Teacher’s pet on steroids

"Come on, you know you're just projecting..."

“Come on, you know you’re just projecting…”

I was wandering through a Goodwill store the other day when I ran across one of these dinosaurs. For those of you not from the era of mimeographed handouts (with that weirdly addicting, shiny-blue chemical smell that couldn’t possibly be good for you), or if the fun of turning the egg-beater-like handle of the requisite manual pencil sharpener at the front of the classroom is lost on you, this contraption ———> is an overhead projector.

 

These beauties were used to share super important information…like this:

Important stuff

Hey Jimmy…we can’t see THROUGH you!

 

 

 

School was pretty different back then. (And yes, I’ll see that bet and raise you a, “Hey you kids, get outta my yard!”)

 

 

One thing that probably hasn’t changed in the classroom though is that annoying kid who sits in the front row and seems to always have their hand up…you know the one. hand up

Well, let me just tell you, it’s not EASY being that kid! I would keep that hand up in the air until I sometimes thought my arm would fall off!

Eventually, that eternal hand in the air syndrome morphed into all of the telltale signs of a geeky teacher’s pet: refusing to cut school (even when threatened with bodily harm), being the kid chosen make bulletin boards or run to the office to deliver messages, and the one most likely to be left in charge when the teacher left the room on business (smoke ’em if you got ’em, boys).

In case you ever wondered what happened to those annoying kids, well, this one just recently found out her Myers-Briggs scores during a training event at work. It turns out that the Extrovert part of ENFP can be somewhat…um, I think the word the Introverts used was EXHAUSTING. They also mentioned something about having to fight to get in a few words during classroom…, um, I mean office discussions. Of course, I was so busy trying to get the instructor’s attention that I may have missed a few details. Maybe I’ll be able to do some extra credit follow-up…or at least buy the boss a latte.

 

 

 

 

Goose, goose….DUCK!

I’ve never really liked birds all that much. Their eyes are too dead looking…cold and black…and how do you love something that has a weapon where it’s mouth ought to be? I’m sure that when I was little I was just afraid of all things avian, but since I was afraid of pretty much everything, that’s not big news.

My grandmama used to laughingly tell the story of walking down Main Street as a young woman, talking to her sister. She felt something land in her hair and, when she swiped at it with her hand, she managed to smear bird poo all through her lovely new hairdo. I’m sure that lovely tale fueled some bird-related anxiety for me, even though they say it’s good luck to be the recipient of bird crap from heaven landing on you. (Seriously, ‘they’ were really reaching with that one, I’d say.)

Back in South Carolina, I remember seeing lots of blue jays and cardinals, some crows and tons of pigeons (aka rats with feathers) whenever I went downtown. Oh, there were certainly other types of birds there, but I wasn’t very observant, and I would usually go out of my way to avoid too much contact with anything (shudder) WILD. I also remember a few times when I caught a glimpse of a far-off, V-shaped group of geese flying somewhere, usually at sunset. They seemed elegant and somehow romantic, winging their way to someplace far from the stifling heat of Columbia, South Carolina. I never actually had any up-close goose encounters, but there would have been screaming if they got too close to me, so I was satisfied with the idea of them.

When I moved to Oregon I started paying a little more attention to birds in general. I’m certainly no birder, but I did notice that the blue jays here look more exotic than the ones I was used to. The pigeons and crows are normal, but I was almost a little disappointed to realize that we don’t have cardinals at all in Portland. The trade-off, I learned, was that I would get to enjoy seeing the V formation of Canada Geese on a regular basis…it became something to look forward to during the changing of seasons, and it reminded me that I live in a really cool part of the world.

And then I started my new job, where geese (and I mean LOTS of geese) are an everyday thing. Our campus is part of a wetlands area that is apparently where every damn Canada goose in Oregon (and at least half of those in Canada) come to breed! At first I was all, ‘Wow, we’re surrounded by geese…how cool is that!?” Now, after three months of it, I’m continually watching my back around the tyrants…they think they own the joint! It’s bad enough to have them giving you the stink eye all the time, certain that you’re making a ninja move toward their babies, but then they randomly just decide to walk down the middle of the street, backing up traffic…babies in tow! Since when am I more dangerous than an SUV?

Worst of all, though, is when the damn things fly. Let me tell you, looking up just in time to see a couple of critters the size of the biggest Thanksgiving turkey you’ve ever even heard about swooping right by your head is a bit unsettling.

Goose shitThis shot shows just a small sample of the goose population that our offices are surrounded by. And folks, where there’s a goose, there’s goose poop. Thousands of geese generate lots and lots of it. The security guards actually have to hose down the front walk every morning, and you just learn to watch your step at all times. We even hear periodically about some poor employee leaving after a hard day at work, only to be poop-bombed on the way to their car.

Oh, I still enjoy watching the goosey circle of life, but I try to keep a safe distance, and I’m basically over my love affair with geese. It was nice while it lasted, but I’ve moved on. Let’s just hope I don’t get lucky any time soon!

Moral indignity at the Kwik-E-Mart

So the only time I usually go to the 7-Eleven is to buy things I shouldn’t eat. Not unlike interactions with a doctor or priest, I’ve always considered the relationship between myself and the person behind the convenience store counter to be at least somewhat sacred. It’s an encounter based on necessity, and I’m not usually looking my best at that particular time of night, or in that craving-induced state of being, so we have an understanding. You stay on your side of the counter, don’t judge, keep your mouth shut and I’ll do my best to get in and get out. No one gets hurt, and I might even leave my pennies in that weird little tray.

Friday night was one of those times when I was really counting on that special relationship. It had been a long day at work, I was out a little later than normal, and there was a situation that only Doritos and Ben & Jerry’s could resolve. I strode through the store with my mission firmly in my mind. I grabbed my loot (stealthily adding a slice of pre-wrapped pound cake to the stash…I’m sure no one saw it) and headed to the front of the store, the finish line in sight.

I didn’t recognize the 20-something guy behind the counter, but I assumed that he had been properly trained in the ‘Way of the Convenience Store’, so my guard was down. I wasn’t at all prepared when he just stood there and looked at my haul, spread across the counter like so much bar-coded illicit treasure. He moved his gaze to my face and left it there.

“How OLD?” he snapped.

“Huh…” I stammered, trying to figure out when the state of Oregon might have started an age restriction on salted caramel OR nacho cheese, “…how old…am I???”

“Yes…50…” he spat, “…51?!?”

It sounded like he was accusing me of something, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure it out. I recoiled a bit, groping in my purse for my debit card. I just really, really wanted to get my groceries (how’s that for rationale?) and get home!

I handed the bank card to my accuser, and looking into his face it occurred to me that his tone was…familiar? I had a flash back to my first night in Morocco quite a few years ago, when I was overwhelmed by the forceful admiration of a man who almost knocked me to the ground while shouting about my ‘beauty’. I could almost hear the droning of a call to prayer in the background as I realized that my critic was from a part of the world where blondes of any age, size or shape were considered to be a prize.

“Almost 57,” I whispered, “but you’re supposed to guess 40!” (My vanity wasn’t going to take that high of a number lying down!)

“Too much makeup,” he shrugged, handing me back my debit card and receipt.

I grabbed my bag and my bruised ego and made a run for it.

Note to self: next time, stick with a drive-thru. Taco Bell really isn’t so terrible…right?

 

 

 

 

Oh Sealy Posturepedic, I wish I knew how to quit you…

So the new job is going great. It’s a wonderful company with amazing benefits and a great product, and the folks in my department are fun and supportive. Hell, they even give you free popcorn and fruit and there’s a cafeteria and a vending machine with healthy stuff in it. What’s not to like?

7:30 AM…that’s what.

