Wednesday, September 23, 2009


A tiny bud of a smile on our lips nourishes awareness and calms us miraculously. It returns us to the peace we thought we had lost. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

I want to be calmed miraculously.

~ M

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Seedy Side of the State Fair

I know, I know. It's been months. Instead of pointing fingers and making biased accusations, let's just let bygones be bygones, shall we? Fast forward six months: I left my job at the preschool, moved back to Minnesota, started grad school, and discovered that I can fit 12 large green grapes in my cavernous mouth at one time. Needless to say, goals have been met.

I know what you're thinking. "Marie, your life is so rich and fulfilling! You're so busy and important! Why the sudden return to blogging?" Well, gentle reader, let me just say that the muse moves in mysterious ways. One day I'm idly cramming grapes in my mouth, Googling the Guinness World Record for the feat , and the next day inspiration is staring me in the face.

Like any good Minnesotan, I am deeply moved by crop art in all of its glorious forms. The seed art display at the Minnesota State Fair never fails to deliver, and this year was no exception. While magnificent and, dare I say, inspirational, Mr. C's piece (see above) has left me with a few questions. For instance; how did he choose which first ladies to render in seed? Why does Mr. C have a halo circling his head? Why does Laura Bush have a monkey on her shoulder? And for the love of salsa, what can cockatiels and Nancy Reagan possibly have in common?!?!

I pondered these questions as I left Mr. C's masterpiece and made my way towards the other seed art submissions. I wandered in wonder past an ipod, a portrait of Willie Nelson, and a copy of Obama's birth certificate. I ogled an eerily apt portrayal of Bill Cosby and was contemplating the possible blasphemy inherent in a depiction of the Virgin Mary when I came face to face with my future.

If I spend my latter years making portraits of my cat out of seeds, will you still be my friend?


Monday, March 16, 2009

Princess THIS, Disney

Some may remember my previous posting on my effort to undermine the stranglehold that Disney princesses have on the girls at my preschool. "Susan," the little girl who inspired the original princess rant drew an (unprompted) picture for me on Friday. The title is also all Susan.  Be still my heart ...

Girls Playing Sports

Miss Marie: 1  Disney Princesses: 0


Friday, March 6, 2009

Play on, Playa'

How does it come to this? I'm a reasonably attractive, intelligent young woman.  I have no drug addictions, communicable diseases, or recently-released-from-prison ex-boyfriends.  Yes, I have a cat, but I almost never pretend that his meows are purposeful replies to my attempts at conversation.  I've got all of this going for me, but the sexiest thing I've done recently is make googly-eyes at my attractive-but-flaming mailman.

Before you start setting me up on blind dates with your Cousin Al, let me reassure you that I'm not really one of "those girls."  I don't spend my time flipping through the latest issue of Modern Bride fantasizing about my special day and bemoaning the lack of beef cake in my life.  In general I'm content being single.  I like sleeping in my own bed and eating popsicles for breakfast without anyone judging me.  That being said, I may have crossed a line.  Since I moved in with my little brother I've spent the majority of my free time drinking beer and playing Wii in my apartment.  There's a fine line between being happily single and turning into a dude.

I was struck by this last Wednesday night when I was playing pick up basketball at a local church.  I was talking to one of the guys that organizes the game and things were going well.  A little flirtatious banter, some friendly trash talking ... he even invited me to come out for drinks after the game.  Then I got flustered and threw a basketball at his nuts.  Have you ever seen a pretty man cry?  I haven't ended a conversation with a guy so completely and convincingly since junior high.  To add insult to (his) injury, this is the same guy that I thought was hitting on me the first night I played.  He went out of his way to be welcoming by introducing me to people and asking me about myself.  Kismet? Love at first bounce pass? Not so much.  It turns out that Hottie McBall-to-the-Nuts is the pastor of the church where we play.  He was welcoming me as a man of God and not, as I had hoped, as a man who wanted to take me out to dinner and woo me with expensive gifts.  Lucky for me nothing says "I too love the Lord, you should ask me out" like a swift blow to the crotch.

