Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Comfortable in My Skin(ny Jeans)

Age has been a very popular theme in my life, and apparently in the lives of many of my recently-graduated friends (I feel ya' Wendy). I've always felt very comfortable about my age, very comfortable in my own skin. Sure I went through a gangly stage or two, but I don't think I ever went through a stage where my personality was gangly. You know, when someone is uncomfortable enough with themselves that they make others around them feel awkward or self-conscious. Yeah, don't think that was ever me. However, the universe has been trying its best lately to make me very aware of my youth, and how it doesn't fit in easily with my professional surroundings. Well, this weekend, the Imp took a shot at the universe and landed one square on its jaw.

Throughout the end of August and the whole month of September, the families at my school host grade level parent socials. Sometimes there are as many as three in one night. This weekend, I was required to attend three of these parent-only socials, the 9th grade social, the 10th/11th grade social, and the 12th grade social. Now, what business do I have socializing with parents who could be my own parents in age and who live in multi-million dollar mansions?

... ... ...

I couldn't come up with many either. It's not like we could compare parenting tips, or the size of our houses, our diamond rings, our husband's....salaries. But! The boss said, "Go!" so I went.

The first of these was the 10th/11th grade social on Saturday night at 7:30pm. I was tired and in a cloudy mood when I dragged myself to my closet at 6:30 to decide what the heck you wear to one of these socials. The Imp saw only two choices. I could dress in something very conservative and quiet, something to not be noticed in. Or, I could follow my Dr. Seuss sense of style and pick out two things I craved to wear and then make it work. Tonight, I was gonna work it.

I put on my favorite feather earrings and an orange coral necklace my mom got for me in Jamaica. I slipped on a blue sweater-vest like top with a low, V-neck back. Before slipping on and zipping up my brown, faux suede ankle boots from Spain, I reached into the dryer and pulled out my still-damp pair of favorite, dark blue, skinny jeans. With all of the slipping on and zipping up I did with the rest of my outfit, this was more of a wiggling into. But, oh baby, ain't nothin' fit like a pair of skin-tight jeans that you know make you look fine.

I didn't need a second look in the mirror. This was an evening I wasn't going to pretend to be anything but young, spunky, and spry (well, as spry as one can be in uber tight, damp jeans and 3 inch heels).

After I parked my car, I imagined a theme song following me as I walked down the quite suburb street toward the parent social (I imagine daily theme songs, FYI). And what did I imagine fit the mood of that Saturday night? A mash-up of Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" and Genesis' "I Can't Dance." Somewhere between the lyrics "...I can't dance, I can't talk, the only thing about me is the way I walk..." and "...And the J-Z song was on, So I put my hands up, they're playing my song...Movin' my hips like 'yeah'..." I walked into the (large) host house for the parent social.

I awkwardly stood in line behind a group of parents to get a name tag. I couldn't help but notice that everyone else looked like they had stepped out of the Chico's, Land's End, or Banana Republic catalog. But oooo, maybe I could get a plate of those scrumptious looking hors d'oeuvres. If my mouth is full of yummy cheeses and chocolate treats, no one can reasonably expect me to contribute to a conversation. Perfect.

As luck would have it, I was herded away from food table...but hallelujah! the tide of moms and dads took me straight to the largest bowl of sangria that I have ever seen. It was a beautiful thing. It was made with champagne and had watermelon as well frozen mango slices. My mongoose-like reflexes took action and I had a glass in my hand before any of the moms could shoot me the "are you old enough to be drinking that?" look I knew was coming.

So where does a 22 year-old, who's dressed for a swanky Dr. Seuss night club (if such things exits, and they should), bobbing her head to a song no one else can hear, and greedily digging out sangria soaked fruit pieces from the bottom of her glass? Right in between the world's biggest, loudest, 40 year-old Adam Lambert fan and an eccentric art teacher. No joke, this mom had seen Adam Lambert 3 times in the span of two weeks, made signs for him at every concert, and had gotten on TV and into the papers for them. She even admitted to signing her daughter out of school to go see him in Dallas. Before that night I had never seen a middle-aged woman who had the hots for a possibly gay pop singer. It was a first.

The art teacher, who completed our little eclectic circle of parent-social misfits (all the other parents gave Lambert-mom a wide berth), is one of my favorite teachers at school - if only for the reason that I see her most often in torn and paint stained clothes toting a large Coach purse and a Mar Jacobs bag and pulling the look off effortlessly. She also owns a pair of bright yellow shoes I think would look good in my closet and even better on my feet.

Shortly before the evening's remarks were made by the headmaster, another teacher joined my little circle. She is another sweet teacher I enjoy talking with very much. You should know that I like her and did not take offense at her following comment, I just happened to have my epiphany in regards to my youthful appearance after she made her remark.

