Friday, November 30, 2007
oh, november
Thought I'd take a right quick sec to point out that a few short hours will spell the end of November, hence the completion of my successful NaBloPoMo stint.  

I won't lie, there were moments when I wanted to scrap the whole thing and call it quits, but looking back it really wasn't so tough.  Thanks for reading some, most or maybe even all of my posts, and if you're a new friend than I sure do hope you stick around since, although feeling a bit burnt out at the moment, I'm pretty sure I've got more in me.  In fact, perhaps this will inspire me to take a stab at National Novel Writing Month in November of '08!

But then again, perhaps not.

Nonetheless, for the month of December I'm going to be blogging whenever I darned well feel like it.  Maybe I'll be back tomorrow; maybe not 'till next Thursday. We'll see. December's going to be all about unpredictibility.  

Well, that and a few year-end lists.  You're all-a-quiver, I'm sure.


an actual text message conversation held between myself and a (at the time) unknown student sending me illicit messages from somewhere in the building
2485558129: Hey baby.

Mrs. White: (silence. ignore, ignore, ignore...)

2485558129: Uhm sorry about that. I meant that for Michelle H-.

Mrs. White: I wondered. Figured no one actually meant to call a teacher "baby." :)

2485558129: Oh no. I would.

Mrs. White: I see. Perhaps you shouldn't.

2485558129: Perhaps. Still, I was just cleaning things up for professional purposes. Didn't want 6th hour to be awkward.

Mrs. White: But you and I both know this is now unavoidable, don't we?

2485558129: Oh yes. Fo sho.


Thursday, November 29, 2007
to the lady who...
  • darted right in front of me, cutting me off from the copy machine juuuust before I was about to use it
  • loaded up a wholly illogical job (75 pieces of graph paper, which she made one double- sided copy of the entire stack rather than making 75 copies of one single sheet. the hell?)
  • and after loading up aforementioned wholly illogical job, then turned, pretended to notice me just then, and asked, "Oh! Do you have many?"
  • and when I, looking down at my measly two page job, smiled meekly and said, "No...", instead of pausing her absolutely ridiculous job like any decent human being would and allowing me to cut in, she instead said, "Sorry! Mine's pretty big. It's probably going to take a while."
  • which it did
  • and since her job was so obnoxiously, unnecessarily, repulsively large, when she finally released the copy machine over to me it had reached an internal temperature roughly that of the surface of planet Mercury
  • and so when I started my teeny, measly, itsy-bitsy little job it jammed
  • twice
  • and so I had to reach my hand inside the machine's innards, resulting in a cut finger, inky hands, a slightly burnt palm and a whoooole bunch of disgruntled, exaggerated sighs
  • this lady (a term i use with infinite sarcasm), rather than going back to her den of evilness classroom, decided she'd rather stand next to me the entire time, watching me in utter curiosity as I struggled and jammed and cut and inked and burnt and sighed
  • and after i was done, had the nerve to look at me, smile, and say, "Yeah. I guess these machines are a bit overused, huh?"

To that lady - that horrid, ghastly, detestable, godless, and positively beastly woman:

I just want you to know that you’re officially on my list. In fact, I’m placing you right after Thomas Kinkade. know... take that.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007
scattershot odds and ends
  • Although not particularly religious, I love it when random people tell me to "have a blessed day." I'm not sure why, but it feels so much more sincere than the obligatory "have a nice day" - like blessings can't be handed out haphazardly, so that person must really mean what she's saying. (And I know - it's rotely spoken and so it probably holds no more special meaning than "have a nice day," but just give me this, yes?)
  • Armed with the invincibility of being wished a "blessed day," I finally ended my two week-long gym sabbatical yesterday. It's been about two years now since I've been a regular fixture at my gym (a place frequented by more dads and grandpas than beefcakes, for the record) however, I still can't help but feel a bit like the lone gazelle who stumbled into a circle of lions whenever I grab a bench in the free weights area. Me, my size small sports bra and my ten pound weights can't all help feeling a bit...vulnerable, as if the attack is simmering and inevitable.
  • Speaking of the gym, I saw Santa Claus again yesterday! Alas, the experience was entirely without perviness. Could it be that I'm starting to look older, consequently less appealing to mythical figures? Sigh.
  • On the subject of sighs, we went to see No Country for Old Men this past weekend. Unfortunately, I was still midway through reading the book, but being that it's Cormac McCarthy we're talking about I had a fairly good idea what I was getting myself into. And I was right. Please don't misunderstand - the movie was fantastic, but one of the best moments was being part of the collective audience groan at the ending. It made me realize that I haven't been part of a collective groan in far too long.
  • As for books (and groans), I heard a doozie of a student book talk today on the *ahem* critically acclaimed young adult piece titled TTFN - a book written entirely in instant message-speak. Girl read a passage aloud to us, and OMG! Just listening to one paragraph, like, totally made me want 2 kill myself! 4-real!!! But seriously, have we really come to a time where text/instant message speak is so pervasive that as a society we're just giving into it by writing books in the "language"? Am I the only one who hears the pitter patter of the approaching four horsemen of the apocalypse?
  • And not like a little snow spells the apocalypse, however I am afraid it's finally time for me to bust out my winter coat.
  • That means it's probably also high time I start wearing a pair of sodding socks, despite my general hatred of them.
  • Finally, I'd like to point out that as of today I've posted 29 days in a row. As you have probably noticed, I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel here.
  • Nonetheless, you go on now and have yourself a blessed day.
  • Sincerely.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007
books: the world without us
Alan Weisman's The World Without Us was born from a deceptively simple question: what would become of the world if all of humanity were to disappear? From that single premise comes what is arguably the finest work of nonfiction released in 2oo7, comprised of a series of surprisingly engrossing scientific articles. He starts with examining the fate of something so commonplace as our home without us (see these pictures of New Orleans' 9th Ward for an idea). Weisman then moves to the metropolis of New York City (after two days it immediately floods and fails), and then on to the farm, to our nuclear legacy, to the sea, our art and beyond.

