Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye, 2010

2010 has been a good year. I think the high points outweighed the low points by a long shot this year. I have many blessings to count. I don't know what 2011 will bring, but I hope I'll be able to meet its challenges with a fighting spirit. Blessings to you all in 2011.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas in a Nutshell

Dec. 22: Last day of school. Kids dismissed at 2:30.

Dec. 23: Frantic cleaning, shopping, wrapping, and cooking.

Dec. 24: Snowed all day... the perfect Christmas snow. Finished last minute things around the house. Repairman tried to fix fridge... still leaking and not dispensing water. Part ordered. Was smart enough not to drive down into the cemetery, but hiked down in the snow to take flowers, diet coke, and chocolate covered cherries. Matt & Omara got here around 8:30. Andrew joined us for dinner (pickled ham, shrimp, chili, cheese bread, Christmas goodies, and cranberry tea). I went to church at the 11:00 service at the Methodist Church. It was the perfect Christmas Eve feeling.

Dec. 25: Matt & Omara & I went out to Dad's. We took a breakfast pizza. Opened gifts and had a fantastic lunch. Andrew & I had our Christmas that night. Watched The Departed and got a wonderful call from the McLeods.

Dec. 26: Took Andrew to the airport and exchanged a gift at the mall in Coralville. Found good deals on next year's Christmas cards and a few other things.

Dec. 27: Tracy arrived! Had a long talk, exchanged gifts, and went to Vivo for dinner.

Dec. 28: Tracy & I putzed around town, checking out all the stores around the square. Coffee at Revelations. Watched Eat, Pray, Love and had a snack. Played Mario Kart and Dance on Broadway on the Wii. Went to see the Rock Paper Scissors concert at Cafe Paradiso. Had pizza at Torino's.

Dec. 29: Tracy went home. Quiet, lonely house. Going to take it easy today before digging into a month's worth of school work that needs to be done in 4 days. :)

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday... I know I have so far!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Real Intimacy

I was sitting wrapping presents today and turned on the TV. I watched an older episode of Oprah with Jane Fonda as the guest. She was talking about intimacy, and her words really made me think. Maybe my relationship with Andrew is the first time I've had true intimacy in a relationship. It's about so much more than physical closeness. It's about being able to really be yourself with someone without holding anything back. I'm so lucky to have found someone who loves me for being myself. I know I don't have to hold anything back and that I can say whatever is in my heart, even if it's scary. That's an amazing blessing. And I highly recommend it. :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fridge Joy

So, it's NOT a Christmas present, but my spectacular boyfriend is getting me a refrigerator which will be delivered on Wednesday. My ice maker went kaput a few months ago, and it's not worth getting fixed. Generally, my current fridge is kind of a piece of crap. It's just old, and it's done its time. Andrew has been keeping an eye out, and he found a used side-by-side fridge with ice & water in the door. I'm excited to get it installed before Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What Do You Think?

Do you think it's appropriate to discuss the vote to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell from the pulpit? I'm just wondering what you all think out there. I got really upset at church today over this very thing. I see Don't Ask, Don't Tell as a civil rights issue. I don't know why it was really brought up at all. I'd say, in general, I can't stand it when politics are brought up in church. It doesn't matter to me which side it is... I just don't think it's the place. Am I out of line? Let's discuss...

Saturday, December 4, 2010



Friday, December 3, 2010

Weekly Update

Random Thoughts for a Friday Night...

* I just saw a cat circus. I'm still processing it.

* We found out this morning our school district will be cutting the budget by $800,000 next school year. That means cuts everywhere, including teaching jobs. That thought alone is enough to make my ulcer flare up. No details yet. Instead, we get to fret about it for a few months. Sigh...

* I'm singing in a Broadway benefit concert at the Sondheim next weekend. What turned out as a small commitment has grown into something rather large, but it's for a great cause. The money will be split 1/3 to the Crisis Center which is a shelter for women and children in southeast Iowa, 1/3 to a local Jefferson County organization that helps needy people pay their electric bills in winter and also helps families during the holidays, and 1/3 to an organization helping children in Haiti. I'm sorry I don't know the specific names of these organizations, but the organizer of this benefit, Jonas Magram, has been doing this for many years. I feel lucky to be helping out this year.

* Andrew is narrating a very interesting Stravinsky piece at the Sondheim tomorrow night. It's called A Soldier's Tale, and it combines narration, acting, and a chamber ensemble of 7 instruments. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

* We had a lovely Thanksgiving with Dad, Alice, Matt, & Omara. Andrew survived his first holiday w/ my family. He lived to tell about it!

* My baby brother turned 36! Crazy!

* I was again reminded today why I love teaching middle school talented & gifted. After school, one of my students was telling me all about his research for his independent project. He chose to research viruses, and he was telling me all kinds of stuff that was way over my head about nucleotides, horizontal evolution, and experimental gene therapy. He has a very good grasp of all of these things. Pretty amazing. I proceeded to ask him what he wanted to be when he grows up, and he emphatically stated, "a geneticist." I smiled and nodded. He then added, "I want to grow new things with octopus tentacles on them." I love it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fun & Busy Weekend

Andrew & I started the weekend off at a beautiful wedding on Friday night. Thank you, Margo, for inviting us. We felt so honored to be there.

Saturday, I finally had some quiet time. Andrew was working, so I was at home resting, listening to the Hawkeye game, doing laundry, cursing the Hawkeye game, loading up my new gigantor recycling bin, pleading with the Hawkeye game, and actually cleaning some house because I was so sick of the Hawkeye game. I'm over it now. We'll get 'em next week. But, you know it's bad if I'd rather clean house than listen intently to the game.

After a nice dinner at Top of the Rock, Andrew & I went to see The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Sondheim Center. It was another wonderful Way Off Broadway production. The show is hilarious, and it made me look forward to being a guest speller next Friday night. I don't plan on getting a single word right, but it will be fun to be on stage with good friends and new friends alike in this great show. After the show, my adopted little bro Stephen invited us out to Torino's with the cast & crew. It was a lovely evening.

Today, bell choir played at church. Andrew & I left right after that for Ottumwa. We went to see the movie Red. Now, this is my idea of a movie. It had everything... great stars, dynamic action, and tons of laughs. I was completely entertained. Why can't every action movie be like this? I think this was a movie for everyone. Well worth the money. Or, I should say, well worth Andrew's money. :) I'd also just like to say, for the record, that Helen Mirren is a goddess among mere mortals.

