Friday, December 30, 2005

photos, photos everywhere.


Christmas Eve at Grandpa's was great. I'm going to *try* to put up the Meyer family photos, but I can only hope that they work!

First, there's Grandpa. The sweetest man in the universe. He looks a little tired and stressed here, because Christmas Eve is a VERY confusing and crazy time. But he loves it. Don't let him fool you. :)



Of course, Aunt Janice was there with her camcorder, ready to record everything. Our most embarrassing moments were caught on tape, naturally. This particular picture is of her recording my father taking her picture. When she saw this picture, her immediate response was, "nice nostrils!"








The man in the middle is Uncle Jimmy. He's one of the two most mocked people in the family. One year, Uncle David gave Jimmy a car muffler for Christmas. Since then, the gag gifts for Jimmy have gotten worse and worse. This year it was three pieces of cheese and a Wendy's fork glued to a paper plate. The year before that, it was sporks. Next year, it will be a box of broken glass. My father broke the crystal wine glasses I was going to give to Aunt Janice, so we're just going to tape the box shut (so no shards get out) and re-wrap it. It will be a smash!


Naturally, I sat and laughed heartily at the festivities with my Uncle Pat and my cousin Katie (not shown here, because my dad didn't read my mind and get a photo of them).

Cinnamon was mostly well-behaved, but begged for the occasional cookie and curled up on the couch after the party for a loooooong nap.









More pictures to follow!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

2005 in review

1. What did you do in 2005 that you'd never done before? taught in Hancock.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don't even remember. Too much changed.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? no, but many got pregnant.

4. Did anyone close to you die? not that I can remember.

5. What countries did you visit? ye olde USA

6. What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005? self-esteem, self-love, self-assuredness, self-confidence... whatever you call that mishmash of stuff. a lack of self-hatred would be best.

7. What date from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? The Friday before Thanksgiving, because it made me realize just how precious life is.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? inspiring some of my students.

9. What was your biggest failure? B&A, my worst students. I feel I failed them.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? my stomach got all acid-refluxy, I got 3256794034.2 colds, and I needed Prozac again. But I was never unable to do my job.

11. What was the best thing you bought? my slammin' oak table. :D

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? my own, when I was able to manage my classes effectively.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? my students'. Not all of them. (do we sense a pattern here?)

14. Where did most of your money go? school clothes, food, rent, and bills.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? making an October trip to Greensboro.

16. What song will always remind you of 2005? I don't know.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? lonelier.
ii. thinner or fatter? thinner.
iii. richer or poorer? money-wise richer; home-life-wise, poorer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? focus on the good things, and be grateful.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? wallowing in self-pity.

20. How will you be spending Christmas? with the extended family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2005? all over again, every day.

22. How many one-night stands? one, sort of. I won't call it a one-night stand as much as I'd call it a mistake that happened for a reason and put a lot of things into perspective.

23. What was your favorite TV program? NCIS and M*A*S*H

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? Not so much hate, but rather loathe: B&A.

25. What was the best book you read? The Mitford series so far. I love them. But I liked a LOT of books this year, and can't even begin to remember them all.

26. What was the worst book you read? The Virgin Suicides. Not my can of Dr. Pepper. However, it's an excellent book. Just not my favorite.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? playing my flute again. It was like reattaching a limb I hadn't realized I'd lost.

28. What did you want and get? a job

29. What did you want and not get? my masters degree

30. What was your favorite film of this year? I'm not sure. I really enjoyed Harry Potter IV though.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I went to school and did my job, and then babysat a friend's kids while she had to go to the hospital for her fiance. I was 25. Still am.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Learning how to like myself.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005? stylish schoolteacher meets college casual? I don't know. I live in grungo-clothes on the weekends/breaks but I dress for school in virtually the same idea every day: slacks and a blouse.

34. What kept you sane? Nighttime talks with JJ. She keeps me grounded.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Alan Alda.

36. What political issue stirred you the most? inclusion of special ed kids in the "regular" classroom. But that's been an issue for years.

