Tuesday, December 21, 2004

What a beautiful day

to find the perfect pink coat, work on my writing, and make Nathan take me to the ballet. It may just be the best birthday I could have imagined!

Friday, December 17, 2004

a few things I learned this afternoon:

1. Unless you work there, you'll probably be snubbed in an upscale boutique.

2. Buying something on sale will not increase your need or love for it, if you don't need or love it in the first place.

3. Beware of cutesy book covers. Sneaky, aren't they?

4. Trying on a string of pearls with no intention of buying them will still give you butterflies in your stomach.

5. There is no peace on Earth, goodwill towards men in the Central Market parking lot.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

I love this time of year.

We get to see family and friends, take some much-deserved time off from work, travel if we are lucky, and ski if we are very, very lucky. This year we have been very, very lucky indeed.

Yesterday was our second day of beautifully-cold, snowing ski days. The day before that I took a private ski lesson with Amy (Sister amy) and improved quite a bit, if I do say so myself. Yesterday morning, we went down some steeper slopes, and for the first part of the day I chickened out a little, went back to my lovely green-blue-green-blue slopes, but then toughened up in the afternoon and faced the music (not to mention the fact that the slopes usually look much harder than they are).

Seeing our Utah parents has been wonderful! Also, visiting Amy is always fun. Thanksgiving is most definitely one of my favorite holidays.

Before we left Austin, we put up our Christmas tree and had our annual decorating the tree celebration, complete with holiday music, chocolate truffles, and champagne, I firmly believe that our Christmas tree is the most beautiful tree of all the Christmas trees in existance. How could it not be, with classic white lights, wooden cranberry garland, and all the ornaments from our childhood, including ones we made ourselves, up to the ones that have been given to us from dear friends and family?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The Curious Incident at Starbucks

On my way to Saturday school yesterday morning, I stopped in at Starbucks for an overly-priced, yet delicious hazelnut soy latte. (I'm one of those annoying people who orders the frou frou coffee. And I LIKE IT.)

In line in front of me, a man in a thread-bare coat was counting out change in nickels and pennies for his coffee. I noticed his old, ragged shoes and 3-day grown-in beard. This wasn't the first time I'd seen a poor person at Starbucks. Hey, if I were homeless, I'd spend those hand-outs on good coffee, too.

I thought for a second about saying, "Sir, may I buy your coffee this morning?" but it seemed a little too stuffy and indiscreet. The register next to him opened and I walked up to it, so that I was standing next to the man. I ordered my coffee and opened my wallet to get out my credit card. Usually I don't have any cash on hand, but for some reason I had a spare dollar bill. I reached in and took out the dollar bill, smiling and handing it casually to the poor man. He gave me a puzzled look, but took the money and put it in his pocket. I paid for my coffee, and ran in to use the restroom since I had a spare minute.
I was feeling good. Maybe it was a strange place to give to the poor, but the point is, I did it. Face it, plenty of people think about giving, but they don't act on it.

On my way out, I grabbed my coffee, and as I walked out the door, I saw the man walking out in front of me. He walked over to his Chevy SUV, got in, and started the engine. I slinked over to my car, got in, and hoped that I might never have to meet the man who wasn't homeless again face to face.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

In case I didn't already know I was old,

it was confirmed to me past week, when in Kerrville I woke up with a neck ache because I didn't bring my own pillow, and the pillows at Inn of the Hills are apparently designed for professional football players. Add to that the two nights this week I went to bed before 10 p.m. and things are getting pretty geriatric.
Good thing we are going to the apple store this weekend to get my new miniIPOD. Maybe it will make me feel young and hip again. I ask you, if I feel like this at 26, what will 50 be like?

Leave it to a writer to find a way to fit in the totally unrelated announcement that she really, REALLY wants to make.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I think my body knows when I'm about to have some time off

because it usually happens that I suddenly get sick whenever I have the time to do it. Like maybe right up until the moment that it's physically possible, I just keep on going because I have to. Mind over matter. I'm not kidding.

So like clockwork, every Christmas break, or maybe Spring break, or whatever, I get sick. This year it was Columbus Day weekend. And I was sneezing, sniffling, coughing, and all those other things that it says in the Niquil commercial.

Luckily, by the end of Monday, I was feeling much better. I still have to keep my Ricolas within arm distance and I'm afraid a few of my students may have caught the bug because they have the nagging, hacking cough. I do share my Ricolas, even if it is partically out of guilt.