His findings are sobering. In the chapter on nuclear energy, Weisman looks to the self-healing happening in post-nuclear Chernobyl when he writes that "typical human activity is more devastating to biodiversity and abundance of local flora and fauna than the worst nuclear power plant disaster," and after considering that since the human migration out of Africa and into the Americas and Australia we have left a trail of massive extinctions in our wake, it's easy to deduce that we've been a blight on the planet since our earliest hunter/gather days. But, of course, in many ways modern man is much worse.

I was absolutely terrified to read his chapter on plastics, which for me was the most startling part of the entire book. I knew that plastics don't break down, but I never really gave much thought to what happened to them beyond landfills. His description of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch - a garbage dump floating in the middle of the Pacific THE SIZE OF AFRICA - was thoroughly alarming. Comprised of 3 million tons of plastic, 80% of which "had originally been discarded on land...blown off garbage trucks or out of landfills, spilled from railroad shipping containers and washed down storm drains, sailed down rivers of wafted on the wind, and found its way to this widening gyre," this blight floats in the center of the ocean where it waits for evolution to create a bacteria capable of breaking it down.

(A dead albatross found full of plastic)

Needless to say, after reading up a bit more on polymers and nurdles I'm swearing off of plastic water bottles and buying my own canvas grocery bags.

I could go on (the fate of songbirds at the hands of powerlines, deforestation, feral cats and plate glass windows was also particularly disturbing to me), but I'm sure I've already depressed you enough. The funny thing is The World Without Us - although certainly grim - was also surprisingly hopeful. After all, history shows that despite our human arrogance we will eventually disappear, but our planet will adapt and move on, that "life will go on. And that it will interesting."

In sum, I recommend this book to everyone. In fact, (and at the risk of sounding preachy) it's an essential read.

Up Next: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz

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Monday, November 26, 2007
it's cyber monday...
and if I had money to waste on myself I would seriously consider splurging on some wall graphics:

On a semi-related sidenote, I apparently have a thing for songbirds. Wonder what the psychological significance of that might be...


Sunday, November 25, 2007
sunday confessional: thou shalt not hate (unless, of course, thou hast a really, really good reason)
A few days back, The Detroit News reported that the state of Michigan ranks third highest in the nation for hate crimes, and although some have pointed out that the way hate crimes are defined and reported from state to state unfairly paints Michigan in a poor light, 653 hate crimes in 2006 is still an unfortunately high and embarrassing number. Obviously, there's no good reason to humiliate and/or hurt someone, and it's unfortunate that so many people have such an easy time simplifying others to being little more than the stereotypes of our race, gender, age, religion and sexual preference. It's ignorance, pure and simple, and I'm embarrassed that apparently so much of it exists in my state.


I would be lying if I said I didn't hate anyone and that there's never a good reason to do so. I despise violence of any sort, so I never think it's appropriate to react violently, however it would be a hypocritical of me to deny my own intolerances. Truth is, sometimes I find it perfectly prudent to hate someone else, and here are ten people (or sorts of people) who I will insist feelings of contempt are not only prudent, but appropriate.

1. People who follow traffic laws a bit too well
As everyone knows, certain stop signs are "stoptional" and speed limits are intended to be suggestions more than anything. Seriously, I got places to be and I'm most likely late, so let's pick up the pace already.

2. Cashiers who hand back your change placing coins on top of bills
Having been a cashier for several years, I can assure you that it takes absolutely no extra time to hand someone back her change first, bills second. If your cashier puts your change on top of the bills, she is being mean-spirited, probably hates her job, and is fully aware that she is unfairly taking her frustrations out on you.

3. Thomas Kinkade (the *ahem* artist, not the man)
I'm sure Kinkade is a nice enough guy, but damn him for trying to pass his assembly lined, mass-produced, uninspired Hallmark cards off as "art" while wearing a straight face. His work is utterly sanctimonious, and I hate each and every cobblestone, snow drift and warm glowing room.

4. Mitch Albom (the *ahem* writer as well as the man)
Having read them both, I can safely say that Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven are both trite, underwritten and terribly pretentious with no good reason for being so. Furthermore, I've been assured by a certain former bookseller I know that Albom is a total toolbox to anyone in the service industry, and that just ain't cool.

5. People who leave babies and pets inside their cars
If you need me to rationalize this one, than you're most likely evil and I just can't help you.

