Sunday, December 6, 2009

For once, I applaud politics.

I had never heard of Diane Savino before today. Now, I wish I lived on Staten Island just so I could vote for her. She says everything I wanted to say but was unsure how to say it. A concise, complete, clear argument. Unconvinced? Watch until 3:10. There is something for everyone. Think it's a religious issue? She shoots that down and even allows that people who base their views on religion can still discriminate. So don't worry, you can still hate.
And for all those people who think that a relationship is not "valid" because the participants are not a man and a woman, watch the whole thing. Can you really say her arguments don't hold? They do. She's right.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I see London, I see France.......

It was a traumatic day today for many reasons. As we head into the 2 1/2 weeks before vacation, everyone is wound up, emotional and out of their minds. I try to keep things as normal as possible and in a regular routine. Then, I have conversations like this one that literally had me sitting down, laughing so hard I was crying.
Just before lunch, M comes up to me:

M:   Mrs. Lewis? I have a hole in my pants.
Mrs.Lewis.:   Let me see.
M: (holding his shirt down over the back of his pants)No.
Mrs.L.:   You need to let me see it so I can see if I have pins.
M:   No.
Mrs.L.:   OK, when we go to lunch, you can go to the nurse and see if she has extra pants or pins for the hole.
(We go up to lunch and I take him to the nurse's office)
Nurse:  M , Let me see the hole
M:   No.
Nurse:  Well, how big is the hole?
(M indicates a hole about 2 - 2 1/2 inches across)
I don't think I have anything that will help that, but let me see it.
M: No.

(Mrs. Lewis, looks at M's panic-stricken face and with a realization breaking over her, leans down)

Mrs.L.:   M, are you wearing underwear?
M: No.
M: I forgot.
Mrs. L:   Forgot?
M: Yeah. I got dressed really fast this morning and I guess I just forgot.
Nurse: You FORGOT? You CANNOT come to school commando! You MUST HAVE UNDERWEAR!

It was at this point, seeing the simultaneous looks of horror on the nurse's face and on M's face that I collapsed into the chair, laughing and gasping. Luckily, so did everyone else. So we got a rope, pulled up his pants and secured them, and he kept his shirt pulled down the rest of the day.
12 more days.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

This is the real America

I KNOW! It's been forever, but I have an excuse. And a reason for this post. My MIL was visiting this week, and so we were busy, busy, busy! My MIL is a retired second grade teacher, so she totally gets what I am talking about when I get on my soapbox. (Which I am about to do again.) It's so nice to be understood! One conversation, however, was really enlightening. I teach in a school that gets around 66% free lunch. For the uninitiated of you, that means that I teach in an area of high poverty. There are many middle-class families at our school, but there is also a very high rate of the "working poor". What is working poor? It's this.

  • Many kids in my school do without. Even though the parents work. And I do not mean do without Wii's, or trips to Disney. I mean many of my kids do without food and clothes.
  • There are kids in my school who go to bed hungry at night. Fortunately, they get breakfast and lunch at school. Still, they do not get three meals a day. 
  • There are kids that come to school in clothes that are either too small, dirty or both. 
  • There are children that come to school who have not bathed in a week. 
  • There are kids who do not get the medication they need or are dosed with only half because the families are trying to make the prescription last as long as possible until they can afford to get a new one. (even paying the $10 co-pay is a streach). 
My MIL was shocked and outraged (as everyone should be!) about this and really, really upset. "But this is America!" She said " I do not understand how people can let a child go hungry at night!". Mr. Lewis replied "Yes. This is America and this is what most of America looks like" Now my MIL was really lucky to teach in a fairly affluent area, so the things that I see did not necessarily show up in her school. But her district and her population are not the norm. My school represents a majority of America. And it is a distressing sight.

I have been reading a lot of Facebook posts lately and as we approach the holiday season, many people have been updating their status to say "I am thankful for...." I wonder how many people who write these things realize how fortunate they are and if they really mean it. Do you realize that you are lucky to have a roof over your head? Lucky to be able to get care when you need it? Even mundane things like pick up milk on the way home? If you can do all of that, you are fortunate indeed.

I would like to ask everyone reading to think about something: For the next two months, when you pass by a Toys for Tots location, a local food drive, a way to give to families and children in need, do it. Please. The $5 you spend on a latte or a fast food meal can be donated very easily. Then, when the holiday season in over, find a way to give again. And again. The holidays are only 6 weeks long, but the needs of these families last all year.
A little girl in my class is being thrown out of her mobile home in 2 days. I don't know if I will see her next week, because she does not know where she will be living. She is nine, and she does not know where she will be sleeping come Monday.

p.s. - For anyone, I recommend the book "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Erenreich. It's about the working poor in America who are trying to survive on minimum wage and it is a fascinating eye-opener.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Report Cards

Report cards came out on Friday. It's a rough time for kids, parents and teachers. I also want to know who decided to give out report cards the day before Halloween? That just seems mean. We have all the regular spaces in the report card for the letter grades, but then there is the section for marking things like "Uses time well", "Comes prepared for class" etc. If nothing is marked, an "S" for "Satisfactory" appears. If the teacher does mark that section, an "N" appears for "Not Satisfactory". Bad boy was looking at his report card and talking to himself. I heard him say "All right! Mostly S's! Oh, an "N" for following directions" He saw me looking at him. "I know I got an N for not following directions. You don't have to tell me twice!" I leaned very close to him and said "Yes, Bad Boy, I do have to tell you at least twice. Which is why you got the N"
He at least had the grace to look down and hide his face as he smiled.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dirty minds....again.

So all is now well in the Land of Lewis. The kids have all come back, but, of course, I am now sick and fuzzy-headed, which makes my reaction times slower. Which, as you will see, is a bad, bad thing. And they keep saying things like "How'd you get that cold?" I simply stare and let them gaze on my red-eyes, runny-nosed self. In keeping with the theme this year, my little ones continue to have their minds in the gutter.  This week, we are studying the /or/ and /ar/ spelling patterns. You know, like door, floor, argue, spark....those sounds. I had my small group of spellers-in-need with me at the back table. And guess who was with me? That's right. Bad Boy. We were breaking up and "graphing" our spelling patterns (where you space out the word according to the sounds). They were having a really hard time deciding how to break up the word "shoe". Is is a long "o" or a short "o" or something else all together? So I whipped out the white board and wrote down the following words:


and I asked if "shoe", even though it is spelled differently, sounded like any of these. Stupid, stupid me. I walked right into this one. The conversation that then happens (and it took place in, like, a second and a half!) right in front of me between Lip Gloss and Bad Boy:

L.G: That's not right
Mrs. Lewis: What's not right?
L.G.: Hoot
M.L.: What do you mean?
L.G.: It's supposed to be "Hooters", not hoot!
Bad Boy: She means "hoot" like the owl! Hooters is the restaurant, the place with the boobs! Hey! That has a long "o" sound too!
L.G.: What does?
B.B.: Boobs!

at which point the whole table lost it. And I had to pretend to drop my pen so I could duck under the table before they could see me laughing. They are definitely feeling better.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Save Yourselves!!!! Cough into your elbow.