The good news is that I'm on my way back to being my normal, healthy self. And in the meantime, Nathan is coming home tonight and he's contracted it as well. I knew we would be sharing a lot when we got married like our CD collection (which Nathan claims he can tell ANY disc that used to be mine just because of the beaten-up condition it's in...oh, yeah?...well, whose socks have fewer holes? Hmmm?)

But sharing germs, especially BAD germs, is not a great kind of sharing. Oh, no. More guilt.

Friday, October 01, 2004

It was payday yesterday.

And I do mean PAY DAY.

Not the candy bar.

Not the movie.

What I am referring to is that for the first time in my five years of tireless, 10-to-12-hour-a-day, going-in-on-Saturdays, love-those-disfunctional-ADD-preteens, bending-over-backwards, biweekly-tutoring-and-Park-Project-muraling, learning-to-speak-other-languages-and-dialects phone calls home to parents whose numbers may or may not have been disconnected, I have been rewarded.

With not one, but two raises. One that I had coming to me as a yearly salary increase. (Or it may just be bribery to keep teachers in the classroom so they don't have to be replaced by starry-eyed, post-college meat who won't last until November.)

The second raise came as a city-wide pay increase for teachers in AISD.

Both of them feel so, SO good. Like a validation. Like something I should be proud of. Like maybe I wouldn't be embarrassed for people to know how much I make, and that I might be able to pick up a nice little something for myself not related to school.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

It may be time to blog about Mean Kitty.

Yes, you read that correctly. Mean Kitty is a particularly ferocious feline who lives here in our complex. Abigail and I first encountered Mean Kitty (who I will now refer to as MK) one night as we walked along outside for a late night pee (Abigail, not me). As we rounded a corner of the building, we ran into MK head-on. Abigail let out a growl/yelp and MK let out a snarl/hiss. Normally in situations where the a cat doesn't want to make friends with Abigail, she will chase it (esp. if it runs), but clearly, she will be the animal in charge. Not so with MK.

As soon as we backed away from the surprise meeting, MK did not run away or hiss from a safe distance, oh no. MK crouched down and then pounced on Abigail as if they were going to fight. Abigail was stunned, and being on a leash, had a clear disadvantage. I was not happy at all with MK, and (while I would never normally hurt a cat) yelled at it, and fake-stomped near it to scare it. As we were walking back inside, MK was slinking along the side of the house for a second, rear attack.

We have seen MK around the complex at least three times since then, and the only way we can get MK to go away and not attempt to pounce on Abigail and tear her to shreads in to run at a full-speed toward her without slowing down. That buys us about 30-45 seconds of uninterrupted pee time. MK has a collar and tags, so this animal is cared for and might have a very loving home-life, even though it does display a rough exterior. I'm not sure what to do about MK, but would appreciate any advice you might be able to offer. Suffice it to say that even if MK did NOT have tags and was a stray, he/she would not make a suitable classroom pet.

Monday, August 30, 2004

I could bore you

with all the minute details of the two and a half weeks of school so far (every single day great with only one exception), giving you detail upon detail about my new room set-up, parent/teacher conferences, and back-to-school night turn-outs, but I won't.

I love my job. I don't know how long I'll teach or how long we'll be here in Austin, or whatever. But for now things are great, and I'm happy.

The biggest dilemma I have right now is...brace yourself...wondering if I should venture into the world of a CLASSROOM PET.

So far the only animals I've even considered are fish and maybe, just maybe a turtle. Even then, you have to deal with the potential that the animal will get sick, or die, not to mention the weekend trips home with different kids in an effort to teach them responsibility while the poor animal is terrorized by curious cats and/or mauled by jealous pitbulls. Not to mention salmonella.

On second thought, fish may be the perfect classroom pets.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Throwing things away

used to be so... wasteful. Ignorant. Wrong. I think maybe I was wrong. But let me get there...

The big move-out was quite an Experience. As I'm sure you've read on other blogs, we voluntarily moved 6 people during the staggering heat of the hottest month in Texas, got trapped INSIDE a locked-gated storage facility, and in the end, had to pay people through the nose to clean our house because apparently, they have to clean all the blinds BY HAND. (Nathan and I have been curious about those modern, blind-cleaning robots.)

Through all those fun times, I came back to the simple, profound truth: No matter how bad it might be for the environment and the ever-growing landfills, it feels good to throw things away.

I know what that sounds like. Admit it. You gasped in shock. But I'm serious. Normally, you would package up all those perfectly good but unwanted items and drop them off dutifully at your local Goodwill. So would I. And I normally do. Believe me, I worked at Goodwill for two years in college. But not during a move. Oh no.

