Friday, July 18, 2008


Here is my new favorite shirt dress by BB Dakota that I bought for 50% off. The teacher's apple locket necklace is also a favorite. I've always had a thing for lockets.

In other news of favorites: Marcia Tate is AMAZING and if you work in education at all you must must go see and participate in one of her workshops. I shall be purchasing a light up magic wand very soon.


How happy am I: simply stellar.

When I watched shows like Flip That House, I always wondered how in the world the people got the money to do these projects. Now the terms "creative financing" and "luck" suddenly take on meaning. Oh, and I need to mention "humungo risk" and "stupidity." That about covers it.

I watched the movie The Kite Runner tonight, and I'm quite certain that once I push the "sold" sticker out of my mind, I'm going to sit down and weep.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

nail biting

This morning I got my first offer on the house. With a listing price of $99,900, the buyers offered a price of $95,500 but asked for me to pay up to $3500 in closing costs, making the total net offer $92,000. After a counter, a counter-counter, and a counter-counter, my final price is $98,500 with the closing costs covered, making the total net for me $95,000. I bought the house for $73,500 and paid $1000 of the closing costs. I'm hoping my pre-tax check from the mortgage company will come in at $20,000. That would make me very happy. Right now I have to wait and try to get sleep not knowing whether or not they will accept my final offer. I won't go lower than $95,000 - it'll be too close to breaking even, and I have put WAY too much blood and sweat into this house to break even or (NOOO!) take a loss. The excellent news, though, is that this offer came in this morning, after my house had been on the market for ONE WEEK.

If I get this hypothetical $20,000 check, though... none of it is really mine because I probably owe that much on my credit card between my graduate school tuition, my furniture, re-wiring this house, plus all the other renovation materials and costs - oh, and some new clothes and a plane ticket. My plan is to pay down almost half of the debt and put the rest in my bank account. I'll transfer the rest of my debt to a new card with a year of 0% interest, and hopefully my next renovation will yield enough to pay off all debt and put me on top of where I would have been had I never dabbled in real estate. The goal is to get enough money to pursue some writing and travel. I want to be wreckless in my youth, I also want to be well and independently funded. My grandmother had to loan me money this month in order to keep my head above water. I could have done without it, but it would have cut very close to the danger zone. Neither borrowing nor having $100 dollars to my name feels very good. Come on, accept my counter-counter-counter offer!

I had been planning to go to a teacher workshop tomorrow called "Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites" which is supposed to be amazing, but sadly I realized that it is 1.5 hours away in a rural elementary school cafeteria. This location for the workshop makes no sense to me, and I decided to bow out. I'll spend the day tidying up my yard in case the offer doesn't go through and more buyers need to come through. Friday's workshop, "Shouting Won't Grow Dendrites" is by the same lady, and is actually being held in a place I know - my own school! I'll go to that one. I need sixty professional development hours per year, and I'm on the cusp of throwing in the towel on finding another job. The towel is pretty much in the hamper. An extra year of teaching will probably be better for me in the long run - but I'm sad to say that I am not looking forward to it. I hate the commute, and as much as I like English literature and most of my students, (I adore quite a few), I hate repeating myself literally six times a day. My goal is to eventually have a job that neither makes my brain numb nor gives me cotton mouth. Again: come on, accept my final price! Patience is overrated.

The big accomplishment for today, though: I got my bike tuned up at Chainwheel and purchased (spending my profit again) a bike rack for my car. The bike is back, and I couldn't be more excited! This evening I went around part of the River Trail - I saw two skunks (a safe distance away) and birds sweeping the sky at sunset. Biking is surely the sport of dreamy nature lovers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

the only love letter

strawberry fields forever

this is my mother's night gown from when she was young; it is strange to me that it has survived longer than her.

Monday, July 14, 2008

On Edge

Two people(s) have come through my house now, and no word yet as to whether they liked it, hated it, or left completely apathetic. It is nerve wracking to know that people are coming in to your house, judging any work you've done on it, judging your decorating taste, judging your cleaning skills, and judging your personal life based on the few trinkets and photos deemed worthy to remain on display. I've been keeping close tabs on the other houses listed in a similar price range. There are a few I would consider serious competitors in that they are or are close to being up-to-date and have an extra bathroom and/or bedroom. The competition adds to the nerves. I have spent the majority of my time off cleaning and scrubbing my house in order to keep up appearances, (and keep me from getting bored). I'm hoping that waiting for my first home sale is similar to waiting for other monumental firsts such as getting a first kiss, being offered my first real job... they are all bound to happen EVENTUALLY. It is simply the patience that might kill me.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Look out, Boston!

