Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Highlights.

My boyfriend went as the Miller High Life guy this Halloween. Fitting, yes? I also helped him out with some zombie make-up today, before he went to work.














































Here I am as Medusa. My headpiece turned out amazingly well!!!
























Have I turned you to stone?!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Taking shape.

I'm working on my Medusa headpiece for Halloween. It is coming alive as we speak. After this, I'm going to spray paint it gold. I'll update the image on Friday, when I'm in full costume!



NaBloPoMo.

Ready to hear a lot more from me? I've decided to commit myself to NaBloPoMo, otherwise known as National Blog Posting Month. The goal is to post something to my blog every day in November. This will either bring more readers to my wee little space in world wide web land, or scare them away because of the forced random content that may sometimes appear here as a result of writer's block. I'll do my best to keep it somewhat relevant and entertaining!

I originally had only heard of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Last school year, my creative writing students participated. Every day, for a month, I hovered over them in a computer lab, trying to get them to squeeze out every little bit they could in order to reach their word count goals. It was rough, but I knew it was a success when some of them told me it was the longest thing they'd ever written in their lives.

So here I am, trying to do something similar myself. It's not a novel, but it's a start. I always wanted to find the time last year to do the creative writing projects with my students, but considering so much of time was spent on lesson planning, calling parents, and trying not to go crazy, I never found an opportunity to fulfill that desire.

Be ready! On November 1st, the adventure begins!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Guest post.

This entry has been written by Ari, the author of the Happy Cactus blog. The 20 Something Bloggers group assigned each of us to a partner. I'm writing an entry on her blog, and she's writing one on mine. Check out her site when you get the chance. Enjoy!

***

Hello! I’m Ari from The Happy Cactus. I’m a twenty-something, graphic designing divorcĂ© that lives in North Alabama with my rambunctious German Shepherd and I love my life.

And I love Halloween. I love everything about it – pumpkins, haunted houses, candy corn, costumes . . . all of it. This past weekend my mom, step-dad, and I went on the newly created Haunted Huntsville Ghost Walk. It’s supposed to be about an hour long walk around Olde Towne with a bit of history and some cute stories about the random specters that reside in some of the houses. Supposed to be.

Ours was 2.5hrs. trip through history with a long winded tour guide who was dressed as a Confederate solider who was way too excited about his job.

Here’s a little background about Huntsville – its one of the oldest towns in Alabama, located about 30 min. from the Tennessee border. We’re a military and space town. Remember Space Camp? Yeah. I can see it from my office window. Before the military base came here, we were a cotton town with 5 mills. We surrendered to the Union troops as soon as they set foot in our city limits.

So, this being a Southern military town, most of our ghosts are apparently from the Civil War. There were a few old South debutant women, a fair number of creepy kids, and a disgruntled former slave. They were kinda exciting but overall, I was rather disappointed. The history was cool, but I wanted some better ghosts. So I did some research of my own and found two places that you have to check out if you ever make it to the Rocket City.

1. Dead Children’s Playground. This is just as creepy as it sounds. Personally, I’ve only walked up to it before I got too scared and turned around. We have a large old cemetery on the edge of Olde Towne – anyone who was anyone in Huntsville is buried here (we even have a section of Confederate soldiers). Behind the cemetery is a neighborhood park, and the legend is that all the children who are buried in cemetery go here at night and play. You can hear kids laughing and see the swings moving. Its creeeeppppyyyy!

2. Hell House. This is an old home that has now been divided into 4 2 bedroom apartments. Personally, I’ve never been here, but I do have friends that have lived there. There have been 11 suicides committed in this house. The stories that my friends have told me include couches shaking, doors unlocking and opening, and balloons parading around the house. I really want to stay the night here – but I don’t know anyone who currently lives here.

So there you, a little bit of spookiness and some local legends to start off your Halloween week!


- Ari

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pee-Paw & Num-Nums.

This entry is dedicated to my Mam-Ma and Pap-Pa, commonly referred to by my friend Eric as "Pee-Paw & Num-Nums." They are my mother's parents, and they are adorable. Here is my Pap-Pa in a picture from a recent trip to Florida. Notice that his ears and nose continue to grow with age:


Here is Mam-Ma, holding a baby. She's always holding a baby or giving you a wet kiss (or both at the same time, accompanied by a cooing noise):



Near the end of this summer I finally took the time to start interviewing them about their lives. I sat down with them in their aged Indianapolis home, which smells of Vanilla Wafers and afghan blankets (it's actually a lovely smell), and told them to start talking.

