Monday, December 9, 2013

I tripped and fell into a Disney Pixar movie!

I am in the mood for magic. Makes you wanna watch a Disney/Pixar movie. Which brings me to the time I drove right into one. Just imagine yourself, like good old Roger Rabbit. One moment you're just driving along, then slowly things start to contort and reform into animation...

It's a place, or rather, set of places along a long and lost road called Route 66. It's a magical land in the United States of America that will have you travelling back in time. So, off Hobbes and I went. And in the great words of Doc Brown:

"If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour... you're gonna see some serious shit."

I totally did. I went to the past, and Back to the Future, and into a mix of the two.

Hobbes is  no DeLorean with the awesomely 80s doors that rise up to the sound of Transformer hydraulics, but he did his job. And to be honest, we weren't hitting 88 miles per hour, because when you are on America's highway, you cruise. You stick your arm out the window and let the dust mix with the whipping tendrils of your hair. Hobbes bobbed and grooved to the oldies, because what else do you play on Route 66? I just let the sun bleach the world in front of us and you just can't drive through dusty old Arizona in this way without a true, broad, "everything is just peachy keen" smile on your face. I stopped in to a "middle of no where" mom and pop store, grabbed a six pack.... of root beer (duh!) and sat it in the seat next to me. Popped a top, and continued cruising and collecting freckles.

Also, driving thousands of miles with the windows down is not recommended for beauteous luscious hair. I don't care what you see on the Garnier Fructis commercials. THIS is reality on the road. BLEACHED KNOTTY, but happy. In fact, A LOT of times, it had to be at least 1/4 of a bottle of conditioner a night to get my hair smooth enough to run my fingers through it without getting bitten by Medusa hair snakes.

 I started off on one of the largest loops on Route 66. I was unaware, for this reason, that Route 66 doesn't exist in it's glory and natural form as it did years ago. There are large and small loops all across the country off of the evil highway 40, that any good Pixar movie watcher will know, destroyed the historic route.

If you don't believe me, read the museum sign. It took FIVE highways to replace this amazing piece of engineering. FIVE. The largest being Route 40.

The sad and wonderful part of the deterioration of Route 66 is that you get lost a lot, because if you don't pay ever so close attention to it, it disappears on you. And sometimes when you DO pay extra close attention to it, it disappears anyway. Moral of the story, I got lost A LOT and it was SO MUCH FUN! There was one point in the road that it literally deteriorated right in front of me. It was a road, then, BAM! Pot Hole, BAM! BAM! Then BAM! BAM BAM! It was pothole filled and crumbling! Slowly it crumbled to dirt, and then to no road at all. It disappeared before my very eyes! All that was left was a forest of bramble and abandoned shops and gas stations. If we all have to live through a zombie Apocalypse, I feel like this is how life will deteriorate. Slowly the modern age will just be overcome by nature and time and wash into memories.

Even after driving thousands of miles, when you drive on this amazing road, you could go all day in the middle of nowhere because the most amazing things happen, the most magical things happen on Route 66. You just can't help but wander around, pop into shops, museums, dinosaur attractions, truly American wonders. Then you let the sun go down on your day warm and satisfied, and THAT is a truly American wonder as well.

One of the most amazing things that happens on Route 66 is that things pop up in random places along the road. One moment you're in an old black and white movie with your hair blowing in the wind singing all the classics, the next moment your neck gets a bite from whiplash and you nearly drive off the road with your head out the window in the complete opposite direction because you're pretty sure you just saw "Mater" in someone's back yard! THAT WAS HIM! REALLY HIM! Oh My God! THAT MOVIE IS REAL!

They pop up EVERYWHERE! And you double take every time! You could be touring a natural dry cave in New Mexico, and then sneaking in between old junky cars is the firetruck that's afraid of everything!

And you start shouting random things like "Luigi! It's a FERR -Ahhhh Ree!!

I started playing, "What's that movie?!" with my family. I was texting them pictures of all the things that reminded me of CARS and I even took pictures of a Circle K to see who knew the movie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. (Best Keanu Reeves movie I've ever seen, Pssshhhh Matrix).

I was free wheeling through some kind of "Roger Rabbit" effect. The cartoons were all coming to life! I imagined the Goofy short films where he's driving through the desert and has all of these Jekyll and Hyde moments with fellow highway travelers!

I may have needed to lay off the root beer, or drink more water. It may have been the heat of the day, but it was wonderful all the same! Traveling through time and space and reality!

