I am simply having THE best weekends, Friends. Simply the best. These weekends MORE than make up for Monday through Friday, and I am so thankful for them. By Monday morning, I'm re-charged and ready. Even if I do still have a stack of ungraded tests and classwork sitting in the backseat of my car. I'll deal with them Monday evening--I'm going to suck up Saturday and Sunday for all they're worth.

Before I begin, I must heads up you of two things: (1) this entry shall be all over the place and (2) I've had 4 large glasses of sangria. Apologies in advance for any poor grammar, bad spelling, and weirdly joined compound sentences you have to read 3-4 times before piecing together what I'm attempting to communicate.

1-Saturday I went to lunch with sweet teacher/writer friend Becky. Becky is working at a most awesome school this year--she's working for a private school that truly "gets" kids and what's best for them. They do The Arts! And Environmental Education! And project-based learning! And they have goats and chickens and archery and an orchard and a big learning garden and a donkey on campus. It sounds like heaven to this public school weary teacher. I'm currently scheming how I can get a job at this Utopian palace of learning, and survive the massive pay cut.

2-Miss M and I visited Tiny Towne, which is one of THE coolest places if you're a tiny person. They teach you to drive, way before the government says you can. You're given tiny cars to practice on realistic-looking roads. And there's an arcade with amazing games--readers, I'm talking games that have real water involved, and not a SINGLE CARNIE HUSTLER IN SIGHT. And a food court. And a TRAIN. With a real tunnel to ride through. With music playing. A train disco.

Unfortunately, it's like $5,000 for 2 hours of everything (i'm being hyperbolic; it's really about $50 for two hours), and so we'll only go twice per year. However! I feel confident she'll be ready for the chaos that is Atlanta traffic when she's 16. Thanks, Tiny Towne!

3-This afternoon, our neighborhood Home Owners Association had its annual catered picnic. My thoughts on this regular event:

*I love old people. Old people and little kids--I love them both so much. Little kids are full of magical thinking without care or concern for ultimate outcomes; they are daredevils who will ride their bikes down a big neighborhood hill at break neck speed and freakishly delight in how many mothers are completely losing their shit watching them do it.

Old people know what's really real, and they have the BEST stories to tell about Life. I could listen to them go on about their life histories and happy/sad experiences all night, even if they do throw in the occasional, crazy right wing tea party spewage like "And that Obama kid--he's destroying the country!" Because I felt the same way about that George W. Bush kid, and anticipate saying that a lot when I'm in a nursing home.

The sweetest stories I heard tonight were all about how they found each other--some had lost dearly loved husbands or wives, and a son or daughter found them a new "friend" and now they're all married and blissful...while others had been through some pretty tragic relationships and finally were living perfectly happy lives all alone, and they just happened upon each other, discovering another soul so very similar to theirs it was too big to deny.

It's those connection stories that make my soul soar, and make me so grateful to be on this planet, flying around through the Milky Way on this rock of chaos and destruction. For every person who thinks ISIS is a good idea, there are at least 100 others who cancel that person out. And I am thankful to often find myself interacting with some of those sweet, lovely souls who consciously choose to not waste the Universe's time. There are so many amazing stories to hear and tell, and we all have them.

*Speaking of stories--the tabloid kind: I HEART it when the neighborhood gossiping starts!!! OMG, I heart it so deeply, I cannot even describe to you here in words how deeply I heart it. I just listen, taking in mental notes, developing all kinds of stories about it. My husband is all: Yo, time to go! He can't do it; he hates it when the neighbors start psychologically dissecting one another. But I reluctantly leave, still desperate to hear how the annoying leaf blower story ends, or the story about the neighbor who put the bikes in the sewer and the other neighbor who fished them out and sold them at a garage sale (he was joking). I left, fist pumping the air to myself as I hear the HOA president point to one of the more outspoken, younger neighbors and say: "Sounds like we found our newest board member, y'all!"  at the same time somebody else is in the midst of another complaint about the grass levels the landscaping company continues to chop the grass down to ("They're burning the yards! They're burning the yards! We pay them so much every month and they just keep burning the yards!"). Oh sweet Jesus, God bless them.

*Also, I accidentally broke someone's $10 plastic sangria pitcher tonight. I hope they're gossiping about me out there right! now!

3-I've given up soda, Internet. Yes, all soda--diet and regular. Because I got nominated to be on a get healthy competitive team thing at work, and so I started by giving up soda. I've survived one week. But this makes me want to eat all the things, and that defeats the whole, get healthy competitive thing. Doesn't it? (Whenever someone asks me if I want to be on their competitive team, I have two reactions: (1) ME?! You guys picked ME?! OHMYGODTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!!!! HOORAY!!!!! and (2) Are you sure?? Because I'm not really big on competition; I was raised by people who consciously chose to teach their children NOT to compete with other people, and so...I typically lose at games.)

But I'm always grateful to be picked. I feel so loved.

I had something writer-y to tell you about tonight, but I've forgotten it. It'll come back to me later this week. In the meantime, I'll tell you about a student of mine, who I will call Larry, because he reminds of the character on the Bob Newhart show who always introduced himself as "My name is Larry, and this my brother Deryl and my other brother Deryl." So Larry is a sweet little boy with the kindest heart imaginable. I love Larry with all of my heart. But I also need Larry to sit the heck DOWN, multiple times per day, and listen. And I need Larry to stop shaving crayons with his pencil sharpener and leaving a Pigpen-esque mess all around his desk. And I need Larry to focus, and stop humming constantly. And pay attention. And stay in our line. The walking through the halls bit is the most worrisome part, because he's mucking up the line and causing half the class to be half a mile away from the destination. So the other day, I told Larry he'd need to hold my hand in the halls all the time, every day, everywhere we go, and that he'd be my special hallway helper. For all of this school year.

Larry loved this; Larry felt loved by his new appointment, I could tell. And it works for me, because now I can keep track of where the other half of my class is when walking from point A to point B. Win-win. But Larry did have a concern:

"I gotta hold your hand every day, Ms. S?" he said,
"Every day, Larry," I said.
"When we go to lunch, too?" he said.
"When we go to lunch, too, Larry," I said.
"What about when there's a substitute?" he asked.
"Even when there's a substitute, Larry" I said.

Larry was quiet in the halls (an unusual thing), and then asked, "But what if the substitute's OLD?"
"What? You can't hold an old person's hand, too?" I asked.
"No. No, I don't want to hold no old lady's hand!" he insisted.
"Why not?" I asked.
"'Cause. They all wrinkled. I can't hold no old lady's hand."
"Okay, Larry. Then I'll put in my sub notes this message: 'If you are old, then Larry doesn't have to hold your hand in the halls.' Okay?"

Larry nodded, satisfied.

"Hey, Larry. How old do you think old is?" I asked.
"How old's you?" he asked.
"42," I said.
"Oh. Then I guess 43."

Nice. Thanks, Larry. Nice. So in February, I'm officially old, friends. Get me a cane, some Metamucil, and prune juice for my next birthday. Which I guess I'm okay with, because it means I'll fit in with the HOA neighbors, and can fascinate a young person with my tales from back in the old days.

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