Tuesday, January 29, 2008

This man is a genius!

Why does Rob Brezsny's horoscope always come at the right time? Seriously, I was thinking about how I need to not let certain issues that aren't my problem affect me and then I get this in my email inbox. Spooky.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): One goal of meditation is to empty the mind of its obsessively generated thoughts, rationalizations, and images. Alas, much of the media functions as a reverse meditation machine. Not only does it stir up your own mental clatter, it also floods you with the seething surge of other people's private pandemoniums. Furthermore, it delivers this rattling racket with entertaining words and brilliant color and crystalline sound, driving it as deeply into your psyche as your own flotsam. Keep this in mind throughout February, which is Clean Out Your Brain Month. Cut way back on your media intake. Snack lightly rather than gorging continually.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What the magpie found

This time it is about me. When I was in the first grade, I got my very first migraine headache. I remember that we were doing silent reading and all of the sudden waves started to pass before my eyes. They say that sometimes these headaches cause lines or spots to blur vision. I saw waves and immediately thought I was going blind. I don't remember what happened next but I have two memories after the wave sight. First, being in the nurse's office while they called my mom and laying on a vinyl cot. Next, I remember sitting on my Aunt Bettie's kitchen floor and she gave me Pepto-Bismal with a spoon. I loved it!
I bring up this memory since Friday night I started to get another migraine headache. I haven't had one in quite a while and this was a particularly heinous one. It forced me to not only miss a dear friend's engagement party but also rendered me useless, anxious, and sick all day Saturday. I know I have been pushing myself too hard lately and everything finally came crashing down on Friday night telling me that my body needed a rest. I don't know if it is being a Scorpio or being a Hillary but I tend to drive myself to extremes. As much as I constantly am seeking balance or a middle ground, I often force the pendulum to swing a little to hard.

I don't really have a new makeup story for this week but I can write about my lotion issues. I love lotion. I tend to have about 5 or 6 different lotions going at once. Right now, I have a sleeply lavender lotion near the bed for night time, two different skin firming lotions, a shimmer lotion, a lotion spefically for hands and one for sensitive faces. It is really out of control. But I figure that this is the least harmful of any possible addications. Plus I did not buy all of them myself. Some came from my lotion enablers like my mother.

Watch the PBS series Art 21. There are four seasons out on dvd, most likely available from your local library. They are divided into themes. Each season usually has four like "Play, Space, Humor, etc." Throughout the themes various contemporary artists are introduced and explain their work, open up their studio, and reveal ideas, projects, what have you. They are absolutely wonderful. Art is my true love, I just teach for the money and this series reminds me how much I love art and art history. I watch the show, taking notes, and making plans, ideas. It really is very inspiring. Plus the artists use all kinds of mediums. A recent favorite is Judy Pfaff. She is this very cool lady welder sculptor who uses welding, tree roots, giant plaster sculptures to make these fascinating installtions. Even if you do not consider yourself an artist, these are interesting for everyone.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Projects, plans, and paper.

I woke up to a bright sunny day this morning and it sent me flying. Yesterday I could feel the inspiration swirling around. This usually means that projects aren't far behind. And then this morning, it all came at once.

Last night I had made a collage or two, wrote in my journal, and started researching Holga cameras. I don't know much about them but want to learn. It happened quite by accident. I was looking at the urban outfitters web site and checked out their home section since they had a David Bowie poster. The home section has a "camera and appliances" subsection that introduced me once again to the Holga camera. It is known for unpredictable effects on the photos and has that whole retro kitsch thing going for it.

This morning, remembering that my library was going to reopen after renovations, I browsed their website and have several cds (Iron and Wine, Modest Mouse), dvds (a bio on Man Ray and another on Edna St. Vincent Millay) and even a book (celebrity tattoos) on the way.

I love these little spells of creation. Since today is my last day off before a long week of work for my mentor teacher, I'm happy to putter around playing with paper and rubber cement. Maybe I'll go wild and even break out the India Ink. I love being a curious magpie artist!

P.S. If you can tell me what this machine is that would be lovely. It spins when the sun is shining. I'm sure it is called a photo-something but I can't remember.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

What the magpie found


okay so it is more of a story about me but Houston is in it. Houston and I have this joke (Well, really I think it is our joke and he just tolerates it.) that he is a "scragglemuffin." This is what I call him when he hasn't shaved in weeks, his nails are getting long, and he is just generally unkempt. (By the way, there is nothing wrong with this look, I fully support it, I just need something to tease him about.) Recently I decided that the scragglemuffins need a newsletter and that Houston is co-editor. It really is funny to mention this to him because he gets rather put out or laughs and says that I am a lunatic. Maybe some future posts will be scragglemuffin newsletter excerpts.