After the movie, we ran a few errands at the mall and at Target (oh, Target, I'd give anything to have you in Fairfield), and wrapped up with a nice dinner at Applebee's. Now, I'm procrastinating starting my school work. But since I have a ton, I better get to it. Hope you all had a great weekend too... my only complaint is I wish it had been longer!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Adore You, Michael Ball

Andrew & I were talking about Les Miserables. We both agreed that Colm Wilkinson is our only Valjean. But, also for me, there's only one Marius, and his name is Michael Ball. Oh yes, his name is Michael Ball. All that voice and dimples too. Sigh...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chicago Weekend

Andrew and I made the most of my 3-day weekend after parent/teacher conferences, and we escaped to the Windy City. We stayed at the Ambassador East Hotel, a grand old monument to glory days gone by, and I mean that in a good way. You could just feel the "see and be seen" quality of the Pump Room, and the whole place just had a stately, dignified charm. It was fairly reasonable, pretty close to everything we needed, and it had wireless internet access, unlike the modern Marriott where we stayed in California!

My mission for Friday night was to eat Ethiopian food. I'd eaten Ethiopian food with college friends many times, and I was hungry for it! If you've never eaten Ethiopian food, I highly recommend it. It combines Middle Eastern/Indian flavors with the fantastic experience of injera, a bread that is also your silverware! I'd researched a place called Ras Dashen, and it totally delivered. DELICIOUS!

The next morning, Andrew and I set off for Michigan Ave. We hoped to find a sports bar along the way where we could catch the Hawkeye game vs. Indiana. We were decked out in our Hawkeye finery, of course. A guy walking his dog called to us from across the street, "Hey! Where are you going to watch the game?" We struck up a conversation, and it turns out he was an Iowa grad in sports medicine. He told us about a place across from Second City where we could watch the game. That's how we found Wells on Wells... a Hawkeye bar in the heart of Chicago!

Andrew outside Wells on Wells

me inside Wells on Wells

Our dear Hawkeyes almost gave me a heart attack (if the Hawkeyes didn't give me a heart attack, my Grilled Cheese from Hell might have... 3 kinds of cheese and actual mozzerella sticks in the sandwich!), and I was going to be pretty ticked if they didn't pull off a win after I'd spent over 3 hours of my getaway weekend sitting on a hard stool in a pub watching them. Luckily, and by the seats of their pants, they came through. We were more relieved than anything, and we went to sightsee on Michigan Ave.

We caught a quick bite at the Original Pancake House, where I finally got to try the Dutch Baby that I'd seen on Food Network. Andrew wasn't impressed. I liked it!!!

Then, for the highlight of the weekend. We drove to the Steppenwolf Theatre to see our friend Claire Wellin play Mayella Ewell in their production of To Kill a Mockingbird. This is my favorite book of all time, if you didn't know that. I also read it out loud to my 8th grade GOAL classes every year (we're on Chapter 3 right now). The whole production, from the set to the actors to the adaptation, was stellar. Andrew & I were so proud to know Claire. We've seen her on stage in Fairfield with Way Off Broadway many times, and it was so cool to see her making it big in Chicago. She was sensational... such emotional range! We were also super lucky to meet up with her in the elevator before the show, so we got hugs too. Bonus!

We took our time getting out of Chicago on Sunday, having a leisurely breakfast in the Pump Room. Before leaving the city, I wanted to see the Bean in Millenium Park. If you have never stopped at this sculpture (it's official name is Cloud Gate), you NEED TO! It's fascinating, amazing, incredible, mind-boggling, beautiful... how many more adjectives do you want? I could probably come up with a thousand! I had seen it on TV and in friends' pictures. I'm so glad I've seen it in person now. It's wonderful. It was fun seeing it and also watching other people experience it... I could have done that all day! The day was so beautiful, it was hard to believe we were in November. If you ever have some time to kill in Chicago... head to the Bean.

Cloud Gate, aka: the Bean

Trying to take our picture in the Bean's reflection... not as easy as it sounds...

Another try...

Finally, someone took pity on us and took our picture!

Reflecting on our trip... literally!

It was a quick weekend, but it was totally worth it. I feel recharged for the week and for the month of November. The holidays will be here before we know it... crazy thought!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Random Harumphing

* These election results + stress of parent/teacher conference week + PMS = harumph. I'm not a happy camper.

* Seriously. Has anyone really looked at where our country is headed? Extremists! On both sides! I'm so freaking sick of it and them and all their bickering and biting and intolerance and general idiocy. Where are the rational, decent, normal people? And why don't they ever run for office? Harumph.

* My desk is a pigsty, and I have conferences in my classroom tomorrow night. Harumph.

* I think I sprained my hand from the touchpad on my laptop. Harumph. Does anyone know if that is that even possible?

* I'm growing about 4 planetoid zits on my face in various conspicuous locations. Excellent impression for meeting the parents of students. Welcome to my classroom. I have leprosy. Harumph.

OK. I'm done for now. I'll go have a big cry and then get on my Scarlett O'Hara. Tomorrow is another day...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekly Update, and Then Some

* Sunday, October 17, I attended the Belin/Blank International Center for Gifted Education's recognition ceremony at the University of Iowa. Two of my student were being honored, and every student gets to choose a teacher that has impacted their education to be honored with them. It was a lovely ceremony, and each of the approximately 400 students being honored were called across the stage to receive award. We teachers were called with them. It was a wonderful honor to be recognized by these two boys. Another student of mine chose our elementary TAG teacher to honor, so the two of us drove up together. We were proud to be there. Nine guests gave speeches including Senator Charles Grassley and the National Teacher of the Year, Sarah Brown Wessling. It was a lovely afternoon.

