Friday, January 30, 2009


For the past couple of years now, I've been on a never ending search to write a poem or song lyrics that could qualify as abstract. I like abstract pieces, but I've never been able to create one of my own. A few have come close, but never quite there.

So why, then, was I almost asleep last night and something hit me? I'm not sure if it's abstract, but it's on that same path.

Yeah. And so it goes...


One step up this stream

And I will topple off the beam

A few places down from blue is green

Inches are miles, only one step between.


Verse 1:

What’s the difference between a crack and a canyon?

Blue skies are so close to gray

A child gets older day by day

One day a babe, the next day a man.

A clock ticks by minutes, so small yet so great

A frail voice speaks and then screams and sings

How many straws before the back breaks?

A fuse burns quietly until it explodes.



One step up this stream

And I will topple off the beam

A few places down from blue is green

Inches are miles with only one step between.


Verse 2:

A gap between teeth decides beauty and worth

An acorn contains the promise of grandeur

A single short hour holds both death and birth

Only words come between shyness and candor.

So many little things that become more than they are

Inches are miles, only one step between

What will I say, what will I do,

What tiny thing will push you away?

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Yesterday, God decided to once again show His infinite mercy toward the average college student and granted us a snow day. 

Memphis is interesting when it comes to snow. Whenever so much as half an inch falls from the sky, it's as if the entire city, with a wry wink and a knowing smile, decides that it's "dangerous" and everything shuts down. We Memphians don't have a lot of opportunities for snow days, and even if all it is is a light layer of powdered sugar, we all make an excuse out of  the whims of nature in order to build pathetic snowmen and have slushy snowball fights. The Canadians up at school look at us scornfully as we talk about "icy streets" and "downed power lines." If they closed the city down every time it snowed, the city would only be operational for about three weeks in July. They don't understand us here, which is all right. I don't understand them. I mean, honestly, socialized medicine? Seriously??? And you guys don't even talk to each other in grocery store lines! What's up with that?

I took God's kindness in a stride and proceeded to commit several of the deadly sins during my snow day. It was lovely. I guess first on the list would be Sloth -- this was committed by my staying in bed almost all day and watching House. Great show, although I wonder sometimes how I would deal with House if he were my boss. Part of me thinks that I'd fold up and go home and curl up in a fetal position to cry every night as I sought to find a happy place within my tear-soaked mind. Another part of me thinks that I'd be super sarcastic and would end up getting in trouble. Goodness knows, though, Cuddy would probably be on my side....maybe. 

The next sin on the list: gluttony. And I enjoyed every M&M of it.

Greed: I greedily watched House while ignoring the laundry, and I, I don't have a lot of greed that comes to mind, but I'm sure it was in my day somewhere.

Wrath: I was wrathful toward my Spanish homework. It had no business being due on Wednesday. Especially on a Wednesday that was also a snow day. It was just plain wrong. Stupid homework! Muy mal!

Envy: I envied Dodger for getting to have this kind of day everyday. He gets to lie in bed and dream about chasing squirrels to his little heart's delight. Goodness knows if he ever caught a squirrel in real life he wouldn't know what to do with it. He caught a chipmunk once and just stared at it like, "Now what? Is this supposed to be interesting or something? No offense, but I that stupid kibble looks more appetizing. Great. I've attained the pinnacle of the suburban dog's hunting prowess, and it was all lies!"

Yeah, I'm going to quit there. I was mostly guilty of Sloth, anyway. 

Monday, January 26, 2009

Spanish -- Shmanish

Any post that I write this evening would probably contain something to do with Spanish. I'm tired of writing about Spanish. I'm tired of thinking about Spanish. I'm tired of translating things into Spanish. 

You get the idea.

The other thing I'm thinking about is the Holocaust, and that's more of a poem type subject, so unless I get all literary, there won't be a post this evening.

My apologies.

-- The Mgmt.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

To Love and to Cherish Until the Money Runs Out

I forgot to mention that yesterday's post was my 200th on this blog. Suh-weet!

In any case, I was awoken from an extremely bizarre dream (that was a mix between "Lost" and the Twilight books, oddly enough...I said it was bizarre) by the smell of muffins wafting up from the kitchen directly into my nostrils this memory. In my opinion, there is hardly anything better in the world than getting woken up on a nice cloudy morning by the smell of something hot and scrumptious. Our little foster child, Christina, came down with strep throat last night, so I had decided to stay home from church today so that I could Clorox every available surface in the hopes of keeping anybody else from getting it. This is so not the time to come down with strep, and it's actually pretty dangerous to expose Shelby to it.

So I got up and fixed myself a muffin and sat down on the couch to watch ten minutes of a show while I ate my breakfast. Since CSI, regrettably, wasn't on, I turned to this household's fallback channel: TLC. This channel is the Ultimate of Ultimates in home desire, shopping, and really weird documentaries, usually showing the story of a family with thousands of children or a guy that's half fish. I like the first two and generally steer away from the third. Thankfully, the first option was available for my breakfast viewing pleasure, a show called "Moving Up." The premise centers around what happens to houses when the old family moves out and the new one moves in and redecorates it according to their tastes. The old family is then brought back to their old house and they get to rag on the new owner's shoddy decorating skilz and ultimately work through the five stages of grief. It's not my favorite show -- too many awkward moments, and besides, who gives a care what the old owners think? I totally get the emotional attachment behind a house, but honestly, they chose to move out. It's not their house anymore -- but I was only watching for a few minutes anyway.

I was actually given more food for thought than I would have previously realized. I learned that one of the couples on the show, Rick and Beth, I think, were lottery winners. They had decided to take their winnings and upgrade on their living quarters. A young, single woman named Kira bought their old home to be her first house. Kira, to start out with, struck me very favorably. It could be the fact that I will automatically sympathize with the young, single woman, but she really did seem like a sweetie. She decorated the house herself, came in under budget, and turned the old office into an enormous dressing room, including an elaborate bookcase just for her designer shoes. C'mon, what woman wouldn't love to have a room just for her clothes? And the only time you could get away with something like that was if you were young and single and had a house of your own.  

Rick and Beth came in and immediately started burning Kira's design taste. They didn't like the colors, the furniture was stupid, they hated the fireplace, blah blah blah. Kira was watching a recording of their tour of her house, and she was a lot nicer than I would have been. Rick and Beth acted as if her design choices were some kind of character flaw, and Kira just smiled and shrugged her shoulders, obviously realizing that what Rick and Beth said was pointless because the house was hers now. I swear, the most petulant thing Kira said during Rick and Beth's onslaught was when they saw her closet room. Beth made some snide comment, and Kira replied mildly, "It sounds to me like she misses being single."

