Saturday, March 31, 2018

31/31: Easter Candy Weirdo

I've always been a little weird with my Easter candy preferences.

While children across America were pawing through their Easter-grass filled baskets and stuffing Reese's eggs in their mouths and biting the heads off of their chocolate bunnies, I was quietly taking stock of what I had in my own basket and scheming. You see, I knew that the candies I preferred had a low market value. And I could triple my stash if I cut deals with my siblings. I just had to play my cards right.

My wish list was pretty short:

  • Black jelly beans (yes, really) or red jelly beans. Preferably both.
  • Starburst jelly beans
  • Cadbury eggs (none of this mini-egg business...I'm talking the Cadillac of egg-shaped candies: the original full sized Cadbury Creme egg)
  • SweeTart chicks and bunnies

Thankfully, both of my siblings hated licorice-flavored candies, so I could get copious amounts of black jelly beans for a song. Cadbury eggs were also an easy sell: a few mini Crunch eggs could buy me a whole lot of the full-sized chocolate eggs with the creamy, sweet center.

I needed to use my smooth-talking skills a little more when trying to increase my stash of Starburst jellybeans (my sister also enjoyed them), and the chicks and bunnies were a hard sell (especially the blue ones, which we all know are the best).

But despite the odds, every Easter, I managed to get a nice little treasure trove of not-so-popular candies that would last me for an entire...three days.

So if any of your children turn their noses up at their black jelly beans this Sunday, let me know. I know a girl who can take them off your hands...

Friday, March 30, 2018

30/31: My Day in 6 Words

I'm borrowing an idea from my Slice Partner In Crime, Liz, and writing about my day in 6 words!

Waking: Five minutes before the alarm, eyes wide open

Morning: Large iced tea...I need the caffeine. 

Lunch: Leftover pizza always tastes even better when you forget you brought it for lunch.

Afternoon: Quiet after school help session...and I got to finish my book (Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed)

Evening: Barre class that left me sore in the best way possible.

Bedtime:  In bed by 8 and totally okay with it.

Sleep: Crazy dreams, like if Picasso himself is distorting my reality into exaggerated versions of my day.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

29/31: An Unusual Morning Ritual

My morning is full of rituals.

The same alarm.
The same plaintive peeps from hungry cats.
The same three food dishes for three cats.
The same shampoo in the shower.
The same snacks in my lunchbox.
The same breakfast (toast and bacon).

But there's one ritual that I love above all of the other routines in my morning: my hair-drying ritual.

I don't wash my hair every day (I'm lazy and love dry shampoo). But on days that I do, I take the time to dry my shoulder-length hair carefully, lest I end up with a strange cowlick.  Before I attack it with a round brush, I try to get my hair mostly dry. I flip my head upside down, blast the warm heat evenly over my scalp, and run my fingers through my hair as I move the hairdryer back and forth. It's predictable and sort of soothing.

But that's not really the reason I love the ritual. There's someone else who loves it when I dry my hair: My oldest cat, Goose.

Goose is 12 years old, and she is a creature of habit. She sleeps in the exact same spot on the bed (upper left corner). She plays with the same toys (a fuzzy ball that rolls nicely across our wooden floor). She wants the same things (to go outside and feast on grass). And she always, always, always watches me dry my hair.

Watching isn't the right word. She's an active participant and an essential component to cultivating the perfect hairstyle. As soon as she hears the whir of the dryer and sees me bend at the waist, Goose gets up from her "beached whale" position right by the bathroom door and heads towards my outstretched hand. She circles my legs, leaving little gray hairs on my pants. She rubs her head furiously across my fingers, demanding pets. I oblige her as I hold the hair dryer in one hand and try to keep up with her pet quota with the other. If I stop for a moment, she meows grumpily and raises up on her hind legs like a little seal, begging for more attention. How can I resist? 

This little ritual makes me smile every time it happens. It's a win-win, really. Goose gets attention. I get a dry head of hair. We both get a little extra happiness at the beginning of our days.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

28/31: An Alarming Interruption

There are a lot of sounds I expect to hear in a middle school:

  • Fart jokes
  • Cracking voices
  • Groans and moans at the sight of a new assignment
  • The muffled ping of a cell phone
  • High-pitched squeals
  • The thudding of feet followed by an adult's voice yelling "SLOW DOWN!"

With this lineup, you'd think I'd be prepared to hear just about anything. But today, I was absolutely not prepared for the godawful sound I heard right in the middle of my 6th hour class: the fire alarm.

The piercing, shrill scream scared all of us, me especially. I was nervous. We weren't in the classroom. Instead, we had adjourned to the library for the hour, a move that normally makes me happy, since it gives me a break from being the teacher for the day. Today, however, I cursed at our misfortune. Not only did I have to scramble to the door to familiarize myself with the fire plan, but I had to contend with the sound as well. The fire alarm is eardrum-bursting level anywhere in the building, but the library's lofted ceilings and tin roof amplified the horrible noise to a level that none of us could handle. With fingers jammed in our ears, we made our way outside to the appointed meeting spot in a somewhat-orderly fashion...only to be greeted by gray skies, muddy grass and a light mist that settled across our uncovered heads. Great.

