Friday, June 27, 2008

Up To My Eyeballs In Boxes

The Good News:

I pretty much have everything packed.

The Bad News

Now I've got to go through this place and eliminated all of the dust, cat hair and bug carcasses (including that obnoxiously large dead spider behind the bathroom door...eww!!).

In an effort to use up whatever I can, I had a dinner of throw-everything-in-'em meatballs and an appletini. I had some ground beef that needed to be used, so I threw it in a bowl with some dry onion soup mix, bread crumbs, and some boil-in-the-bag rice. They turned out pretty dang good for an experiment with what's left in the kitchen.

Also remaining is a very large bottle of vodka that I really don't want to haul to Mom and Dad's house, so I made a large (make that extra-large) appletini. Healthy dinner? Hardly, but I figure I'm burning the calories with all this lifting, packing and hard labor I'm doing. And packing is more fun when you're tipsy.

I've been putting off packing the computer. I'll do that sometime tomorrow afternoon or evening. I want it up and running as long as possible, so I can feed my email addiction and play iTunes (now that my DVDs are packed and the cable box is going away tomorrow).

Tomorrow I get to take said cable box to the nearest Comcast store, then I get to take a trunkload of junk to Goodwill, a few eBay items to the post office, and then I get to come home and take the nails out of the walls. Is my life exciting this weekend, or what?

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I'm not sure which end is up in this place. Moving is crazy!

Now, in addition to the armchair in my dining room, I have stuff piled all over the place. I'm working in a certain pattern. I've designated my bedroom as the "clean" space, so I have all kinds of crap piled in the living room.

I'm taking a carload of stuff to Mom and Dad's today. For a gal who is only going to be living there for a month, I've got a lot of stuff. A few books, a craft project, and a ton of clothes and shoes (hey, a girls gotta be stylin', right?).

Then there's the leftover food that I don't want to go to waste, and the stuff I've been trying to sell on eBay.

Also, Miss Millikins is going there today. I hate not having her around, but I know Sunday would be hell for her if she stayed. I'd have to lock her in the laundry room. She's better off at Mom and Dad's house, away from the chaos. She won't think so, but in this case, Mama really does know best.

Just a few days! I'm not really sad yet. I know it will be hard to leave my apartment--I have loved this place--but I am not sad to leave Antiyuck. This town has NOT been good to me. Onward and better things!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

And So "The Summer of Turning Thirty" Commences

What a weeekend! It is Tuesday, and I am still recovering from the fantabulous time I had with Jamie and Tiff. We managed to get a lot in to two days. I found them to be a hoot to be around, and willing to do just about anything we could do in San Francisco (except that Tiff wouldn't cross the Golden Gate Bridge).

The race was amazingly fun. I'd forgotten just how loud and exciting it is at a live race. TV doesn't do it any justice whatsoever.

I really got this whole "Summer of Turning Thirty" (that's what I'm calling it) off to a great start...and this kind of fun was exactly what I needed after this last school year. I hardly know where to I suppose chronological order is best.

1. The City By The Bay

I met the girls at their hotel in Vallejo, where they were just getting some breakfast. After a few minutes, we were ready to get on our way. Neither of them had ever really been to San Francisco (Jamie's flown into it, but that doesn't count), so I was excited to show them this amazing city.

I've been prepping Tiff for the Bay Bridge for at least a month prior to our trip. Tiff doesn't like bridges over large bodies of water, but going around the south end of the San Francisco Bay was out of the question--it would put us at least three hours out of our way.

At roughly 8.4 miles in length, it's not a small bridge, but fortunately it is wide (five lanes across, with west-bound traffic on top and east-bound traffic on the bottom) and there is Yerba Buena island in the middle to break up that whole "driving over water" anxiety.

I'm happy to report that Tiff did very well, and was even able to enjoy the incredible views of the city and the bay as we drove in.

We started our tour of the city by finding our way to the Embarcadero (bayfront road) and heading to Pier 39. One of my favorite things to do in San Francisco--totally touristy but loads of fun--is to pay a visit to the famous sea lions of Pier 39.

I figured they would just humor me, but it turns out that Jamie and Tiff loved them as much as I do--to the point where Jamie bought herself a stuffed sea lion that barks! We spent some time watching and laughing at their antics before setting off to explore Pier 39.

