30 December 2008


I hate New Year's Eve. It is by far my least favorite holiday of all the holidays. If I could pick (which I guess I really can), I would spend all day tomorrow in my pajamas, under my covers, until the day had passed. You might be asking yourself, "Why, oh why, does Melissa loathe New Year's Eve so very much?" The reason is that it is consistently a let down for me. In fact, some of my worst days happened on New Year's Eve. But I don't need to go into detail about any of that trauma, except to say that 12/31/06 is a day that will live in infamy in my heart. It was so bad that I spent the entire day of 1/1/07 in bed crying. I should have known then that 2007 would be one of the most hellacious experiences of my life....

Well, since there's no avoiding it, I guess there is only one thing to do, besides hiding under the bed. I'm just going to live in denial. Pretend like it isn't even New Year's. In fact, I don't think I'll even shower tomorrow. And I will NOT drink champagne. Nobody better hand me a noise maker because I will crush it with my bare hands.

Happy freaking New Year's.

26 December 2008

I'm not sure where this is coming from

Maybe it's because it's the end of the year. Maybe it's because I've had a couple of days off of work and way too much time on my hands. I just feel very introspective lately.

Today I pulled out my box of journals because I wanted to remember what I used to be like. I have a really good memory and rarely forget anything that has happened to me. But I have a harder time remembering how I felt and my reactions to different events, probably because my feelings about all of them have evolved as I've experienced new things.

Over the past few months I have often been struck by how I can hardly relate to the person I was a year ago. I was so sad and so fragile. I was moved by everything. A very artistic part of myself that I had never known before began to emerge. It was like I had to find beauty in everything in order to survive.

As I read a part of one of my old journals tonight, I found it harder to understand the person that I had been two and three years ago. Everything annoyed me. I was constantly mad at my parents or friends or schoolwork. Things that I should have been grateful to have were a burden. What was wrong with me?

It makes me sad that I spent so much time being bored and bothered. As hard as it is to remember how sad I was a year ago, I'm happy for what the experience of loss gave me. I'm so much more honest with myself and others than I used to be. And I'm not afraid of leaving things and people behind in order to move forward. And, most importantly, the artist and moody teenager inside me are gone. I feel so much more like myself than I have in a really long time.

25 December 2008


So, after spending several hours partying it up with the whole extended family, I am very much enjoying laying around in my stretchy pants and sipping hot chocolate. I also love listening to the rain falling on our roof. Snow is overrated. I'd much rather have my Christmas be wet than white.

Anyway, here are the promised images of my crazy neighbors, for anyone that cares.

They sure love blow up decorations.

Also, I don't think anything says "Merry Christmas" quite like a festive-ized elk carcass. (Rudolph's cousin, perhaps?) I found this gem at my cousin's house during Christmas Eve dinner. He takes pride in his hunting skills.

Merry Christmas!

13 December 2008

I Have a Problem

It has recently come to my attention that I may have a bit of a wrapping paper fetish. Whenever I buy a gift for someone, I must by color coordinated wrapping paper and tissue paper to go along with it. Never mind the fact that I already have 3 rolls of wrapping paper and probably 5 packages of tissue paper sitting under my bed. I also have issues with buying cards. If I see a card at the store that strikes a certain chord, I have to buy it. So now, in addition to the ever growing pile of gift wrap, tissue paper, and wrapping accessories (you know, bows, tags, that sort of thing), I also have a drawer full of cards that I have never used and will probably never use. I really think I need help.

I would like to take this time to also announce that I live 2 doors down from the Griswold's. Pictures to follow.

30 November 2008

The Source of My Anxiety

A few weeks ago I realized that there are three things that cause me to become highly irritable. As of late, these three things have seemed to constantly converge to make me continuously grumpy. In case you are wondering what my problem is, here is a list of the most likely causes of my ill temper:

1. High levels of stress
2. Threat of no or little sleep
3. Unfulfilled desire for food

If you want to help ease my emotional discomfort, then feel free to gift me with a massage, sleeping pills, and chocolate chip cookies.

