Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It's Gonna Be a Good Day

My first round of principal classes are done, and I managed to get straight A's. The school year is done until January and I've finally got a chance to breathe...or in my case, write.

In the words of one of my favorite TV characters, Maurice Moss, "You best put seat-belts on your ears, because I'm about to take them for the ride of their lives."

I woke up on Monday morning, assuming that it would be like any other day. Little did I know that disaster would strike while I was in the shower. There I was about to get so fresh and so clean clean when I saw a white spider on the wall above the shower. Oh no. No sudden movements. And then BAM! he decided to drop onto the shower ledge. What was I to do? I didn't have a weapon and I couldn't call for Amy Jo. I grabbed the shower squeegee that I never use and I attempted to smush that spider's face and drag his body down so that I could spray him down the drain.

But where was his body? Nowhere to be found. I'm too short to see the ledge above the shower so I didn't know if he was up there on his deathbed or planning his counter-strike. As a person with a solid case of arachnophobia, I knew that it had to be the latter. I'd pissed him off and vengeance would be his. But for now, the eight-legged Houdini was gone. 

It was one of the most paranoid showers I've taken in a long time. Probably since they watched the movie Arachnophobia at Halloween in middle school and I laid my head down fully aware that I couldn't handle seeing the movie. I made the mistake of turning around at the exact moment a spider was in the shower in the movie. 

Fast forward to the next day. I inspected the shower before I got in, but I didn't see him. I got in and started showering. AND THEN THERE HE WAS ON THE CEILING! Obviously he was there to murder me. Paralyzed with fear, I watched him crawl across the ceiling and waited for him to drop down and attack me. But he didn't. he crawled outside of the shower area. Now he was more over the toilet. 

He thought he was safe. Well let me tell you what he didn't count on. He didn't count on me getting out of the shower, drying off, grabbing a tissue, standing on the toilet and killing him! And that's how I knew that Tuesday would be a good day. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lock It Down

I've been really broadening my horizons when it comes to my Netflix queue. BTW, has anyone noticed that they're now calling the queue "my list". That's way less fancy and I don't like it. In these efforts I've stumbled on some Investigation Discovery wonders. The latest gem is Nightmare Next Door, it's a show about small towns where heinous crimes occur.

So I'm sitting here watching people getting murdered and whatnot and they're talking about small towns where people don't lock their doors. That's what gets me: not locking your doors. Why wouldn't you lock your doors? Are you stupid?

The whole reason the door was invented was to keep people out. As soon as we figured out how to slap a lock on a door, we did. It's not like door locks are optional; they're included with the door. Not locking a door because no one has broken in yet is like leaving the safety off of a gun because it hasn't been accidentally fired yet. It's not even hard to lock your door! Just do it.

I also happened to be texting my boyfriend so I asked him, what's up with small towns and not locking doors? He mentioned people basically wanting to think that they live in Mayberry. Why wouldn't the citizens of Mayberry lock their doors? Sure, maybe not in the middle of the day; but once everyone goes to bed you lock it down.

What scenario could arise in Mayberry where having your doors unlocked in the middle of the night would be to your advantage? Would Aunt Bea mosey on over at 2 am and just bake a pie in your kitchen? No. I'm pretty sure that didn't happen.

The town did have a Sheriff and a Deputy, so at some point people acknowledged the fact that there was the potential for stuff to go down in Mayberry. And let's not forget the fact that Otis was roaming the streets intoxicated every night. Nobody wants Otis crashing in their living room overnight. But hey, you left the doors unlocked so in my book Otis has every right to bust up in there and pass out on your couch.

Also, maybe people don't understand this but: Mayberry is a fictional town from a 1950s sitcom. What are the odds they'd show anyone getting ax murdered and serial killed on prime time television back in those days? Considering they couldn't show married couples in the same bed or say the word pregnant, I'm betting a grisly murder was definitely out. That's why I mostly don't watch those shows, because nothing super crazy or messed up happens. Plus they're in black and white which is sadder than color.

My final points are: it is 2013 and people are crazy. No place is safe, everyone needs to lock their doors. Even the people of Mayberry would lock their doors these days.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tales From the Orient: Boob Grab

On the streets of Shangri-la, you see many older Tibetan women wearing traditional Tibetan clothing. Many of them carry vegetables in baskets on their backs to cook on grills in the square and sell to people like me who do not expect them to be as spicy as they are. They carry their Buddhist prayer beads with them and run them through their hands. It reminds me of Catholics praying with a rosary. It's really cool to see the blending of the old and new right next to each other. You don't see that in Beijing, and I think that's one of the reasons I like Shangri-la better.

One day, I was walking home with Carrie and Tara and a group of about 5 or 6 Tibetan women were approaching us. They had their prayer beads in their hands and they although they were speaking, they didn't appear to be speaking to one another. Could they have been praying? Well how the heck should I know? I don't speak Chinese or Tibetan.

As the group of women walked past us, the first woman grabbed my wrist and said something. So, that was weird...but whatever. The next woman grabbed my boob and said something. Luckily, none of the other women grabbed anything. I'm not really sure what they would've grabbed next but based on how quickly things escalated from wrist to boob, I don't think I want to find out what would've been next.

I asked Andy if there was any possible cultural significance to that event. I was pretty sure of the answer, but hey you never know. He said there wasn't any significance to his knowledge. Some things transcend cultural boundaries. So an old lady grabbing your boob on the streets of Shangri-la is exactly the same as an old lady grabbing your boob on the streets of America: weird.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tales From the Orient: The Silk Market

How do I describe The Silk Market? If you're thinking it's a quaint little district where they sell silk, you're wrong. Have you ever been to China Town in a big city like New York? It's kind of like that. Except somebody took China Town, divided it into departments (purses, electronics, etc.) and put it into a mall that's about stories tall. So everything is still just as fake as a Playmate's boobs but it's in a nice building rather than a booth on the street. And you can haggle with people.

We took the subway to The Silk Market and spent about 2 hours there. The Silk Market combines my love of shopping with my love of being argumentative. When I was younger (because I'm so old now?) I hated haggling. The part of me that hates talking to people still hates haggling, but my love of arguing outweighs that. I didn't like haggling in Honduras last year and this is going to sound so weird, but I think it was because I spoke the language so I could actually get into a whole conversation with the merchant about something. I couldn't do that in China; I could just punch numbers into a calculator and respond to the few English phrases the person knew. As you can imagine, The Silk Market is the perfect stage for hilarity.

I floated around with different members of our group. First I was with the guys because they wanted to look at electronics and so did I. Blake and I walked into a store and right away the clerk started trying to sell something to Blake. Blake says, "What is it, a flashlight?" And then you hear this "TZZZZT!" noise and Blake says, "Oh, a taser!" And you probably had to be there but I started laughing because his tone was one of "yes of course, why wouldn't it be a flashlight/taser?" So this guy keeps trying to convince Blake that he needs a taser, "you know, when you drink too much you might need." And I'm in the background saying, "That's right Blake, how many times on this trip have you talked about wishing you had a flashlight/taser?" So that was awesome.

They also have these laser pointers that are super strong and illegal in the US. I won't lie, they're cool and I definitely wanted one but it probably would've gotten taken out of my suitcase. I was in another store with Andy and Dick and this store had lasers, pens, and others things like that. I was standing by Dick and he was looking at something and I wasn't sure what it was. Well, he finally got it open and a huge flame comes out of it! I yelled, "Oh shit!" Which, BTW, is always appropriate on a mission trip. But I did think my arm was going to catch on fire. Apparently this store had a large collection of lighters although this thing seemed more like a flame thrower to me. I mean, the flame was huge! And you didn't have to do anything to it, just open the lid and boom! Fire!

I roamed into a watch store next because it occurred to me that Jerry's watch had broken awhile back and what better place to get him a "nice" new watch than The Silk Market. As soon as I walked in I realized that I was way over my head. First of all, I know nothing about watches. Secondly, I have absolutely no idea what kind of watch he would want. However I was already in the store so it looked like this was happening. I ended up picking out a simple "Armani" watch and the girl told me that the regular price was 600¥. But of course she knew that was much too high for me, what with us being close personal friends and all. So she was going to charge me 300¥. Unfortunately I was thinking more like 100¥. She started lowering the price on account of I was her "first customer of the day". I ended up paying 150¥ ($26), which I think was pretty good. And I told Jerry, if that's not the best $26 timepiece he's ever owned then by God I will take that thing back to the store and give that girl a talking to! I did see one watch break as they were taking the plastic off of it (don't worry, they gave that person another watch). Luckily that didn't happen to my watch, because my watch is the real thing.

Then there was an incident at a bracelet store where some ladies were trying to screw Andy over on some bracelets and act like they didn't have change and give him some crap bracelets instead of a second nice bracelet. So I started backing him up on that and getting arbitrarily argumentative and aggressive with them until they caved. By that point I was clearly drunk on power and we ran into Tara and Carrie. They were looking at tea pots and mentioned how they'd tried to get some fans for 10¥ but the shop people refused. And I said, "Oh I'll get you those fans." So I went to look at spoons while they finished looking at tea pots and the lady wanted me to pay 350¥ for a spoon. I said, "Umm, I was thinking more like 5¥ or 10¥." She told me that my price was "impossible" so I peaced out on her. I did get one later for 10¥, so it must not have been that impossible.

We went up to the fan place and wouldn't you know it, got the fans for 10¥. I was looking around at some other stuff when I heard this lady start getting really loud. It was an American lady. She's hollering, "Give me back my money!" Naturally I started to stare at her, because that's what you do in these situations. Well, I didn't stare right at her because she kind of looked like maybe she could fight me and her voice sounded a little crazy so I tried to be sly about it.