Joanie, Dave, Me, Sarah, Ana, and Josh outside the White House c.2003

I just bought my tickets to go see two of my best friends from my year at George Washington! We're going to meet in Boston, MA and the first thing on the agenda is to go see Julia sing/play in her band The Deckhands. I'm so excited by the combination of seeing Joanie and Julia and going on an actual trip. My poor American Express card is officially maxed out now (thanks Continental); travelling is not a luxury for the masses. Nonetheless, I do have to recommend I spent two hours searching, Yahoo Travel, AirTran, Southwest, etc., and this search yielded the best price, (but just barely).

My house is officially on the market as of two days ago. This is the truly nerve wracking part: will anyone actually want to buy what I have worked so hard (and spent so much) on? The MLS is 10198741, and the official asking price is $99,900. I've already got my eye on another project if I actually sell this one. Two days and no visitors, though. I feel a little bit like an artist or musician who has just put a piece out there and is now certain it sucks. How disconcerting.

The process of putting it on the market was easier than I thought. It consisted of signing one piece of paper, and for once I did not have to write a check to anyone. My realtor took the pictures, posted a sign out front and it was done. Now my job is to keep the place clean, (which isn't hard for me - somewhere in between being a messy five year old and now I became a neat freak). I had been very hesitant to put it on the market, thus why I've lived here for a month without doing so. I'd liken the experience to breaking up with someone you've been thinking about leaving for some time. Once it's done you wonder why it ever took you so long.

I also finally listed my wedding dress (never worn - yes, I'm an engagement breaker) as "for sale" on craigslist and the Arkansas Times. I think letting that go is going to be a huge step in my resolve to get out and explore the world in the coming years of my life. Up till now my resolve had been to get married - and according to my friend Stephanie, it had been to have this act done by age 23, although I don't have ANY recollection of the passionate insistance of this that she swore I made. Selective memory.

Tomorrow is my last day as a "substitute summer school teacher." I've been a bad teacher this week - assigning work and sitting at the back of the class rather than doing active teaching. For this one week, I've made up my mind not to care. I'd prefer not to fight with students to see that their work gets done - they are already on chance no. 2, and quite frankly I don't wish to expend the energy. I have other places to channel it - like getting ready to go and have an amazing time in Boston!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

An early wake up call.

Writing gives me affirmation that my own life is incredible. This is why I am so glad that I have kept a diary since the first grade, but disappointed in myself for abandoning it in the past two years. I have been reading a book on travel writing, (just for fun), and it offered some great advice on getting past a lull in writing. Apparently, John Steinbeck wrote Exit to Eden on half a notebook: on one side he kept a diary to get his thoughts going, and then on the opposite page would write the novel once he was warmed up. Sounds like something to try.

Today I began my first day as a substitute summer school teacher. I think that could possibly win the category of worst job title EVER. I had planned on actually having my own class for the three week session, (and making a bit of money), but then I was informed that I was only needed for a week as a fill in. I have ninth graders, and they were actually well behaved, mostly. A far cry from the juniors I had last year. I have a very difficult time swallowing attitude. I'm not sure which is worse: attitude from a teenager or attitude from an adult.

I have been glued to my television set during the rest of my free time, as the Travel Channel has been running a marathon of No Reservations. If it didn't kill me that Anthony Bourdain can slaughter a live pig with a spear and sleep well at night, he might be my idol. He killed that, too.

Back in Business

Ta-da! The budget-renovated kitchen.

Double ta-da! The living room.

My house is complete! I have now been living in my newly remodelled 1950's bungalow for almost a month. During that time I have taken on the usefulness of a slug - perhaps less. I'll consider the past weeks as a needed recovery from my first real year of teaching. Sadly, in that time I have committed the cardinal sin of home remodelling - I have fallen in love with the house, my incredibly private back yard, and my neighbors - especially the guy across the street who works for Budweiser and gives me free beer. Tough to beat.

