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for the record: caterpillar stings HURT.

my fingers are swollen.
I need more weekends like this past one. Didn't do much. We had a bunch of crazy thunderstorms. It sounded like bombs were exploding by my window. The ceiling caved in my roommate's bedroom at one in the morning and the glass bottles at the top of her closet shattered. There was an awful sound. We were so asleep that we walked around the house for at least 30 minutes looking for broken windows trying to figure out where the noise came from. It was in her room in the entire time. I didn't look in her room to begin with because I figured she had. I think she might've still been high. This means that our house might've potentially been struck by lightning for the second time.

On Saturday I lounged around the house and front porch eating strawberry popsicles. We turned our guest house into an art studio which sounds really pretentious now that I think about it. We decided that we're not doing anything work related in the guest house and it's working out nicely. I now officially have a place to procrastinate. I learned how to use water color pencils and made my first stencil. Tomorrow is pay day and I can't wait till I get off work so that I can go buy some art supplies.

I still wish I had someone to share things with...
I'm learning how to grow a backbone if that makes any sense. It's kind of new to me, but it needed to happen. This past year and a half has taught me that I need to stand up for myself and not get walked all over. I still don't consider myself a confrontational person, I just don't let certain things fly anymore.

I hit the -80 mark this week.
I was able to run for the first time in years this past week. It felt incredibly liberating! I felt limited because I physically could not do that these past 5 years without the fear of getting hurt. I can't really run a long distance at this point, and it's not really running, it's more jogging. Even then though! That's progress and I'm going to keep at it. If my brother was able to lose many pounds, go through knee surgery, and now be able to run marathons, I should be able to make progress too.
I don't even know how to begin summarizing these past couple of days. Long story short though, Mardi Gras is a huge deal around here. I've attended a total of 11 parades since last Thursday.
It's not at all what I expected.

I found myself surprised in a good way. It's none of this "I'm going to flash you so that you can give me some beads" crap that they portray in the media. Granted, you can probably find this on Bourbon Street, but that's not at all what I saw. My experience was that Mardi Gras parades and celebrations are all family events. People take out their grills, coolers, and foldable chairs to sit in the street medians while watching the parade floats go by. You also get cool stuff like parade specific beads, cups, coins, and stuffed animals thrown at you as you're cheering on the parade floats. It's awesome! I have at least 20 pounds of beads that were thrown at me. I made it my goal early on to get a parade specific cup for each one that I saw. I also have about three toy footballs that I plan on using while playing catch with my students. Last night I got a cheetah stuffed animal thrown at me. This might all sound childish but it's a ton of fun. Just the idea of, "Ooh I don't know what you're throwing at me, but I want it!" I felt like a kid. My favorite beads were the red and orange ones.

My roommates and I got up early this morning to be in a parade. I think it was called the St. Ann's parade? Can't remember because I was half asleep. The premise is that if you show up in a costume, you get to be in the parade. We all showed up in costumes and got to dance while a brass band with great beats was playing down the streets with hundreds of other people wearing costumes. My roommates dressed me up.


I've walked and biked many miles these past five days. I also ate a lot of junk, but it all balanced out. Did I mention that I was sober throughout all of this? My only regret is that my closest friends and family weren't here with me.

My life has never been this colorful.
My weekend was awesome too. I went biking around the west bank most of Saturday with one of my roommates. We went to a parade and it was great. Like my mom says, if you want to find garbage, you can find it almost anywhere. There was none of this trashiness the media portrays at this particular parade though. It was a family type of event and people were decent to one another. I have yet to see a person who flashes others to get beads. In fact, that's not what it was about at all. The people from the floats threw the beads, cups, and Saints and Hornets paraphernalia to the people standing on the sidewalks. It was fun trying to catch things and to see children in a setting that's not a school. I ended up with three bead necklaces, 2 parade cups, and one small Saints football that I plan to use in my class.

My roommate took me to eat Thai food that same day and it was delicious! That's the first time I've ever tried it and I loved it. I'm definitely going back to that place again..whatever it's called. Pho Tau Ban? Or something like that. I liked that it wasn't greasy like Chinese food and everything seemed really fresh.

I was also persuaded to go to a costume party Saturday night. I must preface by saying that I've never worn a costume and the idea of doing so has always terrified me. Mainly because I think it takes a lot of guts to wear a costume. My roommates invited me to a benefit..it's still a little unclear of what this benefit was actually for. To attend people had to wear real costumes (none of this "I'm going to wear a dress and put wings on" crap) and my roommates said they were going to be flowers. They suggested that I join them and I immediately dismissed the idea. Then I saw them making their costumes and it looked fun. They kept insisting and suggested that I make a flower costume too. I decided to be a flower bed. Mind you, this happened 3 or 4 hours before the actual thing started.

My roommate and I biked to Wal-Mart where I bought a green dress, pink leggings, and fake flowers. I got home and hot-glued the flowers to the front of the dress. One of my roommates got the idea of me wearing a purple wig and putting a flower on it. I looked and felt absolutely ridiculous. When we crossed the bridge and I was driving with my costume, the person at the pay toll seemed completely unfazed by it. When I was walking down the streets, people didn't even seem to notice. When we walked into a bar to use the ATM, nobody cared. I still felt ridiculous though and completely out of my comfort zone. When we got to the party, I was the most normal looking person there. The costumes these people were wearing were outrageous! Anyhow, I had lots of fun once I got over it and I might consider doing it again if I gather up the courage. Either that, or I can just make costumes for other people because it was a lot of fun.


Only 3 more days until Mardi Gras break! I get 9 days off to rest and have fun times.
This week completely turned around! It turned out to be a great week. So many wonderful things happened.

I went to observe one of the highest achieving schools in New Orleans on Monday after my doctor's appointment and I learned a ton. It made me feel a lot better about how I'm structuring my reading class and helping out my students. All of a sudden I'm also receving a lot of support from two of the teachers at my school and don't feel as isolated anymore. I finally feel like I have someone there for me. Even better though, I was able to motivate one of my most challenging students to get his work done this entire week and he left with a smile on his face today because he felt good about himself for once.

I also had a break through in my physical therapy on Wednesday and feel so much better. The first couple of sessions made a huge difference but then I stopped making progress. The therapist did this trigger point thing on my spine and it worked! I even walk differently now. I didn't realize how restricted my life was after the car wreck because of back pain until it was gone. I only slept 5 hours last night and I typically sleep 8. In the past I didn't feel as rested like I did this morning.

Last night I went to hear Maya Angelou speak at the University of New Orleans and it was amazing. To be honest, I have not read much of her stuff but I feel like I have to now. She said a lot of things that really resonated with me and I know it sounds cheesy but I was smiling the entire time listening to her speak. I feel incredibly lucky that one of my colleagues thought about inviting me.

I am a human so nothing human should be alien to me.
My roommates keep talking about their costumes for Mardi Gras week. I have no intention of buying or looking for a costume. I'm going to make it all about the shoes instead. I'm buying myself some wacky Nike hi tops or something along those lines. I see that as a wiser investment to make considering I could wear them for the mass bike rides too. As crazy as it sounds, my students have inspired me to care more about the shoes I wear when I'm not at work. I'm really looking forward to class tomorrow. I'm introducing them to similes, metaphors, and personification through hip-hop lyrics.

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