My mother used to have a refrigerator magnet that said, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” I always loved that sentiment. If you read this review, thank you for your time.  If you can’t read this review, Bob Bowdon might ask whether you went to public school in New Jersey.

The Cartel seeks to expose the public education system in the United States through the example set by the New Jersey public school system.  Asked to comment on the low level of education of today’s high school graduates, one educator calls it a “national disaster for the future of the United States Workforce”. Money and greed are prime culprits in this documentary, as tends to be the case (not unlike another of my favourite documentaries, “Who Killed the Electric Car?”); but what might surprise you is that Bowdon disagrees with New Jersey Governor Corzine’s decision to increase educational funding in the state budget.  Intrigued? Go see the documentary for yourself — it opens tonight at select theatres in New Jersey, and the success of this run will dictate whether or not there is a national release. If you aren’t in the New Jersey area, you can find more information at

Check out the trailer:


Manhattan was ravaged by a catastrophic flood of epic proportions. The city was almost completely submerged, which made it vulnerable to an oceanic invasion: an attack by a giant squid, red and black and bulbous, tentacles nearly as long as the Empire State Building. The few remaining survivors raced from deserted apartment to deserted apartment scavaging for something among putrid ababdoned refrigerators. Then, just as a scientist was starting to explain why we desperately needed more broccoli salad, I woke up.

I think my brain is tired.

I took a sick day today, because my sinus mucosa was operating on hyperdrive, which apparently migrated into my chest cavity, inspiring the kind of sneezing & coughing that, if harnessed as raw energy could probably heat this house for a week. To add to that, any attempt at speaking simply sounded like a sad sound effect for my froggy pajamas, whose wrinkles evidenced the toss-&-turn attempts I’d made at sleep the night before.


So I made soup, ordered “plenty of fluids” from the deli, and watched two movies, which still left me enough time for copious amounts of introspection. And a surprise get-well-soon guest. And now, after a hot shower, clean sheets & pjams, and more good soup in front of Law & Order . . . I can’t seem to fall asleep. Today was everything a sick day is supposed to be, and I’m legitimately sick. So why do I feel guilty?

Fascinating, historic things happening as I write this:  Barack Obama will soon be inaugurated as the United States of America’s 44th (and first African-American, and first black) President.  Thanks to Live with facebook, I’m watching the streaming coverage, and seeing all my friends’ facebook status updates.  Plus I’ve opened up another small window in the bottom of my screen so I can blog about it.  The excitement in Washington is palpable — you can see the smiles and the anticipation on people’s faces.  And when I say palpable, I mean it — I can feel it all the way up here in New York! 

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have been announced, and are taking the stage, and a murmur erupts through the crowd.  I’m sure they’re being shushed. [I wish the video feed wouldn’t lag, but at least the audio is consistent.] 

And now, here come Joe Biden and Barack Obama.  Barack Obama was elected in November, but I must say even though I felt the surge of electric excitement and watched people dancing in the streets, somehow it hasn’t felt real.  Today, now, watching the inauguration, I have tingles, and tears are welling.


During the height of the ceremony, my boss and our VP lost their connection, so they stood in the crook of my little desk, watching with me.  During now-President Obama’s speech, a few silent tears fell — from a sense of wonder on my part, I think.  I’m living through huge moments of history, and oh, I am so proud to be an American today.

Here I am again.

It seems like lately each time I come home to Texas, it feels harder to leave. I start daydreaming, picturing what it would be like to live in the Lone Star State again. I don’t know what it is exactly; homesickness? That can’t be it; I don’t really relish the idea of moving back to The Greater Longview Area. Is New York finally starting to wear me down after eight years? Maybe; I think a girl like me can only go at break-neck speed for so long before exhaustion sets in (which, when you get down to it, is part of what happened when I crashed in ’02). Do I just need a change in my life? Perhaps. Although I love my boss, and am so very thankful to have a job in this economy, I don’t really see myself staying in this line of work as a career for the rest of my life.

Maybe I’m just scared. Scared of being stuck in this job and getting to the point where I can’t leave; but scared, too, of leaving a great employer and a job that has provided well for me over the past three and a half years. Scared of leaving the church I love, where I’m plugged in and needed and have had a great community since 2001; but scared, too, of all the changes that keep happening there. Scared that I’m missing so much in my friends’ and family’s lives, being so far away from most of them; but scared, too, of leaving behind family and friends in New York who have become so very dear to me.

And so I begin to feel a sense of inertia, of not knowing where I’m going, of not knowing what it is God wants me to do or where He wants me to be. So what do you do when you feel stuck, trapped between the home state where you were born and raised, that you couldn’t wait to leave as soon as you turned 18; and the dazzling city that lured you and burned you, where you grew into the woman you are today, and fought to stay and maintain your independence, that now seems so far away from so much that you love? When your blogs start to be full of unanswerable questions and run-on sentences and even fragments?

I heard on the radio this morning that a recent study concluded that happiness is contagious; I’ve always thought that to be true, and therefore try to spread happiness in my world by being a happy person.  I also try to count my blessings, to make an effort to focus on all that I have been given to minimize the hurt of a loss or defeat. 

So in light of the Thanksgiving season that just passed, and because it is December and I see no reason to have a blue Christmas, I thought I’d take some time here to remind myself of all the reasons I have to be grateful and joyful and content.

~  In a time when most of the nation is feeling the crunch of a downward-spiraling economic recession, I sometimes feel like I am in a “bubble” of sorts:  I have no debt (except for one school loan); no mortgage; my rent is affordable and hasn’t gone up (and my landlords are great people); my job is stable and my income is sufficient; and I have no dependants.  For this blessing, I am grateful.

~ Much of our world is at war.  I live in a nation that, although we are at war, is not under attack, or war-torn.  Relative to the rest of the world, I live in a safe, comfortable nation where I have many, many freedoms which I often take for granted.  For this blessing, I am grateful.

~ I have a church home in which I feel loved and nourished.  We may have our issues, but what family doesn’t?  For this blessing, I am grateful.

~ I have so very very many wonderful friends who love and support me.  I could go on for days about this blessing, really.  I had a friend who once bought me a winter coat when mine was stolen.  I have a friend who has started sending me a text message reminder for things she knows I’m likely to forget.  I have friends who regularly lift me up in prayer.  Friends who have helped me clean and organize.  Friends who wash my dishes (thanks, housemates!), carry heavy things for me, listen when I need to rant, advise me, hug me when I’m sad, and dance with me when I’m joyful.  For these many, many, many blessings, I am grateful.

~ I am in good health.  For this blessing, I am grateful.

~  I have a wonderful, loving, functional (really, Mom, we are! mostly…) family who supports me and cares for me, often in ways I didn’t know I needed.  This includes the greatest little sister on the face of this planet, of whom I could not be more proud.  For this blessing, I am grateful.

~  Despite my struggle with accepting it, I am still single, and yes, still thankful for it.  I say this to remind myself:  for this blessing, I am grateful.

~  I know true and amazing grace and real love.  For this blessing, I am grateful.

Can I get an Amen?


Update:  This is my 200th blog post.  Woo.  🙂

Quite possibly the best thing I ever learned in my high school Spanish classes:

Todo el mundo sonrie en el mismo idioma.

The whole world smiles in the same language.

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