I did actually do some research on the road. The movie, Cars, has a town called Radiator Springs and it does NOT in fact exist. You would have seen pictures of me there if it did. Radiator Springs is actually cooler than existence, however. It is like a compilation of places that DO exist all in one town to demonstrate the nostalgia and uniqueness of the time period. There was a website I followed that showed you where you could find specific parts of Radiator Springs out on the road:

AND Route 66 isn't complete until you've visited a half a dozen road museums. The best part of these museums are the amazing people tucked into the back corners. I toured the museum in Arizona with a fragile old man clad in a weathered old brown pant and jacket complete with newsboy cap. He was in charge of collecting personal artifacts like letters and postcards for the museum. In the other one located in Oklahoma, there was an amazing lady in a bedazzled Obama t shirt who retired from teaching to man the refurbished malt shop. We chatted about teaching and she played me a song on the jukebox while I put my pin on the map on the wall. People from all over the world had marked where they were coming from, some almost across the world.

And then in the middle of nothing, Texas. Cadillac ranch. It is actually outside of Amarillo, but honestly that's just a lesser level of nothing.

Nothing says art like non sense graffiti in half submerged Cadillacs. It actually is pretty wonderful. Even as you see these images, it looks nothing like this anymore, because it's been painted over by more tourists.

It's funny, I passed this place twice. Once without even realizing it and a second time actively looking for it. And that's the thing about it. Things come up and emerge off the side of the road just like that. You have to pay attention. That's the magic.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


My heart is broken and I'm trying desperately not to think too much about it. I thought I'd write an entry and try to make the sad stuff funny, but it's really hard when it's really sad...

I've been lost for an entire year.

This is how I feel right now:

The worst part is people thinking I made a mistake. I didn't make a mistake. I took a chance. I love someone who doesn't love me back. I would do it all over again. I won't stop loving this person. You don't just stop loving someone. It IS time to realize that that's not good enough and that if you give yourself away without the same happening in return, eventually you lose yourself. And I am very lost.

I have traveled thousands and thousands of literal miles to reset myself, traversing the country, climbing mountains, scaling cliffs and it didn't work. I was happy for a brief moment because people wanted to know about my adventures. I felt connected to the whole wide world and it felt AMAZING! But that's just a temporary high. I came right back and fell right back into that shadow that used to be me.

I think it's interesting this idea of "finding oneself." Where do you go? How do you leave yourself? My intent wasn't to find myself, and it's still not. I definitely ran away. I ran FAR away. And honestly, it was fun. BUT it wasn't what I needed to do, it's what I WANTED to do. And I'm still myself, I've always been myself. In fact, sometimes I wish I could quit being quite SO myself. Have you ever heard your own laugh echo in your ears and just cringe? Yeah, that's me, ALL. THE. TIME. What is that cackle anyways?!

It's so hard to avoid all of these heartbreak hallmarks and cliche's. They're all bits and pieces of the truth, and yet, so far from it. "Words can not express the depth of my despair." Very Jane Austen. And speaking of my lady, I so wish for that rose colored world she's always making fun of.

I'm so tired of this world we live in. I'm tired of words being used like "hot" instead of "beautiful." I remember the last time someone said I was beautiful. It was forever long ago. People don't say that anymore. It must be too tender and intimate for the internet age. I would love to hear things like that again, soulful words. Words like lovely and beautiful. Looking at people inside and out, you CAN be beautiful, but who ever heard of being "hot" on the inside? Do you have a fever?! Maybe it's just the teacher in me, but I guess when it comes to the world, I want a deeper meaning. That goes for women too. Maybe we should be striving for those comments with the way we look and move and even eat. Maybe we SHOULD bake a pie here and again (from scratch) and trade in those tight pants and low cut shirts for a classy dress. Not for anyone in particular, but for dignity and respect.

When was the last time someone tried to hold your hand instead of grabbing some other part of your body? I think we're all taking the short cut and skipping the really important steps that just seem too small to be important.

My little sister will probably laugh. She'll probably roll her eyes, because I'm the one who always asks if she's "going steady" with someone. I guess I should stop watching those old "pictures" of the black and white knight in shining armor and get back to modern day. It sure is messy.

If love is all you need, maybe we shouldn't treat it with a passing fancy. I think it's perfectly acceptable to be dramatic about it, if it's the most important thing in your world.

I think I'm mostly depressed because the way I picture the way things should be are never going to match up with the way things actually are. Maybe someday I'll be less of a pushy brutish loud mouth and someone else will come up and kiss my hand and whisk me away! (Up a very tallish mountain with a rope and some shining climbing gear)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A different kind of adventure

Today is the start of a new adventure. Probably one of the more nerve-wracking ones. This is definitely new territory and unexpectedly scary. It's nothing like all the usual extreme sports and over zealous happy hours that turn into stupid "I dare you" sessions. 

