Thoughtful Thursday: Teacher’s Appreciation Edition

All last week the school district I work for (and I am sure many others) took the time to celebrate teachers. National Teacher Appreciation Day was last Tuesday, but it has become a week-long affair that, in my humble opinion, only serves to further emphasize that teachers are under appreciated.

My particular school (a high school) decided to go with a Dr. Seuss theme. So every day was a different culinary hell-scape through which we had to tread. Monday was the most promising of all the days as the administration found enough money to actually procure breakfast accoutrements from Panera. This was not promising for my weight loss efforts as it was all bagels, pastry rings, and cakes. I skipped it, but I was not so lucky the next day when they put out the leftovers they had carefully wrapped up and saved from the day before (they were dry-dry-dry delicious!). Tuesday was “Hop on Pop…corn” day. This consisted of a teacher running the school owned popcorn machine to make popcorn that we were all given bags for to obtain ourselves AT 7:45AM. It was completely gone and put away before lunches began. Delicious breakfast guys. Panera and Popcorn. Hop on Pop indeed.

Wednesday was entitled “Whoo-treats” and they filled the teacher workroom to the brim with brownies, cakes, cupcakes, and (thank goodness) some fruit. This would have been cool except it was all homemade. Now before you call me ungrateful, please understand that I already don’t trust some of the people at my school to be honest people in their behavior. I can only guess whether or not my brownies had been sneezed on. Whether the cupcake frosting had been applied by an already licked frosting spatula. They already put out for the mixes, why not just order a dessert plate from Publix or something so we know it was professionally made? However, I would have to put this day slightly above Monday in the ranking of “appreciativeness.”

Thursday almost beat out Tuesday for the lamest, weakest showing of appreciation. ALMOST. Allow me to provide you with a visual.

Image

That is, I shit you not, the smallest bag of goldfish I have ever seen with a Dr. Seuss label taped on. I put mine in another teacher’s mailbox. They can be “o-fish-ally” appreciated twice.

Friday was the best day, hands down but they ended it with the weirdest gesture that it almost was ranked under diabetes day (Wednesday). Friday they provided free lunch to everyone: hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, bags of chips, NO FRUIT and you had to buy your own drink. I was totally down with that because I was so hungry on Friday and my pita, veggies, and hummus was not going to cut it. So many thanks for the lunch. But then at the end of the day the principal’s secretary came on the intercom and said that we should make sure we stop at our mailboxes to get our final surprise:

**Photo of Clay Monstrosity to come**

This can only be an ashtray. Sure it could be a plate you put on your nightstand for change and jewelry, or something for your desk to put paperclips on, but let’s all be straight with one another: this homemade shit seriously blows.

How hard would have been to take all the money they spent on Panera, popcorn bags, cake and brownie mixes, Goldfish snacks, and lunch fixings and get every teacher a gift card to a local place of their choosing? I would have felt more appreciated if I had received a card with something I could use tucked inside in on Teacher Appreciation Day rather than dragging it out across a whole week using half-assed bullshit amongst the occasional thoughtful effort. I would have gladly given up the two brownies I ate for a gift card to Dunkin Donuts or Publix or some other place where I can get coffee and nosh. “We know you love this so have some on us!” feels more appreciative than “This is stuff we could throw together, you better feel appreciated!”

Being thoughtful means that you are thinking of the other person. You have taken their needs and wants under consideration and act accordingly. The worst gift givers are those who buy you something they would like instead of something you would like, and I think that in the case of our administration, we got what they thought would be fun and appreciative and not necessarily what we would have needed to have felt appreciated. Par for the course in this profession, but every year I’m Charlie Brown and administrator appreciation is the football Lucy uses to send me to the chiropractor.

 

Looking Back

It is a miracle that I managed to post three out of five days this week. I couldn’t be more excited about that. I have a cup of coffee and nothing to do until like 6:00, so I’m going to prepare a Tuesday and Thursday post to schedule for next week. I’ll do my next music one tomorrow after we get all our errands run. My Friday post is almost a gimmie, since I can just find a cute animal picture and post it if I’m pressed for time.

Let’s see if I can do better in week two.

Weight Loss Wednesday: Walk

On my god am I sick to death of this 5K/marathon craze. Every van and SUV I see around here has some kind of sticker on it stating how far they have run. 5K. 10K. 13.1. 26.2. 

Wait, maybe we don’t know each other well enough. Please understand that I am not saying that people who enjoy running and challenging themselves in this way shouldn’t continue to do so. Whatever floats your boat and doesn’t sink other boats is generally fine by me. But some of us can’t and probably shouldn’t join in on this trend, and it is difficult to resist the pull.