This week I got a manicure. I have done this before but usually for some one's wedding or graduation. This time it was for pure glamour. My nails are painted a classic red and I absolutely love it. However, a manicure makes one realize just how much you use your hands. Now normally I have the excuse of "I'm an artist, I use my hands a lot." This still is viable but I've come to understand just how much I use my hands. I talk with my hands ALL THE TIME. I cannot tell anything without some sort of motion or waving for emphasis. I also tap the beat of music quite frequently. Either on my leg, steering wheel, or with a pencil. I touch my face a lot. And I play with my hair too much. All of this and much more do I subject my hands to on a daily basis. I really need to think about using my feet more!


Goldfrapp--great group from England who have a new CD coming out soon. Check out "Supernature" for sure but "Felt Mountain" and "Black Cherry" are also good. Their music reminds me of the James Bond movies' themes

Veggies--this seems like a no-brainer but I really have been having more vegetables lately. Like the veggie skillet I had for breakfast today. Fantastic!

Monk--I bought my Mom like 3 seasons of this show on DVD for X-mas and it is great. He is a super-smart detective like my boy Robert Goren or Sherlock or Columbo but he has OCD and several phobias. It is very funny and charming.


Count how many times I use the word "just" in this post!
Or older posts.
Winner gets a just reward...haha.

Friday, January 18, 2008

And then, the other shoe drops...

Yesterday was another substitute job. This time in a different district and in a 3rd grade class I had been to once before. Apparently, even though I was there only a half day, the students spoke highly of me and asked their teacher for me to return. I thought they had hated me and the day was unsuccessful. I guess I don't know anything!

This time I was going to be teaching all day and although the teacher has several systems in place for behavior, consequences and rewards, I brought some extra tricks. See, this is a tough class. When the other teachers say that there are some challenges, it is true. Not necessarily because of the students themselves but rather because of everything that goes on in their lives. Their homes ain't so pretty and this carries into how they behave at school.

Sidebar: I have always had a relatively wonderful home life. But my friends haven't. This makes me very sensitive to those whose homes are different than mine. I am always trying to be understanding and reach out.

Sidebar 2: I actually don't like girls. I know I am one but they can be really evil, petty, manipulative and stupid.

Back to the class. The day was mostly okay. I made a word search of their names and promised that as a free time activity if we got everything else done. I also used some of her systems and added that if they treated me well this would benefit what they already had going. And like the fifth graders before, we had fun. I even invented the "music clean up game." I think I stole this from Mary Poppins but when I sense that the kids really need a break or some movement, I play this. I turn on music and as long as they hear the music they have to run around picking up stuff, moving, dancing, whatever, until the music stops. They love it.

So things started to go well until X (those of you who know the story will find it funny that her real name starts with X) started giving me attitude. She had been catty the last time I was here and today had been decent until the afternoon. I cannot stand mean girls. I had the students take out paper and said that once everyone was quiet I would explain what we'd be doing. She says, "I BET IT'S BORING!" I wanted to slap her. It got worse. I won't go into too much detail but eventually I heard that she had called me "an ugly b-word" according to another student. Now the last time I dealt with this kind of garbage was in Middle School and it wasn't even directed at me. I pulled her aside outside the class before Music and she kinda caved, I could see that there was a human underneath the cold attitude. Luckily, her teacher even called during Music and we chatted. Maybe stuff is going on at home the teacher thought. This made me come back down to the teacher Hillary side and not the attacked girl Hillary front I had going. (Don't tell anyone but I had thought of pushing over her desk! I know but I was really upset.)

I realized that this just happens. That I didn't know her well enough to approach her and have a heart to heart. I hadn't earned that trust yet. And that bugged me. I want to earn trust, I want to be more than just the lady of the day bossing people around. I want to be some one's "teacher." Not the "sub." It is hard to realize this since when I was relaying this story to a friend over Thai food I was funny, calm. And then driving home, I realized "Hey! I am affected."

And yet, they have no idea how much they mean to us.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Don't get too comfortable, it might be good for you!

I have been subbing since September now and I have reached that point where teachers I randomly was assigned or picked are now requesting me. It is a fabulous feeling to be wanted.

And so today, I was planning on returning to a class I had taught in during November. The teacher has a pretty cushy deal. First, the whole school is late start elementary. So even if you are there at 8 am, which is the usual required time, the students do not come until like 9:15. Then, this teacher does not have any students until nearly ten. 1st graders from each of the 2 classes come for math and reading. It is called "enrichment." After that, they go to lunch, as does the teacher, then there is a while before some 5th graders come to do math and reading as well. Last time, since everything was planned and I am pretty familiar with their curriculum, I had huge amounts of time to do nothing. So, when I had the opportunity to come back, I jumped at the chance. Especially since the next day would be a tough class. It is sometimes nice to have an "easy" day. I packed a lunch, my current reading "The Freedom Manifesto" and a magazine called "Artful Blogging." I had visions of relaxation and quiet reflection.

If you are ever going to substitute teach, don't ever think anything is set in stone.

