A mixture of romance, work and life left to simmer on a weak flame.

"Love - a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker."--Unknown.

"I learned long ago that being Lewis Carrol was infinitely more exciting than being Alice."--Joyce Carol Oates

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Location: Florida, United States

Almost 30 and starting over...

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Planned Parenthood


Every Friday there is a man in the county where I live who gets out of bed, dresses himself, drives to the local Planned Parenthood building and protests for eight hours. He is Pro-Life. He is white. His signs vary from week to week. Sometimes they are a simple message of choosing life while at others they are an in-your-face condemnation of those who believe in abortion.

For those of you who read my blog, you know my stance. I am pro-choice, pro-abortion, pro-sex education and a supporter/volunteer of Planned Parenthood. It amazes me that someone can feel so strong a conviction on this topic that they would give a day of their life each week in protest. A man, who will never be in the position of having to make that decision, could feel such overwhelming vehemence against how a woman chooses to deal with her body. In a way, I almost wish my conviction was that strong.

On Friday, a friend called to tell me that this man, this man who once served as a member of our School Board, was once again standing on the side of State Road 60 with his narrow-minded and ignorant sign. Apparently on that day, he was demonstrating his conviction alone. A myriad of feelings raced through me as I hit 'end' on my cell. I wanted to scream. I was immediately angry. I wanted to put on my clothes and push through my hangover from hell and drive downtown and confront him. I wanted to stand in front of his stupid little sign and prevent his ignorance from infecting or hurting anyone else. I wanted to yell at him until he went away. I wanted to talk to him until he saw reason. I just wanted him to stop.

I have considered myself a feminist for quite some time and have always been pro-choice. However, in the last seven years, after working with all of these low socio-economic students, I feel stronger about the existence of Planned Parenthood than ever before. I've seen these girls who have been molested, raped and seriously taken advantage of. I've seen the fear in their eyes, the feeling of total helplessness and loss of control. I've seen them struggle with the decision to have an abortion and more times than I would like to remember I've seen them struggle even harder with their choice to keep the baby. They are children themselves. Lost, confused and hurting. At fourteen they are required to make a decision that will live with them for the rest of their lives and more often than not, they choose to continue the cycle of poverty that they were born into.

How could this person, this man, this white, rich, suburban southern baptist, have any right to criticize the choice these girls are making? How could he be so blind as to think he has any idea? This man may be pro-life, but he certainly isn't pro-child. The damage he did within our school system will remain for years to come. And these children that he feels should be born, has he taken a step to assist in their lives? He hasn't helped serve food at the homeless shelter. He hasn't been at the local youth activity center volunteering his free time to tutor and entertain these children while the women he say should keep the babies work minimum wage jobs that won't even put food on the table. He hasn't done anything to assist in the lives of those who actually choose life. And perhaps that is my biggest complaint with the fanatical pro-lifers. While they spend so much time insisting that everyone should have a right to live, they do nothing to help improve those lives. There is no community outreach. No help for the young mothers. Nothing to aide them after their decision has been made.*

Perhaps it is just that I am so thoroughly ingrained in my beliefs that I can't see the other side. I like to think I can but on this one I'm stumped. Life is precious, but quality of life is equally so. Next Friday, this man will once again park his car and pull his picket sign out of the trunk and spend countless hours hurling accusations at women who enter the Planned Parenthood building. And I will get up and get dressed and go to school and try to teach those same girls that they need an education, they need to believe in themselves and they need to work hard in school in order to have a better life. I can't hold a giant white sheet up in front of this man and block his message, but I'll continue to be an example to my girls. To show them that strength in women should be applauded. That it is their life and their body and their right.

If you too are an advocate of choice, you can Join the One Million Strong Campaign. The One Million Strong Campaign is a Planned Parenthood Action Fund-sponsored effort, combining national, state, and local Action Funds to identify, energize, and mobilize one million pro-choice voters in the coming election. With your support, we will work to elect pro-choice candidates at every level, including a pro-choice president and Senate and House members; pass laws and policies that support women's health; defeat anti-choice ballot measures; and turn out one million pro-choice voters in November 2008!

*I am speaking from my own personal experience. I have looked for resources for my girls for several years now and there is nothing available from the local church and pro-life organization in my county.*

...Fiona...

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Sunday Musings...

It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon here in Florida. The temperature is about 72 degrees, the windows are open, there is an awesome breeze and I'm getting to sit here and cyber-surf. Gawd, I love days like this.