And you know what? Kira was right. The more I watched the show, the more Beth and Rick's relationship bothered me. They'd won the lottery, right? In today's material obsession, that should have meant instant happiness for them. They were moving to a new house, decorating it to suit their every whim, and from the sound of them, they were about as happy as two jackals with only one bone between them. 

Rick was one of those quiet, non-confrontational sorts that pretty much let Beth get away with her spleen, but that's certainly not productive for a relationship in the end. And Beth! She griped, groaned, moaned and complained about every tiny facet of the move. Rick worked himself to the bone, doing much of the renovations on their new glitzy house. All Beth could do was b---- about the fact that they didn't have enough money for a hot tub to go in their backyard along with their patio, flat screen TV (outdoor, mind you), pool, and fireplace. 

When they went back to their old house, though, Beth said in every single room how much she missed that house and how much she regretted moving. You could see how much the things she was saying hurt Rick, but he didn't say anything back.  Again, not so sure that's a good thing. 

But wait a second! I thought winning the lottery was supposed to be instant happiness, right? Right? 

Wrong. Duh. 

Beth knew that she had been happier back in her older, smaller, and considerably less glitzy house. Why? Because she had worked for it. She had loved it, and had more than money there -- she had memories. When they moved from her old house and focused on spending money as fast as they could -- by the end of the episode they admitted that they were broke -- they lost their connection with what was more important.  I honestly don't think that their marriage will last long, and that's so sad. I hope that they'll learn to communicate, that they'll refocus on what's important, but that's hard to do when you don't have the Holy Spirit knocking you over with a two-by-four. 

It just made me think about two things, one of which being my sister and her boyfriend. If I had one word for the way Jordan treats Shelby, I would use cherish. Jordan doesn't just love her, he cherishes her. As long as he had Shelby and something resembling walls and a roof over his head and a piano, Jordan would be just fine. Shelby could wear a burlap sack, and Jordan would tell her that she was stunning. I have a feeling that they'll still be making goo-goo eyes at each other when they're a hundred years old and can't remember their own names. But they'll always remember each other's names. Their relationship hasn't been a bed of roses the whole way, but I don't have any fears for them. Their relationship isn't built on money or attractiveness or something else that's stupid alone. It's built on love, trust, and a willingness to forgive. I wouldn't be worried if they won the lottery. 

It also made me think of Crichton. What I wouldn't give to go back to the ratty tables and rented building and regain that pure beauty of education. 

I suppose I'm rambling now. It was just a lot to think about. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Heart Attack

Today appears to be made up of three things and three things only: Spanish, basketball, and online shopping. I cry "Boo!" to the first and "Right on!" to the latter two. However, such a semi-quiet day has not lacked in excitement!

Since I finally had my Spanish textbook, I had about two weeks of work to catch up on. I started at noon, and worked straight through until three, and I still wasn't done. At this point, I was ready to chuck my textbook out the window, laughing and crying "Hasta luego!" as it went flying gloriously to the ground below. I'm having a little trouble with remembering the grammar of it all, the typical "he is, she is, they are" type crap. I probably just need to make myself some flash cards, although the thought is somewhat degrading. In any case, the old math textbook that I'm starting to review for the GRE was actually starting to look 1/1,000,000th less puke-worthy, and that's saying something coming from the enormous math-phobe that I shamelessly confess myself to be. 

So, I did what any sensible female would do in my place, obviously, which was to go shopping. That was happiness. Even better when the shopping can be done from the comfort of one's own bed. Let's just say that Target's online store ain't hurtin' for dough this evening. Probably half of what I ordered will have to be returned, but I enjoyed myself. 

After the damage had been done, I went down to watch the second half of the Memphis/Tennessee game with Mom and Evan. For those of you who don't know, the rivalry between the University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee can be politely referred to by such kind adjectives as vicious and blood-sucking. The hatred between blue and orange is hereditary and degenerative. There is nothing a dedicated Tigers or Vols fan loves more than watching the other side get put down, hopefully with a good helping of steaming hot humiliation piled on top.  The last time these teams played and Memphis lost, a Vols fan threw a beer can at Joey Dorsey on his way out. If I remember correctly, dang near the entire stadium went to blows. 

FYI, Dorsey is so not the Tiger I would have chosen to throw something at. The reason? Here you go:


Can you picture anything less warm and fuzzy existing outside of Hell itself? He was my favorite player. The guy was a friggin' tank.

The point being, the competition today was fierce. Numerous brawls nearly erupted from the court, and the refs were being pretty stupid. There was one blatant move on Chism's part that should have resulted in a T. Chism acted like a great big baby, made me want to offer him a pacifier if only to shut his whining. Never mind, Taggart got him back later with a body check. Resulted in a foul to U of M, but it made us all feel better.

The game was pretty tense, especially when we got below the minute time mark and things were still close. UT was only one point behind us, and if they scored, we were officially in the crapper. The coaches were using timeouts left and right, and Calipari was teaching me some new curse words that he shouted so emphatically that I was able to read his lips. 

It actually got down to one second. At this point, I was crouched on the sofa peeking through my fingers and Mom was praying aloud to every saint she's never heard of and Evan was speaking in what could only have been tongues. Odd, how a basketball game can become such a spiritual experience. But it all turned out well. We held UT off and won, effectively spanking them in their own stadium. It was a very nice moment, and Mom promptly went outside to the front step to do her obnoxious, yet embarrassingly satisfying, victory dance and screech. I'm sure her, "Go Tigers! Woooo!" thoroughly endeared her to our LSU loving neighbors.

The phone rang then, and I saw that it was my grandmother's number. She was obviously calling to exult over the game. I picked up and started gushing about how great a game it had been when I heard NanNan saying incoherently, "I need someone to take me to the emergency room...heart attack..." Her voice was kind of fading in and out, and I promptly felt panic take me over. I thought I'd heard her say "Don" in there, which is my grandfather's name. Mom saw my eyeballs turn into UFOs and started to flip out at the words "emergency room" and "heart attack", when I heard NanNan finish a few seconds too late, "...because it was such a great game!" 

I proceed to hyperventilate and gasp out, "Never....never.....ever.....ever say something like that to me again...."

Mom mercifully took the phone from me so that I could calmly pass out. 

Ahem. Good games hath unexpected repercussions, I suppose...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Another Crisis Averted

The powers of the universe, sensing the steady decline into madness that was occurring yesterday in my soul, sent a series of interventions that worked to my benefit. It appears that God, in His infinite and unknowable mercy, doesn't want me to be mad. This goes along with the assumption that I've already come to, namely, that He doesn't want me dead, that there must be a divine plan for my life, or I would have died in a car accident long ago. (Memphis drivers....ugh.) 