You're spent financially, emotionally and physically, and the last thing you want to think about is where in the world you'll store that super-cute votive candle holder you got four years ago on clearance. In the trash. But that's not all.

I threw away: outdated magazines, past-their-prime flip-flops, half-used toiletries, perfectly good bubble wrap. (Before you object: we have in our possession a trash bag full of bubble wrap, so there.) I think at one point in my trash frenzy I threw away actual trash bags inside a trash bag. I threw away my old areobic step that I saved up for and bought with my own money in 7th grade, because let's face it, I think I've used it once in the last two years, and what would be the point of my gym membership where they have real-life step classes you can take where they provide you with a step, and it doesn't have to take up space under your bed? I think I even threw away a few mismatched, unclaimed dishes. Dishes. I was NOT raised this way. In the Prien family, you put away things that might be valuable or useful to you one day, even if they don't seem useful at the moment.

My mother would kill me. I'm sure environmentalists worldwide would protest. And many of my own dear friends are frowning upon this. But you know what? I don't go home to those people. I go home to Nathan, and I have to do what is best for us. And our new, clean, small apartment.

I just didn't expect it to feel so good.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Moving Out...

and I'm not talking about the new hit broadway musical with all the songs by Billy Joel.

One day down. One day to go. Too tired to blog. Must go. To bed. Now.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Erika came into town

this weekend to pack up her stuff and see us. It was a great time of catching up, singing old-school Christian songs (mainly by Smitty and Amy Grant, but Ray Boltz and Sandy Patty did make an appearance), buying fun housey stuff, and getting our hair cut. I, for one, am sporting a new, sassy, very-short messy, shaggy bob. That's my best definition.

It was good to see E. As a tribute to Erika, I am creating a link for some photos that were taken of her when we were still in the old apartment.
Experience the Faces of E.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I used to watch Jeopardy

to see if I knew any of the answers. Now I watch it to see if Ken Jennings is still winning. Have you seen this? It's like a freak show every time he's on. Literally by Final Jeopardy, he either has more than three or four times the amount of the other contestants, or they can't even play because they're in negative numbers. It's insane. But the craziest thing is how nice he seems. He just seems like a really NICE, normal guy. Today he made it to almost $1,200,000.

Nathan says he hopes Ken makes it to 2 million. Stacy says she hopes he loses because it's time for him to lose. I just feel sorry for the other contestants who come week after week to face him.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

On this day four years ago

Nathan married me and I married him. We celebrated this morning with delicious eggs florentine with Hollandaise sauce (100% fat free, of course) and frozen mimosas. What a perfect way to begin a lovely day.

Happy Marriage to us!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Updates in brief

seem to be everywhere, on many people's blogs, and I like the idea of this and think it's OK. So here is my abbreviated news:

1. Go see Napoleon Dynamite, as it may be the best movie I've seen all year. Definitely all summer. OK, if you're going to be pigheaded about it, at least watch the trailer on the left, for which I have made a link to make it easy on you.

2. I thought it might be funny to start watching a soap opera this summer because I seem to be home around lunch time every day, what with my summer free. I have decided the grand-prize winner is the Bold and the Beautiful because it is only 30 minutes, and they don't have as many storylines running at once. But All My Children was a close second. Also Susan Luchi (sp?) is still on from when my parents watched it in 1984.

3. I've picked up a few of the most recent winners of the Newbery Award for juvenile fiction, just to see what they're looking for these days. To my surprise and delight, I've found that the quality of writing is equal to (and not leaps and bounds better than) what I am currently writing. At the risk of sounding incredibly egotistical, I feel like I've seen (and written) enough to know the difference between crap and non-crap. Hallelujah, Amen! I am writing non-crap. At this time next year I hope to be seeking publication.

4. I am really not that good at updates in brief, because none of them turns out to be brief.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

THIS JUST IN: New Apt. Bulletin:

1. Apt. found! It's a great location. Exactly 3.4 mi. from Nathan's work, and would you believe 3.4 mi. from mine as well?
2. Has a washer/dryer connection. Which means: we won't have that tearful reunion with the washateria.
3. At Nathan's request: 1st floor so as not to inflame back from lugging heavy musical devices.
4. At Amy's request: Has a deck so as to continue her container gardening ventures.
5. At Nathan's request: Has a kitchen that is actually larger than a closet.
6. At Amy's request: Two bathrooms so she gets her own.
7. Other good things: Complex has 2 pools plus a hot tub! Small storage room off deck so we can get what we have OUT of storage unit and stop paying to own STUFF. Large walk-in closet, which will feel like its own room after what we have now.
8. And last but not least...after looking at the actual unit we'll be in, I saw a small tree on the deck and thought, Oh the current tenet must still be there, because he/she/they have a tree. Turns out, it's growing out of the ground, so we actually have a small tree ON our deck. Add twinkle lights and some nice wine. Ahhhh.

