Saturday, October 25, 2008

Proof

Here is the proof of my 90 seconds of bliss. Although, now that I see the picture I realize how fickle the mind can be. I was certain that I had crouched down next to Jordan - but as you can tell it was really Joe.

I only wish the picture quality was better, oh well...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Artist Within

For no apparent reason today after school I was in a foul mood. It was, in fact, a great day with my students, so I was surprised by the anger I could feel sitting right under the surface. I came home watched a little t.v. and tried to feel better. Still seething, I knew I had to do something else. As I was gazing around my apartment for something to distract me, my eyes settled on my craft table that resides in my dining room. On it is a picture I painted back in March. My friend Sarah encouraged me to take up painting and so my one lone picture was the only result of my new hobby. I have meant to get back to it and paint some additional pictures, however, it has never happened.

I decided that painting could get me over my funk and I whipped out the brushes and canvas. Initially, I was going to paint a new picture, ultimately I decided to paint over my original picture with something a little darker. Here is the first picture I have ever painted. It demonstrates my mood.




After completing picture number one, I felt compelled to finish picture number two. I don't have the skills for realistic art and I quite enjoy my foray into abstract art. The pictures are presently untitled and I am looking for inspiration for their names. Feel free to submit ideas.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

First Time was a Great Time...

second time was a blast.

Well, I am just back from the concert and I am a little deaf. There is nothing quite like the sound of 10,000 women shrieking their heads off. Even though I had the foresight to wear ear plugs, the noise was so loud that me ears still kind of hurt. But the pain was totally worth it. Now, what you have all been waiting for....a recap of the night.

4:30 p.m.
I got a 5 star ticket to the concert which entitled me to "meet and greet" the guys before the concert. Earlier in the week I received an email that informed me that I was to show up at the theater by 4:30p.m. to pick up my tickets and get ready for the pre-show party. I thought this was ridiculously early and I wasn't wrong. The concert was held at the Mandalay Bay events center which is a nice location, smaller than most large venues. I was very surprised that there were at least 200 people waiting for their 5 star ticket. I didn't think there would be quite so many people.

5:30 p.m.
After standing in line for an hour, they finally gave us our tickets and we were escorted to a little (and I mean little 10 x 30) room for our pre-show party. Fortunately the hour in line was not wasted. I brought with me some essays to grade and I stood and read them while waiting...always the teacher. Once in the room for the party I was again surprised, not only by the size of the room but also the quality of the refreshments. We received 2 drink tickets (yeah for water!) and there was a cheese and crudite platter. So much for dinner :-(

6:52 p.m.
Finally we were called into line to "meet" the guys. While at the Boston concert I stopped two women to see what the 5 star package included and they showed me pictures they had taken with the guys and things that they had autographed and so I was anticipating the same sort of action. Wrong again. We were ushered into another line and then pushed into a small cordoned off section of the main party room where the guys were.

Danny greeted us first and I got the hug I have been waiting 18 years for. I then hugged Jonathan and Jordan. I gently patted Joe's arm, but didn't get a chance to even make eye contact with Donnie. Another woman had gone in sobbing and had monopolized him the entire time.

They quickly called for our picture and I got into a weird crouching position and smiled. I also assumed that the picture that would be taken at the event would be done by professionals. (We all know what happens when we assume things) What we got was two women with small digital cameras. I should find out in the next couple of weeks where I can download my picture. When I find out I will post it.

6:54 p.m.
Meeting was over. I had been fretting for the past couple of weeks about what I was going to say to the guys. I wanted something memorable and not too cliche and I thought I had it ready to go, only to discover there was no time for me to even say anything more than just "Hi." Although time flew by very quickly, I noticed a couple of interesting things.

One, the guys are tiny. Not only shorter than I realized but also, much, much thinner. I could throw them around...seriously.

Two, they were very nice and much better looking than I thought possible. Seriously hot, all of them. Danny was always my favorite, but Jordan is more attractive than any man has a right to be. See the shirtless picture of him at the bottom from his Baby, I believe in you solo.

Alas, there was not time for that elusive Danny and Krista shot, or the autograph from Joe I had wanted to get for Chandra. We were pushed out and another group of ten women were escorted in for their 4 minutes of paradise.

I have to make a little side note. During this entire time, I met three hilarious ladies from Albuquerque. We laughed, shared stories from our earlier New Kid days and generally tried to make the time pass quicker. It was a serendipitous meeting...Jessica, Lisa and Christy...you girls rock!

7:24 p.m.
Free giveaways...beanies and t-shirts. No luck winning.