After having spent a good portion of the morning on my letter to the editor, I taught a few piano lessons and headed out to school, bitterly aware of the fact that my Spanish textbook still wasn't in. If I didn't get that textbook soon, as in at that very moment, I was going to be in muchos problemas with Senorita Tina. Y'all know me. You know that I, Katie, aka SuperNerd, hate not having my work done in a timely manner. I live in a never ending search to make my professors proud, and Senorita Tina doesn't know me from Adam. First impressions last a lifetime, my friends, and I was making a first impression as a flaky, airhead of a junior. This does not a happy Katie make. 

When I got to class (my favorite of the semester: History of Film! Squee!), I was not in a particularly good mood, although it was lifted some by how beautiful it was outside. Sixty degrees and blue skies! Doesn't get much better than that, even if it is January and supposed to be dreary and cold. If it had been any other class (in other words, a class which obviously requires electronic devices), I would have begged the professor to move the class outdoors.  So I walk into class, expecting to have a good class but be unable to concentrate, due to trying to salvage my scholastic future from the dump.

Dr. Jenkins revealed his professorial rock star status once more. 

What did he do, you ask? He brought in movies! 

The movies were relevant to the class material, of course. We've been studying the beginnings of films, silent pictures and stuff. So the first film we watched in class was a documentary that started with the Golden Age of silent film and progressed through Griffith's Birth of a Nation. The documentary was absolutely fascinating, with interviews with actual directors, cameramen, and actors and actresses of the time. 

It also contained bits of trivia about certain movies. We watched bits of one hysterical early Laurel and Hardy film in which they're absolutely tearing a house apart. The commentary said that the house was owned by a member of the film studio. The studio sent the man and his wife on vacation for a month with the guarantee that by the time they returned, their house would be returned to normal. When the production crew arrived at the house, though, they found that their key didn't work. Unperturbed, they merely broke down the door and got down to business. The characters subsequently busted windows, chopped down trees and bushes, and played baseball with vases from inside the house. Imagine their surprise, therefore, when a car pulled up and the man and woman inside, at the sight of the damage, promptly fainted. The production crew was at the wrong house!

I think my favorite silent actress is Lillian Gish. She was so well spoken in the documentary, and her acting was superb. She told so much of the story with her eyes and hands -- amazing. It kind of makes you take a second look at the actors of today. I certainly don't think that Keira Knightley could do the kind of acting that Lillian Gish did. I also like the fact that Lillian Gish hasn't compromised her views over the years. She hates what sound did to the movies, and had very good reasons as to why she hated it. She said it detracted away from the Art of film, that film and music were perfectly married, and that introducing words destroyed that union. Right or wrong, she's still saying the same things she likely said in the early part of the century, and you have to respect her for that. She hasn't cheapened her opinions.

Incidentally, I had no idea that Birth of a Nation was such a big deal. I wonder what Griffith thought about the fact that his movie masterpiece almost single-handedly rejuvenated the Ku Klux Klan? It kind of makes you hesitant as an artist -- who knows what kind of reaction your creation might evoke? I'm sure Upton Sinclair would say the same thing. He wrote a novel expecting to promote his form of art and ended up revolutionizing the sanitary conditions of our country. Disappointing to a degree, but no doubt necessary.

Anyway, the documentary took up most of our class time, but we spent the last ten minutes watching a shorter Griffith film, The Girl and Her Trust. It was the typical damsel in distress type film, but it was great. I've never watched much silent film, but I was fascinated with it. Isn't it marvelous that a lost art like that can still evoke such strong emotions? While I was irritated with the screaming, helpless heroine (just jump off the stupid handcart already, you feeb!), I still cheered the hero on in his quest to save her from the tramps. What does that say? It says that Griffith was marvelous. Racist, perhaps, but marvelous.

In any case, the movies preserved my sanity for a while. The attempt to keep from being fitted for a coat that would allow me to hug myself all the time was further helped by Mom showing up at the school and buying me a Spanish textbook from the bookstore since it appears that the one we ordered will never arrive. Gracias, Dios y Mama!

I drove home from school, and even put the windows down once I got off the interstate, and didn't care about the strange looks I got when people caught me singing, loudly, to "Can I Have This Dance?" and "Benny and the Jets." It was sheer joy. 

Then I taught a piano lesson, for which the student was ten minutes late, hadn't practiced, and his father came in and talked for fifteen minutes. Grr. But then, wonder of wonders, Mom revealed the menu of the evening: homemade fried chicken strips, corn, fruit cocktail, biscuits, and bread pudding.


Another crisis has been averted, Batman! I will retain my sanity, thanks to small blessings! I love my life. Really, even when it gets hairy, it's still beautiful. Sometimes you just have to shave it a bit to reveal the beauty.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dear Crichton Dos...

My fabulous sister Shelby wrote a letter to the editor, too. It's far more intellectual than mine; I thought it was quite splendid. Here you go!


To the City of Memphis:       

At my first philosophy class, my professor introduced Aristotle’s concept of teleology by placing his sneaker against the open door and asking the class, “Is this still a sneaker or is it now a doorstop?” 

Given the events that have happened at Crichton the last few years, I feel we must ask the same question. Is the college still a college? Although the answer to that question is eminently clear now, one might also ask, when did it cease to be a college? Yesterday when the announcement to close the day program was made? Or even earlier than that? 

It is my belief that Crichton ceased to be a real college years ago. According to Aristotle, when an institution ceases to fulfill its rightful purpose, then it ceases to work properly as an institution. It is imperfect. 

In the end, we must ask, “When did Crichton cease to be a college?” Was it when the Big-Brother inspired administration fired the Dean of School of Arts and Sciences (the same philosophy professor who introduced me to Aristotle) for speaking out against the college’s esteemed president two years ago? Was it when the student-run newspaper was cancelled because the students criticized the school’s policies three years ago? Was it when those same students were told that the newspaper was cut for “financial reasons,” although it only cost printing materials? Was it when a few students were told by the school’s “Spiritual Life Advisor” that they were “Pharisees” for desiring Chapel services that went beyond the edification level of a kindergarten Sunday school class? Or did the college cease to be a college even sooner than that? 

The purpose of a college is to educate and broaden the minds of its students’ by the presentation of the ideas and institutions that have made human civilization. Perhaps I should have put the matter more clearly. The purpose of a college is to educate. It is not to curtail the rights of free speech. It is not to show intolerance towards other viewpoints. It is to educate. 

Outside of a few professors who held tight to their Christian vision of the school as a school of Christian education, Crichton ceased to educate long ago. 

It ceased to be a college. 


Shelby Johnson 

A Junior at Crichton 

PS. If the matter is unclear, then the college certainly ceased to be a college when it announced yesterday that it would not honor any of its student’s academic scholarships after this semester. Does anyone know a good lawyer?