22 November 2008

I Just Have To

All right. I'm starting to get ridiculously excited about the concert I'm going to see tonight. My two musical dreams that I have to realize in my lifetime are to see U2 in concert and Coldplay in concert. U2 continues to elude me. Apparently they are kind of a big deal. But tonight (mwahaha) I will be singing very loudly along to Chris Martin's hauntingly melodic voice as it fills the Delta Center (I don't believe in calling it the Energy Solutions arena) and it will be awesome. A musical journey for the record books, if you will. So, in honor of this historic event in my life, I have decided to write my top ten list of favorite Coldplay songs.

10. Viva La Vida

9. Lost

8. The Hardest Part

7. Trouble

6. Swallowed in the Sea

5. Amsterdam

4. Til Kingdom Come

3. Speed of Sound

2. The Scientist (for me, the song that started it all)

1. A Warning Sign

Wow. What a hard list to put together. I have a hard time finding a song that I don't love on some level. Anyway, there you have it. And if you don't understand my burning desire for Coldplay, that's okay. I'll tell you what I told my brother, you're just lacking the emotional depth required to appreciate them. Nothing wrong with that.

18 November 2008

Is it just me...

...or are people decorating for Christmas really, really early this year?

P.S. I get to see Coldplay in 4 days. Hell, yeah.

17 October 2008

It doesn't get much better than...

Sleeping in

Four day weekends

Hugh Jackman


Live music

Road trips

My dog

John "Cougar" Mellencamp

Ice Skating

List Blogs

My aunt's paella (Take that, Lindsay!)

Really amazing photography

Reading on a rainy day

The ocean

Old Friends

03 October 2008

A Tribute to a Classy Dame

They say you never forget your first. And I certainly never will.

I was about 10 years old when my parents proudly returned home with their new, shiny red bundle of joy. They couldn't get over the cool spoiler nestled upon its sleek rear exterior. I was just excited because it was like a cool new toy for our family to enjoy.

The Honda saw me through some very critical events as I grew up. My first ambulance ride came after another motor vehicle T-boned our beloved car as we drove through an intersection downtown. I was fine. The car was not. It underwent some major reconstructive surgery before it was whole again.

When I was 16 years old, I inherited the Honda after my mom bought another car, an unworthy replacement for our red baby. I was happy to say that my first car was so dead sexy and loved claiming ownership of it.

The Honda was even a loyal companion as I returned to school in Washington after a semester away. It was my connection to home, and together, we explored the exotic world of Spokane.

When I turned over custody of my car to my brother as he turned 16, it was bittersweet. I was thrilled to have a new car, which was my 20 year old dream car, but sad to say goodbye to such a loyal friend. At least she would stay in the family and I would see her often.

Then, on Tuesday night, our beloved family vehicle was taken away from us. She was stolen outside a field as my brother played football with his school friends. This tragic turn of events left us all feeling shaken. Empty. We didn't even get to say goodbye. (Single tear rolls down cheek. Chin quivers.)

What now? What?

Devastating. I know. But, fear not, fellow readers, for my story has a happy-ish ending.

Two days after it was stolen, with my brother hopelessly chasing after it, it was found again. That's right. Like any devoted family member, it found its way back to us, although it isn't completely whole. It has come back with many battle scars, and many untold stories of the true horrors that take place in Tucson alley ways. But we are all hopeful that she will one day return to her former glory.

Welcome back, baby. We've missed you.

19 September 2008

My Existential Crisis

I feel ineffective.

Life should be easier.

I want to move to a remote island with my dog, my surfboard, and my guitar.

(Note: Author may not necessarily own a dog, surfboard, or guitar.)

13 September 2008

It's Funtastic!

Things that I would like to do over the next few months:

1. Go to Oktoberfest...for good beer and good German folk music

2. Take a fall canyon drive...because no place on earth is prettier than Salt Lake in the fall

3. Hike Mt. Olympus...because it didn't happen this summer

4. Meet Jack...and learn how to comfortably hold an infant

5. Go to a haunted house or corn maze...just for the hell of it

6. Carve a pumpkin...to fulfill the sick pleasure I get in squishing my fingers through pumpkin innards

7. Make apple pie...because I've never done it before

8. Have a fall bonfire...complete with blankets, scarves, s'mores, and hot chocolate.

Who's with me?!