The point is, much like Stella, I need to get my groove back.  I'm not looking for a boyfriend,  and I don't miss going to bars and drinking cocktails while trying to look mysteriously sexy-yet-approachable.  All I need is some proof that I haven't completely lost my touch.  I want to piece together the tattered remnants of my social skills and flirt with a cute guy, or at least have a conversation with a guy and not wonder if he's chatting me up on behalf of the Lord.  Then I'll happily retire to my apartment for some beer and Wii bowling.

~ M

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lexi's list

In honor of my friend Jenn's recent post, I too have some Lexi musings to share.  Last year my parents and I went out to dinner with Jenn and her family in Iowa City.  After Lexi took a poll on whether or not the adults at the table liked Miller Lite or not (smart girl), she started peppering me with questions about whether or not I was going to get married and have kids of my own.  Lexi, very astutely, has figured out that she and her sister are the kids in my life, and she seemed a little worried that any rugrats I might have in the future would usurp her position.  "Miss Marie," she told me very seriously, "if you had kids ... it would be weird."  After agreeing with her on the weirdness of my potential procreating, and pointing out that she would be my go-to babysitter should I ever drop some shorties, Lexi came up with the following list.  It's ten questions she gets to ask any possible co-baby makers.  I think she covered all the bases. 

1) Do you like basketball?
2) Do you like kids?
3) Do you like books?
4) Do you like shopping?
5) Are you tall?
6) Do you like yoga?
7) What's your favorite movie?
8) What's your favorite ice cream?
9) Do you like me?
10) Do you love Mrs. Marie?

While having my husband call me "Mrs. Marie" might be a little kinky, I'll let it slide if he's a tall, child-loving basketball player who likes to read books.  Is all I'm saying.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Things That Keep Me Up At Night: 3

Aside from my unshakable cough, the Twilight series, my pending on-line math course, mankind's inability to live in harmony with the Timber Wolf, and my decision to grow my hair out until I shave my head in July, the number one thing that HAD been keeping me up at night was my graduate school application essay.  Two double-spaced pages on why I want to be a teacher; a task I was struggling with to a ridiculous degree, mostly because I could write a fricking book about why I want to be a teacher, and the path I've taken to finally reach this decision. 

BUT!! The application was due last Friday and, true to form, I cranked out my essay, over-nighted my application, and am now waiting to hear back from the University of Minnesota's early childhood education and early child special education program. Here's the essay for your reading pleasure. Cross your fingers, folks, this is where I want to be!!

Application Essay

The first time I met Andy, he wouldn’t look me in the eye.  “Talk to him,” his mom told me, “he’s listening.”  So I talked, about anything and everything.  While I talked, Andy spun in circles and flapped his arms.  He never made eye contact, but his circles would occasionally bring him close enough so that he could brush his hand against my arm.  At the end of our meeting, as my words dwindled, Andy began to screech and hit his head.  His mom smiled.  “He likes you,” she told me.  We arranged to meet again the next day.

Working with Andy and his family for the next three years changed my life.  Diagnosed with Autism at an early age, Andy had been neglected by his birth parents and abused in foster care.  When I met him he was eight years old, living with his adoptive family, and just beginning to move past the traumas of his early childhood. Doctors had predicted that Andy would never be able to communicate, and early evaluations had labeled him profoundly retarded.  Working with a team of caregivers assembled by his parents, I helped Andy find ways to successfully interact with his community. Time and time again I saw him struggle against the limitations detailed in his initial prognosis.   I read to Andy, and watched him emerge into language and begin to write poetry; together we practiced facilitated communication, and I saw him type love notes to his first crush.  I witnessed Andy’s parents fight to prove that their child belonged in a “regular” classroom, and I saw first hand how a misdiagnosis, a label, could be overcome with passionate advocacy and tireless effort.  I learned how teachers and parents, therapists and respite care providers, could come together to provide a child with the tools and opportunities that he needed to succeed, in the classroom and beyond.

I took the lessons that I learned from Andy and his family with me as I worked with a variety of children in a number of different roles.  As a special education assistant teacher, I saw how special-needs children, lacking the advocacy and support Andy received, could slip through the cracks of public education. As a para-educator in a behavior disorder classroom, I learned how simple things, like patience and consistency, were sometimes the only tools I needed to connect with a child.  As lead teacher at a private preschool, I worked to prove that a small group of typically functioning children could successfully be educated along side their special-needs peers.