* After the ceremony, I hightailed it with my colleague to Des Moines. We spent Monday and Tuesday at the Iowa Talented and Gifted state conference. There were some really big names there in the world of gifted education like George Betts, Nick Colangelo, and Marcia Gentry. It's always such a great conference. It not only gives me new information for the classroom, but it helps restore my vision & beliefs. There are so many things that chip away at what I believe as a teacher of gifted students... No Child Left Behind, being a School in Need of Assistance, building rules, day to day obligations... they all take a toll. I sometimes need to be refreshed among people who have a passion for gifted ed. I always come away invigorated and ready to take on the world. :)

* That same week, I learned of the death of my high school choir director, Lee Spann. This man really influenced my life. I LIVED for choir and drama in high school, so I was with him at least once a day (sometimes 4-5 times a day) for every single day of my high school career. His wife, Idella, is my second favorite teacher of all time. She taught my 8th grade honors English class, and she's probably THE reason I fell in love with teaching middle school. The two of them together made more of an impact on my life than any couple other than my parents. I was honored to be asked to participate in Lee's service last weekend in Omaha. I sang with a couple of different groups. It was great performing with my friend Travis from high school and seeing so many former choir members and A.L. teachers. Lee fought the brave fight against cancer, and his legacy will live on.

* The Hawkeyes made it tough on us against Wisconsin, but Saturday against Michigan State more than made up for it. It was a PERFECT day at Kinnick Stadium with beautiful, sunny fall weather, a raucous crowd, and a huge win for the Hawks. Only one home game left for the Hawkeye Mornin' Crew, and we'll be celebrating in style with steaks before the Hawkeyes play Ohio State.

* This week is conference week... it's always crazy, but I enjoy meeting the parents of my students. I also enjoy having Friday off! :)

We're almost done with Monday, everyone! Have a great week!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Poor Dallas Clark

I just posted a clip of Dallas Clark yesterday, and today comes the news that he's out for the season with a wrist injury that requires surgery. The Colts won't be the same without you, #44... get well soon!!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oh, Karma, You Have Humbled Me Once Again...

So, I had a drama queen meltdown a little earlier. I had a "Poor Me" moment. I have since apologized to the party who took the brunt of my little explosion. The apology started with, "I know the third 'That BLOWS!' was overkill. I'm sorry for that." And in SSR (Sustained Silent Reading for those of you not in the world of education) today during Homeroom, I decided to read my devotional/reflection today from the great master, Edward Hays. I have a couple of his books on my Kindle. His words have guided me in many ways at many times.

Here's part of what I read for today, October 14: "Keep my tongue from the propaganda of exaggerating my good works and shrinking my mistakes to midgets. Inspire me to be honest or be silent."

God moment of the day.

Perspective is a humbling thing.


I'm waiting for my karma to kick in. Lately, it's felt like karma is kicking me mockingly in the butt rather than kicking in. I try to always go the extra mile, knowing in my heart that it's going to all come back to me in a good way... Thinking in my heart... Hoping in my heart... Wishing in my heart... ?

I guess it's felt like I'm running on empty this week, and I'm being asked to go 5 extra miles instead of the normal one.

Come on, karma. I'm waiting for you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tum Yum Soup

Tonight at Noodle House, I realized my love for Andrew tastes like Tum Yum Soup. I got teary when I tried to explain it to him. I know it sounds weird. But tonight, as I slurped my bowl of Tum Yum, I was sucked back in time a year ago. I was sick as a dog with H1N1. I can't even remember when I've been that sick before. Andrew fed me every day while I was sick, handing off bags of food through a crack in the door so we wouldn't pass on my infestation. As I started to feel better and to be able to taste more and more and to think about going back to school after missing a week, one of the things that hit the spot was take out Tum Yum Soup that he brought me from Noodle House. That soup tastes like love to me because it reminds me that I'm not alone. I remember feeling so thankful and happy that I had someone to take care of me when I needed it. I didn't need to feel guilty for asking. I didn't need to try to pay him back. I didn't need to do anything but let him love me. So nice. :)

When you've been alone for a long time, nothing tastes better than the love in some Tum Yum Soup.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Love Me Some American Gothic!

I'm proud that Grant Wood is Iowa's artist. I love having the American Gothic house just 15 minutes from where I live. If you're ever coming through southeast Iowa, make sure to stop off at the American Gothic house. They have a wonderful little visitor's center. The best part is that they have costumes that you can use to dress up and have your picture taken in... just like Claire & I did summer before last.

Today one of the blogs I follow showed a fantastic American Gothic-inspired cake... check this baby out at (scroll down a bit on the post to see the American Gothic cake)! Here's to inspiration... hope I find mine today! :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Whirlwind Weekend, the Sequel

Friday afternoon: Book Club. Positives: Margo & Amanda from Texas! Negatives: We enjoyed parts of The Zookeeper's Wife, but we unanimously agreed that it would have been better as historical fiction rather than nonfiction. It needed some embellishing!

Saturday: Trip to Mankato, Minnesota! Positives: seeing the amazing Stephen Crisp in one of his finest roles to date (this was the absolute HIGHLIGHT of the trip), Amos Hart in Chicago; dinner at Dino's with Stephen, Jacob, Sarah, Sarah, Shannon, Andrew, & myself; the gorgeous fall colors in the lovely town of Mankato (I really should have looked at this school for my undergrad, but no one could tell me anything at age 18... sorry, Broc!) discovering the most delicious homemade chips at this cute little Mexican restaurant in Mason City; discovering that someone dethroned Nick Saban & the Alabama football team. Negatives: concrete slab of a bed in the hotel... um, that's pretty much it.

Sunday: Home again! Positives: breakfast with everyone at the hotel, more stunning fall views, Andrew buying a new LCD TV at Best Buy (I can't wait to watch the Hawkeyes beat Michigan on that baby!). Negatives: saying goodbye to Stephen (boo hoo), the drive back (the end of a trip always makes me cranky), discovering that the new cable hookup in Andrew's living room doesn't work.

Whew! Tired? I am! And on that note, I'm going to bed!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Whirlwind Weekend

Friday I hitched a ride with my friend Julie and caught a plane from Des Moines to Los Angeles. I had a short layover in Denver, and everything was on time. Bonus. I got in a little before 11:00 that night. Andrew picked me up at the airport in our cute little rental car, and we went to our hotel. We stayed at the Marriott in Burbank which, despite not having wireless internet in the rooms, was very nice. I was exhausted after a long Friday!