She's over in one of the technology stores (next door to the flashlight/taser store) and she wants them to give her her money back. Apparently the day before she had bought a phone at that store and when she plugged it in at the hotel she heard it short out in the outlet and then she smelled it burning or whatever. So this was completely unacceptable because she has 3 kids at home and now they can't even play games on this phone and you do not want to see her angry.

Somehow, Carrie and Tara hadn't heard this lady and they were trying to leave so I had to call them back over to watch the drama unfold. Plus that way I had people to talk to. Before that it was just me and one of the Chinese salesladies. We were both watching the crazy lady and I kept looking at her like, "Hey that lady is crazy, right?" but she didn't reciprocate my glances because maybe she thinks I'm crazy, too. Eventually we had to leave and we didn't get to see a resolution, but my guess is she did not get her money back. I was really hoping to see her throw some boxes or something.

It didn't occur to me until that moment that some people think that because The Silk Market is set up like a mall that means that it's legit. If you're haggling over an iPhone with someone whose entire business operates out of a fanny pack and no receipts whatsoever, what makes you think they have a return policy? You think Apple and Rolex and all those other companies wouldn't be all over China in a heartbeat if those were actually the real products? Some people are pretty foolish.

"Armani" watch: 150¥. China spoon: 10¥. 3 China girl pens: 15¥. Joy that comes from arguing over prices: Priceless. The Silk Market.

 

Tales From the Orient: Cashew Thief/Great Wall Climber

At the end of our trip, we spent three days in Beijing so that we could do things like go to The Great Wall. Wouldn't it suck to go all the way to China and not see The Great Wall? We stayed in a hotel called The Park Plaza. It's in downtown Beijing and it's very nice. Right across from the hotel is a Starbucks. We had to wake up fairly early to go to the Great Wall because it takes about 90 minutes to drive there not to mention we wanted to try to beat the crowds and the heat. Before it was time to load up in the vans, several of us went over to Starbucks to get some drinks for the road.

I ordered a java chip frappuccino something or other and while I was waiting in line to pay I noticed a bag of cashews at the register. I decided I'd get those too since I'd only had some fruit for breakfast. so I grabbed the bag. I got up to the register and told the barista I'd ordered the grande frap and then I held up the bag of cashews and said, "And these, too." She looked at the bag and nodded. So I paid the bill (my Starbucks gold card does not work in China, just in case you were curious) and went over to wait with my friends.

I was trying to open the tiny bag of cashews, which had apparently been child-proofed for my safety when I saw the baristas looking at me, pointing and whispering. I assumed they were making fun of me for not being able to open the bag. "Oh crap, there's probably some ancient Chinese secret to opening the freaking cashew bag and I'm going to spill them all over the place or something," I thought. I turned away from them so they wouldn't see me struggling. That's when one of them came up to me and told me that I had not paid for the cashews.

"Oh, I showed them to her and said that I wanted them. I guess she didn't hear me." It was no big deal, I went and paid for them (and was eventually able to open and eat them). It was certainly a curious event. I know that she saw me hold up the cashews because we made eye contact. What did she think I was doing?

  • "Hey, look at this bag. I can pick it up. Now I shall set it back down."
  • "These are called cashews, barista. That's your English word of the day. You're welcome. Love, American girl.
  • "Hmm, what an interesting counter display you have here. I like it. I also like that it is about 95 degrees in your store. Well done, Beijing Starbucks."

And that's how the entire staff of a Beijing Starbucks thought I was some sort of criminal mastermind who specialized in cashew theft. Let's face it, it would be the perfect crime. Except for the whole struggling to open the stolen merchandise and attempting to eat it in the store in front of the victims.

On to the Wall. I tell you what, they weren't joking when they named that thing The Great Wall. It is pretty great. It's breathtakingly beautiful. I can't believe that it was built hundreds of years ago without any sort of technology and it's still standing today. It's a real testament to human ingenuity and strength. I took well over 100 pictures; and I put them all on Facebook rather than decide which to put up and which to leave out. In my opinion they're all amazing so I just stuck all of them up there!

You take a chair lift to get up to The Wall and then you can walk wherever you want. Actually hike would be a more appropriate word. I'm pretty sure I climbed at least a million miles. And it was (no joke) 100 degrees outside. I don't even know how much water I drank! I drank all of the water I bought and then I bought some more when I was up there. It wasn't marked up as much as it would be in America, which was nice. I was so thirsty I would've paid whatever they wanted though. "What's that? You'll give me a bottle of water if I let you punch me in the face? Bring it on." Carrie and I walked back to the meeting place together and we were both exhausted! We took the walk so slow because our legs were shaking and we were dizzy; it was unreal. I don't think I've ever done anything that physically taxing.

To get down from The Great Wall you can either take the chair lift or you can take the toboggan. We opted for the toboggan. You sit on this little scooter/sled type thing and you're on a metal slide that makes me think of a bobsled track. You have a little handle to control your scooter. Although it sounds like a deathtrap it's actually not scary at all and it's a lot of fun! The one crappy part was that we had a few people in front of us who were scared and/or taking pictures and video so they were going slow which made us run into them several times. If people in front of you are going slow then it keeps you from going really fast. Those jerks! We were yelling at them, too!

We were so hungry when we got off The Wall. Luckily, the ancient Chinese had enough sense to put a Subway and Baskin Robbins there at the bottom so we were able to get some food.

Later that evening (after we relaxed and regained feeling in our legs), Andy called my room and said that no one could decide what they wanted for dinner. I said that I have a need to eat at McDonald's in every country that I visit. So, we went to McDonald's in the mall! Let that be a lesson to all of you: if you don't speak up, you'll end up doing whatever someone else wants to do and you'll have no one to blame but yourself. In education we call that a "teachable moment". And then we stumbled upon a Coldstone Creamery so we ate there, too. I've never been much of a Coldstone fan, but it was OK. So yes, for those of you keeping track I had ice cream twice that day; but remember, I walked a million miles so I earned it.

 

Tales From the Orient: Chinese Fire Drill

There were a lot of hilarious things that happened to me in China, but this was the first truly hilarious thing. This was also the first completely stupid thing I did, and how can I deprive you of that story?

Date: July 16, 2013 Time: 9:00 or 9:30 p.m.

Twice a week, we had something in the evenings called English Corner. It was from 7-9 p.m. and students were not obligated to come. English Corner was a time for them to hang out with us and practice their English. We had board games, cards, arts & crafts, sports, music, etc. There was pretty much anything they wanted to do with us for two hours. Tonight was our very first English Corner. I think that the majority of the students came back to participate! Carrie and I ended up doing macrame with some of the girls and it was really fun! We also decided that the next English corner I'd bring my iPod and speaker and we'd be having a dance party.

OK, the stupidity started after English Corner. English Corner ended at 9:00 so by the time we got everything cleaned up it was probably 9:15 or 9:30. We all started walking to the nearby bus stop because it was dark out, we were tired, and nobody felt like walking all the way back to Old Town. Just as we get to the bus stop, Kozo drives up in his SUV with Andy in the front seat. Andy has the window rolled down and asks if we want a ride back to Old Town. "YEA!" I yell. As if you even had to ask! Carrie was right behind me and Tara was behind her. We were standing behind the billboard thing that they have at bus-stops, whatever it's called.

So we run from behind that and I'm leading the way. I throw open the door and hop in. Tara yells, "How much room is there?" And I yell back that there are 3 open seats so she should come on. I slide all the way over and Carrie slides in after me. Tara is on her way towards the car when I hear a lady say something in Chinese. She was in the front seat. Hmm. I don't remember Andy being a Chinese lady. And I don't remember Kozo being a Chinese man. I had gotten into the wrong car. And Carrie had followed me. So there we were just sitting in the back of some random Chinese couple's car. "Oops! Wrong car!" I said, as I hopped out and shut the door behind me. Carrie quickly did the same thing from the other side and we rushed over to the correct vehicle dying with laughter.

In my defense, I will say that Kozo has a very popular SUV and it was dark. And also, that Chinese couple was pulled up closer to the curb than Kozo was. Plus we'd been behind the billboard thingy so we were somewhat disoriented. I'm really impressed with how chill that couple was about the whole thing. I mean, for all they knew, they were being carjacked by a couple of little blonde girls. Granted, I don't speak Chinese so maybe the wife was completely flipping out and cussing up a storm in Chinese. But they seemed calm. And hey, what a fun story I've given them to tell all their friends and family. "We invited John and Sue to the party tonight, make sure they tell you about the time the Americans jumped in their car--it's hysterical!" You're welcome, John and Sue.

Anyway, we still got our ride back to Old Town. And the whole time we're cracking up about getting into the wrong car and how crazy the whole thing was. Meanwhile Andy was talking to Kozo about how it seemed as though there were more police out in Shangri-la lately and he was asking why. I responded, "Well, they heard there's some crazy white lady jumping into people's cars so they're on the lookout for her."

And that, my friends, is how you do a real Chinese Fire Drill.

 

Tales From the Orient: Teacher!

Hey, Teacher! Teacher! That's what the students call us. In America I'm "Miss Señorita Black" and in China I'm "Teacher". The kids at the camp are great. We had about 36 students, which was a smaller group. In past years they've had groups as big as 50 and 60 students. I'm kind of glad the group was smaller; it was easier to get to know all of the kids this way. There were more girls than boys (isn't that always the way?).