While my mortage, at $600, is less than M's one bedroom apartment rent, ($645), I am still struggling to cover all of the bills in conjunction with paying off my renovation debt. This would not be an issue if I would simply sell it. I bought it for $73,500 and my realtor would like to list it for $99,900. My plan is to go ahead with this and see what happens in the next couple of weeks.

Now, after three weeks of sitting around my house and M's apartment pool on summer vacation, (with lots of amazing books), the travel bug has bitten me, and I am eager and anxious to plan a trip somewhere off the contintental US. Facebook is a bad instigator of this, as viewing all the amazing places my friends have gone makes me insanely jealous and antsy - something it would be to my benefit to learn to quell. Unfortunatley, travelling is far out of my means at the moment. If I had to make a conjecture right now, I would say that this is going to be my last year of teaching for several reasons. While I enjoy both my students and literature and make a very decent living, being a teacher feels like trying to zip myself up into a dress that doesn't fit; I can't move around and I can't breath. The summers off would be great if I had the money to go abroad. Perhaps when both of my houses are sold this will be the case. If I do not sell this one, then M is planning to move in on August 5th, so that will ease the monthly payments.

Money troubles aside - I had an amazing 4th of July. For the first time in years I got a front row seat to fireworks on M's parents boat on Lake Ouachita. Incredible. I nursed my sunburn by drinking frozen strawberry margaritas while stretched out on the back of the boat, counting stars. Clearly, I need to start saving up for a boat of my own in the future. I'll add it to the list.

Lake Ouachita and surrounding Ouachita Natinal Forest from Hickory Nut Ridge by day.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sweating... in mulitple meanings

I just returned from my first (and last?) kickboxing class. This was not the kickboxing class I attended in high school. That one was led by an aerobics instructor, included lots of synchronized movement and was full of women who seemed too skinny to be working out that hard. It was a great work out - don't get me wrong - but I'm not an aerobics kind of girl. This class had about 5 women and the rest were big, burly men who wore real boxing shorts. I have not been this sweaty in a VERY long time. I want to believe I can commit to going at least twice a week, but when I signed up for Sunday yoga classes, I ran out of steam after the third week. I would REALLY like to build up the determination to go regularly, as I've been feeling uncomfortable with my body and dreading wearing a two piece. Perhaps this is bad, but I feel like buying a one piece is admitting defeat - it's saying I'm resolving that working out is no longer part of my life so I'm going to take measures to adapt.

In other sweating news, I'm supposed to close on my house on Thursday. There has been lots of issues with repairs of the foundation and the electrical work, so I simply reduced my offer, and haven't heard back yet. I also discovered, to my extreme chagrin, that my bank only accepts 3% of the closing costs from the seller's party, which is going to put me at least $1000 in the hole right off the top.

In double sweating news - I'm trying to work up the courage to compete in a poetry slam in May. I have no expectations to win, but I'd love to be active in the slam rather than simply an observer/supporter. I've brought two different slam poets into my classroom and my kids have loved them. I keep telling my kids to be courageous in both their writing and their sharing, so perhaps I could try taking my own advice.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Officially in Escrow

This week has been my spring break - which is one of the fabulous aspects of being a teacher. All the same vacations I enjoyed while still a student!

Despite the fact that I did not go anyplace out of city nor did I go shopping for clothes or shoes once this break, (I spent most of my week working on the historic home I'm co-renovating), it has been a very expensive vacation for me. It started when I viewed a two bedroom, one bath home close to the university in town, and decided I needed to buy it. The original list price was 82,000 but had been dropped to 79,9000. After several counter-offers, I secured it for 75,500 with closing costs to be paid by the seller, giving them a net total of 72,000 for the house. The house was built in 1950 and has been well maintained but needs some cosmetic fixes that will have to be low-price in order to not out-do the price range of the neighborhood. Most homes in that location go for $65,000-90,000 so I landed right in the middle with my final offer. I'll take possession of the house at the end of April, assuming nothing disastrous happens.

After this purchase occured, I began planning and mapping out the minor fixes I am going to do to this home. I will fund all of my work on this house using my AmEx card rather than taking out a bank loan, as I have 0% APR/interest until September, plus a nice, hefty credit limit, (potentially dangerous but thus far under used). I'm going to paint the "L" shaped living and dining area a lightlight chocolate brown and cream, and decorate with a chocolate and turquoise design scheme centered around my oatmeal colord couches. Luckily, I have a grandma who can sew curtains and pillows in any color I desire.