Now I can really relax and enjoy my summer....

Or start packing.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies

makes me think of POLLYANNA. What a great childhood favorite of mine, except I think it might have been just as beautiful of a story if she had never fallen out of the tree and been paralyzed trying to sneak out with Jimmy Bean to the bazaar....
My personal favorite scene has always been the shopping in town scene. All those clothes, the shoes with all the buttons, the hats, the stockings, ahhh. And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.

Back in Austin. It was nice to be gone for awhile. Nice, in a strange way, to miss everyone. Now on to the task at hand...where to live in a month's time?

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I just returned home

(to my parents' house) with mom after a much-needed trip to see my Illinois family.

At the train station, I ran across an article about a grad. student from Univ. of Illinois who is living in Chicago and making art, and one interesting thing about him is this: since 2001, he has been making different T-shirts with all kinds of phrases on them and wearing a different shirt EVERY DAY.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

We rode the train to Illinois

and it is so lovely and cold here! Last night it got down to 49 and today it's in the low 70s. (It was actually warmer in Alaska yesterday than it was here.) My mom and I picked the perfect time to come visit my grandma...

Yesterday we went to Galesburg, the birthplace of Carl Sandburg, one of my favorite poets. We went to a little museum, and saw his childhood home. I picked up a book of poems for children that I may use next year with my students.
Tomorrow we'll see some more family: aunt, uncle, cousins, and I'm hoping to put my newly found recipes on grilling to work.

I'm having a restful vacation, and feeling a little guilty that Nathan still has to work and doesn't get any time off. But maybe next year we can both get away. In the meantime, I'm relaxing for both of us.

Monday, June 21, 2004

My parents' house

will always be a wonderful, warm place to come home to. I hope they never move. They live in this huge old farm house that was built in 1905 in a little town in East Texas, where the trees are so tall think you must be in another state. The house and land are so alive with the history of people who lived there before that even though my mom complains about the wall paper in the kitchen, it kind-of belongs with the rest of the house.

I've been here since Friday night and so far, I've gotten to surprise my little sister when we went to pick her up from camp, see my brother play an incredible soccer game in town, go to my parents' church where the special music was "Father's Eyes," and watch two movies with my family--The Terminal, not bad at all, and Trekkies, one of the funniest, most brilliant documentaries to date if you ask me.

I like being here.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Today we are viewing the house

I was dreaming about yesterday. It may be important to say that the real estate guy quoted the rent they were asking, I got him to say that they'd take a bit less, and then yesterday he called back and said they would be willing to take a lot less. AMAZING. Now to get my head out of the clouds just in case it doesn't work out.

One of the drawbacks is that it's not as central as where we are now. And Lora made a point that I agree with her, which is that it's pretty cookie-cutter. Then again, there is an amazing front porch AND smaller but cute back porch--both covered. We do love our porch.

Stay posted for more details at six.

UPDATE: the house is a no-go. But, as always, something else is just around the corner...

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The only kind of hunting I like

is house-hunting. Well, actually I like it the same as watching a Ewan McGregor film. It's gorgeous, dynamic and enticing, and then, it's OVER. End credits. No real Ewan in real life to drink coffee with and/or gaze lovingly at.

Lora and I took a tour of this absolutely BEAUTIFUL NEW HOUSE that is a 2-story, 5 bedroom - 3 1/2 bath, with a study, fenced-in yard, 2-car garage, w/d hook-up, huge kitchen, and great location. Not to mention the master bathroom with the sunken tub, not to mention the huge closet space, carpeted upstairs, tiled downstairs and study with hard-wood. I wish, I wish, I wish.

OK. That felt good. I'm done wishing.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Contrary to what most people think

I love summer. I LOVE it. And honestly, if you were in my place, you'd love it too.
It's a shame that everyone doesn't get a three-month hiatus from work.

The entire household is playing the lottery tonight to try to win the hundred-million dollar jackpot. I don't think Nathan would mind, if we win, inviting everyone to take a much-deserved three month vacation in our yacht off the coast of Italy. Let me know ASAP if you're in. (The caterer will need to know a head-count.)
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