FanGirl Meets Hero: FAIL.

I’ve never been the type of girl to go to a concert and faint from proximity to my favorite band.  Yes, I had a few heart palpitations at Bon Jovi’s 2008 tour, but I had no delusions that I was going to meet THE MAN (or Richie Sambora) and run away with him (or them) into a glorious sunset.  I don’t really do autograph sessions, because they are fabricated meet and greet thingies that end in disappointment.

In college, I went to a book signing for ecological pioneer Eugene Odum, simply because he was a guest speaker in my Ecology 1001 course, and I thought he was awesome.  There were a very few people there, he was incredibly sweet and kind, and I was under the influence of cocktails shared after kicking the pants off of my final exams.  So, I suck as a fangirl.

And yet…When the latest memoir by Jen Lancaster debuted, I decided to brave the weather (sunny and warm), the traffic (sucks NONSTOP in Atlanta), and the crowds (ew…germs and awkward convo), and suck it up and go to her first-stop book signing.

I love me some Jen Lancaster.  Her books are the cotton-candy-wrapped-deep-fried-corndog of my reading diet:  delicious, a little wrong, and special in a once a year way.  (If I could chain her to a word-processor, ala Misery, I probably would.  But I’d feel like a douche, and give her wine and steak.  Cupcakes, too, if I had time to bake.)  So, I wanted to actually shell out my cash and time to meet my favorite author.  This is new for me.

I sent the GBF (like Roald Dahl’s BFG, except that he is my Gay Best Friend.  Since Algebra I:  9th Grade, yo!) to the Buckhead Barnes and Noble in advance, to purchase my copy of My Fair Lazy, Jen’s latest work.

(Sidenote:  It ain’t Barnes and NOBLES, folks.)

Luckily, the GBF is not geographically challenged, because he landed me in the 51-100 signing group.  (Btw, Barnes and Noble:  If someone shows up at 4:40, when books go on sale at 5:00, and there is NO LINE, how the hell am I down 50 people?  Answer me!)

I leave work at 4.  The signing starts at 7.  The plan is to meet for dinner, having secured spot numero 51-100 in line, and then venture to the bookstore.  It’s a 45 minute drive, so this is a good plan, no?

NO.  I am lost until arriving at Barnes and Noble at 6:30.  Many screams were emitted.  Hair was yanked.  Lipstick was chewed off.  I may have been sweating like a linebacker.  And so, I looked like ass when I arrived to meet my hero.  And I was STARVING.

Ms. Lancaster entered and began speaking right on time, looking precious and being funny.  I am pleased with my decision to come, in spite of the ridiculous lost-ness.  GBF and I laughed at the snarky fan who got all sorts of pissed when she was not called on during the Q & A in her preferred time frame.  (FYI:  The author can’t see you if you are hidden behind a shelf of children’s books, pal.  And your question sucked, anyway.)

Then, I got in line.  For a loooong time.  And had awkward conversations.  And waited.  Some more.  And theeeeennnnn…

Oh. Holy. Crap.  I am REALLY excited, suddenly.  I’m going to meet my idol, and SQEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!  (Stolen from my idol.  Copyright:  Jen.)

She is SO nice!  And she knows my name!  Oh shit, it’s on the post-it, so she isn’t psychic, and I looked all impressed, like an idiot!  And she’s so personable and chatty, and WHAT?  Did I just tell her my life’s-fricken-story?  Apparently, I don’t plan to wear pants this summer while planning and executing my wedding during my summer vacation from being a teacher, oh yeah, I’m a teacher of the high-school-english-variety-and-do-you-want-to-sign-my-yearbook-bffl??  SHUT.UP.

And then my camera was set on video.  So, I now have video of me smiling my face off next to Jen Lancaster, and then realizing I am a moron, and switching to photo.

The picture turned out well, given the circumstances…and I give the greatest props to my new bffl for treating me like a champ, in spite of my social ineptitude.  Then, the moment was over, and I was wandering out of Barnes and Noble, clutching my autographed book and wondering what the HELL just happened.

God Bless you, Jen Lancaster.  You made me into a drooling, babbling fangirl in a way that no boy band ever could…and you were an utter lady about it.  Just…Thanks!