Andrew and I ate in the hotel restaurant (pancakes!!!) on Saturday morning and decided to check out the Getty Museum. It was fabulous. You park in a garage that has seven levels below ground. Then, you take a tram up to the museum. You climb the steps and enter a mini city. There are several buildings, and we only saw a smidgeon of what was there, but it was a wonderful way to blow a few hours. We stopped back at the hotel to change clothes before meeting up with my California Cousins.

We all met for a drink and a snack at Chateau Marmont, a Hollywood legend in itself. John Belushi died here, Led Zeppelin rode motorcycles across the lobby here, Jim Morrison jumped out of a window into the swimming pool below here, James Dean and Natalie Wood first read the script for Rebel Without a Cause here. On the way to Chateau Marmont, Andrew and I drove right down Hollywood Blvd., right past Grauman's Chinese Theater and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We had been following our little Mapquest directions, and suddenly, we were surrounded by Hollywood! We had a spirited little reunion in the lobby with Kelly, Kate, & Claire McLeod, Kate's boyfriend Noah, and Claire's friends Nick & Jalon.

After Chateau Marmont, we drove to a fun Italian Restaurant with singing waiters called Miceli's. We met up with the rest of the clan... Aunt Twila, Uncle Ben, T.J. & Randi, Taylor, Claire's friend Allie, and Carol and Larry Kline. We were quite a group. It was such a fun night. I got teary a couple of times, just looking around at this wonderful group of people laughing and eating and enjoying each others' company. I have the best family in the whole world!

We braved the terrible traffic and made it just in time to the theatre (they ended up holding curtain for another 15 minutes for someone else who was caught in traffic, so we really didn't need to hurry so much, but oh well... we made it on time). Seeing another person performing Andrew's Churchill play was surreal. It was wonderful because it was like seeing a child grow up and be on his own for the first time. There were things that we loved, and there are bugs to work out. I think it was a little stressful on Andrew because he knows how he performs it, and this performance was definitely not the way he performs it, but he's going to work with the director this week to help their production go more smoothly. The theatre was a tiny venue, but I think it works for a one-man show. Surreal is the best word I can use to describe the experience.

It was late when we got out of the theatre, and the California Cousins had a long drive back, so we said goodbye. I was so proud to have my family there to support Andrew and his work. It meant so much to me having them there. I really don't have the words. I just felt so blessed. Blessed, blessed, blessed.

Andrew and I were out of the hotel by 7:30 on Sunday morning, and after a day of travel, we were back in Fairfield by 9 that night. It was a frenzied but unforgettable weekend. I'm tired today, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

waiting for the tram at the Getty Museum

at the Getty Museum in my Hawkeye finery... comments from 2 different people... Go Hawks!

Andrew & his ginger beer outside Chateau Marmont

waiting for the California Cousins outside Chateau Marmont

dinner at Miceli's with family & friends

Randi & T.J. at dinner

Kate, Noah, Nick, Allie, Claire, & Jalon at dinner

Aunt Twila & Uncle Ben at the theatre

the proud playwright of Churchill and his adoring fan

Monday, October 4, 2010


It's that time again, ladies and gentlemen...


I'm obsessed, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I had my first one last Thursday, and I'll most likely be eating them every day until I can't find them anymore.

Here's my post about Honeycrisp apples from last year. The sentiments are still the same.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If I Had All the Time in the World...

I don't watch very much TV, but I do love TV. If I had 4 or 5 extra hours a day, I know I'd waste a good portion of them in front of the tube. If I had time to watch any television on a regular basis, here are the shows I'd watch (I apologize for the number of times I plan on saying "love" in this post. I'm just feeling the love):

Survivor. Yep, I do enjoy the reality TV. I used to never miss Survivor. I like imagining how I'd play the game. Of course, my version always involves going to a hotel at night.

The Amazing Race. This is my favorite reality show, by far. The people drama matters a lot less on this show. I love the challenges and all the world travel.

Top Chef. I can cook anything with a recipe. But these people blow my mind. I love watching what they create. Quickfire challenges are my favorite!

Project Runway. I haven't seen this show in ages, but I love it for the same reasons I love Top Chef. I can barely sew a single stitch, let alone create a whole ensemble. Plus, Tim and Heidi are the best. You are out!

30 Rock. Alec Baldwin. Everyone is great, but I adore me some Alec Baldwin. Plus, there are so many obscure Star Wars references.

Weeds. Sensational writing. I can't remember a show that has shocked me more or made me explode out in unexpected laughter and surprise more often.

Big Love. Polygamy. Weird, weird, weird concept for a show. Great acting. Great writing. Crazy storylines. It has it all.

Ace of Cakes. Andrew can't believe how much I love this show. The cakes are so cool! What's not to love?

Deadliest Catch. I can't even imagine having that as my job. I hate being wet. Wet and cold together? And having your life in danger? Every day? Riveting TV.

Glee. Every swing choir kid's dream show. I can hardly express my love for this show. Plus, Sue Sylvester is the epitome of the character you love to hate. Fantastic.

Thank goodness for hulu and DVD's. Maybe I'll get to watch a few episodes here and there of these great shows. Which shows do you love, if you have time to watch TV?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Caved

I caved. I dressed up for Retro Day, and I wasn't a rebel with a toga. I have tight-rolled my jeans, taken the laces out of my plain white tennies, scrunched my socks, put a big scarf in my hair, and layered my tank tops under my cut-up Flashdance-style sweatshirt. It's honestly weird how comfortable I feel in the clothes of my youth. It's sort of like coming home. I wonder if everyone feels like that. Well, everyone except the people of the 70's who could never possibly feel at home in double knit polyester. I don't think that's humanly possible.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Homecoming Up & Down

This is Homecoming week, a fun week of dressing up and community spirit. Yesterday at Fairfield Middle School, it was Color Day. Each grade wore a different color, and the staff wore green. It was my first day at school after my surgery. I wore my long sleeve green & white t-shirt w/ khakis. I had no idea it was supposed to get up to 85 degrees yesterday. By the end of the day, I felt like I'd been hit by a truck.

Today was Favorite Team Day. I wore my brand new Hawkeye camouflage pants. They're black, gray, white, and gold camo. A student told me that he thought it looked like "yellow snow." I told him if his pee is ever that color, he needs to see a doctor immediately.

