Monthly Archives: June 2010

Summer Reading

I just got my summer reading books from Amazon today!  I love to read but never find the time to actually finish a book from September to June.  Summer is my savior in that respect and many more.

As soon as I read the last 10 pages of High On Arrival, I will be plunging into a slew of literature that shall make my poolside sunning more pleasurable.

  • Secret Diary of A Call Girl:  The first few pages are titillating.  So far, a must-read.
  • A Moveable Feast:  Ernest Hemingway’s famous novel.  Might be next on my list.
  • Looking For Mr. Goodbar:  I loved the movie – let’s see if I love the book.
  • Dead In The Family:  Charlaine Harris’ 10th in the series.

My taste in literature is quite eclectic – from fiction to political, to classics to nonsense.  I love them all!  I read books in 4 languages:  English, French, Spanish and Portuguese and rarely get bored.  I’m sad that I only seem to read in the summer.  Reading is such an experience and I usually enjoy all of the books I read for pleasure.

There are a few I could never seem to get through, but I set them aside to hopefully try-out another day:

  • Darkly Dreaming Dexter:  I love the series on SHO but can’t seem to get through the first few pages of the book.
  • Secrets of The Flesh:  A Life of Colette:  Read sporadically but had to keep re-visiting.
  • Twilight:  I liked the movie.  I don’t want to watch it again and I can’t seem to get into the book at all.
  • Angela’s Ashes:  I keep putting it down though it’s a great story.

Here are a few I’ll read again and again:

  • Huis Clos:  Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialist play.  One of my faves.
  • Helter Skelter:  Disturbing but so interesting.

Here’s one I borrowed and never read:

  • Rimbaud: I need to read this soon!

Whether it’s a collectible first edition (in English) of Guy de Maupassant’s stories, a book on Roseville Pottery, countless French Folio plays and other stories, scrapbooking ideas, sewing books, Petit Roberts or beginner’s Lithuanian, I own them.  I am a Bibliophile through and through bordering on addiction.  When I’m in France I scour Gibert Jeune and other libraries to find the perfect neuf and occasion livres to mail or drag home in my suitcase.  In the states any bookstore online or in person will do.

So take out your summer books and READ and enjoy!  I am.

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.


Why Teachers Need Summers Off

In loco parentis.  Is this really true?  For 185 days we teach, we enlighten and frankly babysit other people’s children.  We can’t beat them (well, in some states you can – maybe I should move there), we are often unable to punish them effectively (there is often no follow-through).  We can’t take their IPODS & cell phones away for any extended period of time.  We can’t ground them.  We can’t even assess book fines without someone whining profusely, then calling administration to complain about the fine – oh and don’t forget checking to see if the others have wiped their asses too.  We can’t even give a quiz, test or exam without some kind of negative brouhaha.

So how the f**** parental are we?  I say, not very.

Many parents need parents.  Maybe they should go back home and remember what they were taught as younggins.  That teachers should be respected not disrespected.  If I came home with a book fine, my parents would not question the teacher, they would pay the fine.  I find it ridiculous and frankly embarrassing that no one is responsible for their own actions anymore.  When does it stop?  Does it ever?

People.  Take responsibility for you own actions.  EVERYONE!

Before becoming a teacher, I never understood why teachers had sick days.  I guess I just figured that you can train your body to be sick only in the off months.  Was I wrong!  Working in a school is like living in a prime germ incubation bubble that is relentless.  If you have a terrible immune system like mine, you’ll be sure to catch EVERYTHING – and I do catch everything.  I welcome the sick days because, frankly, I need them when I’m so ill that I can’t function enough to get out of bed.

Summer is another story.  Summer recharges your batteries.  It refreshes you after be being beaten down all year by students and parents (not all of them) and other powers that be.  By June I’m ready to commit murder, seriously hurt someone or just pick up my purse and leave.  In this current economic environment – not such a good idea.  Mental health days are a must.  A necessary evil so that you keep your job when all your common sense and composure seem to leap out the window and cause you to snap like a twig.

