned since my comparison-quote-awakening:

1. Apartment-living ain’t half bad. Not only do I never have to pull a single weed or replace window screens with my own money, when I plug up the toilet beyond basic plunger repair with my abundant toilet paper use, I can call the landlord, instead of the plumber. Also, some people live in squalor. I have granite counter tops in my bathroom. Basically, appreciate the shit you have. Also, if I’m ever destined to own my own house, it’ll happen when it’s meant to happen. 

2. So many other less fortunate people in the world would kill to have my TJ Maxx special, but they’d use it to carry food home to their starving family. Buck the fuck up, baby! 

3. Further, it’s not about the material. When you’re dead and gone, your more-than-my-rent-expensive handbag might find its way to a thrift store where some meth head might steal it to store their meth. Or, some careless person who gets pen marks all inside might own it after you. Shit, maybe it’ll find its way onto the giant ocean garbage mountain and some Humpback Anglerfish might use it as its home. Did your bag really matter that much in the grand scheme of things? The answer is “no”**. 

4. Travel is one of the most sought after things in life. It’s worth it to skip the Starbucks to save a few bucks that can quickly turn into a few hundred bucks. All of that can be used to go somewhere that can mean more than any material object (even an Ombré Pink Drink). 

5. My body isn’t perfect and never will be. Other than a few freak alien exceptions (Candice Swanepoel anyone?), we all have imperfect bodies. We all have body parts we wish were firmer, smaller, bigger, flatter, etc. Whenever I get to feeling really self-conscious around taught-skinned gorgeous women, I pretend they are hiding a huge skin flap on their butthole (I saw that on an episode of Embarassing Bodies, so that’s a thing now). Also, we can’t all be hilarious and gorgeous. 

6. Comparing myself with other writers, especially those in my same genre is the most detrimental comparing I do. I’ve decided that just because someone else is an exceptional writer and is genuinely funny, doesn’t negate the fact that I can be too. I have my own style and so does the next funny guy. We can all be funny. We can all support each other. Kumbaya and all that shit. 
 

7. Finally, there will always be someone who has better, looks better, and seems to always have all the luck. On the flip side, someone is probably looking at me, thinking, “Why, oh why, can’t I be like that magestic beast?” 

OK, that last one made me choke on my oatmeal cookie Halo Top. 

But, you never know.

Life is mysterious. Live your life in a way that makes your heart sing, your creativity blossom, and your belly feel happy and full without worrying about anyone else.

Fuck yo couch. 

*This in no way denotes that I do not appreciate the massive recognition my blog gets from my amazing supporters. I love you all times one million cupcakes. *muah*

**If you love material things, don’t be offended. I love the shit out of material things. Why else am I at Target every weekend scrounging through the discount bins for my 1,453rd cute pencil/magazine/flower/makeup/whatever holder? I feel you. 

The Mattole River Resort

You might remember that before we started this crazy little road trip down memory lane I suggested you bring along a spare tire, a life vest and rat poison. 

Have you been wondering where rat poison* was going to come in? No? You didn’t read that part? You just skimmed. OK. Well, we’re going to need it today. I guess you will just be eaten alive by monster rats. Sorry not sorry. 

(Actually, I am sorry, because I love you all, and I wouldn’t want to lose anyone of you in such a terrifying way.)

So, as we have all learned, my mom was an ace at finding great motel deals. 

These budget hovels saved money so that we were able to afford the expensive treatment for scabies that we’d need when we got home.

One of the absolute best, or rather, most memorable trips we took was to the Mattole River Resort.

Straight out of the California Chainsaw Massacre, this “resort” is situated along the Mattole River in Nothern California.

For those of you not familiar with Northern California, it’s good to be aware that it’s absolutely filled to the brim with hippie hill people. 

I don’t want to offend any potential hippie readers I might have. I’m a huge supporter of the notion, “You do you, boo”. So, I’m not hating on hippies, per se.

I’m just accurately painting the scene, people. I’m just setting the stage.

So, after a long day of winding roads, weird little backroad towns, and uncomfortable back seat living, we finally made it to our “resort”.

(I have to mention that before we made it to the resort, we stopped at a convenience store. The whole drive there it got foggier and foggier every mile we drove. If that wasn’t creepy enough, my mom said there were two men sitting out in the front of the store who were straight out of Deliverance. She said we don’t remember this part of the trip, because they wouldn’t let us get out of the car!)