View from Pier 39:
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Artichoke plant next to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co:
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Jamie and Tiff try Forrest's shoes on for size (the pic that Tiff took of me apparently didn't take, but Jamie got one on her camera):
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Next, we walked to Fisherman's Wharf, stopping to enjoy the delightful aroma of fresh sourdough bread (best in the world!!) being baked:
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After wandering that area, we decided it was time to drive to The Haight. But first, we made an illegal left turn (I took some flak from a traffic patrol person for this--oops! My bad) onto the World's Crookedest Street, Lombard. My cheeks were still burning, but Jamie and Tiff were getting a big kick out of driving down the zig-zag city block.

If you're not familiar with the Haight, just think "Summer of Love." It was at the intersection of Haight Street and Ashbury Street that that infamous time really began.

Today the Haight is less groovy and more modern-urban-hippie. In other words, it's got a lot of free trade, eco-friendly type places. There were many, many displaced teenagers wearing all black, multiple body piercings, and walking dogs (it seemed they all had dogs, anyway). Flowy skirts were everywhere. Not a lot of tie-dye, though.

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The famous Victorian architecture:
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No explanation:
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We ate lunch at a Thai restaurant before heading back to the car for our next adventure--the "gayborhood."

The Castro neighborhood of San Francisco is known as being the place where LGBT people gather. I was driving, so I only got one picture (as we waited at a red light). Jamie and Tiff got more, especially of the prominent rainbow flags flying everywhere.

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Our plan after driving through the Castro section was to head down to the Presidio to enjoy the amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Being who I am...we got lost. Turned around. You can't count on me to have an inner compass, because I simply do not.

After a little while, and a great tour of the less touristy, more residential parts of San Francisco, we found ourselves at Folsom Street, which I know for fact goes to the business district. From there, we found our way back to the Embarcadero, and I set out on a course to get us to the Presidio.

Tiff handled the Bay Bridge very well, but there was no way she was going across the Golden Gate, so we contented ourselves with seeing it in all its glory from below.

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There was a wedding party taking pictures, and the bride looked so pretty:
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There were two insane surfers surfing way too close to the rocks for my comfort:
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Tiff, Yours Truly, Jamie:
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A father teaching his son to skip rocks:
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After this, we drove through the streets of San Francisco some more, finding our way to China Town, and then it was back to the Bay Bridge. As we left the city, I suggested showing them the not-so-great city of Antioch. Both Jamie and Tiff agreed that they'd love to see the armpit of California, and they would especially like to meet the famous Millennium Joy.

And so we found ourselves in Antioch, where we checked out the racing news on my computer and got a brief glimpse of the World's Cutest Calico before she ran under the bed.

After this, it was back to the hotel in Vallejo, where I was kindly offered a place to sleep so I wouldn't have to get up at the crack of dawn to drive there before the race.

Race Day!!!

I've only been to one other live race before Sunday, and that was this same race at Infineon in 2002. Back then, I was still relatively new to the whole NASCAR thing, and while I did have a Pit Road Tour, I didn't know where to go or what to do to meet drivers. Jamie and Tiff, however, are experts.

We arrived at the track at about 9:00, and set out, as fast as we could, to find Robby Gordon's merchandise hauler. He was scheduled to arrive at 10:00 to sign autographs. Jamie and Tiff are big fans, and they've even met him before, but this was a big first for me.

On our way to the hauler, we stopped at a fence near pit road, because there was Junior's pit box!

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Junior's tires:
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Merchandise haulers:

Dale Jr.:
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Dale Sr.:
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Elliott Sadler:
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Greg Biffle:
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While waiting in line at Robby's hauler, I got some good views of the track.

The grandstands:
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Turn 10:
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Turn 2 and the stands where we would be sitting waaayyy back there:
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Before Robby arrived, we saw Brian Vickers signing autographs at his hauler:
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One thing about a NASCAR race--everyone is pretty friendly. While we waited, we got talking with several people. In front of us was a father and his son (maybe 8-10 years old). The boy had several autographs on his hat, and he was super-excited to meet another driver. It's obvious he and his dad have fun going to races together, and it was sweet to see them. We talked about Dale Jr.'s move to Hendrick this year (they're Jeff Gordon fans) and we chatted with another Junior fan who was in front of them.