I arrived at the school, smiling secretly while thinking of my play day, and found that this was not to be. The school was short subs, and the teacher I was going to sub for had requested me due to a release day. This means she was at school but was going to plan with her grade-level team. Things got switched around and suddenly I would be covering a 5th grade class instead! They asked if I was okay with this which is always funny since what am I like going to say? "No. I don't ever want to get a job because I want to be known as demanding and inflexible."

As I made my way to the class room, a helpful teacher showed me where some things were and on their way out said, "Oh this is a tough group. They'll test you." Great. There goes perusing "Artful Blogging."

But you know what happened? IT WAS AWESOME. We had fun. They were characters definitely but nothing as evil as had been alluded to. I even got a little card that said "Miss Thoren, you rock! B.S.E." (For those of you not in the know, that means Best Sub Ever.)

I just hope this doesn't mean tomorrow will be terrible.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What the magpie found

Okay, so this is my attempt at some sort of weekly fixture. I love the name so will see if I can make the features just as wonderful...

This is old but I needed something to start this off.
During the holidays, my family decided to have a movie day. We went out to eat and then were going to see movies. It ended up being my mom and dad went to one and Houston and I went to another. Now getting any of us to agree on a movie is like deciding who owns the West Bank but somehow we did it. I convinced Houston that we should see "Sweeney Todd." I told him the basic premise and he likes anything with violence or bloodshed. We bought our tickets before dinner and then were going to walk over from the restaurant. As we entered the lobby, I said to Houston, "I hear Johnny Depp does all his own singing in this." Houston stops in the middle of the lobby and nearly shouts, "SINGING? THERE IS SINGING???" He had no idea that "Sweeney Todd" was a musical. People are moving past us, Houston mutters swear words under his breath, I am panicking...Finally, he says "Okay, this better be good, or you're dead," and walks forward. The verdict: He liked it!

Okay, so most girls start wearing makeup around age 12. I'm not most girls. I figured out yesterday that I didn't really start wearing mascara until college and eyeshadow until my student teaching days. I'm a late bloomer. So recently I started experimenting with eyeliner. Here are some of the results.
It is very funny to me that at nearly 30, I finally start becoming interested in things that most girls did in middle school.


Kate Nash's "Made of Bricks"

"The Freedom Manifesto" by Tom Hodgkinson

Working out again after so long. Colored Pencils

That's all for now but stay tuned. Next week there will be another!

Friday, January 11, 2008

That dude was right.

I think it was Thomas Wolfe (or Bon Jovi? or Mick Jagger?) who said you can't ever go home again.
I recently experienced this on a subbing job. Let me paint the picture for you.
In 3rd grade, I moved schools. At this new school, I met a dear friend Jennifer who 20 years later I still know. My love of art I believe started to bloom in this environment. These were magical times. I had some of the best teachers I can remember. I even sang in public! Twice!
So, of course, I was curious to see how this place had turned out and gladly took the assignment even though I had heard that it was now a "tough school."
First difference: They wear uniforms. When I was there, a boy named Eoin wore purple (yes purple) sweatpants for weeks.
Second difference: The teachers. They are meaner now. One teacher was borderline bullying a student. I nearly screamed. Plus during lunch, or at least my lunch, no one came into the staff room. At all.
Third difference: Everything is smaller. Now this is weird since I know I was shorter then but I don't think it was by too much.
This whole experience was very odd and I had those sort of silly notions of "Well in my day, we.." But are they really that silly? If a place or time was beautiful, made you happy and shaped who you are today, isn't it right to morn its loss a bit? And even if children are perhaps "tough" shouldn't we give them the option to change or soften? The culture of this school now is fear. I felt like Winston in 1984 searching for my Julia and hiding from the giant screen.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Under Construction, part 2

There might be one snag in my whole "revamp" idea. I had thought of having little weekly or monthly stories that involve my brother. Mostly because those of you that know me know how funny and strange my brother can be. There really have been some priceless moments due to something he said or did. However, I was dumb enough to ask him if I could talk about him on my blog. A giant "NO!!!!" was heard throughout the valley. I even suggested the fake name of Bob to use. He didn't like this either...I'll have to see. While I respect him and love him, I do not fear immediate legal action should I ignore his wishes. I mean it isn't like I'm playing with bad karma by writing about evil ex-boyfriends (which I could and that could have its own blog entirely!) I know there has to be some sort of loop hole. I think these wacky but true stories could add a bit of flair to my blog. Plus, he is my favorite thing to talk about. Let me know what you think/ideas via comments.

Under Construction...

I spent last night, before I fell into a deep sleep due to working out and teaching at a rough school, thinking about my blog. I've got some new ideas for it and so you might be seeing some changes. I might steal an idea from a friend's blog and do some sort of weekly little re-cap (Radiate Warmth, I'm talking to you) but instead it will be about current obsessions, a longer in-depth discussion...Keep an eye on this magpie, she's ready to fly again.