Mad Woman

I think I'm just mad today, in the slow steam coming out of my ears way, rather than the lightning striking way. It's a quiet, burning in the embers kind of anger.

I pride myself on having sarcastic and charming and witty updates on my blog, but that side of me isn't revealing itself at the moment. So maybe if I say what I'm mad about, my normal cheeriness will be restored. I'm all for a little catharsis.

1.) I'm mad that my darn Spanish textbook isn't here yet.

2.) I'm mad that my school is closing. This branches out into many other small facets of anger that make up the ugly whole of my madness, namely:
-- I'm mad that I might not get my scholarship.
-- I'm mad that my professors are being canned.
-- I'm mad at the fact that while I really, really, really want to go to Union, I don't exactly have twenty thousand dollars laying around.
-- I'm mad that I might end up at U of M trying to take college algebra, which is like an invitation to failure for me, during my senior year.
-- I'm mad that I'm probably never going to see some of my friends again after this semester.
-- I'm mad at the administration people for being general all around wastes of skin. Just offer yourself up as living skin grafts for burn victims and call it good, why don't you?
-- I'm mad that I'm once again fighting off a bit of resentment toward my dad for being a selfish jerk and leaving us all to do things ourselves, and then I'm mad at myself for feeling that way, because I actually don't mind doing things myself and I know it's better for me in the long run. So, I guess I'm mad that my usual contentment with my lot is so easily disturbed.
-- I'm mad that God can't put up a billboard or burning bush or a plane dragging a banner or a still small voice or something to let me in on His plan so that I can do what He wants me to, and then I'm mad because I know that He does this because He trusts me, and that I have to live up to that.
-- I'm mad that this post now contains several run-on sentences.

3.) I'm mad that some of my piano students flaked out on me, causing me to lose around ninety dollars this month just because they couldn't get off their butts and get to my house for a stinking thirty minute lesson.

4.) I'm mad that I've done all the laundry for today. Now there's nothing left for me to angry wash.

5.) I'm mad that I've let myself get this mad. 

I'm stopping now. Hopefully things will look better in a few hours.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dear Crichton...

So today was...ahem....interesting. 

All was well in my world, initially. I was getting ready to head out to school when I noticed my friend Scribbles' status on facebook, saying that she was looking for a school to which she could transfer. I was immediately concerned and wrote her, asking if everything was okay. I thought maybe there was an illness in the family or financial difficulties in her life, and I wanted to see if I could help somehow. 

Imagine my surprise when she informs me that my school is closing after this semester. 

Yes, you read that correctly. Closing. 

The day program is finite, vamoose, gone beyond recall. It was decided on Monday, the faculty and staff was informed last night, and it was announced at chapel this morning to the students, with the students being told that all scholarships would not be honored after this semester. 

Need I remind you folks that I'm a second semester junior? Need I remind you that most schools do not accept senior transfers? And need I further remind you that the Powers or Dolts That Be decided to announce all this three days after the add/drop period for the U of M?

Katie was not a happy camper. That's probably the biggest understatement to have yet been uttered since the day that somebody said that Goliath was largely misunderstood; in actuality, he was a warm and fuzzy chap that slept with teddy bears and drank pina coladas with his lunches of brie and caviar and spent his weekends helping old ladies cross the street without getting mauled by all the other brutish Philistines. 

So anyway, I've composed a letter, by which I mean that I'm writing it off the top of my head, of what I would say to the Board and our venerable and nasty excuse for a president if I had the chance. 

Dear Crichton Board, President, and all those that it may concern,

First of all, I would like to thank you for the three years I've had at Crichton College. I know without a shadow of a doubt that Crichton was the best place for me to be, where God wanted me to be. I am not remotely the same person I was when I first came to Crichton, and while not all of my experiences there have been positive, they have all worked to make me into a better person and a better Christian. The professors are absolutely the best in the business, bar none. I cannot praise them enough. They are more than my mentors -- they're my friends.

That being said, I'm very, very, justifiably angry at the events that occurred today for several reasons. It puts me into a bad situation, personally. You didn't give me enough warning to transfer to another school, and most schools don't accept senior transfers. Where does that leave me? In the toilet, my friends. I'm either stuck hoping that the University of Memphis or Union lets me in, or that I can somehow finish out my degree with night courses at the shell of what Crichton used to be. Yes, spending my last year of college at a ghost ship with all my professors gone is exactly the kind of experience I need.

But as much as I hate what you've done to me, I hate even more what you've done to my school. It was such a special place, and now it's gone forever. Crichton used to be a haven of learning, of friendship, and even, God forbid, true diversity. This diversity was the kind that wasn't forced, but was natural and easy because you honestly didn't care about the color of peoples' skin so long as they were lovers of knowledge. It was when you started questioning that easy friendship that the racial tension broke out like a poison ivy rash. I had never in my life experienced prejudice until my sophomore year of college, and I'm white. I was judged on sight because of what I am, for things that I didn't do. How is that fair? How is that any different from the segregation of the 1960's? It isn't; you just inflamed racial tensions until you couldn't see what you were doing to your students. Instead of building them up and teaching them of higher things, you tore them down. You failed us all.

That's only one issue.

Why, may I ask, if the school was in such bad financial straits, were four new flat screen TVs and a new Foosball table put in the student center, rather than, I don't know, fixing the stupid leaking roof? As my friend Aubrey said, it was like offering a cancer patient a face lift.

Why were foreign athletes brought in at huge cost to the school, to a liberal arts school, and the Honors program allowed to die? What did we need with a huge athletic program? It's not like we were going to play during March Madness. When, of course, said athletes failed out in two semesters anyway, despite the required, unpaid hours of tutoring that the Honors students were forced to give them. Why were good professors dismissed and replaced with substandard and racist adjuncts? 

These problems didn't happen all at once. They've been allowed to build and fester for several years now, and have gone largely unchecked. I believe that the downhill tumble started when the school stopped being a school and became a badly organized, financially unsound mission. Your focus became the inner city of Memphis rather than maintaining the highest standards of education that had previously been your ideal. 

And my favorite part of this whole Carthage-esque disaster, salt sewn in the fields and all, is that we tried to tell you. I took every survey that ever came through my email account, and I told you my concerns. But you didn't trust us, or simply didn't take the time to listen to us. The school's administration acted like the students were a problem, rather than the reason that we were there in the first place. I never felt like my complaints and comments were addressed in a respectful manner by anyone other than the professors. We were just flies in the daily ointment, a nuisance instead of an individual seeking self-improvement. As an example of this treatment of the students, I guess I can refer to the financial aid office as a symbol of all that was wrong. The financial aid office was affectionately referred to as "Hell" by many of us, due to its disorganized nature and its tendency to cause students to slip into its depths, never to see the light of day again. We tried to tell you in every way possible, but we were not heard. We were ignored, and I have no qualms in saying I told you so now.

