Thursday, July 30, 2009

Circus Skills

I settled in at my parents' house tonight (after moving all of my worldly possessions out of my apartment) and decided to get caught up on Food Network shows. I had missed "The Next Food Network Star" on Sunday, and "Ace of Cakes" was on after that.

On "Ace of Cakes," they were making a cake for Cirque du Soleil in Baltimore, and they were going through all of the various layers and asking the employees of Charm City Cakes what skill they had that would be transferable to a circus environment. They were coming up with funny answers, but no one really had any hidden talents that related.

Of course, I immediately began to wonder what my response would be if I were asked that question. And then I realized: I have a talent that would actually be quite marketable in a circus.

I can walk on stilts.

Yup, stilts. How did I ever acquire such a random skill? When my sister and I were in middle school/junior high (probably ages 11-14), we both attended day camp at Sarah Heinz House. Sarah Heinz was married to H.J. Heinz, who founded the Heinz Corporation. Yeah, that Heinz, as in the condiment factory. Heinz was from Pittsburgh (hence Heinz Field, home of my beloved Steelers), in case you were unaware.

At any rate, it's basically a Boys & Girls Club, and during the summer they had 4 two week sessions of day camp. We attended all 4 and absolutely loved our lives. The weeks ran Monday through Thursday, and the first Thursday we would go on a field trip, the second would be some type of performance, fair, etc.

So we had 4 field trips (roller rinks, bowling, picnics) and 4 variety-type shows. These varied from carnivals to talent shows to...yup, you guessed it, a circus. Our families were invited to these performances so that they could see what we did during our days.

In the week prior to the performance, we would split into groups with different counselors and meet every day or every other day (details are slightly fuzzy so many years later) and figure out what we were doing for the big day. The rest of our days we were split into groups based on age and had a schedule of activities: ceramics, swimming, computers, crafts, games. The last "period" of the day we got to pick what we wanted to do.

During the group periods, we were always learning, whether it was a swimming stroke, how to play badminton, or learn fun things...such as walk on stilts.

This picture is what our stilts looked like, except that SHH's were painted bright blue and bright red. If I remember correctly, only the oldest group of students got to try to learn how to walk on the stilts, and I know I was jealous of those who were able to accomplish the feat.

It's really a question of balance, sort of like a unicycle (no, can't do that). I know that I tried and tried, struggled and struggled to learn and then, one day, voila! My turn came up, the counselor steadied the poles while I climbed on - and I could do it! I walked all the way across the parking lot/kickball field (hey, SHH is in the city. Us city kids can play on concrete, no prob!) and back.

I surprised the heck out of me, and out of everyone else in my group! I was one of the few who was able to master the skill and was forever envied and abused for my stilt-walking talents.

Now, before you're too impressed with me, take a peek at the picture to the left. See the sailor-like kid facing us? Look at how his arms are looped through the stilts and back around to hold the poles. Those are the skills I have.

So, despite my hidden talent, I don't think Cirque is going to be contacting me any time soon.

The other cool thing about my stilt story is that after I fell in love with stilt walking, someone in my family (can't remember who) either made or found a set of stilts made out of broomsticks and two triangular blocks of wood that they gave me. So, granted, I was no more than a foot from the ground, but it definitely upped my cool quotient in the neighborhood when I received my very own set of stilts.

Fortunately, the next time someone asks me about any talents that I have that would be beneficial in a circus...I don't have to panic or have cold sweats. I can calmly respond and impress the asker!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The concept: Sometimes you can learn more about a person by what they don’t tell you. Sometimes you can learn a lot from the things they just make up. If you are tagged with this Meme, lie to me. Then tag 7 other folks (one for each deadly sin) and hope they can lie.

Thanks, VP, for tagging goes!

Pride: What is your biggest contribution to the world?
Obviously, my biggest contribution to the world was the wheel. Just think about how many things would not move without this invention? No bikes, no cars, no skateboards, no roller blades, no shoes with wheels on the bottom. Kids would actually have to use their own two feet to get from one place to another. Thank heavens I invented the wheel!

Envy: What do your coworkers have that you wish was yours?
Well, I'm going to pretend I'm still at the hospital while answering this, since I haven't met my new teacher co-workers yet. What I really wish that I had was my former boss's keyboard. He eats over top of it, so there are always little crumbs and bits of foodstuff lingering amongst the keys. His favorite snacks are popcorn and Reese peanut butter cups, and I really think that the remnants of these items just taste delicious. So I really wish I had his keyboard!