7:54 p.m.
Find seat. My ticket was listed as Section 2, Row P, Seat 11. I knew that section 2 was the front middle section on the floor. I assumed P meant that I was sitting about 16 rows from the front, which would have been almost identical seats to the concert in Boston. Much to my delight, they did not start lettering the rows at A and P ended up being only 7 rows from the front. SCORE! These were the closest seats I have ever had at a concert. I could clearly see the sweat coming down their faces all night. What more could a girl want. :-)

8:00 p.m.
Lady Gaga takes the stage. She is a strange performer. I like her music, but she's a little off. At the Boston concert the first act was a guy named Colby O'Donis...good music as well.



8:25 p.m.
Natasha Bedingfield. She sounded better much better in Vegas and I enjoyed how she switched up her set from the show in Boston. It just seemed more pulled together.



9:15 p.m.
NKOTB time! Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh....they still have the right stuff. I borrowed my brother Scott's camera for the event, but 5 pictures into the first song the battery died. I didn't get the opportunity to take any more pictures from my good seat, but that is just fine. I was able to concentrate on trying to remember every dance move, head nod and smile. I won't go through a minute by minute recap of the event...although I could, but instead here is the set list.
  • Single
  • My Favorite Girl
  • Right Stuff
  • Didn't I Blow Your Mind
  • Valentine Girl
  • Please Don't Go Girl
  • Grown Man
  • No More Games
  • If You Go Away
*****
At this part in the show, they switched to a little round stage near the back of the floor where they performed the next three numbers.

*****
  • 2 in the Morning
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Tonight
*****
  • Twisted
  • Baby I Believe in You
  • Give it to You (from Jordan's solo album)
  • Stay the Same (from Joe's solo album)
  • Cover Girl
  • I'll Be Loving You
  • Click, Click, Click
  • Summertime

Enchore:
  • Step By Step
  • Hangin' Tough

Ok, so with everything else I have discussed, the long lines the limited time with the guys all I have to say was that the show was AMAZING! They sounded awesome which was a pleasant surprise. All of their vocals were spot on. Jordan still managed to nicely hit his high notes and Joe's voice has matured well. They used a nice mix of old and new songs. Their most recent album The Block has some great club hits which my students really dig. It also contains far more sexual material. I could do without a few of the songs - as a whole though it is a nice new sound.

There were many favorite moments from the show, but the dancing was tight. The guys looked half their age and Danny did some break dancing which is impressive noting that he is almost 40.

With multiple outfit changes throughout the evening, the guys ended the show wearing Boston Celtics jerseys emblazoned with their last names, while performing "Hangin' Tough." Florescent strips of confetti fell to the ground much to the delight of all the screaming fans. I definitely felt like I was reliving 1990.

11:23 p.m.
Final bow.

Both Vegas and Boston had almost identical shows, however, at their Boston concert there was a lot of talk about reminiscing and how good it is to be home. Donnie even appeared to get chocked up. There was none of that type of sentimentality in Vegas. It was all about the partying. In fact the New Kids were having a follow up party at LAX in the Luxor to celebrate. I opted not to go. Let's be honest, I am not the agressive-in-your-face-type of fan who would get more face time with the guys. It would consist of me sitting there, nursing a bottle of water, and watching the guys from afar. Better to go home and get to bed.

Enjoy the couple of pictures I managed to get. Even though I was a little disappointed at a few items, I would do it again in a heartbeat. The 30 seconds hugging the guys - made all the difference.









Friday, October 10, 2008

Relaxing After School

On Fridays, I usually take the extra time and clean up my room so that when I come in Monday morning I have one less thing to worry about. I normally catch up on my filing, organization and I pick-up the stray pieces of trash on the floor. Much to my surprise, today as I was picking up I discovered the tinest little bag of trash on the floor. It was only about 1" x 1". At first, I didn't think much of it, but upon closer examination I noticed the little bag had leaves printed all over it. It took me just a moment to realize that I was holding a bag of marijuana. Now, I wasn't sure if this was a gift left behind by a caring student who noticed that I had been a little stressed out and thought I would maybe want a drug to relax me, or if they had just accidentally dropped it. I was tempted to open the bag and smell the contents, but my better senses prevailed and I rushed it down to the Dean's office. He quickly took it of my hands. I am extremely curious as to which of my students it belonged. I will have to do a little detective work next week and see if I can catch the culprit.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Feelings of a Frustrated Teacher

The joy of traveling has a dark side--the side that rears its ugly head when I return home. I always go through a little funk at the end of a trip because traveling reveals to me exciting opportunities, adventures and feelings. Returning home shows me the realities of my life that become obscure when you are just toiling away on a daily basis.

