Tag Archives: 30×30

#5 Bet on a Horse

Up until a few months ago I had no idea that Suffolk Downs had actual horse racing. I assumed it was a run down desolate vast wasteland with grass growing through pavement and chained “Do Not Trespass” signs lining the entrance ways.

Instead it’s full of open mouthed old men; cheap snacks; horsies; and, for one day only, Joe, Tim, and myself.

Walking into Suffolk Downs on a Wednesday is hilarious. Tim summed it up best.  “It’s like going to ‘The Beasts’ house. Like, you know people were there sometimes, but not recently.” The concourse was empty. Joe was convinced they were closed, but I pushed past the turn styles. None of the concession stands or betting windows were open, but as soon as we rounded a corner, we saw glass doors leading to a separate area where televisions broadcast other races around the country and the giant windows looked out over the race track.

“Excuse me, what do we do here?” I asked the lady at the information booth.

“Oh, uh, not a whole lot.” She threw a few pamphlets at us and pointed towards the end of the betting windows where there were two electronic kiosks. From those machines we were able to deduce that we needed to bet with the following information: The track (Suffolk Downs), the race (they were on race #5), and the horse (always the funniest name).

Race #5: I bet on the #8 horse, Rocky World, who had 8-1 odds. I have no idea what “odds” really mean, but I tried to steer clear of  anything that wasn’t between 5-1 and 9-1. Always one of those numbers to 1. Always. Rocky World finished first and my $2 bet got me $23.

Tim was thrilled that one of the Nabisco products offered was Ritz Bitz (cheese). He’s laughing because the wind spilled part of Joe’s beer and I was berated for having brought them there in the first place.

Race #6: Joe jumped on the bandwagon of whatever horse I was going for and this round I picked Shopper Wife. Tim picked the favorite, Miss Mulligan, who ended up finishing 10th out of 12. Shopper Wife finished somewhere disappointing. The horse wearing the clown nose won.

We ate our lunch at the Legends Cafe which listed “Nabisco” as one of the four items you could purchase at their snackbar. The other three were “Soda”, “Beer”, and “Chips.” Eventually a waitress found us and we ordered some real food while we watched the seventh race.

Race #7: Joe and I both won $9 after picking Swampy Town to win. Tim had wanted Swampy Town, but went with Lir Jet at Joe’s suggestion.

The people watching is great. I have never been in a less diverse area in my life. Lots of older guys in jean jackets and track pants with tinted sunglasses coughing and hacking up everything while shooting the shit with each other. I presume that these men referring to talking to each other as “shooting the shit.” Clearly this is a social activity for them and I understand why.
At $2 a bet, it’s a cheap way of gambling that is far more exciting (horses!) and since there is about 20 minutes between each race, it takes much more time than a slot machine. After all was said and done I walked away with about $23 after having spent $6 on bets and purchasing two beers and a bowl of Cream of Asparagus soup. All in all, not bad for a fun afternoon with some dudes.
More favorite horse names:
Glow Girl Go, Lipstick n’ Desire, Flightriskcowgirl, and Beaureal.
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#4 Design a Knitting Pattern

Obviously something crafty needed to make the list! I was going to originally make this “Learn a new craft” but after a not so successful foray into embroidery, I thought that maybe taking my knitting a step further would be a good idea. I have a tendency to only learn the bare minimum to get by in an activity. Even though I’ve been knitting for almost seven years, I have yet to knit with two strands of yarn, finish making socks or a sweater, and design a pattern. I only learned cables about a year ago. It’s time I turned this knitting thing up to 11.

Once I discovered houndstooth, I went a little crazy with love for the pattern, but my lack of ability to knit with more than one type of yarn and complete complicated patterns made this process a little difficult. So, I chose to design a cowl that would reveal a houndstooth pattern through alternating knitting and purl stitches.

Honestly, I have yet to even knit my own pattern yet, but I’m pretty sure this is going to work!

Houndstooth Cowl

Yarn: 1 skein Malabrigo Worsted 3.5 oz, 216 yards

Needle: 16” circular – size 9US (5.5mm)

Notions: 1 stitch marker; blunt darning needle

Gauge: 18 sts and 28 rows = 4” (10cm) in pattern stitch

Size: One size = 22” around x 10” high

Instructions:

CO 100 stitches, Join in the round.

Row 1-4: Knit

BEGIN HOUNDSTOOTH PATTERN

Row 5: [K3, P1] to end

Row 6: [K1, P3] to end

Row 7: P1 [K1, P3] x24, P1, K2

Row 8: P2, [P1, K3]x24, K1, P1

REPEAT UNTIL COWL REACHES DESIRED LENGTH

Row 1-4: Knit

BO

//

If you end up knitting this, let me know how it comes out! I have quite a few projects ahead of this one – even if it is my yarn baby.