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Behind us in line was a nice couple. The husband turned out to be someone Jamie and Tiff know from a Robby Gordon fan site, but here's the kicker--he's from Antioch! I heard him mention living near Mount Diablo, so I said, "Hey, what town?" He replied, "Antioch," and I said, "No kidding! Me too!" Small world.

Finally, Robby arrived, giving us all high-fives as he walked to his hauler.

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His golf cart (with all-terrain tires!):
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Me with a real, honest-to-God NASCAR driver (he was distracted by someone with a video camera):
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After meeting Robby, we got a picture of A.J. Almendigger signing autographs:
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As we walked back across the track towards our seats at Turn 2, we saw one of the prerace shows being taped:
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The view from our seats:
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Silly girl (wearing green!):
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The pre-race festivities were awesome. There was a group of L-39s doing an air show, which this retired Air Force Brat loved.

A skydiver with the American Flag:
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But I was really looking forward to the Big Show.

My camera is really slow, so I decided to take videos of the driver intros and the first lap of the race.

Here's the Jumbotron as Junior was being introduced (behind my own screaming and giggling, listen to that crowd!):

A few minutes later, as the pole sitter, Kasey Kahne, was being introduced, Junior came around the track in the back of a pickup. Again, here the crowd (and my own giggling--that's the first time I've ever seen Junior live):

Finally--FINALLY!!--it was time for the race to start. I had forgotten how LOUD those engines are, and just how thrilling it is to sit there as they rumble by. Television does it no justice, and neither does a Kodak EasyShare...but nonetheless, I got a video:

A close-up of Junior's 88 National Guard car:
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The race was pretty single-file, with very few leader changes. We were disappointed to see Robby spin out after earning a top-ten starting spot. Junior stayed in the top 15 most of the day, but it was obvious from the little talking he did on his radio that he was not enjoying himself (for those of you who are my non-NASCAR-fan is no secret that Junior is not a big fan of Infineon racing).

That was another thrill--listening to the scanner chatter. There wasn't much of it, because Junior had his hands full turning right for a change, and the race was so single-file, his spotter had very little to say. But I did get to hear him drop the f-bomb--twice!--and I did have some entertaining moments to listen to.

The best radio chatter moments:

1. Whining about something NASCAR had done: "That's f***in' NASCAR."

2. Whining about nother NASCAR decision: "This is the f***in' WWF."

3. During the late-race red-flag for track clean-up, Junior and his crew cheif, Tony Jr., were discussing why they'd been stopped. At this point, it was clear that Junior was going to win the post-race dash to the airport. Tony Jr. informed him that NASCAR was cleaning some oil off the track. Junior replied, "There's no oil." A few minutes later, Tony Jr. came back on, letting Junior know that they were almost finished cleaning up that oil. The reply was a terse, pouty, "I don't see any oil." I was cracking up. On this blog, it doesn't look funny, but if you could have heard his tone of voice...

Vile Kyle Busch (everyone's favorite anti-hero of NASCAR) won the race. I don't hate him like some do, but I think he's not always the safest guy out there. He has some growing up to do, for sure. But this didn't stop me from getting a picture of him talking to the guys of NASCAR Victory Lane on the Speed Channel, when I got a glimpse of it:
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All in all, it was a great day. Exciting, exhausting, and fun. It was great to spend the weekend with Jamie and Tiff, and I hope to go to another race with them one day. Tiff lives near Indianapolis, so...who knows?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chaos Starts

Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn.
The sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn.
Where is the boy that looks after the sheep?
"He's under the haycock, fast asleep."
Will you wake him? "No, not I;
For if I do, he'll be sure to cry."

Little Meggie Liz, come get your broom
There are boxes everywhere, and an armchair in the dining room.
Where is the London Shrine that makes Meggie smile?
"It's packed with the Snoopy stuff--has been for a while."
Is this chaotic? "Oh, yes, it is truly;
This apartment of Meggie Liz is looking quite unruly."

