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

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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…

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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. 

Trail Fails

Historically, I have never been the one who is known for her athletic ability, nor have I ever been loved for my adventurous outdoorsmen spirit. Because I do not possess either of those. Never in my life have I been asked, “Hey, want to snowshoe across Siberia with me this winter?” (Who fucking does that anyway?)

Despite this, I have really been wanting to get into walking local trails for exercise. Well, if we are being completely honest, I just really want to marvel at the beauty of nature while I sit my fat ass on a comfortable rock. Doing this while eating something, like a dripping slice of watermelon heaven would really just be the cherry on top.

Because getting anyone I know to just sit in nature with me, without sounding like a total lazy loser, is a hard sell, I have been trying to be adventurous by engaging in hiking.

Well, I can most assuredly say that hiking don’t want my fat ass. Hiking wants me to just stay at home with my Halo Top ice cream and Netflix. Hiking does not play.

I’m going to detail three times I failed on the trails recently. Really, this could also qualify as a “This Is Why I’m Fat” post, because almost anyone would have given up after the first failed attempt. So, I hope the Trail Gods are listening. Ya’ll have some work to do…

A week or so ago (I’m a teacher on summer break, so I have no idea what day it is), a friend and I went on a much-needed girl getaway to the Point Reyes Seashore in California.

I stand or crouch behind all of my friends in pictures to appear smaller!
It was gorgeous, but strenuous. We did a lot of walking, trailing, and huffing and puffing.

1. The Stair Climb of Doom

Our first order of business was almost dying on the stairs to and from the Point Reyes Lighthouse. The climb is equivalent to 30.flights.of.stairs.

30 flights, ya’ll. 

I just thought I’d reiterate in case you missed it the first time.

It’s like the freaking Wall of China!
I’m 1000% sure my friend didn’t let on to that fact beforehand, because she knew for certain that it’d be a hard pass from me.

Despite the fact that an elderly man passed me on the hike up the stairs (do you see him in the picture?), and I had to stop at every rest point, it was actually totally worth the sweat-drenched pits and rat’s nest hair (it was so windy, that my phone almost blew away several times).

Fat Pro Tip: Stop to take a picture of literally anything every five minutes or so in order to catch your breath. They’ll have *no* idea!

2. Cataract Fall-Down-The-Hill-Trail

The day after almost needing to be airlifted from the lighthouse steps, we did some more adventurous trailing. I figured, “Why not? Might as well work on another bunion!”

The first few trails were quite easy, as there was no elevation or climb whatsoever. It was absolutely grand. Because we didn’t have to expend energy on moving our bodies up a steep hill, we had energy to climb trees and crawl into reproductions of Native American dwellings. I felt like an obese kid again (I was actually not obese as a child, strangely enough).

My legs were so sore from the previous day’s adventures, I almost didn’t make it out of that squat.
How I got up in that tree…I still don’t know!
 

It wasn’t until we thought it would be a good idea to try to find the Cataract Falls did we have problems. This is also the part in my story where I’m going to be putting All Trails on blast.

Not only was the following hike not “easy” as it was mistakenly rated, one of the lengths of the “loop” was not a trail at all. It was a grassy hill, and we almost broke our asses more times than I’d like to admit as we stepped/slid at a snail’s pace the whole entire way down. 

(I was also insanely afraid a mountain lion was going to come up behind me. Do you think that was irrational?)

Does this look like a trail to you??
This was a steep mother-effer!
When we made it to the bottom of the hill and the actual trail, we found that our pants, socks, and shoes were positively filled with foxtails and these terrible poky stickers that were absolute bitches to get off of our clothes and shoelaces.

We sat on the ground for a good 20 minutes, plucking shit out of everywhere!
If this wasn’t bad enough, when we got to our first trail marker, nowhere did it say “This way to the waterfall”, and the names of the available trails had nothing to do with the trail we thought we were on. We went the wrong way for 30 minutes before we got service on our phones and could see where we were on the trail.

When we finally found the waterfall, after a huge descent into what looked like middle earth, it was stunning and worth the trials we went through to get there. Well, it was a beautiful experience until I realized that’d I’d have to climb back to the car at some point.

Honestly, at one point during the hot, sweaty, and ugly hike back, I questioned how much it would cost for Search and Rescue to retrieve me from the trail.

It was so bad. And hard. 

