Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why Aunt Bea Can't Make Pickles (And Other Mysteries of My Summer)

Some of you don't know this yet, but you make a lot promises to yourself once you anticipate the heady cocktail that is equal parts Empty Nest Syndrome and Public School Teacher's Summer Vacation. On paper, however, it looks like the last and very sad Bucket List of a person who aims only for the lowest hanging fruit, due to its complete lack of anything interesting or worth doing. Of course, it must also be said that this same list was compiled by a shell shocked adult who spent the last 10 months waiting for permission to use the bathroom. Because they were serving time in the pen busy teaching someone's littlest angel how to read or multiply. It bears consideration. Be gentle with me.

So this might explain how some of the following items--both crucial and trivial--landed on my Summer "To Do" list.

1) Start running again. Let's avoid a legalistic application of the word running since that conjures unnecessarily flattering visuals of Jackie Joyner Kersee which don't apply to me. What I'm doing involves walking the curving portions of the nearby university's track complex and then sprinting the "straights". Who are we kidding? It's less like sprinting and more like hurrying. Carefully. As if I am carrying a priceless crystal bowl filled with angrily swimming piranha. It's all about the baby steps.

2) Blogged more.

3) More yoga. I absolutely have begun practicing more than ever before. Somewhere between 5-6 classes per week. Flying Scissors, anyone?

4) Read more books. Before summer happened, I ritually blamed work for getting in the way of my lifelong book habit. Once I packed up my old classroom, I've found that I can point an accusing finger at Facebook, blogs (other people's...not mine) and my oldest friend--television-- for drastically impeding  my literary intake this summer. I think I read 13 books last summer and I only read 10 this time around. However, it's important to remember that blogs are writing and all television is also writing except you read it with your ears, so we're all even on that count.

5) Buy all new school clothes/shoes. I've found a couple of clothing websites that seem to comply with our district's new "work appropriate"jihad style prohibitions prescription for teachers. My personal version is a hybrid of casual and professional while also being comfortable. Not quite pajama comfortable so I appear to be settling in on the sofa with a tube of raw cookie dough waiting for a "Facts of Life" marathon, but definitely something that works for me mainly because I don't want to cry when I put it on. Now all I have to do is find footwear that does the same. Unfortunately, our district seems to be conflicted as to appropriate foot coverings for teachers during the hellishly hot months of August and September (also April, May and June). The arguments over, "Is it a sandal or is it a flip-flop?" have shamefully dominated more administrative meetings in our area than I care to count.  I'm going to let those jagweeds downtown worry about whether my shoes slap my heels when I walk across the room or whether they have a strap across the back or are mostly made out of rubber. I've too busy teaching my 8th graders about the importance of Atticus Finch as a male role model.

6) Changed the batteries in my bathroom scales. Something's afoul with those scales and I'm tired of having a bi-polar experience every time I step on them. One minute the numbers on the digital read out would suggest that I have a couple of anvils stuffed into my pants pockets. Five minutes later I have apparently lost the kind of weight that it would take three violent bouts of food poisoning and a water pill to pull off. It's maddening.

7)  Make homemade salsa. Since February, I have had Pinterest-infected hallucinations where I am making my own salsa and then getting so good at it that by Christmas, I have only to invest in a few dozen Ball jars and some festive ribbon to have my yearly neighbor/friend holiday gift conundrum solved. Unfortunately, this seemingly simple and enjoyable project has proved a bridge too far for yours truly. Not only have I not done this or even looked into what making it might entail, but I haven't even used the food processor this summer. It's too much like cooking and with the current heat wave afflicting our state, the mere thought makes my brain all hurt-y.

8) Pervasive Mystery A: After a comprehensive study of "The Andy Griffith Show" involving TVLand's Morning Lineup and my own boxed sets of Seasons 1-4, I have come no closer to understanding why Opie Taylor's Aunt Bea can fry a chicken, mash a potato, serve up buttery homemade biscuits and bake the hell out of a pie, but can't seem to make a decent pickle that doesn't taste like it was boiled in a pot of ant spray. It's a real puzzler.

9) Pervasive Mystery B: Why is it that every time I stumble across unwarranted and hostile diatribes written by Facebook trolls, they are almost always rendered in the most excruciatingly inarticulate examples of spelling, grammar and basic punctuation. "YOUR AN IDOIT AND I BLAM ALL THE WORLDS TORNADOSS ON OBAMA. IT HIS FALT THE FLOODS TO  AND U CAN CHEK IT ALL ON SNOPS COUSE IT ALL TRUE." 

I'd cry if I weren't already laughing so hard.  What did you do this summer?