My recent trip to New England was amazing and when I returned to work I was surprised by the note left by my substitute teacher. I pride myself that I work very hard to keep control of my class and I try very hard to build relationships with my students so that they will stay behaved. Five out of my six classes are great and the substitute loved them. But, my eighth period class is full of students that don't want to be at school, could care less about learning and generally dislike anything I do in my class. This does not mean they don't like me...they just don't like my class.

I had tests planned while I was away, but apparently my eighth period class would not settle down until the sub called the office and had the Dean come and talk to my class. When I read about this, I told my class how disappointed I was. I look at their behavior as a reflection of my shortcomings and thus I have been a little frustrated all week.

As a whole I can't complain, the rest of my classes are great and we have a good time together. Sure more than half of my students are failing, but this is the story in everyone's class...not just mine. It's a reflection of the general apathy of students in Las Vegas today.

To cap off my week, Friday we had a staff development day. I try to be positive during these days, figuring there must be something I can learn to improve my teaching and my classes. The class that our department attended was taught by a woman who I became acquainted with last year when I was taking some AP World History classes. This woman is an amazing teacher with fantastic ideas, so I was excited that she was teaching the class. A nearby high school's social studies department joined with us and within 5 minutes of her presentation everyone (my school and the other school) were bad mouthing her and just generally being rude.

The frustrations from a week with my students, added with my anger at the unprofessional behavior of my colleagues gave me the most wretched headache and put me in a foul mood the rest of the day. By the end of the presentation, the presenter was looking at only three of us because we were the only ones still paying attention. Everyone else was either talking to their neighbor or playing on their computer. After it was over I apologized to her. I do like the people I work with, but I was ashamed at everyone's behavior. I did not want to be associated with them.

I am aware that I have a lot to learn about teaching and Friday just demonstrated to me that I will need to add patience and understanding to my list.

Yesterday, I dropped by my department chair's room to drop off some paperwork he had requested when we got into a long conversation. I told him about some of my frustrations and he shared with me some of his own. He basically told me in no certain terms that he considers me the best teacher in his department. Although I am flattered by his response, it doesn't make me feel any better. I want to learn from others and if I am at the top of the list in our department, who do I look to for support and ideas? I want to grow and I don't know if I have the motivation to push myself to grow without any external triggers. For this reason, I am going to start looking for employment outside of Las Vegas.

I am currently looking at companies that recruit teachers for oversea schools which would be an exciting opportunity. The contracts are usually 2 years. The only downside is that most of the locations are in the middle east. I want to visit these countries, but living there would be a challenge. I don't want to sacrifice 2 years of no church service for the opportunity. I am also looking at some of the high end private schools in the States. If any of you know about recruiting fairs or exciting opportunities in your area let me know. I am up for anything.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Drenched In History

My best friend Chandra and I decided a few months ago that we would travel all the way across the country for the opportunity to see the New Kids reunion tour. Our flights meshed on the trip over and Chandra and enjoyed chatting on the flight from Las Vegas to Manchester, New Hampshire. We decided to fly into New Hampshire because Southwest doesn't fly into Boston and their flights were significantly cheaper than any other carrier. On the flight I sat next to a guy named Jeff who was from Portsmouth, NH and he was willing to give us all sorts of recommendations to restaurants and places to visit. In fact, he wrote 4 pages in my little notebook with all the directions. I had tenatively planned our itinerary and was open to making some changes. The four 1/2 hour flight flew by while I enjoyed conversations with Chandra and Jeff.

We landed late Wednesday evening/Thursday morning, picked up our rental car and settled into our hotel. The next morning we followed Jeff's instructions and drove to Portsmouth to check out the city. We visited the river and the site where one of the first colonies in America was established. After a delicious lunch of clam chowder we drove to York, Maine to see the Nubble Lighthouse. This was my first lighthouse and I will be honest, I was a little disappointed. I had expected it to be much larger. It was however, still beautiful. Later that afternoon we drove to Salem, Mass. - the historic city of the witch trials. This ended up being a highlight for both Chandra and I. The town was full of witches and pumpkins. It would be a great city on Halloween. The town really plays up on its history and we entered more than one store that sold witch potions, herbs and tools for practicing wicans.

Friday, the rain started which never really let up the rest of the weekend. Chandra and I named our trip "Drentched in History" because we were literally drentched the rest of the weekend. Friday morning took us around Salem and into a few more shops. We checked out the Salem Witch Museum to learn a little more about the 1690 witch trials. After the museum visit the rain was getting us down so we decided to head to Boston earlier than planned.