If you have no idea who (or what) I am talking about, go to http://www.jennsylvania.com for the deets.

Martha Stewart takes Home Depot.

So, I ventured out to my local Home Depot to get some paint for the bathroom.  The LOML and I are freshening up his condo in anticipation of my imminent marital move-in, and are trying to make it all spiffy for the visiting family that will stop by during the wedding festivities.  (Sidenote:  Shocked that I don’t actually live there yet?  A surprising number of people are.)

Anyway.  Paint.  We have done a lot of painting while renovating the 80s-heavy decor of this condo.  The previous owner was a sweet, older lady whose taste ran to floral wallpaper and peach walls.  We like Ralph Lauren, and all of his glorious paint techniques.  Have you ever painted a Ralph Lauren wall?  It requires a degree in taste, and 40 hours of college level technique to perfect.  We slap that stuff on all horizontal surfaces like Ralph is coming to dinner, and consider ourselves to be pretty damn fancy for mastering the art of “sueding” anything that will stand still.

I am whistling a little Ralph-lovin’ tune as I skip on up to the corner of the paint chip display owned by Mr. Lauren, and I realize…Martha Stewart has taken over.  Now, I love me some Martha, but… WTF?  I need to faux finish in a way that requires rollers crafted from fine, rare woods.  And I can’t.

Ralph has been discontinued, and I am lost.

Martha’s colors are lovely, of course, and are named by her minions to be as specific about how awesome Martha’s life is as possible.  You can literally pick ANY chip (Cornbread, Nimulus Cloud, Weathered Martha Boots) and write an article for her magazine in two seconds.  It’s a little magical, and hilarious enough (to me) to cause a snorting laughter fit in the paint aisle.  I have to admit, Martha OWNS, and I wish I had a brand that strong for myself.

I need to figure that one out, and start working on an empire, stat.

Sadly, I went with Behr, because giggling doesn’t help you paint a bathroom, but I am inspired.  I think…

Asian by Proxy

As I enter into a marriage with the Indian LOML, I am completely aware that we have a wealth of cultural differences… However, over the course of the nearly three years that we have been a couple, I have found that the majority of people that we encounter are supportive and kind about these differences, and are thrilled to see how well we fit together–we share the same values, and that’s all that matters, correcto?

Not according to our local Chinese restaurants.

We went for take-out the other night, and the LOML requested chopsticks.  As the truly adorable take-out girl tucked a couple of pairs into our bag, she squinted at me and said, “Guess he’ll have to teach you to use these, eh?” and laughed.  A lot.

Huh.  The bitchy portion of me thought up many retorts to this, most revealing more ugly-white-American thoughts than I am capable of voicing.

(Look, heifer, I come from the proud people that invented the SPORK, by God. <Maybe?  Hmm.  Probably.>  I don’t need to eat with your fancy STICKS!)

But, I am not a butthole, so I smiled and wrote it off.

THEN, we visited another, favorite Chinese restaurant.  LOML ordered Korean Jong Bong, and they teased him about wanting a spicy dish even hotter.  Then, I ordered Chow Yun Si, and received an interrogation on my understanding of the components of the dish.  Yes, I know that it is not spicy.  Yes, I eat pork.  And cabbage.  And mushrooms.  I also understand that the noodles are not like macaroni in any way, shape, or form.  I am sure that I want to order this.  Really, I am.

The server shot me a wary look as she headed to the kitchen, and my head exploded.

“You are NOT Chinese, Korean, or any similar variety of Asian person.  Why do I always get the third degree about my ability to eat in Asian restaurants?!”  I screeched (quietly).

“You do not.  Don’t be dramatic.  They are just making sure that you’ll enjoy your meal.  They’ve done it to me too.”  The LOML is irritatingly calm.  This makes me want to donkey kick something.

“Hmmph.”

My meal was fine, I ate it with sticks, and I hugged the owner’s wife while evil-eyeing the server to emphasize my displeasure with her assumptions.  I really hate “profiling” in any form, and my hackles have been raised since falling in love with someone who is looked at askance in airports for having a tan, I guess.

These little frustrations make me ever more intent on NOT judging books by their covers, so lesson learned.  A little introspection is good, and I actually (strangely) enjoy having to confront the tiny prejudices in the world in my head, because I usually learn something valuable.

