26 November 2014

i hate thanksgiving


you're not feeling thanksgiving this year. you're [check one or all that apply]
  • 30 pounds overweight
  • struggling with seasonal affective disorder
  • suffering from depression
  • newly single and alone
  • exhausted from working too much
  • away from your family for the first time ever
  • away from home on a continent that doesn't celebrate thanksgiving
  • reeling from the loss of a loved one
  • broke & unemployed
  • employed but broke
and now on top of whatever it is you're dealing with in november - a month that's not always easy to love what with it's usually cold temperatures and lack of sunlight - you're going to be expected to travel the distance to show up at home and to wow your family 
  1. with a gorgeous tray of food you made from scratch
  2. looking happy & cute in a new outfit that will make your cousins jealous
  3. with your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/children looking happy & cute and [see 1 &2]
  4. and to never at any time give any indication that you're suffering from [see all the things you checked above] while you travel the distance to show up at home to wow family [see 1,2,3]
  5. while you exhibit lots of enthusiasm for the most popular american family holiday when you'd love nothing more than to be curled up Bridget Jones Style on your couch solo with a bottle of Grey Goose while binge watching Orange Is The New Black until Black Friday [oh God I forgot about Cyber Monday] well whatever until January 1st when you can finally make a New Start and finally Get The Life You Want. 
well, get over it Sister.

because you're just 24 hours away from having to walk onto the family field - which I can promise you is not going to be the warm and happy homecoming stadium filled with the bright lights and people chanting your name from the bleachers that you've been dreaming about from the long lost distance of Somewhere Else. 

and unless you come up with a sure-fire plan for dodging well-meaning family bullets - you'd better get busy coming up with A Believable Out because I'm here to tell you:

there are worse things in life than riding out thanksgiving solo.

believe you me.

and because i am for the first time in many years in the most enviable position i've ever experienced -

inside the warm clutches of not one but two newly happily married daughters who are expecting babies!!! and constantly texting and calling me and therefore exempting me from any sensations of loneliness but most especially granting me immunity from any form of family scrutiny or judgement about anything i'm supposed to have and do not - and all the things i do have that i should not - because you see i have here for the first time in decades Socially Acceptable and Age Appropriate Things to Talk About and i have Wedding Photos so i'm pretty much invincible - 

what i meant to say 500 words ago is that i'm here for you if you're not feeling thanksgiving. or christmas or new years - even.

and from now until january 2nd i'm going to be working 24/7 to keep the bright light of hope burning here with frequent warm & sunny updates and tips to help brighten your holiday life

#hopefortheholidays on facebook instagram and twitter

~selfie from the year i rode out istanbul solo during thanksgiving & christmas

19 November 2014

grand-mother x 2


Can anyone say honeymoon babies? It's just become Facebook official so I'm finally allowed to say that Mary Ann Martin is having a baby (right - that's Leslie Claire her adopted sister on the left). This means I'll become a grand-mother not once but twice next year! Notice that I've hyphenated the word grandmother as the French do - as in grand-mère - meaning I will be a grand "mother" - I wouldn't be a very good "grandmother" just like I was never a good "mother" but look - brag alert - how great my daughters turned out! I am so happy for my daughters and their husbands (my son-in-laws notice I didn't bother with the the prissy correct English rule about sons-in-law) and - quite selfishly - myself. Although this new family development is already causing problems about "my" lifestyle - should grand-mères go to Lollapalooza or drink coffee in bed while blogging mornings AND babysitting etc (some something about "no hot liquids around babies rule etc) but - as has always been the case - I'm sure we'll work everything out! 

17 November 2014

the first night

I think there are only two ways the first night in a new place can go. At least that's always been my experience. One - you feel not at home and you lie awake wondering why it is you didn't stay where you were. And two - you bring in the last box and lock the door and you stand surveying the general chaos of your things littering the floor and think - champagne and corn chowder for one and Frank Sinatra. Welcome to my new studio apartment which I'm already so in love with that I may keep it forever - even when I'm not living in the Delta anymore. And tell me - are you still in love with your place or would you walk out on it in a New York second?

13 November 2014

when i met you in the summer [living the questions]


There's a reason why past a certain point you cannot live with a roommate. It's nothing diabolical or creepy. This morning I discovered it when I walked into a dark bathroom.