The waterfall was a pretty anticlimactic affair, but the surrounding area was beautiful in an otherworldly-way.
3. Jones Creek Loop Trail AKA Call For Help

After being back home for a week or so, I decided that I would try hiking again (Why? Maybe I am a masochist, or I feel I deserve punishment for past transgressions?). So, the boyfriend and I looked up easy trails in the trees. Shade FTW!

We settled on the Jones Creek Loop Trail because it was rated as easy and only 1.5 miles.

We used the All Trails’ directions app, and it took us right to the trail head.

After a little trek that was almost all uphill, we came upon a sign. It said, “Jones Creek Loop”, and it had two arrows pointing to the right and to the left. Considering it was a loop, we figured it didn’t matter which way we went, as it would just bring us right back to where we started.

We seemed to be hiking quite awhile when the boyfriend remarked, “I think 1.5 miles seems longer when we are on a trail, because it’s not just a straight stretch?”

At least the scenery was gorgeous!

At this point, we were getting a little apprehensive. We also realized that our “loop” did not seem to be looping back to where we started whatsoever-we just kept heading further and further away.

We saw a man coming off of another trail (I will get to the myriad off shoots of unmarked trails in a minute…) and we asked him how to get back to the parking lot. He said we needed to go in the direction we were headed in, but for three or four more miles.

HOLD UP.

Somehow we got onto the wrong trail, but we had not taken any of the unmarked trails that veered off of the main trail.

At this point, my stress began causing my asthma to flare up, and I saw images of us, emaciated and half-eaten by mountain lions, in front of my eyes, like a mirage.

We decided to just keep walking and hope the guy didn’t know what he was talking about.

Ten minutes and almost all of our water later, we saw another guy coming off some other trail. I tried to stay calm when I asked him how we could get back to our car. While I was asking him, the boyfriend was off admiring some bark, pretending he didn’t belong to the sweaty girl who was in a near panic.

The guy said he was headed to the parking lot, and we could follow him.

A half mile later, we saw what looked like civilization and our spirits rose. We came upon a parking lot, but we quickly realized, stomachs sinking, it was not our parking lot.

As we were looking at the posted map and trying to look cool, like, “We meant that”, the guy waved us over.

He realized that he had led us to the wrong parking lot. He offered us a ride back to our car, three miles away.

We had somehow ended up on the 9 mile trail called the same damn thing as the 1.5 mile trail.

So, we ended that trail fail crammed into the cab of a tiny truck belonging to a very kind man. The whole way back to our car, I was trying not to reek of sweat and defeat.

We massively failed on the trails again only yesterday, and I was going to write about that fail too, but I have already gone on long enough.

The clouds were epic!

I will say, though, that the most recent fail is not entirely our fault. What in the actual eff is up with All Trails and their “easy” loop trails? Not only are they not easy, whoever is creating trails that feed off of the loop ought to be taken out back and given a stern talking to. In my mind, a loop is just that, A LOOP. Yet, every single trail we have tried is not really a loop, but a maze of deviating trails that go off in every fucking direction.

Really, it is no small miracle that more people do not get horribly lost in the woods on “easy” trails.

Or.

We are just utter idiots, and we need to take a “Trails For Dummies” course.

Tell me: Have you ever gotten lost on trails? Is it just me who can’t seem to find my way on “easy” trails? Help a fatty out! Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

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 

Camping Capers 

I went camping for the 4th of July weekend. As with everything that I get myself into, it was definitely not uneventful. Oh, no. 

I’m going to surprise you all by saying I’m not a real tough-cowgirl-up kind of chick.

Shocking, I know. 

First, I really hate to be dirty. Especially my feet. OMG. My feet. During the summer, when flip flops and sandals are standard, I soak, scrub, pumice, and moisturize my feet to the point of obsession. 

I can’t get in bed knowing my feet have God-knows-what on them, and so help me if even the tiniest speck of dry skin catches on the sheets. 

Ya’ll might as well commit me now. 

I couldn’t even. It took everything in me to pretend this wasn’t bothersome!

Next, I positively hate being hot and sweaty. If I can avoid ever being overheated during the summer, I’ll do whatever needs to be done. If that means blasting my AC and having a fan directed at me 24/7, so be it. I’ll pay an exorbitant electric bill for the sake of comfort any day.

Eventually, though, I do have to venture outside and away from my comfortable 68 degrees. When this happens, swamp ass and underboob sweat is just inevitable. At some point during the summer, I just resign myself to the reality that I’m going to sweat from every crack and orifice, and I just have to deal. 

Also, if I know getting to the bathroom is going to be a pain (i.e. needing to get dressed first, finding shoes in the dark, walking half a mile to the campsite toilet, etc.), I’ll have to go the bathroom precisely eight times in the night. 