37. Who did you miss? JJ and my great-grandmother.

38. Who was the best new person you met? Carmella and Karley and Kelly.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005: Take it one day at a time, and don't let the kids make you cry.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: (I italicized the stuff that I feel is most important)

i do it for the joy it brings
because i'm a joyful girl
because the world owes me nothing
and we owe each other the world
i do it because it's the least i can do
i do it because i learned it from you
i do it just because i want to
because I want to
everything i do is judged
and they mostly get it wrong
but oh well
'cuz the bathroom mirror has not budged
and the woman who lives there can tell
the truth from the stuff that they say
and she looks me in the eye
and says would you prefer the easy way?
no, well o.k. then
don't cry
and i wonder if everything i do
i do instead
of something i want to do more
the question fills my head
i know that there's no grand plan here
this is just the way it goes
and when everything else seems unclear
i guess at least i know
i do it for the joy it brings...
-ani difranco

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve

Today is Christmas Eve, and here my family is in Cincinnati, spending quality time with our relatives. I promise to have a make-fun-of-my-family, Thurber-esque essay upon my return to the snowy land of Upstate New York, but today is a day to be grateful.

Things I love about my family:

1. Christmas Eve. We all go to Grandpa's and unwrap presents and go crazy. It's loud, obnoxious, and fun.
2. My grandpa. He's among the nicest people that ever lived. My dad says he's pathologically nice.
3. My mom and my aunt together. They get together and bitch at each other and cuss freely, and the dynamic the two of them have is downright amazing. They're fun to watch together.
4. Uncle Pat. The coolest Uncle that ever was, who is letting me sleep in his house. He's also a M*A*S*H fan, so we are VERY compatible! He's also quietly insane; he claims that he invented bananas (originally called "yellow fatty beans" )and turned cats and dogs against each other.
5. Midnight mass at the cathedral. It's a first this year. Greg (brother) and Dad and I are going. It should be spectacularly Catholic. My kind of mass. I'll be bodaciously gorgeous and elegant in my red Thai silk shirt that Dad had made for me about 4 years ago.
6. NOT having to sleep at Grandpa and Judy's. Judy will be the main topic of my Thurber-inspired essay.
7. The accent. They say their O's and U's differently than I do (because they live here and I grew up elsewhere), and I love it. It's warm and round and comfortable.

Things I am hoping for:
1. lots of incense at the mass tonight.
2. my cousin Katie to be at Christmas Eve. (haven't seen her in years)
3. my cousin Alex to be at Christmas Eve.
4. Montgomery Inn food at some point this visit. YUM.

photos to follow, I hope.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

look no further than the mirror

If what they say is true, that those who annoy us most are extensions of our own selves, then I'm scared.

The people that annoy me most are pretty scary people. People I want to be nothing like. At all.

It frightens me to think that I may be just like that.

How annoying and self-centered and snotty am I? What kind of terribly inconsiderate and nasty person am I? How terribly lazy and bad at teaching am I? Am I as uncaring and cruel as the people who annoy me seem to be? I already know I'm possessive. I know I can be pretty hypocritical. These I admit freely.

But I hope like heck that I'm not mean.

I'm scared of myself. I don't want to inflict any of these things on the world.

Friday, December 16, 2005

grrr

Tonight, at the end of the night, I found myself grumpy.
I figure this is up for self-psychoanalysis, so here goes.
Today was a snow day!! so I was in a decent mood. It all started as a two-hour delay at 6 am that evolved into a snow day by 7:30. In between phone-tree calls, I napped. Before it was a snow day but after it was a two-hour delay, I was the most unmotivated teacher I've ever known myself to be. The ideas of starting the day late, fighting a weirdly displaced schedule, and dealing with kids who would have massive behavior problems that day made me feel this way. So when Roberta (my phone-tree caller) called and said, "yeah, we're closed today," that was all I needed to brighten my mood.
I slept until 10:30 or so. At that point, my head was pounding a bit (dang-blasted air pressure changes!), so I got out of bed and sat around in my rubber-duckie pajamas until noon or so.
The day passed rather idyllically (is that a word?); I came to my parents once I knew the roads were okay, I did some laundry, and I lounged on the couch with the weenie dog. Plus I got to talk to JJ for a long time, which was a surprise, since she's in New Mexico and thus has an incredibly busy schedule.
Anyway.
I had plans to go out to dinner with some local Endicott-type friends, and I was excited, because I knew I'd be giving them their Christmas presents (a Darth-Vader Mr. Potato head for Al and Garrett, and a gift certificate for Al's wife Danielle). We were planning on Friday's or Outback for dinner, but Danielle flipped when we got there, because it was too crowded.
A piece of background info: Danielle has fibromyalgia, which is a terrible, horrible disease. I feel for her every day. At the same time, though, Al placates her and coddles her so much that it almost makes matters worse. As a result, Danielle has taken to pulling little "stunts" when things don't go exactly the way she wants.