Mind you, when one hears “resort”, especially one who watched their Dirty Dancing VHS on repeat, they think rustic, but posh, nicely furnished and expertly appointed “glamping” cabins. 

We all should have known better, for it was my mom (and aunt-I can’t leave her contribution out of this) who booked the place using her discount travel bible.

Again, Grandma is not having any of our shit.

The Mattole River Resort was far from being a resort. 

I remember little snippets from our stay at the Mattole Cult Compound. I think that I blanked out some of the memories to save myself from developing multiple personalities. 

I recall that, as we were bringing our belongings in from the car, doubt set in. The cabins were filthy. Positively disgusting. 

The woman running the place had promised enough beds, because there was a hide-a-bed in the couch. 

When we pulled it out, one of the necessary legs was missing, and instead of a mint on the pillow, there were mouse turds. 

Mouse turds, ya’ll.

In the bed.

When my mom and grandma were looking for another set of sheets, a blanket, hell, even a tarp at this point, they opened a closet to find an unexpected surprise. 

They had no clue what it was, but it was behemoth and a nest of some sort. My mom said they just shut the door and didn’t open it again the rest of the stay. 

I don’t even remember sleeping at this place. As in, I don’t recall being in a bed, covered with a blanket, nothing. I probably slept standing up or in the car. I don’t know how I didn’t just straight run away from my family at this point. 

Apparently, we stayed two or three nights. The first night we arrived it was late, so it’s understandable why we stayed. I’m not quite sure why my mom and aunt subjected us to this horror-story-waiting-to-happen for more nights than were necessary. 

My mom said it was because there was nowhere else to stay for a bajillion miles in all directions. We’d booked our stay, driven hundreds of miles, and it was going to be fun, damnit. 

My mom said, as beautiful as the surrounding landscape was, the Mattole River Resort was, “…horrible in every way.”

Three people who didn’t quite mind the Mattole River Resort were my two cousins and brother.

The daughter of the owner (who, my mom swears, couldn’t have been more than ten years old) took them down to the river and introduced them to pot for the first time.

My brother and two cousins recall that trip being pretty groovy, man.

Every picture from this trip is blurry. Our minds were probably negatively affected by all of the mouse poop. Also, in looking at how young my brother was, I’m wondering if only my cousin was involved in the Mary Jane incident?

As for me, I’m fairly certain my weird neurosis about germs, vermin, and motels with anything less than a four star rating is directly related to our typical Smith** Family stay at the Mattole River Resort. 

I hope my Family Vacations From Hell series has been enjoyable and at least mildly amusing. I hope my stories bring back funny and warm memories from your own past. 

Because I’m a satire writer, everything I write has some sass and asshole to it. These posts were no different. 

It’s important for me to point out, however, that as much as these true accounts sound horrifyingly hilarious, they are some of my most beloved memories.

Had my parents been like every other Dick and June, my memories wouldn’t be nearly as wonderfully ridiculous. 

This series is dedicated to my parents, because thanks to their annoyingly thrifty ways, my brother and I were afforded a childhood filled with amazing trips and experiences. Not only did we go somewhere exciting (or slightly terrifying) every spring break, we spent every summer at our family’s lake cabin, AKA Heaven on Earth. On top of that, they sent us both to Washington, D.C. on a school trip our 8th grade year, and it was my parents who funded the most rewarding experience to date-my trip to the U.K. and Ireland. 

Mom and Dad, you do you, boo. You’re perfectly imperfect just the way you are, sleazebag motels and all. Love you both. 

*Apparently, the cabin was only infested with mice and not rats. That makes it so much better.

**Not our real family name.

My Brother’s “13th Birthday” 

When we turn 13 in our family, tradition dictates that you get to have a big birthday celebration- one you won’t ever forget. This momentous occasion may or may not include naked hippies.
The year my brother turned 13, my mom planned a trip to the bay. San Francisco is only 3.5 hours away from us, and we grew up visiting the eclectic Crazy Street People City quite a lot.

You must know that my mom is quite thrifty. Before Expedia or Trivago were even a wild idea, my mom obsessively scoured the discount travel brochures and books. Part of what made all of our travel adventures so memorable is due largely in part to my mom’s awesome motel finds in her travel books (I’m saving her best find for the last post in this series).

My mom rocked the early 90s so hard.