Lastly, I’m a germaphobe. If there isn’t running water wherever I find myself to wash my hands precisely every hour on the hour, forget it.

As I mentioned before, this past weekend we went camping. It was at a gorgeous campsite in California. 


While there, the worst.possible.thing that could happen to a germaphobe happened. 

My darling, one-of-kind, beloved boyfriend put the roll of toilet paper-the very roll he took into the Sani-Hut (and don’t even get me started on Porta Poops), and almost certainly set on the pee-soaked floor*- in my clothes bag. 

JUST BURN IT ALL. 

So, if you just ignore all of the above paranoias, I’m a real joy to be with out in the good ol’ outdoors. 

Really. 

I’m being serious. 

Once I procure/figure out a way to wash my hands with actual soap, and if I just accept the fact that my face will be so greasy the bright sun will reflect off it all day long, I’m actually a real camping star. 

I’m of the belief that if something unsavory (like cleaning toilets or setting up camp in 90-degree weather) needs to be done, it’s better to just do it right away and as quickly and efficiently as possible. I can set up a tent, cot, and camp stove in record time if it means I get to sit in the shade during the rest of the camping experience. 

Also, I don’t complain too much. As long as I have s’mores and a summer beer to look forward to later, you will only hear me complain about the heat and my dirty feet a minimal amount of times. 

Mmm. There ain’t anything better than a beer in the fresh mountain air!

This past weekend did not deviate from the norm. There was just a little bit of complaining, and a whole lot of loving-being-outside-of-the-city. 


The part of this camping adventure I was most looking forward to was a swim in the pond, because I bought a donut floaty, and I simply couldn’t wait to flail my gorgeous bod atop it. 


The float and swim was simply glorious. I’m a fat chick, but I also grew up going to a lake cabin every summer of my life. I can swim like a fucking majestic mermaid.

It wasn’t until exiting the water, that I questioned our decision to take a dip in a pretty questionable pond. 

The great debate is still on going, because my boyfriend positively swears that what was all over my legs were little worm things. 

No, I don’t care that he dual majored in biology and microbiology, those little effers were leeches.

After positively freaking out and making him run back over the rocks in his bare feet to inspect and remove the vile creatures that were sucking my life blood straight out of my pudgy, translucent legs, my first thought was, “Where else are they?”

Me: “Are these like ticks?”

Him: “Uh, no. These worms aren’t anything like ticks.”

Me: “No, like, would they possibly be elsewhere on my body?”

Him: “OMG. You had one worm on your leg. The other thing was a twig or some dirt!”

Me: “Are you blind?! They were all over my legs!” 

Him: *rolls eyes clear back into his skull* “OK. Sure. They were all over your legs…”

Me: “OK. So, could they possibly have found their way to other parts?”

Him: “No, babe. I highly doubt it.”

Me: “Are you sure? Because if water can go through my bathing suit, maybe tiny water monsters can go through my suit, too?”

Him: “OMFG.”

So, after I was reassured that the worms (leeches) almost certainly didn’t find themselves in my more delicate regions, I felt mentally stronger and more ready for the next camping obstacle I’d likely face (this time it was being eaten alive by mosquitos and the TP incident). 

No more worms (leeches)!

The struggle is real for an outdoors-loving germaphobe freak. 

*After making it clear my disgust with his dirty deed, he swore up and down that he nestled the TP roll in his underwear and that he most certainly did not put it on the poop-caked floor. I feel just a tiny bit better. 

Pure Gold 

My mom is a great storyteller. Family stories have been passed down, retold countless times, and loved since I can remember. On Sunday, my mom told us a story I had never heard before, and how it’s even possible she never told us this doozy, I do not know. 

Because it’s pure gold. 

Back in the time of Mom Jeans, VHS, and Kenny Loggins cassette tapes, my mom and her brother had a battle of epic proportions. 

It was Christmastime, and my uncle was visiting, as he did every year. My cousin and I were young, and likely we were the reason the whole fam bam was at the park in the middle of December. 

For some insane reason, the topic of who was faster on foot between my mom and my uncle came up in conversation. My uncle swore he’d literally beat the pants off of my mom. 

Well, that pretty much sealed the deal. 

My mom and uncle readied themselves for a foot race that would easily rival that of Usain Bolt…if he were middle aged, out of shape, and if he considered tight Lee jeans appropriate running attire. 