We had a few students who were middle school age, but most were in high school. It was very interesting for me to compare teaching high schoolers in America with teaching high schoolers in China. As you can imagine, the two are like night and day. Chinese students are so eager to learn it's almost unbelievable. High school isn't free in China like it is in the States. Some [poor] families aren't able to send all of their children to high school, let alone university. If I still taught high school that would make me even angrier with my slacker students who refused to work and failed all their classes and eventually dropped out. So many kids over here take things like education for granted while there are millions of children around the world who would give anything for that same privilege.

The competition to get into university is so fierce in China that students don't have time to screw around when it comes to academics and they know it. They take their educations seriously. Look at the fact that with what little summer vacation they have, these students opted to spend 2 weeks in an English camp. Some students who attended the camp last year stopped by to say hi to people and they said they didn't come to camp because they were too busy preparing for the upcoming school year. The don't play games in China when it comes to school. They take notes, they practice, they ask questions--it's really refreshing.

In our lessons I had planned a lot of activities like the ones that I did/do with my students. Lots of hands on activities that involve drawing, art, creativity, etc. as well as games and things where they can get up and move around the room. On the first day we played a game where they had to go around and find out what everyone did in their free time and get signatures on a sheet of paper. We also did things like a fashion designer activity where they designed their own outfit and create your perfect room. I taught them the "flyswatter game" that I used to play with my high schoolers to practice vocabulary and I think they really enjoyed that.

A lot of the students were very artistic and creative. I think that they enjoyed being able to showcase those abilities because they don't get the opportunity to do that in a typical school day. I think that the Chinese classroom is run very old school compared to an American classroom. I'd actually be very interested to observe a Chinese classroom and see how they do things. We played more games than I would typically play in my actual classroom, but it was camp so I wanted it to be fun. I think that the Chinese would be surprised to see that when you incorporate some fun activities it actually helps students learn. Speaking of helping them learn, I wasn't crazy about the book that we used at camp. It wasn't created by a teacher and I think it could be so much better. I really feel like I'm supposed to make a better version of the book for them to use next year. I'm going to attempt to do that this year, hopefully I'll be able to do it!

Anyway, back to all the students. They were so sweet! They complimented us all the time. Team members who'd been to China before were able to word it very well: the Chinese don't take friendship lightly. They were all so nice. Many of them gave us gifts on the last day of camp and they loved taking pictures of us and/or with us. I think I know what it feels like to be a low level celebrity with paparazzi following me around!

The students also wore the same clothes all week. It wasn't an issue of being poor. We actually had quite a few students who were rather well off. It's just what they do there. And it's not like the clothes smelled bad or anything. I think in general they live more simply than we do and have less possessions. I wonder what they think of us showing up in different clothes every day? I'm not sure if this is what it's like in Beijing, but it was the case in Shangri-La.

I'm going to miss those kids a lot! They don't have Facebook in China, but they do have something called QQ. We all set up QQ accounts so that the students could send us messages. The tricky thing about QQ is that on the iPhone app, everything is in Chinese! You can see the message they send you where they've written in English but you have no clue what any of the buttons mean! One cool thing about it is that they can record voice messages and send them. I really hope I'm able to go back next summer.

 

Tales From the Orient: China Bound

I had every intention of posting a few blogs while I was in China, but China's Internet restrictions had other plans. I suppose that the Chinese government has realized how influential and powerful I am and has wisely blocked my blog. I can't say as I blame them, my words wield great power. Well, whatever the real reason was I couldn't update my blog over there. Because of that I'm retroactively blogging about the entire experience in a series I'm calling Tales From the Orient.

It was not easy getting to China. We sat on the runway in Louisville for 4 hours! By the time we made it to Atlanta we had already missed our flight to Seattle, which meant we missed our flight to Beijing. So we stayed in Atlanta for the night and then woke up bright and early to fly to Detroit. Well, actually we woke up bright and early to wait on the plane and then fly to Detroit. Then we flew to Beijing. We stayed overnight in Beijing at a Holiday Inn Express (I just think that's funny).

I should take this opportunity to tell you about the flight from Detroit to Beijing. Now, some people might think that I'm being racist or something but I assure you I am not. I've now been on six flights with mostly Chinese people and I can without a doubt say that they are some of the worst travelers I've ever seen (and I've travelled quite a bit). They're not big on following any of the flight attendant instructions whatsoever. The flight attendant could say, "If you don't sit down you will spontaneously combust," and there would be at least one Chinese dude who would get up. And it wasn't a language issue because announcements were made in both English and Chinese. But back to my first flight with the Chinese.

As you might imagine, the flight from Detroit to Beijing is rather lengthy. It's about 13 hours. Nobody can sit for that long, and I understand that. It was a bit easier for me because I was in the emergency exit row (ready to selflessly sacrifice myself for the safety of the rest of the passengers should the situation arise. Not really) so I had extra leg room for my lengthy 5 foot frame. Are you jealous of me being in the exit row? Don't be. I hate the flipping exit row, or at least I do now. And here's why:

  1. I watched all of these people get up and fumble with the bathroom door. It's like they'd never encountered an airplane bathroom door in their lives. Many would look at me for assistance, as though I were the bathroom attendant. I guess no one had to use the bathroom on their flight from China to America because they had no clue what was going on.
  2. The stretching. Dear God in Heaven the stretching. As previously stated, I understand that your legs get cramped and sore on lengthy flights. So you do what anyone does: Get up periodically to go to the bathroom (where you know how to operate the door, BTW), maybe shake your legs a little bit, raise up on your toes a couple times, stand by your seat for 2 or 3 minutes. And that's it. Then you sit the eff back down. Let me tell you how Chinese people stretch on a plane. It is full blown calisthenics. You probably think I'm joking, but I'm not. Apparently there is some rumor in China that if you're on a long plane flight and you don't jog up to the galley area (aka right in front of me) and do some major leg lifts, squats, etc. for a good 20 minutes you'll probably die. And hey, since you're all up there getting your workout in why not just chit-chat while you're at it? So I'm trying to be patient, which as you know is not one of my skills. I managed to distract myself with Argo and Doctor Who for awhile but then something happened and I just couldn't take it anymore. This woman has been jazzercising or whatever in front of me when she discovered the jump seat for the flight attendant to sit in. She pulled down the seat, put her hands on it and began doing some sort of squat type of thing on the seat. "OK. That's it. Y'all have got to go! This ain't the gym. Go on. Get out." I literally yelled that at the hoard of Chinese people hanging out in front of my seat. Chinese Jane Fonda looked at me and said, "This is a long flight and people need to stretch their legs." And I said, "I know, but this is insane and I've been watching it for 6 hours. Take it somewhere else." And that's how I got all those people out of my face. Yea, that happened. And given the opportunity, I'd do it again.
  3. Some people were jealous of my exit row seat. A little while later I decided to get up and use the bathroom. I opened the door (flawlessly I might add) and went inside. I few moments later I emerged and discovered that there was a random Chinese man now occupying the once empty seat in between me and another member of our team. Apparently this man decided he'd hop up to our row for a little nap. I looked at my team member like, "What the heck?" and he shrugged back. So I sat back down in a very confused manner. I mean, I'd already yelled at about a dozen Chinese people...on the one hand you'd think my reputation would've preceded me throughout the plane and this dude would've stayed in his own seat. On the other hand, I didn't exactly want to be that psycho white lady on the plane who yells at all the Chinese people. Luckily a flight attendant came by in about 20 minutes and woke the man up and told him to go back to his seat because you have to speak English to be able to sit in the exit row on a Delta flight. I'd like to tell you that this was the only time that happened. Nope. Towards the end of the flight stuff starts flying over the seat from the row behind us. Some lady decided to upgrade herself by one row. She quickly got the same instructions to move back to her own seat.

So the flight was insane, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express that night. The continental breakfast at the Beijing Holiday Inn Express was quite an experience. First of all, they put out quite a spread. It was impressive! I took a breakfast bar with me because I wasn't sure what I'd be able to eat, here's what I found: eggs (scrambled and hard boiled), "chicken nuggets" (pork and chicken sausage), mini corn on the cob, some sort of green vegetable, porridge, spaghetti, toast, beans, rice, watermelon, juice. I did get to watch a man eat toast with a chopstick...apparently you just stab it. I'm not sure why that works better than your hand, but I guess it does.

Our next flight was from Beijing to Kunming. That flight was about 3 hours long and it did not have personal air vents. Apparently the Chinese people get cold very easily, so the flight was miserably hot. So there I am, sweating like a whore in church and out comes the hot meal. The smell of the meal was overwhelmingly terrible. I'm not sure what shade of white/green my face was but it was probably disturbing. I felt like I was about to vomit. I got up to go to the bathroom and splash water on my face, and guess what came out of the faucet? Freaking hot water. Thankfully I fell asleep for the duration of the flight.

Our final flight was from Kunming to Shangrila and it was only an hour long (and the plane had air vents!). Kozo and Toshiko picked us up at the airport and drove us to The Olive Inn which would be our home for the next two weeks. And that's when we completely passed out!

 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Deep Thoughts by Erin Black

I absolutely love Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey. I have 2 books full of them and when I taught high school I had a quote of the day board and it was frequently home to some Deep Thoughts. Now most students would be all like, "What's that?" And then I would have to say, "Gather 'round my children and I shall tell you a tale...there was a time when Saturday Night Live was consistently funny..." But then some kids (who were obviously being raised right) would come in and actually know about Deep Thoughts and Jack Handey and I'd be like, "Well played. A+ for you."

Lately, I've found myself having my own special brand of Deep Thoughts, so I decided to start my own list! This is, Deep Thoughts by Erin Black...