My kids are dropping like flies and I am considering wearing a personal SCUBA suit with my own air supply to school. Yesterday, 5 kids were out and as the day wore on, I steadily lost more. The first one came to me about 9 am. "Mrs. Lewis? I really don't feel well" Normally, you look at a kid and say "Well, what does that mean? What doesn't feel well?" But you could totally see that this kid was truly ill. Glassy eyes, flushed, kind of teetering as he stood. So I sent him to the clinic where he was promptly packed up and sent home with a fever of 100.
30 minutes later?
"Mrs. Lewis?" That one threw up.
15 minutes after that? The next victim. Fever of 101.1
Then came, in this order, fever, fever, vomit.

By lunch time, the body count was at 5.
One girl managed to sneeze (and not once, like 5 million times)  through almost the entire day. I asked her if she had a cold but she swore it was just allergies. Watching her wilt after lunch, it was clear that she had also been struck down.  After making her way through an entire box of tissues, I sent her packing. Fever. 100.

Looking at the survivors, I declared it was "decontamination" time. Like "Hammer Time", but not as much fun.
Last year, my kids were always sick, so this year I bought the economy size jar of cold and flu antiseptic wipes in August. I thought I  was being super smart and that I would not need them until January. Wrong. Each kid got a wipe (or six) and we proceeded to clean desks, chairs, scissors, markers, door handles, table tops and anything and everything they touch. Now I am not a fan of the anti-bacterial stuff. I think regular soap and water is fine, and, in fact, I think you need a few buggers crawling around to keep you healthy. I don't like it and never, ever use it. But this is war! We have already been washing our hands like we were in some sort of OCD Olympic event, but now? Now we sing as we wash. 2 rounds of "Happy Birthday" as we scrub, rub and beat those germs into submission. We have watched a hand-washing video (yes, there is one from the CDC that we are actually required to watch) we have left all our windows open, even though this creates a tornado-like effect in our room and everything has to be weighed down. (Including some of the smaller children) While we are doing everything humanly possible to keep ourselves healthy, I realize that I may be waging a losing battle and that I may have been defeated already by a fourth grade ritual.  There was a sleepover Friday night. The majority of those there have already succumbed. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. I fear that by Thursday we will look like passengers on a Japanese commuter train. You know the ones that wear the white surgical masks?

I must believe, however, that I WILL BE VICTORIOUS! My remaining kids will stay healthy and hopefully some of the fallen will return this week. On the brighter side? We have been coloring and watching movies for 2 days. Can't get much done when half the class is gone. Now excuse me, I have to go find the 612oz  bottle of hand sanitizer I bought from BJ's.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Heart NY

So we have lived here in FL (Or the FLA, pronounced "flah" if you are in my family) for 4 years and we are almost at the beginning of our 5th year here. I never thought we would be down here this long, and I am mostly OK with it, but there are a few things I really, really, really miss. And a few I don't.

I Miss:

-My friends and family - being able to drive anywhere and see them within 5 hours.
-Fall - specifically the trees- (Although Jill tried to remedy this by sending me a huge picture of a Maple turning in N.H. - thanks, Jill!)
-The first snowfall
-Cold weather at Christmas
-restaurants that are not chains
-Pumpkin picking
-Apple picking
-Corn mazes (Yes, they have them here, but doing one in 90 degrees seems a little off-putting)
-New York City
-Real Christmas trees
-Cool summer nights
-Being near a major airport (an hour and a half is not near)

I Don't Miss:

-Scraping off the car
-The temperature in January at 7 am
-Having to bundle up before going outside. It's amazing the freedom when you don't have to think about it!
-November in the north. It's just gray.

I Like:
-Access to the beach at all times of the year
-The weather in January and especially in February

I Don't Like
-The Bugs. A well-established fact. The really, really, really big and plentiful bugs. And snakes. And rats. Oh! And sharks!

 I'm not sure how much longer we will be here, but I have gotten pretty used to it. Anyone who knows me will tell you I do not do well with change. I came down here literally kicking and screaming for a time, convinced that it was the most horrible fate ever. But I have established friends and colleagues who make it bearable and more fun than I thought. I like my job, I like my kids, I like the weather in February. So no matter how much longer we are here, and even though I miss all the things I listed above, I think I can survive. I just need a really big can of bug spray.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

This just made me laugh

I love these Anne Taintor designs. About 10 years ago, a friend of mine gave me a set of the coasters. They make me laugh every time I see them. In that time, I have seen almost all of the designs and they always crack me up. I came across a new one the other day, and it may be my favorite.

Friday, October 9, 2009


This is how I felt on Thursday. Ever have one of those days where you feel like if one more person speaks to you, you might, in all probability, explode? Yeah. That was me. Except I could not avoid 25 voices saying "Mrs. Lewis! Mrs. Lewis! Mrs. Lewis!" It was one of those days where you turn to the kids and say " I am changing my name, and I am NOT telling you what it is!" And then they just stare at you. The main problem, I have come to realize, is that I have a very, very young class. Last year, I had a dream class. They were amazing. Frustrating sometimes, but really, really amazing. They were also more mature. Which makes a HUGE difference. This year, my kids are really young and really immature. As a result, THEY DO NOT LISTEN! To ANYTHING!!!!  I know, 9 and ten year olds are not known for their powers of observation and keen insight as well as a strong sense of paying attention, but at 10 years old, you should be able to do the following directions:

1. Put your pencil down.
2. Place your bubble sheet on TOP of your test, face up.
3. When you have done that, look at me.

and they can't. They are incapable of COPYING an overhead. They cannot walk in line. They cannot even line up. You know line up? Where you stand behind the person in front of you? Behind? The direction you learned in kindergarten? Some days I feel like I have room full of Golden Retrievers. Really enthusiastic, jumping all over the place, super sweet,  but essentially lobotomized.

     I thought it was me. I thought "OK. We need to change tactics, we need to go over rules and do more listening activities." I thought maybe I had not made myself clear enough. But last Thursday, not one but two teachers who were working with my kids said "What is wrong with them? How have you not torn your hair out?" It was a comforting conversation.

By the end of the day, however, I had turned into Mean Mrs. Lewis. Normally, Mrs. Lewis is pretty loud, and kind of brusque, but she will joke and fool around with her kids. She loves her kids and will hug them, high-five them, and talk about interesting things with them. Mean Mrs. Lewis is a cranky, very loud, not very nice lady who takes over. And being around her is no joke. She snaps, she snarls and she makes the classroom a generally unhappy place to be. Mean Mrs. Lewis makes her appearance when she feels like she has repeated herself 52,000 times and has not been heard once. She shows up after regular Mrs. Lewis has been interrupted, tugged on, talked-back to and ignored for the better part of the day. Mean Mrs. Lewis makes her kids sit at their desks doing solo, silent worksheet after worksheet after worksheet. Mean Mrs Lewis says things like "Do not even THINK about raising your hand unless you are bleeding or there is a piece of bone sticking through your skin. If you are going to barf, use the trash can. I do NOT want to hear about it." At the end of the day, I said to my kids "You have two choices. We can have another day like today and tomorrow we will do nothing but worksheets while you sit at your desks in silence, or you can decide that you are going to listen, pay attention and follow directions and we can have a nice day. It's up to you . Think about it tonight. Now pack up."