01 September 2008

A Most Delightful Holiday

As far as Labor Day weekends go, I would say that this has been an exceptionally pleasant one. I have been left alone this weekend to house/dog sit at my parents' house , which usually means intense and profound loneliness on my part. Sometimes Coldplay is involved, just in case I'm not feeling moody enough. Not so, this time around.

I rather enjoyed my Saturday, which I spent baking, visiting, and engaging in a sort of card game relay with some of my favorite people. The highlights being our hostess's interesting chocolate dessert and some extremely oversized playing cards. (Hostess's fiance must be overcompensating for something....)

I woke up on Sunday wondering how I would be able to handle spending the day with minimal human interaction, only to find myself craving more of the solitude that surrounded me. This was no doubt fueled by the peculiar weather. It hasn't rained at my house in months, but yesterday we received some relief from our dry spell. At about 6:00-ish it began to pour. It was wonderful. Very cleansing and calming. I couldn't help but sit outside on the patio for awhile just to take it in. It was good for my soul.

Did I mention that I spent the rest of the night watching "The Sound of Music?" This is an important detail since few films make me happier than this one.

By the time today rolled around, I felt completely rejuvenated. After last week I needed a weekend like this. I almost feel ready to head back into the classroom tomorrow. Almost.

29 August 2008

And the after...

The view from the doorway...

The miniature desks that I keep running into, causing me to have unusual bruises all over my legs.

Esp. for Linds. It's my read aloud area!!!

In all, the first week was sooo awesomely intense. After I left school the first day, it took all of my energy to stop myself from sobbing hysterically. I don't know why. It was just that stressful. On the plus side, I have aquired about 20 student-made portraits of me and been told that I'm "the best second grade teacher" (direct quote) and had a successful sharing circle. Whew!

11 August 2008

My Canvas

Suggestions are greatly appreciated.

03 August 2008

And it begins...

I am officially freaking out about beginning my teaching career at the end of this month. I knew that I would start having physical symptoms over my nervousness, but I was convinced that I had at least two more weeks before they would appear. I was wrong.

Last night, I dreamt that I was in Saudi Arabia being chased by terrorists. Now, I have my own personal issues with paranoia (I've been called a hypochondriac on a number of occasions), but this doesn't extend into the realm of terrorism. So, I'm thinking that my dream is symbolic for my teaching-related fears. The classroom is my desert; the students are my personal terrorists. Call me crazy, but I don't think this is the best outlook to have as I prepare to start teaching.

The other symptom that I experienced is waking up feeling nauseated and full of dread...at 6:00 AM. A good 3 hours before I should reasonably be expected to wake up on a Sunday morning.

It seemed quite strange to me how suddenly and unexpectedly my fear hit me. Until 8 hours ago I had done a pretty decent job of repressing the knowledge that I was going to start teaching. But then I thought about the past 24 hours and realized that my symptoms were caused by a variety of triggers:

1. Yesterday I changed my calendar from July to August and decided to count the weeks I had left until the first day of school, just for the hell of it. I discovered there are 3 weeks to go.

2. I received a letter in the mail welcoming the teachers to a new school year. In this letter the school administrators had enclosed a detailed schedule of the professional development trainings the teachers will be attending the week before school starts.

3. Last night, a few friends came over to dinner. One of these friends is a fellow new educator who will be teaching at the college level starting in September. He has the first assignment already planned out for one of his classes...and probably the whole semester. Meanwhile, I haven't even began to set up my classroom, much less plan my curriculum. I want to cry.

My biggest fear: That this freak out phase will only get worse over the next 3 weeks.

19 July 2008

Bored of Blogging

I feel uninspired and currently suffer from writer's block. Perhaps changing the visual appearance of my blog will compel me to write again.

19 May 2008

Spa Adventures

Last weekend I experienced a couple of firsts: my first massage and my first facial. I have been wanting to visit a spa for years now, but never got around to it for various reasons. So, when I was thinking about how I wanted to treat myself for finishing my Master's program, I just couldn't ignore the spa idea any longer. I enlisted my two best friends from high school to accompany me on my inaugural journey to the spa, and after much stress (on my part) and some planning, we set out for our spa day.