  • The other night I was attempting to disassemble my humidifier in order to properly clean and disinfect it and that's when it hit me: I didn't choose the thug life; thug life chose me.
  • Whenever I hear someone talk about "old fashioned fun" I want to say, "Did you know that there was a time when going to watch hangings was like the thing to do? Bet that really puts kids and their dang iPods into perspective, doesn't it?"
That's all for now. I'm not trying to overwhelm you with deep thoughts. After all, Jack Handey only did one (maybe two) per episode of SNL. Besides, I'm pretty busy getting ready for my trip to China! I can't believe it's almost here. I leave in nine days. Thankfully the lessons are all planned, my portion of the money is all raised and turned in, all I have left to do is organize and pack.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Unity

I've gone to several weddings lately and going to weddings always makes you think about weddings (crazy how that works, huh?). Plus I've been catching up on Bridezillas on Netflix, which is (as always) freaking amazing. One thing I've been thinking about it the unity candle. These days there are a lot of alternatives to the traditional unity candle. There's sand, pebbles, water, trees, and all sorts of other stuff! If you don't believe me, just do a little Google or Pinterest search; it's a little out of control.

I've never been a big fan of the unity candle (or whatever) ceremony. First of all, it's a wedding which is a fairly big symbol of unity in and of itself. Secondly, they usually have the mothers of the bride and groom light the candles that the bride and groom use to light their unity candle which to me symbolize the love of their [the parents'] marriages being put into the new marriage. I could be wrong on that, but that's what it has always looked like to me, and my parents are divorced so it seems like a strange thing for me to have my parents do.

The thing with sand or whatever is that I don't want to hang on to a vase full of sand for 50 years. That's just one more thing that I have to dust. Plus, what if I break it? That seems like bad luck. What if I want to get rid of it? Does that mean I'm going to get divorced or something? I'd just rather not do it.

But, just when I thought all hope was lost--my friend Corrine came up with a brilliant unity plan that I can really get behind. You're going to love it: unity chocolate. You love it already, I can tell. Now, you could go a lot of ways with this but here's what I'm thinking. So you've got some sort of melted chocolate down at the end of the aisle. Maybe you have the mothers of the bride and groom turn on some sort of fondue pots or whatever to melt said chocolate, I don't care. So you both pour the melted chocolate into a mold or something and then you get to eat it. And if you're anything like me, once you eat something delicious it's not going anywhere. It shall remain on whatever part of your body holds onto delicious calories and fat.

Now that's some unity I can get behind. Candy unity.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bullseye

I think we can all agree that Target is an amazing place. Have you ever gone in there in purchased just what you went in there to purchase? If you have let me be the first to congratulate you on being a ninja and/or wizard. I was in Target today and in addition to a delightful array of products, I discovered that Target seemed to have all I needed in terms of entertainment as I listened to my fellow shoppers.

I was browsing through the clearance racks when I saw a young mother approach a Target employee...
Mother: Excuse me sir, could I bother you for a second?
Employee: Sure.
Mother: Would you mind helping me with my children? Could you maybe scare the crap out of them so that they behave in the store?
Employee: Sure! I'll just tell them that I'm going to make them work with me if they don't behave. That's what I usually do. 
I will state that although I heard the boy crying and sniffling, I didn't hear him screaming and acting like a crazy person. Score one for mom and Target man. On to the dressing room. There I was, trying on my items (always a thrill) and I could tell a woman had her child (or children?) in the dressing room with her as she was trying things on.
Daughter: You do not look fat at all in that. You should get it.
She said it with such passion, too. I thought to myself, "Wow, this is not her first rodeo!" My last chuckle came while I was happily perusing office supplies like the little OCD weirdo that I am. Another mother had her children with her and I think they may have been shopping for Father's Day (this Sunday, people!).
Daughter: World's Greatest Dad. Oh my gosh! A trophy for him! I'm so getting this. Mom look! "World's Greatest Dad!"
I then listened to her explain the trophy to everyone else who came to Target with them. She sure was excited, so I guess she must have the world's greatest dad. I'm not certain how I'm going to break the news to my dad. Between the fun purchases and the amusing conversations (bonus, none of them actually required me to participate) I'd say it was a pretty good day at Target.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Mo Money, Mo Problems? No. Less Money, Mo Problems

Let me take you back to a simpler time. The year was 1997. Hong Kong was handed back to China from England. Bill Clinton was inaugurated for his second term as President and Madeleine Albright became the first female Secretary of State. We said goodbye to Mother Teresa and hello to Rebecca Black (although we didn't know the horrors she would release on our world for many years). I turned 12. And Notorious B.I.G taught us that "mo money" led to "mo problems". Not to hate on Biggie, but I have recently learned that it's actually "less money, mo problems". I will admit that his title flows much better than mine.

Just a few posts ago (Vroom Vroom), I explained the hell my car (and mostly Don Jacobs Honda) has been putting me through this year. My car must have read the post or something because it decided to get me once more. I was checking my bank balance online yesterday to see if my paycheck had been deposited yet (side note, it had not despite the fact that it is supposed to be deposited on the 15th and 30th of each month and maybe if it had deposited on time some of this hot mess could've been avoided). I was shocked to discover that my checking account balance was negative. I don't know much about finances, but I know that a negative balance is not ideal. But what had happened? I'm usually very good about balancing my checkbook and I'd done so just the other day before buying a new camera to take to China in July. I was supposed to have $80 or so in there.

My friend Laurel doesn't call me Sherlock Holmes with a Better Rack for nothing; I did some investigatory work and discovered that I had not recorded my most recent tire purchase...that was no small chunk of change either. So that had done it. Now, some people would see this as being my mistake...I can see how you might come to that conclusion. But, you've clearly forgotten that the villain of this story is Don Jacobs so I'll be blaming them (because, why not?).

Of course I had no idea of the negative balance because my bank didn't call me or anything so I'd used my debit card twice more. And thanks to all the other car crapola, I'd had to use the majority of my savings to cover that which means I didn't have enough in my savings to cover the mistake. Hello overdraft charges. I've had two overdraft charges at $32 a pop. So, that's fun. One of the overdraft charges was on a charitable donation; talk about no good deed going unpunished. The other overdraft charge is much more ridiculous and embarrassing.

I went to the mall the other day and I found myself really wanting a cookie. Let's not even touch the fact that I'm not supposed to eat gluten and eggs. I really wanted that stinking cookie and I was going to have it because that's how I roll. I went on over to the Great American Cookie Company and got myself a cookie. I thought I had cash but it turns out I didn't have enough on me. I would typically interpret that as a sign to not eat the cookie, but the girl had already packaged it and everything so I didn't want to be a pain (plus I really wanted it). $3.19 on the old debit card, no big deal. I was wrong. YES big deal because that stupid cookie cost me $35.19 when all was said and done. I take it back; that cookie wasn't stupid, it was delicious.

So this whole situation isn't my fault. It's not my car's fault. And it isn't the cookie's fault. Yep, I'm still blaming Don Jacobs. They are my El Niño for the time being. They are responsible for all the bad things ever. Also they're stupid and I hate their faces. They are Bad News Bears.

I did get one letter from my bank yesterday and another today informing me of the two overdrafts on my account. Letters. In 2013, my bank seems to think that snail mail is the most effective way to tell me that I'm spending money I don't have. How ridiculous is that? I've got an online account with them, they have my email address and my phone number. Let's not forget that emails and phone calls are free whereas letters are not. That's the whole reason the USPS is suffering; why pay to send something that takes a couple of days when you could just do it all immediately and for free? Maybe my bank is devoted to keeping the mail running. Well, good for them. I sure am happy they're taking a stand (sarcasm).

I've been periodically checking the App Store to see if my bank had a mobile app so that I could monitor my accounts with the precision and obsession of any good OCD sufferer, but up to this point there was no such luck. While I was on hold with them today, I heard an ad for their mobile app. Naturally I downloaded it and got all that squared away. But again, why had they not informed me about the app? An email, an announcement on the website or even a letter would've done the trick. Come on, bank.

Needless to say, lesson learned on my part. And now I've got multiple methods of overdraft protection and backup protection. What a fun start to summer!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Radio Star

In a previous post, I mentioned that I listen to The Bob & Sheri Show in the mornings and that I'm friends with Sheri Lynch on Facebook and how she has even liked a few of my statuses which is pretty stinking cool. Amy Jo went as far to say that maybe some day Sheri would read one of my statuses on the air. How crazy would that be?

I'll tell you how crazy, because it actually happened. THAT'S RIGHT! I was driving to work on Monday, May 20, 2013 and I needed to stop off at Kroger on the way. Naturally, I was listening to Bob & Sheri. I literally had my hand on my keys to turn off the ignition when I heard Sheri say that she wanted to share something Erin Black posted on Facebook. Hey, I know Erin Black! I am Erin Black! So she read my status and she and Bob laughed and it was freaking awesome!!

And then I made a Facebook status about her reading my status on air (this is beginning to sound like Inception) and she commented that it was a good one. Clearly I am now a famous radio star. But I'm not too worried about video killing me because I think my skill set and personality would play well in any medium (except maybe miming).

I was thinking the other day that I wouldn't make a very good radio personality if I had to do a show with requests and dedications. Somehow I don't think people would appreciate my smart ass responses to their stories or the completely inappropriate songs I would choose to play.

You can hear Sheri read my status on their podcast. It's the May 20th show and it's in the 6 am portion about 11.5 minutes in. And for your reading pleasure, here it is:

Dear God,

Thanks for making the radio station wait to play Nickelback until I turned into my driveway. Ideally, they would never be played at all but I know that you said in this world we would have troubles.