And half asleep - I picked up the toothbrush beside the sink and was almost finished brushing my teeth when I thought this is not my toothbrush. It's my roommate's.

My life has at long last become too funny for even me to take seriously.
A place I am enormously happy to be.


When I met you in the summer
To my heartbeat sound
We fell in love
As the leaves turned brown

                                                        ― Calvin Harris



Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” 


And now drum roll please. Oh - and a big thank you to the girl inside me who can bust a move like nobody's business.



Because I'm about to get my boots on and grab my bed and throw it in the back of my truck and get on up outta of this place 


and into 

my new apartment!!!

12 November 2014

who am i talking to? [yo dawg - a day in the life of a non-TFA teacher in the Mississippi Delta]


 my greenville barn - my raybans - my istanbul look all long gone
my rent-free teacher's flat in istanbul long gone
my high istanbul teacher self-esteem that made me feel i deserved bottled water in blue bottles
my breakfast served to me mornings on trays

oh & my security guard who made sure nothing bad ever happened to me
inside my luxury istanbul high-rise all long gone



When I'm talking to The Seniors these days and they're not looking at me or saying anything I stop and say

Who am I talking to?

until they stop talking and look at me and listen.

I know this construct is grammatically incorrect - you really should say

to whom am I talking - or speaking

it's that don't end sentences with prepositions thing - right.

One of the things I'm trying to get changed about the English language because I personally think that anytime you end a sentence with a preposition with a strong emphasis you can really drive home a point

or let's stop using "whom" unless it's in "to whom it may concern" in a letter to some debt collector or to the IRS about your late taxes or your student loan people post student-loan rehab - when using whom you immediately alienate your audience because they think you're a snob

so even as I'm writing this I'm thinking of changing "to whom it may concern" to

yo dog

or more like

yo dawg

because yo dawg with the right inflection gets peoples' attention - makes them look at you as in

Yo dawg give me a book contract for this book I've written or

Yo dawg why do homeless people drive nicer cars than teachers etc

Moving forward.

Yesterday at work was one of those days that sucks the everlovinglifeoutofteachers and at 4 o'clock when we're forced to leave the school I was recently re-located to - I broke my rule of bringing home work from work - telling myself I would stop at the gym first then pick up something to eat then go to my other office at my other job to do my work for my high school teaching job.

But it was raining and freezing and so after I drove up to the gym and circled the parking lot twice then finally parked and sat inside my truck looking out at the cold rain - I decided the weather was too bad to go inside the gym.

So I ran by Sonic instead and got a chili cheese dog with lots of onions and a cheeseburger and some tator tots with ketchup and a half & half iced tea and came home to get in bed and put on some New Girl to watch while I did my work.

It was an odd hour at Sonic so the food was fresh and hot and delicious.

Of course when I got home as has been the case for a couple of weeks now - my Teach for America roommate's friend - another TFA - was sitting on the couch with a snuggy and yesterday she was singing a children's farm animal song to the top of her lungs.

I barely spoke to her because I'm done trying to be friendly to TFAs - she - TFAs for the most part seem not interested in being my friend and her being here meant yet another dinner party inside the house that I wouldn't be invited to - where

I the Queen of Dinner Parties

would either be forced into my lovely bedroom world  where I've spent most of my time here in Leland, Mississippi - or out into the cold dark world of night to drive around and talk roommate stuff to my teacher friend Jonathan who lives in a different state.

So coming into the house I closed all the doors between her and me and stacked up my papers to grade and my late lesson plans to catch up beside my bed and I of course never touched them.

Then I of course fell asleep [Sonic in bed is AWESOME] [watching New Girl while you're falling asleep is AWESOME] and got woken up when the police showed up at our house about 11 o'clock.

You see what had happened was: A strange man had been standing outside on the street beside my truck for something like 10 minutes staring into the house and my roommate saw him and called the police.

What had happened to my roommate's friend by this point I'm not sure.

The policeman was this tall guy who towered over even me and my heart was beating so fast I was afraid I would have a heart attack because when I walked into the living room to see what was going on because I'd heard some people arguing in the street

then a loud knock on the front door

then someone walking into the living room and

then a man's voice

I didn't know it was the po po [pronounced like poh poh] in the house.