The kitchen has white cabinets I would like to reface, and I'd like to re-do the counters and floor with new laminates, as well as paint the walls a gun metal blue. I'd also like to find some used black appliances, and maybe purchase a butcher block island to put in the center, (the previous owners fit a set of table and chairs, so it's quite large).

The bathroom is going to be either cream or light celedon, and I bought a leaf covered shower curtain and candle from Pottery Barn that were both on sale, as well as an antiqued map wooden wall hanging that was 50% off at Hobby Lobby and will match the shower curtain beautifully.

To top off what I bought for the house I don't even technically own yet, I bought a beautiful vanity/mirror/stool set that I found at a high end furniture gallery for about 45% off. I go pick it up tomorrow. It's a bit feminine for staging a home, but it will go nicely with my wrought iron bed that has been sitting sadly in storage all year and the pistachio walls I intend to paint in one of the bedrooms.

The good news is that the backyard is big and fenced so I can have both my black lab and M.'s chow mix come live with me.

The interest rate on the house is good, too, coming in at 5.7%. Now is a good time to buy properties as prices are low due to lots of product on the market, and banks really want to seduce qualified buyers into making home purchases. NPR said that home sales are actually on the up-swing because of this. Hopefully it will last. I would like to put my home back on the market by July/August and seek a $95,000 initial price tag. Or it may be wiser to rent it to university students and just hold on to it for a few years and hope it appreciates.

Who knows. As a last ditch effort, M. can move in with me in August if the property is still unsold/unrented, and we can split the costs.

I hope buying this doesn't shackle me to my job teaching, because I am on the hunt for a new job that doesn't involve a commute or teenage children. If I could be guaranteed I'd make $8,000-$12,000 on this house I wouldn't need to renew my contract, but of course, in life there are no guarantees. But, there's also no reward without risk! And hopefully the house will be cute enough to be reward unto itself.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Reality Doesn't Bite

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Clearly, the same can be said in regards to public trends. It seems that the new trend is among young professionals who are putting the brakes on "virtual reality" and embracing reality - deceptively simple and mindfully technical with the added bonus of being cordless. Reality is making a come back.

The New York Times posted an article today called "Leaving Behind the Trucker Hat" that is reminiscent of the 1960's back-to-the-land movement. It profiled young, former urban professionals who are founding organic farms in rural communities in order to fulfill the societal demand for fresh, local and organic produce in surrounding cities, as well as the personal itch to abandon office high rises and paperwork for tactile and emotional experience.
The most notable difference between the modern trend and the the 60's terra hajj seems to be the element of success. The 60's and 70's saw the rise of modern convenience services and goods, while the 00's is seeing a national disgust with pre-fabbed food and products with large carbon footprints. This bodes well for those who no longer want to spend their days staring at computer screens and filing cabinets and instead wish to make their living through communing with seasonal cycles and applied organic chemistry.

There also seems to be a growing interest in where things actually come from, since the invention of cryptic labels eliminated public knowledge of what an item contains and where it originated. The desire to know the story behind food, from seed to aisle seems to also be fueling the organic and local foods movement - all facts I find very exciting. One of my good friends who studied to be a chef at C.I.A. has been working on farms in upstate New York since graduation to get a thorough education in food production. He is one of a growing number of gourmands interested in increasing the intimacy of food through both the growing and preparing aspects of cooking.

I'd say I'm an example of wanting the experience of doing rather than simulating, as I began my historic house restoration with the desire to use my hands to accomplish something. Pushing pencils towards success became old by about 12th grade. Popping nails out of hundred year old studs is much more satisfactory than grading a paper that goes in the trash five second after retuning it to its owner.

So - virtual reality? Take a virtual hike.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sore Like a Day Laborer

I haven't been getting home until 8/8:30 at night since work on the house officially commenced. Each evening I have returned with bits of insulation and ancient, compacted dust in my hair, nostrils, and under my fingernails. My feet and back ache from shovelling, sweeping, and hauling debris. Interestingly, though, I feel amazing and I love having a project to manage and keep in motion. Seeing this house look beautiful again could possibly be one of the most satisfactory things I've ever experienced...if I survive to that point!