I have a matching living room set--a chair, a love seat, and an ottoman. The love seat and ottoman (my primary instruments for TV-watching) are still in their places; however, the chair's usual spot has been taken over by three boxes of Snoopy stuff, two wardrobe boxes, four boxes of books, a folded up baker's rack, and, in there somewhere, my London shrine.

The corner once occupied by the baker's rack is now occupied by the chair from the living room. That this happens to be my dining room seems a little bit odd, but hey, it works for now. Better than having the chair in front of the hutch, where I keep my DVDs.

The packing has begun in earnest, and the apartment is starting to look a little bit sparse for my tastes. Next week the pictures will come down, the remaining knick-knacks will be packed, and it will feel very empty and basic in here. Moving day is Sunday the 29th.

When I'm not packing, weeding stuff for Goodwill, or counting Snoopy socks, I'm watching movies (currently Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring) and doing odd stuff around the apartment. Yesterday, I swept a month's worth of dust and debris off the patio. The Delta Breeze that is so loved in Sacramento on hot days starts here in the Delta as more of a gale than a breeze. I had all kinds of dust, dirt, bird seed and even one little thing that looked suspiciously like animal poop (ew!). It's all been swept away, and my patio looks pretty good for a change.

So far I've taken a couple of loads to Goodwill and sold 70+ items on eBay. I've called the utilities to make sure everything is shut off on June 30. I've gone through every drawer and cabinet in the place, and vacuumed the living room twice this week.

Give me a day or so more of this, and I'll be ready for some action. Fortunately, I'm getting two BIG, BUSY days in a row. On Saturday, I'm showing Jamie and Tiff (from the NASCAR board) around San Francisco, and on Sunday, we're going to the NASCAR race in Sonoma. Woohoo!! I'm so excited.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

And the Magic Number Is...

I am going through my dresser, getting rid of old pajamas and socks and whatnot. While doing that, I was marveling at my collection of Snoopy socks. And it occured to me that I've never counted them.

The magic number, my friends, is...








Forty-five pairs.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wise Words

Presidential candidate Barack Obama encouraged African American dads to step up and be fathers.

Coming, as I am, out of a teaching position at a school where this is very much an issue (for all ethnic groups, not just African Americans), I can only thank Obama for saying this.

Bill Cosby has brought this up before, and he took a lot of criticism for it. I only hope that Obama will not.

Totally Amped

My boy won today!

Ending a 76-race winless streak, Dale Earnhardt Jr. capitalized on pit strategy, fuel mileage, and an end-of-race caution to win at Michigan. It is his first points race win as a Hendrick Motorsports driver, and it finally silences the "when will Junior win again?" questions.

Way to go, Junior!

Friday, June 13, 2008

"I am done."

That is the text that went out to a few people yesterday, at about 1:30, as I sat in my car with the A/C blasting on my tear-streaked face.

I didn't cry until the very last minute--when I went to say "see ya" to my colleague Larry, who has been so incredibly supportive these two years. Once I'd started, I couldn't stop until after I'd said my goodbyes to the office staff and turned in my keys.

Part of the crying was from sadness and fear, of course...but mostly just from relief. Two years of stress, frantic fundraising and emotional ups and downs boiled down to three words sent via text from the DVHS parking lot.

And bless my friends and family. Almost immediately my phone rang, and my overworked, super-busy girl Heather was on the other end. She couldn't talk long--she was at work--but she wanted to make sure I was okay.

When I hung up with her, there was a text waiting from Dad: "Hip hip hooray." That's all that needed to be said.

As I type this, graduation is going on. I am not there. My former kids are singing a couple of songs with their new choir director. I am at Mom and Dad's house, mostly rested after a three-hour nap this afternoon.

I am done. All is well.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bitter? Sweet? Nah, Just Relieved.

I can hardly believe it, but tomorrow will be my last day at Looneyville High School (name changed, yada, yada, yada).

Usually when I leave a place, I'm somewhat sad, but in this case, I'm so hugely relieved, I can't even begin to tell you. Maybe I'll tear up a little as I say my goodbyes to certain people, but at this point, I can't muster much more than that.

Maybe it's the effectiveness of my antidepressants...or maybe it's the fact that this job put me on antidepressants. Maybe it's the shadow of The Goddess still looming over my shoulder in the choir room. Maybe it's the divalicious attitudes of many of my students, who expect stardom, served on a silver platter. I don't know. Whatever it is, I just don't find myself sad, or crying at leaving this place.