Shame on you. 

Shame on you for forcing us into this position. 

Shame on you for taking all the joy out of my senior year. 

Shame on you for sending countless people into financial difficulty because they won't have jobs. 

Shame on you for not listening to your students and to God, and for losing sight of the mission statement of our school. 

Shame on you for taking away something I love because you couldn't be responsible with what you had been given. 


Kaitlin Johnson

Two Sides of a Coin

Okay, this is from one of my favorite books and comedians, Dave Barry. I was talking to a friend of mine, and this routine popped into my head, and it was too good to not share. I'll put something up of my own musing later today. Until then, have fun laughing over this! That's the great part of comedy -- it's based essentially on truth. Hence the hysterical irony of it!


Dave Barry's Guide to Guys!

Let's say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: ''Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?''

And then there is silence in the car. 

To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Geez, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.

And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward . . . I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Roger is thinking: . . . so that means it was . . . let's see . . ...February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer's, which means . . . lemme check the odometer . . . Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

And Elaine is thinking: He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed -- even before I sensed it -- that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid of being rejected.

And Roger is thinking: And I'm gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting right. And they'd better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It's 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a goddamn garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

And Elaine is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry, too. God, I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure.

And Roger is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90-day warranty. That's exactly what they're gonna say, the scumballs.

And Elaine is thinking: Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of myself-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.

And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I'll give them a goddamn warranty. I'll take their warranty and stick it right up their ...

''Roger,'' Elaine says aloud.''What?'' says Roger, startled.

''Please don't torture yourself like this,'' she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. ''Maybe I should never have . . Oh God, I feel so ...'' (She breaks down, sobbing.)

''What?'' says Roger.

''I'm such a fool,'' Elaine sobs. ''I mean, I know there's no knight. I really know that. It's silly. There's no knight, and there's no horse.'''

'There's no horse?'' says Roger.

''You think I'm a fool, don't you?'' Elaine says.

''No!'' says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.

''It's just that . . . It's that I . . . I need some time,'' Elaine says.

(There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.) "Yes,'' he says.

(Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.)''Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?'' she says.

''What way?'' says Roger.

''That way about time,'' says Elaine.

''Oh,'' says Roger. ''Yes.'' (Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse.

(At last she speaks.)

''Thank you, Roger,'' she says. 

''Thank you,'' says Roger.

Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's better if he doesn't think about it. (This is also Roger's policy regarding world hunger.)

The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.

Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine's, will pause just before serving, frown, and say: ''Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?''

Dave Barry's Guide to Guys

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reverse Psychology

At eight o'clock this morning, my highly excitable sister burst into my room, scaring me to death and waking me up from a dream involving Angel. I was highly perturbed with her, until she screeched something like, "Look outside!" This kind of thing doesn't happen in this household unless there's a very good reason, and said very good reason is always one thing:


I yanked over my curtain, and low and behold, the snow was falling thickly. The flakes were absolutely enormous, and were no doubt of mint flavoring, hopefully with some dark chocolate thrown in there. I pulled up the window shade, snuggled back into my 800 thread count Egyptian cotton brown comforter (life is too short to sleep on a tarp, that's my philosophy) and proceeded to spend the next half hour watching it come down. 

I'd seen on the weather forecast yesterday that they were calling for flurries, but I didn't actually believe it was going to happen. I'm starting to think that God is a God of reverse psychology. Every other time the weather people have called for snow, I've prayed fervently, and nearly hourly, that said blizzard would come to pass. I go to sleep anxiously, and wake up and push back my curtains, only to be disappointed by brown barrenness. It would figure that the snow would come on the one time I didn't pray for it, didn't expect it, and wasn't eagerly awaiting its arrival! What's up with that? Maybe that same formula will work in other areas of my life. "Please, God, let me fail this test....I really want to fail this test...."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Of Towels and Vampires

If I were to choose a way to die, death by static electricity is only two rungs higher than being pecked to death by a baby ostrich. Or drowned in chocolate, wait. That's a good way to die.

 Mom bought a bunch of new towels since our green ones are old and raggedy and stringy, so I washed them last night and set about folding this morning. (After, of course, I took great delight in throwing away the old green ones that were in the pile to be washed. Why wash something that's destined for the dump? Besides, saves me some work, and why save something for tomorrow what you can get someone else to do for you today?) New towels, apparently, are pissed about being new and being washed and sent through a hot dryer, so they suppress a little bit of their own brand of vengeance. The first time I got shocked, I thought nothing of it. The electricity was slowly heightened, though, and progressively going up on the pain meter. By the time I was done, my hair was sticking out. Yee, cute. Shelby eventually took pity on me and came to help me, but I felt very slightly as if I were shoving a well meaning pagan into the arena so that I, the Christian, might go free.

Aubrey came over to work on Spanish with me on Saturday night (after we saw Defiance. My advice? Go see it. End of discussion) and by the time we were done, we hyper and loopy. So what did we choose to do to amuse ourselves? Oh, yeah. We starting watching the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 

I know you're laughing. So was I. Despite the fact that the show was created by Joss Whedon, (which probably saved it from being downright laughable instead of merely Elmo-esque silly) the acting of Sarah Michelle Geller was laughing and the creatures were goofy. You've gotta wonder after a while why nobody noticed that the students of Sunnydale High School (*snickers madly*) are dropping like flies with virtually no explanation. Not to mention the principal that got, I don't know, EATEN. Although Armin Shimmerman playing the replacement principal is hysterical. Hello, fascist Quark!

I've heard that the show gets better after the third season, but I really have no interest in watching it after the third season. Why? The reason I'm watching the first season of all would be gone. Here's my reason for watching it:

Angel 2

David Boreanaz. 

The almost ultimate in hotness, only bested by Jensen Ackles and possibly Daniel Craig. Although I must admit, he has Robert Pattinson beat hands down for the whole vampire with a tortured conscience thing. I'm only watching the season for him. If the episode doesn't have Angel, a good episode it is not. Oh, and I won't be watching the second season either, when Angel predictably loses his soul and becomes a soul sucking fiend with the rest of his barbecue fork-ed teeth buddies. So I'll laugh my way through the first season and call it quits. 

Farewell, my friends! I'll be in my room, avoiding my Spanish homework. Toodles!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Ants Go Marching One by One, Hurrah! Hurrah!

It's been quite some time since I've had a "random things I'm thinking about" post, so here you go, ye gods. 