I have worked with children in various ways throughout my life.  I have been everything from teacher to nanny, from soccer coach to respite worker.  No matter what my title, however, I have always been an educator.  A child’s education is a process comprised of innumerable influences and countless opportunities.  I want to provide children with the tools they need to take advantage of these opportunities at an early age, and I believe that your M.Ed/Initial Licensure Program in Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education can help me achieve that goal.  I want to anchor the hands-on experiences I have accumulated over the past ten years in the research based methodology and best practices that I will learn through your program.  After completing your program I will be able to provide special-needs children with the opportunities and tools that Andy never had as a young child.

** names have been changed

Thursday, January 15, 2009


This post is dedicated to the wonder that is Cosmopolitan magazine.  Some of you may laugh derisively as I wax poetic about the sex advice and dieting tips that Cosmopolitan so generously spews forth, but we’ll see who has the last laugh when you ladies come running to me begging for tips on “What Makes a Great Girlfriend” (Feb. 2009: 48).  Also, did you know that when a guy says, “I’m not looking for a relationship,” what he’s actually saying is “I really just want to do you”? I know that because I read all 50 of the “guy phrases” Cosmopolitan took the time to translate for readers like me (Feb. 2009:103).  Psych.

See, Cosmopolitan isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.  Never mind the insidious sexism engendered by a magazine billing itself as an “agent for social change” while featuring articles that warn women not to gain weight lest they “feel self-conscious about [their bodies] and be less provocative in bed” (Feb. 2009: 149).  Forget about all that and admit that, while it might not be pleasant to hear, your ass shouldn’t “grow in direct proportion to your affection for your guy” (Feb.2009: 148).  Cosmopolitan is here to help you sister, so stop slouching and pay attention.

This month’s issue of Cosmopolitan had me at hello … if by “hello” you mean the cover’s promise that “Once [I] Know The Key Arousal Triggers, [I] Can Double His Satisfaction” and by “had me” you mean that though I’ve tried to cancel my mysterious subscription for 2 years I’m still receiving the monthly issue.

Aside from learning how to double my man’s pleasure, February 2009’s issue taught me a number of valuable lessons.  I now know that red turns men on more than any other hue, Ali Larter’s favorite part of her body is her butt, leggings are sexier than sweatpants, 59 % of women polled prefer David Beckham with spiked (over simple) hair, gossiping is an ultimate deal breaker and will make my man leave me, it’s skanky to wear a dress with a massive hooded collar (though a small ruffled collar on said dress will catapult you right over to sexy), and I should never sleep with a man on our first date, no matter how much he begs, because doing so will rob him of the chance to “treat [me] like gold” (Feb. 2009: 162).

Sure, Cosmopolitan’s purported message of empowerment can get lost amongst the bombardment of sexual advice.  And yes, it will be difficult for me to remember all of their tips for reigning in my behavior so that my man doesn’t think that I’m too needy, possessive, jealous, bitchy, frigid, wild, or opinionated … but at least I’ll have a man!

Nobody said love was easy, but Cosmopolitan seems to think that it’s all I need, and they’re willing to provide me with the tools and detailed abdominal workouts that will get me a life partner (excusing future weight gain).  So bring it on Cosmopolitan!  This fun, fearless, female is ready to clean out her closet and bone up on seduction tricks that will keep my new guy hooked.



Saturday, January 10, 2009


Maybe you were wondering what you should get me for Christmas.  Maybe you’re realizing that, while the holiday has passed, you haven’t missed your chance to ply me with a token of your regard.  Maybe you’re realizing that I’m the kind of girl that will receive a belated holiday gift with no recriminations or nay saying, no judgment or ill will!! You probably just thought to yourself “Marie is the kind of class act that wouldn’t even in the darkest corner of her mind think “that lazy so and so is JUST getting around to giving me a gift? I know someone who’s getting an anonymously delivered box of coal next holiday season. Late.”” So now you’re racking your brain and scouring the clearance aisles at Target looking for the perfect memento.  One piece of advice: leave the mug o’ beer shaped cheeses on the shelves, slackers.  I already got me one of those.

 Said cheese was the gift I received at the family gift exchange on Christmas Eve.  It was accompanied by a Packer’s bottle coozie and stocking cap.  The only gift that was traded more frequently was the bottle of Bombay gin my brother provided.