My mom swore she found the hidden gem of all hidden gems in the heart of the city.

So, Mom, Dad, Brother, Grandma, and I packed into the car and schlepped over the hill.

The motel was a gem, alright. It was not only located in the center of the city, but it was smack dab in the middle of the worst neighborhood, on the worst street and it was the worst motel on said street. 

Because we are budget travelers through and through, we all slept in the same room-Grams and me in one bed, Dad and Brother in the other. My mom ordered a cot from the front desk, and slept with it right up against the door, because she was concerned the homeless man peeing right outside our room might try to come in to use an actual toilet.  

Throughout the night, we were serenaded with the sounds of men moaning, shrill female laughter, and the sound of a cat dying… or mating. And, it all sounded like it was right outside our window. 

It was sketchy with a capital how-did-we-not-get-bed-bugs. 

In the morning, on our way to see Alcatraz, there was a woman going absolutely bat-shit-crazy on top of a guy’s car. Like, she was on all fours on the hood, screaming and pounding her fists into his windowshield. The poor guy looked like he had no idea what to do as he was just sitting in the driver’s seat with his mouth agape. 

I would have just turned on my windshield wipers to try to wipe her off. 

Ain’t nobody got time for that. 

My Grandma was thinking, “Who are these crazy fuckers, and why did they bring me along for the Worst Side of San Francisco Tour?”

That same trip, we almost met our demise at the rest stop on top of the summit. 

The entire weekend was stormy and rainy. As we headed back home, the rain was immense. We felt like Noah’s ark as we parted the waters on the highway home. 

As we crested the summit over Donner Pass, it began to snow. Tradition dictates that we always stop at the rest stop on the top of the mountain. 

Forget that it was dark, snowing, and the rest stop was seemingly empty, no, we had to stop-it was TRADITION (someone probably really had to go: MOM). 

The vibe at the rest stop was bad. In hindsight, we should have just driven the hour more until home. 

My mom walked my brother and me into the main area, out of the snow. From there, we went our separate ways to the restrooms.

As my mom was waiting, she noticed two shady-looking men in the shadows. What normal, pure of heart and mind kind of person just lurks around an empty, freezing rest stop in the middle of nowhere, late at night? 

She said later that a ferocious chill went down her spine. Something just wasn’t right.

At this point, another vehicle pulls up, and my dad gets out of the car to retrieve something from the trunk.

As the lights from the car pulling up shine into the rest stop doorway, my mom glances over at the two men. From across the room, they give each other a “Not-this-one” look and they subtly shake their heads. 

They then disappear. 

She’s still convinced to this day that those two men were waiting around to do something bad. She thinks that they noticed that there were two other people in our car and then, when the other car pulled up, they figured whatever they had planned would not work on us. 
We all majorly had the creepies the whole way home. The entire car was silent as we counted our blessings/reevaluated our direction in life/cursed whoever’s idea it was to stop at the rest stop (MOM’s).

That, kids, is why you don’t go into rest stops-especially at night! Shady people try to do shady things at rest stops. Always find yourself a Starbucks restroom. Or a tree. Anything is better than an “empty” rest stop in the dark of night.

When we finally arrived home, exhausted, but grateful to all be in one piece, my brother says, “Next year, on my 13th birthday, can we just stay at home and do our usual thing?”

MY MOM FORGOT HOW OLD HER ONLY SON WAS. 

My mom felt pretty ridiculous having to admit that she miscalculated and thought he was turning 13, and thus, why he got such a big, super special Birthday. 

I think the next year for his birthday we did just what he wanted, and we were all pretty grateful. 

Family Vacations: Road Trips

Sing it in an awfully-out-of-tune-voice with me now:

I’ve come back long ago

Long way down the Holiday Road

Holiday Road

Holiday Road

Holiday Road

Holiday Road…

I’ve been humming this song for days now, as I’ve been mentally preparing for this hum dinger of a post.

The National Lampoon Vacation movies have always been a staple in our family home, because somehow Chevy Chase and the gang got ahold of our vacation stories and made a movie about them.

Not really, and for legal purposes, I have to add that I’m joking.

But, for real, growing up, our family vacations were always very Vacation-esque ridiculous.

This is going to be a three-part series, because I’m attempting to not write novels every time I post. So, for the next three days, you will be positively inundated with family vacation stories straight from own personal National Lampoon series. 