I think I've become shameless. Ever since I've become aware of my womanly powers of manipulation, they keep popping up on me unannounced and totally applicable in a myriad of situations. It happened again today while I was teaching a piano lesson! It was one of my favorite students, Jake. Jake is by no means my most talented student, but he has shown a lot of improvement over the past year. He's fun to work with and he has a great sense of humor. His only faults are 1.) practicing in fits and spurts and 2.) crying at the drop of the hat. I swear, I've made this kid cry no less than five times, and I've never so much as looked cross-eyed at him. I feel like Attila the Hun. Teaching him is kind of like dancing -- it's tons of fun, but there's always the possibility of stepping on your partner's feet or falling over backwards.

Anyway, it was quite obvious that he hadn't practiced much, if at all, this week. I love how kids think we can't tell and say, "Oh, I think I'm going to get this song marked off this week!" and by the time they're done playing it I'm going, "Um, sweetheart, you didn't practice at all this week, did you?" and they act all crestfallen and surprised. Sheesh, guys, I've been teaching lessons since I was fifteen. I'm not stupid. 

To continue with the story, Jake limped painfully through his songs, I managed to reprimand him without evoking any tears (phew!) and then Inspiration Struck. I reached into my cabinet of extra music, and I saw his eyes get huge. There, in my hand, was a book of Star Wars music. Capturing his gaze in my own I said, "For every song you get marked off, you get to learn another line of Star Wars. Capisce?" He capisced and acted like it was the greatest thing ever.  I should have remembered that book ages ago. Nothing speaks to the male race, even young members of the male race, like Star Wars. Betcha he comes back next week with four songs ready to get marked off. Muahahaha, I'm good!

Courtney and I decided today that French toast is among the seven unnatural wonders of the world. I was trying to think of the other six today as I drove/froze solid and slid on my own icy butt to the bank. I came up with the following items:

1.) Lavender scented laundry detergents and softeners. Lavender is my favorite scent, and doing the laundry can be quite relaxing when you've got that lovely purple bottle standing near. Not to mention the fact that it makes me feel mildly evil whenever I pull Evan's clothes and sheets from the dryer all nice and clean and smelling sweetly of lavender and vanilla. 

2.) Amusement parks, more specially Cedar Point and Disney World. I am fearless in nothing but roller coasters. Best adrenaline rush in the world. 

3.) Converse sneakers.

4.) Caro syrup. I'm one of the maybe four people on the planet that loathes maple syrup. Caro is a godsend of the corn category.

5.) Fred Astaire. Don't think he's an unnatural wonder? Let's see you dance with drumsticks and go crazy on roller skates and woo Audrey Hepburn and see how long it is before you have wood burn across your butt cheeks from constantly falling over yourself.

6.) All technology that allows me to watch TV and movies. I'd kiss your motherboards or whatever if I weren't afraid of electrocuting myself. This is me we're talking about. It could totally happen.

It took me forever to decide the fate of a good steak when it came to being a wonder. A good steak is quite obviously a little piece of heaven here on earth, but can it be considered unnatural? No, because God in his infinite and omniscient mercy put the cow on earth knowing that it would soon lead to the steakhouse, so I suppose a steak must be a natural unnatural wonder. God put the cow in the meadow, we put the steak on the plate with a good bottle of A-1 close by. It was a joint effort, although I'm sure the humans' bit of the miracle was divinely inspired.

It is unbelievably frigid outside today. I'm sitting in a heated house with shoes and socks on....why, if I may ask a question of the universe, are my feet still giant frozen fish sticks??? I went to the bank today, as I mentioned before, and every single person that I saw was, without fail, wearing a hoody. It made me smile. Gotta love the climate's idea of universalism.

Big news! Elton John and Billy Joel's Face 2 Face tour is coming to Nashville in May! I'm so going! Knowing my luck it'll be exam week, but I don't care. I'll do something unheard of and actually work ahead. It's not like these guys are getting any younger. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

I'm going to get off now and go thaw out my feet. Too bad they don't make hoodys for the digits!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

To the Makers of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

I, the undersigned, being of somewhat sound mind and body, less an extremely sore throat, would like to issue you this formal apology for my gross insults and downright slanderous words. 

You see, when the episode started tonight, you had us all riled up with those benighted, "Farewell, Grissom..." prompts that kept coming on and making me run to the bathroom so that I could blow my nose from emotion. I've been a long-time, dedicated fan of this series. I brought in my entire family into the CSI fandom. I've read CSI fanfiction, read the characters' bios on wikipedia, downloaded the "addicted to CSI" application on facebook to my profile, bought music from the show, ect.  Those people, as pitiful as it sounds, are like my family. In a twisted sort of way, I suppose, I have a relationship with them. And when you remove three main characters in two short seasons, it's a little...bewildering. You're not sure what's going on, and you don't know if you can bear any more loses. It's almost made me give up on the show, and that's saying something. So when I tell you that I was very perturbed over the news of Grissom's retirement from the LVPD crime lab, perhaps you'll get the gist of what I'm saying.

The show this evening was all right for the first fifty minutes, if a little unevenly balanced. They kept having these sweet sappy moments when different characters would tell Grissom what he's meant to them (causing my sister and I to perform the inevitable and very descriptive "awwww...."), which would be immediately followed by scenes of the kidnap victim that they're trying desperately to save from a sadistic serial killer who's intent on torturing and killing her. 

Can I just say, dear gentlemen of CBS and friends, that I loathe torture scenes? I saw the episode "Pirates of the Third Reich" and subsequently had nightmares for two straight weeks. They bother me on a very deep level. Like, I didn't even appreciate the eye gouging scene in Ian Holm's King Lear. Dr. Jenkins is giggling and pointing at it and I'm thinking, "Please God, don't let me vomit..." So, obviously, the torture scenes in tonight's episode went largely unappreciated for their artistic merit in this household. Whenever one would come on, I'd disappear into the kitchen while Shelby muted the TV and shouted a running commentary on what was happening. I just couldn't face it. There's just something about seeing people that are so twisted and wondering how they got that way, or if those same seeds of madness rest in everyone or if it's just random ... and if it is random, why are they like that and not me? It boggles the mind. But that's another story for another day.

As the episode progressed, I found myself becoming fond of Laurence Fishbourne's character, which I had absolutely no intention of doing, but which the producers, director, and Laurence made me do anyway. Drat them all. Why can't they just let me be mad in peace? But Dr. Langston was a genuine individual, a character with depth. He had a quiet spirit which I found very appealing, and there were lots of unanswered questions about his past. For instance, what was with that strange moment with his wedding ring? My guess is widower. 

But I digress yet again. 

The point is, I became reconciled with Grissom's leaving. Reconciled and happy are two separate things, though. There was still the unfinished story: his romance with Sara, which they'd spent seven seasons developing. I wanted a happy ending for GSR, and I was not going to be a happy camper if I didn't get it. Look, folks, I'm an English major. I'm well aware that happy endings are hardly ever realistic, probable, or even necessary for great literature. However, CSI is most certainly not great literature. I'd like my happy ending please, thanks very much, love, kisses, bye.

