Sunday, November 30, 2008


This Thanksgiving was not the same as Thanksgivings of the past have been for me. Usually, Thanksgiving for me is all about getting together with my family to enjoy each other's company for a day. This year, I really considered what I am thankful for. The death of my friend, Brian, gave me a new perspective on life. I usually try to appreciate the little things and stay positive, but Brian's death really made me see how much I appreciate my life. 

Brian saw beauty in everyday life. He was inspiring, motivated, and caring. He wanted so much to change the world. He wanted to help those less fortunate than him. I learned a lot about who Brian was at his funeral and viewing. Before last Sunday, I only knew Brian as a fellow classmate, and I thought he was pretty awesome already. I listened to his stories, looked at his pictures, and read his blog about the last few years of his life in which he kept an update on his battle with cancer. Brian loved the outdoors, learning, and the people in his life. 

A few of my friends have been going through some tough times, and once they heard the news of Brian's death, they saw their problems as miniscule in the whole of life. Life in terms of their problems wasn't really so bad. The same is true for me. Sure I have my moments when I get frustrated and disappointed, but overall, I'm lucky. I have wonderful friends, teachers, and family members (and dogs too), I have been able to travel, and I am almost done with school...just a few more months! In the last week, I have taken a few extra moments to notice beautiful, fresh snowfalls. Last week, the snowfall sat in the trees in the most perfect way. It was truly a winter wonderland. Christmas music is now making its way onto the radio stations. I LOVE Christmas music and this time of year! I am so happy in this season of family, lights, carols, and treats. Every time I walk into my education classroom, I will notice Brian's empty chair. It's hard to see his chair and know that he's gone from this life. But it reminds me of what he wanted. He wanted to graduate and influence the next generations. He set the bar high, a bar which I will work my life trying to live up to. When I'm having a hard day, I'm going to try to think about what Brian would do. I know that he would make the best of the circumstances and find the good, even in a mountain of bad. I am so thankful that I was lucky enough to know Brian. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saying Goodbye

Yesterday I found out that one of my fellow classmates passed away. It hit me like a brick wall. I met Brian in September, so I have known him for less than three months. All of our classes were together this semester, since we're so close to finishing our degrees in history education. Brian was not an ordinary FSU student. He was passionant, caring, true to his faith...and he had brain cancer. I didn't know much about his condition, but over time, I learned more. He had non-Hotchkins Lymphoma which had recurred for the third time. His condition was "inoperable." Brian was in class on Tuesday. I saw a notice on Wednesday about a benefit hockey game in December to raise money for his treatment. When I last saw Brian, he wasn't the same. We were in a small group together and he was distant. He wasn't himself at all. Brian was passionant about being a teacher and encouraging to his fellow classmates. I casually talked with him as we walked out the building on Tuesday afternoon. We said goodbye as our paths separated and that was it. I could tell that he was feeling pretty bad. He didn't say much. And then on Friday morning I got a text informing me that he passed away. The rest of us knew it was probably coming eventually, but not now. Not for awhile.Throughout the semester, we all talked about how he was really inspiring taking classes when he would probably never live to teach. Kudos to Brian was basically what we thought.

With his life situation, Brian began to appreciate the things that we all tend to take for granted. He shared with my friend that he now spent a lot of time outdoors, appreciating nature in its perfection. Brian was very committed to his faith, more than most people. God's plan...I wonder what he thought about that.

Brian has been on my mind all day. Why? That question pops up all the time. I have always thought that things happen for a reason, even when you don't want to believe it. When bad things happen, communities unite, people stop worrying about the little things, and others learn life lessons. It often takes awhile to see the good or the lesson. I feel that there is a plan for us. What was Brian's? What purpose was there in his suffering? He was an amazing person and he hurt so much for so long. Was he meant to be an inspiration to us all? I can never truly know the answer to why such a wonderful person died so young with so much potential. What I can do is remember the person he was. I can appreciate beauty in small things and do what makes me happy. Tomorrow a high school gym will be packed with mourners to remember Brian. Maybe there, surrounded by people who know other sides of Brian, I will learn more about his kind personality and inspiring story.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pride in my Country

I have been meaning to blog for the last two weeks. Finally, here I am. Almost two weeks ago, I sat in my living room and watched the results of the 2008 Presidential Election. Little bursts of excitement occurred within me with every gain for Obama. I knew that the polls said that he would win, but I never like to get myself too excited until it's official. I really wanted him to win. I had never been that excited about voting before, even though I've been doing it for the last six years. 

And then it was official...Barack Obama became the 44th president of the USA. I was so happy, so thrilled, so proud to be an American. I know it is horrible to say, but I honestly had not been proud of my American citizenship in a long time. Being abroad and informing others that you are an American is not always received positively. 

