Thursday, June 30, 2011

What a load of crap

The summer after my junior year of college, I got a job shoveling poop for a living. It's really surprising the things you'll agree to when you are a poor college student. It was like this: I was planning on staying in my university's town during the summer because I was taking 15 credits of classes during July. I needed money to pay my summer rent, and jobs were scarce.

The stable job that I applied to had been advertised as a horse feeder, stall cleaner, and possible horse exerciser. Shoveling crap is not normally my cup of tea, but I had previous horse experience. I mean, I shoveled horse manure every week for nine years. I had ridden horses and trained horses and chased escaped horses and fed horses for all of my 4-H years. I had done it wearing rubber boots, overalls, and plaid flannel shirts. I could totally feed a stable full of horses and lunge them in the arena. I could haul some poop in a wheel barrow.

I started the gig the week after moving into my new place. On a quick visit "home" to my parents, I picked up my old leather gloves and rubber boots, because stall mucking is dirty business. My mother was shocked to learn that I had volunteered myself to shovel manure. I had complained about it all the time as a child. "But I'm getting paid for it now," I told her. Money makes all the difference.

I went to the stable every afternoon and got rid of that poo faster than an expert babysitter changing a dirty diaper. I had to haul in saw dust to lay down on the stall floors. Let me tell you, get a little bit of wind going on, and this is not a fun chore. I filled water buckets, carted hay, and got covered in dirt. By the third or fourth day my blisters turned to calluses, my back hurt worse than a mother who is nine months pregnant with twins, and the amount of sweat that dripped down my body made me yearn for the very moment I could take a cold shower at home. It was hard work. I told myself I was going to get ripped. Surely all of this upper body work was going to make me have the best biceps of my life.

The hardest part of the job was climbing the Mountains of DooDoo Doom. I wish I had a picture, but that would be pretty nasty. Imagine this: an area the size of a small parking lot. Like your dentist's parking lot. It's designated just for horse manure. It's already covered. There's no where else to dump it. The boundary lines are overflowing. So what has been done? A second layer has been dumped. There are two by four boards of wood lain on top of the dried poo, which act as a sort of bridge for the wheelbarrow. But in some areas there is a third layer of crap. You have to push the wheelbarrow up the Doo Doo Mountains in order to dump it. After flipping the wheelbarrow over, the wheel gets stuck and you have to yank it out with a great amount of force. The sun is blazing overhead, your feet are already soaked with sweat in your boots, and the freaking wheelbarrow won't cooperate.

I wondered to myself how high the stable owners would let the manure pile get before they got a tractor and spread the poo out across the rest of their fields. Or whatever it is people do when they acquire six tons of poop. My answer: not during my time of employment. Not that summer. Maybe they would do it before the rain came in the fall. Because getting a full wheelbarrow of crap up a four foot high pile of manure so that you could just dump more poo onto a dried out layer of poo has got to be much easier than pushing a load full up a hill of slippery, squishy, rain saturated poo. And there was nothing easy about doing the job when it was dry out.

Geez, if you are still with me by this point, I'm going to change the direction of this story. I think you get it by now. There was tons and tons of poo.

One of my summer courses was an on-line PE class. I know, right? On-line PE. Why didn't they have that when I was a nerd in high school? We were supposed to keep a log of the exercises we did. I fully counted an hour and a half of shoveling and hauling poop as exercise. Only I made my log say "rollerblading" or "jogging," because that sounded more legit than "hauling crap." I mean, it was back breaking work. The amount of sweat that rolled down my body could have filled the kiddie pool that sat in the back of my townhouse.

Let me tell you, the only thing good about these sorts of tortuous jobs is that they build character. If I include all the work I had to do as a child growing up in the country, add in my summer stable job, and then count a few other life experiences, I would venture to say I have built enough character to construct a ten-story building. I mean, how much character must a person build before they can just enjoy the structure? To stand back and let people admire what has been made?

"This is Joelle. Construction began in 1985 and has continued for the past 25 years. A bit of character was built every consecutive year. In 2007 a large expansion of character was added during a remodel. Due to the work, Joelle's spine has compressed 1/4 of an inch and she now stands at barely five feet tall, but her character building is very much evident through her I-will-finish-this work ethic, seen in all the torturous jobs she's ever held."