Quite handy for the two marathon runners was that the particular park where we were had parallel bridges, not too far away from each other. My grandmother, humoring her two always-picked-last-for-sports-children said she’d call “ready or not”. 

I guess now is a good time to paint the scene.

My good ol’ Uncle Gary, or, My Own Personal John Candy was one of the best parts of my childhood. If my mom was a good storyteller, it’s only because she learned the craft from the king of all storytellers-her older brother. 


He was round, and, just like Santa, when he laughed, his belly shook like a bowl full of jelly. (And he laughed a lot, because he always had a new, mildly inappropriate joke up his sleeve.)


In essence, he was pleasantly, perfectly plump (he wouldn’t have been Uncle Gary had he been any different). 

As for my mom, it was she who I inherited my overly curvaceous bod, cellulite, and body hair from, so…

I think the picture is fairly clear. 

They were 100% the kids who cheated on running the mile in PE class (or walked the entirety, coming in with a record time of 12 minutes). 

Basically, we had a pair of real marathon winners.

I don’t think my mom even took the race seriously. She probably figured she’d have to embarrass him by beating the pants off him in front of God and everybody, or that he had a cheat or a trick ready and waiting. 

This was why she was far more concerned with what he was doing at the starting line, instead of readying herself for moving more quickly than she had in years. 

She was staring him down, incredulity and an ounce of fear growing, as his Rocky-esque stance proved he was ready and actually serious. 

Suddenly, Grandma called, “Go!” and it was all just a blur of color block windbreaker and handlebar mustache. 

My mom was glued to her spot. Stunned. 

Pretty quickly, she couldn’t contain her laughter and broke down in hysterics. 

She said, “At the starting gate, I collapsed in laughter. I saw him there, this 300 pound man, with his 32 year-old shoes flapping, going like the wind.”

As my mom was dissolving into a puddle of tear-soaked Jordache, Grandma was yelling, “Go, Judy! Just go a little bit, Judy!” 

After listening to this story, it was only natural that I dared my brother to our own relay race. 

I was fairly certain I’d beat the crap out of him. I’d only been an aerial yogaist for five weeks straight, and all of my walks to 7-11 had to make me more capable of movement than him. 

The last time I was witness to him doing anything that resembled physical exertion was when we went on a family picnic five years ago, and I dragged him on a “hike” up to a lookout, barely half a mile away. It was not his favorite. 
I figured I’d finish and have time to bake a cake before he came across the finish line. 

As he confidently, unwaveringly got into his runner’s stance, I began to doubt myself as a shoe-in for first place. 

Maybe he runs during his time off? Had I somehow completely missed that aspect of his life? 

I said to my mom, “I think I’m kinda scared!” 

She replied, “Maybe you should be. Sometimes fat people surprise you and they run like the wind!”

Spoiler Alert: I lost miserably.

Not only did I lose, I came incredibly close to eating asphalt. 

You know when you are trying to go faster than your body can catch up and your head has literally a head start? Well, that was me the entire 20 or so feet we ran. 

Not only did he beat me by running a hell of a lot faster than me, he did so with bare feet. 

When my dad yelled, “Go!” (BTW, my dad was excited enough to watch this spectacle, that he actually paused the golf he was watching, and said, “Now, I gotta see this.” as he practically ran outside), I thought my body would be moving quicker than it did. It was like I was in slo-mo, shlepping through molasses. Before I could even start actually moving, he had propelled his body through the finish line with his Fred Flinstone feet. 

It wasn’t even a competition. 

The two expert sprinters

Moral of the story: Don’t underestimate people carrying around some extra weight, because they can move. With the exception of this fat chick. I can’t move quickly for anything. 
Also, family stories are better when you don’t try to reenact them. Don’t let history repeat itself, people!  

Flashback Friday: Sudden Summer Shame

Happy Flashback Friday! 

I just realized that some of my newer readers might not know that I used to write for the U.K.-based online magazine, Shopper Lottie. It got to be a little much on top of working and coming up with content for my blog, because the Shopper Lottie content had to be original and not previously published. I guess I’m really not the writing machine that I would like to be. Still, it was a really awesome experience, and I still adore the magazine creator, Charlotte. 

Since it’s almost summer break, I thought I’d share a post I wrote for Shopper Lottie about that fun realization when you’re super not summer body ready. 

Let me know what you think in the comments! 

Six Summer Fashion Tips For When You “Forgot” to Get That Summer Bod

WTF Wednesdays #16

I have at least three posts sitting in my drafts folder just waiting to be finished. My excuse for not having a polished piece this week is that I’m a teacher and it’s the last week of school.