Since then, I've been working on typing up the interviews. We'll be continuing the project tomorrow when I take a road trip with both of them to good ol' Salem, Indiana. Rather than just talk about the memories, I hope to take photographs of the run-down one room schoolhouse my Pap-Pa went to as a child, and possibly visit the creek where my Mam-Ma first went skinny-dipping. Maybe we'll even find where the old roller-skating rink was (it's where they met).

They really do have a lot to tell. Both of them were born WAM! right in midst of that giant economic gut-punch we call the Great Depression. Growing up with very little in their pockets, they compensated for the lack of wealth with the joy they found in simple pleasures, their dedication to hard work, and their active imaginations. Such a generation will not be around much longer, and I want to capture it as best I can while I still have the chance.

Look for more entries dedicated to Pee-Paw & Num-Nums. I'll leave you with excerpts from both of their interviews.

Pap-Pa's Interview (talking about part of his life on the farm):

"So I was about 5 years old, and noontime came, and they’d have their lunch with ‘em, and my dad would put me on the tractor and I’d drive the tractor around the field when they wanted to, and when they were done eating lunch and everything, he’d come back and take over. And I remember one time, my dad—in the back of the farm there were some trees and roots and things he wanted to clear out. He was down there, and my brothers were diggin' around, getting these trees kind of loosed… and I kept aggravating my dad to let me pull the tractor down there. Now this tractor didn’t have rubber tires on it, it had lugs on it, and I threw my coat over the lugs, and to start it I had to set the crank and I had to get up on top of it and jump down to get it turned. And it started, and I ran over my jacket, and I backed down to where they was at. And let’s see, that was when I was about five or six-years-old, or something.

"But, my Dad always let me do things. I can’t hardly figure out why. Only thing I can figure is that he might have had me do so much in my life, is that I had a brother older than I was, that fell off a wagon, and dad ran over him and broke both of his legs. And, at my grandparents house they had two poles coming from the ceiling to hold his legs up. And they healed—it was a funny way they’d done it. But anyway, then after Lloyd, they had a boy named Bruce that died eight days after he was born, because of a blood disease, a blood problem. And then I came along… and I guess he kind of felt that he’d kind of take care of me a little more."


Now, an excerpt from Mam-Ma's interview (discussing her fun summer days with her cousin):

"I grew up with a very happy childhood. I kind of had the best of both worlds because my cousin Shirley and I were just about the same age, and her grandparents lived on a farm just about five miles south of Salem. So I grew up in a small town, and yet I was at the farm an awful lot because of her, so I had a lot of fun farm experiences, too.

"She always had horses, so I got to ride horses, and she usually had a pony. It started out with a pony named Dixie, and it was the sweetest little thing. If you fell off, she would immediately stop and stand there ‘til you got back on. And let’s see. Shirley had one horse named Dandy, and she had a baby. I can remember us sitting up in the barn saying, 'Now what are we going to name her?' And at that time, Flicka was popular, so the colt’s name turned out to be Flicka.

"And we had a lot of fun out there. We used to play hide-and-go-seek. Some of the neighbor kids out near the farm would come over and we’d play hide-and-go-seek in the barn. And we had a lot of good times. There was a little creek down below and we would go down there and play in the water—pretend we were mermaids. We were close to a big river, too. So, we would go down there and they had an old swimming hole.

"I remember one time just Shirley and I were down there, and we were under the bridge, and we thought, 'Well, wouldn’t it be fun to just take off our bathing suits and swim in the nude?' So we did! We hung our bathing suits on a branch (laughs) and splashed around and had a good time. We were close enough to the road that we could hear a car coming—it was a gravel road."

Kelly: So you wouldn’t be surprised? (laughs)

"Yeah, right! (laughs) We used to go down there and wade with Shirley’s grandmother sometimes. I remember one time we were wading along, and all of a sudden she reached down in the water between her legs and came up with a big ol’ frog! We had an awful lot of fun down there. We were like sisters, really, when we were growing up."


Hope you liked this. More to come.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Gray hairs galore.

If it keeps up like this, by my 25th birthday I'm going to look like Bea Arthur.

But wait... why WOULDN'T I want to look like Bea Arthur? She was a silver fox!!!



Sunday, October 18, 2009

On a lighter note.