Joining our circle she turns to me and says, "Ah! You look just like a student." And it hit me. My answer to every remark made against my age:

"If by that you mean my @ss looks killer in these jeans and you wish you still had the figure and perky curves of an 18 year-old, then thank you." Of course I didn't say this to the nice teacher. I was too busy with the frozen piece of mango in my mouth. However, it was with this thought that I exited the party with a chocolate dessert in both hands...because I can, because my metabolism can. And then I ran several miles a few days later to make sure I hadn't jinxed myself ;)

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."
Dr. Seuss

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Blot of Mustard

My family could tell you that not all of the fruits of my adventures in the kitchen have been tasty, or even edible. Usually this was because I misread the directions, mis-measured ingredients, or simply did not have all of the necessary ingredients and was forced to make unorthodox substitutions. I offer up as an example the time in high school when I ran out of flour and substituted in Bisquick while baking six loaves of zucchini bread. Logically it makes sense, right? I mean, you can bake anything from Bisquick, so it must be mostly flour. Wrong. Whatever it mostly is, does not make edible zucchini bread.

So imagine my father's surprise when I call him up Saturday night for his famous chili recipe and declare that I am going to enter in a chili cook-off at my apartment complex. My dad told me the basic ingredients of his chili and I diligently wrote them all down, but the true beauty of his chili is that it is never the same twice. We call it "refrigerator chili" because he manages to combine a month's worth of left overs with just the right spices to create the world's best chili. The trick is that the "special ingredient" for each batch is different. Despite my previous track record in the kitchen and this daunting lack of my own personal "special ingredient," I decided to enter the cook-off. They were, after all, offering up $100 and $50 first and second place prizes.

Sunday, after church, I sauteed the onions,  browned the meat,  sprinkled the spices and let the concoction marinate with regular tastings (of course). Ten minutes before the cook-off event I did a last tasting. It wasn't a disaster! But, it wasn't first place worthy in my mind either and I was determined to do my dad, my King of Chili, proud. I stood in my Sunday dress pondering my pot of chili. Pondering. Pondering...

"Well," the Imp in me said, "nothing risked, nothing gained." Of course, in this case I was risking the digestive well-being of total strangers for possible monetary gain. The Imp had no problem with this. I reached into the fridge, grabbed my "special ingredient" and squirted a healthy dose into the chili. Gave it a stir and taste. My toes didn't curl and my eyes didn't bug. It was now a winning pot of chili.

Three hours and five chili tastings later and I was awarded second place. I risked, I gained, and I hope I did my dad proud.

I made a second pot (the first batch being completely consumed at the cook-off) tonight with some small tweaking. The adventure this time was realizing that I don't own any serving spoons or ladles. I improvised a large coffee mug to ladle out my chili. I also ate it with two pieces of freezer burned wheat bread. They were actually more like trenchers. I feel Hrothgar would be proud. It reminded me of the time I was late for work and out of clean spoons so ate my morning cereal with an ice cream scoop...

I dedicate this to my dad, who has always encouraged the Imp in me. And to my mom, who still watches movies with me which have such delectable quotes..."an underdone potato..."

Thank you Bess (It's The World, Dear) for the encouraging blogging award!

Seven Things About Me:
1. I didn't have a first word, I had a first sentence: "What's that?"
2. I read all of the Little House on the Prairie books once a year from 3rd to 9th grade.
3. One of my favorite song lyrics comes from Steve Miller "Really love your peaches, wanna shake your tree."
4. I have never broken a bone.
5. I had 8 wisdom teeth. That's right, I said 8.
6. I used to take Mandarin Chinese lessons.
7. I will dance to any music anywhere. Anywhere.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Adventuresome, imaginative, spirited, driven
Relative of feisty Scotsmen, hard-working Germans, and the Bond sisters, who gave me their side of the family's dance moves
Lover of the glory of sunrises, the rush of a faster canter, and good food that makes me dance in my seat
Who feels the heat of passion, the awe of God's mercy, and the depth of my family's love
Who needs eight hours of sleep, good books, and regular moments of wonder
Who fears most people's feet, a broken jaw, and having kids that won't love Harry Potter
Who gives smiles freely
Who would like to see every continent and my kids be proud of me
Resident of The Hoodlands

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Raiders of the Faculty Fridge

The latest outbreak of my impish nature occurred today around 9 am. But it was for a worthy cause! Food was involved. Part of a fresh bagel, to be exact. It was the promise of this morning treat, topped with strawberry cream cheese, that prompted me to break a social rule...

Like all schools, the one I work at has a faculty break/work room. I would say ours is, in general, above average...except in the case of the community refrigerator. Fellow Hillsdalians, I ask you to recall what we all learned in Economics 101: if something is everyone's, it's no one's. This rule is universal. It applies the same with the Lower School recess toys as it does with the faculty fridge. I was forewarned early on that staff (these are adults, remember) were known to partake of others' food stored in the fridge without asking permission, and that no one claimed responsibility for cleaning out the fridge. Everyone just claimed a communal right to nibble on your sandwich. Disgraceful. I shudder as one who holds her food sacred as her own (although if you ask, I'm happy to share). But! Today was the day I slunk over to the dark side, and nibbled without asking. Here's how it went down.