#16 Go Yurt Camping

Right now I am coming down from the high of having the most relaxing weekend in a long time. I can still smell the campfire smoke in my hair, on my pillow, and on my sweatshirt. It’s never going away, is it?

On a whim a few months back I booked a yurt on the only remaining open weekend at Wells State Park out near Sturbridge, Massachusetts. Like most things, I was pretty unorganized in putting this weekend together. I’ve had so much going on the past few weeks and September 14th seemed really, really far away.

My brave camping companions on this trip were Josh and Joe. When I got to Josh’s house Friday afternoon, the back his car was filled with all types of camping supplies. Organized boxes containing matches, candles, bug spray, all types of travel and disposable kitchen supplies. It was amazing. Aside from a sleeping bag, I own nothing camping related. I shocked myself when I remembered I did in fact own a sleeping bag. Who knew?

Related Aside: I’ve been thinking lately a lot about what things I own make me feel like an adult. And they’re not things like a home (because I don’t own one) or my car (because I’ve been driving since I was 16), but they’re things like a rolling pin and my cat’s food storage container. Things that, instead of buying wrestling action figures, I bought on my own volition out of necessity. They’re things that make my life easier while preventing problems and fostering preparedness. One of these days I will get a Fast Lane Easy Pass. What do you own that makes you feel like an adult?

Anyway, Wells State Park is only about an hour west from Boston. It’s primarily for tent and motor home camping, but it is also home to two absolutely beautiful yurts. If you’re unsure of what yurt is wikipedia will give you a little bit of history.

These specific yurts were made by Pacific Yurts. The outside is covered in a green canvas and the windows unzip on the outside for ventilation. Josh and I were so excited about the yurt when we got there that undoing the windows was our way of playing with it. In fact we were so excited that we would constantly say to each other “Hey, you know what I’m going to do right now? Get [something] out of the yurt.” or “Hey, do you know what we’re going to do tonight? Go to sleep in a yurt.” This would then end with both of us squealing and jumping up and down. Yurts never get old.

Our fantastical yurt site!

Josh brought a ton of awesome food, not limited to his ginger soy marinated steaks and homemade pickles  (I have some in my fridge right now. YES!) which we prepared on Friday night once Joe arrived. Oh, and did you know that baked potatoes are absolutely incredible when wrapped in tin foil and placed in a fire? They are!

This was Joe’s fourth consecutive camping weekend so I consider him to be pro at this point. He showed up, wiggled the logs in the fire a little bit, and suddenly our fire was booming. It was pretty impressive before, but once Josh added these color crystals to it, it was the best fire that has ever existed.

Saturday morning Joe prepared us a plate of bacon and pancakes that were cooked in the bacon grease. Camping is the best!! They went off to find the pond and I decided this was a good time to go running. I hardly ever run outside, but we had nothing but time and the Mill Pond trail was calling my name. It was an awesome, but hilly, run through the woods and I think I stepped on a snake. I forgot how friendly campers and people walking alone in the woods are. Every person I ran past greeted me and flashed me a huge smile. They were probably just trying to feel out whether or not I was a murderer.

I also love how everything echos, how both 9:30pm and 6am feel late, and watching motor home pros back their over-sized vehicles into the smallest tree lined camp sites. And yurts. I love yurts.

Since it was towards the end of the season there were not a ton of structured activities – except building your own fire that someone got the date wrong on – so we ate and drank. Joe managed to open a bottle of wine using his shoe. He also brought a small Keurig which we could support by any of the six outlets inside our yurt. I love yurts. And with the weather being chilly, apple cider and hot chocolate were extra delicious.

Shoe Wine!

Absolutely the best part about camping is the bonding. And I am grateful for the time I got to spend getting to know Josh. I see Joe much, much less since I decided to take off a season off of dodgeball and we no longer live together. Also, I learned a lot from both of them about camping and how awesome it is. I love yurts.

Sunday morning, after freezing our buns off, Josh and I had an awesome breakfast at the biggest Friendly’s we’ve ever seen. A magical ending to an awesome weekend.

And now, a brief tour inside of our Yurt…

Bunk beds featuring both full and twin mattresses. To the right is a picnic table for rainy days. If it rains and you’re in a yurt, it’s ok. I love yurts!

There was a skylight!

I love yurts.