The day started out exciting enough. I was a bundle of nervous energy because we were running a little late and I wasn't sure what to expect. Mostly, I was agonizing over the question of how much clothing I was willing to shed for the experience. My friends encouraged me to just get rid of it all because I would enjoy my experience more that way. I decided to be bold and go along with it. Walking out to the waiting area, I felt totally liberated.

And then my message therapist entered the room to guide me to the massage area. It was a man. Of course, Miss Modesty, the girl who gets overwhelmingly bashful when it comes to nudity, ends up with a male massage therapist. I'm pretty sure he was the only man working there that day and I got him. I felt so silly and embarrassed. Luckily, once the massage got under way, I was able to mostly let go of the fact that I was naked in a room with a man I had just met. I mean, it's not like he really saw anything...but it felt weird, anyway. I find in times like these, it's best to put things in perspective. A) This man does this for a living. He's a professional. He massages naked people all day long. B) He probably isn't attracted to women. I mean, he might be, but there is a good chance he isn't, so why do I care? C) It's a massage. Go with the flow or else I'm going to miss out on the point of the experience.

So, after the massage, which wasn't quite as earth shattering an experience as I was hoping it would be, I entered into phase 2 of my spa day: the facial. The facial was AMAZING. My friend had raved about facials during the process of planning, saying that they were consistently her favorite parts of going to spas, but I thought she was exaggerating. She wasn't. It was so relaxing. I was surprised to get a hand and foot massage during the facial, both of which were heavenly, AND she gave me really good advice on skin care. The only part that I wasn't sure about was what she was going to do AFTER she was done massaging my feet. I was a little nervous that she might touch my face after she had been massaging my toes. I was very really relieved when I noticed that she washed her hands in between the foot stuff and the face stuff.

In all, I was quite pleased with my experience. I left feeling very relaxed and full of bliss. I could definitely get used to the idea of frequenting such a spa. And I may return in the near future to receive another treatment.

26 April 2008

Somebody Save Me

Why is it that the activities that are so fun when I am procrastinating are so boring when I have nothing to do? I know I've discussed this problem before, but I just don't know what to do with myself when I'm done with school. It's like school took over every aspect of my life, and now that it's done I feel so empty. It's sort of a like a break up. A painless, joyful breakup, but a breakup nonetheless. I feel like I have to start from scratch and rebuild my life. I need to find hobbies again and remember how to enjoy life the way I did before school and I became involved. Ugh. Somebody give me something to do!

22 April 2008

Things That Bug Me

Maybe it's because I'm really grumpy today but I am highly annoyed by the lack of library etiquette on college campuses today. I first noticed this problem while I was getting my undergraduate degree in Washington. I would go to the library to do some intense reading, since I was too easily distracted by the people and technology around me at home, and I frequently found my studies disturbed by people answering their cell phones and having conversations...IN THE LIBRARY! The same thing happened today while I was in the computer lab in the library attempting to work on my e-portfolio. I was highly aggravated anyway because it took about 20 minutes for the computer to let me onto the program I needed. But in the midst of my frustration, a young man decided to answer his phone and have an 8 minute talk with whoever. Like, did he not notice the people working around him? Was he oblivious to the signs that say: If your phone goes off in the computer lab you'll be asked to leave? Clearly it didn't matter anyway because nobody in the lab did anything. I wanted to give him a dirty look but was afraid that would reinforce this behavior. I don't go to the library to socialize. I go to focus and do work. I wish other people felt the same way.

The other thing I'm annoyed about also concerns cell phones. I am sick of text messaging. I mean, yeah, there are certain situations where texting probably makes more sense than calling someone. But when people try to have entire conversations with me through text messages, it bugs me. Oftentimes, there is no immediate feedback and I'm left to wonder if the person received my message or if I unintentionally said something offensive or if they're showing my messages to friends. If someone has more than two things to say to me, I would really just prefer or a phone call or a visit.

01 April 2008

Dusting Off the Ol' Runners

Today I experienced a sort of "running break through." In an effort to get into shape for a couple of 5K's in May, I have re-taken up running, which has been much harder to do than I expected. About a year ago I got really into running as part of a self-therapy strategy to deal with life's woes. I ran most days of the week, built up my endurance, and finished a 5K. This all made me feel pretty awesome about myself. For the first time in my life, I wanted to exercise...I HAD to exercise. It gave me something to look forward to everyday.