-Erin Black

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I'm Not Surprised

By now I think that everyone has heard about the comment made by Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries. But in case you've been living under a rock with no WiFi access for the past couple of weeks, I'll summarize it for you. Basically, a seven-year old comment went viral this week in which Jeffries talked about the fact that A&F is a very exclusionary store which caters to a specific type of clientele. He continued to talk about how the clothes are meant for the beautiful, cool kids and that's why the "women's" sizes at A&F only go up to a size 10 in pants and a size large in shirts. Needless to say, people (aka the Internet) are outraged...and I'm a little confused.

I'm not saying that this quote doesn't disgust me. It's a moronic viewpoint that perpetuates too many terrible viewpoints to count. This is the type of mentality that results in kids being bullied for not having a certain brand of clothing and girls having eating disorders to they can look like all the other super cool Barbies in the cafeteria. I think the man is an idiot and should've known better than to actually say that statement in an interview. And the business major in me shakes my head at the huge (no pun intended) chunk of the market that this company is missing out on. After all, it's all about money. However, I just don't get why people are just now realizing that A&F is run by a bunch of douchebags.

First of all, this comment is seven years old. Would we not have been equally outraged seven years ago? I honestly think that the Erin of 2006 would be more pissed than the Erin of 2013, but whatever. I've never been able to shop at Abercrombie & Fitch and I honestly never saw the appeal. Even as a [stupid, image-focused, materialistic] teenager all their crap was way too expensive to waste money on. And then they started blaring all that crappy music and pumping that toxic, bro-tastic "cologne" throughout the store which (to this day) makes me hold my breath if I have to walk by the place. And I'm pretty sure I remember some big to do about their catalogs having nude models. Nude models...to sell clothes.

I've never had the ideal A&F body type; I'm not certain why that's a bigger deal now in 2013 than it was when people my age actually shopped at that store in the early 2000's, but apparently it is. I think I had one A&F shirt that I happened upon in some sort of consignment store and miraculously fit me. Everyone is acting as though every other clothing line in the world is so considerate towards anyone who may be a little overweight, and that is a damn, dirty lie.

Plenty of clothing lines operate under the same philosophy as Abercrombie & Fitch, they've just never come right out and said it. I have a specific memory of being in an Express looking for jeans when I was in high school and being unable to find the size 13/14. I asked a sales girl about it and she told me that there might be some of those sizes somewhere but that the company was only going to go up to size 10/12 now so if I could find any, they'd be old. The Erin of that year was irked; and she may or may not have looked at that girl and said, "Let me get this straight. I keep hearing about how America is becoming more and more obese and you people are getting rid of our clothes?"

I'm not defending what Mike Jeffries says or does. I'm just saying that I don't understand why anyone is surprised. I'm fairly certain that anyone who would be offended enough by the his comments to stop shopping there, is already not shopping at A&F. If you're going to boycott A&F for their marketing techniques, you'd better be ready to boycott a lot of other stores too because Abercrombie is not alone.

An Irish Spring on a Summer's Eve

The other day, the phrase "Summer's eve," came to mind. Every morning, my boyfriend and I text each other while getting ready. We'd taken a break from our texting so that he could shower and when he returned I asked if he was "so fresh and so clean, clean," because I like to incorporate lyrics from popular songs into every day life (because I am awesome).

So he responded that he was as fresh as an Irish Spring, since that's the soap he uses. For whatever reason, the phrase "Irish spring" made my mind jump to "summer's eve". I didn't say that it made sense, that's just how my mind works (deal with it). Naturally I then found myself thinking about the line of lady parts products called Summer's Eve. I've actually written about these products before; long, long ago in my very second blog post.

Anyway, back to my realization. I thought about the typical summer evening in Kentucky (or anywhere in the South for that matter). There is no way that the people behind the name "Summer's Eve" have spent any significant time in the South.

A Southern summer evening is only slightly less miserable than a Southern summer day. It's hot, humid, and muggy. You're sweaty even though you're not moving and you're too exhausted to move. Plus there are probably mosquitoes and June bugs all over the freaking place. Nothing about that says, "freshness" to me.

I wonder if the product does well in Southern markets or if it's more like the Chevy Nova not selling in Spanish-speaking countries since no va means "doesn't go" in Spanish (which according to the Wikipedia link is an urban legend, when did that happen?!). Something to think about there.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Vroom vroom

Over the past couple of months, my car has been have a love affair with my bank account. I have been less than thrilled about the relationship. I'm typing this post from the waiting room at Sears Auto Center. Let's see, where did it all begin?

I drive a 2007 Honda Accord and it's a great car. However, want to know what year the iPod hookup came standard on the Accord? 2008. So I've been meaning to get that installed for awhile now. For Christmas I got the money to do just that. I figured I'd go to the dealer. I'd already talked to them about it and I didn't want just some random person messing with my car...and I'm too lazy to look into various options.

The appointment was set for an early March afternoon. There was also a recall on something and they were going to try to do that too. It would take about an hour. At least that's what they told me at Don Jacobs Honda. I want to call attention to the name of the business, and you'll see why soon enough.

When I got there, I found out that the recall would take several hours, so I set up an appointment for a day I didn't have to go to school. I didn't mind that since they hadn't promised to do that part of the service at that particular moment. Oh, and as long as they're working on it, my passenger side door no longer cares to lock or unlock automatically. After a solid 2 hours in the waiting room (thank God for my iPad), I was informed that they didn't have the right cable for the hookup or it was faulty or something. So now the original reason I brought my car in would have to wait until my other appointment. But don't worry, I didn't leave without having something done!

"There's a big chunk out of one of your front tires," they said. "We recommend replacing tires two at a time and since you've had to wait here we'll charge you for just the tires and not the labor." I actually knew about replacing tires two at a time, so I figured alright, go for it. "And, it would cost $100 just to open up the door and diagnose the problem let alone fix it," they told me. I figured it was cheaper for me to lean over and use my arm to lock and unlock the door, for free. About $300 later, I was on my way...not listening to my iPod.

Fast forward to the next appointment. My original plan was to wait there because it was only going to take a few hours. Luckily my brother had come home and was able to give me a lift. The shop looked busy. "There are going to be a lot of people hopping on and off your car today," they told me. I thought to myself, "Why wouldn't you just knock all the work out and get the car out of the way? Well, maybe that's why I teach Spanish rather than run an auto shop."

After about 4 hours or so, I get a call. The iPod hookup has still not been installed and the recall was in process. But apparently my front brake pads were at "about 5%," so we gotta fix those. I wondered how they'd missed that item when I'd been in two weeks earlier. Amy Jo later brought up the fact that I had the rear brakes replaced in December and they'd said my front brakes should be good for awhile. But whatever. A few hours later, no iPod but hey let's talk about alignment. They promise that it's going to be done by the end of business that day (7:30 pm or so). They even had a guy staying late to work on it, they said. A little while later, "Well it's definitely going to be ready first thing tomorrow morning. Oh and PS, you need some fluid replaced...we can't tell which one. It's either brake or transmission. We do that for $85 a piece. And do you need a rental car? Blah blah blah." Don't worry, I drew the line at the damn fluids. You can't tell which one it is? Seriously? There's no test you can do?

That's when I called Amy Jo and gave her the lowdown. So she calls down there and let's them know what's up. She knows cars and she knows they've been screwing me and if that car is not ready by noon (that's right, pushed back to noon) tomorrow there will be hell to pay." Later that night we discuss how she's always heard that Don Jacobs is notorious for this type of BS. Hmm, that would've been nice to know before now.

So at about 11:47 the next morning, she calls them. And what do you know, they juuuuust finished. A big part of me wanted them to miss the deadline because I wanted to watch my mom totally lose her cool at the dealership. But alas, that was not meant to be. Another $600 or so later, ta-da here's my car! For those of you keeping score at home, that's between $900-$1,000 I've spent on my car in about a 3 week period. I had planned to spend $300.

But wait! What about that mystery fluid that was dirty or whatever? I told my friend Gilfy about it. "Come to Sears," he said, "we do that for like $36." Sold. I took my car over the next day after work. He did a little litmus paper test (or car pregnancy test as I like to call it) on my fluids. See, I KNEW there was a test they could've done! He told me the fluids were fine. He even asked one of his colleagues to be sure. "What else on my car was perfectly fine?" I asked myself.

Then there was a blissful period in which all I had to do was fill 'er up with gas. That, I could handle. In early May, the oil light came on but I knew it was coming so I stayed cool. I planned out the world's most productive Saturday, complete with the world's most beautiful to do list. Oil change was #2 on the list, right after dropping the dog off to be groomed. There was no wait at all at VIOC. Sweet! I couldn't believe how fast it was going. I was going to crush my to do list.

"This back passenger tire is really low. There are two nails in it." Wait, wait, wait, wait. What? Are you shitting me? The Saturday of Productivity would be taking a detour via S&S Tire. Luckily Amy Jo could pick me up and let me use her car. Now, as previously mentioned, tires should be replaced in twos...so I was looking at 2 more tires. And an alignment because that's certainly been all jacked up driving on those crap tires.

Come to find out, the back tires were older than dirt. As in 2007 & 2008. They were down to their last bits of rubber. One had an impact bump on it; probably from hitting a curb or sidewalk...I wish I weren't familiar with that, but I'm not the best driver. All I could think of was, "Why didn't Don Jacobs try to get me for that, too?" The people at S&S Tire told me that anyone who knew anything should've told me about the tires. So, they (Don Jacobs Honda) charge me for crap I don't need while not fixing the things I do. Huh. "What an odd way to do business," thought the girl with a degree in business.