(Just a warning…here’s where I’m gonna whine a bit. If you don’t like it, well…go back to Trivia Crack, I guess. )

I’ve never really been a morning person anyway, so having to be at work that early is a bit of a challenge. Just consider that I have to show up at work:

  • dressed (in something other than an over-sized ‘Kiss me I’m Irish’ t-shirt);
  • at least partially made up (I can’t even go into my own kitchen without mascara);
  • at the very least semi-coiffed (I don’t just wake up with beauty queen hair, you know); and
  • functionally awake (they don’t like it when you aren’t lucid yet – one day this week I actually shook up my full coffee cup in the work kitchen..it wasn’t pretty).

To accomplish all of this and be able to walk into the office by 7:30, I have to get up between 5:00 and 5:30 AM. Even the cats don’t like it, and I’m getting lots of eye daggers (especially from Buffy, but she’s a bit of a drama queen).

Which brings me to the main challenge – getting out of my glorious, cozy, wonderful BED. I’ve always just loved to sleep…at any time, and anywhere. I’ve mentioned before that it’s my super power, and it’s never been more true.

Up until my new work schedule, one of my favorite things for quite a while has been to wake up at around 7 and spend the next 30 minutes catching up on emails, checking out Facebook…all the things they tell you NOT to do in bed with your cell phone. All this recent early rising, however, has made that impossible. I use the most annoying alarm I could find (on that same phone), and I sleep until the last possible moment. Every second is precious to me – I just can’t get enough sleep!

I’m also starting to fade at the most inopportune times. Trying to watch a movie…better hope it’s a short one or I’ll be snoring on the couch. Going out after work on Friday? Heck yeah, count me in…well, until maybe 8:00 PM, when I’m all, “Hey, ya’ll got any nachos here…and can I get those to go?”

I guess the good news is that I can now afford to buy nachos and pay the mortgage…and get that fancy limited ingredient cat food that Ms. Kitty Girl likes…without having to resort to a life of generic toilet paper and store brand cheese. So life is good, I’m extremely grateful for my job, and I’m hoping that I’ll eventually get used to being an early bird. (Please?)

And it’s now Sunday afternoon, so time for a nap!

jealous much

Who loves ya, baby?

So I have this theory that life is all about the lessons you’re supposed to learn. It’s not like I came up with this idea, but I’ve decided that it’s true and important…at least to me. So, it goes like this:

1. Life throws a lesson at you that you really need to understand. Now, it would be too easy if it were all nice and neat and had big arrows pointing at it, like this…Life sign

Instead, the lesson is usually small and stealthy, and sometimes it’s in disguise or even hiding underneath something else (like that last chocolate covered cherry in the farthest corner on the bottom layer of the picked-over valentine’s box…behind all those nasty marshmallow-filled things). You have to really sort through to find the good stuff.

lovey candy

2. Unless you’re some sort of highly advanced soul, you might not notice your lesson (in spite of the universe’s prodding). If you do happen to take note, it might not seem like something that’s fun or interesting, so you keep walking (or if you’re like me, you flat out run from it).

3. By now the universe figures out that you’re dim, and that it’s gonna take more to get you to wake up to your lesson. Pretty soon the lesson is showing up more often, in different packages, shapes and sizes. Mine looked something like this…

Construction sign

 

 

 

 

 

…and this…

movie sign

…and before you know it, your secret message from the universe shows up everywhere you look…

Scaffold sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. If you’re lucky, by this point you’ve decided to finally open your eyes and figure out what it is you’re supposed to GET. If you’re, however, as hard-headed as I am…well, it might take a little more…

Old Building

I like to think that my own personal message is finally starting to sink in, but little reminders certainly don’t hurt.

MIRROR

 

Whatdya mean I have to wear pants?!