You know what one of my favorite moments of satisfaction was? When I moved out of that townhouse and threw those nasty, stinky, well-used boots straight in the garbage, never to be worn again. Because I swore I'd never muck stalls again. We'll see if that lasts. With my luck I'll end up marrying a cowboy who has a whole barn full of horses.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

tiny chores

The great thing about being home all day is that I have time to do all sorts of pathetic meticulous activities, such as:
*using the vacuum hose to suck up all the fuzzies from the cracks between the carpet and the baseboards
*getting down on the floor to army crawl across the carpet looking for mud spots to scrub out with a washcloth
*using a toothbrush to get all the little places on the inside of the toilet
*sweeping out the garage
*dusting the top of the kitchen cabinets. I have never done this in my life and boy was it disgusting.

I keep seeing hay EVERYWHERE. I mean, a person gets a rabbit, she tries to shove a hay bale unsuccessfully into her trunk, she convinces her brother in law to retrieve said hay bale with his truck, it gets delivered to the house, and then the sight of hay scattered across the carpet NEVER ENDS. Where does it all come from? I don't know how my mother ever survived. Growing up, we had four horses and my sister and I loved to play on the stack of hay bales in the barn and make forts out of them. We probably brought in two pounds of hay everyday just in our hair and on our clothes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Meet Roo

Someone new is living with me, and his name is Roo. I have recently acquired a pet rabbit, which I've been wanting for about forever plus three years. Roo is a 2.5 month old Holland Lop. I bought him from a nice Mennonite family who lives on 15th Street. So you know, he comes from a good God-fearing home.
Roo is such an incredible kick in the pants. He does the funniest things. Every day after cuddle time (insert "ahhhh" here), I let him hop around my living room. After he gets warmed up with about 15 jumping jack rabbits, he likes to race around the couch as fast as he can, then slide onto the linoleum in the dining area. He also likes to army crawl underneath the couch, and he's recently discovered a fort below the armoire that holds my crafting supplies.
"I'm ready for my close-up."
The other night it was pretty warm in my house, so I turned on the air. Roo was racing around on the carpet when he meandered over to the floor vent, nibbled on the metal, and then plopped himself down across the entire length of the thing. His fur was blowing upward as he enjoyed the cool air. Roo is also very adorable when he washes his face. I about die from the cuteness.
Roo may believe my slippers are another rabbit, because they are brown, about his size, and also have fur.
Is that not the cutest cotton-tailed bum you ever did see? Roo is on his way to hide underneath his fort.
One thing Roo and I like to do is perform tricks for each other and then rate them on a scale of 1 to 10. For example, I've been trying to perfect a straight hand-stand that lasts at least eight seconds. I practice this in the living room and Roo gives me a score. Then Roo likes to practice his hops. He's got mad skillz. He will be just sitting there, when all of a sudden he will jump a foot high in the air. It's amazing. He usually always gets tens.

My favorite Roo moment was this last weekend, when I was laying on my back on the carpet. Roo hopped near to me, then started licking my face right by my left eye. It tickled and I kept giggling. Then he thought my hair was grass and started nibbling it. At that point I rolled over and gave him kisses.

So readers, be prepared. Like a mom blogging about her kids, or a teacher telling stories of her students, I've now got a pet and I'm fairly sure he will be making it into many future posts. I made him his own label for upcoming stories.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

10 Reasons I Loved Saturday

10. Bare Faced Brunch. I hosted a celebration breakfast at my house and fed my friends and family fruit, yogurt, waffles, eggs, and juice. Some people wore jammies/sweat pants and came bare faced. My friend Sierra helped us look beautiful with her Mary Kay products, and stylist Shelby cut bangs. I wore my PJ pants all day long.
Here is Ciara, me, Sierra, and my sis Jessamy. You like how I look like a peacock because of where I was standing in relationship to that mirror on the wall?
9. Roo. I know I haven't told my blog readers about him yet (though Facebookers probably know). Basically, Roo is a great source of entertainment. You'll meet him tomorrow.
8. Forty-five minute phone call from my Gram. She cracks me up. I just adore her.
7. Cupcake baking. I was asked to make some treats for the dessert auction my church held to raise funds for vacation Bible school (VBS). I busted out these. It was way fun.
A colorful way to give your dad a new look on Father's Day.