I am having trouble wrapping my head around this. I'm moving. It's not like moving when I was little. It's not like when I bought my own house. It's somehow different. I'm moving into someone's life. 

I am actually at a loss for words to explain this sensation.

I guess I'll take my own teacher advice. When kids don't know what a word means, we start with the basics. 

Is this word a good thing or a bad thing?

Definitely a good thing.

What sort of pictures come to mind when you hear it?

Warm blankets
Laughing and horsing around
Scrambled eggs
Rock climbing
Hammock lounging
Being normal
Driving back roads
Porch sitting

So basically I'll be doing everything I normally do in a different location, but with someone. That's way better.

I just have to remember that I'm not just going off on a tangent on my own. I do that a lot. Remember there are other people here.

Time to get started.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Love Notes from Strangers

So I returned from Tahoe and thus the end was nigh. Irish Eric tried to convince me that I should just take a plane back to the wedding I had to go to and then come back for a while longer, and he made me hesitate for a few minutes before I realized how little I had in the savings account...

It was time to say good bye.

So I went to my bar. That's right MY bar. The one I stopped into a few times in Petaluma for "lunch." I'm a creature of habit. It can not be helped. Plus the bartender was this cool hippy guy. Hawaiian shirt every day, long silver hair and a weed smokers head bob. "Yeah Man." You know the guy. I'm sure you can picture him in your head.

I broke the news as gently as possible. "I'll get the usual Pliny the Elder, it's my last one in Petaluma."

"Awww maaaannnn where ya headed?"

"I'm riding off into the ....uh...sunRISE...I guess?"

Platonically speaking, I love so many people. Just the way they are themselves and they couldn't help it if they tried. I just can't help smiling about it. I have a lot of students that are bursting through their skin that way this year. It's so hard to be the mean teacher when it happens. I just get excited to know how people tick. Unfortunately, sometimes it gets confused with flirtation...

...Case in point, bartender hands over the pint and chats me up about all of his adventures and asks about mine. Then, a long haired surfer dude aged by the sun and the sea walks in and takes a seat leaving a chair between us. That didn't last long.

We were watching a rebroadcast of a soccer match. The teams escape me now, but it was definitely international. Surfer dude notices me watching and starts a conversation. Darn I love talking about soccer. So few people do it. It's such a treasure to find people who know anything about the sport! Here I go again! I wonder all about this guy because, honestly, what kind of American knows this much about the world's sport?! Weird Americans me, I'm one of them.

So that chair between went missing. Found out SO much about this guy. I should have known he was a teacher, who else shows up at a bar midafternoon besides teachers and bums?! Found out he was a surfer, and like all Californians, quite the hippy outdoorsman. Just absolutely awesome conversation. Such an interesting person, who told me so much about so many interesting places. We shared teaching stories and I learned that there are so many different things between the east and the west coast and yet so many things are the same. The people are DEFINITELY my favorite part of the trip, and it was time to go on and meet other people from other places...

Told him if I ever came back to California he needed to teach me how to surf. Like a few people I have met on the road, I exchanged information so we could keep in touch. Bartender sent his love and paid my tab and I was off and away from my beloved Petaluma.

2 minutes out the door I started receiving some pretty interesting text messages:

I didn't count this long haired hippy into the flirting category, mainly because he was a little older than I feel would be within the approved range for me...Is that rude? I don't know, but I didn't even think of this conversation in these terms. Gets me into trouble sometimes. I won't even start to tell you about the time I accidentally went on a date with an old Asian guy...

( I don't remember what was "best of all," but I'm sad I cut it out. I'm just as curious as you are.)

I DO KNOW that I LOVE love notes. Who doesn't? This particular string of love notes had me going. It was sweet in a stalker-ish kind of "not desperate???? REALLY?!" way...

And then there are those people who I run into from time to time that try to send out a compliment and then CRASH AND BURN. Thanks for calling me peculiar...

It reminds me of the time this guy told me I must be a runner, "I can tell" he said, as I puffed up a little with pride until he said "Yeah, I can definitely tell. You have those tree-trunk legs."


"Thanks I guess?!?"

Love notes from strangers. You never know what will happen!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Donner lake, yummmmm.