I'm still a little bitter over everything that has happened--I poured two years of my life into this job, leaving so little for myself that I had anxiety, high blood pressure, and unstoppable crying jags. No one appreciates it. Sometimes it makes me want to scream--I gave, and gave, and gave, and they took, and took, and took. No appreciation--they thank me, but it's empty. It means nothing.

On the other hand, I'm getting over it. More and more each day, I find the bitterness fading away, and the overwhelming feeling that floods in to replace it is relief. I am finding strength in the fact that I have been professional. I have gotten the job done...right to the very end.

My grades are in, my business is all settled. All that is left for me to do is sign an attendance form, turn in my keys, and take one box of stuff down to my car. I will drive away from the school, and another adventure--as ever, wild and absolutely true--will commence.

I don't know where this path is taking me, but I'm not looking back.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The First Box

I now have THREE boxes of this size filled to capacity with Snoopy stuff. And that does not include holiday decorations that are already in boxes in my storage closet!!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

And So It Begins...

As you all know, I'll be moving in a few weeks.

Today, Mom and Dad brought a bunch of boxes, paper, and bubble wrap (not to mention packing tape--yay!) to Antioch, so I can get started.

I've now packed two good-sized boxes...with Snoopy stuff.

My Snoopy collection is sort of legendary among those who know me, and yet I don't think anyone has really seen all of it together like I have. Living in 800 square feet prevented me from displaying most of it. In my next place, I hope to have an office, where I can dispaly all of it.

It's impressive, folks.

The two boxes I packed today are filled with various plush Snoopy dolls, banks, antique toys and music boxes, a phone, a cookie jar, and assorted other odds and ends. These two boxes are not all of it, however. I also have a shelf full of books and a ton of holiday things that are already packed in storage boxes. There are a few clothing items that will be packed with my clothes.

I know when I unpack these boxes a month or two from now, it will be like Christmas. I do love my Snoopy collection.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I Am the eBay Queen

I currently have 86 items for sale on eBay. I have sold 38 items in the last couple of weeks. Four of the 86 current items have been bid on.

And I'm refreshing the page ever five minutes to see if anyone else has bid. : P

It's addictive!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Snarting in the Classroom

One week from right now, this very moment, I shall be sitting on my sofa, sipping a Cosmo, quietly celebrating the end of my two-year run at ***r *****y High School (name hidden to protect the...well, you know).

If I am forever remembered as a good or bad teacher doesn't really matter to me as I move on to the next adventure...and today, I realized that I don't really mind if I'm known in this community forever as the teacher who passed gas in class. Though I suppose it's lucky that no one in my Choir of Angels (a play on their real name, and a completely sarcastic one, at that, as there is nothing remotely angelic about this group) heard me snart in class today.

What is a snart? According to Colonel Cooper (aka Daddy), a snart is what you call it when you sneeze so hard it pushes a fart out.

And that is exactly what happened at the beginning of fourth period today, to Yours Truly. I was sitting at my desk as my sweet little singers came screaming into the room (they have two volume settings: loud and rattle-your-eardrums-loud). I felt the sneeze coming on, and braced myself. It was a rather violent sneeze, and to my dismay, it was accompanied by a rather forceful expulsion of flatulence--enough that the seat cushion on my desk chair actually tremored.

Fortunately, the cushion muffled the sound--my kids are loud and self-centered enough that I could start sobbing hysterically and they wouldn't notice for a while--so I was able to pretend it hadn't happened...that is, until the unfortunate aftermath reared its ugly head.

Oy vey...the smell was outrageous.

I sat there in utter mortification, trying to come up with a plan of action should anyone venture close enough to my desk to get a snootful of dirty air. Maybe one of the boys was standing near enough that I could blame it on him--everyone knows that teenaged boys fart for the sport of it, right? Or maybe I could surreptitiously fan the air with my gradebook until it dispersed.

The good news is that the smell went away on its own relatively quickly, and noone came near enough my desk to experience it, anyway.

The even better news is that I don't care if I go down in the annals of history at this school as the teacher who snarted in the classroom. It just doesn't matter anymore.