Upon entering the faculty work room, my eyes made their usual sprint to the counter surface where food gifts are known to miraculously appear. And what do my sleepy morning eyes see? A quarter of a fresh, whole wheat bagel. The last of it's kind. I don't have to be the AP Calculus teacher to calculate the speed at which another staff member could swoop in and claim the last treat for their own! There was no time for thought, only action.

I scanned the counter space around the bagel platter. What? No cream cheese? This can't be, perhaps they put it in the fridge...I make an ungainly dash in my heals for the once white-colored fridge. After opening the door, my eyes are back to their searching. If the bagels were brought in as a catered treat, then there would be clearly marked containers with cream cheese...but there aren't. There are only four normal looking tubs of various flavored Philadelphia Cream Cheese. What can this mean? Is one person hording an unhealthy stock of cream cheese in the faculty fridge? Do they belong to separate people? Or did someone buy the tubs separately to bring with the bagels? I can't very well close the fridge door, turn my back on the lone bagel piece, and ask the secretary...that's just ridiculous and I would feel about 9 years old, not to mention I would probably return to find the bagel gone.

Ok, Ariel, here's the plan to get you some of that cream cheese for your bagel, not get caught awkwardly raiding another person's cream cheese stash, and have a mostly clean conscious: spread your keys, mail, and dirty coffee mug along the counter between the bagel and fridge, that way if anyone enters during the raid you can abort the raid and nonchalantly stop by anyone of these items and pretend that it was what you were walking toward. Now, grab the bagel, napkin and a plastic knife. It must be plastic so you can dispose of it quickly should the need arise for a quick getaway. At the fridge; door is open; grab the tub that looks like it belongs in the horde so what you take won't be missed as much. Now, make sure to make your knife strokes in the same direction and even depth as the existing ones. Check. Check. Check. Knife is licked clean and placed next to the sink, along with the other unclaimed, communal dishes. If there was a little extra swagger to my walk as I passed the next staff member entering the room, well, we'll blame it on the Imp.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Indentity Crisis!

...about my blog's identity, that is. I'm changing up the rules a bit here (and anyone who's ever played a game with me (or edited my spelling and punctuation), you know how much I love to do this). This blog shall, from this point forward, have a new purpose: to simply keep those I love laughing with me as I enjoy with wild abandon life in Texas. Previously, I thought to make this an outlet for uncensored personal musings, but I have since changed my mind. I would much rather use this blog to share the the moments that make my mother hold her breath, my brother roll his eyes, my dad  high-five me, and my friends laugh with me. Entonces, vamos.

My first task is to catch ya'll upon life since my last post.

Let's start with work: it's getting better and busier. I think I'm really starting to own my role as Alumni Relations Coordinator and College Counseling Administrative Assistant. The seniors are starting to know my name, and distinguish me from their fellow classmates (score!), my coworkers are beginning to trust and rely on me, and everyday I grin like a fool when I think how perfectly God planned this all. Bien hecho, Dios.

Next week, I will be giving a presentation to the seniors on leadership and college during our Leadership Conference. This month, my first alumni magazine will be published (although, in all fairness it was started by my predecessor). In November, I will help host my first alumni event - the Class of 2000 Ten Year Reunion. These are all wonderful and exciting things, but it's not to say that the job is without its frustrations. I am still struggling with being handed tasks and then supplied with incomplete information on how to complete those tasks, and I am struggling with less-than-committed volunteers. So it goes.

I am still reading The Three Musketeers...and Ben I could use your knowledge of the French language! All of these names I can't even pronounce in my head! But for all of that, I am still enjoying it and when I am finished I will be sure to report my thoughts.

Last week I started and finished a mini photo album of my trip with my mom to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And it reminded me how much I want to go back...and how much I want to take my kids there. I hope it's still around at that point...and that my kids let me drag them there.

Last weekend, Nic came to visit me for the long weekend. I think it's best to say simply that it was heaven on earth - any more detail and I might start to drool on my keyboard :)

My last consideration for you, and for myself,  is about a poem I came across while cleaning out some old folders in my office. They were stacks of poems written by seniors from the past three or four years. They were given the following format and asked to supply their own, personal answers. I'm working on my own and I would love to see what ya'll would write for yourselves. I challenge you to try it and share!

Biography of an Artist

First Name
Four traits that describe character (3 items)
Relative of_________________ (3 items or people(s))
Lover of __________________ (3 items)
Who feels _________________ (3 items)
Who needs ________________ (3 items)
Who fears _________________ (3 items)
Who gives _________________
Who would like to see_________
Resident of _________________
Last Name

Note: your answers can be in simple list format, or sentences with semicolons/commas