Today, everyone played on the computer, everyone got to make-up their work and hand it in, we went outside for recess, we watched a science movie and Mrs. Lewis did not have to raise her voice once. It was a lovely day. A fact I pointed out to them several times over the course of the eight-hour time-block we are together. Now I have a feeling that Mean Mrs. Lewis will be making an appearance again, but I don't think it will be in the near future.

P.S. - Today was picture day. It was 96 degrees with 98% humidity. We had pictures taken after PE (in Florida there are no gyms so PE is outside) and after lunch. Which was pizza. I cannot wait to see the photos.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Kid on the Block

Whenever you get a new student, it is always cause for concern. Will they fit it? How will you help them fit in? Will the other kids be nice to them? How will this kid change your classroom chemistry? Will they make you want to scream now or will they wait until later? Are they going to have high-maintenance parents? Will they be high maintenance? You are just as nervous as the kid who walks through your door. The audition is for both of you, and you hope you both pass.
           One of my colleagues in third grade is getting a new student on Monday (it is actually stunning that she knows this far in advance. I like when they knock on your door at 7:49 and introduce you to the new student for the first time as the 7:50 bell rings.) Anyway, she mentions she is getting this new kid and wants to know if a certain fourth grader knows him as well. The fourth grader pipes up and says "Yeah! I know him! And I know why his mom Tasered him, too!"

She is really looking forward to Monday.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

An Open Letter to Super Teachers Everywhere!

Dear Fellow Teachers,

Thank you for being so great in the classroom. Thank you for being creative, for being a sounding board, for being generally awesome and dedicating yourselves to our little friends. But we need to talk.

For many years, I have watched you, coming to school in sweatpants, sneakers (and I don't mean cute ones. I mean cross-trainers.) and hoodies. I have seen you enter the building and wondered if you came in to write your sub plans and leave because you were sick. And then I watched you stay. To teach. In SWEATPANTS! I have seen you stand in front of parents, students and administrators looking like you had just rolled out of bed and were going to run to the grocery store. I have seen you in jeans that look old and faded. I have seen you wear tank tops that look like gym-wear and t-shirts that belong on teenagers. I wanted to shake you, I wanted to yell and I wanted to strangle you. But most of all, I just wanted to take you shopping. 

"I don't have time for shopping" you say.
"I don't have the money for shopping" you cry.
"It does not matter what I wear. I am a super teacher and my students will learn regardless!" you roar!

Guess what. You do, you do and it does. Let me tell you how and why.

Issue #1 You don't have time for shopping.
Yes, you do. You have time to have drinks after work, you have time for shopping. You have time for Facebook on your computer, you have time for shopping. Get to the mall, or Target, or Kohls and pick up a pair of pants that fit you. A top with sleeves. Shoes that would not help you make a quick get-away in case of an armed robbery. Can't make it there? Welcome to the wonderful world of online shopping. Get out your credit card, I will show you how to get free shipping, and buy something. It takes 10 minutes and you don't have to go anywhere. Every store now has a website. Find it. Use it. Please.

Issue #2 You don't have the money to go shopping
Really? You have money to spend on classroom supplies but not on yourself? You have money to spend on going out, but not on your wardrobe? You spend money on stupid tchotchkes with cats dangling from a branch that say "Hang in There!" but you cannot bring yourself to spend $20 on a pair of pants that do not sag in the butt and actually fit you? Please. My friends, clothing options abound in this day and age. I am not saying "Get thee to Bloomingdale's and buy $500 Alexander McQueen sequin leggings" I am not even saying "Get thee to Macy's and spend $100 on Ralph Lauren or J.Crew" I am saying drag yourself over to Old Navy and slap on a pair of trousers that will run you about $30. Less if they are on sale and you have a coupon. Which I do. You can borrow it. Make sure the pants have a waist, make sure they have a button or snap closure. No drawstring. Make sure they reach down PAST your ankles. Get a top. One with some sort of sleeve. One that fits. NO SWEATSHIRTS! If you don't like the tops, get a pair of shoes. Real shoes. They have flat ones and they are comfortable. NO SNEAKERS. The whole trip should run you about $45-$50. Don't like Old Navy? Fine. Look in the sales racks of Talbots, Ann Taylor or Macy's. You can find basic pieces for as little as $12.

Issue #3: It doesn't matter what I wear, I know what I am doing and my kids will still learn.
Yes, Super Teachers everywhere, yes. You DO know what you are doing. You are all smart, wonderful teachers. You are creative and caring and despite the mountains of crap that get piled on us you still manage to provide your students with wonderful experiences. But I listen to your complaints. I hear you when you say "There is no respect for us!" I understand you when you let loose a tirade against parents who don't trust you and who undermine you. Guess what? Part of the reason the kids and parents get away with what they do is the way you dress. You think I am crazy. That it does not matter, but it does. Stop looking like a slob.
When you show up looking like you just rolled out of bed, you exude no authority. No confidence. Nothing that says "Hey! Guess what? Not only do I know what I am doing but I am in charge here. This is my domain, and I rule!" If you walked into a courtroom and saw a judge dressed in her pajamas, you would lose a little respect for her. You might think of her as your buddy. "Hey! She dresses like me!" But she is not your buddy. It is her court room and she makes the rules. The robes of office exude a certain power. They send a message. Your classroom is your court room.
People in business dress in suits and professional wear because it shows a respect for what they do and for their fellow associates. They wear things that say "I take this job seriously, and you need to as well." They do not wear t-shirts that say "Abercrombie" or "Hollister" because they are not 14. And neither are you.
Now, please, do not put on a suit. But stop looking like you forgot that you have a job and that you are in a position of authority. Show parents and administrators and your students that you respect what you do and you respect the people around you. You would not show up in jeans at a wedding, right? Why? Because it's not appropriate. Because it shows no respect for the occasion. Why would your job require anything less? You are a professional. Act like it.

"But I won't be comfortable!" you wail. Grow up. Suck it up and get over it.If your clothes fit, you will be comfortable. You can be perfectly comfortable as well as appropriately dressed.
"I don't live in a fancy place!" comes the grumble. "I need to identify with my population!"That is a bull***t excuse. I am not saying put on the Chanel, I am saying stop looking like a slob. Just because your district is not fancy is no excuse for you to be slovenly. Cotton is washable. Last week a teacher at my school wore dark, tailored jeans, a really cute white top, makeup and adorable shoes. She looked great. And not fancy. She looked put together and casually professional. I would have saved the jeans for Friday, but whatever. It goes to show it can be done. So do it.