Since parts of the last entry were a bit Debbie-Downer-ish, I will now post a video that always puts me in a better mood when I'm down. If you read the Dooce blog, you have probably seen it before. I find it extremely entertaining and I consider it to be the ultimate definition of JOY.

Nothing... NOTHING... is better than ridiculous dance moves from children in their pajamas.

So She Thinks She Can Dance from dooce on Vimeo.


Reality check.

Rough day on Friday. Certain things happened which reminded me that I do, in fact, teach in a rough area of the city. One was the fact that there was a shooting in the neighborhood across from the school.

There were also a couple incidents where students came to me with some personal information about their lives, situations that would have been very unlikely to occur at the school I went to when I was their age.

There was also a brawl on the third floor.

Reality check, for sure.

To top off the hell-of-a-day, I also had a student whose mother was killed in a fatal car accident the night before. She came in to talk to some of her teachers and turn some of her work in. This is a student who now comes in and eats lunch in my room every day, and to see her in that state was pretty upsetting.

I guess you can say I was a bit down.

I love where I teach, though. After the word spread about this student's death-in-the-family, a number of staff gave some money to me for a flower fund, so we could send the family some sympathy flowers. Students around the school also wanted to do something, and I think there are several plans taking place to help and comfort the student during this time of loss.

Of the two students who came to me about some tough situations they were experiencing, one is very active in the student council in our school and the other was asking me to also look over a poem for a poetry contest he was interested in. It was great to see that they weren't letting their obstacles keep them from being active participants in the school.

Also, this year especially, I feel like there is a pretty positive aura being given off in the building. I don't know if it's from the change in staff, the improved structure and organization, the growth in school pride, or the fact that it just overall feels more like a community. Whatever it is, I'm glad I stayed.

Last year was very difficult for me. I was a naive, first-year teacher flying in from the outskirts of suburbia to come in and bond with, inspire, and educate students with very different lives from my own. I was given a pretty heavy schedule for my first year of teaching, and also was put with a tough group of middle schoolers who DEFINITELY made me feel new to the building. At one point last year, some tables crashed to the floor in the middle of a lesson because students were slowly removing the bolts from them as I spoke. I also had some expletives written on my door in permanent marker. One day, I also had a student run around the class while jumping on top of tables and leaping over chairs as if the room was an obstacle course personally set up for his entertainment.

Halfway through the year, I wasn't sure if I could do it anymore.

But I'm back, and better, and a little more prepared for the surprises that may pop up on a daily basis. The students who acted like they couldn't stand me last year are now the ones who say hello in the hallway and stop in my room during passing period for no specific reason. I'm in a much better mental state, and I've been able to invest some of my time into some school-wide projects that have caught some student interest. I also have a great schedule this year. I can invest all of my teaching energy into my one 8th grade Language Arts class, and the rest of my time is spent as the Learning Center Coordinator. We get 100+ tutors from the surrounding community, and I get to match up and create one-on-one tutoring situations, and see to it that the students seeking help are getting it, and getting it in a productive way.

I know in my "Blaaaaah" entry that I sound exhausted, and yes, sometimes I am. But it is a different state of exhaustion than it was last year. Last year it was a coming-home-and-falling-on-the-couch-and-sobbing sort of exhaustion, and this year it is just the coming-home-and-sighing type of exhaustion. MUCH better.

So, while I definitely have days like I did Friday, it is hard to stay down in the dumps for too long because there is just so much positive I can find throughout the school. As I said ealier, I'm glad I stayed.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Adorable.

Isn't this house adorable? It's on the east side of Indianapolis. I keep looking at pictures of it in my spare time. I want it. It's still on the market.



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blaaaaaah.


Yes, that's how I feel. Blaaaaaah. I'm not sick, I'm not necessarily depressed, I'm just blaaaaaah. I think it's because of the change in the weather.

It is fall, and I like fall. But after fall comes winter, and during winter we all get to wake up when it is still dark outside. The sun isn't around as much, which leads me to one word: BRRR! Every year I try to prove mother nature wrong by refusing to wear a jacket or coat for as long as possible, just to convince her I'm not susceptible to her ways. Unfortunately, she always wins.

So, maybe that's why I'm Blaaaaaah. Or maybe it is that every year I always take on way too much, and then near the end of the first semester it all slaps me in the face, saying, "What were you thinking?!?!" I'm so busy now that I can't even take a proper lunch break. Today a student was running to the media center to print some research, and she volunteered to heat up my lunch in the microwave while she was in there. That's a sign that I need to get out more.