So far we have been jerked around by bureaucrats and incompetent service providers (delivering a dumpster to the wrong address, among other things), and found used hypodermic needles in the wreckage that was once the house's blown insulation.

Yes, I own a crack house! I think I need longer work gloves.

It is now 9:35 pm, I am exhausted, and I've got to go back to my day job in the morning! I'm afraid this project may begin to affect my teaching - I'm spending less time planning lessons and have less stamina to stay at the front of the room. (My teaching fatigue set in when the initial planning for this flip began after Christmas break). I can see how flipping can easily be a full time career. If this is a success, I might consider it. As much as I hate to say this out loud or in writing - some of my students are so mean that I dread having to deal with them. We'll see how the end of this year plays out. It may result in my financial ruin - who knows!?

In other better-late-than-never news, Bush is actually doing something to reduce air pollution. Nice move now that he's stepping down and won't be in a position to take bribes from major, polluting corporations!

As I type this, M. is watching King of Kong. Two words: oh, my. They are using The Cure, though, as background music, so rock on.

I'm so tired and scattered I can hardly think. Now the only things I can focus on are trying not have post-consumption remorse of the $5.00 Little Ceaser's pizza I just ate, a shower, and sleep!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

More daylight!

While M. laments about losing an hour of sleep tonight, I am relishing the thought of having more of a DAY in the coming weeks. My desire to sleep is intimately linked with how much sunlight is in the sky - if it's dark, my body says it's night and I can't accomplish anything else except bed. Now I'll have more time after work to function.

Yesterday the south was hit with an uncharacteristic snow storm. Since it's the south and we don't have snow plows, the entire city shuts down. My school district actually closed, so I'm ok with the chicken-little reaction to inclement weather. When my family lived in Dekalb, IL (outside Chicago), I LITERALLY had to walk in two feet of snow my first week at Clinton Rosette Middle School because we had moved from Texas, didn't own a snow shovel, and the snow plows that cleared the streets had shoveled all of the snow into a mound on our driveway and we had no way to dig ourselves out. That was a long three years. We did acquire a snow shovel - after walking/trudging to the Jewel Osco to buy one.

Today, after batting the last hunks of slushy snow off the windshield of my car, I escaped renovation duties to go get my hair done. After getting highlights and lowlights, a shampoo, and a trim, my stylist began putting a mysterious powder product on my hair. It looked like baby powder and I thought it might be dry shampoo, but I'd just had my hair washed - it was still sopping wet.

The mysterious substance turned out to be this:

A hair thickening powder to add volume by Aveda. I don't know if it is this stuff or all the teasing she did to the hair on the back of my head, but it's now 12:30 at night and my hair is still looking voluminous and pouffy.

Of course D's hair looks better than mine, but when you're part chow, there's really no competition there.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Salsa Pasta

Twice a week the boyfriend has class at night, and I like to play house by having dinner ready for him when he gets home. We are not a very eco-couple, though, when it comes to grocery shopping. When I lived by myself I made it a point to plan all of my meals on Sunday, (I even used an excel spread sheet organized by day and type of meal - sick, yes, but economical too), thus ensuring I only made one trip to the grocery store a week. M. and I tend to go at least three times a week, as we only get what we need for each meal because we can't seem to plan out our food ahead of time - necessitating wasted mileage on our cars - awful, I know.

My point being, I wanted to make something quick, easy, low-fat, and vegetarian, so I contrived an interesting recipe that actually turned out really well. The fact that M. had two helpings testifies to my success.

So here is my first ever made-up recipe: "Weird Salsa Pasta"


1 package whole wheat egg noodles

1 tbs olive oil

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 cup broccoli florets

1 can beans - red beans and/or black beans, rinsed

Sliced olives

1 jar salsa (the kind without corn syrup in it)

1 small container fat-free cottage cheese

Shredded cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil noodles according to package

2. Saute pepper and broccoli in a skillet with olive oil

3. Add beans and olives to skillet, stir

4. Add vegetables and beans to drained noodles

5. Mix in salsa and cottage cheese, stir

6. Serve in a bowl and sprinkle with cheese

After he tried it he said "why haven't you made this before?" This adds to my theory that salsa makes everything better. That, and avocado.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Snow & Closings

Today we got our first snow storm of the year. I don't teach in district, so I have a 45 minute commute to get to work - and my district did NOT cancel!! It was the only district in that county that decided to have school. I took a look outside at 7AM, saw the snow blanketing the hill I live on, and called in a sub while feigning illness.