I currently weigh 259 pounds. Technically 259.2 because I like to track exactly what I’m up to, but before I met my husband I was a respectable 190 pounds. I went to the gym every day on my way home from work and had a very healthy routine. I only ran because I love treadmills. That sounds weird, but I liked throwing on a playlist and just running, and generally I ran until I was done, which was usually around 3 miles. The 5K craze wasn’t on at the time, so I was more about speed than distance. I could do this because my body was used to it and my weight wasn’t out of control. If I tried to do what I used to do, I would destroy all of my joints. You could put the names of my important body parts in a hat and if you pulled one out there is a high probability that I would injure it.

Heavy people think they have to bust their asses at the gym to lose weight, and that couldn’t further from the truth. With all of these 5K, fitness apps, gym ads, exercise dvds and other hyped programs like Insanity it’s easy to jump in and hope for fast results. The chances are much better that you either get discouraged or injured within the first couple of days and then you’re back to where you were: not exercising, making excuses, and bemoaning your weight loss efforts. 

I have been trying to lose my “happy fat” (and gosh don’t I HATE it when people call it that) since we moved to Florida. Between my jobs, taking classes, not having a lot of money, and learning how to be married everything seemed to get in the way. To say I was trying is really to say that I was starving myself until my subconscious drove me through a McDonald’s drive-thru in between work and campus, which I would then regret later. 

So when I weighed myself on Sunday, my normal check-in day, and saw that I had lost weight for the first time in about three months, I was ecstatic. Now, I could credit this to being in the car less: we are now driving 20 minutes to work and 20 minutes home instead of 70 minutes (two and a half hours round trip!). That alone is probably alleviating my stress levels enough to shed a few pounds. I could also credit it to eating better: a shorter trip means less chances to stop for fast food, and saved money on gas and tolls means we have more to spend on good groceries. Really I credit my success to being forced to be slightly more active. We now live in a house that does not have a fenced in backyard, so we have to get up and take the dogs on a walk around the neighborhood at least twice between when we get home from work and when we go to bed and more on weekends. 

At first I just figured “well, I’m being more active, I must be earning some calories back” but I had no way of knowing because, well, I was just walking. But let me tell you what, lugging 259 pounds around apparently burns some calories. I got a free app that tracks me via GPS when I go for a walk, and it tracks how fast I’m walking, how long I walk, how many calories I burn, and how far I go, and it communicates with My Fitness Pal to log my exercise. I am more motivated to walk because I know I can have more to eat if I want. Walking also gets me calories back that I might have blown earlier in the day (thanks Teacher Appreciation Week for all the god damned brownies) so I can have a normal dinner and enjoy it.

Fat girls, WALK. Walk everywhere. Walk up stairs even though you can’t talk when you get there. Walk around your neighborhood. Walk on a treadmill. You don’t need to run. You don’t need to join a gym. You don’t need to buy any dvds. Just get the Pandora or some other music app for free, turn it on, and WALK. Call someone you haven’t talked to in awhile and ask them to talk to you while you WALK. Trust me, you’ll feel better about yourself than if you kill yourself trying to do what the fit people do, and as a bonus you’ll lose weight. 🙂

Walk everybody, and you’ll be able to run later.

Music Monday: Come Again?

I love hip hop and rap. There, I said it. And as a 31 year old woman, I have heard ALL of it. From RunDMC to whatever seems to be happening on the radio right now, I have tried to experience as much as possible.

My local radio station runs old school type songs in the early afternoon, and they played “Dear Mama” by Tupac the other day. This song never fails to remind me to believe in the rap industry. The story, the words, the music, everything comes together to create a picture of what is was like living as an African American in the projects. It makes me to get involved, and to be angry about the conditions so many African Americans continue to live in today. Having a black president may have been a major milestone for this country to have achieved, but we are far from achieving equality in this country. But I digress…

Watch the video. I specifically posted a video with lyrics because I want you to understand that this is a story that needs to be understood through Tupac’s performance. Enunciation is key. You probably don’t even need the lyrics to understand what he’s saying and to get the gist of the story.

Now, at the risk of sounding like an old person shaking their cane at the newfangled music those kids listen to today, I present: I’m a Stoner by Young Thug. You’re going to need the lyrics. I was riding in the car on my to campus for one of my last classes when this gem came on the radio. If you can make it through the entire thing, you are a stronger person than I. All I could think was “Why is this song happening to me?” It was like I was Stan in that episode of South Park where everything looks and sounds like shit to him. But then Beyonce was on and everything felt normal again.