The police officer was very nice and said everything was okay - that the guy was harmless just drunk and was on his way home when he saw our lights on and that we were right to call.

My roommate pointed to me and said to the police [pronounced like po - lease] oh this is my other roommate - and even in my sleep-addled confused state I wondered has her friend moved in with us because I DID see that she was drying HER laundry on MY wooden clothes rack on the front porch when I came in and here I am still paying half of everything and here she is over here all the time lounging on the couch but here I am spending all my time holed up inside my room] but whatever

I got back in bed about midnight with a SOUTH BEACH DIET Protein Fit With GREEK YOGURT coating Dark Chocolate Coconut bar [16g protein and 10g fiber] for dessert and facebook chatted with my friend Ayşe who was already at work in Istanbul for a bit [pronounced eye shay well more like a very short "I" then think the Che sound of Che Guevera but except use sh instead of ch] then amazingly enough fell right back to sleep.

Not sure where I was going with this story when I started it but the best stories are like that. You just like the sound of the opening lines so much you follow them wherever they lead.

Now here it is 5:27 and I have to leave at 5:30 for the gym.

In theory - that is.

No papers graded.

No grades in SAM.

Lesson plans still late.

But yo dawg

I'm feeling rested.

And well cared for.

And ready to rock this day of teaching  - hmmm - excuse me

Who I am talking to???

11 November 2014

teacher evaluation by cansu kutlualp


Before I let my former student Cansu Kutlualp talk I need to say this. There's precious little appreciation for teachers in America these days. But maybe there's precious little appreciation for anybody in America except for the Kardashians or the Real Wives of Wherever. In many places in America there isn't a lot of appreciation of teachers even from administrators within the schools where they teach because of - you know - test scores. But let's don't talk about that here because I want to zero in on what's most important about teaching: Students. And in the final analysis students get to have the last word or evaluation of a teacher's teaching. So it's here that I'd like to share with you a note that my former student in Istanbul who's studying literature at Bilgi University - left about this story on my facebook page 36 hours ago. Her words made me feel worth something not only as a teacher but also as a human being. Just remembering Cansu sitting in class beside the wall and writing her notes and schedule ON THE WALL beside her desk - not to mention her fluency in English and American literature at age 17 and HER crazy sense of humor - makes me feel warm and wonderful about my accidental career of teaching high school English [xo thank you Cansu]

Cansu Kutlualp Dearest Ms. Nobles
Once a teacher is always a teacher not because of the actual doing of it but because you live in the thoughts of the students that you shaped while you touched their lives. You certainly touched mine, sometimes i feel like i am having inner conversations with you. Laughing and thinking Ms. Nobles would have made a crazy comment on this. What i learned from you is this - i will cherish because you taught me that if you set your mind about something you will strive for that and work hard. The process will be hard but you will learn to enjoy it. I think you need to be reminded of this valuable lesson. Sometimes life pushes us in ways we will never understand by creating distance or by building bridges. Being alone is one of those instances. Marrying of your life long companions may be hard, my sister is getting married so i catch a glimpse of what you are feeling. Think of it as an extended family and what better way to think that than a grandchild. Baby G is so lucky, you are going to be the coolest grandma with the most adventurous stories. And i cant wait to read your novel on istanbul and see your take on this magnificent city. Dont give up on it please!!! Hugs and kisses from Istanbul  

teacher appreciation week istanbul style


I never meant to teach high school English. That was never my dream. You might say I've been an accidental high school English teacher. I loved reading books. I wanted to write one. Makes sense? This stated - I have taught and I am currently teaching senior English about nine hours a day. And for the majority of this semester this is how my smile has looked about working with high school seniors. At the moment I don't feel this way about teaching English - probably because it's the end of the semester and research paper time and I'm trying to get my head around Common Core. How much longer I'll be teaching high school English isn't exactly clear to me. The day it's over I will know it's over and I'm going to walk away from this career with absolutely no regrets. In between now and then I want to shed a positive light on teaching and teachers because there's so much negativity in America about teachers and teaching these days. And I seem to remember in Istanbul we had teacher's appreciation week about this time of the year so hey - why not take a moment to start appreciating your favorite teachers not just this week but 9 months out of the year.