18 December 2014

to drive the cold winter away [a solstice celebration for 2 or 3]

one of my favorite holidays is the winter's solstice. most people miss it because it coincides with last-minute shopping and lots of other christmas crazy that involves insane social schedules to see friends and family. something that can be wonderful if you're feeling the party circuit - but every christmas doesn't feel like a party. as well it shouldn't. this story - well it's not really a story its a recipe for a quiet warm dinner i made three years ago when i was not feeling the glitter and jingle. what you'll need is a day when the sky looks like this. and you'll spend the day gathering lights, candles, pecans, rosemary, brie, honey, cherries, kumquats, good red wine, salmon, and fresh bread. you of course have olive oil and sea salt in your kitchen. then you'll need a soundtrack so click here. and you'll need one or two other people who are in a quiet mood to sit and not talk about all the reasons you're not feeling christmas. but to warm their hands at the fire with you. and to tell stories of funnier times while the light and the good red wine and the bonds of friendship warm up your cold winter spirit [keep scrolling down for the feast]


17 December 2014

broken christmas

my camera is broken so there may be no new photos for a week or too. luckily i have some christmas photos you've never seen before.

and while in one place inside my heart i would love to be putting up christmas decorations in the place i'm already dreaming of living next year - i'm too busy with the here and now to decorate or take photographs even.

i should already be at work but here i am still in bed drinking coffee - easy because i don't give exams until 1 o'clock this afternoon. and after a long love affair with the mini keurig - i've started making big pots of coffee mornings so i can have 2-3 cups.

next thing you know i'll be grinding my beans mornings like i once did!

not sure where this piece was going - oh. my heart is large this christmas season because of the many gifts i've been given.

not material things.

my daughters. their husbands. their babies on the way. my family. my friends. my seniors who drive me crazy but who i adore. my new studio apartment! my extra 20 pounds! my 1999 Ford Explorer with over 200,000 miles on it! these stories i've been given to write!

i could get through the 25th without opening one single present.

i'm so incredibly grateful for this life - and to have peace and happiness inside my heart - that i'm longing to share this with people whose hearts are broken.

whose lenses that look out onto world are smudged with heartbreak and loss.

luckily for me - i've got some stories from past christmases i can link in here and on facebook later today.

and i've got photographs in storage, too.

like this one from my friend jack's who let me live in his guest wing the christmas i came back from istanbul and didn't have a house.

and all my money had run out.

it's amazing what you can do in life with a few tiny white lights. an imagination. and some friends who are willing to share their hearth with you.

once jack had gone off to new york for the holidays - i made myself at home.

and made this dinner for a friend of mine who in the space of one year had lost both her parents.

16 December 2014

wrap this mother [the coffee bar]

I kicked off Fall Semester 2014 with mud still on my feet from Lollapalooza. And the first Sunday in August was the last day my face looked like this. Here I'm standing in Grant Park with my friends and Cage the Elephant is finishing up. I've been out playing in the rain all day with 10,000 other Lolla fans. And because there's no expectation from anybody for me to look, to act, to be a certain way - I am completely free to be me.

My new goal in life is to get paid big bucks for being completely me.

Two hours later I'm on an overnight train to Greenwood. There's a shower on the train - but I never take one. I opt instead to crash. I want for good luck to show up to Fall Convocation having done a quick change in a sleeper car with the rain from Lollapalooza still on my skin. Dirty hair and bracelets mixed up with teacher clothes. I wake up  Monday morning with the train snaking its way through Downtown Memphis. Sun is shining. Ain't no rest for the wicked.

It was the best semester I've had in 8 years.

Flash forward to the last day of classes before the start of exam week. I turned what has been a torture chamber of Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare and Research Papers bloodied with red ink into a coffee bar.  

Turned off the lights and locked the door and hid in the room across the hall until the seniors congregated at my door - looking in through the window at this. Then I come out of the classroom across the hall behind them and yell SURPRISE

One of the seniors says

Nobles you're so weird. And mysterious.
Really one of the best reviews I got all semester.

Then we got down and dirty with research paper printing, deadlines, frustrations, tears.

The perfect ending to the second most surprising semester of my teaching career.
First place going of course to the semester I won the teacher's lottery and got that free ticket to go live and teach in Istanbul for a year and a half.  

