I am a teacher. I teach English at the high school of an independent district within Oklahoma City. I love my job. I love your kids. I call them my kids. I keep blankets in my room for when they’re cold. I feed them peanut butter crackers, beef jerky, or Pop Tarts when Michelle Obama’s school breakfast or lunch isn’t enough to fill their bellies. I comfort them when they cry and I praise them when they do well and always I try to make them believe that they are somebody with unlimited potential no matter what they go home to when they leave me.
What do they go home to? Sometimes when they get sick at school they can’t go home because you and the person you’re currently shacking up with are too stoned to figure out it’s your phone ringing. Sometimes they go home to parents who don’t…
What happened to my goal of trying a new hiking route once a month? When did an Official Date Night get dropped from my monthly calendar of new stuff? The Monthly Project fell by the wayside, too, disappeared around the same time as the Book of the Month I hoped to read. I could do one, but not both.
By the time this school year picked up steam (which, in my defense included not only moving an international student into our home, but also my own teen moving north about 1,200 miles), the well planned months of new things to do seemed to go from a fun challenge to fit in everything… to darn near impossible.
Daily new things happened though, just in a slightly different way for the second half of 2015. Even though “Date Night” never seemed to materialize, The Husband joined me in close to half of the new adventures this year. We spent the better part of the year finding new restaurants, breweries, and touristy outings, most without any teens to accompany us. What a strange occurrence this was, as for about the last 18 years nearly every activity has been a family activity. We all went to sporting events, concerts, work parties and vacations together. Now our life is different, with two freshman- one in high school and one in college.
And so, with my family growing up and away in the best ways possible, I am very glad that I started this adventure to find new things to do in 2015. Just for me. Myself. I had forgotten how much fun comes with novelty and curiosity and exploring. I really needed this project!!
1. Own a cast iron skillet. Or several. And learn how to properly use and care for them.
2a. Life is too short for mediocre coffee and poor wine. Buy the best you can afford.
2b. Even if it is just for you.
2c. Especially if it is just for you!
2d. Sometimes a $2.99 bottle of wine can surprise you ( in a good way). Don’t be a snot- more $$ does not necessarily equal better.
3. If you aren’t just collecting friends like a teenager seeking validation, Facebook is really awesome.
4. Temperature is relative- move from California to a colder clime and you’ll make fun of family for wearing sweaters when the mercury drops to 60 there. Return, and you’ll go right back to doing the same thing.
5. A hybrid car is sooooo worth it.
6. If you can make spaghetti sauce, baked chicken, and muffins from scratch you will never hunger and save big bucks.
7. Real friends stay with you until the tow truck arrives (inebriated or not), or until your parents/spouse/friend can get there with spare car keys.
8. Everyone should own at least one Hawaiian shirt. You never know when a party might break out.
9. Electric kettles are the best!
10. So is plain, black tea. And freshly brewed iced tea.
11. Screen time is overrated. People are underrated.
12. Mom Advice that is everywhere, but we don’t appreciate until later: “The days are long but the years are short.”
13. You need a community- humans are social creatures. Join and meet regularly with at least one spiritually/socially edifying group be it a church, synagog, club, society, etc.
14. Stop being so offended by everything, people . It offends me.
15. Spend time with people who lift you up and make you want to be a better person- spiritually, mentally, emotionally. And in turn, BE that person with everyone who spends time with YOU.
16. Pop your own popcorn in a heavy pot. It’s an entirely different species than microwaved stuff.
17. Everyone thinks they are the most interesting person in the world on Pinterest. They are all wrong. I am. I can prove it: https://www.pinterest.com/DDWJ/
18. A trick I learned from a dear and darn near holy woman: carry candy in your purse to always have on hand to share with your friends’ little ones. Guaranteed favorite adult status!
19. If you want to try something new every day (need to get yourself out of a rut? Overcome anxiety? Or just looking for some good, clean fun?) but don’t know where to start, start small. Pick one small project- a new book, decorate an area you have neglected, try a new cuisine. Don’t start with large or grandiose projects (Re-landscape front yard! Read the complete works of Shakespeare!). I guarantee you will be surprised how uplifting it can be to simply repaint your front door.
#1 Take The Boy to an R Rated movie.
#2 Gain five pounds from all the new foods tried.
#3 Try to cram too much stuff into each month (a book, a project, a play, a tourist attraction, four new restaurants, four new menus, a date night, a couple of random acts of kindness, including moving one kid out of state and moving a new kid into our home… August was a bit… much).
When I was ten, my brother and I went to the movies to see the first Star Wars. We weren’t big theater-goers in our family, so this was a great treat. We were completely blown away, having never seen anything like that before on the big screen. Plus, I was only ten and hadn’t racked up too many “wow” moments… so relatively speaking, this was definitely a wow-able moment.
I’ll never forget a couple years later, sitting with junior high friends at lunch while a friend mentioned that there were two more Star Wars movies coming out! I can’t speak for the average kid, but this was huge news to the super-awkward completely clueless types like me. She probably didn’t realize how big a deal it was to tell us that (spoiler here, people) not only was Darth Vader Luke Skywalker’s father, but Leia is his sister. Put this into perspective- 1979 was a dark time for the casual fan- with no constant barrage of trivial information available to us via the intertubes. Either you read original Star Wars books or you had inside information. And when pressed, this pretty humble lunch mate admitted to us how she had such awesome inside info… Mark Hamill was a family friend. Luke Skywalker was her source. Talk about instant Cool Points!
I still don’t go to the movies very often. Thirty-Eight years later… can you imagine how much fun it was to sit in the movie theater with not only The Husband, but The Boy, The Girl, and The Boyfriend and watch another big screen Star Wars movie?
“YES YES YES, WE NEED HELP!!! LET ME KNOW WHEN YOU WOULD LIKE TO COME TO THE NEW BOXING GYM AND I WILL GIVE YOU A 15 MINUTE TALK ABOUT WHT YOU WOULD BE DOING. AWESOME!!! THANK YOU FOR YOUR EMAIL! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!”
My first thought is to reply and let the boxing coach know that I will wait until between the Christmas and New Year’s holiday’s have passed, but honestly? I think I might try to get over tho the Rock Steady Boxing classes right smack in the middle of all this hubbub.
I have a feeling that finding ways to help out somewhere is a lot more interesting than standing in line at the mall.
“Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.” Audrey Hepburn
“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts…”
Shakespeare, As You Like It
I’m pretty jealous of my friend. Her daughters attend the relatively local and highly desirable San Diego State University. They have joined a performance club that meets once a week, and tonight we were treated to their Showtunes Showcase. From torch songs to comedy, these fabulously talented students dished out some great entertainment.
The Husband and I ditched the two high school boys and went off looking for the Experimental Theater on campus… getting lost… twice. We’ve never visited anywhere on the campus except the basketball stadium (Go Aztecs!). When we finally arrived at the right building we had missed the first of a dozen songs, but immensely enjoyed about a dozen more show tunes. Wow! What an amazing group of students! Seriously, if you have a university or community theater near you, get out and get viewing! I can’t believe we haven’t done something like this sooner.
Seeing these girls, friends of my girl, reminded me how close she came to attending SDSU and it makes me sad… I miss The Girl. But, as The Husband reminded me, I’ll probably be sick of her malarkey after only three days this Christmas break.