My teacher friends barely see me in the hallway anymore, and they ask me where I've been. I need to start giving my room a name. Any suggestions? The cave? The black hole? The vacuum?

It's not that I don't like what I do. It's that I have a problem deciding to just dedicate myself to ONE thing. Instead, I want to be Supergirl and be able to do EVERYTHING I'm interested in and still see super successful results in every task I take on. It's silly. I'm NOT Supergirl. I'm Kelly.

I went to a career guidance company near the end of last year because I was completely lost and confused about where my life was going. I was only 23 and I was already having a life crisis. Take life a bit too seriously, Kelly?! The first thing the guy said when he was coming to talk to me about his findings was:

"You are way too self-critical, and you will always be that way. It's in your nature."

He basically told me that whenever I do anything, I want it to always turn out exactly the way I want it to turn out. If it doesn't, I'm not satisfied. But I'll NEVER be satisfied, because that's not how life works! I think I'm still partially in denial about this fact, because maybe that's why I take on so much at once. Maybe I think that if I dive into lots of projects at once, the "inadequate" results I see will compensate for one another and become one fabulous big accomplishment.

That doesn't even make sense. How do I come up with this crap?

Anyhoo, I think this overworking is affecting me because now I'm coming home and totally zoning out into either a state of eating, a state of watching a show on my computer, or both. Then I get tired from all that exhausting laziness, and then I don't have the energy to get caught up in all the stuff I'm trying to do (Yes, if you sit or sleep for a long time, it can actually make you more sleepy or tired. Sad, isn't it?).

Basically, I think the problem comes down to one word: CONFIDENCE. One of my friends said to me this week, "Kelly, you just need to be more confident. Stop beating yourself up."

I'll try, but I'm so used to the bruises.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sneak preview.

Today was my first paid photography job, and it's crazy how much of a natural high I get from that click-click sound of the camera. I really can see myself doing this for a long time. Let's hope it builds up to something.

Here are a few pictures I took today. Ashley and Sam, here's a little preview!










It's business time.


My good friend Justin is making me a photography website. This is really happening! Stay tuned for a new and improved blog and photography site.

Life is grood. I mean good. I mean great and good.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Great craic.

If any of you are interested in reading an older blog of mine, I kept one when I was a student-teacher in Ireland. I was naive, and in love with the idea of being across the ocean. Check it out if you wish: craictimes.livejournal.com. It's great craic, I must say.


Picture this.

So, amongst all the other things I've been putting on my plate, I'm also trying to start a side career in photography. I'm very excited, though! My first gig is tomorrow. I'm taking engagement photos for a friend of a friend, and actually getting PAID to take pictures. Who ever thought that making money could be so much fun?!

I've always loved taking pictures, and just this past year I invested in getting myself a new fancy-shmancy camera: the
Canon Rebel XSi. I am so happy I made the purchase. It was between a camera and a bike, and since at the time I was living in an apartment without even a sidewalk or trail to venture out on, the camera won.

Now, because the camera takes high quality photos, anyone can take nice pictures on it. I still believe, however, that good photographers are successful because they have the
eye. Good photographers shouldn't have to go back and crop their photos...the framing should be set in the moment, catching the patterns, light, and action as-is. I'm so picky about this, and so it is always hard for me to hand my camera over to someone else to take a picture. Whenever I get the camera back, I look through what they've taken and I want to say "NO! You cut off their feet! They look stumpy!" or "NO! You left way too much negative space over their heads!" or "NO! You didn't press the shutter halfway down to focus the subject!" or "NO! The lighting is all wrong!"

Okay, so I'm a little neurotic. If you've been reading this blog, that's probably old news. But my point is that I've noticed I do have some sort of
eye for this, simply because I can tell when others don't. Does that make me snooty? No. I am not good at math. Others are. THERE. If you don't want to listen to me, listen to Annie Leibovitz. She's my hero.

So wish me luck. I'm going to ask them to sign a document that will allow me to use their pictures for professional reasons. I'll try to get some of them up on this site when I can. My goal is to soon have a photography section on this site so I can reveal my favorites. I'm also in the process of getting a blog makeover. Whoopee!
Everything's coming up Milhouse.

While I await the blog makeover transition, I'll post a few of my past photographs below. Enjoy.