Then, I went back to school.

Fitness enthusiasts would shudder at my excuse of being too busy to run. But I really was. In addition to being a full time student, I was working 7 hours a day. That comes out to about 13 hours of work and school time a day. Add homework and sleep on top of that and...well, you do the math. Little time is left over for anything. Of course, by the time I switched to a part time work schedule, I had lost all motivation to move in any way. School became both my source of therapy and stress. Sounds weird. But as crazy as I felt during my hectic 19 credit hour schedule in the fall, it felt good to be in school and working toward a goal.

Now that I'm mostly done with school, I have no more excuses to not try to get into shape. Signing up for my races has given me more motivation. However, until today, I have to admit I was feeling very discouraged with the process of getting ready. Although I had only been running for a few days, I was shocked at how much endurance I had lost in a year. And my progress had been very slow.

The key, I realized today, is pacing. I felt like a caterpillar as I slowly made my way around the track, but I ran much much much further than I had been able to run even 3 days ago. Remembering what it feels like to run at a reasonable pace I hope will help build up my momentum and keep me going with the whole running thing. As awkward as it feels to run in slo-mo, the tortoise in that one fable was really on to something. "Slow and steady wins the race." Or at least finishes it without going into cardiac arrest.

09 March 2008

But, Seriously

Yesterday I went on and on about the awesomeness of daylight savings, how it marks the beginning of spring and sunnier times, it's one of the greatest days of the year, etc. Well, today, upon returning home from a walk, I found evidence of spring in my backyard. That's right, flowers are growing in my yard! I decided to celebrate the onset of a new season by taking my homework outside to work in the sun. Hopefully there aren't too many more snowy days before this beautiful weather sticks around for good.

08 March 2008

Welcome Daylight Savings!

Tomorrow marks one of my top 5 favorite days of the year: the beginning of daylight savings time. I look upon the beginning of daylight savings as a sort of turning point in each calendar year. Before daylight savings time begins, there is darkness; after, there is light. Really, I have been looking forward to the time that I will finally be able to change my clock ahead for at least two weeks. As of late, it's been really hard to suppress thoughts of sunsets happening after about 6:00 PM. But after tomorrow, the sun will hang around until after 7:00...and it will only spend more time in the sky after that! I think what tomorrow really signifies is the day that I pull myself out of my winter slump and begin to feel rejuvenated for spring and summer.

I know that not everyone appreciates day light savings as much as me. I might even go so far as to call it controversial. Does it really serve a purpose? Are we actually saving energy as a result of it? I've even heard some people whine about losing one hour of sleep. Really? In three days will you still actually be missing that hour? I hope that people such as these never try to travel out of there home time zones. As far as saving energy goes, I think much more research needs to be done before we'll actually know for sure.

If it were up to me, I would stay on daylight savings all year. True, it's very difficult getting up when it is still dark outside, but darkness by 5:00 in the afternoon is absolutely depressing. Working people can't even enjoy the sunlight until after 5:00 anyway. Maybe one day my dream of year-round daylight savings will become reality. Until then, I'll enjoy what I have and feel grateful that I don't live in Arizona.

02 February 2008

Miss Kitty Teaches Math

This week I took over the math instruction in the classroom where I'm doing my student teaching. I chose to take on math first because that's the school subject that I'm least comfortable teaching and for very good reason. Teaching math to 4th graders is so hard! I was trying to reinforce what they already knew about multiplication and division through tactile and visual activities. My mentor teacher and I hoped that more "hands-on" activities would make starting long division easier for them, but after every lesson I felt like they weren't really seeing the big picture of what I was trying to do. It's really, really hard for me to break down what I consider to be really easy math concepts into terms that children will understand. On the plus side, the students were always really excited to hear that I was going to be teaching math. I like to think that they were responding to my teaching awesomeness, even though deep down I know it's because they liked playing with cubes.