Gluttony: What did you eat last night?
Last night I went to this AMAZING French restaurant in Bloomfield and had escargot, pate, and a delicious crispy baguette sandwich made with thinly sliced ham, brie, and arugula and some crazy vinaigrette drizzled all over it. It was fabulous! Then, for dessert, I had tiramisu, cheesecake, German chocolate cake, and espresso. All at the same time, on the same fork. Don't knock it till you've tried it!

Lust: What really lights your fire?
I'm really into hair gel/spray. I love it when a guy has put tons of product in his hair and my fingers get all tangled and sticky. I adore the smell of alcohol and strong scent that attempt to overpower the chemicals in the hair gunk. Just thinking about it makes me all tingly.

Anger: What is the last thing that really pissed you off?
The last thing that made me really mad was watching The Bachelorette last night. I mean, who does Jillian think she is, selecting one guy from 30? I can't believe the guys didn't tear her a new one on the "Men Reveal All" show last night. Jillian is so stuck-up, fat, and ugly she does NOT deserve to be the Bachelorette. Seriously, who does she think she is? Grr!

Greed: Name something you hoard and keep from others.
Myself. I hate to be social, and I really just want to be able to live in my room, alone with my books and my laptop surrounded my by things like a troll. I go out as little as possible and I really hate to meet new people. I would ideally work from the cave of my room and get rid of my cell phone so as to minimize all contact with others as much as possible.

Sloth: What’s the laziest thing you ever did?
Probably when I backed up my car to the fruit and vegetable stand on the side of the road on the way to the beach. I didn't want to find a parking spot and I definitely didn't want to waste time picking out the ripest fruits. So I backed into the stand, opened the back hatch, and just swept all of the items on the table into the back of the car. Then I drove away. It would've taken way too long to pay.

Okay, this Meme was way more fun than I expected it to be. Who knew I could think of such great stories? I'm tagging: Robin, Mary Beth, Caitlyn, Shades, Andie, Courtney, and Kristen & Seth. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Yeah, so I'm not so great at keeping up with this blogging thing, huh? LOL

My time since student teaching has ended has been filled with bursts of busy trips and events followed by several days of laziness. I have been reading a lot, applied for many jobs, went on interviews, had phone interviews, visited friends, etc. I have obsessively checked my Facebook page and my emails, but not my blogs. I have basically turned my brain off for the summer and have not been spending tons of time on my laptop beyond a quick FB quiz.

Here's a quick summary of the highlights of the past few months:

Went to Myrtle Beach, SC and interviewed at 4 schools plus had a district interview. All of them went very well except for the very first one - it was at the school I was most interested in, was my first one of the day, and I was completely nervous and had not hit my stride. After that, they all went exceptionally well, particularly the district interview, when one of the teachers on the panel told me she wished she could have tape recorded my response to a question and played it for her current teacher.

While in MB, I spent great times with my cousin Erin and her fiance, my daddy, and my friend Jamie. It was a fun trip, though I wound up not getting any of the jobs. My friend Jamie got the one at the first place I interviewed, and the rest of the jobs were filled by displaced employees.

After MB, my dad and I drove to Savannah for another interview that didn't even happen - the HR lady was super unprofessional and forgot she had scheduled an interview...they didn't know what positions would be open and I was there for 10 minutes. The only good thing about it was that my cousin Amy drove up from Orlando and we got to spend time with her, which was great.

Towards the end of May I began to panic b/c I hadn't found a job yet, so at the beginning of June I backed out of my California summer job. I REALLY hated to do it, but I needed to be able to have the time and the opportunity to job search and potentially interview.

I found out the first week of June that the first draft of my thesis was due the day after I found this out. I had barely touched it in a year, so I went into major panic mode. I spent the majority of that week working on the paper, staying up late and mainlining caffeine in order to have something to turn in to my professors. They would then have a month to comment and offer revisions, and then I would have 2 weeks to make the final changes. That was a stressful week.