Just don’t make me angry enough to spear you with a chopstick.  I know how to use them.

Best of the Rest

I am having the hardest time writing a good-bye letter right now…

My department chair is retiring, and I want to tell her just what an influence she has had on my life.  I’ve been at my current school for just two years, so this should be a cinch, right?  But she was was also my department chair seven years ago, when I began teaching at this school for the first time, and she supplied me with wit, wisdom, books, advice, scotch tape, hugs, and a million other things that led me to believe I *could* actually survive as a teacher.

More importantly, she was also MY teacher.  In 8th, 9th, 10th, and 12th grade.  Um, yes…that is 4, for those counting.  For Honors and AP English–and I kicked the butt off of the AP test, just for (bragging rights and college credit, and because she threatened me.  I think.) her.  She shared her books then, as well.  As only a teacher can, she knew things (vulnerabilities and fears) about me that I tried to hide…and she gave me amazing pieces of literature to help me figure out my weird teen-hormone-addled brain. She also was generous enough to give me wit, wisdom, advice, and (with an unreasonable frequency) sheer hell when she needed to.

The only teacher I ever truly cursed out:  this lady.  My curse?  Whatever.” (Spoken in withering tones, with the disdain that only a GENUINELY wronged 15 year old can muster.)  After years in class together, I knew her Achilles heel, and I went for it.  I also studied mythology with her, so….frankly…it’s her own damn fault for teaching me about Achilles and his heel.  Thankfully, I survived.

She was my Yearbook Adviser, and I showed up to many an early class (Journalism was a “zero” period class then, meaning 6:45 am) bleary-eyed, to find that she had been at work for hours.  She usually had breakfast for us.  It is the rare day that I muster up the energy to hit my desk at 6:45, and my kids are SOL if they think I’m bringing biscuits and juice.

I would not be a Harry Potter addict without this person, which would have prevented J.K. Rowling from owning Great Britain, and that would be a crying shame.  I am not exaggerating.  At ALL.  Did I mention that she had the stones to dress as Professor McGonagall during Homecoming week?  And that I was scared (when I was 27?!) that my Transfiguration grade was not what it should be?

Though her desk was a potential avalanche of papers, she always knew what you had written, and whether or not it was worth the college-rule on which you had penned it.  Her room was a mish-mash of bookshelves, upon which rested a Library-of-Congress-worthy collection of stuff.  I (may have) modeled my own classroom on this accessible path to reading.

When I became a teacher, at the tender age of 22, I was assigned Room 104 at my former high school.  I was not an education major, I was an English major who was seeking a job that did not require tiny orange shorts and an owl-themed tank top.  I was lost.  The classroom looked so BIG and EMPTY, and I felt completely overwhelmed.  Then I noticed a name, in black Sharpie, written on the thin strip of cork above the white-board.  My name.  And I knew that I was at home, in my former English class.   Unbelievably, I became a teacher…with an avalanche of papers sliding about on my desktop.

I admire my mentor’s literary brain, her way with words, the fact that she maintains herself with dignity when all others are dropping F-bombs far and wide…

I never knew how much I would miss her quiet, unfailing strength and powerful nature, since I never thought we, as a school, as a world of learners, would ever lose her.

But she is retiring:  to spend time with her beloved husband, amazing children, and ridiculously adorable grandchildren, and (I hope) a huge pile of unread books.  Preferably a stack that she will share with me.  I can wish her only the greatest happiness.  Even though she is LEAVING ME!

What do you give a person such as this, upon her retirement?  Gold, jewels, stacks of cash?   Sure.  When I win the lottery.

Sadly, in my case, it is the first edition, 1958 version of 101 Famous Poems with a Prose Supplement.  Straight from the Library of Congress…that I borrowed from my mentor about 15 years ago, and forgot to return.  Due to my embarrassment at (accidentally!) snatching it in the first place, I failed to return it, but I’ve carefully moved it from home to home…and used it to obtain two degrees, all while promising myself to bring it to its true home again.

Tomorrow, it will be reunited with its rightful owner.  I will miss her so much.

UPDATE:  Upon receipt of the book, she cracked up…then insisted I keep it, and pass it along to another student!  🙂

Lost

So the series finale of Lost was yesterday. I didn’t watch, because I don’t give a rat’s ass about this show! Cheers!