That's all, my fellow Educators. Please think about what I have to say and when you go to your closet Monday morning, let your hands skip over the hoodie, trail past the saggy terry cloth capri's and find their way to the black chinos you then pair with real shoes. Your profession will thank you. And so do I.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


OK, I think something is in the water at school, because in addition to THIS, I heard the following conversations in my room this week. Let's keep in mind, people, it's only Wednesday.

Conversation 1.

Mrs Lewis overhears the tail end and can only imagine the beginning:
Student A: Oh. I thought you said "whore"
Student B: Not "whore". What's a "whore"?
Mrs. Lewis scrambles over to divert the rest of the conversation.

Conversation 2:

Bug Boy, looking up science words: Mrs. Lewis?
Mrs. Lewis: Yes Bug Boy?
BB: What's an orgasm?
M.L.: Excuse me?
BB: What's an orgasm?
M.L.: Bug Boy, do you mean an orGANism?
BB: Yeah
M.L.: A living thing
BB: Oh, that's not what it says here.
(Mrs. Lewis walks over - quickly- and turns BACK the page on the big dictionary)
M.L: Look here
BB: Oh. OK. Thanks.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Well Wishers

I have had a chronic ear infection for about 2 years now. Last week, my doctor put me on new medication. My body does not like it and neither do I.  I took the first (and last) pill Tuesday night around 10 and by 3 am I was puking my guts up. In addition to all kinds of other intestinal distress, I puked so hard I burst blood vessels in my face and a blood vessel in my ear. It was lovely. I decided, however, that if I had stopped throwing up by 5 am, then I could probably go to school. Sometimes, believe it or not, it is just easier to go in and have the kids watch a movie and work on spelling than to try to get all the nine million things done for a sub. Plus, I am super picky about my subs and only want the two I like in my room. Yes, these are the things teachers think about even while praying to all kinds of gods a 3 a.m., porcelain or otherwise.
Anyway, I went in, because after falling asleep at 5 am and not waking up until 6:30, it was too late to call anyone to come in for me. Big, giant, huge mistake. I was nauseous all morning and silently retching behind my desk. (not, btw, easy to do.) One colleague said I looked gray. One told me they had never seen me look so bad, and everyone kept asking if I was ok. Finally, at 8:45 when I threw up during my break, I knew the party was over. I got my kids from PE and as they were doing their writing, arranged to grab one of my favorite super-subs (and all around pal) to come fill in. She was volunteering in a kindergarten room that day and was around. In the meantime while I was waiting, my kids just kept staring at me as if waiting for me to blow. Bad Boy even asked me "Mrs. Lewis, do you need a trash can?" At 9:45, I grabbed my stuff, my sweet little friends all said good-bye, that they hoped I felt better, and all the other things 9-year-olds can yell to their green and gross teacher as she is trying to leave before things get worse. As the door closed behind me and I sighed with relief, I heard one concerned voice get in a final farewell:

"Don't puke in the car, Mrs. Lewis!"

Thanks, guys.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why I Love Football Season

Football season is here. Not just NFL football, but high-school football. And I am thrilled. "But wait!" you say. "You hate football. Despise it! Think it is possibly the stupidest game EVER!" You are right. Nevertheless, I am thrilled it is here. And I will tell you why.

By the time Friday night rolls around, I am totally knackered. All I want to do is come home and fall face-down on the couch/bed/any flat surface. I don't want to talk/interact/see anyone. Including my husband. Joyfully for me, Mr. Lewis covers high school football. In the south, this means one thing: Friday Night Football games. They are a religious experience around here, and I still do not understand why grown people who have no children in the school, no grandchildren at the school, nor any connection to the school whatsoever persist in attending these games. Please, I beg to know, what is the attraction? But that's another rant for another time.

Anyway...because Mr. Lewis is covering these football games, he is usually working until 11:00. Which for me means peace and quiet and solitude and bad t.v. with no one to make fun of me and possibly a nap and no making dinner and maybe a long phone call with someone I have not talked to in a while with no interruptions. It is a glorious evening. I really, really love it.

Beyond Friday night I also have Sunday afternoon to look forward to. Mr. Lewis is an unabashedly devoted Jets Fan. Seriously, he is really devoted. It's kind of sad since all they do is lose.  However, because we live in Florida (and the Jets are a NY team), Jets games are not shown on regular cable TV. Oh no. They are ONLY shown at the sports bar where they have the satellite t.v. package. (conveniently located about 100 yards down the street) So Mr. Lewis has to trot himself over there to watch the continual slaughter. In his Jets jersey. And hat.

"Mrs. Lewis, you are MEAN!" you say. "Don't you WANT to spend time with your beloved on the weekend? After all, you both work, you are both busy, didn't you get married so you could be together?" Well, yes friends, we did get married so we could be together, but I did not get married so that every Sunday I would be subjected to hearing the yells and screams and foot-stomps (yes, he stomps his feet) that accompany the aforementioned spouse's watching of the NFL. So... off he goes. (Side note: I once offered to drive over and pick him up after a loss, but he told me "No. I need to walk this off". That is how seriously he takes these games and I ask you all: really?)

 This separation on Sunday truly is a win-win situation for us both. I get at least 4 hours of lovely solitude and Mr. Lewis gets to yell and pace and eat things like a pulled pork sandwich or a "french dip au jus" or a bacon cheeseburger. With fries. These are things he will never see in this house on these plates and so he relishes them. Everyone is happy.

I have at least 3 months of all this bliss ahead of me. I plan to love and take advantage of, every minute of it. And that, my dear readers, is why I love football season.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Yesterday we were happily doing our math. Everything was humming along and Bad Boy says - in the total silence, loudly and without any hint of shame- "Mrs. Lewis? What's a prostitute?" He even said it correctly. I was not sure he said what I thought he said so I said "What?!"
"What's a prostitute?"
"Bad Boy, does that have anything to do with place value? No. Get back to work."
I had to turn around to hide the laughing.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