That was Saturday. Surely to the good Lord there could not be any more. Why hello, Tuesday. What's that car? You're making a strange whiny, chirpy noise. That seems foreboding. My boyfriend later diagnosed this issue as a fan belt. It's not a big deal but I was beyond frustrated. So I rolled on over to Sears after work and told them that I needed a fan belt belted or whatever it's called. It's all fixed now, and it wasn't very expensive but it just felt like it's all hit me at once. My car is almost 6 years old, so it makes sense. I understand it...but that doesn't mean I have to like it. I'm not going to jinx myself by saying that nothing else will go wrong. For all I know, there's a family of possums living in the wheel wells or something.

I suppose that's the end of my car saga. I'm long-winded. The moral of the story is: don't ever take your car to Don Jacobs Honda. They are shady folk. My plan was to buy another Honda there whenever I need a new car. That is no longer my plan.

Friday, April 26, 2013

We're not all like that

Living in the buckle of the Bible Belt has both advantages and disadvantages. I'm sort of blanking on the advantages at the moment, but I'm sure there are some. Unfortunately, the disadvantages come to mind much quicker than the advantages. Don't get me wrong, I love my hometown and I have every intention of spending my life here. But there are things I see and hear sometimes that I could do without.

There are a lot of people (some of them well-meaning) who broadcast a number of viewpoints under the guise of Christianity that I simply don't agree with. I don't claim to know every little thing in the Bible nor do I claim to know God's exact stance on the hot button issues in our society today. But I am fairly confident in saying that some of these things I've seen and heard are flat out wrong.

For example, Westboro Baptist Church is wrong. The people crossing the country with Fred Phelps as he pickets the funerals of soldiers and talks about how much "God hates fags" are wrong. That man does not represent my faith in any way, shape, or form. In fact he makes me sick.

The other thing I'm confident in is the knowledge that these people are making it harder for other Christians to reach non-Christians. A lot of people will talk about how Christians are persecuted in the United States, and to an extent that's true. But for the most part, Christians have a pretty sweet set-up here. We can practice our faith openly and since the majority of the country identifies with some form of Christianity, we benefit from a number of small privileges throughout the year (such as getting time off for Christian holidays like Christmas). The other thing about the persecution of Christians in the United States is that it's people who claim to be Christians who get the ball rolling--and I'm not just talking about the blatantly obvious Phelps of the world.

I would say that most non-Christians don't harbor ill-will towards Christians. They are happy to respect our beliefs, provided that we respect theirs. When you come across someone who is particularly outspoken regarding Christianity it's because they've had some sort of run-in with someone who maybe isn't the best example of the faith. There are some Christians out there who don't see the importance in respecting the beliefs of others. Granted, a lot of them are still devoting a fair amount of time to exposing Barack Obama as a secret Muslim and/or attempting to ban both sex education and evolution from being taught in the public school systems which leaves little time in one's schedule for tolerance.

Here are a few things I've seen and heard lately that make me shake my head:

  • "We believe in God. Join the Right Club. John 3:16" bumper sticker (and apparently a billboard that I thankfully missed). If you read the story, you'll see that the whole thing was one church's childish response to a billboard put up to advertise a convention of non-believers.
  • "God doesn't believe in atheists" bumper sticker. I saw this little gem on the way home tonight. Am I the only one who thinks that the tone of this bumper sticker would be best followed by Nelson Muntz from The Simpsons saying his classic, "Ha ha" catchphrase? It strikes me as so obnoxious. God loves atheists just as much as he loves the rest of us. A real Christian knows that God loves all people regardless of how they feel about him. Does a parent stop loving their child because he/she makes some bad decisions? No! And that's what God is; he's a father. He's always going to be there for all of us, no matter what. To me, this person is telling whoever follows their Ford Taurus that if they've turned their back on God then he's turned his back on them as well.
  • "Each gender should conform to the set stereotype" philosophy. As my friend Chad pointed out the other day, this simply isn't Biblical. There's no line in the Bible about how boys must like playing with army men, shooting hoops, and firing BB guns. Some boys don't like those things, and you know what? That's 100% OK. Some girls don't like makeup, dresses, and the mall. Again, that's 100% OK. The world would be pretty boring if we all fit in these standard molds based on gender. There are some Christians who have strong opinions about the so-called "sissification" of boys which offends me on two levels. As previously stated, I'm offended by the notion that we have a pre-determined set of behaviors that we need to adhere to. I'm also enough of a feminist to be offended when people view a boy/man adopting a behavior that society has deemed "feminine". It offends me because those people see woman as inferior to men; they don't want a boy doing something "girly" because they view it as being beneath him. But I could go on and on about this topic. Maybe I will...another time.

I suppose I've ranted enough for tonight. I just want to go on record saying that a lot of people claiming to be Christians in this world do not represent me.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Get Outta My Ball

I found this on Pinterest the other day and I am seriously considering having some business cards printed with this image so that when I meet people I can simply hand them a card and then walk away.

I also really wish I had a giant hamster ball. There's an episode of The Simpsons where Bart gets Panda Virus and has to live in a bubble for a week. And also Lisa pretends to be a college student. It's a good episode. It's called Little Girl in the Big Ten and it's in season 13 (because I know you needed all that information). I'm going to refrain from telling you what disc it's on.

I appear to have gotten sidetracked on that one. So, Bart has to be in one of those big bubbles and he seems to enjoy it. He also helps out the nerds and spins in the mud and gets people dirty; all in all, a good day in my book.

Back to my original topic: I'm pretty introverted. In the words of April on Parks & Rec, "I hate talking. To people. About things." The thing about being an introvert is that it's really easy for people to just think that you're a bitch. I mean, I am a bitch but that's a completely unrelated characteristic and something that people should discover after they've discovered my introvertedness. I also make up my own words, which is just a characteristic of being awesome.

I did actually reach outside my giant hamster ball and manage to send out some friend requests to people I work with. I've been there since August, so I think it's safe to add these people on the platform that is social media.

I know I missed a bunch of people, but I got exhausted from all the social butterfly action of scrolling and clicking on names. But I'll get them all...eventually.

So now I can creep on them and they can creep on me. What could be more social than that?

I expected more from you, John Tesh

Oh, no big deal...just an awesome national radio host
commenting on my Facebook status.
I'm a little irritated with John Tesh right now. This is going to require a little background information. Every morning, on the way to work, I listen to The [hilarious] Bob and Sheri Show. Not only does the show crack me up, I always get to hear the "Morons in the News" segment which cracks me up. Plus, I'm friends with Sheri on Facebook and one time she liked one of my statuses and I was all, whaaaat?! And then I made a status about her liking my status and she commented on it so now we should just be friends.

Anyway. So when I get in the car after school, my radio is still set to the adult contemporary station that plays Bob & Sheri. In the afternoon, they play The John Tesh Radio Show. At first I hated it, but then I realized that it's like The USA Today of radio shows. He's always got some interesting factoids for my drive home; like the 5 things employers say will get you the job, or whatever. He also has a lot of relationship advice, and I like to compare his advice with what I'm actually doing. Just the other day he taught me what guys consider to be the perfect amount of PDA (a quick kiss on the lips, FYI) as well as how they prefer to hold hands (interlocked fingers as opposed to palm-to-palm). Thanks, John.

So I'm listening to John yesterday when he tells me some story about a doctor refusing to see a female patient because she weighs 200 pounds. He talked about how it was actually legal for the doctor to do that and why some doctors are refusing to see "obese" (although I don't think 200 pounds is obese). And in case you were wondering, he seemed a bit appalled by the story. I've been thinking about that story and thought I'd write about it. But then I went to find a link and realized that this all went down in August 2012.

John was trying to act like this just happened. Now I feel as though I can't gripe about it because it's not particularly recent. So first I was irritated at this doctor, and now I'm irritated at John Tesh. Whether or not I stay mad at him hinges completely on what advice he gives me tomorrow. And just in case you want closure on the whole doctor issue, here we go:

This doctor is now turning away patients over a certain weight because [allegedly] members of her staff were getting injured assisting these patients. She refers them to a nearby hospital that has some special center for obesity or something. I cannot imagine how mortifying it would be if I were to be turned away from a doctor because I'm overweight. As though I don't have enough of a complex about that anyway. And although 200 pounds isn't skinny, it's not what most average people would consider to be obese.

In my mind, obese is a lot bigger than 200 pounds. And, they made no mention of how tall the woman is. If she's really tall, she's going to be heavier to begin with. So maybe she's really tall and just a bit overweight. What about a 200 pound man? Would they turn away a man that size? It's the same amount of weight, just in a different distribution.

I will say that John Tesh made some solid points about doctors refusing overweight patients. He pointed out that it takes more time to see overweight patients because it takes longer to examine them and therefore doctors see less patients in a day which equals less money. It's also easier to misdiagnose something in an overweight person so the risk of getting sued is higher and some doctors just don't want to deal with any of that.

So much for that Hippopotamus Oath, as Homer Simpson calls it. Yes, I know it's actually the Hippocratic Oath but I like calling it the Hippopotamus Oath. The whole reason you became a doctor was to help people...turning them away doesn't seem helpful. It's one thing if the person is like 900 pounds and the doctor's office literally doesn't have the proper equipment, etc. but to turn away someone whose weight [in all honesty] probably isn't that much more than a lot of our weights is ridiculous.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Exciting News!



I've decided to go to China this summer! There's a mission trip to teach English to middle and high school students in a city called Shangri-La in July and I signed up. The trip is from July 10-30. I just signed up fairly recently and it's been a bit of a whirlwind ever since. I've been working on writing my sponsor letter in order to raise money since the trip costs $3,500. I've created a Facebook event to try and advertise about the trip as well.