I’m just feeling lucky that my brain hasn’t melted.

Yesterday was spent out in the sun all day for Field Day. I could barely even.

I silently mouth or say outright, “WTF?!” at least 20 times a day in response to a wide assortment of inconveniences, ridiculous happenstances, strange personal choices, and annoyances. 

It’s basically my go-to response, because I’m a lady like that. 

So, for this week’s installment of #WTFW, I am sharing some WTFs with you. Ready or not, here they come! 

1. How is it that one minute I’m watching a video on how to make strawberry cheesecake macarons, and then, somehow, it’s three hours later and I’m in deep, searching through a rando’s Facebook pictures of their dog? Or, why is it I spend an ungodly amount of time scrolling the comment section of a video on how to fold a shirt? Why do I waste my time like this? I think I need therapy. 

2. When, after walking precisely 20 miles round trip to the work room, staff lounge, admin’s office, back to the work room for the tape I forgot, and back to my classroom, I realize my Fitbit is still charging on my computer. None of those steps counted. Might as well just go home and go to bed. The day is a wash. FML.

3. When one second I am peacefully, albeit horribly, singing to my latest favorite tune in the car, and the next, I am screaming obscenities, that would make a sailor blush, at the idiot who is driving 30 miles an hour on the FUCKING FREEWAY. 

Check out this video on YouTube:

source

This is 1,000% me. 

4. Sometimes I start my makeup on the opposite side of my face that I always start with, and I wonder if I’ve somehow entered a parallel universe. Or, I worry I’m losing my mind, because what kind of routine-driven person does that kind of thing?

5. Sometimes (always) I ask my boyfriend really ridiculous, inane questions that, most likely, make him question his undying love for me and are, 100%, why he has more gray hairs and some new wrinkles. I’ve personally aged the poor man. Some examples would be:
“Did you wash your hands?”

“Do you think it’s safe to eat this salami I left in my bag all day?”

“Did you lock the doors (for the 8,563rd time)?”

“Can you smell my breath from over there?”

“Do you think anyone at Panda Express will notice I’m not wearing a bra?”

“What do you think it means when someone’s pee is green? Asking for a friend.”

And, his absolute favorite: “Can you hold my purse while I use the restroom?”

 I don’t know why I’m crazy, I just am.  

6. When I buy my Friday Treat Donut at Starbucks (for $2, might I add) and there are freaking free donuts in the staff lounge. Fatty don’t play. WTF! 


7. This:


So, tell me: What makes you go “WTF”? I need some humor to get me through this last week, people! 

WTF Wednesdays: Travel Tag Edition

The lovely An Historian About Town nominated me for the travel tag. I was so excited to be nominated, because I love to travel and I love An Historian. Not only are her posts well-written, interesting, and positively filled with gorgeous photos of beautiful places and things, the girl behind it all is just fabulous. Go check out her blog-you’ll love it!

Now, without further ado, my responses to some fun travel-themed questions:

What is your favorite place that you have visited?

Hands down, the U.K. and Ireland. My trip was seven freaking years ago, but I still think about it everyday, and I have tried to get back to the U.K. on several different occasions.

Is it possible to look any more touristy?
My ancestor-Lady Godiva’s statue was dwarfed by a Primark. I felt equal parts let down and excited. I really wanted to buy a pair of £8 jean shorts.
 

I also loved NYC and have always dreamed of living it up a la every.single.chick.flick in all creation, as a Big Apple girl.

(All of my NYC pics are stored away on my external hard drive. Sad face.)

Large cities, with tons of energy and culture, are definitely my favorite places to visit, but I loved being in the middle of nowhere, amidst rolling green hills in England. I also adored driving through the otherworldly terrain of the Scottish Highlands, and even though the road to Dingle, Ireland is crap-your-pants scary, the beauty of the Dingle Peninsula is unmatched.

I feel like there should be an “I Survived the Road to Dingle” badge.
Somewhere between Inverness and Edinburgh

If you could visit anywhere tomorrow where would you go?

100% the U.K.! But, I mean, if someone wanted to take me to Japan or Italy or Brazil, I’d not argue one bit. *spastic winking*

Would you rather go on a city holiday or a beach holiday?

I’m such a city girl-the energy, the eclectic culture, the myriad languages, the food, the history… Also, I’m not a huge fan of sunburnt fat that turns into one big, ugly rash, because too much of my skin was exposed and rubbing together. Give me chilly weather, layered clothing, a coffee, and a walking trip around an historic city ANY DAY.