So, care to take a ride? Make sure you pack a spare tire, some rat poison, and a life preserver, because it’s going to be a wild ride.

Literally Every Road Trip 

It didn’t matter where we were going-whether it was a trip up the Oregon coast or a day trip to some backwoods swimming hole, it was guaranteed that we would have car/boat trouble. I can’t count how many sketchy BFE car repair shops I’ve miserably waited at, while one of our hoopties was getting patched together. I’ve probably been to more car repair shops than to actual landmarks. 

Maybe we had trouble on road trips, because this was how we traveled?

I remember once, after days of packing and prepping for our 800-mile, two days of car hell up to our family’s lake cabin, we didn’t even make it five miles out of town before our vintage Winnebago pulled a big nope-I’m-not-going-fuck-you and we had to drive back home, defeated. I want to say we didn’t get to leave for real for almost a week.

One of my mom’s favorite family vacation horror stories is when she and my dad took my two cousins, my brother, and me to the Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park in Austin, Nevada in our ever-trusty Winnebago. She said we were coasting along, everything was going grand, and then, out of nowhere, the engine cover blew off. 

This all-important cover is what protects the engine and the inhabitants of the motorhome from the engine movements and the dust and debris from the road. 

My mom said that the second the cover flew off, everyone in the motorhome was covered in a thick layer of dirt. All she could see were the whites of our freaked-out eyes. 

For the entire rest of the drive to the park, she had to sit on the cover to keep it on. “It was only 80,000 million degrees hot. No big deal.” She said of her hot seat. 

Another Winnebago adventure happened after my mom thought it would be a great idea to take the behemoth beast camping without my dad. She wanted to meet my aunt and uncle at some campground in the middle of nowhere. All I remember is that she buckled my brother and I together in the front seat, and she kept saying over and over how everything was going to go great. 

Except, it was us and we were in the fucking Winnebago, so it didn’t go great. 

Somehow, we got a giant rock stuck between the rear tandem wheels and she had to call my dad to come rescue us. This was back in the early 90s, so I don’t know how she called him. Maybe they devised a bat signal, only it was a ‘bago signal, and was a giant “W” in the sky. 

My dad had to deflate a tire to get the rock out-all in the pitch black, in the middle of nowhere, in a freak torrential downpour. 

I would think they’d have just given up while they were ahead at this point, but no.

Back when I was about eight or nine, we went on a week-long trip up the Oregon coast. While we were inching along an especially harrowing stretch of the road along the coast, my dad’s axle broke off the driver’s side tire. He was in our old truck, and it was carrying the weight of our 70s-era camper shell and 8 tons of Shasta soda. That was actually pretty scary to watch from the trailing vehicle (we could never just bring one vehicle or one immediate family. No, it was the entire extended family and every moving vehicle we owned. It was straight-up carnival caravanning). 

Only a small fraction of our family. You would feel us coming long before we arrived.

What I remember most about that particular event was that while we were waiting for the axle to be repaired, I ate an entire can of pizza-flavored Pringles, and for the rest of the trip, I was shunned by the entire family for being such an unmannerly pig.

We made it to the Sea Lion Caves-a real feat! My brother was pitching a fit in this picture. My mom is probably threatening him with his life.

One summer, I think it might have been the same year as the Pringles Incident, we got majorly stranded out in our bay on Coeur d’Alene Lake in upstate Idaho.

Not only were we known for our hooptie cars, our boats weren’t much better. Actually, my Grandma’s Party Barge was brand new 30 years ago, and we’re still riding it, hoping the pontoons don’t fall off.

I think this was pre-Party Barge. But, look at those beauties!

So, this particular summer we had a speedboat at the lake. I can’t remember now if it was my grandpa’s old boat or my uncle’s. Either way, it wasn’t working for some time and after some extensive repairs, my uncle thought he had it up and running. So, the entire family piled in, other than Grams, because she was the only smart one of the lot.

We got precisely halfway across the bay and the engine just died. No sputtering, just gone and died dead.

One second we were cheering, the wind was whipping through our hair as the boat jumped the wakes left behind by other boats, and the next, we are at a dead stop and the entirety of the boat’s passengers are silent. No one said it, but we all were thinking it: “Typical!”

We spend the next 10 minutes trying to flag down Grandma, who is just a blob of a figure, sitting on the deck of the cabin, we can barely make out. She does not notice us sitting in the middle of the bay, and if she does, she probably really enjoyed her afternoon of silence.