Therefore, the show has progressed. The sappy moments are over, Grissom is walking down a hallway. Shelby and I are getting anxious. I'm sitting on the edge of my seat, leaning on the stool. The screen goes to a white-out, as if it's about to go to the credits. Shelby screams and I proceed to question the validity of the parentage of every person that works on the show (*coughs* with one word... *coughs*). The next shot shows Grissom in Costa Rica which, as every dedicated fan knows, is Sara's last known location. I begin a mantra under my breath, something to the effect of, "Oh, please, oh, please, oh, God, please let him to go Sara...." Shelby isn't much better.

Grissom stops to admire a bug, adding irony to his earlier statement that "bugs are everywhere." Squish it under your shoe, Grissom, and go find the bloody woman, dang it!

I am now kneeling on the floor with my arms on the stool. The mantra is much louder, and Shelby has joined it with me.

Grissom breaks through the trees, and the camera makes a huge, massively irritating circle. Shelby and I are standing and screaming the Buddhist-esque mantra. The camera stops...and we see the back of a brunette woman.

I begin to scream unintelligibly. 

Grissom drops his backpacks. Sara turns, for it is indeed Sara, and a huge smile spreads across her face. She runs to him....he runs to her....I scream some more...and he lays a big, fat, wet one on her that I really didn't even see because I was so busy jumping up and down with Shelby.

Evan ran down the stairs to make sure we weren't being murdered (saying something as he came down to the effect of, "What in the name of Grissom's balls is going on down here?), then scurried back up to his room. He looked as if he thought our hysteria might be catching.

We didn't care.

Anyway, CSI people, I'm sorry for questioning your legal status at birth. I'm sorry for being irritated, and for screaming so loudly that I'm sure the neighbors thought a jet plane must have been going overhead. I think I need a cup of hot tea...

Thank you so, so, so, SO much for ending Grissom's run like that. It's what we, the fans, needed to have happen, especially after Warrick's death. And Conrad, the new undersherrif? Seriously? I mean, I like him better than I used to, but sheesh, he's such a little weasel....

Bring on Dr. Langston -- I'm interested to see where it goes!

Your loyal fan,

But Wait! There's More!

A good and dear friend to this honored blog, a personage known throughout the infinite realms of the blogosphere as "Scribbles" has read the past few posts and has issued a request. After having read "Back to School -- whoopee" and "Hey, ho, to the washer I go," Scribbles has expressed her admiration for my small army of backpack dwarfs and wishes to have some to call her own. 

Well, that request has spawned a whole line of personal care magical creatures! Don't forget that these products are available exclusively from Out of the Ashes, Inc. Don't expect to see them in stores! 

Thanks to our new and convenient catalogue, you can get one or more of the following exciting products:

The Original Backpack Dwarf: Between six and ten inches of height, these delightful, yet slightly sullen, little helpers are worth their weight in gold! Simply slip them into the backpack or suitcase of your choice, and they'll go to work with a will! They'll toss the old gum wrappers, straighten your binder, and show you a lot of love in between the heckling. 

The Miniature Backpack Dwarf: Perfect for purses or those stylish evening clutches! But be careful -- their small three inches of height can make them easily lost between your wallet and compact. Despite their size*, they pack quite a punch, and will make sure that you never lose a napkin with some hot guy's number on it again! They make a perfect Christmas or birthday gift for the special girl in your life.

*Senior purchasers beware: The Miniature Backpack Dwarf has a very high voice due to its highly convenient small stature. It is liable to set off your hearing aids. Out of the Ashes, Inc. is not responsible for any damages this might cause.

Dust Gremlins: Let these babies loose in a dusty room and come back in an hour to sparkling clean perfection! These magical beings eat the dust that clogs your sinuses and vents, so they're both productive and good for the environment! Coming in packs of ten, fifteen, and ten thousand for our more wealthy patrons, you're always sure to find the perfect size for you and your family.

Freshly Caught Cornish Pixies: For the Harry Potter lover in your household! Everyone's got one, after all! These tiny masters of mayhem are perfect for the practical joke lover. Let them go in an OCD person's home and watch the chaos ensue as they tip bookcases, roll bedrooms, and light fires! 

Disclaimer: Hermione with magic stunning spell not included. Available for purchase separately.

Ballistic Bathroom Kraken: Not nearly as scary as it sounds! After you've taken your shower or bath in the morning, uncork the bottle and let this fear of the wide blue yonder out to do its worst...with soap scum and mildew! Its powerful limbs are covered with super suckers and sponges that squeegee your bathroom to a whole new definition of clean. No germ is a match for the Ballistic Bathroom Kraken! Be the envy of all your friends with this little beastie, and show the shower head what's what. It'll never make fun of your singing again!

Aerial Ariels: After having been imprisoned in the cloven pine of your choice, these airy sprites are the perfect air fresheners! Let them out of our custom made and attractive shipping logs and let 'em fly! They'll fill any room, no matter how large it is, with a scent that hearkens back to the forest. Pick your favorite scent and prepare to be amazed! Aerial Ariels come in almond, pine, magnolia, and Bradford pear scents. 

Lavender scented Aerial Ariels: coming soon!

Please leave your orders under the comment box, and they will be filled as fast as our alien  handlers can get them boxed. Please indicate after your order whether you would prefer light speed, airplane, or snail back for your preferred shipping method.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Katie, Kati, let's call the whole thing off....

My head is still whirling from last night. 

First off, most of y'all are very aware of the fact that calling me a night person is a gross understatement; it would, in fact, be far more correct to say that the ground is made up of crumbled oreos and the sun is liquid Gatorade. After about eight o'clock, I'm completely useless to the human race as a whole. Like a giant wet noodle named Katie. Or Kati, as my name is apparently used by those who can speak Spanish. Yeah.

So imagine my panic when I walk into my Spanish class and see this middle aged woman talking ninety to nothing in what I assumed to be Spanish (she could have been talking in Swahili for all I knew) and gesturing wildly at us, her bewildered pupils. When Aubrey leaned over and started to translate for me, the teacher suddenly broke out of her Spanish gibberish and squawked like a Catholic nun who's teaching naughty third graders how to multiply fractions. "No translations!" she screeched. Aubrey and I shrugged sheepishly, each grabbed a syllabus, and went to our chairs. I figured out in a brilliantly timely manner that this class must be one of those instant immersion doohickeys. Oy vey. 