An Ode to Morrissey

Oh, Steven Patrick. How I adore thee. Your giant hair, your amazing eyebrows. For 17 years, I have loved you from afar. I know I came to you late in my life, but in 1985 I was 9. I knew nothing of angst. When I was 15, possibly the coolest girl in my high school mentioned The Smiths to me. I found out who they were and I have been devoted to you ever since. I mark it as the beginning of my life as an Anglophile.  For me, Every Day Is Like Sunday.  You are The Light That Never Goes Out. I have seen you as the tragic hero and thought, much like every teenage girl in the world “If we could only find each other, I could be the one to make him happy”. Hours were spent in my room staring at pictures of you and Davy Jones. (I know, totally weird, but both English. Love at 15 cannot be explained.) Imagined scenarios floated around in my head involving the two of us and great swaths of gray, wet, windy English countryside. Lots of tweed.  
But I grew up. Others came and moved into the space in my heart that you once occupied. Michael Stipe. Robert Smith. Hugh Grant. (briefly). Music no longer had the same hold on me as it did at 16, 17 or 18. 20 saw a brief resurgence when I lived in Bath and you were everywhere, but alas, I came back.  
                    At 25, NPR wound its way around the emotional trellis of my being and choked off the part that once wore brown lipstick called “Toast of New York” and carried a black and steel box for a purse. Dust covered my 14-hole Doc Martens. (that I still wish I had bought with the heel.) I did not marry an English guy. 
                     At 30 I got an ipod and began filling it with podcasts and books. Amusing, but never really soul-touching. Have you ever thought of reading books on tape? I could totally get behind that one. Loved the endless possibilities of the ipod, but never felt it was a necessity in my life. If I did not have it, the sun would still rise. Music had taken the way-back seat in my life. 
                     The years passed. But, My Unrequited Love, I have news. Recently I saw a trailer for a new movie  “(500) Days of Summer” In it was one of your songs. A tremor went through me. It was like recognizing an old friend out of the corner of your eye. Suddenly, my head was filled with all kinds of lyrics. All kinds of melodies. Your voice. And so I ran to my CD collection, loaded up the CD’s and put them all on my ipod. Suddenly it was 1993. I was wearing plaid and you were telling me that Meat was Murder and The Queen is Dead. Frankly, Mr. Morrissey, I was in bliss.  Through the miracle of the ipod I have your whole catalog at my fingertips. And on Tuesday as I drove home, I cranked you up and sang with you as loud as I could. Even though it was pouring. Even though I probably should have been paying closer attention, I was yelling my head off and rocking out in the car. It was a beautiful sight. I knew at that moment you were back in my life for good, reclaiming your place in my heart.
                       At 33 I realize the foolishness of my teenage dreams. I know we can never really be together. I know that even if we meet, you can never be happy. It’s just not who you are. You revel in the vegan-ism, the depression, sadness, angst and unrest. But it’s o.k.  I have your music. I have what I need. And somewhere, hidden deep in the recesses, I have my Doc Martens. I am totally going to put them on, crank you up and rock out.

10 days down....170 to go!

3 things to talk about this week:

So the last two weeks have been We started our school year with the death of a colleague who had been very sick. We all hoped she was going to make it, we all hoped she was going to join us for the year, we all hoped she would be part of our lives again. Alas, it was not meant to be and she passed away the Friday before school began. So the year started out rough. Viewing the first day, funeral the second. (death in Florida is weird. Seriously. The night before the funeral, you literally line up on one side of the funeral home, walk past the coffin to "view it" and then walk out the other side in a giant circle. That's it. It's like a drive-by! One of my colleagues and I sat down thinking that, you know, there would be words or something. Nope. Another colleague informed us that that was it and what were we waiting around for? Okaaayyyy...)Although she and I were not good friends, she was one of those people who was just really nice, you know? One of those people who had a kind word for everyone and always had something nice to say to you. It was doubly sad for the kids who had her as a teacher in the past. One of the positive things that came out of all this if indeed such a thing can happen,  was that the person who has taken over her class so far is a woman who has been at my school since God was a child. Like 42 years or something. She was forced to retire 2 years ago and subbed all last year. To see her back at our school, despite the circumstances, is a great thing. She is an amazing teacher. She is a super rock-star of teaching, and all though we don't know how long the district will let her stay with us, I know that if the kids in this room could not have their assigned teacher this year, Ms. B. is a hell of a sub. She is the kind of teacher I wish I had had. So that was how our year began. Sad.
My friends are beginning to settle down into a routine and I am discovering all their little quirks. True conversation while they were working on their Social Studies foldable. (FYI for those of you not in the know, a foldable is a study and /or review aid that is disguised as an arts and crafts project.)

DRAMA GIRL: (to 5 other girls sitting at her table) You know Ted Kennedy is dead? It's sad. My life is sad (She is 9)

From across the room, no idea where it came from, comes another voice: Didn't someone shoot him?

DG: Yeah, I think so.

ME: (from my desk) No one shot Ted Kennedy.

DISEMBODIED VOICE: Well I know someone someone shot Obama.

ME: No one shot Obama

DV: So Ted Kennedy got shot?

ME: No.

Another DV: Then who shot Obama?

DG: No one! Don't you listen?

ADV: Someone got shot, all I am trying to find out is who! Geez! So who shot Ted Kennedy?

ME: (standing in the middle of the room) No one got shot! No ONE! Kennedy had brain cancer, he died after being sick and this has NOTHING to do with your Social Studies! Now get back to work!

silence descends......until after a slight pause you hear:

ADV: Does brain cancer hurt as much as getting shot?


The thing is, this whole conversation took about 3 seconds, pinged across the room and did not faze me at all. It made me laugh later in the day, because honestly, in fourth grade, this is exactly how the whole day operates.

I have a little friend in my class we will call Bad Boy. Bad Boy is not bad, but he thinks he is. I had his brother last year, and if I had to live up to that....well, I would want to consider myself a Bad Boy too. So Bad Boy and I have a relationship from last year, and I think we understand each other. He and I get along and right now, that's a great thing. On Thursday he came up to me and motioned for me to lean over. (he is pretty short). He whispered in my ear "Mrs. Lewis, I did all my homework!" Now this may not seem like a lot, but for Bad Boy, it is huge! I looked at him and said "All RIIIIIIGHHTTTT!!!!  HIGH FIVE! Now I have to do my Bad Boy dance in celebration!"
(My kids all get their own dances in my room. If they do something awsome, I will treat them to the dance named after them. It's pretty dorky, but they love it and think it's just about the funniest thing they have ever seen.)
I did my Bad Boy dance. He stood totally still for about 5 seconds after, looked at me and said "I will always do my homework for the rest of the year if you promise not to ever to that again"

Deal, Bad Boy, Deal.

Monday, August 24, 2009

We now return to our regularly scheduled program

Well, friends we have arrived.
The first day of school. Always interesting. 19 kids, 9 boys and 10 girls, which is a nice change because I am always boy-heavy. I collected them from the court, brought them to the door and told them where to go and what to do. We spent 20 minutes putting our school supplies away and then went to music. We came back, and to be honest with you, I have no idea what we did for the next 2 hours. But we were busy, we were sharing, we were motivated to fill out our "All about Me" paper. No one cried, no one yelled, and one of the kids (now known as Bug-Catcher- you will see why soon) was able to identify Vivaldi's Four Season's as it played. I have hope. Maybe.
We went to lunch, we came back and as I was getting ready to pass out folders a HUGE cockroach crawled out of the folders. I mean big. This thing was a good 3 inches long! THAT WAS JUST IT'S BODY! I do not do well with bugs, and these suckers make my skin crawl. Of course, I did not see the cockroach until one of the kids...very quietly.... said "Mrs. Lewis, there is a giant cockroach on the folders" I screamed and threw them down while at the same time managing to fly across the room. It was at that moment that Bug-Catcher said "I'll get it!" He valiantly ran up, squished it and as we all watched he lifted it up by it's antennae and said "Bye-bye cucaracha!" and threw it out the door. Today, he is my hero. And the Bug Catcher for the rest of the year!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Drum roll....... please.