The Pens won the Stanley Cup! Wo-hoo!!! Now, I'm sure that most of you realize that I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Steelers fan but don't know much about hockey. Last year I sort of got into it during the playoffs, and it was the same this year - I was obsessed. I know that makes me the kind of Pens fan that I would hate in a Steelers fan (if that even makes sense) but I don't care. I had a blast watching all of the games and biting my nails during them. And texting my cousin Ben to find out what was actually happening. He was great at dumbing down the rules so that my football shaped brain could understand what was going on.

I got a job!! I had a phone interview with a principal in Charleston, SC. I had had many with other schools in Horry County by this point, so I wasn't expecting much, no matter how well the interview went. Imagine my shock when I was offered the job at the end of the interview! A phone interview! With a person I had never met! In a city I had never visited! It didn't sink in right away - I kept telling people, "I think I got a job...but I'm waiting to hear from HR."

The position is with a public school 17 miles from downtown Charleston. I will be teaching 7th grade. I know, why would I want to do this after what I went through with my student teaching? By the time I had this phone interview, I had resigned myself to the idea that I might possibly have to accept a middle school position, since despite getting nothing but glowing feedback, I wasn't actually getting any job offers. Enter this interview. This is the first year that 7th and 8th grades are going to be at the high school (although the students will be separated, of course) in an effort to increase school test scores. The kids will be in single gender classes, on a block schedule, and I won't have more than 14 KIDS IN A CLASS. That bears repeating. I won't have more than 14 kids in a class!!!!!

Under these circumstances, I couldn't turn the job down (I mean, not that others were knocking my door down anyway). There was still a possibility of getting a job in Horry County or in FL, but the principal sounded great on the phone and I think even I will be capable of dealing with 14 students - only boys or only girls - at a time. I'm also excited about Charleston b/c it's a larger city than Myrtle Beach, and I was concerned about getting bored in MB like I did in VA Beach. So all around, it was good news.

I visited Delaware for the first time. One of my best friends moved there for the summer and I went with her to move her in and to make sure the roommate she would be living with was not secretly into kiddie porn or animal torture. I had a blast while I was there, and spent some time on the beach (although not much - the weather was kinda crappy most of the time I was there) and learning fun facts about the state. Yes, I'm a dork, but I bet I know more about DE than you do! BTW, the roommate is normal ;)

At the end of June, I visited Charleston. I was supposed to have New Hire Orientation, but of course they canceled it right after I booked my hotel. I went anyway, and spent 2 days finding a place to live, checking out the school, exploring the area, and doing things like opening a checking account. I found an apartment that seems pretty great that my sister is also excited about, and that has guest suites on site for visitors (hint, hint).

Started off with a bang on July 4th weekend (pun intended) having a great time with friends doing fun Pittsburgh activities. I keep trying to make sure I savor the times I'm having while I'm still here, but I know it won't hit me that I'm leaving until I've been living in SC for a week or two!! I'm excited about having plenty of time around holidays to come back to the 'Burgh for visits, since I usually could only come home for Christmas and the occasional weekend when I lived in VA Beach.

After the holiday, I met with my thesis advisor and got the rundown of the corrections I have to do. She is also my professor, the only one I've actually had for more than one class. She also gave me some really nice feedback about the dumb student teaching presentation I had to do right after the experience was over, which was great. And the damage wasn't too horrible on my thesis, thank heavens!

This past weekend I had a fan-freaking-tastic time in Virginia with friends. We went to a wine festival and a favorite restaurant (multiple times) and had an absolute blast. I'm not even going to go into more details than that because I will literally be typing all night and it's already 2:30 AM!

Yeah, my nocturnal tendencies have shone through during my time off, also. I began wanting to get up at a reasonable hour every day and go to bed around midnight each night, but that didn't last long. I'm just not a morning person, and since I don't have to get up for anything super early, I can't motivate myself to do it! I mean, I'm not sleeping until noon, but I'm not bouncing out of bed at 8:00 AM either. I will have the shock of the century when I have to be at school by 7:10 AM every morning (with a 1/2 hour drive!).

So, that's my long-winded explanation of where I've been. I'll try not to stay away as long, and I will try to get back to reading/commenting on everyone else's blogs! I have actually been reading them periodically, but I get so far behind that I usually don't comment. But I will again, I swear!

P.S. - Let me know if you find any glaring spelling errors - I tried to spell check but it only gave me words that were spelled correctly and I am terrible about catching my own mistakes!