All of a sudden, the election took on a whole new meaning for me. I voted for Obama for several reasons, but none of them had to do with the fact that he is black. The realization that America elected a black president, only 40 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Amendment, caught me off guard.  I honestly thought that there were too many Americans who would not vote for a black president, which thoroughly disgusted me. I have been to the South several times and I have seen racism that I did not believe still existed to a large degree. Heck, I've seen it in my own community in the Midwest. Americans went out it huge numbers, many for the first time, to vote for a man who made history. Pride. I had so much pride in my country. It made me cry. I didn't expect it. It made me happy...I'm still in a good mood because of it :) I have a newfound respect for America and what it stands for. That does not change the fact that I want to live in France, but it does change the fact that I am proud of my country. What would  Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks, or Martin Luther King, Jr. say if they were here to witness the election of 2008? Equality. I know we still have a long way to go, but this is definitely a huge hurdle. Awesome. 

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Beautiful Day

Today was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, there was not a cloud in the sky, and there was a slight chill in the air that was not quite cold enough to make me put my hands in my coat pockets. In fact, today was one of the last beautiful days before it turns nasty and it's too cold outside to even appreciate beauty. I did everything I could to soak it up. I parked in an inconvenient lot and walked everywhere. With a mug of hot green tea (which was a bit disappointing because it had a flavor that reminded me of Fruity Pebbles...not exactly my favorite tea flavor) and a laid back gait, I crossed campus to class with plenty of time to spare, which made my walk even that much more enjoyable. Then after a very constructive and enjoyable teacher education class, I made my way back, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face. Since I live in Michigan, I will be lucky if I feel that again before April. Then I found out that I was finally placed for my student teaching. It even freaked me out a little, but in a good, challenging way. If everything works out, I will be teaching history/social studies to a bunch of middle schoolers. Did I want that? Not exactly, but I'm willing to roll with it. I've always been more comfortable in my math abilities, but I love history. Not just kinda love, but really love. It excites me and makes me want to continually learn more. Math just isn't like that. But will I be good at teaching history? This question has nagged at me for the last two years. What do I get a Masters in: math or history? And then PhD...I know I don't want to get a PhD in math, but will I even like or be good at teaching history to a point where I would want to spend years upon years working on a degree that really won't make me much money? Who knows. At least now I don't have a choice. I have to step out of my comfort zone, and not just get my feet wet, but jump right in, especially since I'll be dealing with middle schoolers...eek!  Life is not about taking the easy route. To really get the most out if it, you have to push yourself and face your fears. After pondering endless days full of middle school history classes, I decided that maybe it just might be a lot of fun. Middle schoolers may have the out-of-control hormones and all sorts of crazy, but I bet I'll never get bored. I'll have all sorts of things to blog about...that is if I even have time. Here's to a wonderful, beautiful, sun-filled day and a challenge that will hopefully help me get a better idea of what I really want to do with my life. Now I have to get to my history book. I have a lot of reading...I mean do. Bon nuit!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with another single gal about my love life, or lack thereof. I explained to her that I have not even had a "potential" in my life for the longest time. Why is it that a girl like me is still single? I truly do not even want a relationship. My life is way too busy right now. Is that why I'm single? Her and I thought about it. Maybe our love of the single life and complete lack of interest in most males (not all, we are human ;) ) has kept us right where we claim we want to be. The only time being single, up to this point in my life, is really a problem is wedding season. The excitement, the flowers, the dresses, the invitation....oh wait! plus 1! SHIT! This is always a problem. The big question no longer is about the hair, the shoes, the gift, but rather the date. Who can I ask? I can't ask him because that would be awkward; I can't ask him because he might get the wrong idea; I can't ask him because he might say no... The result is single me plus 1 of my best gal pals. And life goes on as normal. But still in the back of my mind, I wonder why does it never work out? 

And then JINX! That conversation totally and utterly jinxed my ass. Now I am in a position that I do not like at all. Where is that single girl that can't find a date and has nobody knocking on her door/calling her cell phone? She was happy with that life, regardless of her complaining/wondering. What do you do when when of your friends likes you, but you do not even have one iota of feeling for him beyond just friends? That line between friends and more than friends is a damn thin line if you ask me. He knows that I know. How do I say, "sorry, I'm just not that into you." It seems a little harsh. And after that, will we still be friends? Fat chance...we won't be friends like we were before all of this stuff entered the equation. In math, you can't just throw stuff onto one side of the equation and nothing on the other. It changes the whole value of the equation. He threw his lust out there, but my side has not changed. This leads to a problem in the math world and in mine. Hmmm...maybe I'll be able to get one of my friends to tell him that it's never going to happen like we all liked to do in middle school...or was that 5th grade? Anyway, for now I am still a single girl holding out for my true love, who I am sure is just waiting for me in Paris. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you...