It’s really difficult not to lose your cool when tensions are high and morale is down – the current environment in NJ and elsewhere has not been very teacher-friendly.  Summer is my saviour:  job saviour, people saviour, savior from jail, etc….

By mid-August I’m ready to go back (unless I’m on some fabulous vacation) to work and start off fresh.  I love summer because I can relax, veg or get stuff done around the house.  If you are someone who wants to teach, don’t do it for the vacation time (you won’t survive), do it because you love teaching and you’re not afraid of hard work.

Happy Summer!

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

French Doors

I love France.  Paris in particular.  I’ve been going to France since I was 16 years old.  I even lived there for a year and attended La Sorbonne.  I know the ins and the outs of the city even today – it’s like I never left.

There is so much beauty in the The City of Lights, its hard to focus in on just one thing.  The architecture is amazing.  No matter where you go, there is always something interesting to see.  I have a love for French doors.  They are so ornate and captivating that you can’t stop looking for more doors.

1.  Notre Dame de Paris

2.  Musée de Montmartre

3.  Dans Le Marais

4.  Dans Paris

5.  Numéro Quinze

6.  Hôtel de Chalons de Luxembourg 4 è

7.  À Minuit

8.  55, rue Geoffroy St. Hilaire – My First Apartment

9.  Au Jardin des Plantes

10.  Musée du Moyen Âge

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Reruns of 'The Brady Bunch' still hold up

Some TV shows are timeless and will endure years passing by. Others are so much fun to watch or remind me of a great childhood memory. TV has been ever-present in my life.

My dad used to work nights so my mom always let me eat dinner in front of the TV watching the Munsters or the Addams Family. I even did my homework chained to the black box we call television.

Here are a few shows that I can watch over and over. They span decades (oops, I’m showing my age) but in no way are a complete list for me.

Maybe you have some of the same. Enjoy!

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

The Brady Bunch
I can never get enough of them. It was a childhood staple.

Murder She Wrote
Who doesn’t love Jessica Fletcher?

I never get tired of Peter Falk in his shabby raincoat wearing role as Lieutenant Columbo.

Hysterical today as well as yesterday.

Beverly Hills 90210: The Original
I can’t help myself. I’m obsessed.

Dream On
Martin Tupper is the bomb. I wish I could find later seasons on DVD.

The Sopranos
Yesterday, today and tomorrow. It’s life in Jersey and I’m a Jersey girl.

Gilligan’s Island
Who wouldn’t want to be stuck on an island with the cute professor?

The Facts of Life
I just love the girls and Mrs. Garrett.

Everybody Loves Raymond
I actually know people like this and crack up every time. My favorite is Debra’s boob episode.

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

My Favorite Summer Memory

When I was a little girl, Mom, Dad and I used to live in a 3 room apartment above my Aunt Mimi and my Nanoo in Nutley, NJ. We had no air conditioning so the porch was the only way to keep cool on hot summer nights.

There was a couch-like swing and a rocking chair where my grandma used to sit and rock for hours. I remember laying on that swing every night while my family told me stories – real and imagined.

It’s 40 years later and I’d give anything to sit on that porch, and fall asleep on that swing and listen to all the good people in my life who are no longer of this Earth.

Life was so simple back then. Sometimes we need to step back and take another look, so we can not only cherish the past but embrace it in the present.

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

School’s Out For Summer

It was the last day of school on Thursday (Wednesday for the kids) and my room looks like a bomb went off – the custodians are probably swearing at me as I type.  Not that it’s not always a mess – but it’s worse if that’s possible.

My day started out with a pre-alarm phone call from my husband who had managed to get 2 flat tires on the Garden State Parkway within 5 miles of each other.  AMEX was not an accepted means of payment, so in the middle of my shower I had to dry off and go through a complicated rigmarole to get the bill paid – long distance.  My sinus infection was worse than yesterday and my voice was slowly vanishing.