I have lots of stuff floating around in my head, but I'm not sure any of it is really worth a full blog post. So, I think this will just be my completely random snippets.

Politics

Okay, so I'm totally a Hillary Fan. I voted for Hil in the primaries and I'm really hopeful that she will get the Democratic nomination. And thankfully, I'll be happy with Obama even if Hillary doesn't get the nomination. However, in my book, experience is key. I recently saw the kick ass video on YouTube for Obama by a collective group of public figures, and yes, while it is cool, I worry that he isn't mature enough or experienced enough to really carry off real change. And while Hillary may not be as radical as I would like, there is just no way I can't vote for a woman, especially one with her qualifications. So, in the words of my favorite tee, "Just vote for the bitch."

Work

I've really been slacking at work lately. Well, okay, not slacking (totally not me) but not the completely anal retentive version of me that I usually am. Why? Oh, I guess I've just realized that I need to chill out and have a life. No matter how much I do at work, there is always going to be more to do. Plus, I think it helps the kids that I'm not so 'on it' all the time. FCAT is coming up and the stress of that is about to begin. It isn't something I'm looking forward to, mainly because I know how difficult it is on the kids. Plus, it's really exhausting trying to make test prep fun and exciting for low achieving kids.

Life

Life, hmmmm, what can I say? LOL You know, the divorce was really hard for me, for a variety of reasons, and I just abhorred everyone who repeated the old cliche that 'there is a reason for everything'. No, seriously, it was like nails down a chalkboard for me. I didn't want to evaluate the past five years of my life and I certainly didn't want to think about the future, but man, time is the best kind of medicine. Now, looking back, they were right. There certainly is a reason for everything that happens. I've had to work really hard at not regretting my years of marriage with Linc and instead enjoying the memories and seeing how it shaped me into the person I am today. Now that I've completed the familial obligations of love and marriage, I really get to think about who I am and I what I want out of life. I've spent so many years trying to please my parents and make them happy, and while some of the things I did were really great for my life (softball, teaching), others weren't and it took this divorce to make me see that. So, I'm enjoying my friends, I'm doing some writing that I never would have attempted and I'm in a relationship that is just amazing. So yeah, life is good.

Books

I haven't been reading much romance lately. Why? I don't know. Perhaps I'm just not out of my cynical stage yet or maybe its something more. I've been reading a lot more non fiction than fiction these days. I reread the series by Dave Pelzer (A Child Called It, Lost Boy and A Man Named Dave). A Child Called It is definitely a thought provoking book. I also read Family Outing by Chasity Bono which I wasn't expecting to be very good but I was pleasantly surprised. It's mostly a collection of other's stories and she had help writing the book, so all in all it was good. And of course, I'm reading tons for school. I'm currently on Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne. Its an ARC I got from a friend. And I have Beastly by Alex Flinn in my TBR. Beastly is a teen ARC I got in Toronto and never got around to reading. I've had three girls read it and they have just raved and raved, so I'm going to see what all the fuss is about.

Off Topic

I have a ton of artists I want to download on my iTunes. Flo Rida being the main one. I try and try to expand my musical pallate, and as much as I like other artists, I always gravitate back to hard rap and hip hop. What is that? Why on earth is a little country girl so drawn to that kind of music. Must be something with my subconscious. You think?

To do

Oh goodness, do I want to even begin to tackle the to do list? Hmmm, lets see.
1. Buy new clothes
2. Wash my sneakers (like ten pair!)
3. File papers
4. Take books to book store
5. Put away my Christmas decorations ( I KNOW!!)
6. Call Grandma and wish her Happy Birthday (87!)
7. Call my Aunt Janice because I haven't done that in like two months!
8. Send Emma and Alexa a post card.
9. Go over and visit with my friend Q since she isn't working.
10. Clean my house (um, maybe I'll skip this one?)
11. Organize my scrapbooking stuff. (I haven't done this since BEFORE I moved!)
12. Okay, I'm going to stop before I get overwhelmed!

...Fiona...

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Let's try this...

Okay, I can't post at school, which is why I haven't been putting posts up.  So, I'm trying the new e-mail in your post option.  Will be interesting to see if this works.  Holly, I know you've done this before, right?  If any of you have tips, I'd love to have them.
 
PS: This counts as my post for the day!
 
...Fiona...


Never miss a thing. Make Yahoo your homepage.

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What?!?