For all her faults (such as glaring hideously whenever Aubrey leaned too close to me, suspiciously close, like she might be about to gasp! translate something!), I like Senorita Tina McBee. She lived in Mexico City for five years, so she certainly knows what she's talking about, pun intended. I picked up quite a bit from her in just a few hours, even though a migraine accompanied said learning. It must have been every bit as exhausting for Senorita Tina, to be fair. To stare at completely blank faces for hours on end as you talk a language that seems perfectly easy and simple to you now and have to mime hugely at a chair or at a boy and a girl to demonstrate masculine and feminine forms of words must be excruciating. Like trying to get pizza dough out from between your fingers.

Honestly, I'm totally freaked out by this class. For one, it requires an obscenely expensive textbook. Obscene like the parts of the movie that your mom claps her hand over your eyes so that you can't see. Joy! *sarcasm dripping* For two, while I like Senorita Tina, I think she's expecting a lot out of a night class. We're supposed to learn all the pronunciations of the Spanish alphabet and greetings and times of day and all sorts of stuff in one week. It's a lot to ask of kids (and older folks that are trying to get their degree) that already have full loads. I guess she hasn't experienced the famous Crichton work ethic, or lack thereof, yet. For three, for as much as I like Senorita Tina, she scares the mierda out of me. She's not the kind of chica I see myself crossing and living to sing the ballad. And I'm no softy, mind.

*mob from Monty Python* Get on with it!

Okay, okay, I'll stop whining now. Or I'll try, anyway!  

Anyway, the evening progressed and eventually Senorita Tina started talking in English, so that she could explain the syllabus and stop one older lady's head from exploding. However, it hit about 8:30 and we were all dying to get out of there, even Senorita Tina. We learned that, in true Crichton fashion, she hadn't known she was teaching this class until last Saturday. I have to say that I'm really impressed; she was very well prepared if she'd had that small an amount of preparation time. The caffeine supply was drying up, and the natives were getting restless. So Senorita Tina let us leave once she had heard us having a small conversation with our class partners. Aubrey and I greeted each other, introduced ourselves, explained where we were from, and were gone. 

Funniest moment of the night: when I almost thanked Senorita Tina for a handout by saying, "Danke!" That would have ended really well, for sure. 

Vaya con Dios!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Archenemy

Yesterday, I was confronted with a demon. Just as the Bible foretells, it portrayed itself as an angel of light, until I had given it my soul. Once it revealed itself, I was able to see it for what it truly was: a Specter of Utmost Evil.

I'm talking about.... exercise instructor.

Just not any exercise instructor, mind you. This is an exercise instructor on DVD, which is even more frightening. I swear, this chickie makes not only the hair on the back of your neck stand up, but makes your entire head of hair form itself into a mohawk. Not at all attractive on most females, I must say. 

To explain, my new surrogate big sister, Micah, and I decided that we were going to start doing pilates together every evening. We both have some weight we'd like to finish losing, and we knew that we'd never be motivated to do it by ourselves. She got home from a horrendous day at work (I may have to tell you about it this evening, but we'll see -- I'm afraid it's a little too frightening, even for this blog) and I was experiencing a small case of first-day-of-school blues. So Micah and I went digging through the freezer for food and ultimately made lean pocket pepperoni pizza subs and fried some french fries and opened a bottle of sparkling strawberry juice left over from my birthday. I know, it all sounds so nutritious and conducive to better eating habits! But hey, we won't make a habit of it, and we had a blast. We ate dinner while watching Sixteen Candles, the quintessential eighties teenage movie. If you haven't seen it, I heartily urge you to do so. It's a little, um, raunchy in places, but it's well worth it. The only downer about the movie is knowing that the extremely gorgeous male lead is probably fat and bald by now. Sadness. But 'tis the joy of growing old!

Anyway, after we ate dinner, I was tired and ready to call it an evening, but nope. Micah wasn't going to let me get away with that, even though she, too, was less than enthused about doing pilates at eight in the evening after a meal of greasy french fries. So, with much whining from the both of us, we appeared in the living room and popped in the DVD. 

Onto the screen waltzes this perky little blond Suzanne Summers type of woman. She seems friendly and knowledgeable, so Micah and I prepare ourselves for a workout, congratulating ourselves on our Initiative and Resolve. Along with the Suzanne Summers' type of woman (whose name was Marianne, ironically enough) were six other people dressed in thin purple workout clothes that looked like they'd been thrown off the holodeck of the starship Enterprise just after Worf, Deanna, and Dr. Crusher finished doing that weird martial arts workout they all did together on the show. These purple people were all stunningly beautiful, of course, and seemed to lack the ability to break a sweat or grunt. There was one guy doing the workout with the beautiful dancer purple people, no doubt in an effort to prove that pilates could be just as manly as lifting weights and squatting and spitting and whatever else it is that guys do at the gym. The dude was pretty ripped, so maybe he would have gotten away with it if he hadn't kept pointing his toes so beautifully. 

Marianne started us on our first exercise, and it was hard, but Micah and I were proud of ourselves for completing it and somewhat keeping up with Marianne's fast pace. 

This high and elevated reaction to the exercise didn't last long, sadly. No less than ten minutes later, I began to fear Marianne emotionally. She somehow didn't seem quite as pretty and perky as she had before. Micah started saying, "Are you serious, Marianne?" over and over. She forgot, no doubt, that Marianne was a two dimensional figure on the flickering screen of our TV. And Marianne, unaware of the sheer hatred she was evoking in her less than enthusiastic pupils, kept on saying encouraging things like, "Now this exercise is so powerful that we're only going to do it three times!" 

Translation courtesy of Katie: it's going to hurt like an acupuncture gone terribly wrong, so I'm only going to make you do it a few times so that you don't show up at my house one night in order to beat me to death with the big rubber pilates ball."

That woman/demon had us doing things that I didn't know were possible for anyone outside the dancing or contortionist professions. The upside was that I'm far more flexible than I knew. The downside is that I have absolutely no strength at all. Go empowerment. It was when she had us trying to practically do a handstand that the cursing began. I'm really glad that a pastor doesn't live next door, that's all I got to say. I could hear my mom snickering the next room. I watched in amazement as Marianne spouted horns and a whip appeared in her hand.

Finally, after an hour of torture, we finished the routine. Micah had been able to do a lot more than I had, but then, she's faced Marianne before. I'll get better as time goes on. I spent the last fifteen minutes encouraging Micah to keep going with things like, "Bathing suits! Smaller sizes!" and so on. I think it was encouraging. Micah certainly didn't offer to rearrange my face like she was with Marianne.

Of course, I had trouble walking for the rest of the night. And guess what? I'm going to put myself through the exact same thing tomorrow night. The only reason I'm not doing it tonight is because I'm going to be stuck in a night class until ten. Saved by Spanish! At least that class will be good for something...