On Wednesday, my students were revved up all day long fueled by cupcakes, brownies, cookies and candy – to name a few.  So by the time 11th period rolled around, they were through the roof:  climbing on chairs, being sneaky, yelling, jumping around, standing on the desks slapping their asses and trying to hug me.  I had lost all control.  Eleventh period is a tough class to begin with.  There are the hooligans, miscreants, learning-disabled, social-inepts, slugs, over-achievers, under-achievers, wise guys, sweethearts and all-around model students.  It’s a big mixed bag that’s never dull.

Who was suspended last week?  Who is getting suspended?  Who’s in ASP?  Who lost all their books?  Who returned 4 textbooks – and none of them were his?  Who farted?  Who had to pee?  Who’s ass is hanging out?  Who’s creepily hanging around my cove?  Who’s this?  Who’s that?  Who, who, who?  It’s never-ending.

Until the last day of school – when summer begins.  It’s a cooling off period – a battery re-charging of sorts for all involved – teachers, students and parents.  The stress of school/work is gone – at least for 2 months – and then we start anew in September.  That’s the great this about teaching – you always start fresh in September.  Everyone gets a clean slate.

In June everyone has had enough of each other.  Sometimes the mere though of spending another second with someone sends me to a premature breakdown from which I eventually recover after some much-needed absence.  The kids get on my nerves and in many cases the parents are worse.  I find myself disconnecting from everyone:  students, parents and colleagues.

Then there are the sad occasions, that no matter what’s going on in your head, you are there for your kids and friends.  A death, a loss of some kind or perhaps a transfer can trigger your LOVE, KINDNESS and UNDERSTANDING genes that you do possess but carefully tuck away when your crankiness abounds.

Today is my first free day.  I’m already stressed about not receiving any more paychecks until September.  I’m still sick and on antibiotics.  Before I even got down the stairs this morning, I cleaned up vomit and hairball.  The sun is playing peek-a-boo.  I ran out of coffee but luckily found a packet of Starbucks Via in the island cabinet.

My first day of summer vacation has not been a model of perfection so I treated myself to a nice, greasy lunch with Ronny McDo.  I feel better now.

Let the games begin!

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Words I Love To Say

I’m a Jersey girl so snappy words and forceful hand gestures are innate.  I can’t drive 2 blocks without screaming at a stupid driver while gesturing to him or her with BOTH hands, all the while driving with my knee.

Words are a way of life in New Jersey, so you best choose them wisely.  They’re naughty and nice and just plain… well… Jersey.

Here is some of my preferred parole:

  • DB:  I hope I don’t have to spell it out for you.
  • Sans:  It means without in French.  It’s just so much more convenient.
  • Jerk Off:  This was always (and still is) a staple word chez moi.  Though my husband prefers Jack Off – I don’t like to monkey with perfection.
  • Pussy:  I love using this word for my cats and wimpy personnes.  I don’t like to contract it with wimp because I think it’s all good on its own.
  • Horror Show:  I like to use this to describe someone that’s a TOTAL disaster.
  • Dick Click:  Refers to the Good ‘Ole Boys Club.  It’s just so much more catchy.
  • New Shoes:  I just LOVE hearing those words and saying them.  I get titillated from head to toe.
  • Happy Hour:  Happy + Hour = a good time.
  • F***:  One of my all time faves!

What are some of yours?

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Eructation, Flatulence And Other Funny Noises?

As I’ve said before, if you are a teacher you need a sense of humor.  The minute someone farts, burps or makes some other weird noise, you lose all control of the classroom for a few minutes.  The giggling and laughing overtake the room.  The sarcastic comments from the kids flood the class with a host of accusations about who farted, burped or otherwise.  When my stiletto makes a squeak on the floor I too find it necessary to say, “That was my shoe, not me”.

I started writing about this topic when my period 10 class was amidst presentations.  The room was quiet, someone walked up to present and yes, someone farted.  Though the offender was never confirmed we all had our ideas.  Although I am against farting in class, you have to feel for a kid who accidentally slips one out.  Who would want to admit that in school?  Your friends don’t care but among a host of mixed company you will be socially destroyed.