This was no drill. No administrator in their right mind would take a bunch of middle schoolers and plunk them outside in these conditions. We huddled together, a morose motley crew of hoodies and grumpy faces. My students peppered me with questions about what was going on, and I smiled at how cute it was that they thought I actually knew any more than they did. We waited for the fire department to show up, wondering how long it would take for us to hear yet another alarm headed our way. Some optimistic students crossed their fingers that we would be sent home for the day (I let them believe). We jumped up and down. We did the Macarena (kids still know it these days). We dramatically exclaimed at our misfortune. We waited. And waited. Some of us more patiently than others. 

The fire trucks arrived. It was anticlimactic. They did not arrive with urgency, and their sirens were pitiful mews compared to the banshee scream of the fire alarm still sounding from the building. "Must not be too big of a deal," I mused aloud, wondering when we'd finally be granted access back inside. 

Just as the rain began to pick up, I saw the clump of students across the way begin to move en masse towards the building like a herd of wildebeest ambling towards shelter. We were free. As we pushed inside the building, our ears still ringing with phantom alarms, I heard one student sum up the event perfectly: "Thank God that's over."

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

27/31: Snuggle Buddy

It was a long day. A "get pizza for dinner" kind of day. A "take an extra square of dark chocolate" kind of day. A "crawl under your fuzzy blanket at 7PM" kind of day.

I slowly warmed under my covers, scrolling through the blog posts, Instagram stories and Facebook posts that chronicled the online happenings of the day. Just as I zoned out while reading a particularly delectable-looking recipe blog post, I felt a little thump at my feet. I looked down. There perched Waffle, my middle cat. She began picking her way across the uneven swells of my body towards me, gingerly navigating my bony knees and slippery legs as she headed towards her favorite spot: my stomach. As she settled in, folding her stripey tail in to wrap around her compact little body and closing her eyes, I sighed contentedly.

Now it's a "snuggle with your cat" kind of day.

Monday, March 26, 2018

26/31: Cooking Therapy

This might be an unpopular opinion, but I find meal planning to be soothing.

There's something about gathering recipes, making a list, grocery shopping and stocking the refrigerator for the week ahead that makes me feel like A Real Adult. During the whirlwind of the week, on days when I straggle in the door laden with my gym bag, books to read for school and a to-do list that feels a mile long, it's nice to have something already planned for me.

Sure, I still have to cook said meals. But that's the part I really don't mind. Cooking is all about relieving stress for me. While I'm prepping my meal, I forget pretty much everything else and lose myself in the precision (or lack thereof) of it all. Tonight was no different. The recipe on tap? Asian-inspired steak bowls. As soon as I got home from work, I made myself at home in the kitchen.

I cut the steak into equal-sized strips.
I peeled two pears carefully, their juices running down my fingers.
I pureed in my food processor, pressing the pulse button again and again until the consistency was just right.
I chopped the green onions, their sharp and fresh smell permeating the kitchen.
I whisked the sauce together, enjoying the scrape of the whisk against the plastic bowl.

And when all was said and done, I presented. I covered the bottom of the bowl with brown rice. I nestled a cluster of mixed greens on one side. I added a pile of steak on the other. I peeled a soft-boiled egg quickly and slashed it with a knife, loving how the bright yellow yolk contrasted with the pure white outside. I sprinkled green onions on top. Dashed some sesame seeds across the mix and covered it all with a drizzle of the "yum yum" sauce I had prepared.

I stepped back and looked at my work. Almost too pretty to eat...almost.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

25/31: The Buffer Day

I'm a big believer in what I call "the buffer day" when it comes to traveling.

Essentially, the buffer day is a day in between the end of your trip and when you have to resume "normal life," AKA work and other responsibilities. For me, the buffer day is essential: it lets me adjust slowly back into the routine of things and gives me time to get my life back together after traveling.

We arrived back from our trip to Hawaii yesterday, and I can't tell you how nice it was to know that I had Sunday to clean, unpack, do laundry and cook for the week ahead. After sleeping in way too late (time zones, man), I had the entire day to do just I even had time to catch a barre class, which, after eating like a queen in Hawaii, felt pretty necessary.

I know tomorrow will be here soon. And I certainly have quite the list of responsibilities that will pick up right where they left off.

Tomorrow, I have to go to school.
Tomorrow, I have to finish grading tests I've put off for too long.
Tomorrow, I have to go to meetings.
Tomorrow, I have to set an alarm.
Tomorrow, I have to pack a lunch.
Tomorrow, I have to wear pants with a button on them (ugh).

But today? Today's my buffer day. And I'll worry about tomorrow...tomorrow.