Example/case-in-point: Once upon a time, we went to the mall, and I had to grab a book from the bookstore. It was "too far" for her to walk to the bookstore, so I ran ahead, grabbed the book, and came back to where they were. Danielle then said that her back was starting to hurt, so we'd better go home. As we were on our way out the door, we passed New York & Company (quite a wonderful store!). Danielle decided she should just check the clearance rack "real fast" in case they had any good bargains. The next 30 minutes, her back was decidedly better and didn't bother her at all.

Back to present.
Tonight the food took longer than normal at our restaurant (we decided on a local non-chain place that is actually quite tasty and fun), and our waitress was decent, but not as bend-over-backward-to-kiss-our-ass as Al expects a waitress to be when he tells them that Danielle is handicapped. Al expected her to walk around the table the long way to deliver our food (to avoid the possible chance of bumping Danielle, which would evidently cause a big problem), which the waitress did for the large order, but she didn't when she brought out drinks or a salad (small potatoes). So Al was angry the whole time about that, and Danielle kept condemning the waitress for being inconsiderate.
This got to me, because, frankly, I'm tired of discussing the devastation of fibromyalgia every time I go out to eat.
So I quieted down and just ate my dinner. I was asked what was wrong, so I answered that I was just kind of run down and tired, and expected the subject to be dropped. But then was the catalyst for the real bitchiness that was about to enter my being:
Danielle actually said, "Don't be bummed, Emily, or you'll bring me down with you."
Not "don't be bummed because I care about you" or "don't be bummed just because," but the reason I'm not supposed to be bummed or annoyed is because it might just inconvenience her.

That pissed me off.
Needless to say, I didn't say anything (I hate making a scene anymore), and I finished my dinner quietly and left the waitress a rather generous tip, because A & D didn't leave her one at all. Then I went to Target and bought myself cloud pajamas and thermal underwear and a book, and now I feel slightly better.
A & D wanted me to come over and watch some movie with them, but I told them I was "just really tired" so I thought I'd go home after Target.
So I lied.
I think the reason I'm bitchy about this is because of
internal conflict
about the whole thing. I feel guilt about being annoyed at D's behavior, but at the same time, I feel so sorry that anyone has to live her life with so many inconveniences. I feel angry that anyone has to suffer that much. I feel skepticism about some of her problems from time to time, because I see how she uses her problems as a convenient way to get out of doing things she doesn't want to do. And I feel ignorant because I know that no matter how much I try, I will never quite understand any of it.

When I feel multiple emotions, I act grumpy. I think it's because my brain doesn't know how to filter them all out and understand them and make peace with them.

So now it is time to make peace:
I don't understand. That is all right.
I was a good friend tonight, because I made sure not to upset anyone, because I knew it would only wind up in hurt.
I need to rest now so that I can do the work I need to do tomorrow.
It is okay to feel multiple emotions. It's even okay to express them in appropriate situations.
And now my skiing rubber duckies are telling me to get some sleep.

good night, moon.

Current Mood: indescribable
Current Music: "For Good" from Wicked... in my head

Sunday, December 11, 2005

all-county

Yesterday I took 3 of my girls to All-County auditions. (It was supposed to be 4, but the 4th didn't show up because she was ineligible because she decided to avoid doing her English paper and thus fail English for a while and thus not be allowed to participate...)

So we drove from Hancock to Binghamton and did the auditions, and they were all angst-ridden because the judges were tough, and because they thought they hadn't done well. They did the best they could. The music was obscenely difficult (Mozart Alleluia that has this huuuuuge arpeggio melisma from F4 to G5 at a pretty quick tempo), especially for 7th graders, and even though we had practiced, they were nervous as all get-out. They were out of their element.But these three girls taught me a lot yesterday. Their clean, excited impressions of the area I grew up in were amazing.As we rounded a bend in the road (Kamikaze Curve to be exact), the old Psych Center castle came into view ( http://nysasylum.com/bia.htm ), and T exclaimed, "wow! look at that mansion! Holy cow! I want to live there!" When I explained that it was the old mental hospital building, she said, "I don't care, I'm gonna live there, it's beautiful."

They were totally fun during the auditions, and because they had been good, I decided to use my gift certificates to TGI Friday's as a treat for them. (They each had $5 for lunch, and so I told them to give me their $5, and I'd treat them for the rest since I had gift certificates.)This was clearly the fanciest restaurant they had ever been to. Their overwhelmed reaction to the menu, and their surprise at the food was amazing. It was worth it just to see the look on the one girl's face.