Blue Suede Shoes.

The LOML is the World’s Biggest Elvis Fan.  We have visited Graceland 3 (4?) times in the not-quite 3 years that we have been a couple.  We listen to Elvis music NON-STOP as we drive the 6 hours from Atlanta to Memphis.  There are framed Elvis posters in the home that I will call mine after marriage, and YES, I purchased and framed one of said posters.

I drink from the occasional Elvis mug, and we have a Christmas Graceland to “grace” (heheheh) the home during the holiday season.  I recognize the ’68 Comeback Special DVD jokes at a hundred paces, and must confess that the charm of the King has rubbed off on me.  I can sing an Elvis tune in perfect harmony, have exercised my amateur photography skills detailing the minutiae of Graceland, and don’t bitch when Clambake is on TCM.

So obviously, I wanted to get married in blue suede shoes.  Now,  I am wearing a gown to this sucker, as I am a princess (with a lack of crown and castle-like real estate.  FOR NOW.) of the highest order.  But I wanted a touch of whimsy, and blue-suede-Elvis-lovin’ heels seemed to be the thing.  Problem:  My feet are shaped like tiny diver’s flippers:  a perfect size 7 triangle, which makes shoe shopping a misery.  Wide feet are a designer’s bane, and my desire to trip about in Manolos and Choos is restricted less by my (teacher’s salary) budget, and more by the fact that these mavens want nothing to do with Flipper-Feet.

And yet…I found them.  Blue, suede, HIGH heeled, ankle strappy, with a ruffle narrowing my wide foot.  It was a no-brainer.  I hope.  My devoted mother bought these for me on MOTHER’S DAY of all days, with no qualms… I think she must be a shoe-bearing saint.  Pray for me, as I have not tried them with the dress…and I HATE the back-up, champagne-colored, low heeled, satin nightmares that are the other choice.

Let me get married in Blue Suede…

Trader Joe’s, you are my pal.

I have an unholy addiction to potstickers.  Yeah, I said it.  They are just delicious, and I could eat them daily.  And sometimes do.  They do not have to be handmade, as that is a pain in the ass, but they do need to be yummy.  And I am vague on my qualifications for yummy, since I LOVE these damn things.

Sam’s Club sells a million pack of these, in little trays that allow you to make 4 (read 1) servings at a time, but going to Sam’s is troublesome to me–I have to pay for the privilege of buying A LOT of stuff, which is counter-intuitive to me.  Plus, I always wind up buying an 80 pack of Sharpies, a huge bottle of a random vitamin, and more produce than any tribe of mine (i.e. 2 people) can consume before “the rot” sets in.  Ooh, and they have cheap books!  And ginormous packs of tupperware, in which I can store 30 pounds of blueberries!  But, I digress.

Trader Joe’s, that mecca of all things vaguely healthy, with 2-Buck Chuck (wine?  with a cork?  for $2?  Genius!) and precious reusable tote bags, has potstickers that are straight from frozen food heaven.  They cook in about 5 minutes, with crispy bottoms and steamy, glorious fillings, and are surprisingly affordable, given that they come in packs of around 20, rather than a million.

Even the potsticking hater that is the LOML steals these from my plate, no matter how many jabs he receives from my chopsticks.  Trader Joe (I call him by his name, ’cause we are BFFs and all…) also sells little Chicken Cilantro wontons that are amazing in a quick soup.  Try it.  Seriously.  Now.

You won’t regret it!

Whew…

So, I survived the lasagna poisoning of 2010, and made it back to school in time to administer my final exams (round 1).   Personally, I do all that I can to ensure that my students have a chance at success in my class…up to and including the dreaded assigning of extra credit, and giving (my version) of an easy exam.  Apparently, I failed on both counts.