6. People who hold up the U-Scan lines at grocery stores by letting their children help scan their merchandise
I'm all for creating independent, capable and intelligent children, but not while I'm waiting in line behind you. Come on.

7. Ann Coulter
Honestly, I wish I didn't hate her because doing so is probably giving her exactly what she wants: attention. But still, how are you going to listen to someone say things like "We need to execute people... in order to physically intimidate liberals" and "We should invade their (Muslim) countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity" and not hate her, even if doing so is just feeding her already impressively large ego?

8. People who slip cilantro into my food, even after I specifically say NO CILANTRO!
Cilantro is a food item totally unrivaled in its awfulness, and to anyone who put it in my food, especially if I've requested that you not, well, you ruined my meal. That was mean.

9. People who put bumper stickers on their cars implying I lack any semblance of intelligence, patriotism, or common decency if I don't fully support both the war and my president
I see your Ad hominem and I will raise you one Glittering Generality, my illogical friend.

and finally,

10. Me, for being so downright cantankerous
Be nice, me. Most people are just doing the best they can. (All except the first nine examples, of course. Those people are horrid.)


Saturday, November 24, 2007
saturday song: vol 4
When I really think about it, Pat Benatar was my introduction to feminism. (You're going to have to just hear me out on this one, and yes, I am being serious.)

Like most little girls born in the late 70s/early 80s, I took far too many of my cues on what it meant to be a woman from pop music. Aside from my own family members, women like Tiffany, Madonna and Debbie Gibson were the ones responsible for teaching me what society expects from a woman, and to the best that I could figure, those things were sweetness, a pretty face, fashion sense, being fun, sexy, and either happily in love, frustrated about love, or utterly heartbroken. Unfortunately, little attention was given to traits like intelligence, independence, nobility or general badassery.

And then I found Pat Benatar.

Benatar was everything Madonna was - sexy, pretty, talented, creative - but she was something else too. That woman was fierce. Yes, she sung about love, but when she did it it was different. Angrier.

Pat Benatar showed me that being a woman don't necessarily mean hiding some of the uglier emotions such as rage, bitterness, and dissatisfaction. Furthermore, she showed that women could and should stand up for ourselves, demanding fair and appropriate treatment because it's an unfortunate truth that some men are "heartbreaker(s), dream maker(s), love taker(s)," but if and when I stumble upon one of these sorts I need not take their abuse. Instead of being sweet, understanding and "standing by my man" I could stand up for myself.

I found the clearest representation of this point in "Love is a Battlefield", and as corny as the video looks today just try watching that moment when she reaches her breaking point and leads her gang of "had it up to here" girlfriends in a coup to breakaway from their sleazy, sweaty, male oppressor (a little over three minutes in for those who like to get directly to the point) and just try not being inspired to rebel against...something.

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Friday, November 23, 2007
for those who didn't get enough turkey yesterday...
please do take some Gunther!

Some quick notes on Gunther and the man behind the mustache:
  • His real name is Mats Söderlund and he hails from Sweden.
  • Many of his songs are collaborations with The Sunshine Girls, and they are best known for their "hit" single, "Ding Dong Song."
  • Some people actually take him seriously.
  • These people are all European.
  • According to his MySpace page, "Gunther wants to change how the world look at the sexual way of thinking, so he have started a new trend to sexualise it more in the world. "A Günther trend". He has only started his mission to go out in the world and spread the message of Love. The four main things in Gunthers life are Champagne, Glamour, Sex and Respect!"
  • Finally, (and also in his own words) "Günther has a charisma that causes every man to be jealous."


Thursday, November 22, 2007
happy turkey day!

Hope it's prepared just the way you like it!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007
i'm thankful for... (A-Z)
Tom Brady, my ever so dreamy fantasy football QB
Camping trips - even rainy ones
Discounted shoes
Detroit's Eastern Market
Flight of the Conchords (because It's Business Time just never seems to get old to me)
Gainful - even if often frustrating - employment
Helpful neighbors who never hesitate to loan us the stuff we're too cheap to buy, dig my car out of the snow drifts I plant it in, etc etc...
Radiohead's In Rainbows (Name your price - it's worth it.)
Johnny Depp joining with Tim Burton on Sweeney Todd, creating a perfect storm of things I love most.
Jon Krakauer, for writing 90% of the non-fiction books I've both read and truly enjoyed.
new Lush in my home town! Stink free in '08!
Go, Go! Magglio!
keeping my ridiculous New Year's Resolution (Not counting work and Young Adult lit books, I'm at thirty-two books so far this year. Can you believe it? Because I can't.)
Pie - any sort, really. (Except mincemeat. Maybe not that sort.)
Quality time with friends and family
Roasted Red Peppers, since I'm pretty sure they make everything taste better. Even ice cream, maybe.
Stringed instruments (especially when they create musical swells that make me swoon)
The Twenty-Second Amendment (bye-bye Dubya!)
Venice (although Florence and Rome weren't no slouches, either)
My Wii (even if I don't have as much free time as I'd like, so I still kind of suck at wii bowling)
Um...Xanex? (Never taken it, but I hear it's nice??)
You (It's true!)
Zombies (In the sense that you're not one. Yet.)

Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! Despite three more Thanksgiving dinners, visiting friends and relatives and two out-of-town trips I'll still be here. Blogging. Somehow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007
the television crisis: my temporary solution
Even I - a person who watches minimal television - am getting a bit nervous about the Writer’s Guild of America strike, and with the recent breaking news that network news writers are planning to join in, it’s clear that we should all start bracing ourselves for a possible momentous blackout should the new talks (supposedly scheduled to resume on November 26th) go south.

Since books, quiet family dinners at the dinning room table and childhood physical fitness are, like, totally passé, it’s clear that patriotic, freedom-loving Americans need to step up and do the right thing by filling that writerly void, ensuring that our citizens remain properly entertained. Without writers, it’s clear that we’ll have to become increasingly reliant on reality television for our daily dose of culture, but with such an increased demand for original programming we will obviously need to turn to the average American for both contestants and ideas.

It seems to me that even the most boring American – given the proper back story, wardrobe, lighting and snarky nickname – can find something from their daily life to contribute to the world of reality television, and since I’m nothing if not patriotic, here’s a few ideas that I’m willing to bring to the table:

(A Complete Lack of) Street Smarts
Filmed entirely inside my car, this show would chronicle my various adventures while getting lost on the road, which happens an average of every 20-30 minutes, even in familiar neighborhoods. While a few viewers would certainly find interest in the drama of my many and varied brushes with death and creative swearing, I understand that even that might not be enough to entertain the masses. Thus, I’m planning to lose ten pounds, dye my hair blonde and wear only a bikini while filming, because – as we all know – sex sells.

Are You Smarter Than a Cognitively-Impaired Kindergartener?
Don’t let their vocabularies fools you – the kids I teach are in high school and blessed born without cognitive impairments. However, my seven year tenure with them has given me the gift of maneuvering the verbal acrobatics of those with frighteningly limited vocabularies. And so, I propose a game show where I attempt to decipher the inquiries of your average high school student. Sample questions would include, “Remember when I was absent on that one day when we did that one thing? Can I get it and the other stuff from yesterday too?” and “Can you help me with this thing, because I lost the thing we did on that one day? Or maybe I gave it to that one kid. I’m not really sure. Do you know that guy? The one with the hair?” Think Jeopardy meets Rainman, and you’ve got the general idea.

Desperate Spouse Swap
For this show I’d volunteer to trade houses with the woman living two doors down in the home I’ve “affectionately” dubbed Redneck House. Although the premise of this show isn’t exactly original - it’s basically the same idea as Trading Spouses – I see entertainment potential in watching my even-keeled husband deal with Redneck Mom, a woman who appears to only be capable of communicating in screams. As for my part, I’d be doing my best to raise her small army of feral children without getting bitten, beaten, contracting tetanus, and/or gaining a new-found appreciation for Billy Ray Cyrus, mullets and full-body tattoos. Think Pygmalion meets Wife Swap meets Overboard, but with more frequent visits from the local law enforcement.

On second thought, this all sounds like a terrible idea. Why don't we all just agree to keep our fingers crossed that everything goes well on the 26th...

Monday, November 19, 2007
there's more than one way to earn an "A"
"I bet he has a shrine to you now!" he interjected, eyes bright at the melancholic romance of it.

I had just finished telling them about my first *love*, how I was fifteen and thought he was perfect, how I frequently let him cheat off of me in English class, how after six months of pining I eventually bore it all in that birthday card, and about how painfully his inevitable rejection burned. The point was that we all get hurt, but that however acute it may feel in the moment - especially in those teenage moments - it all ends up being dimmed by time. (Not to mention that he, like so many first *loves*, ultimately turned out to be a bit of a toolbox.)


He's fifteen, living in a world where justice is poetic, love blurs into obsession, and regret manifests itself in anguished shrines erected to wasted opportunities.

“No, really! I bet he feels awful and totally worships you, has a shrine with pictures and candles and voodoo dolls soaking in chicken blood and everything!”

Of course the idea is macabre, absurd and more than a little unsettling, but even still -

what a perfectly sweet thing to say!

Sunday, November 18, 2007
quickly, because the amazing race is about to begin
I'm wrapping up a delightful weekend where Nathan and I ate our first of four (!) Thanksgiving dinners, watched a truly absurd amount of football on an absurdly large television, bowled (poorly), helped friends celebrate their birthdays, and hung out with a gaggle of adorably bouncy babies - none of whom despised me, which was a refreshing change of pace.

But, now I'm exhausted. In the past hour I've started four different posts, abandoning each due to their terribleness, so rather than writing something awful I thought I'd just give you the "Putting on the Ritz" scene from Young Frankenstein instead.

Trust me, this is a much better idea.

Saturday, November 17, 2007
saturday song: vol 3
I've never been a particularly huge fan of the Beatles - "moderate" is a more appropriate adjective, I suppose - however I, like 75% of people born after 1965, would have to credit them as being the first "grown-up" music I remember appreciating.

I heard my first Beatles song when I was five. It was featured in a movie ("When I'm Sixty-Four" in Oh God, You Devil, if I remember correctly) and although this was right around the time when I was still listening to my The Muppet Show and Bert and Ernie records, the song was happy, sweet and catchy enough to have me immediately hooked. My father - who was probably thrilled that I liked something that didn't involve talking puppets - nurtured that appreciation by digging his old vinyl copy of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band out of the basement so I could add it to my tiny music collection.