My last post was January 8th? Crud, bad blogger. Bad, bad blogger. OKay, so I'm never home to write! Sheesh. Gimme a break!

Posting today...promise.

Maybe.

I'll try!

No really, I will TRY!

What? I will!

...Fi

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hey Baby, What's Your Sign?

Libra in a Nutshell

Born: September 23 – October 22

Element: Air – communicative and logical

Quality: Cardinal, the quality that signifies change and movement

Symbol: The Scales

Lucky Day: Friday

Lucky Number: 6 and 9

Special Color: Blue and lavender, the colors of harmony and refinement

Libra Traits: Charming, indecisive, diplomatic, easy-going, vulnerable, idealistic

Nobody will ever accuse a Libra of not being fair. With the Libra symbol of the Scales on your side, you are a seeker of balance, justice and order.You are objective, always able to see both sides of every story, and you are good at handling a crisis. You avoid conflict at all costs, which is why you try to be so peaceful.Striking a harmonic balance in all areas of your life is a continuous goal of yours. But don’t think just yet that every Libra should enroll in law school to become a judge, because your ever-present indecisiveness would get in the way of making rulings.

Relationships
Partnerships with friends and lovers bring out the best in you. You are emotionally driven in all of your relationships and possess the gift of understanding others’ feelings and needs.Part of your charm is having a knack for making other people feel important. It’s a good thing you are so socially inclined since you despise being alone.One relationship technique native to the Libra sign is giving in during an argument just for the sake of not ruffling any feathers, even when you know you’re right. This is where the diplomatic side of you comes in.

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It's Tuesday!

Um...I got nothing

...Fiona...

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

B is for Books...

B is for Books

Books! God I love books. Love, love, love! The first book that I remember was the Very Hungry Caterpillar. I loved that thing! I had the kind with the really thick pressed pages so I could read it again and again and it never wore out. I’ve always been a good (and fast) reader. I started reading the classics in middle school, along with teen horror king Christopher Pike. Pike wrote about sex, which was water-to-a-dying-man for a thirteen year old. I actually think it was that aspect in his books that ultimately led me to love the romance genre. But gosh, I have so many memories about books; I wouldn’t even know what story to tell!

My Top 4 most memorable books (like the kind that I can still remember the covers in my head!

Th The Hungry Caterpillar
Final Friends by Christopher Pike
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Perfect by Judith McNaught

You know what you have to do...Okay, so I’m going to tell the embarrassing 8th grade yearbook story. Whenever this memory pops up in my head I take a second to go back to 1994 and then I cringe in utter embarrassment. Even now, all these years later, I am so.fucking.embarrassed! I did the absolute stupidest shit in school. How I made it through, I’ll never know.

In 8th grade I was head over heels in love with Russ. We had dated off and on since 6th grade. We were even one of the first couples to *gasp* French-kiss in 7th grade (quite the big deal back then). Then, in 8th grade, Russ decides he likes Heather better and drops me harder than a 400 pound man out of an airplane. I was crushed. Devastated. Heart-broken. Life could not…would not go on. But I was thirteen and as most young, hormone raging adolescents do, I quickly recovered. Tony liked me! Tony, who was tall, dark, and han…no ladies and gentleman, Tony was not handsome. He was tall and dark, but his head was too big for his neck, his nose was too big for his face and he looked like a pepperoni pizza on steroids. Oh, what was I thinking?!? Tony’s mother was also a teacher so we began spending our afternoons together, he asked me out, we held hands at lunch, and life was grand. At the end of the year Tony asked me to go to the 8th grade dance with him *sigh* and I said yes. I had the biggest poufy hair at the dance, I wore a purple dress and he had a tie to match and we slow danced the night away. Pure bliss.

The next Monday at school we finally got our long awaited yearbooks. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Tony sat in front of me in Mrs. Jacob’s home ec class. During second period he turned around and handed me his yearbook. Since I was Tony’s girl, I got to sign his yearbook first (insert little girl squeal here). I was at the height of my Christopher Pike obsession at this point and had just finished reading Final Friends 3: The Graduation. In this book, the main characters are graduating from high school and the first two chapters are small inscriptions that they are making in each other’s yearbooks. One character, Bubba, is the rudest and crudest of them all (and duh, my favorite!). Well, as you can imagine, Bubba writes a particularly ‘racy’ message in Sara’s yearbook. When I read it a week earlier I just knew that was what I had to write in Tony’s yearbook when he gave it to me! He would see that I was a woman who was sexy and smart and knew what she wanted. What the hell was I thinking??? And why, why oh why, did it not dawn on me in the ensuing seven days that this would be an utter mistake? But alas, I was thirteen, the hormones were raging, and I, apparently, had no brain.