My friend (who shall be nameless) used to fart in the car, lock the windows and put the heat on full blast.  This wasn’t fitting behavior for 17 & 18-year-old young women – but when alone we did act pretty gross.  The same friend passed gas in my face during a Twister grudge match in her living room.  I did not falter but my nose did.  Despite her flatulence, she is still my friend today.

We grow up (at least I did) thinking farting was the funniest thing ever.  Our fathers farted and made jokes about.  My Poppy was an equal offender.  And almost every guy I dated (for a significant period of time – including my spouse) was a Lothario of Farts who thought they seduced women with their perfume.  At a really young age I may have found it funny but at this point in my life I’m just grossed out.

I mean, I couldn’t say the word “fart” in mixed company until I started teaching.  I always said “passed gas” because it was more elegant – I’m not sure how that can be elegant but maybe I’m looking for the words proper or correct.  I was baptized into my first year teaching by a student and his farts.  I had a class of 10th or 11th grade boys with one poor girl thrown in.  I couldn’t take the gas so I made the guilty student go outside, shake it out a bit and come back in EVERY SINGLE time.  And he did.  The best was when someone walked into it after he left the hallway.  I couldn’t help but crack up by the look on the poor kid’s face who walked into that horror show of an odor.  Yes, I found it funny as well.

Kids will be kids – but I can’t say that without saying – old people with be old people.  Today I was walking around Target when I ducked into the magazine aisle to find a lo-cal recipe for tonight’s dinner.  As soon as I grabbed a magazine an old lady loudly farted and looked around to see if anyone had heard her indiscretion.  I avoided eye contact and quickly threw the magazine back in the rack and got out of there quickly.  Ew.  I was thoroughly grossed out then I remembered that I knew people who did that too.  They would offend and walk away and leave it lingering for all to walk through.  I don’t think I ever did that.  Maybe once in an emergency but never on purpose.

Everyone passes gas, burps, poops and pees but we all pretend that we don’t.  Some middle school boys may have a rude awakening in the future when they discover that girls actually do all these things too.  We blame it on the cat or dog or someone else.  Whoever smelt it dealt it.  Whoever denied it supplied it.  Are there any new ones?

Girls, boys, men women, dogs, cats.  Why are these noises so funny?  Is it innate, learned, spontaneous or just plain old bad manners?

Image: Clare Bloomfield /

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

It’s All About The Boobs – A Re-Blog

Boobs, jugs, peaches, ninnies, tits, rack, eyes, knockers, cans, sweater meat, knobs, boobies, breasts, titties, mammaries, pins, bazooms, bazongas, headlights, hooters, lungs, fun bags, tatas, maracas, girls, twins and the list goes on.

What is the obsession with boobs?  Especially men’s obsession – straight or gay, single or married, bi-sexual or A-sexual.  When I lived in Paris, my “happy” flat mate Vivaldo loved my boobs.  He used to hover outside the frosted glass window of the bathroom door waiting to catch a glimpse.

When I was in graduate school I did an action-based project on boobs.  It was titled, “Do Big Boobs Really Make A Difference?”  My professor at Montclair State loved it and I got an A.  It was an interesting project.  In a nutshell:  I went to several places one of which was a supermarket.  The first time I walked in with no cleavage but looking nice.  I couldn’t find a soul to help me and left the store unsatisfied.  The next time I went, I was sporting full boobage and the young men at Shop Rite couldn’t wait to come to my rescue.  They actually followed me around the aisle and made me feel really uncomfortable.

What I found on my quest for truth was exactly what I thought I would find.  They DO make a difference in how people treat you.  Really how men treat you.  You/They are objectified.  You/They are ogled.  Christ!  Even Mike Tyson leered at my boobies, paused to smile and say a personal hello.  Men are notoriously easy when it comes to visual stimulation.  You have to be a confident woman to walk around with perky boobies.

A female friend of mine asked me if they were real and touched them for verification.   Another friend, on my birthday, reached over into my shirt at the Avenue in Long Branch and felt me up!  I looked at my husband and laughed.  They’re real people.  It’s all in the bra.  Lift and push up.