When I walked into my classroom last Tuesday, it looked like this:

a sad, sorry mess. The first thing I did was try to move a bookcase. And it collapsed and broke. Then I reached into my desk, only to discover (15 minutes later) that a blue ink pad had been set in it's side and slowly dripped all summer. On to plastic. So it never dried. But that was the 15 minutes later when I looked at my hands, discovered they were blue but had touched other things, including my pants. My hands are still blue. After 3 and a half days, various meetings, glue, tape, scissors, staples, duct tape, standing on chairs, cleaning everything in sight and the help of a wonderful custodian who is my serious new best friend, it looks like this:

The saddest part of all this is that I wanted to take pictures, because my room will never, ever be this sparkling, shiny, glossy or clean ever again. Notice how the floor literally shines. Friends, it is a thing of beauty. I lay on the floor today just because it was clean. It will never be this good again.

Anyway, while laying on the floor I realized that I have worked solidly. So hard for 3 days. So tired and literally aching, but despite it all, I am ready for "Meet the Teacher" morning tomorrow. (Which is really stupid, btw. Did you ever "Meet the Teacher"? No. You showed up the first day, met her and your parents went to "Back To School" night. I vote we go old school.) Now, here is the kicker. Although the room is physically ready, I realized in a true state of total panic that have made no plans at all. None. No homework, no math, no social studies, no science. NOTHING. Usually I can skate by the first few days with test/procedures/etc, but we don't have that this year. So in my panic induced state I ran to my computer and started furiously ordering spelling, grammar, math, science..... however...... when I tried to actually place the order ( we have the weird system where you send your pdf's to a central "copy center" and they send it back to you at school) my computer would not let me! AAARRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is going to be a very interesting year.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

This is just bizzare.

Watch this. It is real. It is strange, and it is awesome!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

4 days

That's all I have. 4 days left. 4 days until the sweating and grunting begins. Yes, folks, it's time to head back to school. Time to set up a room for 23 (or 24, or 25) individuals I have never met. Time to spend 3 1/2 days on ladders with staplers ( no idea where that is, btw), duct tape, hammers and assorted other tools required to make my room a homey, inviting environment where little minds can absorb 4th grade knowledge only to spit it out again in March for the FCAT. The best part is it all has to be done by Friday morning for "Meet the Teacher" morning when the masses descend, and I have to look presentable. This also has to be squeezed in between the meetings we need to have (I have already counted 3) and the general running around to gather all your stuff from last year. I am further helped by the fact that I thought I was going to move my room, and packed EVERYTHING!! When I was not moved, the most expedient thing was to shove it all on shelves and in drawers so I could be out on time. Got rid of a lot of stuff, but the rest of it is a mess. My desk is a horror.
This year, I managed to leave on June 10th and not step foot on campus until the dreaded 18th. Unusual for me, as I tend to be in at least the week before just to get organized. This year, nope. Nothing. I REFUSE!!! I have been very obstinate this summer, and although I have been collecting supplies since July, I refuse to go into teacher mode. Which is why, come Tuesday at 7:30 am, when I walk through that door, it will totally bite me in the ass. Man....I am screwed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Take Me out to the Ball Game.......

So I am back in NY this week after being gone. Florida for 9 days and then back here because of a wedding in Mystic CT to attend. One of the things we did last Thursday was attend a Brooklyn Cyclones game. Now I have already espoused my love of minor league baseball here: But I have never been to a Brooklyn Cyclones game. They are an offshoot of the Mets and the stadium is built on the site of the old "Steeplechase Park" which was one of the very first amusement parks to be built on Coney Island over 100 years ago. This is an image of the park during it's heyday. The very tall structure on the right is the famous "Parachute Jump" You can also see the "Wonder Wheel" to the left.
This park played a huge role in the history of Coney Island, and as a tribute to that history (and because it achieved Landmark Status) the stadium of the Cyclones was built around the now-defunct structure of the "Parachute Jump"
In fact, from the seats at the stadium, you can also see the "Wonder Wheel", which is still in operation as well as the Island-defining "Cyclone" roller coaster, one of the only wooden roller coasters left in the US. You can actually heart the screams of the people as they take that first dangerous drop. The stadium is beautiful and the crowd is not to be forgotten. Seats are all close to the action, and everyone seems to know everyone else. There are families, couples, teenagers, every kind of person seems to be there. They even have cheerleaders. At a baseball game.
I particularly enjoyed the man sitting behind me who told (screamed) to the umpire (after a horrendous call) that he was "too stupid to live", he should "get glasses" and "throw yourself out of the game". I loved that you could get not only an original Nathan's Famous hot dog, but, depending on your stomach, a knish, dumplings and an array of Kosher treats. I would LOVE to know what other ball park has that kind of variety! This is a view of
what the ball park looks like today. In the distance is a view of an endless stretch of ocean. Coney Island and the image we hold of it may be gone, but this ballpark goes a long was to holding onto the Coney Island magic we all wish were still around.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hidden Gems

Even though I currently reside in "Gods Waiting Room", one of the cool things about being able to visit and stay with my parents in NY is how you find these very unexpected things. While recently at the NY Historical Society, my parents and I decided to go have dinner at this Greek restaurant in Queens recommended by my mother's dentist. (I really don't get that either but....anyway) She found the name and using my lightening fast (in comparison with said parents) techno skills on my phone, found the address. Using further techno skills with the GPS, we found our way to Astoria, where we gorged ourselves on excellent Greek food and I had the BEST fish ever. I don't know how they do it, but they got it crispy on the outside, moist inside, and with nothing but olive oil and lemon. It must be in their blood. turns out that this place is at the edge of Astoria Park. And you can walk on these incredibly well-lit paths all along the east river and under the Triboro bridge. Which is where this picture that I took can be found. Never knew!!!!! The super-awesome thing about this park is that it is HUGE!!!!!!! It winds super far along the river edge and there were families out, a Mr. Softee truck, people in their cars listening to the radio, it was very, very cool. I totally want to go back, but you know it will never be quite the same as the first time. If you live near the area, take a subway, ride your bike and go. Maybe you can make photos as pretty as mine!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thank You, Dawn Cole

I was thinking the other day how much I hate those STUPID facebook quizzes, and how I hate the people who take them all the time. (Yes, I take some of them, but not every day and I don't publish every result. Geez, people!) I was going to say something about it. I don't need to. This says it best. Enjoy.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Every year, my college girlfriends and I try to get together. We met almost 15 years ago, and it is NOT easy. One year, someone went to Chili. (Sarah!) (Not Chili's, the restaurant, CHILI the COUNTRY). Another year, it was an impromptu get-together in NYC and not everyone could be there. Then we had our 10 year college reunion and I could not be there because of school. We realized the last time we had been together as a group was my wedding nearly 3 years ago, and really, I was a little distracted. Doesn't count. Finally, finally we managed 36 hours together this weekend.