Tomorrow is Retro Day. Normally, I'm a big fan of going back to side ponytails and tight-rolling my jeans. But this week, I'm tired. I don't feel great. I get my hair cut after school. I don't want to be all decked out a la 80's, for once. The high school got Toga Day. I think that sounds fun. I could make my Retro decade the 00's, as in the 0000's. I considered it. I even messed around with a big bedsheet tonight. I just don't think it's going to happen. I might be a Scrooge tomorrow. Bah Humbug.

Thursday is Bad Hair Day. Don't I freaking live that every day of my life? Maybe I'll wear all of my hair things at once... scrunchees, headbands, clips, barrettes, etc. I'm working up to be inspired.

Friday is Black & Orange Day. Now, this I can do. I love my new bright orange Fairfield Middle School shirt that has my name stenciled on the back. True, it looks a little like a convict's jumpsuit, but I love it just the same. I also have a ludicrous black, orange, and silver bow that I'll probably put in my hair. Putting the front of my new short haircut (this is the time when I miss having hair long enough for a ponytail) up on top of my head makes me look like a toddler, but I do love those silly bows. 38 and still wearing bows in her hair, folks. I'd like to think I'll grow out of this, but I don't see it happening. I'll probably be 58 and still have those bows.

Happy Homecoming wherever you are. In small town Iowa, it's an event, let me tell you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book Banning Makes Me Crazy!

I wish that instead of trying to control everything that goes into our kids' heads (can you say losing battle???), people would talk to kids and listen to kids. I wish Laurie Halse Anderson had never been put in the position she's been in this weekend, having to defend her work. But, I'm proud that teachers and librarians and readers from everywhere are stepping up and helping her. We have your back, Laurie! Read the blog post that explains it all here.

Literature is a vessel, my friends. Literature takes us to places we've been. Literature helps us see new worlds. Literature helps us walk in the shoes of another. Literature shows us we're not alone.

Fight censorship.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

4 Things I Love About Tailgating

1. I love that Andrew is learning to love football. He's becoming a huge Hawkeye fan, and it's so fun to enjoy this with him along for the ride. Here we are at last week's season opener in Kinnick Stadium.
2. The Hawkeye Mornin' Crew is a bunch of seriously fun people. We like to eat, drink, be merry, and cheer for our Hawkeyes. We meet every game day in the Hawkeye Commuter Lot, decked out in our finest flair. It's fun to laugh and be together.
3. I love the Iowa Hawkeyes, and so does everyone else around me. I've loved the Hawkeyes since I was 8 years old and we moved to Iowa City. My Halloween costume in 6th grade was Hayden Fry, for heaven's sake! It's fun to be around all these people who love football and who love the Hawkeyes.
4. I love being with my family. My family is weird and complicated. Technically, my mom and Mike were only married for 2 1/2 months before she died. Hawkeye football keeps me connected with my stepbrothers, Tim and Travis, and all of their families as well. I never dreamed I'd have such a fun pack of brothers. I love them, and having our football tickets together helps us to not grow apart. Even if we don't talk often throughout the year, we know we'll see each other several times during the fall.

Yesterday was a great win against the Iowa State Cyclones. The tailgate theme was bacon, and I'm sure the increase in our collective cholesterol count would scare off any health insurance provider. I tried a new recipe for bacon crackers that went over VERY well. See it here. The Iowa State game is always a big rivalry, and it was a good warmup for the upcoming Big Ten Season. 2 home games down, 5 more to go. GO HAWKS!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Headache from Hades, Part III

I had my follow-up appointment with Dr. Anderson yesterday. We looked at the 2nd CT scan of my sinuses, and what he had originally thought was a marble-sized pocket of infection is actually the size of a ping-pong ball. Yes. I said a ping-pong ball. In my head. Pressing against my eye. He told me he couldn't believe my vision hadn't been affected. Anyhoo... my surgery is scheduled for next week. Thank God I'm getting this thing out of my head. A 6-week headache is not my idea of fun.

Again, my CT scan was awesome to see. The infection kind of looks like a third eyeball. Please keep me in your thoughts as I go under the knife next week. Dr. Anderson hopes he can go in through the nose to take care of this, but if not, he'll have to make an incision by my eye. I prefer no incisions. Call me crazy.

And in case I haven't mentioned it lately, I have the best boyfriend in the world. He's taking the morning off to be with me during my surgery, and he's taking time the next morning to get me to my follow-up doctor's appointment to get the packing removed... ugh. Sounds pretty terrible. I'm just hoping I'm OK enough to go back to work the next Monday.

On a different note, tomorrow is Friday already! I love 4 days weeks with no Monday in them. Tomorrow is our first book club meeting for the year. We're discussing Pat Conroy's South of Broad, which I LOVED. I also love wearing jeans every Friday. I seriously live for this. It's a little sad. I can't help it though. I'm a jeans girl! My jeans, my books, my ping-pong ball of infection, and I all wish you a happy Friday! It's just hours away!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I would just like to state for the record that it is completely unfair how the human body revolts when healthy practices are reinstated into the regimen after an undisclosed amount of time.

That's all I (and my aching back and legs) have to say about that.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Animal Totem

In many Native American cultures, there is a concept of a totem, or symbol that represents a person, a tribe, or a family. This totem is usually an animal, and this animal is a guide or a guardian spirit. This Legends of America website does a nice job explaining the idea. I also like how it explains how you can discover what your animal totem is. I like thinking of different animals that fascinate or resonate with me.

The second time I went to Alaska, just weeks after my mom died, I became fascinated with the salmon. I went with my cousin Kathy and her kids to her husband's family's homestead. You had to hike in to it a couple of miles. It was the beginning of September, and the berries were fermenting on the vine in the forest, and the whole place smelled like fruity wine. The bears were fat and sleepy, getting ready to hibernate for the winter. I saw the exact place where they would sit in the stream and fish. And the salmon were on the very last leg of their journeys home. They were literally dying from the outside in. I went canoeing for the very first time, and they would swim by us in the stream, barely able to move, but still struggling on. I'm sure it sounds gross to think of their flesh basically falling off of them as they swam, but it wasn't gross to me at all. It completely mesmerized me... that these fish had an instinct so strong and a job so important to do, that they would not stop doing it until their bodies literally fell apart. Even when they are mostly dead, they go on. There was something very beautiful in that to me. When you look at what the animal totem of a salmon means, it stands for determination and persistence. That this animal came into my life when I was at the bottom of the pit of despair is pretty amazing and wonderful.