I don't know how it happened, but I was teaching my class the other day and we got onto the topic of weird, creepy things. I'm not going to say I was completely on task in Social Studies class that day, but a teacher gets away from herself now and again when the story of the Donner Party pops up around Halloween. It's definitely not up as high as the Zombie Apocalypse or the difference in Trad climbing v. Sport climbing, but the Donner Party definitely ranks on topics that will get Miss Ellis on a tangent. Anyways, it's a historical reference, so technically I was on point.

So we had a little story time. Just like the good old days minus the camping out and flashlights and axe murderers. We threw in a little science, talking about organ donors and transplants, etc. It was probably my best lesson to date.

Anyways, I told them about this summer when I went out to Donner Lake....sort of. Anytime you can combine rock climbing and the Donner party in one story, its a total win.

This was my last outing before I had to leave California. I was totally psyched! Climbing! TAHOE! Lakes and trees and Jon!

The great thing about my little visit to the west is, once again, the people. THE PEOPLE THE PEOPLE THE PEOPLE! They're awesome! One of my new friends from my backpacking trip in Yosemite, Brian, invited Jon and I out to visit his lake house. Now, on the east coast this is a prime set up for a bad scary movie. West Coast, just another day of unexpected hospitality. I've known the guy for a week at this point. We were facebook official within a day and sleepover party friends by the end of the week. Love.

This guy rivals Irish Eric, except there were no lattes. Not only did he put Jon and I up in his lake house, but he offered to drive us out to our climbing spot since he had something a little more rustic than the old Kia Rio...

And just like any story that starts at Donner Lake, it got a little crazy and a little creepy. Driving out to this area:

was ridiculous! We got lost on "roads?" The question mark is on purpose. I don't know if you could call these dirt paths roads. They weren't even flat. It was like riding through one of those jeep commercials where they're climbing over boulders and avoiding deer and splashing through rivers. I think Brian was a little lost, but the directions seemed so clear...

The GPS gave up on us almost immediately. Rerouting my rear end...

Remarkably, nothing about the Donner Party came to mind while we were lost in the forest on a road a GPS couldn't find. Neither did the fact that the man driving was known to me and Jon for only a week. Because one does not think of such things when you are in sunny Cali.

If you're a climber and you're looking over these descriptions, I want to let you know the rock was awesome. Everything was a touch bouldery to the first move and I was all on my lonesome without my usual climbing people. I sketched out a bit. Thank goodness for Jon. We started climbing at the same gym years ago, and while we separated and Jon became cooler than me and moved, first to Chic New York, then to Hippy Heaven California, I knew we both had the basic foundation for climbing. You have no idea what a thought grenade climbing can be.

THERE IS NOTHING SCARIER than literally putting your life in someone's hands when you don't know them. Or even worse, when you know them and you question their abilities. Here Jon, hold this rope and make sure I don't deck and kill myself. Talk about a trust fall...

I love you Jon. Thanks for letting me survive.

Finally out climbing and running my sport leads, I was so happy. This is what I think about when I'm in a funk. I try to remember the rush of fear, the comradery of strangers staring at a cliff that only climbers really understand. The baking of the sun and the bluest sky. And...*cough cough* the glorious muscles of shirtless men. (just saying)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Crazy Depression

Depression affects each of us differently. Everyone gets a little crazy in their own way.  One could say that your personality on one side becomes amplified and takes over and morphs all of your other character traits.

I'm depressed. I often get depressed at the beginning of a school year. But the last two years have been particularly difficult for so many reasons. None of these reasons alone can claim to be the cause, it is a feeling of being attacked from all sides that creates this awful paradigm.

The worst part is that you break out into crazy and then you calm down and people think you've fixed it. NOT TRUE. The worst part of depression is the part where you silently bear it because it's STILL FREAKING THERE!

This is actually a funny story, believe it or not.

When you get into the silent depression mode, you start overreacting to weird things in SUPER WEIRD WAYS.

(FYI when I say YOU I definitely mean ME)

Here is a story all about how my mind got twist...turned upside down...

After a super awesome (SARCASM ALERT) Monday in which I woke up late because my alarm didn't go off and made it to work on time (Good Job Jax), I continued through my day in wonderful fashion turning a blind eye to the fact that that one student still does absolutely nothing in my classroom, 75% of them still can't remember their multiplication tables, let alone do a 5th grade math problem, or, I don't know, read the directions at the top of the pages AND the parents want to know what I'M doing to accommodate these little gems.

NEVERMIND NEVERMIND....that's the usual teacher banter, nothing new and I'm sure you all are as tired of hearing it as I am of saying it.