I have a particularly vivid memory of being in my bedroom with my mother, terribly sick from a horribly bad bout of the stomach flu, while this song played in the background. My mom was doing her best to comfort me, and I remember being hit with the realization that, at some point, she would be sixty-four years old. That, eventually, I would be too. And that when that time comes, I knew that I'd still love her and she'd still love me, even if that meant that we'd be feeding each other baby food while sitting in wheelchairs.* To a sick four-year-old, this revelation was equal parts comforting and terrifying.

So, I suppose you could say that "When I'm Sixty-Four" was not just my introduction to "real" music, but it also made me realize the depth of love one was capable of having for another person while simultaneously making me come to grips with my own eventual mortality.

Not too bad for a silly little pop song, eh?

*Keep in mind that to a five-year-old, being sixty-four means having one foot in the grave.

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Friday, November 16, 2007
something's different
A sudden realization hit me as I was on my way to the office to make this morning’s coffee - something was different.

Of this I was certain, however I couldn’t quite put my finger on what that something was. It wasn’t a good different, but it certainly wasn’t a bad one either. It was neither strange, nor annoying - neither uncomfortable, nor unaccustomed. Actually, if anything it was almost…freeing.

Yes. As my heels clackity clacked on the linoleum floor I felt decidedly more unrestrained, unconfined, unfettered, and also, for some reason, slightly chiller than I usually feel as I made my morning coffee.

It was honestly quite nice.

After tending to my task, I stepped into the bathroom to check my reflection, as if the mirror could help me pinpoint my new found feeling of freedom. There was nothing noticeably different about my face, no embarrassing finds in my teeth, and I didn’t look particularly thinner, happier or more or less attractive than normal. The only noticeable difference was my hair, which was about an inch shorter than yesterday thanks to a recent haircut, but certainly that couldn’t be the reason for this vaguely pleasant (even if sort of cold) new feeling.

Then my eyes moved down to my shirt, and I discovered what that new different something was.

Hurriedly, I made my way back to my classroom, gave a silent, quick thanks to The Creator who, in his infinite wisdom, saw it fit to include pashminas in his grand plan, threw my arms around my chest and prayed that none of my students noticed this new difference, a change which I feared might be glaringly obvious –

that I had somehow managed to leave the house today sans bra.


Thursday, November 15, 2007
a beautiful day for blight
Yesterday was a positively gorgeous autumnal afternoon, and so we chose to spend it like any ordinary couple would – by tramping around abandoned, derelict houses, of course!

(Okay, so perhaps it’s not so normal, but bear with us for a minute or two.)

In his book The World Without Us, Alan Weisman theorizes what would happen to the world if all humanity suddenly disappeared, and a driver heading Westbound on Detroit’s Davison highway can get a glimpse at this apocalyptic possibility first-hand. Weisman (quoting Chris Riddle) writes, “‘If you want to destroy a barn, a farmer once told me, ‘cut an eighteen-inch-square in the roof. Then stand back.’” Eventually, nature will take care of most of the structures man has built, and for the handful of abandoned homes left on Lincoln Street it becomes glaring clear how quickly nature can work.

Detroit is a city that has seen recent redevelopment and growth, but is still deeply scarred by the past. The riots of the sixties, the crack epidemic of the eighties, white-flight, and the relocation to the suburbs by anyone with a means of doing so have left the city with neighborhoods of sprawling, 100+ year old mansions sitting a block away from overgrown fields - all that remain of neighborhoods torched many years ago.

With people fleeing Detroit at such a high rate, the city is now demolishing between 1,000 and 2,500 vacant buildings a year. The sad truth is that it is not enough.

In an effort to bring light to the blight, an anonymous group of artists have chosen several highly visible derelict properties - most visible from highways - and painted them bright construction orange. Their hope is to draw attention to the buildings and have their art demolished. Of the first four buildings they painted, two were demolished in the following weeks. We’re not sure whether the city demo'ed the structures in an effort to get rid of the unsafe and unsightly buildings, or if they simply did not like attention being drawn to the problem.

The pictures posted here are ones that we took of a row of houses on the north side of the Davison Highway. They were painted almost two years ago, but closing and barricading the road was the only action taken by the city. No one lives there, so no one seems particularly bothered by them, however the houses can't be ignored by the people driving twenty feet below along the Davison Highway.

Eventually, nature will take care of these houses on her own, however it would be nice to see them given a proper burial sooner rather than later. (That pile of abandoned tires is forever, unfortunately.)

The original anonymous letter written by the orange artists can be found at The Detroiter, and please read Detroit Funk and Detroit Blog for some truly beautiful pictures and stories of the real Detroit.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007
my day, in haiku
New haircut today.
Looks 'bout the same as before.
Forty bucks wasted.

Grading is awesome!
(For those who hate puppies, fun
and America.)

Daily posts are hard.
Inspiration is waning.
Think I've sprained my brain.

and extemporaneous
microwave ovens

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My friend Steve had a piece accepted over at Indie Bloggers today. And it's good!

So, you should go read it.