When my friend Cate would invite me to her island in Ontario, there were many things I fell in love with, but one above all others was the loon. The first summer I went to her cottage, a loon pair had babies, and the babies rode on the back of the parent. It was seriously the cutest thing I had ever seen. At night, we would fall asleep to the loon's song. During the day, we would watch them hunt and swim and dive, wondering where they would surface again. Last summer, when I went to Alaska again (I never noticed this Alaska/animal totem connection until right now), I mentioned on my last day that the next time I visited, I hoped to go canoeing. My Aunt Darlene, Uncle Bob, and my cousins tried to think of a way to make it happen before I left. We went to a little lake on base called Otter Lake, and it was magic. My cousin Ahnna was with me in the canoe, and we saw some loons in the distance. We paddled over to them, because I wanted to get closer. They had told me the loons nested on the far edge of the lake, and we probably wouldn't be able to get close because of how protective the loon pairs would be. Ahnna and I quietly got about 30 feet away from a pair. We put our paddles up, and just watched. It was beautiful. They finally dove under, and we let out the breath we'd been holding in, smiling at our fortune. Suddenly, the loons surfaced about 10 feet from us, not scared at all. They swam around our canoe, and one dove under and swam right under our canoe! It absolutely took my breath away. Beautiful. Today, I discovered the Native American symbolism for a loon. It symbolizes hope, dreams, wishes, creativity, music, and imagination.

I think anyone who knows me would say I'm a perfect balance of persistence, determination, hope, and creativity. The salmon and the loon make complete sense for me.

Which brings me to today...

Today I met with my Centering Prayer group because our Judy was back in town from Washington State. Aside from one other person I can think of, my Centering Prayer ladies are the only other women I allow to mother me in any sort of way. They are very dear to me. Our Centering Prayer times on Friday afternoons fill me up like nothing else really does.

Judy brought these wonderful little charms with her from Washington. They each had animal totems on them. She brought little cards that explained what each totem meant. At the top of the card, leading the two columns, were the salmon and the loon. I smiled... there they were! My animals! Judy had a handful of little charms that she spread out on the table. We were to choose, but maybe more than that, we were to let the charms choose us. There wasn't a loon, but I saw the salmon. I knew it was mine.

We all gathered around, and before I knew it, my salmon had been snatched. And not by me! Hey! I'm the salmon! Hm. I looked at the others left, and Judy scolded me for examining them so closely. I felt them all in my hand and chose the one that had the "right" feel. It was the moon. Not an animal at all. And on the back, it said "guidance."

Before Judy brought out the animal totems, we'd had 3 1/2 hours of wonderful catching up. We'd all shared things about our lives. We'd laughed and commiserated with each other. I'd shared some upcoming huge, life-altering decisions I have ahead with life, love, work, and my future. This year could bring some big changes my way.

Guidance. When I thought about it, it's what I'm going to need most this year. I didn't even see it at the time my salmon went into the hand of another.


Thank you, Judy, for your beautiful gift. I'll keep it with me as I continually seek guidance in my life this year.

Gotta love those God moments. Keep them coming, Big Guy.

3-Day Weekend.... Ahhhhh.......

It's true that tomorrow will be spent reading a million journals, correcting Friday's spelling tests, and editing 7th grade pen pal letters, but I'm so glad I have tomorrow to do it. I may start on Tuesday actually caught up. We'll see. ;)

Yesterday, Andrew & I went to the opening game of the 2010 Iowa Hawkeye football season. It was a stunningly beautiful day at Kinnick Stadium. Blue sky, fluffy clouds, a fall chill in the air... perfect. It was great to be back with the old tailgating group. The Hawkeye Mornin' Crew enjoyed our breakfast theme with all kinds of breakfast goodies and beverages. The team looked good. My favorite player, Adrian Clayborn, didn't see much action because he was being double and triple-teamed the entire game, but that opened up some holes for some other players, which is good. Next week is the big Iowa/Iowa State rivalry game. The tailgate theme, in honor of all that is Iowa is BACON! Iowans love their pork, and next Saturday, anything that is bacon will be making its tailgate debut. Bring an empty stomach and a side of angioplasty.

As for today, Andrew and I are taking it easy. My friend Judy is in town from Washington State, and I hope to get together with her and my centering prayer group later this afternoon. I haven't seen her in ages, so it will be a wonderful reunion.

Tomorrow, I'll grade about 47 million papers, and then we'll start all over again.

I have my follow-up doctor's appointment for my sinuses on Wednesday afternoon, so I'd appreciate all positive thoughts you care to throw my way on that day.

Today is seriously beautiful. The breeze is blowing in through the windows, and the sky is blue. Get out there and enjoy it, people. I plan to!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why is This in my Head?


Fun with Zooburst

My students have been trying some new Web 2.0 tools. Zooburst is one of my new favorites. You can't beat online pop-up books! Plus, I'm getting excited for the first Hawkeye game of the season. Saturday can't get here soon enough! :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Eek. That Was Dark.

OK, my last post was a little pensive and sad. Here's the thing about blogging for me... it's Tena Light. I never take my readers to the top or the bottom of all that is the Tena Roller Coaster of Life. First of all, there is swearing in those places, and I'm a teacher. I like my job, and I'd like to keep it. It's best to keep the craziness in check here on the blog. I have handwritten journals for all of those rants. So, someday, when I'm dead or retired, knock yourselves out and publish those babies. But for now, to lighten the mood a bit, here are some things you'll really enjoy. Or, at least I did when I was little. :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Beating a Dead Horse

Do you ever have those certain things that you just can't let go?

My students were working on a Words of Wisdom assignment, where a variety of people of all ages give them advice for life. One of the students had an uncle who told him, "Don't Beat a Dead Horse." We talked about what that meant.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since then. I've never really been a grudge carrier, but I have things that I can't let go. They eat me up.

Probably the worst one in my heart right now is an old friend who I used to consider my second best friend of all time. This friend was with me during some of the best and worst times in my whole life. This friend was at my mom's wedding, and just 2 months later, was at her funeral. We were close for a long time, and then something happened. The trouble is, I'm not sure exactly what I did. I know our last visit didn't go well. I know I overstayed my welcome. I know we didn't connect, and things were tense. I also had no idea that would be the end of our friendship. I tried to let things cool down for a bit, and then I reached out a few times. I basically haven't spoken to this person since. That was, I think, 6 years ago.