5 minutes left of class, we have a puker. Blew gloriously brilliant red chunks all over my already lovely smelling classroom. Wait, that's not all! The kicker is that earlier he said his stomach hurt, so I sent him down to the nurse, where she gave him some crackers to settle his stomach. He asked if he could have the trash can next to him, which I gladly obliged. Fortuitously, the end of the day drew near, so this child felt the need to clean up his area, moving the trash can back in place to return to his desk. 10 seconds later...


...that's not the worst part...the worst part is the after party that the rest of the students invite themselves to. For some reason little kids see someone at the worst part of their days and decide to do a little dance party. ALL 20 KIDS decide to use the power of interpretive dance to clue me in on the fact that this kid is PUKING ALL OVER THE PLACE. Chairs are OPTIONAL ladies and gentleman! If you use one, make sure its in the air!

Let's leave.

By kiddos! Sorry you can't stay longer!

Get in the car, go home, think about things that are happening outside of school. BAD JAX BAAAADDDDDDD.

Stub my toe on the way out of my car. Just a little extra something to close the work day. Think to myself...that's a stupid thing to hold on to....let it go.

I went on to read a bunch of inspirational quotes that do not apply to my life, or that I could pair up and use to disprove the other. You

"Don't close the book when bad things happen in your life, Just turn the page and begin a new chapter."

Then I scroll down and see this one:

"You know why it's hard to be happy? It's because we refuse to let go of the things that make us sad."

I could inspire myself in so many directions. Google+ is like a fortune cookie machine.

And you know when you've just had enough...

The house phone rings and it tells you that it's Washington DC calling.


My sister, Suzy, picks up the phone and answers as I hear who is calling...

What do THEY want?! at the top of my voice. This could literally be anyone in DC. YOU TELL THEM THAT WE DON'T WANT TO TALK TO THEM UNTIL THEY DO THEIR JOB!!!!

Five minute rant ensues at the tippity top of my voice about how if I had it MY WAY they wouldn't have a job right now...or WORSE they'd have to do their job without PAY until they STOP BEING CHILDISH AND START MAKING THE GOVERNMENT WORK SMOOTHLY UNLIKE THE LAST 15 YEARS!!!!! DON'T MAKE ME COME DOWN THERE AND TELL YOU HOW TO DO YOUR JOB LIKE YOU DO TO ME EVERY FREAKING DAY OF MY LIFE!!!! WE COULD SOLVE THE DEBT CRISIS IF YOU WERE ON MY SALARY!!!!

No one in DC should make phone calls anywhere the day before the government is set to shut down. It's just a bad idea.

"Suz...what are they saying?"

"They aren't talking....Hello? HELLO?"


"Uh, they just hung up."


Don't mess with crazy at the end of a Monday people. Just don't.

P.S. Mr. NSA person, you go ahead and record all of this down to the last drop, but don't you DARE waste paper, or use any of our government funds to do so. You just MEMORIZE IT.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Walk in the Woods

I miss you California. I miss your musk. I miss your beautiful scenery. I miss your people. I miss your newness and mystery.

I miss you because I'm back at work. I'm back to the grind. I'm starting to forget your face.

I also miss you because Jon is doing fun things in California without me and I haven't found a job out there yet and I can not simply go and join him on all those wonderful adventures.

Instead I have to sit here in a moldy old classroom in the south side among the sad and down trodden poor kids who don't know what its like to say hello to everyone you pass on the sidewalk.

It's so different.

I try to keep my head up and keep myself in the "Cali spirit." I've gone on a LOT of east coast adventures and done the things I would do there if I had the chance. I bike everyday to work like I'd bike everyday to the cafe'. I'm forever rock climbing like I did out there. I say hi to the miserable people on the street as they pass by.

It's just that all of those things are SO MUCH COOLER in California.

I'm just trying to say I LOVE YOU!

Here was just a glorious day I had with you that I'll never forget:

One does not simply go to California and not see a Redwood forest....
 There truly is no way to experience the scope and magnitude of these big ole giants.

The best part of this trip was the section where you HAD to be silent because the noise pollution apparently scared off the wildlife that makes these trees home. I was in my glory all alone in front of a field trip of young rapscallions. I was finally not the teacher! Those poor jerks were desperately trying to seal the gaps on those little kids faces! It's such a struggle even for the best kids to keep a lid on it! The teachers were probably exhausted by the end of the day, scurrying around like little birds protecting the best! They probably didn't even get a chance to look around the forest. 

Sweet freedom! Sweet sweet solitary freedom!

Alas, I'm back to protecting the nest. But summer will come again!