Like now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007
i used to believe...
that alligators lived in the sewers.

that if you sat too long on the toilet, you risked having your bottom bitten by aforementioned alligators.

that if you peed really quickly and always closed the lid before flushing, you'd be safe from the alligators. Or, at least safer.

that a vague, malevolent being lived under my bed.

that that same vague, malevolent being could only hurt me at night and if I dangled one of my limbs over the edge of my bed.

that the only way to truly be safe from that vague, malevolent being was to sleep in the dead-center of my bed, and with the sheets firmly tucked around me.

that my Grandpa Nester was missing half of his middle finger because he sucked it off.

that if I continued to suck my thumb, the same thing would eventually happen to me.

that if I was gentle and periodically checked my joints for signs of weakness, I might be able to safely continue sucking my thumb indefinitely.

that babies were born from bellybuttons.

that given the proper incubation, any egg, even refrigerated eggs, could become chickens.

that carrying an egg under my armpit until it hatched wasn't worth eventually having a pet chicken.

that, despite all family history pointing to the contrary, I would one day develop a body that would rival Daisy Duke's.

that I would eventually grow so befreckled that they would all merge into one giant, body-encompassing freckle.

the upside of this would be that I would one day look really, really tan.

that you had a finite number of layers of skin, and that should you get repeated scrapes or cuts in the same area you would eventually end up skinless in that spot.

that any milk that didn't come from my own refrigerator was undrinkable.

that all chocolate milk was fine.

that plants would grow in your stomach if you swallowed seeds whole.

that some trees were sentient.

that if I talked to enough of them, I would one day discover one that would talk back.

that after my Grandma Margaret died, she became my guardian angel.

that, as my guardian angel, she overlooked every moment of my life with the exception of anything I did in the bathroom.

that it was quite decent of her for being so respectful of my privacy.

(This post was inspired by
I Used to Believe, which is a highly entertaining site should you be in the market for such a thing. Thanks to my mother-in-law for bringing it to my attention!)

Monday, November 12, 2007
the single concept my "honors" students were able to grasp during today's introductory lesson on transcendentalism:

It took forty minutes to get there, but it's a start! Guess the Emersonian concept of the Over-soul will have to wait 'till tomorrow...


Sunday, November 11, 2007
sunday confessional: thou shalt not secretly appreciate overly sentimental drivel
I have a secret.
It's rather embarrassing.
It involves Bonnie Tyler.

See, on my iPod I keep a hidden, secret playlist. I've titled it "for singing" and that is exactly its purpose. I play it only in my car and only when alone and only when I'm in the mood to sing very loudly, very poorly and with my eyes closed. Practically every track is a song that - under ordinary, non-confessional situations - I would never, ever admit to liking unless I did so in a sarcastic, scoffing manner.

But the truth is that I do like them. Sincerely. Passionately. Completely unironically.

And unfortunately, I have nothing better to say this evening, and so I'm choosing to bare it all and share my secret, shameful playlist with you. So, *eyes lowered* here she is:

"Eternal Flame" - The Bangles
"Love Child" - The Supremes
"Son of a Preacher Man" - Dusty Springfield
"Don't Let Go" - En Vogue
"I Want to Know What Love is" - Foreigner
"Santa Fe" - RENT Soundtrack
"Bernadette" - The Four Tops
"Kissing a Fool" - George Michael
"Supersonic" - Oasis
"True" - Spandau Ballet
"Part-Time Lover" - Stevie Wonder
"Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" - The Temptations
"Africa" - Toto
"Faithfully" - Journey
"Blue" - Patsy Cline
"Islands in the Stream" - Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers
"We Belong" - Pat Benatar
And this last one, well, it's the pièce de résistance...

Now, the truth. You like me a quite a bit less now, don't you?

(P.S. - you really should watch that video in its entirety because there are ninjas, an army of flying choir boys with glowing blue eyes, robot football players, and seven other types of awesome. Really.)


Saturday, November 10, 2007
I must admit, the daredevil in me is dying to know what ham and latke flavored sodas would taste like, but then I remember my healthy gag reflex and figure perhaps some things are best left unknown...

saturday song: vol 2
My Simon and Garfunkel phase fell somewhere between the Muppets and Nirvana. I was probably twelve or so and finally growing dissatisfied with the bubble-gum New Kids on the Block-ish crap that was popular with most late-eighties teenage girls. At the time, I was living in a small, rural town that only seemed to get three radio stations: two country and one that built its entire playlist around Kacey Kacem's weekly top 40 list. Let's just say that good music wasn't exactly falling into my lap.

Knowing I wanted something better but not yet knowing how to go about finding it, I raided my dad's old record/cassette collection. It was there that I tried on bands like The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Bob Dylan; however, it was in Simon and Garfunkel's Bookends where I found my best fit.

I remember listening to that album on repeat for the better part of the next three years, and it was there that I developed the love for harmonies, poetic lyrics and folksy singer/songwriters that I still have today.

(It's also probably where I developed a taste for sweet, bookish, unconventionally handsome boys, but I suppose that's beside the point...)

Though it's difficult for me to pick my favorite S&G song, "A Hazy Shade of Winter," being the most accessible song on that particular album, served as my gateway into the duo, and this is why I'm choosing it over the rest. Enjoy!