It's amazing how fast a day off goes by. I never did make it on my new Tony Gazelle as I had planned, but I did work on an article I would like to submit to the English Journal concerning my stance on homework. Basic premise: I don't give it because it never gets done when I do. Am I worried about the future of America's work ethic? Yes. You should be too.

I did accomplish something significant, though: the loan has finally been approved for the house I am going to renovate with my new company. Our first bank appraised it way under value, thus ensuring we would NOT have enough money to actually complete the project. And they were such dolls they had the low appraisal done two days before we were supposed to close.

Bad appraisal + immediate closing date = FUCKED and $500 earnest money gone.

Neeless to say, we switched banks. Our loan is now for $200,000, and that includes the purchase price of the house - $70,000, plus the construction money. The new appraisal is $240,000 upon completion, so ideally we will be seeing a nice turn around in six months or so. Our real estate market is semi-sheltered from the disasters going on elsewhere in the country.

Here is our salmon colored historic 1886 beauty:
It is going to be a very busy spring break, summer, weekends...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Oxymorons: Eco-terrorists

"By definition, an environmentalist cherishes all life - including greedy, thoughtless people." - John Hanna, founder of the (original) ELF

On CNN today, an article titled "Homes Burn in Act of Terror" caught my eye. Apparently, burning $2 million dollar homes (and subsequently wasting resources and threatening any and all surrounding wildlife) advances the cause of both eco and animal rights warriors. Do they really think people in position to enact substantial enviornmental changes are going to listen to violent temper tantrums? Perhaps extremists groups succeed at being intimidating, but they also excel at being aggrivating and discredited.

In my definition, a true eco-warrior would practice ahimsa, or extreme nonviolence, rather than extremist guerilla eco-warfare.

Prior to today, I have never heard of (save in passing) ELF or ALF, let alone the results of their terroristic tactics. Who have I heard of? Rachel Carson, Henry David Thoreau, Jane Goodall, Gary Snyder, William O. Douglas... etc. Does the public sit up and listen to these guys? A good lot of them, and that's a start.

Perhaps the members of ELF and ALF could channel some of their negative energy into the motivation to do something that would actually give their fellow conservationists eco-loving compatriots some credibility in the public eye.

And for my own little tirade - I'm quite sick of meat-eating-if-I-don't-see-it-then-it-didn't-happen people dissing on Peta. As long as they aren't blowing any one up while forcing people to face the ugly truth of their meat loving ways, then let them demonstrate without the feminist/decency/etc. attempts at denouncing them. If you can't face the truth about your food, then stop eating it.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

With the boyfriend out of town I am finally free to do all of the girly things I've wanted that have been growing into a rather lengthy list.

First thing to tick off: going to a chick flick (period films are automatically girly) with a fellow first year English teacher. The best part of the evening was in the first five minutes, when standing in line to get Sarah a sprite - a brave, pimpled and baby fat full young man behind us began chatting both of us up about what movie we were seeing. We humored his advances and eyed each other as we debated via ESP if we should inquire as to his age (16 - max) and reveal that the "girls" he chose to flirt with were literally old enough to be his teachers at 24 and 27. Oh, and one of us is two months pregnant, and as luck would have it we are teachers. Funny and creepy all at once. Also a reminder why I don't teach in the district where I live - running into students on the weekend is not my idea of relaxing!