Shangri-La is in the Yunnan Province of southwest China. It's a fairly small city, inhabited by mostly Tibetan people. The city is up in the mountains; the city itself is something like 10,000 ft. above sea-level but the mountains around it are as high as 16,000 ft. sea-level. And it hasn't always been called Shangri-La; the name of the city was changed in 2001 to promote tourism in the area.

And speaking of the trip, I've got to get on addressing all my letters!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Developing

Part of being a teacher is obtaining professional development hours. We're supposed to have at least 24 hours each school year. These are hours outside of the normal school day in which we attend various sessions in order to better ourselves as teachers. Like most things (for example, communism), it's a good idea in theory. But at the end of the day 24 is a lot of hours.

At the beginning of the current school year, I signed up for a series of professional development activities designed specifically for world language teachers. There were supposed to be 2 or 3 full day sessions in which we would collaborate with other world language teachers. Well, we ended up having one of the sessions and then somebody dropped the ball or something. This would've been the bulk of my PD hours for the year. But instead, I found myself up PD creek this semester in desperate need of hours.

This results in me signing up for every available PD course offered by the district; whether the topic applies to me or not. I've sat through quite a few sessions that were very interesting (and others that were not remotely interesting, let's be honest) but there was no practical application for me as an elementary Spanish teacher.

So in practice, the concept of earning these professional development hours is tricky. I currently have 19.5 hours. After today, 20.5. I'm slowly creeping towards the requirement.

That's not a particularly interesting topic, but I'm killing time here and have felt like a lazy blogger as of late. I am proud to say that my student quotes blog is coming along quite nicely.

I'll be closing with a random thought. The other day I determined that there has to be a section of hell in which you're just trapped behind a slow moving vehicle on a tiny two lane road and it's impossible to pass them. I know when I'm in that situation, it's hard to imagine anything else.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pinning for Health

Pinterest is good for a number of things: Hey Girl memes with Ryan Gosling, weddings featuring burlap and mason jars, and healthy lifestyle tips. Sure, I could pin all the health tips and pretend I'm going to do them...but who am I kidding?

The homemade cleanse drink, the workout that goes along with a TV show so that I do 10 burpees every time Maury announces that someone is not the father, and of course the sign for my fridge with a quote about how "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." I'll get right on that. I'm pretty sure that quote is attributed to Kate Moss and obviously that bitch cray. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels? Seriously, nothing? Clearly girl has never tasted food.

But I think I'm getting away from my point, which was actually quasi-serious. I saw a pin for the Mama Laughlin website. The pin showed her before and after picture at 198 and 138 pounds respectively. I couldn't resist clicking. She seems like a pretty badass lady and she's funny, too. She talks about how she gained weight and how she finally lost it.

And the next thing I know I'm shaking my head. She talked about the various motivators she had during her weight loss and how the biggest one was watching the numbers on the scale go down. That would be a great motivator for me, too. The problem is, it doesn't happen.

I try super hard and maybe I'll see some extremely minor results but then it's all back. And then I'm just as depressed as I was when I started. So I get this "why bother" attitude. It's all very defeatist and melo-dramatic (which I hate) but I can't help it.

The only difference between now and all the other times is that I have a very supportive boyfriend who likes me just as I am. I still want to improve myself, for me. I just have no clue how (if?) I'm going to make it happen. I'm sure if I keep browsing Pinterest, I'll come up with something (LOL)!

 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Why Is This a Thing?

One of my more popular boards on my Pinterest is called "Why Is This a Thing?". I'm certain I've mentioned it before. It's full of things I stumble upon that are ridiculous and have no business existing. It goes without saying that I love The Worst Things For Sale. I check the site every day to see what crazy item has been discovered; some days are better than others. March 4, 2013 was a particularly fantastic entry! There are so many things to question about this particular entry.

You're not hallucinating. The title of that book is Vagina Insanity. Sorry for the quasi-scandalous picture; but you really need to see the whole thing in order to fully appreciate this madness. What's unclear is the exact meaning of vagina insanity. Is it just one crazy vagina or just a mad overload of lady parts? I don't know. I suppose I'll have to read it in order to find out--good news is that as an Amazon Prime member, I have the ability to borrow the book for free on my Kindle. And just in time for my birthday!

I really do encourage you to check out the Amazon page for this "book". When you do that, you should check out several things:

  • Read an excerpt from the book. You won't regret it, I promise.
  • Check out the "About the Author" section, again there will be no regrets.
  • Locate the "Click to See Inside" icon...I know what you're thinking, "Oh my goodness gracious the last thing I want to do is see anything on the inside of that book." Well, guess what? You're wrong. I clicked to see inside and check out what I found in the preface:

 May I draw your attention to the section in which the author claims that this book tells how and why 9/11 was staged by the Americans? Of all the things I expected to see inside a book called Vagina Insanity, a 9/11 conspiracy plot was at the bottom of the list. The only things that would surprise me more would be: Biblical scriptures, parenting tips, and advanced theoretical math. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit intrigued to see how crazy lady parts could play a role in a huge government conspiracy.

Plus, he dares me to read it. I suppose I'll hold off for now, but if he triple dog dares me then I'll have no choice.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Is That Really Necessary?

Good news, I've found something else that annoys me! Apparently the new unnecessary event de jour is the gender reveal shower. We've been building to this for awhile, based solely on my Pinterest observations. Apparently, simply announcing whether or not you're having a boy or a girl is a thing of the past. Now you need to make a big production out of it. This is why I'm not too concerned about the economy. If we have money to throw parties simply to announce the sex of an unborn baby, I think America will make it out of this tough time.

It started simply enough with photo sessions. I'm talking about paying a professional photographer to come and take these photos mind you. You've got a few standard options in case you're interested in doing this:

  • Mom & Dad Holding Balloons: Just stand out in a field or next to an old building or whatever holding a large number of balloons in either pink or blue.
  • It's Balloons in a Box: Take those same pink or blue balloons and put them inside a cardboard box. You should probably stand in the same field (you know, a typical setting in which you'd find a box full of balloons). If you want to get really crazy you could draw a fanciful question mark on the box or write something like, "Baby Jones is..." The Kodak moment occurs just as the parents-to-be open the box and all the balloons fly up into the air in a majestic fashion.
  • There are other options, too. But the balloons seem to be the old stand-by.
Just like with any addiction, it wasn't long before mere balloons weren't enough. Enter the gender reveal shower. You can't bring the balloons to the shower, that would be ridiculous (I assume). You have to have a completely alternate method of sharing your baby's gender.
  • Say it with Cake: Cake is the go-to method to reveal a baby's gender. Throughout the shower, there sits a wonderfully delicious cake with some sort of gender neutral icing (yellow or green I suppose). Ohhh, but the cake itself is not neutral. The cake has been dyed either pink or blue so that everyone can lose their minds once the thing has been cut into. Personally, I'd be losing my mind for a different reason; I don't care about the color, just give me some cake.
I don't know what else you do at a gender reveal shower. For the sake of those in attendance, I hope games are not part of the equation. I'm not certain whether or not there are presents...but if there aren't, I'm sure those will follow soon.

In the end, people can do whatever they want to do in regards to this type of thing. But I find it all to be very silly. It all makes me think of the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie goes to a baby shower and the uptight parents make everyone take off their shoes and then Carrie's shoes get stolen, because hello free Manolos! At first the woman offers to pay for Carrie's shoes but when Carrie reveals the extravagant price the friend flips out and refuses to pay even though she used to buy Manolos in her pre-baby days. So Carrie starts adding up how much money she has spent celebrating the love of this couple; an engagement gift, a wedding gift, the cost of traveling to and staying overnight at the wedding, and the list goes on and on. She figures that all-in-all she's spent well over $1,000 on these people. She makes a good point in that not only do these people get love, happiness, and a family but the rest of us (many of whom do not have these things) have to give them presents on top of everything!?

Spoiler alert: Carrie sends an engagement announcement to the girl saying that she is marrying herself and that she's registered at Manolo Blahnik. The girl realizes she was being a bitch and buys Carrie the shoes and the girl working there gets on the woman because her kids are trying to touch the shoes. It's a quality episode.

That's how I feel about the abundance of showers and events for engagements, weddings, babies, etc. It really starts to add up and it's hard to not wonder what the point of it all is sometimes.

Random Thoughts

Just a few random thoughts I've had lately...

  • I never feel more heroic than I do when I'm driving and notice that another car doesn't have its lights on. A quick flash of my lights and then the waiting game. And then when their lights go on I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment. How many lives did I just save by having them turn on their lights? How grateful do they feel right now? It's weird, but getting someone else to turn on their headlights makes me feel like I've done my good deed for at least the week.
  • I found a hilarious story about online dating. We've all heard of the standard sites such as Match, eHarmony, Christian Mingle, and even (yes) Plenty of Fish. We've also heard of the more unsavory sites such as the ones that help people have affairs. But did you know that there are stranger sites to help Sea Captains find love? Or self-proclaimed ugly people? I found this article on BuzzFeed about some of these sites and got quite a kick out of it!
My other random thought actually started turning into a post of its own, so it's coming up next!

Monday, February 25, 2013

I'm Breaking Mad

I stayed home today since my pink eye decided to come back. Lovely. I totally love having pink eye again and again. It started showing up yesterday and I woke up at 1:30 am with a swollen eye, so I got things ready for a substitute. Thankfully by midday I seemed to be doing better. My eye is still very red and sore but there's no contagious crap coming out of it (I know you wanted those appetizing details). Since I seemed to be a bit better I decided to run a few errands.

I remembered that when I tried to buy my regular supply of decongestants last week that I was denied. I checked the website they gave me and it said I could but more on February 20th. This didn't make much sense to me because I buy the 12 hour decongestants but I only take one per day, so I only use it half as much as directed but whatever. So there I am, trying to buy my drugs and I was turned away again. WTF?! All I'm trying to do is keep my head from exploding, not start my own Breaking Bad scenario.

I suppose the government doesn't believe me. Apparently the new law is that you are allowed to buy three months worth of pseudoephedrine per year. Guess who's already met that amount? Yours truly! The girl at the pharmacy told me that my doctor can give me a prescription and that doctors will be more lenient about giving prescriptions because of the new law. It's still frustrating. I want to buy one box of the stuff each month, not twenty boxes every week. Is it like this in every state or just states like My Old Kentucky Home? Probably just states with super classy meth makers! So thanks, Meth Heads. Thanks for making life even more miserable for allergy sufferers! 

And I figured that as long as I was pissed off about a variety of things today, I might as well go ahead and look at my taxes (lol). I hate filing taxes. It seems so unnecessarily confusing. And since I'm repaying student loans I have to do the 1040 form as opposed to the 1040-EZ. That sucks! As soon as my mind starts reading all that legalise it turns off. I can't comprehend it, no matter how hard I try. The more I think about it the funnier I find my degree in business! 

I'm not opposed to paying taxes, that's how the country runs or whatever. I just hate doing the actual work. And I don't even have that much to do for taxes; no dependents, no mortgage, etc. Whenever I actually have to fill in the majority of the lines on the tax form I'm totally going to need an accountant. I think that the government should offer free tax filing for people who don't break the law. Every year you don't break the law, you get a free accountant for tax time...kind of like that vanishing deductible in the Nationwide Insurance commercials. Or maybe you get entered in a raffle to receive free tax filing or something.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pageant Parent: A How-To Guide

As I've stated in multiple posts, Toddlers & Tiaras is one of my guilty pleasures. Although, I will readily admit the fact that I watch it so that doesn't really seem like a guilty pleasure if you ask me. Plenty of my friends (and Amy Jo) give me weird looks or judge me for watching T&T and I try to explain that you have to completely remove the feeling of disgust you get from seeing teeny beauty queens and think of it more as a Jane Goodall experience.

I would like to state that while watching the show, my list of mental notes is stacking. Of course the overall mental note is to never, ever (under any circumstances) do that to my child no matter how "facially gifted" (yep, that's a term). But then there are other things I think about such as: if the beauty score is meant to be based on facial beauty alone, why do they were those expensive dresses, etc. Shouldn't they just come and stick their head in a little window or something? Another idea I have is to create a spin-off series in which cameras tape people (particularly the overbearing parents) who are watching themselves on the show for the first time. Now that would be a show worth watching in my book!

While I have no intention of becoming a pageant parent, I do know everything it takes. There could come a day (God forbid) in which someone is forced to enroll their child in a pageant...like some madman is going to commit a heinous crime if I don't take my little girl to compete in the full-glitz Fresh Faces 2020 or something. I know what you're thinking; that will never happen! Well my friends, it is a sick world out there with lots of sick people and we cannot predict all the atrocities mankind if capable of committing. For that reason, I have decided to create a how-to guide so that any regular individual can, in a pinch, become a pageant parent.

  1. Get a kid: You might think it has to be your kid, but you're wrong! It can be a grandchild, niece/nephew, or even the child of a friend. I do not recommend just snatching a child off the street, that's called kidnapping.
  2. Money, money, money: It's time to get, get, get, get, get that paper! Popular ways of making extra cash for pageants is to start doing hair, makeup, spray tans, and/or making outfits for other pageant girls.
    1. Poor math skills: Your daughter winning that $250 totally offsets the $2500 you spent on the pageant.
    2. Altered financial priorities: It's simple Pageants > mortgage, car payment, electric bill, credit card debt, church tithe, etc.
  3. Pageant Dictionary: OK, I don't think this is actually a thing (yet). My point is that you need to know a variety of key phrases to survive in the pageant world.
    1. Words of encouragement to scream at your child while he/she is on stage: Sparkle, baby! Pretty Girl! Work it, Sis! Wooooo! Work them judges! Smile, baby! Rock it out!
    2. Crowning lingo: Know the awards such as queen, princess, grand supreme, ultimate grand supreme, novice/mini supreme, etc. The verb "pull out" no longer refers to the Vatican's recommended method of birth control. To pull out means that your child did not receive a divisional title such as queen or princess because she has "pulled out" of her age range and is in the running for a supreme title.
    3. Practice: Pretty hands, pretty feet! Look at the judges! Go to your X. Slow down. Smile! Are you gonna rock it out?
    4. Game: You and your daughter should be ready to spit game about how she's going to rock it out and beat all the other girls.
    5. Buzz words: Make sure you're ready to talk about why you do or do not agree with pageants. Be prepared to tell people who don't agree with pageants where they can shove it. Don't forget to talk about how the pageant helps your daughter's confidence.
    6. Colorful words: You may have to flip your shit if something doesn't go your way. You need to be prepared for your child's music to get cut off, a prop to malfunction, your child's name and/or number to be read/pronounced wrong, or your room key to not work.
    7. Holy Words: Remember, you're good Christians and you should pray that God blesses Trinitee during her beauty walk and
  4. Gather the Pageant Arsenal: There are a lot of tools needed to succeed in pageants and I'm not just talking about the white patent leather shoes and cupcake dress. All tangible arsenal items are to be stowed in rubbermaid totes.
    1. Name: Does the child competing have a pageant name? The weirder or more obnoxious/ridiculous the name, the better. A few examples include: Trenleigh, Caydence, Sequoia, Queen, Heaven (or the backward version, Nevaeh), etc. If you're not big on absurd names, why not try a normal name with an absurd spelling? This goes way beyond adding a superfluous letter here or there. Sarah, Brittany, and Cassidy are not winning pageants. You know who's winning? Seraah, Britainee, and Kassadee.
      1. Put her name all over her room. Cut out wooden letters with glitter zebra stripes on the wall or door, picture frames with her name in bubble letters...
        1. As long as we're discussing her room: Make sure there is ample space to store all of her crowns, trophies, and sashes. Ask her if she remembers when she won each crown (hint, she doesn't because she was only 2 years old at the time). Ask her which crown is her favorite. Tell her which crown is your favorite. "Jokingly" put on a crown and declare yourself to be the Grand Supreme (you know you want to).
    2. Coach: All true competitors have a coach. And it's totally cool if your coach is a pageant "veteran" who's all of 14 years old. The point is that girl has been in the trenches showing off her "pretty hands, pretty feet" since she was 6 weeks old. Don't be afraid to use a drag queen, either; they know what's up. You may also choose to go with an agency to help further her modeling "career".
    3. Enhancements: I'm not talking about plastic surgery (not yet at least). Virtually everything on your child should be fake. This includes but is not limited to the following: tan (preferably an airbrush spray tan done in your kitchen or bathroom because you're so hardcore that you own your own spray tanning equipment), flipper (that's fake teeth that sort of snap on over your regular teeth for those of you unfamiliar with the lingo), wig and/or fall (fake hair for days, y'all...and don't forget to have your professional hair stylist "jack it to Jesus"), nails (acrylic or gel), contacts (who says your eyes have to stay the color God made them?), make-up (applied by a professional make-up artist), eyelashes, and honestly I'm sure there are more enhancements I haven't even considered.
    4. Clothes: It's not just one outfit...oh no, no, no. You need your beauty dress (the standard "cupcake" dress that someone has bedazzled the shit out of is key, be prepared to drop anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars on that bad boy), outfit of choice (anything goes but it damn well better have a unifying theme to it), crowning dress (optional; some girls are ok wearing their beauty dress again during crowning), outfit pertaining to the theme of the pageant (western wear, patriotic wear, Christmas wear, candy wear, beach/luau/swim wear, Vegas wear, Mardi Gras wear, I could keep going), monogrammed zebra/leopard/hot pink beauty cape (every 7 year old needs something to wear while she's having her hair and makeup done).
      1. Clothes for the family/fan club: Anything emblazoned with your daughter's creepy beauty headshot on it. T-shirt, buttons, etc. Rhinestones make everything better. Airbrushed lettering that says something like "Maddisyn's Dad" adds a special touch. If you have more than one daughter competing you may choose to go with rhinestone letters that spell out "Pageant Mom" or perhaps the name of the modeling agency that received half of your paycheck each month.
    5. Props: Anything that will catch the judges' eyes during the outfit of choice or talent portion of the show. Make sure to have the aforementioned ridiculous name of your child somewhere on the props.
    6. Food & Drink: Have plenty of "Pageant Crack" (Pixie Sticks) and Go-Go Juice/Special Drink (Mountain Dew, Red Bull, Monster, or any mixture therein) to keep her "spirits" up.
  5. Disregard for reality: Remember, your child loves doing pageants and you're going to keep her competing until she says "stop". Be ready to overlook her crying, her uninterested expression during all things pageant, or even her blatant statements such as, "I hate pageants. I don't want to do this anymore. I want to be an octopus." Sure others may comment on how spoiled, bratty, or impossible your daughter seems; they don't understand her. You see, at her age it's still cute and she's just so high-spirited and independent. Ignore the haters.
Do you think you've got what it takes? I guarantee that if you follow my guidelines, I'll see you and your child (but most importantly you, because that's who it's all about anyway) on the next season of Toddlers and Tiaras. And if I happen to remember any more crucial tips, I'll let you know ASAP.