Sometimes I forget where my students are coming from. This day reminded me, and reminded me of how much I learn from them.

It was worth that gift certificate and more.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

local color.

Local color ANYWHERE amuses me. I love observing little unwritten rules and inside jokes about a place. Where I grew up is wonderful for local color. Here's a list that's been circulating among my friends. I've added my annotations in italics for anyone who actually is planning on reading this.

You know you're from Binghamton when...

- You know how to say and the pronunciation of the 2 rivers in town. Susquehanna and Chenango. 'nuff said. Not as good as Oswegatchie, but still.
- You had DARE in school but still did some kind of drug when you got older. Drug Abuse Resistance Education!
- you know what the mascot for Grippen Park is. Some cartoon dinosaur, I think. Same thing with Otseningo park.
- you remember when the Town Square Mall was a drive in. I think I actually went there, too. Now it's a big sprawl-plaza complete with Wal-Mart, Barnes and Noble, Sam's Club, Pet Depot, TJ Maxx, Office Max, etc. Virtually the entire area is there on Saturday afternoons.
- you remember where Fudrucker's used to be and flip out when you seeone outside of town. I have no clue about this one. Nor do many of my friends. But maybe other people know it.
- Have a very strong opinion in the Lupos vs. Salamida's debate. Lupo's all the way, baby. www.spiedies.com
- You know that just because Blue Ridge has a snow day, doesn't mean you're getting one. Yeah, Blue Ridge; those wimps close at a flake.
- you have heard (and believe) the Greg Catlin hamster story. Too gross for me. Cardboard tube and hamster in butt, hamster gets lost, friend lights match for light, catches gas pocket, hamster comes out butt powered by natural gas explosion and lands in some guy's face.
- your always concerned that the ice won't be thick enough for theCrappie Derby. Dear God, no!!!
- you would never mix up Owego and Oswego. Darn tootin'! Oswego's in Western Northern NY. Owego's in the Southern Tier. Dummies.
- you think of the State Office Building as our skyscraper. all five stories.
- your elementary school went on a field trip to Frost Valley. where true coming of age occurs.
- you drive to PA for gas, cigarettes, and clothes. It's cheaper there, and only 20 minutes away. Why not?
- You can't listen to the song "I'm so Excited" without busting in at the appropriate time with "Jack Sherman Toyota, SUPERSTORE!" The sick thing is, I really can't.
- you're still shoveling snow in June. This is exaggerated. May, maybe. But not June. Usually.
- you remember Pudgie's. Baaaaaad pizza.
- you know where Endicott ends and Endwell begins. it's a fuzzy line, but you can kind of FEEL it when you change over.
- you have been places out of town that served Crowley products and proudly proclaimed that the yogurt is from where you're from. Good stuff, too. We use it as a generic. Other places it's a name brand.
- you still don't know what business is inside that lighthouse in Endicott. That's because it changes practically every month!
- you can tell where people live by the first three digits of their phone number. Easily. 785 is a long way from 754.
- someone you went to high school with works at Tzers and Madame Oars. Local strip joint.
- you have always wondered what the hell was in the Vestal Museum. Hell, I didn't even know there WAS a Vestal museum! Maybe they keep virgins there.
- more than one of your teachers in elementary school taught your parents. This would be true if I were not a transplant. People say you're not REALLY from Binghamton until you've been established for a couple generations.
- you have serious ethical problems calling it "Greater Binghamton." Well, no fooling. It's Binghamton, for Pete's sake.
- you consider being stuck in traffic more than five minutes a "traffic jam." It is.
- you've driven around the traffic circle more than once at a time just for fun. I did until they reconstructed it. Now it's more confusing than ever. Newcomers can actually get lost on it now. But they reconstructed it to make it easier.
- you know what NYPENN is and what it used to be. It's a "trade center" in an old high school building. I wish I could've seen the old school.
- you driven Kamikaze Curve and survived. Easily. But I love the name. Now they're talking about straightening it out. That would ruin my highway driving experience.
- you know who the phone number 797-9960 calls...and the tune that goes along with it. Brozetti's Pizza. Take-out only, they don't deliver. Customer service at its finest.
- You will never be able to call it I86, always 17. Of course. Because it won't BE I-86 until they straighten out Kamikaze Curve.
- You remember when a Crabb was mayor. Yeah. Good ol' Juanita. What a fantastic name. Juanita Crabb.
- When someone says "Enjoy", you think of a golf course. Yeah, but we also spell it "Enjoie." It's also right across from Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, or OLGC for short. Our Lady of the Golf Course.
- You still, to this day, don't know what Parlor City means. Come to think of it...
- You know how pronounce "Appalachin." repeat after me: apple-ACHE-in.
- You never call it "Johnson City," its always "JC."
- You worked at one of the 3,247 Giant Markets in the area. Pure, unadulterated hell. I made $5.15/hr after 3 years there, too. Every full-time Giant worker I know qualifies for WIC.
- You can properly pronounce the name of famed Binghamton Whaler's goalie Peter Siedorkowiecz. Your point?
- this road sign makes perfect sense to you: BOCES BR DEV CTR BOCES, Broome Developmental Center. But BOCES might be lost on most people. It's a vocational program called Board of Cooperative Educational Services. People who don't want to go to high school often go to BOCES.
- Most of your family's glassware was acquired at a bazaar Dime Pitch. of course.
- you used to save up your money for the park candy stand. that was part of going to the park. And then you saved the wrapper for a ride on the carousel.
- you used to buy candy at the Salvage Outlet.
- You know where to buy buttons for First Night. More importantly, I know when to buy them before the prices go up.
- your house has a fountain in the front yard, a vineyard on the sideand the Virgin Mary in the back. True, but mostly only in Endicott, and then mostly on the North Side.
- You have seen an 80 year old cowboy that wears baby blue wandering thestreets aimlessly with a toy gun. He's a great guy.
- You don't care for Hooters anymore now that there is a local one. Yeah, but I've always wanted to go in and ask for a job application. (note: I don't even fill an A-cup.)
- Nothing angers you more then people you spell Binghamton with a P in it! Bing had a Ham and the Ham weighed a Ton. Jeez!
- you have been to all the bars on State Street. Not really, because they all suck.
- you have had to leave your car in the parking ramp downtown because you were to drunk to drive. And it's pry the only town where you don't get towed for it.
- You are related to someone who works (or worked) at IBM. Of course. IBM started in Endicott.
- You are related to someone who used to work at "EJ." Endicott Johnson. Only for natives. Not transplants like me.
- You got excited when you saw an EJ Shoes store outside of the area. Well, yeah. I still remember the factory. Way cool.
- You grew up in an "EJ House." They're good houses.
- You have always known what "EJ" stands for. Endicott-Johnson.
- you remember when the Binghamton Senators were the BC Icemen were the Binghamton Rangers were the Binghamton Whalers were the Broome Dusters. Anywhere else, it would confuse people.
- Your idea of the ultimate date is dinner at Number 5. Which used to be a fire station. Good food. But I'd rather go to some hole-in-the-wall Italian place in Endicott.