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Friday, November 09, 2007
pow. boom. grade.
This afternoon I came to the realization that if I had a secret superhero identity, it would most likely be…


Tireless giver of feedback!
Relentless slayer of red pens!
Who recklessly risks reading-induced blindness and carpal tunnel syndrome!
Able to scale mountains of student work…eventually!!!

And it was shortly after reaching this conclusion that, lo, but did I grow depressed.

Thursday, November 08, 2007
these things are orange. these things i like.
The path that I typically take to work closed down this week in order to finish construction on a roundabout, the necessity of which I completely fail to understand. It's still pretty rural where I work, and the roads in that area were already ridiculous with nary a single path traveling in a straight direction and roads (many of which sharing the same name) that meander around myriad lakes, golf courses, horse farms and other such whatnot. I've become plagued with orange construction barrels and road work signs impeding my progress as they divert me onto dirt roads, making my commute even longer, windier, bumpier and dustier than it already was.

It's all conspiring to make me hate the color orange.

And, mind you, orange is my favorite color.

So, and mainly for the benefit of me and me only, I'll let this post serve as a reminder of things that are orange, yet still quite nice:

(Pumpkin Thai Soup recipe via Shazam in the Kitchen. Everything else via me.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007
simply irresistible (to the elderly)
I have recently fallen into the unfortunate and dangerous habit of dropping my towel when I run. You'd think I'd learn after the 25th time or so, but no. Still, I continue to drape it over the handlebar of the treadmill where it limply remains until I hit a certain point in my run - usually somewhere between 5.8 and 6 miles per hour - when the vibrations of the machine become too much and the towel goes *whoosh!,* slipping off the handlebar and dropping onto the treadmill's belt, when I then have to do this impromptu and completely inelegant hop/dance/skip thing to keep from tripping on it and dying.

Well, maybe not dying, but falling down and going boom, most certainly.

Anyway, after it just narrowly misses demising me, the towel will then shoot off of the treadmill's belt to land in a tiny white pool on the floor. I never stop for it, because nearly every time this happens some kind and thoughtful person will eventually come along, pick it up, and return it to me. Usually, that kind and thoughtful person is this one particular older gentleman who looks to be nearly seventy, wears a sweatband 'round his wrinkled white head, and dedicates most of his workout to twisting, stretching, and deep knee bending. Whenever he's around I need not worry about the streams of sweat that threaten to run into my eyes and render me blind, because he's always quite Johnny-on-the-spot about it, "rushing" over nearly immediately to be my aged hero. From him, I can always expect a sincere, warm smile as he taps me on the shoulder to hand me my towel, and after dropping it again yesterday for the upteenth time, he did not disappoint.

However, yesterday was different.

Yesterday, he added a new twist to our little routine.

Yesterday, he winked.

And I'm now left to wonder - does he suspect I'm doing this purposefully?


Tuesday, November 06, 2007
books: in the woods

I am right pissed off.

In the Woods is Tana French's debut novel. Lots and lots of people like it. It's 400+ pages long and has two parallel story lines - one that's interesting and one that's not. Unfortunately, 75% of the novel was dedicated to the latter.

Mind you, I wouldn't have stuck with a 400+ page novel if I truly hated it. The prologue was excellent, the cover quite pretty, most of the time I appreciated French's writing style, and as far as crime dramas go I suppose this one had a bit more eloquence, substance and style than most.

However, I didn't really care who murdered the young ballerina because I figured it out about 100 pages in. With three quarters of the novel left to go, I stuck things out for that second story line. The one that wasn't paid nearly enough attention. The one that was never resolved.

So yes, if you like reading long-ish books that end in messy disappointments then I've got one to lend. But I actually quite like you, so maybe let's not.

Oh, bother.

Up Next: The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman

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Monday, November 05, 2007
an open letter to the kid(s) who pelted my car with a paintball at some point while i was inside the gym
So, you're teenagers. You act out because mom and dad try to buy your respect and turn a blind eye to any number of disrespectful looks, comments and near criminal behaviors because they're trying too hard to be the "cool" parents. Misguidedly, they think that's what you'll respond to; yet, what you really want is discipline and more defined boundaries. You're angst-ridden. You're rebellious. You're insecure. Life is pain.

I get it.

But still. Really? You're going to take out all your emotional crap on an anonymous person's car? In broad daylight?? In a public parking lot??? Seems to me that the risk was unnecessary, the payoff minimal, and the damage caused negligible. Furthermore, how exactly will random vandalism make you feel better about being you, you?

All I can hypothesize is that you were aiming to project your internalized rage onto a stranger, i.e. me. That my rage would somehow lessen yours. That, for however briefly, you hoped someone would finally understand what it's like to be you. However, no such luck. The paint came right off, and I was only mildly annoyed for a matter of seconds.

So there.

Bottom line - next time you're itching for a hug because you grew up in an emotionally distant home, please don't vandalize someone's car. I'd have hugged you. Next time, just ask.

Acrimoniously yours,
Mrs. White


Sunday, November 04, 2007
sunday confessional: thou shalt not steal
(This may or may not become a November series. We'll see. We like to keep things experimental around here...)