6. Listening to Casey Hurt station on Pandora while baking. I used to go to the same church as him. He's not famous or anything, but you should just enter Casey Hurt into your Pandora player so you can listen to him and the people that sound similar to him. Relaxing and good. Nothing techno. Some harmonica. Guitar. Clean lyrics.
5. Cascading waterfall french braid hair. I convinced my sister to try this on my head. If only I could do it myself. I did it to Sierra's long locks before she left.

4. Time to sit and read.
3. Phone call with Natalie.
2. Naps and not feeling like I need to be working on something or grading something.
1. Being able to find so many things to be happy about.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The end is near!

You better rest your retinas while you can, because starting Monday (or sooner if I feel like it) I'm going to be back in the blogosphere. Has anyone noticed how very close it is to my day of deliverance? As of this current moment, I've only got three days, zero hours, seventeen minutes, and thirty-eight seconds. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, apparently you have not noticed the last item on my sidebar for the past 154 days. Because I've been counting down that long.

Tomorrow is the last day with kids, which I am quite thankful for. It's field day so it should be fun. Thursday at 4pm is my goal to have my classroom all packed up and cleaned up for the summer. I'm gonna live the good life very soon. I've been looking forward to this since October. Here's a picture of my teacher planner.
And yes, those are Lisa Frank stickers.

I went into work on Saturday for three hours to take care of all my data entry deadlines, and I spent an additional three hours at school today (four if you count the hour early I got there in the morning) to try to get as much end-of-the-year stuff out of my hair as I could.

Friday is going to be awesome. And just wait until I share all sorts of exciting news with you next week.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

when someone who sorts souls in the Underworld falls in love with you

I love author Meg Cabot because she is a complete genius and knows how to suck female readers of all ages into her stories. I even like her weird, supernatural type books (I'm thinking Avalon High and Insatiable). The most recent book of hers I read was Abandon, which is about this girl who dies for a minute and then comes back to life. Only the whole book is based around the Greek mythology of Persephone and Hades.
 Basically, when the main character, Pierce, dies and goes to the Underworld, this hot but moody guy gives her a diamond necklace and wants to keep her there, but Pierce gets freaked out and tries to leave him, and then the epinephrine kicks in and she is resuscitated by the doctors just in time. She wakes up from being dead, relieved. Only John (the hot guy who works in the Underworld) has the ability to appear to Pierce in real life, and it really freaks her out because he keeps showing up randomly. I don't want to give the whole story away, but I realize it's rather weird. I only read it because Meg Cabot wrote it.

So even though the subject matter wasn't a specific interest of mine, I still read the book in only two days. Meg Cabot isn't trying to be a weird-o, she's just imagining what Greek mythology might be like in our modern day. And oh, this is teen literature. Which is always a lot juicier than adult fiction, in my opinion. I can totally relate to teen stories. I cannot relate to 35 year old protagonists who have three kids and a husband who is leaving them. I think my heart is still like a teenage girls', so I am very drawn to YA fiction.

I'm really excited to start my summer reading on Friday, June 17th. I've got like, 58 books on my list.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I accidentally ate meatballs instead of wheatballs

If you like to stalk people and know every intimate detail of their life, you're gonna like this post. It's all about food that I eat. Exhilarating topic, right? 

You probably know I'm a vegetarian. If this is news to you, I don't know what moss covered rock you've been sleeping under. It's not like I write strongly worded vegetarian posts, or rag on people about their meat consumption, but I know I've mentioned my stance a time or two. If you want to eat a hamburger in front of me, that's fine. Just don't expect me to grill you one. The title of this post is a complete and utter lie, and was meant for shock value to those close to me (did you believe it?)

Right now I want to give mad props to 8th Continent light vanilla soy milk. I've never been much of a milk drinker, mostly because I don't like how it tastes. I used to buy milk in the smallest quantities and only pour it on cereal or use it when baking. Chocolate fiend that I am, milk is not its necessary match. Several weeks ago, I picked up a carton of soy milk on a whim. I think they were out of skim. I selected 8th Continent Light Vanilla soy milk, and I don't think I can ever go back. This stuff actually tastes good. I've had soy milk before and thought it was a bit strange, but I'm tellin' ya, the Greek gods drank this stuff on Mount Olympus. Right along with their gold wrapped Ferrero Rocher chocolates. It makes my cereal delicious. Try it. Even if you have previously hated soy milk. Give the udders of a cow a break.
My favorite part about being a vegetarian is listening to people tell me all the ways I might get sick or die.

