#4 – Get my name on a Pioneer Square brick. Check. Sort of.

Last year I was hanging out with my friend, Jennie, and she mentioned that her husband had bought her a “brick” at Pioneer Square. She said they sent her a brick map and she could go hunt for her particular brick downtown. It was a random, offhand conversation, but I made note that I wanted my own brick. I don’t really have a good reason; I just want one.

Pioneer Square (for those who don’t live in Portland) is a center area downtown – a union of sorts. Sometimes they have small festivals (i.e. the Italian Festival or the Holiday Ale Fest), and sometimes it’s just full of hippies and occupiers and people waiting for the Max.


The thing is that I didn’t really do my research on getting a brick. I found the website to buy it back in January and then figured I would just do at some point. When I went to officially purchase my brick in June, I realized I had missed a May 2016 cut off. I still put in my order, and then got a letter in the mail that said my brick will be installed next summer…in 2017.

Whatever! The order is officially in.

The brick cost $100, and not only will it display my name, but I also had 18 characters (including spaces) to write something. Let me tell you, 18 characters is REALLY short. Every time I had something good, it was one or two characters too long. For instance, “Dude, where’s my brick?” and “0 to 100 real quick” were too long.

So what did I pick? Well, I’m not telling, yet. But you can probably guess where it comes from…telephone-busy.gif

Basketball for Beginners (like REAL beginners)

When it comes to athletics, I consider myself a relatively well-rounded person. I run regularly and played soccer, but I can also dabble in volleyball or tennis; I skateboarded and snowboarded most of my life;  I can even throw a football if I so desired (not that I ever do).

But when it comes to basketball, I know nothing. ZERO. Meanwhile, my dad knows more about basketball than anyone I’ve ever known (it’s like he’s speaking another language), so you’d think I would have at least learned how to dribble or shoot a basketball at some point in my life.

As a teacher, I’ve played soccer with the kids, shown off a few geriatric moves on a skateboard, and frequently outrun them in a race or arm-wrestled them into submission – so it’s really embarrassing when they throw me a basketball and it bounces off my confused hand and into the bushes. When I admit I don’t know what to do with a basketball, they instantly lose respect. It’s fact.

But 2016 is my year: I’m going to learn how to dribble and shoot a basketball on the most basic level.

Lucky for me, my husband, Thor, can teach me – just like he taught me how to throw a ball last year. A few days ago, I drug him to the Nike campus and said, “Show me what to do.” He demonstrated several things and coached me through the saddest, most basic lesson about basketball in the history of basketball. I consider myself pretty strong, but I couldn’t even get the ball close to hitting the rim from the free throw line. Come on, I’m 5’0″ – it’s a long ways up!


It’s so high!

From a teacher standpoint, I needed to demonstrate 80% proficiency from a closer point before moving to the free-throw line. At the beginning of the lesson, I demonstrated 30% proficiency but by the time we left, I had my solid 80%.

Today, we returned and I made my first two baskets right away, but I got frustrated when the rest went everywhere but the net. There’s just so much to think about! “Tuck in your elbow,” and “Flip it in,” and “Your left hand is just a stabilizer,” and “Find your rhythm,” and and and and and…

Thor continued to correct me but then did his own thing most of the time. Within the hour, I could make baskets from the free-throw line about 40% of the time. That’s progress, right?


My biggest surprise is how much work just shooting a basketball is. I just assumed it was all upper body, but there’s a lot of squatting and core – without even playing against anyone. Who knew ? (<–probably the whole world except me).

I’m not sure what will exactly constitute being able to cross this goal off the list, but I imagine I need to demonstrate 80% proficiency consistently at multiple points on the court – but that sure sounds lofty. So I’m leaving it open…at least now I know why Steph Curry keeps his arm up at that stupid angle.


Books of June

With the regular school year ending, a trip to Greece, and starting to teach a new term at the university – I was slammed in June, but I did manage to meet my “three books a month” goal.

71Qo1SMfiCL.jpgThe Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin – I can’t believe that I had never heard of this book. A sci-fi book from the 70s based in Portland, Oregon and I’ve never read it? HOW? Without spoiling the plot, you have the main character, George Orr, who has discovered that his dreams are altering reality so he seeks the help of a doctor who ends up manipulating the dreams. There were times when I couldn’t read this book fast enough, and many other times where their existential dialogue was just too much for me. How many times do we need to discuss the precarious existence of man?!

It’s a great book, unique and strange (and based in my hometown!), but it’s not quite the escapism I was looking for.

jacket-cover-flat.jpgRestoring Opportunity – It’s hard for me to believe that there are people out there who honestly think that kids have an equal playing field in education (and life), but they’re out there… This book goes into the research of what is happening (and not happening) with our students of color and students in poverty. For me, it’s a dry read, but you can’t ignore the evidence.

What I don’t particularly like about this text is that it reads like a college textbook in that it’s full of research, but I didn’t find it to be much of a practical guide for an educator.



Everyday Anti Racism – I love this book. It’s super short essays and excerpts from a massive amount of experts in the field, and the final section is straight up practical strategies teachers can use with their students. My pre-service teachers that are reading this for my class, however, are experiencing a lot of displeasure with the text. I can’t yet say if it’s because the topic makes them uncomfortable, they don’t yet have enough context as newbies, or they are just sick of homework – but personally I recommend this one for all my teacher friends. It’s a hefty book, but super digestible because each section is short and to the point.

5 Movies I Hope to See This Summer

One of my favorite Saturday morning activities is to watch a couple hours of movie trailers. I just pop on the “trailers” app from our Apple TV and make notes of the movies I want to see when they come out.

But UGH the movies out right now! They’re awful! And they’ve been awful! I have this running list of movies I want to see, but none seem to make it to Portland. Good old “indie” Portland doesn’t actually have that many options when it comes to watching movies that aren’t the proverbial Hollywood blockbusters.

Like seriously, I read comics growing up. I was excited when the first X-Men movie came out (in fact I think I saw it three or four times in the theater), and I even wanted to see Daredevil, despite Ben Affleck. But how many of these Marvel/DC universe movies can they possibly pump out? I suppose if you’re white male between the ages of 11-29 someone who enjoys comic books, things are great because these movies are for you – but good lord, enough.

This does not bode well for my bucket list of seeing one new movie a month in the theater. So here’s a list of what I’m hoping to see in the theater this summer:

BREAKING THE MONSTER: We got to see these little dudes play in Austin a couple years back and they were a trip to watch. I’ve wondered and wondered what their status is.

THE SHALLOWS: Come on, who doesn’t love Blake Lively? Stranded and being hunted by a shark? yes please.


SEOUL SEARCHING: Justin Chon as a punk rocker. Another yes please.

DON’T THINK TWICE: I’m up in the air about this one, but having listened to so many stories on The Moth by Mike Birbiglia, I’m going to give it a chance.

I’m crossing my fingers that at least a few of these come to Portland.