My grandma next to her pride and joy. I’m surprised any of us crazies even got to see the inside of this thing!

We end up finding an old splintery oar to row, row, row the boat painfully, slowly to the closest shore, which happened to be the one opposite of the cabin. We tie up at a forgotten dock, and trek it, on foot, back to the cabin. We had to go all the way around the bay, on the tiny road that barely had room for two cars, taking turns carrying my brother who, despite being told multiple times by our mother to put on shoes, did not put on his effing shoes. I’m pretty sure he came into contact with poison ivy that trip. Kinda serves him right, the dweeb.

We call it the “*Smith Curse”. It started many decades ago. If more than five family members assemble for a trip, the trip will go to shit. But, those are the only ones worth remembering. 

The other night, as my mom and I were laugh-crying about these crazy memories, we hear my dad’s voice, from the TV room say, “Don’t mention that damn Winnebago!”

*Not our real family name 

Monday Musings: What Are Your Blog Reading Requirements? 

I was just talking with a friend about the purpose of reading blogs. She’s a devoted reader of mine and, apparently, I’m the only blogger she reads. She was saying that unless she’s friends with or related to the blog writer, she’s probably not going to spend her time reading their personal stories. I can totally respect that some people have to know the blogger/writer to want to read about their embarrassing encounter with the Porta Potty or their personal preference when it comes to stand mixers. 

I totally get that. 

I’m pretty much the opposite of my friend when it comes to online reading preferences. 

I love reading about someone’s awesome vacation to some exotic locale or reading about how they make a mean enchilada casserole with a recipe they got from their crazy Aunt Marge. 

Maybe that’s totally weird? 

Maybe I’m entirely too interested in complete strangers’ fun family stories or how they studied abroad in Ireland (read about one of my favorite blogger’s experiences doing just that here)?

Whatever it may be, I can definitively say that I’m a devoted blog reader, and I appreciate my committed readers more than words can express.

Throughout the last two years and some odd months, I’ve connected with, gotten to know, and enjoyed reading so many bloggers. 

I love you all. I truly do. We are a tribe, and I’m so fortunate to be a part of it.

Just like my friend, however, I have some requirements that must be met in order for me to spend so much of my time reading blogs. 

These are some of them:

1. You’re a real person who responds to comments and engages with your readers. If you never respond to comments, or it takes you far too long to respond, and I’ve long since forgotten about your post, I will grow weary of dedicating time to read and comment. 

2. Posts are well-written and purposeful. We all make grammatical errors (like that one time I made a massive one in the title of a post *cringe*), but if the mistakes take away from the message, this teacher can’t even. 

3. The topic is one in which I can relate to in some way, shape, or form. This is a pretty straightforward one. If you write about something I can hardly come up with a comment for, then your topic is best left to those who can. There’s nothing wrong with that. I write about back fat, rogue chin hairs, and how I have a tendency to inhale baked goods. Those topics aren’t for everyone, either. 

And, that’s it, really. If you respond to comments I spend time crafting, you don’t have grammatical errors every line, and your posts keep me wanting more, I’m hooked. 

So, I’m curious-what are your blog reading preferences and requirements? Let me know in the comments. 

Monday Musings

I’ve been feeling like I should be in England lately. I didn’t realize until just the other day that it’s been almost a year since I was offered a teaching position in England, and, after a really difficult decision-making process, declined the offer. 

I know, who decides against living abroad after being offered gainful employment? I know, right? 

I really struggled for some time after having made my final decision (I’m still struggling). I wondered how much of my choice was driven by my inate second-guessing, worry-wart, scared-to-jump mentality or legit financial concerns. 

I’m a huge fan of those girl-has-devastating-break-up-and-career-let-down-at-the-same-time-so-she-hops-on-a-plane-to-her-dream-get-away-locale-and-despite-having-eight-dollars-and-thirty-cents-and-no-change-of-underwear-she-somehow-lands-a-job-apartment-and-dreamy-new-man-chick-lit-books, because, duh. 

Isn’t that every girl’s dream-to move abroad on a whim and it’s just like in the Lindsey Kelk books? 

I’d like to hear of a real life situation where this scenario works out, because I had $800 in my pocket and I knew that would only get me as far as Toronto. 