Since the last time we did this, there have been weddings, babies, break-ups, psudo-break-ups, religion changes, housing changes, partner changes. There have been new cars, new houses, new cities and lots of news in general. We now have, between us, 5 undergraduate degrees, 3 Masters, 1 law degree, a graduate of the Swedish Institute and 2 PhD's. But the thing that I find most amazing is that even though I don't see these women all that often, or speak to them on a regular basis, I can still pick up the phone and say, without even pausing, "Danielle, put Nora on the G**amn phone because she has the f#!*ing thing off and I told her to keep it on because I am lost" and it she does. Without questions, hassle or harassment. We have been separated over the years through many miles  and though days, months and years might go by, I know any one of them would open a vein for me and fly wherever I was if I needed them.

This weekend, we laughed, we ate, we interrupted each other, talked over each other and yelled. We were distracted by babies and phones and husbands who called, and it was totally exhausting, but totally worth it. I hope we are still doing this 15 years from now. I love this picture because it shows us as we are most of the time when we are together, and it's how I will always picture us. To us!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I'm a Major Minor

Tonight I went to a Long Island Ducks baseball game. IT WAS GREAT! I L.O.V.E. minor league baseball. The tickets are cheap, the stadiums are usually pretty small so you can see what is going on, you can get tickets less than a week a head of time and if it's not a Friday or Saturday night, you can usually walk up to the box office for tickets under $10 each. The stadiums are really family-friendly, and you can get the kids hot dogs, sodas and pretzels for less than the first year of college tuition. There are stupid but funny games between innings (Michael loves the "Dizzy Bat Race), and everyone is usually having a great time. There are no screaming fans, no one yelling profanities in your ear, and no one spilling beer all over you (most of the time). We have been going to minor league games for years, and although the Ducks are not in the MLB minor league, they are still interesting. I am not a huge baseball fan. In fact, I am not a huge sports fan, but I like going to live events because I like the atmosphere. Half the time, I have no idea what is going on, but I have a good time anyway. Use the title link above to find a minor league team in your area. Then GO! Unless you require your baseball experiences to cost more than your car payment, and you insist on sitting in a tiny seat wayyyyyy up high, you will love this. Now, a major league game can be fun, and it is great to see the stadiums, but for a regular evening out, you cannot beat minor league baseball. Trust me.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I know, I know.........'s been a few...well... months! since I posted, and to tell the truth, there has been so much going on that I really did forget that this even existed for a while! However, my husband has decided to begin his own little blog aftger being the "guest blogger" on his friend Jeff's site:

After helping Michael set up his stuff, I realized I had been neglectful, and a bad, bad, bad blog mother. I would forget, and then it seems like it would be such a long post to catch up, so I never did. And then I would get mad at myself. (and also get mad at the other people I read who don't post all the time. Am I allowed to do that? no. Thought not. ) So I am making a pledge, to be a better, more faithful blogger. I cannot possibly post every day, but maybe 3 times a week. Baby steps, people.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


We just got back from spending a week in NY with my family and Michael's family. A great time was had by all. We had a family Palm Sunday dinner, Seder at my MIL's, saw "Gods of Carnage" with Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Harden and James Gandolfini, and wandered around lower Manhattan. I got to spend a great deal of time with my family and I am really looking forward to my summer vacation! The best part, however, was getting to meet Evelyn M. Charles, 3 month old daughter of Allison and Edgar. She has a wonderful disposition, is super-cute and is lucky to have such great parents. I like to give some of my favorite books as baby gifts, because babies will grow out of clothes, but a love of reading is something that will grow with you, and hopefully turn into a life-long love.I gave her "The Giving Tree" because there are many messages that one can take from it and use through all stages of life, even though it is a very simple book. I also had the distinct privilege of reading to Evelyn her very first book. That was an honor. As was a luxurious 2 1/2 hour dinner with her mother! It also made me realize that now, my friends and I are the grown-ups. When did that happen? All these children are now in the world, and we are the ones responsible for them! It all seems a bit overwhelming. Tomorrow, back to reality and my 23 hellions.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Eleanor Roosevelt

Last week we were finishing our "Women's Biography" project in school. Each child gets a famous woman and then has to fill in a sheet with facts about that woman. Birth, death, famous because, etc. Plus five additional facts about that woman. I find that my kids come up with really interesting things that they think should be in the report. For example, did you know that Clara Barton's mother was disappointed in her? These are the things my kids put in because they think that is what people want to know. The absolute best conversation I had, however has to do with Eleanor Roosevelt. "K" came up to me and asked me to look over her first draft. As I did, I noticed one small detail that was not correct. "K" I said, "Eleanor Roosevelt did not survive the sinking of the Titanic."
"Yes she did!" K insisted
"No, sweetheart" I said "I am positive that she was not even on the Titanic."
"Yes, she was, look!" she says pointing to a picture in a biography about E.R.
"Honey, I want you to look at the picture of the ship and tell me the name"
"No, Sweetie, look again"
"Once more"
"Bri-tann-ia. Oh. Never mind."
Sigh. I really heart my kids.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Someone find a chase the FCAT away!

It begins tomorrow. The dreaded FCAT. For those of you who are not aware, the FCAT is the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, otherwise known as the FCAT. This is a test that has been designed to comply with the No Child Left Behind policy that states must have a way to test all students in 3rd -12th grade. In third grade, students who do not pass the FCAT do not pass third grade. Even if they have all A's and B's, from their teacher, even if their teacher, parents and principals believe they should move on to 4th, they don't. Because they did not pass a stupid test. Two years ago I had six kids who failed. Last year, no one. This year, who knows? I have had a 9 year old with ulcers who could not sleep because he was worried about the FCAT. This was my brightest student who ended up passing with no problem, but ulcers?

My kids have already taken the "FCAT Writes" also known as "Florida Writes" which is supposed to prove how well my kids can spit out an essay. I will tell you right now, I have 5 kids who will fail. Three of whom will fail because their first language is not English and another child because he has such difficulty writing that he has special writing help. Another child I have will fail because he wrote 3 sentences in the 40 minute period the test was given. This is a child who can write, but only when he feels like it. That day, he did not feel like it. I have an entire folder of items these children have written. I have pages and pages of documentation showing their progress throughout the year. But none of that will count, because the test of their writing skill is based on whether or not they can write about their "special day" or their "special pet" in 40 minutes.

We use curriculum maps to plan out the pace of the school year. One for each subject area. According to the county, there are many things in math I don't have to teach until April and May. But guess what, folks? THOSE THINGS ARE TESTED ON THE FCAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So my choices become either shove 6 units of math down my kids throats in 3 weeks or keep to the guide and let them feel completely panicked when they come upon a questions they have never seen before! Guess what I pick?