There is literally NOTHING entertaining about this song. The music is so boring. Not Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” boring that you would want to get high to, just BORING. You could sit at a piano and hit three keys over and over again and have this song. Maybe my issue with the song is that he repeats himself over and over and over and over. And sucking bananas and eating pudding? Please. Just say what you mean and make your song even a little controversial. There is no lyrical creativity here at all. Is there a creative song about getting high you might ask? THERE ARE MANY. Purple Haze. Puff the mother fucking Magic Dragon. And even these guys could come up with a funny song about getting high that we can understand.

What a bunch of lazy goofballs! Wage garnishment is hilarious! Evading the cops and getting in a terrible accident is super funny! But what’s important here is we can understand what is happening because the words are understandable.

Now you might be ready to say, “But Amanda! Ebonics! You don’t understand because you’re not speaking their language!”

Look.

This is not ebonics. This is a bunch of words thrown together with just enough about sex (bananas and pudding), fine things (putting something on his wrist), bitches and hoes, and drugs to attract the attention of what seems to be the increasingly lowest common denominator majority. What Young Thug doesn’t understand is that those of us who aren’t stoners can still appreciate his music, if he could only make it good.

I’m not saying every song has to have a story, I’m not saying every hip hop song has to lay bare every inequity of the African American experience. Even Snoop Dog, in his hey day, was rollin’ down the street smokin’ and drinkin’ with Dr. Dre, but we can understand what he is saying and doing in the song. A good hip hop or rap song must be able to be understood. It is the rhythmic form of the spoken word which, as Notorious BIG once said, was meant to be a lyrical thesis. Whether that thesis is that cops aren’t to be trusted, or that you have the most banging sneakers, or that you are a stoner, it must be clearly stated and supported by lyrical evidence.

And so Young Thug, your songs will always cause me to change the station until you either up the musical ante so I can enjoy the beat and ignore what is coming out of your mouth (a la Little John) or you make what you are rapping about mean more than just repeating a bunch of words that you and your two closest buddies can understand (a la Pharrell).

Themed Days

Now that we are settled into our new rental house I have been thinking about ways to make this blog a more constant thing. My courses are finished for the spring semester, my teaching is winding down, and today is the first Saturday I have been able to just sit around and think about everything I have been wishing I could do.

I have gone back to thinking about what this blog is really about. Change in the lives of normal people? Sure. Education in different forms? Maybe. But before I can make themed days I have to be sure what exactly I am trying to do with this blog.

One of my favorites (www.ginandtacos.com) is a smart political blog, bringing sanity and hilarity in a world where the media (all of it) is based on ratings and not informing the people. Another acquaintance runs a blog where each day has a theme, but she can get kind of offensive or too mundane, depending on the day. The blog itself does not have an overarching theme other than “Moms Complaining About Stuff” so I only really read it to feel better about myself.  Other blogs I read are professional blogs related to business and accounting in an effort to stay informed as I move toward finishing my degree in accounting.

For now, until the true theme of this blog reveals itself to me, I think I am going to move forward with the following post goals:

Music Monday
Turn Back the Clock Tuesday
Weight Loss Wednesday
Thoughtful Thursday
Furry Friends Friday

I will take the weekend to write the next week’s worth of posts and see if I can’t pull in any regular readers!

New House and Future Tests

We have finally moved into the new house! It is so much bigger and nicer but it is only $150 more per month in rent. It remains to be seen how the electric and water bills will differ. We contracted with a lawn service company so that our lawn will be taken care of on a regular basis, since we now live in a neighborhood where that would be important. A pest control company will also be coming out to take care of the wasps, ants, and other things outside. We are also planning to have a maid service come once a month to cover the entire place. After what our old house looked like when we moved out (read: DUST) I would really prefer that professionals brought everything back to square one frequently since this is such a nice place.

It is difficult to believe that this is real. This house is the kind of house that I would have considered rich people to live in when I was younger. You walk in and the ceilings are so high. There are ceiling fans in every room. The window blinds are the nice, wide, wooden kind and not the cheap, thin, bendable kind. The carpet is new, thick, and soft. We can fit both cars in our new garage so we don’t have to drive with our windows all fogged or wet in the morning. It’s so dark and quiet at night, and when I go to sleep I am not half nervous that someone will bust in through my window to rape or kill me. The children aren’t crazy and I have yet to hear booming bass from a car. 

It is difficult to believe this is real because I never thought I would ever live someplace like this. I never thought I was that classy. I’m here now though, so it must be okay.