After getting turned around a couple of times we finally found our hotel. We dried off, checked our maps and then decided to venture out on the T to discover the city. This was Chandra's first experience on a subway/train and she was a little nervous. We safely made it to downtown Boston and we set out for the Freedom Trail that has a number of historic Boston sites that link to the Revolutionary war and era. We skipped lunch in favor of some canoli's from Mike's Pastry Shop on our way to Paul Revere's house. While touring his home, we stumbled upon a very knowledge guide who regaled us with his historic ride to warn about the British troops arrival. I kept thinking as she spoke that she made a great storyteller. I wish I had brought a recording device to capture the story. After visiting his home we wandered to the Old North Church (1 if by land, 2 if by sea). Because of the rain we ate dinner really early, simply so we could get a little dry. Our guide book suggested Ernesto's pizza. Chandra and I both agreed that it wasn't the best pizza we had ever eaten, but it was good. Ernesto's is a locals favorite and I can see why.

Once we were finished with dinner we still had a few hours to kill before the concert so we decided to wander a little more. We quickly changed our minds when we couldn't find the Holocaust Memorial. We swung by the local CVS Pharmacy for the third time that evening (1 trip for ear plugs, 1 trip for extra socks...mine were soaked, 1 trip for an umbrella), after which we just decided to head to the theatre and wait for the show. We arrived in no time and got our tickets (15th row on the floor...great seats). I had purchased a deluxe package and so we also got a stylish bandana, key chain and a glowing heart necklace. (Check out the pictures and you can see the awesome necklace). We chatted up some of the other fans around and just waited for the big event.

I am going to save my detailed description of the concert until next week. On October 11th I will be seeing the New Kids again in Las Vegas. I have a ticket that will allow me the opportunity to meet them and get my picture with them. I have included some pictures from the concert with Chandra. The show was fantastic, we screamed, cheered and generally just had a blast.

We had a short T ride back to the hotel following the concert. We were both exhausted and quickly went to sleep. The next morning it wasn't raining yet so we decided to get most of our outside activities done first. We headed to the water to see the U.S.S. Constitutuion. The ship was free to tour, which was good, because their wasn't much to see. We then walked up the Bunker Hill memorial and caught a bus to take us back downtown. We wandered through Boston Common and the Public Gardens which were stunning. While we were strolling through the park the rain moved from a few drops to a much stronger drizzle.

Near the park is the fashionable Beacon Hill. The homes in this area are some of the most expensive in the city. We spent a little while there so I could take a couple of pictures. There was one particular street I was looking for in the neighborhood but I couldn't find it. Later that night I was flipping through out guide book complaining to Chandra about the picture I didn't get to take when I discovered that the street I had been looking for was we had found and taken pictures of. I have included it in the pictures below--it is the photo of the brick houses, flag and mossy paver street.

After the parks and Beacon Hill we window shopped down the very expensive Newbury Street, caught lunch at a delicious burger joint and then decided to head the Museum of Fine Art. The rain had really picked up and we didn't want to get any more wet. The duration of the afternoon was spent in the Museum checking out Impressionist, Medieval, and Modern Art, as well as Egyptian ruins and mummies.

We managed to do everything I planned all weekend much faster than expected so we often had pockets of time with no place to be. After the Museum we had 3 hours before we were scheduled to attend "The Light in the Piazza" a musical at the Boston Theatre of Fine Arts. I wasn't sure where the theatre was located so Chandra and I pulled out our trusty map and decided to walk. Forty-five minutes later and soaked to the bones we finally found the theatre, picked up our tickets, and then tried to decide where to eat dinner. After walking back and forth across the street three times Chandra finally settled on a little diner. We took our time drying out and chatting as we waited for the show to begin. The musical was well done. It was held in a very small, intimate theatre with seats for about 200 people. The performers had a great voices and I was impressed. During intermission my shoes and socks were still soaking wet so I decided to take my shoes and socks off for the duration of the show. My prune like toes were happy with my decision as I hid my feet under my coat, as to not freak out the other theatre patrons.

The night ended with another ride on the trusty T line and back to our hotel. Sunday arrived much too quickly and ushered in the end of our fun. We drove our car back to Manchester and enjoyed our final hour chatting at the airport waiting for our respective flights back home.

All weekend we were surprised to discover how close everything was. We would be looking for something on our map, a street or a building and then look up and discover that we were already there or only a few feet away. I kept joking that it was like being able to teleport because of how fast we would arrive. This did pose a few challenges while driving because we often missed exits and turns because they came faster than expected. We were never lost, just turned around a few times. Some of the joys of visiting a new place.

I had a great time all weekend. New England was gorgeous, food was good...but the best part was spending some quality time with one of my dearest friends in the world. We became best friends because of our mutual affection for the New Kids and this weekend was a nice reunion not only to see them again, but to restrengthen the bonds of our friendship.

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