Hemingway was right. At least he was when it comes to me. In A Moveable Feast, one of my summer reads, he wrote, "Wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." That about sums up my life since I returned from my fantasy life abroad. Paris is always on my mind. I probably think about Paris more often than guys think about sex. Seriously. Everything reminds me of it, whether it be little French things, or just how different life here really is.

I bought a cute, cheap pair (50% off, so I got them for 12 Euro) of black flats in Paris. I really broke those puppies in this summer. For some reason, I just couldn't wear them once I got home. They remind me of the last night I wore them. My roommate Erin and I went out on our last night to enjoy the life one more time before our sad flights home. We splurged on a nice meal in the Bastille area, took the Metro to Trocadero for a wonderful view of our beloved Eiffel Tower, or tour Eiffel, and walked to the Champs Elysees for creme brulee. We sang John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane" out loud as we watched the tower sparkle. On our walk it began to rain..and then it poured... a LOT. We ducked under canopies and tried to use her umbrella, but nothing helped. We were completely soaked. And I remember thinking I am so happy right now. I am soaked and cold, but it is my last night in least for now...and I am not going to let this rain ruin it. Besides, would it truly be Paris without a little rain? And so I ran and smiled. I laughed and soaked it in as much as I could. During this time, I kept forcing back my tears. How do you say goodbye to a place that you have come to love so deeply? When we finally arrived at the Champs Elysees, we searched and searched for creme brulee, but it was nowhere to be found. Not possible, right? Right. Eventually we found a place that had it on the menu. We sat down and ordered. "Mademoiselle, I am sorry, but we have no creme brulee (all in French, bien sur)." What! Pourquoi Pas!!!?? And there, in that chain restaurant with no creme brulee, I let it out, even though I tried not to. The tears came. I'm sure the waiter thought I was nuts for crying about creme brulee. Even now, my eyes start to sting and sometimes fill to the brims with tears. Anyway, I have gone on for too long about our last night. We did eventually get creme brulee, by the way.

So today, I put on the shoes. At first they were a little funky because they were soaked the last time I wore them, but then they molded right into place. All day, wherever I walked, I imagined myself on my way to class (a la Sorbonne!) or going for a walk along the Seine. And then I would wake up from my daydream and remember where I was and I felt sad. I miss it. It has been over a month and I still feel homesick. Can you be homesick for a place that is not technically your home, where you know few people, and have never experienced the seasons?

I have decided to go back. Not just to visit, but to live, for at least a year. Who knows, maybe longer ;) Paris is not just another cool city to me. It is a part of me. I see it and feel it in everything. From the way I drink my coffee (cafe au lait, s'il vous plait) to the way I walk down the street, Paris has left its mark.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How can one help another who will not help themselves?

How can I help others who will not help themselves? This question has troubled and stumped me for quite some time. I am studying to be a teacher, and I feel like all of my education teachers would say things like, "You must inspire them to want to learn...blah, blah, blah." Now that sounds great, but I now know that it is easier said than done. And that is a great understatement.

I teach a workshop that supplements a college algebra class. I work closely with the professor to give students the extra time and help they need to understand the material and succeed in the course. I have had many, Many, MANY students who say that they just don't get it. Yup, basically all of my students dislike math. If they liked it and were great at it, they would most likely not even be in my class. Anyway, along with the students who give up after the first few weeks and ultimately withdraw or fail, I have those students who start off determined to succeed. Last semester, a sweet, hard-working girl named Devon worked harder than anyone I've ever taught. She ended up passing the course, but barely. She definitely had a real math block going on. And then I have other students who have the ability succeed, but choose to be slackers and blame it on everybody but themselves.