People are always harping on me about how they don't think I eat enough protein.  Next time someone tells me this, I'm going to ask them how many grams of protein they think they should eat daily. Do they even know? According to my incredibly reliable internet research and multiple cross checking, I have found that for a person of my size, I should be consuming 35 to 60 grams of protein daily depending on activity level. And okay, I did some math and I average about 32 grams of protein per day. So I could probably stand to have a bit more.
Normally I'm a Morning Star person, not a Boca person
I know exactly where the problem lies: breakfast. Call me a Quaker and get me a funny hat, because I love oatmeal. I can eat it six days a week and be happy. But oatmeal only has about five grams of protein per serving. For about a month I tried to do protein shakes for breakfast every morning, but I really missed my oatmeal and relapsed. I think my problem was that I went all or nothing. I've devised a new breakfast plan due to my discovery of Boca brand bruschetta tomato basil parmesan veggie patties. They are quite tasty. What I'm trying is one of the patties, a scrambled egg, and a bit or red bell pepper to add a kick. Combined, this is 19 grams of protein. I cooked the eggs and prepared dishes for two days in advance, because I absolutely cannot be bothered to wake up early enough to make breakfast. A 50 second zap in the microwave is all I've got time for. So now you can quit telling me Ima 'bout to die.

P.S. I Googled it and recipes for vegetarian "wheatballs" actually exist. It's not something I plan on making any time soon. Or ever, really--unless the No Meat Athlete invites me over to cook. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

All sorts of random

You may think I am crazy. Bloggers and internet personalities run the risk of appearing insane due to the fact that they do not have an editor/publicist sitting next to them saying, "do not push publish!" Instead, people end up loading videos of themselves that feature poor lighting, no make-up, and bad angles (like me). Also, they say and do things that they would never do in front of a live audience. Unless, you know, they were drunk.

But I am not an internet personality. I do not define myself as "blogger." I am Joelle, a real person. I am not trying to emit some sort of persona that I am not. For better or for worse, I really am this way. Scary, right?

Thus, I progress to all sorts of random, un-related thoughts:

5) I'm really glad I have a sister. On Sunday night we watched Tangled at my house, and it was good times. I laughed a ton (probably more than an adult should at an animated movie), and in keeping with the theme of the movie, I practiced my braiding skills on my sister's hair. One of the things that I like about my sister is that we take turns being hilarious and making references to things that occurred when we were seven. It's something that happens when other people aren't around. When she and I are hanging out together, I can bring some incredibly obscure reference up, and she'll know exactly what I'm talking about. We have impeccable memories together. Nobody else gets our jokes, not even the mother who raised us.

9) Last Saturday night I decided to bake some corn bread. I poured the batter into a glass dish, then licked some off my fingers. I made a face because it tasted terrible. I figured, maybe corn bread batter just doesn't taste good until it's baked. So I commenced baking. Twenty-five minutes later, I pull the cornbread from the oven. It has only risen about a centimeter. Might as well be flat bread. I check the box and see that I added all the ingredients that I needed to, and followed all of the directions. All three of them. I taste the bread. It is also terrible. Frustrated, I throw it out, and then wash the mixing bowl, whisk, measuring cup, and pan I used. I tell my sister about my domestic failure. She asks me if the box of mix was old. I told her I didn't think so, but when I got home later I pulled the box from my recycling bag and inspected it. It expired in 2009. This is why I don't invite you over for dinner.

12)  Here is a record of some dialogue
Student: Teacher, are you having a good hair day today?
(I smile, thinking a compliment may be coming. But you never know)
Me: Why? Do you think I'm having a good hair day or a bad hair day?
Student: A bad hair day.
Me: Oh. (Smile disappears but I go on with life. Apparently students notice when I don't brush my hair. Even though I was fully trying to embrace the wavy curliness of it all).
Two hours later, a different students reaches up and plays with my hair.
Kind Student: I like your hair when it's like that, Teacher.
Me: Thanks.
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