The film, The Other Boleyn Girl, almost killed itself within five minutes as the dialogue and opening scene were both terrible and utter cheese. I liked it, though, for the same reason I liked Marie Antoinette. The costumes were sumptuous and I like it when the idea of royal figures is translated for modern audiences as total rockstar - because that is the royalty a modern audience understands. I did not like the dichotomy of Anne and Mary's personalities, though. Mary became 100% victimized, self-sacrificing angel and Anne never really deviated from crazy bitch after returning from her anachronistic trip to France. Although, there was something about the rape scene that added a sense of Anne's humanity in the film and seemed to symbolize Henry VIII's desire to literally devour women (just like he did food when got old, fat, and pus-full). Also to the film's credit, it did a good job of highlighting the exploitation of women as a means to political ends. Even Anne's ambitions were framed by the insatiable desires of her male relatives. While the extent of outside scheming in Anne's rise to power in order to garner wealth for her family may be stretched and fabricated for this movie, the concept of woman as pawn is by no means a unique occurrence in history, sadly. Sad, too, is the ending of the movie. But like Titanic, you walk into the theatre knowing the proverbial boat is going to sink. Unlike Titanic, though, I am much happier watching Jim Sturgiss play out a tragic male lead than Leo. Beautiful boy. Final verdict: good girls-only movie, but next time I'm going for romantic comedy rather than romantic period tragedy. In defense of Anne's decisions though - Elizabeth is an incredible asset to world history, but it's sad her mother's life had to be forfeited in order to set the course for her birth. On a happy note - more Jim!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fearing the Bikini

With the knowledge that spring is just around the corner, I decided it was time to put my two month exercise slump behind me and move my butt. This determination was sparked while riding in the car today, poking at the part of my stomach hanging over my jeans, and recalling a line from the novel Bridget Jone's Diary when an almost-lover told her, "you're all squashy!"

I do not want to be squashy.

It is a lot harder to exercise regularly since I have moved away from the neighborhood of my college-town into a city where there are too many cars to go for a neighborhood jog, and I have to drive almost twenty minutes to get to the nearest trail. I have had a gym membership since May, but at $50 a month and with little to no use in the past two months, I've decided to bid it adieu.

In it's place, I'm purchasing a Tony Little Gazelle on Saturday - used, and found on Craig's List. My dad and step-mother have an older model and I enjoy using it when I visit because the motion is fun, but it seems difficult to break a sweat while on it. But at the price of one month of gym membership and the prospect of saving gas, it's worth a shot. I'll report back on how it goes.

Perhaps with any luck, the cool weather will last long enough for me to work off my squash before heading out to the lake. It's amazing how frightening three small triangles of stretchy fabric can be.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Priceless: Saving Money

Today I had two realizations: both revelatory, one negative, one positive.

First, I learned that I actually did myself a disservice by cancelling the credit card I have had for four years, but who's reward service pales in comparison to the new card I received this year. I thought by cancelling the unused card I would be eliminating the potential for identity theft of the account, and reduce my potential debt on my credit score. Apparently, I did a bad thing.

Last night I read that by cancelling this card account I thus eliminated my credit history on that card. Not good. Now I only have a years worth of credit to my name as opposed to five. Is there really no way this card will stay on my record? Frustrating, as I literally just cancelled this card last week.

The second, and good, revelation is that I lowered my monthly car payment $200 by refinancing my loan from Toyota's 8% interest rate to a new, 5.4% interest rate with a different company. FABULOUS. I didn't realize you could refinance a car loan, and I also realized too late I was paying far too much per month on my auto loan. $200 banked is an excellent feeling. It will feel even better when I actually authorize a lower payment for the first time.

The third issue of the night is not revelatory at all but has gone on too long unchecked. My boyfriend and I practically live like we're married but he refuses to talk about marriage until next year. This is frustrating as I put all the effort in to coming to his place everyday, I moved to this city for him, and we talk about living together when his lease is up but members of my family would not think well of me if I did this, and living together was something I'd always looked forward to post-marriage. Can I even afford to live on my own without him splitting the bills with me?

I don't want to pressure him into marrying me, (that wouldn't work, anyway), but it upsets me that he won't talk about it sooner than "next year," and just assumes I'll keep coming over and helping keep house at his convenience.

Is this a common problem in relationships? Sometimes I tell myself to stop coming over, but that rarely works out.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Enjoying the Academy Awards in Sweat Socks

I would like to thank...

Green initiatives by the higher ups, and the Hollywood set for keeping in mind that they maintain the power to both influence and sway the American public’s mindset and actions - and every now and then do something positive in that respect. The president of Global Green USA, Matt Petersen is quoted saying "The Oscars is one of the most highly watched events around the world, and we want to use that lens to shine the light on environmental challenges and their solutions."

I’ve read a lot of articles that all seemed slightly disappointed at this year’s green initiatives in comparison with last year’s An Inconvenient Truth’s inspired fervor, but I’m still impressed that the extra effort of going green hasn’t been dropped for being inconvenient in itself. In the present state of affairs, it does take a little extra work to change the status quo of large carbon footprints , and I’m glad to see people making that effort.