My inscription in Tony’s yearbook (verbatim from the book):

My Dearest Tony,

My heart patters at the thought of us making love tonight above the deep ocean swells, our bodies locked in passion, the salty sweat on the burning flesh of our entangled limbs mingling like oil and wine, ready to burst into flaming ecstasy. My head swoons. Tonight, Tony, I promise you, will be our night. The gods will envy our joy.

But we mustn’t be foolish. We mustn’t forget, in our carnal hunger for each other, certain responsibilities. You would rather float on love-intoxicated perfumed clouds, I realize, ignoring the practical demands the world places upon us, only fantasizing about the pleasure I will send throbbing through your body. Yet we have to be careful. We can have our cake and eat it, too, but only if we don’t let the ice cream melt. We have to get some condoms.

As you have probably guessed, anything that will heighten our delight is fine with me. I prefer the natural to the artificial, the tight to the loose, blue to red. Keep this in mind when you visit the pharmacy, Tony, and you will be thanked a thousand times over when the time comes.

Love You Always,

In So Many Different Positions,

Fiona

I imagine at this point your mouth is hanging open in shock, you aren’t reading this because you are rolling on the ground laughing, or you can totally feel my absolute mortification. I told you it was bad. There was a reason I haven’t ever rewritten this passage.

Remember when I said Tony gave me his yearbook in 2nd period? Yes, that means that everyone who signed it the rest of the day read what I had written. It never crossed my mind that other people would read it or that Tony would be completely embarrassed by the passage also. By lunch everyone knew about it and Tony had to hide his yearbook in his locker while we both prayed the story didn’t get to our mothers.

I don’t know how Scarlett the guidance counselor, who knew everything I did in school, never found out. Or maybe she did but couldn’t muster the nerve to face me about it. That night I came up with a solution: we would glue a page over the top of it (I had written it on the back cover). The next day I came to school armed with a piece of construction paper and super glue. Between the permanent marker and all the glue I used, I am confident those words were never read again. My relationship with Tony ended shortly after that. Apparently, I was too much woman for him to handle.

Life Lesson: “Don’t put it in writing unless you’d be willing to have the world read it.”

Fiona


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Friday, January 04, 2008

TGIF

It's fRiDaY!

My friends are back in town, I had a great time line dancing and it's the last weekend before school starts back.

Woo-Hoo!!!!!!!

...Fiona...

(and Florida's finally beginning to feel like the damn sunshine state again!)

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

A is for Amber

This is the first installment of my alphabiography.

If wondering what the hell I'm talking about, then you missed this post. Read it first.

A is for Amber

I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to begin my alphabiography then to talk about my students. I love teaching, I love being a teacher and as much as it drives me completely crazy, I wouldn’t want to do anything else (quite yet). Amber and Dana are Irish twins (9 months apart) and probably two students that I will never forget. You run in to kids around town: at Wal-Mart, taking your money at MacDonald’s, passing in the mall, and when you do you rack your brain furiously trying to remember their name. Usually I can remember where they sat or how awful their parents were or who their best friend was but names completely elude me. So I say “hi” with a lot of enthusiasm and ask how school is going, hoping all the while they don’t ask me if I remember who they are (note to former students: don’t put your teacher on the spot like that! We teach 130 of you a year, I couldn’t possibly remember all of your names!). But Amber is one of those students that I will never forget. I think of her when having a difficult day and she’s one of those that will just flit across my mind from time to time.

More below the cut

Amber is one of five children. Her parents are really great people but were not blessed with a lot of intelligence. They do the best they can and truly love their children, but providing adequately for them has always been a struggle. Amber was in a particularly difficult reading class and I really had to come across as the authority figure. I think I might have scared her a little, actually (hehe). On the third or fourth day of school we were doing an assignment and Amber just couldn’t get it. The idea was completely eluding her, so I had her stay with me through lunch; we shared my ham and turkey sandwich and finished the worksheet with time to spare. While sitting there munching on chips and sipping Capri Sun, Amber began to tell me her story. She told me about her mom and her dad, her four sisters, what subjects she liked in school and which ones were very difficult for her. I listened, she talked and by the end of our lunch period a bond had already been created. Amber hugged me and said thanks for listening and ran out the door to her 5th period.