Buuuut, I won’t say ‘no’ to a beach holiday!

Just embrace the sand in your crotch and the sunburned everything!
Alcohol helps!

My top three travel essentials are: 

  • Obviously, my phone/camera is my number one travel must have. The best souvenirs I’ve ever gotten on a trip are the insane amount of pictures of every noteworthy (and, not so noteworthy-I have been known to photograph a random bench or ugly pigeon, because it’s a foreign bench and a foreign pigeon) sight and experience.
  • Hand sanitizer, wet wipes, and a travel-size hand soap are essential. I’ve never traveled somewhere exotic enough to encounter squatty potties or lack of running water, but you just never know what kind of facilities or amenities a restroom will have. Also, the very first hostel I ever stayed at did not provide hand soap or even paper towels. You just never know what horrors you’ll encounter. You.never.know.
  • A versatile scarf and a pair of Wayfarers. I know these sound like lame “essentials”, but when I’m feeling ugly as hell on the 6th day of crap hair, because my flat iron refuses to work with the expensive adapter I bought, a scarf makes me feel a little more put together.


Can you even tell my hair is greasy and I’m wearing zero makeup? See what I mean? 

Are you an over packer or an under packer?
Literally, I used to bring three full suitcases for a weekend trip back home when I lived in Elko. The pressure that exists when you have to decide what you want to wear before the day(s) in question is just too much. I can’t even. Also, sometimes my favorite piece of clothing looks hideous on me for various reasons. You just never know.

Before the trip I took to the U.K., I obsessively researched light packing tips and practiced packing the one bag I took. It was a real trial, and it took a huge leap of faith to know I’d survive if I wore the same jeans two days in a row.


So, I lied. I took three bags…

What is your favorite thing about going on vacations?

When I’m on vacation, I feel whole. It’s an indescribable feeling of just being. When you’re on vacation, you get to live a life that would exist if daily stressors, like bills and other lame adult responsibilities didn’t exist.

Edinburgh
Edinburgh, my love!
I also love completely immersing myself in the culture and the history of wherever I am. There’s nothing more humbling than standing in a church built before your own country even existed.

Said church-St. Margaret’s Chapel

Would you rather go on vacation with family or friends?

Yeesh.

Either choice has its share of positives and negatives. Traveling with family means that there’s a pretty good chance your mom might pay for some of the travel expenses. There’s also a fairly good chance she might forget you’re a grown adult and remind you to thank “the nice travel guide”. Or, she might feel the need to chastise you about your frivolous waste of money on name brand deodorant.

Traveling with friends has its benefits in that your friends are usually more in tune with your level of fun. That might mean an adventurous competition to see how many museums at the Smithsonian you can visit in one day.


This was the day after our Smithsonian challenge. Someone had a museum hangover #8thgradeugly. 

Or, maybe, that means buying every kind of foreign candy in the convenience store and then going back to your hotel room to see who can get diabetes first.

Diabetes!
When you travel with your friends, there’s also the potential for a complete WWIII, nuclear fallout, because after being together 24/7 you can’t stand the way they chew their food or breathe.

Whether traveling with a friend or family member, just drink. Their mouth breathing won’t matter near as much. 

Either way, memories are made and that’s all that matters. Right?

What is the most adventurous dish you have ever tried from another country?
Abso-freaking-lutely that would be haggis with ‘neeps and ‘tatties that my friend and her Scottish husband made for us while we stayed with them in Edinburgh.

It was actually amazingly delicious. No shit, I crave that dish on the regular.

My amazing Scottish friends! 

I’d like to nominate the following bloggers (please don’t feel obligated to participate):

The Wandering Flamingo
This girl is an amazing photographer, writer and blogger friend. She also lives in my favorite country, so I always feel I get to live vicariously through her photos and posts. Also, she is an avid traveler, so I’d love to know more about her envy-worthy travels. Please go check out her blog and beautiful photography-you won’t be disappointed!

A Walk and a Lark
Here’s another blogger bud who lives in one of my favorite cities-London! She’s become an amazing blogging supporter and friend, and I simply adore reading her blog! She is well-traveled, so I’d love the inside scoop on some of her favorite places! Check out Josy’s blog! I promise you’ll love it and her!

All Thoughts Work
This chick cracks me up. Every time I get a comment from her, I know I’ll end up practically peeing myself from laughter. I’ve gleaned that she’s an avid outdoors-woman and talented writer, but that’s all I know. I need to know more! Head on over to the funny lady’s blog-you won’t regret it!

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!