It is also exciting to hear the news that at least one celebrity – Nancy O’Dell – was dressed by Linda Loudermilk, famously known for her mergance of couture design with an ethical mindset. I’m yet to find a picture of the dress, but I hear it is made of sea weed and vintage pieces. If I could afford to support ethical couture, I’d be all over that. Let’s vote for teacher’s raises and maybe it will happen.

At this point in the Oscars we have not made it to best picture, but Jon Stewart did just make a joke about hybrid air planes – which I hope is more prophesy than gest.

After watching all of the red carpet entrances, I want to put on all of my costume jewelry and my 4.5 inch pre-anti-leather Cole Haan pumps to go to work tomorrow. It seems glamorous in theory. In my opinion, pajamas and hospital scrub pants are the ultimate in high fashion – I wear them whenever given the opportunity. For now, I’ll continue watching glamour from my arm chair and hope that if and when I become a Hollywood screen writer – Jon Stewart’s opening joke concerning writers being invited to fancy swag parties as a sign of respect will again be a fulfilled prophecy.

Seriously – who’s idea was it to give all the best stuff to the richest people for free!? As an advocate for change, I would happily attend a gifting suite on behalf of people who don’t make a million dollars a month. That’s something I’d be thankful for!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Guilt-free laziness

My boyfriend and I have an arrangement where I "live" at his apartment over the weekend. This works for me, because he is borrowing my couches (bookshelves, pots and pans, etc.) while I save up money for my first house. Furniture aside, this arrangement is beneficial for him because I, being OCD over clutter, pick up his dirty clothes, deliver Tuesday night's macaronni dish from the desk to the dishwasher, and let our new dog - Diego - in and out while he is at work on Saturday.

Back in August, when I first began teaching 10th grade, I would always bring lesson plans and homework to grade home with me on the weekend. This idea was quickly nixed - I don't get paid enough to work overtime on weekends, and there is nothing I can do at home that can't be put off until the kids are watching a movie or taking a test. This philosophy, that work and personal projects will always wait for you, is the justification I use to spend Saturday's laying on my couch and watching home decorating shows.

In former years I suffered from a case of "inactivity guilt." Sometimes it still sneaks up on me. Essentially, this is the guilt that makes a person believe they should always be accomplishing something, and lounging moments should be few and far between.

So today, in celebration of a lazy, cloudy Saturday, I want to compile a list of reasons why doing nothing can be a beautiful thing:

*Most people do not get the recommended eight hours of sleep a night. While you can't "make up" lost sleep, you can re-charge yourself by treating your weekends like a mini-vacation - a time for much needed R&R!

*Stress can change people's attitudes and make them bitter and/or mean, especially towards people they are close to. Giving yourself a rest can make you a nicer and more enjoyable person.

*Laying on the couch is economical - it doesn't cost any money! If you were out at the mall or cruising Home Depot looking for projects, that would probably cost a lot of your hard earned dollars.

*Resting decreases anxiety. Walking into work on Monday with less anxiety will make you a better, more productive employee.

*When you lift weights, you tear your muscles and you need to rest in order for them to grow back stronger. Perhaps it is the same for your brain - you work it hard over the week, and then by letting it rest on Saturday, it functions faster and more efficiently on Sunday.

*When are the yogi's wrong? Shavasana, or corpse pose, is often used to both begin and end a good yoga workout. Shavasana involves letting all the muscles in the body untense and relax, and is utilized to quiet and calm the mind. Is it a coincidence that "shavasana" and "Saturday" are linguistically similar and both signal a start and an end? I think not. Untense away.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

First day on sight.

Today, while sitting at my desk and evilly making my students do individual seat work, I created a long list of topics I would like to write articles about. This extensive lists includes everything from how to pay taxes, (why the hell isn’t this a class offered to everyone in high school?), to how to organize a closet, to vegetarian cooking, to how to live life fabulous, underpaid, and well invested. The result of these musings? Green Bella.

I am a first year teacher, a co-founder of a home renovation and restoration company, a dog lover, possessed by a rampant curiosity, and an obscure knowledge connoisseur.

Bella Green: portfolio? Magazine? Self-indulgent reverie? Time should tell.
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