We spent the end of the semester studying the literature of the Holocaust, and themes such as tolerance, bullying, racism, justice, and so forth.  Perhaps not the most cheerful wrap-up, but a unit that I consider extremely important.  We read Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night, viewed a moving documentary about Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissman-Klein, and tied it all in a neat bow by viewing the film Freedom Writers, about a group of post-Rodney King beating students in Long Beach who use their own study of the Holocaust to recognize the racial prejudice in their own lives.  (Sorry-there’s a lot more to all of these works, and my justification for studying them, but…you probably don’t want the pedagogy behind it all.)
ANYWAY.  My exam consisted of four multi-part short answer questions, designed to evaluate the writing and critical thinking skills of my students.  Even those who paid the most vague attention to the unit should have been able to draw upon their own experiences to comment on issues such as bullying, right?  I mean, who didn’t experience or witness at least one instance of bullying in their school days?

This kid:  “I have never been bullied but if I had been I’da had to beat some ass.  Sorry”  This child is a SENIOR.  Who expects to GRADUATE in two days.  WTH?

Or, do you agree with Miep Gies’ (one of the people who helped conceal Anne Frank) definition of a hero?  Explain.  (By the way, the definition was ON THE TEST.  Answer?  “Yes.”  My. Head. Explodes.  We have been through the “explain” rodeo more than once this year, people!

I did receive great, thoughtful answers, and some amazing insights…Which keep me going when I face “IDK” on an essay test.  But, still… ??!!!

The extra credit projects were hit or miss as well.  I have urged my kids to approach any Holocaust related project with sensitivity toward the material, and yet an unreasonable amount of glitter glue adorned various posters.  Fail.

Anyone faced this before?  Thoughts, rants, or otherwise?

Bleurgh…

Yay!  I started a blog!
And then I had to throw up!
And I am not in any way qualified as drunk!

(Which is a crying shame, given that it is a lovely early morning in May–in college, I would have been heading home now, make-up intact and cute-girl sundress fluttering in my wake…because IheartPaneer had fun, but wasn’t THAT GIRL, for God’s sake!)

But.  I am frighteningly sober, having failed to imbibe at a school function (BORING, no?  Yet adherent to the pretty reasonable drinking bylaws for teachers:  read–DON’T!) and have since watched the unfortunate remains of a sadly made Veggie Lasagna disappear into an unknown place in the Great Sewer Beyond.  I am sleepless, barfy, and in pain.  Why?  Because I CLEARLY need to be absent with 3 days to go in the school year.  Btw?  Substitute teachers will respond at 2:30 am to your cries for help…with rejection.

Note to the proprietors of the restaurant that hosted ye ol’ banquet… Frozen mixed veg (including LIMA BEANS) is never an acceptable addition to a veggie lasagna.  Just.  NO.  The fact that I have to point this out (especially given the charming European accent of the restaurant owner) saddens me.  Greatly.  And I may have to get sick again…not on principle (which I am entitled to, DUH) but because something is rotten in small-southern-town-Denmark…

Poisoned…By LOVE.

Sooooo, I am able to create this blog solely based on the fact that the food at my tennis banquet (I heart the 2010 Wildcats!) has tried to kill me.  No shit, whatsoever.  I mean, literally, no poop.  At this point.  It is just…well, getting rid of the evil within.  Quickly, with great force, and with blogging between episodes, because I have to do SOMETHING to keep my mind off my roiling tummy.

Huh.  I suppose I should continue to expound about whatever it is I want to make this blog about.  For instance, the name:  iheartpaneer.  Paneer, if you don’t know, is an Indian cheese:  it holds up well as a protein in many traditional dishes, and kicks major ass in the yum-yum department, in my opinion.  Shahi paneer, maater paneer…Fricking awesome.  My mother, with ye ol’ sensitive tummy, shouts for rice dishes:  Peas Pullao, Biryani… And claims (blasphemously) that paneer is not the bomb.com.  I beg to differ.  You know tofu, yes?  It tastes of terrible things, like sweat socks, bad memories, and the undergarments of untoward women.  Probably.  I don’t eat any of the above, including tofu, if I can help it.  ANYWAY.  Paneer ain’t tofu, people.  It is rich, creamy, capable of soaking up a sauce (the only virtue of the soybean bricks known as tofu) and absolutely YUMMMMM.  I cherry-pick these nuggets of glory from the Indian buffets that we frequent on the weekends…with NO SHAME.  I stand in my blond glory, gacking all the paneer, as people pile up in line behind me, grumbling.  Why?  “Cause I GOT TO!

Oh… Got to run for a sec.  Ugh….

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