I miss her. A lot. There are certain things that she and I would talk about that no one else in my life cared about. I miss how she loved to play games. I miss how smart she is. I miss our inside jokes. I miss her sense of humor. I miss her creativity and good cooking. I miss the memories we share.

I tried to friend her on Facebook, and she won't accept. I private message her on Facebook on her birthday, and she politely responds, but it's clear that she no longer wants to be my friend. I see her comments on other friends' walls. That hurts.

I've apologized even though I'm not really sure what I'm apologizing for. I was a crappy friend. I made a mistake. I admit those things freely. I don't know what else to do. I'm so sorry she's not my friend anymore. I feel like someone has died, and I can't grieve the loss.

I sometimes google her or bring up her Facebook profile page. Am I just a glutton for punishment? I guess I just miss her, and I still love her. I wish she could meet Andrew. I wish I knew if she is happy and well. Maybe by writing about it here, I can make some peace with it. It just makes me so sad. I blew it, and there's no way to fix it. That's a hard pill to swallow.

Why can't I let this go? Why do I just keep beating that dead horse?

What dead horses are in your life?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

At Last, South America!

I'm completely obsessed with the ClustrMap on my blog. (See over <------------- there). It amazes me where I get hits. I wonder how someone in Qatar or Poland or South Africa ever even finds my blog. Even if they're just passing through and never come back, it's cool to see where these people are. I have loved watching the red dots from all over the world appear on my map. Until yesterday, the only continent (other than Antarctica) that has eluded me has been South America. Until yesterday. Let's hear it for the mighty country of Peru!

For a random change of topics, last night was the first high school football game of the season. High school football in a small town is the best. I sat with my friends in lawn chairs, with kids running around, people laughing, the band playing, the team winning, and a giant chocolate-covered rice krispie treat in my hand. OK. I had two. They have m&m's in them too. They're scrumptious. After the game, a bunch of us went over to the Sloat's (I've mentioned Roberta before in the post called "The Book That's Currently Messing With My Head" ) to continue the celebration. High school football games are just one more reason I love the fall. I had the windows open one night this week, and there was a glimmer of fall in the air. It's coming!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Quote of the Day

Know what I love? I love when words cross my path that touch me to my core. Sometimes you need something, and you might not even know it. But the universe senses a disturbance in the force, and it tosses you a care package in a little silver parachute. I read this quote on Kelle Hampton's blog (I'm a little obsessed with her beautiful blog), and it gave me what I needed today. Good.

"Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others...for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” Albert Einstein

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I couldn't rely on Who knew our own little Wal-Mart in Fairfield, Iowa, would be the place that carried the book my students (& I) have been waiting months for?!?! Mine came instantly on the Kindle, but I felt so bad that I didn't have it to share with them. Now it's here!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Headache from Hades, Part II

I finally got into the Ear Nose Throat doctor today. I hate missing school for doctor's appointments, but I really didn't have a choice. I looked at my preliminary CT scan, and he showed me the exact source of my headache from Hades. The reason my left eyeball has felt like it's going to pop out is that I have a marble-sized pocket of infection (yummy) surrounded by scar tissue that is pressing directly on my left eyeball. It can't drain at all and will have to be surgically opened. Um, yea. Imagine my glee.

Next step, a sinus CT scan and probably setting up the surgery. Maybe the sinus CT will show some miraculous new possibility. I can dream, right?

On a positive note, it's pretty cool looking at a CT scan of your own head. Pretty darned amazing, in fact.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Limerick War

I just got invited (challenged? coerced? baited?) into a Limerick War with some fellow bloggers (Random Thoughts with Professor Chuck, Dancing Under the Stars, and The Wizard's Den). I'm probably not up for a full scale invasion, but I'm game to join the battle for one post. Maybe we'll start a limerick revolution. ;)

How I Imagine my Brother's Future Children
by me

Star Wars by Someone Who's Three:
"Shiny Guy" 'stead of C3.
Don't talk back to Vader,
Yard Sale a la Tusken Raider,
It's an exciting movie.

Yes, I know line 4 needs some work, but the Vader & Tusken Raider rhyme was too fun to pass up. The following clip was my inspiration. Enjoy!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Teacher Becomes the Student

Today was an emotional day... in a fantastic way.

I saw
Big River again last night. I knew some of the cast was going to be visiting my classroom today, so I watched it through that particular lens. It is a beautiful show about so many things. But last night, what really stood out for me were the lessons on friendship and being nonjudgemental. The line that struck me the hardest was when Jim says, "...en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren's en makes 'em ashamed." It made me think of how kids (and we adults too) make jokes at the expense of others. I have such a hard time getting my kids to be kind to one another. It's a constant battle. I love watching Huck's transformation in the show. You can see him start to listen to his heart. He finally realizes that doing the right thing for another human being is what matters... not the color of that human's skin. In a middle school, it's not the clothes they wear or where they live or if they love school or if they're awkward and don't fit in. None of that matters. Such hard lessons for adolescents. Such hard lessons for people of any age.

4 of the cast members came to talk. I thought it went great. I was proud to have them in my classroom. They were all wonderful, but the honest truth is that the majority of kids in Fairfield, Iowa, don't have multicultural role models. For that reason, I was especially glad to have Evan in my room today. I'm proud to call him friend. I'm proud of his performance and his show too. Please don't miss Big River if you're around Fairfield this weekend. You'll laugh, and you'll cry. Totally worth every cent.

I also tried a new activity with my language arts classes today. I gave them three cards. One one, they wrote "I want." The others said "I need" and "I hope." On the other sides of the cards, they filled in each statement. They just put their initials on the side that won't show, so the answers will be anonymous when I post them on the bulletin board to share. I was so touched by their responses. They were so honest. They really wrote their hearts, in all their 7th grade glory. Some of the ones that stood out for me (for all kinds of reasons... funny, touching, so "7th grade," sincere) were:

"I hope my teachers will like me."

"I need a way to majicaly get better at spelling."

"I need school supplies."

"I hope this year isn't as bad as everyone says it is."

"I want the Presidential Education Award."