 But that's another continent. 
And this is Greenville, Mississippi.

The most difficult love affair I've ever had with any geography.

But let's get back on topic and the perfect ending to a transformative semester.

Not to say that the semester was perfect.

Not to say that I didn't think a few times about quitting. No, seriously. If my saying this shocks - offends you - then you don't know anything about being a teacher in the 21st century. If you think teachers are in it for the holidays, the retirement, the salary - educate yourself. This $2400 I bring home every month I could bring home sitting at desk answering the phone and making copies as a secretary in Austin, Texas five days a week.

Then I wouldn't need holidays because I'd be on holiday every evening out listening to live music in Austin, Texas smiling like you smile when you're going to sleep on a train and wake up coming into Memphis.

But back to teaching - and the coffee bar - and why this was the best semester I've had in 8 years ... somebody's going to have to pay me for that information because I've paid a high price to get it myself. What I CAN tell you here while I'm finishing up my second cup of coffee and getting ready to go in and give exams and to wrap this mother is:

These days there's only one reason to keep going in to teach high school every morning. It's not the money. Not the holidays. Not all the praise teachers get.

It's simply that - for some weird, mysterious reason - you just cannot bring yourself to quit. 

12 December 2014

christmas fajitas nachos

to make christmas fajitas nachos you'll need to have a little meltdown early one evening. you'll find yourself somewhere catching sight of someone you don't even recognize in the mirror. 

my meltdown happened after a 10-hour day of the last 24 hours leading up to seniors submitting their English IV Research Papers and me not eating all day but thinking i had to show up for zumba at 5:30 so i could get this extra 20 lbs off so i will look good in a tight black dress new year's eve -

look - i've still got my teacher ID badge on off campus - something you never ever catch me doing.

my justification - as if you really need one.

i've never taught the dreaded Senior Research Paper so have done that thing great teachers and instructors and professors never do

you get so caught up in your students' stress that you become at one with their stress meaning you're not going to be able to help them much less do your job which doesn't just involve taking care of other people

first on your job description should be taking care of 


because if you fall apart not only will there not be anyone to take care of children and spouses and other people you're caring for ...

there won't be anyone to take care of 


so do what you have to do to take care of you girl

for me that meant running screaming in zumba pants straight to the mexican restaurant to have a half plate of steak and chicken fajitas nachos with a generous dose of grilled shrimp.

notice that i omitted the tequila

then i came back to my apartment and passed out binge-watching The Office UK

notice that i omitted the tequila

4:31 next morning i'm up getting ready to go to the gym and 4 miles on the treadmill later

look who's staring back at me from the mirror.

happy holidays everybody! let me know how you're surviving all this christmas crazy

11 December 2014

christmas crazy

i was going to decorate my new studio apartment so i could invite some people over for a little christmas cheer. then i started thinking of how much work it would take to put up decorations [only to take them down in two weeks]. and how much money it would cost to buy party food & drinks for people who may or may not even really like me. then i'd want to take pictures for my blog and my camera is broken. and i'll be reading research papers in 24 hours and am already so stressed that the old navy commericals on pandora and jingle bells rattling at walmart are irritating me beyond belief. so i'm hoping you'll join me in calling off christmas crazy this year by tuning in to a hip bright christmas jingle free soundtrack on virgin radio turkiye.

oh - and in dropping by a beautiful church somewhere 24th december for a celebration of Christmas. and a choir. an organ. and maybe even a violinist.

image via

05 December 2014

i bet you look good on the dance floor

I'm working on some longer, more reflective pieces about the holidays & teaching that I'll be sharing within a few days. Until then - believe me when I say that I am SLAMMED at work.

And waking up super early mornings for the sheer pleasure of rolling over and going back to sleep then having coffee for several hours before I go in to argue with seniors about research papers.

Evenings are about everything I can possibly imagine that would keep me away from the gym. Or from staying in at my new place being reflective about the season.

What I AM rocking out every most days is:

A kind of festive holiday look that makes me seniors go wild with joy

happy holidays everybody!

02 December 2014

monday night at the movies

Some cold dark December Monday evenings you just need a little getaway. Might I recommend "Fading Gigolo" on Netflix for a surprising and beautiful escape. Spoiler alert - if you don't like Woody Allen or his films - you won't like this film. But if you want a funny story about salvaging a crappy Monday - then click to