This brings me to the young man that is on my mind...and not in a good way. This kid infuriates me! I have to be honest and say that he is lacking greatly in his fundamental math skills. The professor even suggested that he drop back to the previous math class because his skills were just not there. Of course he decided to stick it out. His reply sounded a little something like, "Oh no. I gotta pass this class and the next one. I'm a senior and I'm graduating in May." Hmmm...You are a senior, you struggle in math, and you waited until now to start your math classes...the 2 most failed math classes that our university offers!!!???? Well, let's just say that this guy will not be graduating in May. I know it, the professor knows it, and now I think he may suspect it. Ok, so you may be thinking I am a horrible teacher because I am setting him up for failure...think's fine with's people like this that make me seriously doubt my ability to put up with lazy-ass students. So, back to the beginning of the semester. I had faith. I thought, sure, he can put in the work and pass this class. Devon did it, so maybe he can too! And then he came to class...and then he came to my workshop...and then I realized that his withdrawal/failure is inevitable. Why? Comes late to everything or doesn't come at all, no book, no notes, no homework, leaves early, and challenges my policies. Now he has this attitude that even though he's just about failing, he's gonna do great on the test...uh huh...yup...sure. Now, of course, not only does he come to my class every time, he comes to both sections of my class. The problem is that he thinks he can substitute coming to my class for doing his homework and taking notes. Because of his lack of work, he has no idea what I am doing when I do problems on the board. He has no idea even how to start a basic algebra problem. He sits at his desk and wants me to explain each tiny step several times. He looks at me all squinty-eyed like he can't see, but really, it's just his way of letting me know that he still doesn't get it. My big question is, "What am I to do?" Do I attend to him individually all the time? I really can't do that...I'm not a tutor...I have a whole class to teach! I have no problem explaining concepts, steps, etc., but when it is a constant annoyance, I feel like it is taking away from the learning of everyone else. But I think the thing that really gets me is that I know he puts no effort in outside of class and then he complains to me that this class is harmful to his blood pressure...nice excuse. He has yet to visit the free tutoring center, visit the professor's office hours, or start a homework assignment. Sorry, but I have no sympathy. I just don't know how to deal with this guy...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I am currently sitting in my office procrastinating. That's right, I'm sitting here, writing about procrastination, rather than doing what I should be doing. The easy stuff that does not take long is not my problem...It's the stuff that seems never-ending that I tend to put research, something I have become quite familiar with as a history major.

I just finished my lesson plan/worksheets for tomorrow, fully intending on moving on to a little research. Maybe it would help if I cared a little more. I know it would help if my project that I need to be researching were due soon. I have a few weeks, which means I will probably continue to put off my research until the last possible moment, and then my project will not be up to my standards, but I'll hand it anyway because something is better than nothing at all, at least as far as my grade goes.

Federalists, Anti-Federalists, and the American Dream...hmmmm...I picked this topic because I thought, "Well, I don't know a lot about this, so now is a great time to learn." That was week one, before I fell back into my not-so-positive-about-learning slump. Well, such is life, and being the semi-diligent student that I am, I better get to work, or my soon-to-be-due bibliography will be a nice list of sources that I have not read. Au revoir!

Greta and Heidi

Last night, I fell asleep thinking about two of my favorite friends. They were on my mind because I had just submitted my first blog, and they were truly my inspiration. Heidi and Greta. What amazing, fantastic, fun-loving, full-of-love, hopeful and true people! I had some of my top life moments with these sisters. Ok, so maybe the fact that we were together in France had something to do with it, but still, their energy and zest for life definitely seeped into my soul.

Heidi is a true beauty. She is strong and knows exactly what she wants, even when she is uncertain. Even through tough times, she is level-headed and a mountain of courage. She has more true faith in her beliefs than anyone I have ever met. She loves deeply and laughs easily.

Greta is a poet...not only of words, but of life. She finds beauty and laughter in even the smallest of things. She is a comic (trust me, there are pictures to prove it) and a free spirit (there are pictures to prove that too). She is truly herself. She is not afraid of what others may think, and I love that about her, especially since the things she does, I love to do sing "The Lonely Goatherd," as if she were a true Von Trapp, for example.

The thing that truly amazes me is that within a small amount of time, these wonderful people became closer to me than people I have known for years. They are among my newest friends, yet my friendship with them feels as if it is one I have cherished for years. What I do know is that these wonderful friends are not friends that will simply remain in pictures and nothing else. I will make it a point to stay in touch, even though we live at opposite ends of the country.

These friends are the epitome of truly wonderful people. They deserve only the best in life.

Monday, September 15, 2008

First Blog Ever

To be honest, I've never written a blog before! I know, I'm a little behind the times, but I guess I just never took the time to do it. However, with the inspiration of my wonderful friends, Heidi and Greta, I decided to sign up. Only now am I actually writing. I have nothing and everything to write about. For now, I will only start to say that I have actually started my blog. I decided that a blog was a good way to document my life for not only my friends who might want to hear about it, but for myself as well. Many years from now, it might be fun reading about who I was at 24. I coulda, woulda, shoulda started while living in Paris, but oh well...I can't go back now...but I really wish I could! Just to walk down a cobblestone street with the aroma of freshly baked baguettes and a view of the Seine would be worth the plane ticket alone. For now I'll finish up my degree and figure out how I will ever make it back there...not as a tourist, but to really live there again. I really need to get to bed since I have to be up in 6.5 hours to learn how to be a fabulous teacher. I promise to write more next time. What I do not promise is to make the quality and entertainment of this blog even close to that of Greta's...she's just amazing at this! Anyway, bonne nuit, mes amis! Je t'aime!