Big news…I’m finally going back to work at an honest-to-God 8 hour a day so-called normal gig. For the past four years I’ve done free-lance project management which (somehow) paid the bills, but it was never very dependable. There have been quite a few sleepless nights — sometimes because I had to work all night to meet a deadline, and sometimes because I had no idea where the next insurance or mortgage payment was coming from. The best part was that I got to work from home and, while it can get boring not going into an office, at least you never have to work with a nosy office mate or smell anyone else’s lunch being nuked. Best of all though…PAJAMAS! There were some times when being dressed certainly added to the experience, but sweats and yoga pants were usually fancy enough for even the most formal conference call.

Six months ago I took on a second job, doing some part-time front office work for a small heating and air conditioning contractor. It was fun having an office to go to again, and since almost all of my work was computer and phone…no dress code. To top it off, there were regularly dogs in the office, which is a definite perk.

Buck happens to like my 'style'...

Buck happens to like my ‘style’…

Working the two jobs simultaneously was challenging, often requiring me to get up early for my freelance job to take client calls and then stay up late to meet a deadline…squeezing in 6-8 hours of phone work in between. I could no longer wear pajamas all most of the time, but jeans were standard and no one even cared if I bothered to wash my hair (scrunchies were practically encouraged). As you can see from the photo, my office mates were very non-judgmental.

My wonderful new job won’t have fun puppies to pet, but it will have a regular schedule (no more over nighters!), a 401-K with matching funds, insurance that will only cost me a small percentage of what I’ve been paying, and lots of other exciting benefits. I’m really happy about the whole thing, but there is the (unfortunate) requirement that real clothes be worn. Welcome back to the world of business casual, Tammywhich typically does not include fuzzy pj bottoms with bunnies or super hero logos on them, and where yoga pants just won’t cut it. I’m hoping that the extra time I’ll now have will make it easier to do more writing…assuming that I don’t have to spend the whole weekend doing laundry!

 

 

 

When my family wrote (in) the Bible

Grandmama’s bible smells the same now as it did when I was a girl…a scent somewhere between encyclopedia and nursing home, with just a touch of cigarette smoke thrown in. The pages are edged in red, their wispy thinness still protected by the hand-worn, zippered black cover stamped to look like leather. It was a gift from some cousins to my great-grandfather on his birthday in 1958 – the year I was born.

I don’t still own many of the physical things I grew up with…running away from home in your 30’s to find a new life 3000 miles away tends to scatter your stuff. This one thing is honestly my most prized possession and has, miraculously, stayed with me. It holds a place of honor on the bookshelf that faces me most of the time, where my special treasures are kept.

Bible presentation pageNow, I’m not a Christian, and I don’t necessarily value this piece of memorabilia for its content, but the book was important to my Grandmother. It had belonged to her father and was a part of her life for years. She held it carefully in her hands as she explained its stories to me, referring to the pictures of David slaying Goliath and the baby Moses being pulled from the river. I always preferred the Old Testament tales, somehow a little put off by the flashy red text of the New Testament…a tendency that has stayed with me over time.

Another reason that this keepsake is so precious to me is the penmanship in this particular good book. The presentation page was inscribed by, I believe, my great-aunt C, since her boys were the ones doing the gift giving. However, more interesting are the annotations by my sister…St. Lynnie the Defacer (note the green ink). She obviously disagreed with the year (XO, I say!), and added some artwork as well.

Lynnie’s writing continues later on when you get to the Who Married Who pages that follow the prophets. (She changed pens, but I’d recognize that slanty script anywhere.) Here are her notes on our family’s births, accompanied by what I like to believe is a pregnant fish…or something. Her artwork for the Marriages page is also interesting…was she trying to learn to write my name, or are those the three crosses that stood on Calvary Hill…um, probably just the T for Tammy…or some telephone poles. Marriage history

Not that I didn’t leave my own mark, but mine is in the form of a very practiced signature placed right before the beginning of Genesis. I don’t remember putting it there, but it appears to have been an attempt to establish ownership…not claim authorship. Or maybe I just wanted to prove that at least one of the Gist girls could actually write in real cursive (and do fancy swishy underlines). Note, however, the green marks – it seems that Lynnie got the last word.

20150118_172122

Tammy with a capital T got the book, though!