The next day, after class, Amber put a brown paper sack on her desk and pulled out her own sandwich. Our daily lunches together had begun. It was my first year at a new school, I hadn’t made any friends, I didn’t know anyone, so I figured, why not? Amber and I would talk about everything, from books we were reading to favorite tv shows. She would talk to me about the struggles they were having at home, teachers she was having a problem with and some days we even worked on homework. I have to admit though; my lunches with Amber were purely selfish. Never had I felt like I was making such a difference in the life of a child then I did for those 30 minutes every day with her. Some days Dana, Amber’s sister, would eat lunch with us, or other friends she invited would come by, especially if we were going to be talking about a book they had recently read. But for the most part, it was just Amber and I.

A week before Christmas, Amber’s family was evicted from their home. I still tear up when I remember her sitting in my room crying, telling me that her family of seven would be living out of their van. She wasn’t even upset for herself, she was sad because her dad felt like he had failed them. I did what I could, especially about getting them help for Christmas and luckily within a month they were back in government housing.

Amber’s a senior in high school now. She’s struggled with school but will be graduating in May. She calls me, not as often as she used to but at least once a month, to tell me how she’s doing or ask my advice about a boy (god help us!) or get help with a homework assignment. I have her younger sister this year and she is the spitting image of Amber and just as sweet and lovable.

There are a lot of people out there who do this job that shouldn’t. Teachers who come to school for the paycheck and the summer vacations. There are also those of us out there who work and work and work and are never appreciated. I truly consider myself one of the lucky ones. I love my job and I think, on most days, the kids love me back. I’m fortunate to have had a student that made such an impact on me. There are lots of teachers out there who can’t say that or don’t have that memory. Amber, thanks for splitting a sandwich with me.

Life Lesson: “Slow down and eat lunch. It might just be the meal that changes your life.”


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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Totally Joe

Book Review: Totally Joe

Occasionally I’ve reviewed a book here that I have read/used for school. I’ve been sitting on Totally Joe for a while (and for a reason).

Totally Joe is the story of Joe Bunch, lovable misfit and celebrity wannabe from Paintbrush Falls, New York. Like his longtime best friends Addie, Skeezie, and Bobby, Joe's been called names all his life. So when he's given the assignment to write his alphabiography -- the story of his life from A to Z -- Joe has his doubts. This whole thing could be serious ammunition for bullying if it falls into the wrong hands.


But Joe discovers there's more to the assignment -- and his life -- than meets the eye. Especially when he gets to the letter C, which stands for Colin Briggs, the coolest guy in the seventh grade (seriously) -- and Joe's secret boyfriend.


By the time Joe gets to the letter Z, he's pretty much bared his soul about everything. And Joe's okay with that because he likes who he is. He's Totally Joe, and that's the best thing for him to be.


Here is an exuberant, funny, totally original story of one boy's coming out -- and coming-of-age.

More below the cut

Totally Joe is a great book for kids, especially ones dealing with being different and not fitting in, but reading this one as an adult was, well, amazing. Howe has one of the best voices I have ever read on paper. Almost every line is funny (hard to do and not force it) and his ability to recreate situations and deliver dialogue is stunning. I read TJ in one day and couldn’t stop laughing and the book hasn’t stayed on the shelf since. My kids love it and I highly recommend it. Even if you’re a grown up, even if you’re straight, Totally Joe is more than just a great read, it’s an experience.

Interview with James Howe

So, why have I been sitting on the review for so long? Well, because I want to do my own alphabiography, of course! Let’s call it a New Year’s Challenge! Every week, I plan (hope) to post a new letter of the alphabet. In six months, my very own alphabiography should be complete!

Buy Totally Joe here!

Excerpt:
Joe Bunch, The Early Years:

"My mom says that I played wedding for about a year and that I kept asking everybody if they would marry me. Even Jeff. (That was the only time anyone can remember Jeff threatening to clobber me on a regular basis.) I had my Lainy doll marry my Ken doll. I also had her marry some of my Barbies. And G.I. Joe. (I hated that the soldier doll had my name. I mean, please. I didn't play with him much. He was another Christmas present from my clueless grandparents. One time when they were visiting, my grandpa asked me if G.I. Joe had been in any wars lately. I said, 'No, but he and Ken got married last week.' Every Christmas since then, my grandparents have sent me a check.)”

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All content belongs to Fiona. All graphics made by Fiona unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy.