Saturday, August 9, 2008

Consistency, I Have Yet to Master Thee

I've never claimed to be good at blogging. In fact, I never wanted a blog in the first place. Ironically, that is because I thought that if I ever had one, I was for sure going to waste hours and hours doing that instead of other productive things. Over the past couple months--okay, FOUR months--I've had tons of entry ideas, from my Top 5 drummers to the Top 5 songs that kept me company while living in Europe. I hope to one day get to those topics, but for now, I think I just need to let everyone know what's been going on in my life.

Top 5 Things I Should Have Been Blogging About Since April

1. The Job Search

I've had a rough time securing employment before. When I moved to Ames, Iowa after teaching in Prague, I spent the entire summer trying to find a job--any job--just to pay some bills. I even went store to store at the North Grand Mall, before finally landing a primo spot hosting at Carlos O'Kelly's Mexican Cafe. Yeah, I know you're jealous. After graduating from Bemidji State with an ever-useful degree in creative and professional writing, the best I could muster was three jobs: writing for Static, coaching lacrosse, and dealing baked goods at Panera. But I thought it was different this time. I did everything right. I got into a top-ranked M.Ed program, got good grades, did a nice job student-teaching, and then applied to 23 different schools and districts with absolutely no phone calls or communication from prospective employers. Former instructors have admitted that hiring teachers this year is slower than usual, but with no explanation. Apparently getting a job is like going to a restaurant, however; you know how whenever someone goes to the bathroom, your food arrives at the table? If you go out of town, that's when people call you for interviews.

It's been a frustrating (understatement of the century) summer trying to find a job, but I would now like to announce that I will be teaching at at a nearby suburban high school this year, and I am super excited. Oh yeah, their mascot is the
Trojan, and their school colors are blue and yellow, just like my high school in Austin, Texas. Let's not think of how much I hated that school as any kind of omen. Now, I'm only worried about my friends and fellow cohort members still searching for a teaching position--I'm here for you guys--I wish you the best.

2. Roadtrip
After spending almost a decade in Los Angeles searching for her big break in film, my sister decided to go back to school to study medicine. From actor to doctor: what a natural progression! Either how (that was for you, Lisa), long story short, my sister got into the University of Chicago MD Ph.D program, which means she is locked in for eight long years of cutting up dead people. I flew out to L.A. to help her finish packing her things, and then we drove from the shallow hell hole that is Hollywood to the windy city, with a few stops between.

The first day was a short six hours into Las Vegas. A friend of my sister's got us a great steak dinner at half cost, and then free tickets to a show. Unfortunately, that show was the
Blue Man Group, which is possibly the dumbest thing I have ever seen in my life, and I've sat through The Butterfly Effect starring Ashton Kutcher. I only managed to keep myself out of a coma by imagining George Bluth and Tobias Funke auditioning for this ridiculous performance troupe. Seriously, why do people go so nuts for these guys? All I could think as I prayed that a balding blue freakazoid would not choose me for audience participation was, "Some things are inexplicable--the French love Jerry Lewis."

The longest drive was from Vegas to Denver, but I got to briefly see Taylor, one of my favorite people in the whole world, and definitely one of the coolest. Next day, we drove to Des Moines and stayed with my friend Sarah, another favorite. On the drive we helped rescue a
stray dog, and we marveled at our now two-story high school from days of yore. We finally made it to Chicago on the last day's drive in our Penske (MUCH better than U-Haul), only to find that my sister had no mail box, no washer, no dryer, no storage space, no air conditioner, no microwave, but many, many workers who didn't speak very strong English. Nice guys, though. She seems to be thriving in med school, luckily, but she's still on the phone with her landlord every other day. To put it bluntly, he sucks. She's pretty happy at least, because her school gives her lots of free stuff, she's dating a tall, skinny redhead, and she lives three blocks from Barack Obama.

3. Moving

Brian and I have had some landlord issues of our own. The original plan was to stay in our duplex until I had a job for a year or so, and then we were going to buy a house. We really liked the last place, living on the top two floors of a hundred year-old Victorian style in Minneapolis. Over the past year living there, our landlady never really fixed any of the problems in our house, including a leak in the roof, loose light fixtures, and exploding doorknobs. We chalked it all up to casualties of renting until a few months ago when she decided she didn't want our dog going to the bathroom in the yard anymore. You know, that place which she referred to as a dog yard when we were moving in. She said it was okay if the dog was still in the yard, but Zelda just wasn't allowed to poop OR pee in it. Oh yeah, and the guy who lived downstairs was moving out for the exact same reasons. We came to two conclusions about our landlady that day: 1. She has never owned a dog and 2. She is an idiot. The day we decided we'd have to move out, Brian and I went for a walk to eat at the nearby
May Day Cafe, and found a "for rent" sign outside a house. Our new place is a disaster, as we're now putting everything away, but the move was not bad, since it is LITERALLY (tee hee) one block away from our old place. No, really. And, despite a leak here, our new landlord has already dealt with it, and we no longer have dripping water. Much better, thank you.

Disney World

We were saving money to go to Germany and the Czech Republic, but then the value of the American dollar went down the crapper. Then, we thought we might go on an Alaskan cruise, but it was just out of our travel budget range that we'd have to wait until next year to go, so Brian and I decided on Disney World. Snicker if you like, it really is the happiest place on Earth, and we had said a long time ago that we'd really like to go once before we have
kids (if that ever happens). We stayed for eleven days/ten nights, which you would think would have been plenty of time to do everything, which was the original plan. In the end, we spent a couple days alone, then Brian's parents came for a while, and the day they left, our friends Mike and Andrea joined us. The trip was much crazier than when first planned, but we had so much fun seeing everyone. Disney World is the one place I feel I can completely let go and embrace the cheese. I would never go see something called Finding Nemo: The Musical anywhere else, but it wound up being really impressive. The actors are controlling puppets while singing, prancing around, and sometimes doing wire work. My favorite new attraction since I last visited Orlando is probably Fantasmic!, the nighttime park-closing show at Hollywood Studios combining projected movie images on water, fireworks, boats, and live-action sequences including the cutest dance by Mickey Mouse, you can't help but smile. Mission: SPACE was also very cool, since the simulator is likely the closest I'll ever get to actually achieving my lifelong dream of breaking the stratosphere. Expedition Everest is a pretty sweet coaster in the Animal Kingdom. This park was brand spanking new during my last trip to Disney nine years ago, back when it was tiny and all the animals were dying. It's much nicer now, tree-lined and shaded all the way through. The Tree of Life truly is a beautiful work of art, and our party got to see a lot of active animals close-up, such as white rhinos, tigers, gorillas, and even a baby giraffe. They've done a really nice job with that park. My favorite ride since I was a little kid is still Peter Pan's Flight, which we went on a total of four times during our trip. You get to float around in your very own Jolly Roger while witnissing the narrative of the classic Disney film.

And the food. We ate breakfast with Cinderella in her
castle, watched fireworks from the top of the Contemporary Resort, and racked up the most expensive single meal bill of our lives at Victoria & Albert's which is on many Top 10 lists of restaurants in the U.S. Clearly, I'm still a kid at heart, because a lot of adults think Disney World is lame, but I loved every second of it. They say Las Vegas is Disney World for grown-ups, but I hate Vegas, and have no desire to ever go back. (Except maybe to Red Rock, because it's gorgeous and away from the strip.) The main thing about Disney is their attention to detail. Whether people like working there or not, they are super friendly, and really want to make your trip feel special. We spent a lot of time searching for hidden Mickeys, to little avail, and it really was nice just to look around and point out signs on Main Street and Lady and the Tramp cameo brooches at Tony's Town Square. Where else is it actually interesting to wait in line? I felt a real respect for Walt Disney while on the trip. Sure, the company has taken some missteps since his unfortunate demise (The Swan and Dolphin, anyone?), but they have primarily kept his sensibility in mind. He was clearly a curious man with genuine interest in animals, technology, traveling, storytelling, and just the idea of being happy. I know it's not perfect, but even getting stuck on It's a Small World wasn't so bad. I don't really appreciate people who only go to Disney World for vacation, but it's definitely worthwhile. Oh, and in case I didn't have enough other desired destinations in mind, the World Showcase in Epcot really makes me want to visit every country represented.

5. The Olympics

They have begun! Brian has already worked out his schedule for the next two weeks, which includes going to bed at 1:00 AM, getting up at 7:00 AM, and running both the television and online feeds at all moments. I make fun, but really, his obsession just means I don't have to do any work to see the Olympics. I don't know why, but I love watching the games. Sure, George Bush was a complete moron during the opening ceremonies, and I'm not thrilled that our tax dollars have paid for a vacation to Beijing for him and every relative you can name, but it's still just too cool. Sadly, Mr. Must from Estonia was crushed during his badminton match in the wee hours of the night, but who knew the Americans would sweep women's sabre? What a love story between the Emmonses of air rifle fame! How about that guy from Africa who couldn't swim in 2000? I bet someone else won't know anything about their sport and NBC will do a human interest story on it! Even though I prefer the winter games because I get to watch a lot of biathlon (not joking), the summer Olympics are cool, too. I can't wait for gymnastics to start. I don't really like most sports with such a level of subjective judging, but gymnastics was my childhood love, and I dreamed that I'd one day compete in a world arena such as this. No such luck, but I still get to watch it on TV. Oh, and even though lacrosse is not played by enough countries to be a sport included, I get to watch stuff that's never on ESPN, ESPN2, or The Ocho, like hand ball, water polo, and rowing. Now I just have to make sure Brian bathes in the next fortnight.

So there it is. What's up with you? I hope you haven't completely given up on this blog. I'm going to try to do better. If a chick can run a marathon in under three hours, I'd like to think I can sit my butt on the couch and type for half an hour every once in a while. Vote for next week's topic!


Lisa said...

Wow. Your re-entry blog has certainly lived up to my expectations. I LOVE all of your links. I'm pretty sure I opened like 20 new tabs as I was reading (the cheese? really?). Oh, and I am also baffled at the swan and the dolphin. Seriously. Art? Hmmm....

And, Jessie SHOULD be okay with your usage of "precisely". (By the way, did you notice my usage of British punctuation in the last sentence? Thank you Eats Shoots & Leaves.) If she's not, she's lame.

Nice job, Meaghan.

Shmaylor said...

Awwwww... you say such nice things. May I say, coming from one of the coolest people that I know, your "coolest" remark was the coolest. Cool.

Glad to hear things are swell! Things are swell here. I just got a new dining room table, which you will have to see on your next trip through Denver.



Meg said...

Glad to make you ladies smile.

Maggie said...

It's about damn time. Also, you forgot the best part of that leaky roof thing by not mentioning it was shortly after we met and I was caring for your cats. "Oh," in the words of my students, "GTs"

Things I'd liked to have blogged about over the past few months:

1. Well you know, that whole thing ending, that I am going to hell in a handbasket for.

2. All of the ridiculous quotes from class that are too inappropriate and would prevent me from ever getting hired. I'm sorry, funniest conversation ever: "What do you think of labial fuzz?" "It makes me want to vomit in my mouth."

3. All of the ridiculous nights of going out with class in which all of the quotes referenced in 2 took place

4. Specific instances in class. Because my cooperating teacher was the most hilarious thing next to the conversation mentioned in 2.

5. Seriously, the hard core, mushy, painful, dramatic, oozing with love bonding that you, me, Lisa and Jessie did this year. I heart you guys.

Meg said...

I CAN feel the love tonight.

Maggie said...

Oh and I should say your sister stories are second only to Elizabeth's Steve stories.