The size of your breasts and the way you present them is everything.  When I’m in a bad mood the last thing I want people to do is to leer at me and the twins, so I cover them up (this does not always help – it may be my posture).  I always felt sorry for the girls in grammar school that had beautiful breasts and were completely objectified by immaturity.

My mom survived breast cancer and had to go through a double mastectomy.  I had 2 tumors removed from each breast before I hit 30.  Just waiting for the pathology report was one of the longest weeks of my life.  Thank God they were benign but I know a lot of women, my age, younger and older who have battled with breast cancer.  They are courageous women from whom we should take a lesson.

If it’s all about the boobs when you look at them, it should be all about the boobs when you take care of them.  Self exams, mammograms, doctor visits.  Just do it.  Big or small, our breasts are important – we are important.  In this day and age when we hear of so many incidents of breast cancer in both women and men (yes men), we need to take action quickly as early detection is the beginning of the battle.

So as a favor to me and as a service to yourselves, everyone grab your boobs on three.  One, two, three….  It may save your life.

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

A Re-blog For All: The Importance Of I Love You

The Importance Of “I LOVE YOU”

After losing my mom I realized how important it is to tell people that you LOVE them.  Shortly after losing mom I must have called my dad 12 plus times per day to make sure he was alright and not lying on the floor unconscious somewhere.  I drove him crazy for a while but I’ve calmed down since.  Once I was trying to call him and for hours no one answered the phone.  I called his neighbors but no one was home and then I went into panic mode.  I called my husband at work and begged him to please go check on him.  He worked about 20 minutes away and headed up the parkway to check on “Willie”.

My phone rang and it was John telling me that my dad was ok and passed him the phone.  He was chopping wood in the yard.  Yes, my  80-year-old dad was chopping wood.  Willie thinks he’s 25.  I immediately started crying hysterically, relieved that he was ok.  Daddy apologized and from that day forward he calls me when he leaves the house or has an appointment.  I know I drive him crazy but I can’t bear the thought of losing another parent.

Losing my mom was difficult enough but if I lost my dad on top of that I would feel like there was no one in the entire world who loved me.  I would be alone in the world forever and ever.  That’s why my dad and I ALWAYS say “I love you” when we’re ready to hang up the phone or when I leave his house or he leaves mine.

It only takes a minute.  I’ll tell you all a secret that plagues me and will always plague me until the day I die – and if Sartre has anything to do with my afterlife, it will haunt me forever.  I have never told anyone, not even my husband.  The last time I actually spoke to my mom when she was actually conscious, was on a Wednesday night.  I was watching the season finale of Project Runway and my mom called to tell me about all the stuff that Billy, her neighbor, brought over.  I half listened and said, “Mommy, is it alright if I call you back?  I’m watching something on TV.”  She told me to go ahead and she would talk to me later.

When “later” came I called her back but she was already getting sick and couldn’t really talk.  I hung up the phone thinking I would talk to her tomorrow.  By tomorrow she was in the ER and by the time my father decided to tell me that she was in Mountainside Hospital, it was late Thursday night or Friday.  I can’t even remember anymore.

My parents always protected me from the truth.  They told me that Buffy from “Family Affair” died because they kept her a little girl for too long, and for years I believed that Elvis died from eating too many hamburgers.  Protecting me from their truths was a high priority.  When my dad called he said that she was in the hospital and doing fine.  By Saturday he said, “Jacq, I think you better come up.”

When I heard those words come out of my father’s mouth, I knew Mommy was in trouble.  I raced up north and spent the next two days with her and watched her die.  I was so happy to be with her but I will never get the image out of my mind.  I can never forget.  I will never forget her and I will never forget, or at least I hope I never forget, to tell the people I love most that I love them.

In the past I always thought that made me a “pussy” – showing emotion and all – but now I realize how important those three words are.  So tell your family and your friends how you feel.  Say those THREE heartfelt words that mean so much to both you and the people who you tell…  just say – I LOVE YOU!

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.