"I need to be nice. Even when it's hard."

"I hope I get another friend."

"I want my last name pronounced right."

"I want to have better grades."

"I want two chocolate milks for lunch."

"I hope I pass this class."

"I need some classes to let me be creative and myself, and some classes to keep me in reality."

"I want a good teacher."

"I need an iPhone."

"I hope I do good in sports this year so I can get my confidence up."

"I hope that 7th grade will be OK."

"I need A NEW CELL PHONE!!! And to read more......?"

"I want a eating place with chicken lips this year."

"I want to meet new people, and make more friends."

"I need good teachers to help me learn."

I'll do my best, kids. Thanks for your honesty and heart. I can tell that you have so much to teach me. I know it's going to be a great year... especially if my heart stays as full and happy as it is today. :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wild Roller Coaster Day

I think I've experienced every conceivable emotion today.

The school day was a frantic sprint of getting kids to the right place, running through syllabi, repeating rules, hearing great summer stories, smiling until my face hurt, and then finally stopping to breathe a little this afternoon. Day 1 done, 179 to go! ;) All in all, I think it went well. I didn't cover as much as I wanted to, but it's all good. The kids are great, and I was so glad to see them all.

On the other end of the spectrum, 15 years ago today, my world changed forever. The day my mom died was the day that my heart changed from innocent and unblemished and naive to scarred and war-torn. I had no real idea what "lonely" or "empty" or "shocked" felt like until that day. I've come a long way since then, and I hardly ever feel lonely anymore, but I also don't think that anyone in my life will ever again know me like my mom did. A mother's love just cannot be replicated. And it can't be replaced. I'm lucky to have love in my life, but I will never be the same after that day 15 years ago. The sting isn't as painful or sharp, but it hasn't gone away completely. I know it never will.

My mom was perfect. I don't mean she was a perfect person... she wasn't, and she never claimed to be. But for me, she was the perfect mom. I guess we had to squeeze in a lot of happiness into 23 years because the big guy upstairs knew we wouldn't have a lifetime for it. My mom made me who I am, and she was the perfect role model for me... strong, fun-loving, seeking, caring, understanding, inspiring, spunky. I miss her every single day.

Emotional Roller Coaster Day!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

'Twas the Night Before...

Tonight is the last night of summer, and as if to remind us that summer is indeed over, it was about 68 degrees and rainy all day. From a heat index of 110 to a high of 68. Only in Iowa.

I think I'm ready. My classroom is definitely ready, more ready than it's ever been before. I should really film it or something so I can remember that it once looked this good and tidy. Tomorrow will be frantic. Our classes end up only being about 17 minutes long, so not much is really going to take place. I'm excited though. I love the first day of school.

We had a get-together at my principal's house tonight for dinner. Not too many people showed up... I wish more would have, but it was nice. We have so many teachers who have young families now. There were tons of little kids running around, and I got to hold Miss Alexandra again... twice. It's nice to have little ones around.

Our Hawkeye tickets came in the mail this week. I'm ready. It should be a great season, and it will be nice to have Andrew with me for half the games. My friend Heather and I have our season tickets together, and our boyfriends are splitting a ticket this year. It's even close to ours... just the row in front of us, so it will be fun to share the season with them.

To close this evening, a little celebratory video of my favorite "back to school" commercial... enjoy!

Monday, August 16, 2010


All the teachers in our school district this year got MacBooks... I'm having so much fun learning how to use it. How did I survive without a laptop? LOL I'm especially going to love it for skyping. It has a built in camera, and it's so convenient. I was playing with the camera last night and got Andrew in on the fun.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Headache from Hades

Here's the latest on the Headache from Hades: Friday, Day 8, was the worst. I was almost crying before bed. When I woke up on Day 9, I didn't feel the stabbing pain. I stayed horizontal for almost an hour because I was afraid if I sat up, the stabbing would start again. When I did sit up, I was still basically pain-free. I was almost crying again, but this time for joy. I thought I was going to lose my mind if that thing didn't let up. Since I can't get into the Ear Nose Throat specialist until after school starts, I was afraid that if I had that much pain for that long... well, I didn't know if I could handle it. Today, Day 10, I have a little pain, but nowhere NEAR where it was for 8 days. The fog around my head has lifted. Now, I'm procrastinating getting my classroom done. And I cannot blame that on the Headache from Hades anymore. Hmmm. I guess it was good for something. ;)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Big River

I have always thought that To Kill a Mockingbird was THE great American novel. Last night, I began to doubt that thought. Last night, I saw the musical Big River, based on Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. This was one amazing show. I know I pretty much say that about any musical I see. I can't help it. Musicals touch me. I've said it before... some artists work in oils or clay. I work in Broadway.

Anyway, this show was spectacular. This show marked Adam Cates' directorial debut. Adam is a choreographer, and the dancing was sensational... folksy, energetic, and fun. But there are songs in this show that have such beautiful harmonies, and Adam let them be. He let the actors just sing them, all their energy going into the heart of the vocals. My heart grew three sizes every time that happened. The acting was wonderful too. I saw sides of this summer's interns that I'd never even glimpsed in Annie.

It was a fantastic night of entertainment. I laughed, I cried, and I thought about the story Mark Twain told in his work. Huck's story is really the story of America and its continuing journey of growing up, convincing itself its way was the right way, having to reexamine values, being made to feel uncomfortable, and then finally forcing itself to stand up for what is right.

I've read many books on slavery. I've seen movies and TV shows. But, in this day and age, it's rare to see a live human being put in that position. Jim was played by Evan Tyrone Martin who has done several shows here in Fairfield. He's a Facebook friend of mine, and I don't know him well, but I know him. And seeing him as a slave, being mistreated, well... it hurt. I was ashamed and sorry, and it hurt. I sat in row C, and I saw the sweat rolling off his neck while his hands were chained together. It was hard to watch. This is a gift of live theatre. It put me in an uncomfortable place and made me explore my feelings and beliefs.

In this digital age, we must continue to put ourselves in situations that make us feel and make us walk in the shoes of another. We live in a world of instant entertainment... high speed internet, Netflix, DVR. They're wonderful. But, we must not completely anesthetize ourselves behind that monitor or screen. We must go to the theatre.

Go see Big River at the Sondheim Center!
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