When I first started seriously considering working on obtaining a teaching position in England, I didn’t think it would be so easy. Or quick. I figured it’d take a few dozen tries, I’d have time to really mull over legit moving to another country, and that I’d have plenty of time to save and get my finances in order. 

I was so mistaken. One minute I was dreamily planning how I’d decorate my make-believe tiny flat with decor from TK Maxx and the next I was using Skype for the first time, going over classroom management with a head teacher in Oxford (this was the first of two interviews I had. I didn’t end up getting the teaching position in Oxford). 

Let me just break it all down for you in an easy-to-read timeline:

4/17/16: Applied for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

5/3/16: Application for QTS was approved, received login to view/print certificate 


5/6/16: Emailed application to Stanwell Fields CE Primary School, among others 

5/9/16: Received email response from Stanwell Fields Business Support requesting I fill out application

5/13/16: Received email from headteacher inquiring about availability for phone interview

5/19/16: Phone interview with assistant headteacher 

5/23/16: Received voicemail from headteacher offering the job (I was too scared to pick up. What a noob)

I still have the voicemail…

So, in a little over a month, I had gained the necessary qualification to teach in England, interviewed at two schools, and was offered a position. 

Just typing this now, I’m feeling the excited, heady warmth in my stomach one gets when exciting things are on the horizon. 

It was all fun and games until shit got really real. 

Just in case the headteacher at Stanwell Fields ever reads this (though it’s highly unlikely), I’d like to make it clear that I was genuinely serious about teaching abroad. That is, until I realized I was crazy to think I’d ever be able to afford it. 

I had naively assumed that since England was in need of teachers, they would possibly offer a sign on bonus, much like many districts do in the U.S. when they have a teacher shortage. Or, they would assist with getting a visa. 

Nope.

Schools aren’t profit-driven, and the sad reality is that many are in desperate need of teachers, but have no extra funds to entice educators to move countries. 

Not that I needed enticing. No, I just had no money and thought I could move my life abroad with $800 and my already-reaching-the-limit credit cards. 

So, after researching the cost of a work visa (roughly $800, currently) and the cost to rent a one bedroom flat in the south of England (around $1000 a month), I realized I was in over my head. 

Despite the fact that the school offered me an extremely nice pay raise, the cost of living in south England, coupled with my current bills, that would be traveling with me, made it so I simply could not afford to live. 

Not only would I need enough money to live once settled, I’d need at least $800 for a one way ticket to London, money for a hotel or hostel once in England, a deposit for a flat, and funds for many other travel and moving expenses. 

My mom and I estimated that I’d need at least $3000 to move and get settled (and it always ends up being more costly than you calculate beforehand). 

Did I mention I had $800 in my savings? I’m amazing at adulting. 

It was really depressing. Really, really dismaying, and not at all like my favorite chick lit books. 

These were some of my biggest concerns:

  • The cost of living in the area was too high (I’d be paying triple what I was currently paying in rent)
  • Many available flats were unfurnished-I’d need to buy furniture (at minimum, a bed)
  • Despite the pay raise, due to certain taxes in the U.K., the pay would be roughly the same or less than my current pay, yet cost of living tripled 
  • I’d be too strapped for cash to travel (travelling to other parts of Europe was a big reason I desired to live abroad)
  • It would have been necessary to drain my savings and rack up further debt for moving expenses (I was already in a significant amount of debt to begin with)
  • I would have needed to sell my car after having it less than a year (if I couldn’t sell it, it would have been another expense I couldn’t afford)
  • I’d barely make enough to save for a plane ticket back home, had that been necessary or desired 
  • I’d have zero teaching supplies and shipping them over would have been too pricey

Regardless of the fact that I had very real financial concerns, I still feel like I let an amazing opportunity go. It didn’t help that I had so many people telling me that debt didn’t matter. YOLO and all that crap. 

Big decisions and I have never been friends. Usually, when faced with a big, life-altering decision, I just bury my head in red sand and fail to make a decision, if at all possible. 

I’m a master of the what-if discourse. I can go all day and go circles around anyone. 

Yet, deep down, I know I made the right decision for me and my present financial situation. 

I also know that I’ll never stop dreaming of England and doing what must be done to make it back. 

For real though, how do most people move abroad? Are you in a better paying field than me or did your company pay for your move? Did you get a huge inheritance?  Are you just in massive debt due to the move? Do you know some magic trick to making fast travel cash? If anyone who’s done it cares to spill the beans, I’m all ears!