Friday, December 02, 2005

it's over

Well, concert 1 came and went. It's done.

Last night at 7 pm, I started flapping my arms and playing piano and shmoozing to the audience. At about 8:15, I was finished.

I was mostly pleased with the singing, especially my MS chorus, who acts like animals, but has an incredible amount of talent behind them.

But. the. behavior.

After the MS kids sang, they were all over the aisles during other numbers, while their parents watched passively and thought about what little darlings their children were. I was busy flapping, so I wasn't able to stop and tell some of them to sit down.

One girl was in the aisle right as I was about to sing, and at that point, I was at my wit's end. So I walked up to her and smiled very sweetly as I said, "sit down before I flunk you." Her response was an indignant "all right!" and then she huffed off to her seat. I should mention that her mother was in the front row during all this.

Brat.

But it went better than I thought it would go. I'm as proud as I can be, musically speaking.

Today they watched a tape of their concert and had to fill out a sheet about concert behavior and how they can improve musically. I will read them tonight over food with my band-director friend (in a different district). We do this often, and share the most horrific sentences with each other. It will be interesting, to say the least.

Come soon, weekend. I need you.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

concert

Tonight is my first concert.

Every adjective for insanely, irrationally, deathly nervous comes to mind.

I am all of those things.

I can't take a middle-schooler's joke today... and stuff is not rolling off my back. It's just irritating me.

I need time to myself to prepare for this. Not musically, not physically. Emotionally.

Then tomorrow is hellish kindergartener and hellish 4th grader day.

If tomorrow were NOT Friday, I'd be a lot grumpier. But it is, so I'm not.

I'm worrying about things beyond my control again. Oh well.

I'll be wearing my bodacious black dress that I haven't touched since undergrad (dear God, I hope it still fits), and my black dressy shoes. And earrings and makeup.

yeccch.

But I'll be charming tonight. Really I will.