To the best of my recollection I have only stolen two and one half things in my life: a hymnal from my elementary school's church, a smurf figurine from my Aunt Dacia, and a Little Miss Trouble toy from a cute and quaint Worthington, Ohio family-run toy store. I was six when I stole the hymnal, and did so because I liked one particular hymn ("We Are the Light of the World") and, for some reason, thought that by stealing the hymnal I could somehow take the hymn home. I stole the smurf doll simply because I - a card-carrying member of the smurf fan club - naturally coveted both it and my aunt's extensive collection of smurf figurines and felt she had more than she could handle. But the Little Miss Trouble toy I only half stole. That's what makes this story so tragic.

It was our first trip to this particular toy store, and it. was. awesome. Picture the F.A.O. Schwartz scene from Big but on a much much smaller scale and without people dancing on giant keyboards. I was five at the time and obsessed with the Little Miss/Mr. Men book series, so naturally I was delighted when I discovered a large bin full of Little Miss and Mr. Men toy figurines. I grabbed a handful of Mr. Grumpy, Little Miss Scatterbrain, Mr. Mischief, Little Miss Bossy and Mr. Impossibles and raised a proud, hopeful fist to my mom, inquiring if she's let me get them all. Of course, she said no. But I was allowed to get one, and so I selected my favorite - Little Miss Trouble.

(And by the way, I probably should have realized that choosing Little Miss Trouble from the bunch was a bad omen pointing to my future doom, by I guess I didn't know much about foreshadowing when I was five.)

I was happy with my choice but we weren't quite ready to go yet, and so I kept Little Miss Trouble in my tiny hand while I busied myself by digging through a basket of toy spiders and snakes. When my mom finally called for me, signaling that it was time to go, I looked down at my hand and panicked. Little Miss Trouble was gone! Crying, I searched and searched, but, alas, she was nowhere to be found. Assuming I dropped her in the snake pile and some other kid with excellent taste in toys found her, I finally gave up. Since there weren't any more Little Miss Troubles, I selected a Little Miss Sunshine toy, made my purchase, and off we went.

It wasn't until we were home and getting ready for bed when I made the discovery. Turns out I didn't drop Little Miss Trouble. Somehow, she ended up in my pocket. The force of my unconscious mind must have placed her there while I was playing with the snakes. Technically, yes - I stole her. I removed her from the toy store without payment. However, I never intended to steal her, so see? She was only half stolen.

Turns out my father didn't care whether she was half or whole stolen, and insisted that I return Little Miss Trouble to the store from whence she came. And so, a few Saturdays later, we returned to the toy store, me donning my most pathetic, sorrowful face in the hopes that the owner might decide against pressing charges. We left the car, walked up to the store's door, and then noticed the sign,

"Closed. Out of Business."

And despite being only five, I remember this next part very clearly. My father looked at me and with a voice as serious as death said, "Well, I guess this is all your fault. You stole that toy and, see? They went bankrupt."

And as improbable as is might sound that a 99 cent toy would spell a store's financial doom, I believed him. Guilt-ridden and unable to so much as look at Little Miss Trouble, I went home and buried her deep in my sock drawer. And to this day, I still can't enter a cute, quaint, family-run toy store without feeling like a criminal.


Saturday, November 03, 2007
saturday song
As I mentioned yesterday, I made a very impulsive decision to participate in National Blog Posting Month (or, NaBloPoMo), which means that I'm vowing to post something every bloody day during the month of November. As I'm sure you can agree, this sounds easier than it is.

I read over at the NaBloPoMo website that some people, in order to meet their daily post goal, have admitted resorting to "cheating" - reposting old posts, etc. I must admit that certainly sounds tempting, but I'm not a cheater and am dedicated to doing this thing right. Still, I need a sort of system if this is going to work.

Hence, I came up with "Saturday Song." For the month of November (perhaps even longer if we're both enjoying it) I'm going to post a song. But I want it to be a bit more meaningful than posting just any old song that I'm liking at this particular moment. And so, my "Saturday Song" series will include pivotal songs that met me at the perfect moment.

Today's song is "Cottleston Pie" and it comes from The Muppet Show Album, one of the first albums I remember owning and loving. I have very fond memories of being four-years-old and singing and dancing around my pink bedroom to this entire album, but in particular to this song. Looking back on it, I think that "Cottleston Pie" is one of the reasons I love the sound of pianos, riddles, and dogs so much as an adult; and for what it's worth, I still insist that Rowlf was always one of the most underappreciated characters on the show. Enjoy!

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Friday, November 02, 2007
Would someone please explain what compelled me to agree to this?

I'm not sure I can actually post every single day during the month of November, but I'm sure gonna try. In other words, this month you can expect the frequency of my writing to increase, although the quality is sure to decrease. Lucky you!

And now, here's a picture of a kitten sniper. Why? 'Cause it's Friday, punk!

Thursday, November 01, 2007
poetry thursday
If I were ever to encounter a magic lantern, decide to pick up and rub said lantern, and then find myself face-to-face with a giant Persian genie who's offering to grant three of my wishes, I would - after emerging from my state of shock and fear-induced paralysis - probably ask for the following: (1) proper leadership for all citizens everywhere, (2) my own, personal robotic servant, and (3) to be able to write as pretty as Margaret Atwood.

Not that you asked, but it's true all the same.

Variations on the Word Sleep
- Margaret Atwood

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.