Why do I have to shove in down their throats in 3 weeks you ask? Because according to the guides, I am only supposed to spend 5 days on division. Well you know, my kids did not understand division in 5 days. If they do not understand division, they will not understand fractions, decimals or word problems. So I have to spend extra time teaching them division. Which I should be doing. However, when this time of year rolls around, (and I swear every year that I am not going to do this) there are a bunch of things we have not gotten to. AND THEY ARE ON THE TEST!!!!! So we cram. Today, we learned probability. in 10 minutes.

Now, all I can do is hope that they are relaxed enough to take this thing.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

And I did not push him!

Yesterday, my husband jumped out of a plane. On purpose.

I am just going to let that sit for a moment.

Apparently this has been a dream of his. So, for Christmas this year I got him a sky dive. We actually live near the "Skydive Capital" of the world and the place where the tandem jump was invented. In fact, I can see the jumpers all the time when my class is outside because we are across the street from the airport. I never thought I would be looking up and waiting for Michael to land.

So I decided that since we live here now, and he has always wanted to do this, and we do not have kids yet, I will let him leap 14,000 feet and hope for the best. Here is what I learned about skydiving, or, actually, being the one on the ground:

1. It takes a really long time from the time you sign the "Sorry you died, but you can't sue us" papers to the actual jump, about 3 hours.

2. Make sure you know what color suit you beloved has on. That way, you can at least think you see them coming down.

3.Take friends. I would have been a lot more nervous if I had not had some friends there watching with me.

4. Pay for the pictures and the video. They are expensive, but worth it. Because I can tell you this will never happen again. Here is the proof. Plus, when you watch the video, you can hear you spouse say things like " I cannot believe I did that." and then agree.

5. Do not tell your parents you are going to do it until after you are back on the ground safely. When you do tell them, make sure you do not tell them when they are driving.

6. Be happy you did it once and know that you NEVER have to do it again.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Tonight is one of what seems to be 1,000,000 Duke v. North Carolina games. ( I think there are really, like 4) And as much as I hate football, the sight of a grown, 33 year old man rocking back and forth like an autistic child in front of the t.v. really sticks in my craw. 

He will yell, he will scream, he will moan, and if they lose, he will punch things. He will speak to people who are not there ( I know, I know, we all do it, but I do it maybe once or twice a night. This will be constant for 3 hours) and when I have the nerve or audacity to actually answer him or ask "what?" I will get a very annoyed "I am not talking to you!" 

Losing will involve 2 days of pouting and even more screaming at the next game. I really do wonder, what do women get as worked up about? Maybe it's because women tend to spread emotion out through the whole day and men seem to save it up for these moments that it all seems to alien to me. I thank the universe that there is a sports bar across the street where he can go for football and March Madness. MM is right around the corner and if things don't let up around here, Michael will learn the true meaning of Madness in March.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Family Memories (not my own)

My couisin Claudia wrote this on her blog (see Italian cook-right) about my Grandfather. I never knew this stuff before, and I am grateful to her for doing it.

Everybody Needs an Uncle Rocky - Food e Famiglia
It is Sunday. And in my family, Sunday meant pasta. While the rest of America was sitting down to the aroma of a good roast, my family was sitting down to pasta (or macaroni as we called it - even if it was spaghettini, linguine, penne - it was all macaroni). Bones had been sauteed Sunday morning (with a little olive oil garlic, onion,maybe some basil, maybe a little fennel) - each according to their mother's recipe or their current whims. Meatballs were fashioned with a drop of milk - or water (t0 make them light). Each Gresio sister, brother and sister-in-law developed their own recipe. Each was the lightest, most flavorful and each would query from time to time as to which meatball/sauce/lasagna was the best - if you were smart you remained mum. ("I couldn't possibly choose!")

Sunday was for visiting. The gas stations were closed. Stores were closed. The hours loomed ahead with nothing on the agenda but hope that you might go for a drive or someone would do the drive to visit you. There would often be a congregation at Aunt Rose's(true to Italian family style - all of four blocks away). There was nothing to celebrate - just people coming and going because they had to get home for dinner preparations. And dinner preparations meant "pasta." As Uncle Rocky said his good-byes (very noisily and very, very quickly) he would inquire as to what they were preparing dinner. With each family announcing their plans for a Sunday pasta dinner - he would approve and exclaim loudly, "Aren't we the luckiest people in the world! Some people are having a roast. But we are sitting around a table having macaroni. Everyone should be Italian! Everyone should have macaroni for Sunday diner!" And with a flash he was gone. Or rather - he would be sitting in his car for fifteen minutes waiting for his wife. Aunt Annette did not make her round of good-byes as quickly as her husband."Everyone should have macaroni for Sunday dinner" was a rule I agreed with - heartily. I must also add that "Everyone should have an Uncle Rocky."

Unflailingly positive, he would show up at my performances unexpectedly. He would make the drive from Long Island to Staten Island (not the easiest commute) to see me in a play. I would quickly know he was there. Nobody laughed more heartily or more loudly. Even in a drama. Afterwards, he would greet me. I was always by far "the best thing in the play." The others were fine but it was his niece who stood out. The fact that this was proclaimed rather loudly would sometimes affect my seventeen year old sensibilites. But later that night, I slept the sleep of someone who had been given unwavering approval. Something a seventeen-year-old also needs.In my early twenties I was a spectacularly unsuccessful actress in New York. I had artsy jobs that paid nothing and two waitress jobs that paid the bills. Uncle Rocky was ill and hospitalized "in the city." Not far from my apartment (using the term "apartment" loosely). I took to visiting him at odd times. We discussed the world, family, pasta, wine, family, pasta, wine, my career, family, wine. In my twenties I was just getting to know the person that was my uncle. I suddenly appreciated his fierceness and loyalty to his family and heritage. The way he embraced it all and never looked back. On the morning that he was being released to go home, I called to say I would try to see him on Long Island. What I really was calling to say, "I appreciate our talks." There was no answer and the phone was passed from nurse to doctor and to another doctor. I knew there would be no more conversations. I had had them just in time.

Bereft, I called a friend. A friend who patiently listened to every story I had to tell about my relatives. Over and over. A friend who had truly listened to them. Because she said, We're going out. I'll meet you at the Trattoria. We're going to have pasta tonight. For Uncle Rocky."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Boy I'm Gonna Marry

This is my favorite picture of Michael. He's 13. It's his Bar Mitzvah. He has a pocket square as big as his head. And until 3 weeks ago, it was the last time he bought a suit.


I figure it's time for me and the blog to get close. As my mother-in-law says,I am turning into "one of those blog people." I have been a lurker for a long time, reading the hilarious and touching adventures and mis-adventures of friends and, in turn, their friends. I have discovered some amazing people along the way, and been put in touch with some great resources. Now I am not, repeat NOT, going to do this every day (sure...I say that now!) but this is as good a place as any for me to rant, rave, and generally remain in high dugeon. I picked the title because I felt it was a good theme for living, although I am famous for my high decible level. So....welcome, enjoy. And don't forget the ear plugs.