It's really kind of strange being like a "teacher." I know I'm not a real teacher yet, but it feels like I am. Yesterday I brought home a stack of papers to grade and I'm teaching lessons every day. My mentor teacher also asked me to put together a new seating chart because he wants them to change seats next week. I'm putting together seating charts! I've also basically been given the freedom to do whatever I want when I teach. Next week I'm going to start teaching reading and social studies, in addition to teaching math. And the week after, I'm going to start teaching all day for four weeks. AHHH!!! It's crazy! Who would have ever thought that I would be a teacher?

15 January 2008

Like Having Your Dad Pull Your Teeth

Actually, it's more painful than that. It's like a serious emotional blow. A task quite impossible to complete unless it is under the most dire of circumstances. The task of which I am speaking is, of course, cleaning out my room.

I am in the process of moving back in with my parents. However, despite technically not living with them (although I still spent at least 40% of my day at their house), I still had a closet and bedroom full of crap. Well, not crap. But clothes, shoes, letters, to-do-lists, calendars, etc. I'm not really a pack rat. I just never got around to cleaning out my room after I moved back home after college. So, all the junk I brought back with me (although I mean junk in the most endearing way possible) from school, got added to all of the stuff already there. At the time, I was too caught up in the excitement of graduating that I never really committed myself to cleaning up my life.

Now, as I'm returning to live with my parents, I see how absolutely necessary it is to rid myself of excess. I have the ambition to do it, but the fact that I'm hopelessly sentimental makes this a very difficult process. I mean, I have probably all of the cards I have ever received in my life because they mean too much to me to throw away.

As I began to clean I found that I couldn't throw away an old calendar because it was filled with significant dates that I might want to remember, plus the pictures could be useful for something some day. I couldn't bear to part with a shirt that has strong memories associated with it. Some things I hated to see go just because I've had them for so long, although I hadn't needed them for several years. Plus, with everything I put in the "donation" pile or the garbage I couldn't help but wonder, "But what if I need this again one day?"

I made tremendous gains in creating more room in my life this weekend, but I was only able to accomplish it by temporarily turning into a cold-hearted, emotionless shell of a person. I guess during times like these, the only thing to do is not dwell on all the memories that were thrown into a black garbage bag like pieces of moldy bread, but rather, to acknowledge that they had fulfilled their purposes in my life...and move on. In a few years, they will have been replaced by new artifacts from my life that will inevitably suffer the same fate.

And so the cycle begins again.

08 January 2008

The First Day... (dun, dun, dun or some other ominous tune)

Today was my first day as a student teacher.

I'm so tired. So sore. So in over my head.

What was I thinking?

03 January 2008

To Attain Chopstick Proficiency

I love New Year's. The day, not the eve. Sure, many of us spend most of New Year's Day recovering from the night before...exhausted...possibly hungover...perhaps still drunk.... Actually, New Year's Day can be a bit of a bummer if you think about it. You know, I like to think that the New Year actually begins on January 2, at least in spirit. I can hardly imagine beginning the many new year's resolutions that I set for myself right on January 1. I'm just not emotionally or physically prepared for self-better-ment after the traumas that tend to occur on New Year's Eve.

But none of this is really the point of this very scatterbrained post. The point is that I love the beginning of the new year. I have never really paid much attention to it before, but at the beginning of the year (meaning January 2, of course), everyone just seems so refreshed. They have a new resolve to accomplish the things that they believe will lead them to a happier life. Attitudes are positive; politeness reigns supreme. People really believe that they can do anything and behave in ways that will help them accomplish their goals. If only this feeling could last throughout the year. I imagine our lives would be a lot happier if we didn't give in to our old habits but, rather, persevered through the inevitable slumps along the way to personal fulfillment. (Hm, Andy, I think your idea about discipline beginning when inspiration ends is finally making sense to me. Thanks, dude.)

On that note, I have a few resolutions of my own. Some of them are a bit "whimsical" and may not happen this year, in which case I won't feel too disappointed. Others mean a lot to me, and I hope I can attain them, although I fully anticipate them to take a lot of commitment and many tears. Among my resolutions are taking an art class, exercising 4 times a week, becoming financially independent from my parents, and, of course, learning to eat with chopsticks. I have several others, but these are the ones that stick out in my mind right now AND that I'm willing to disclose to the "public." So, far they are coming along nicely, which is the best I can hope for with it only being the third day of the new year.