#17 Learn how to play Rilo Kiley’s “With Arms Outstretched” on the Guitar

You’re just going to have to trust me on this one because there is no way I am posting some weird hipster youtube video of me desecrating this. I’ve put a minimal amount of effort into this list item, but I’m getting better.

A few years ago I bought a groupon and took guitar lessons. Due to time constraints, finding the time to practice was difficult. I mastered a bare bones version of Pink Flloyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and you could probably recognize my version of “Hey Jude.”

Unlike Jimi Hendrix, I am not physically built to play the guitar. I have incredibly small hands, which makes holding the neck virtually impossible, and my boobs angle the guitar in such a way that I cannot see a damn thing I am doing.

My hand

Normal, adult hand

Enjoy the original version.

#6 Pass my LSW Exam

I passed!

I was totally iffy as to whether or not it would happen based on my practice test scores, but who cares now? I passed. It’s over!

-Dana Beguerie, Licensed Social Worker

#20 Be in a Car That Climbs Mt. Washington

Out of all the items on the list, this was the one I was least prepared for*. For whatever reason, I assumed driving up to the top of Mt. Washington would be a breeze. A quick up one side and a quick down the other side. I’ve never been so wrong in my entire life about anything. (Except that time Josh and I debated who played Tom Hanks’ wife in “Apollo 13.” It’s not Joan Allen and I’ll never forget the name Kathleen Quinlan for as long as I live.)

If my memory serves me correct, this is the only item on the list that was suggested by another person. My cousin Greg had always wanted to drive to the top of Mt. Washington. Well, so did I (after he suggested it). If you’re from the Northeast you’ve most definitely seen them, but they are less rare to those of you outside of New England. Of course I’m talking about the “This Car Climbed Mount Washington” bumper sticker.

The ride up was about four hours long, but Greg and I laughed pretty much the entire way so it didn’t feel like four hours at all. Same goes for the way back. It was awesome to spend time with him. If a topic exists in the world, we covered it.

When we reached our destination, I expected the base of the mountain to have tram like tracks, similar to those at a car wash, that you drove your car on to and would just take you up the mountain and back down. This is not the case.

Included in the fee for the drive is the coveted “This Car Climbed Mt. Washington” sticker, an audio tour CD, and a few pamphlets on what goes on at the top.

“Does anyone just come for the bumper sticker and leave?” Greg asked our affable Park Ranger.

Marcia’s (I can’t remember her real name) eyes narrowed in confusion. “That’s a pretty expensive bumper sticker.” Once again, my theory that Park Rangers at Mt. Washington have no sense of humor has been proven.

I thought the set of instructions that came with our Mt. Washington goodie bag were unnecessary. Pump your breaks, don’t exceed 20 miles an hour, be safe, blah blah blah. It’s driving up a mountain, how difficult can it be? Answer: Thank goodness Greg was driving. I was terrified. It’s worth pointing out at this point that Mt. Washington is the highest point in the Northeast. There. Now you’re terrified too.

The first two miles are gorgeous. There are a few pull off areas to admire the beautiful flowers and trees. A tiny waterfall here, a tiny waterfall there. And then suddenly, you’re in the clouds teetering on the edge OF A MOUNTAIN. Obviously, I’ve never been on a mountain before. I found myself sitting angled towards the driver’s side, away from possible death and staring out the front window. I thought if my eyes even looked over the edge, we would go over drifting off of Mt. Washington like the opening credits to Mad Men. I started to feel a little sick to my stomach.

My anxiety kicked in further when the road became dirt and narrowed even more. They say it’s a two lane road, but I’m not buying it. Unfortunately, we were forced to test this theory, but we did make it out alive. (Even writing this now my stomach is turning.)

As you get closer to the top, the curves get tighter and less forgiving. It was an overcast day, so the fog thickened as we made our ascent. Of course there are other ways up Mt. Washington. You can take their train, hike, or bike. Those are way less fun though.

Losers.

Once at the top, we delved into the sandwiches we bought at a deli a few miles back. Greg’s bag of Sun Chips was about to burst due to the atmospheric pressure. We both felt fairly tummy sick so we took our time adjusting and eating before venturing out to explore the top of Mt. Washington!

The weather on top of Mt. Washington can be some of the harshest in the world, as well as the most predictable. There was about a 20 degree temperature difference between land and mountain.Greg had reminded me earlier in the day to bring a sweatshirt, which is something I almost never do, but I was glad I did, because  it was windy, chilly, and overcast. Perfect weather to rock a Bake and Destroy sweatshirt. However, not a perfect day to sunbathe, which for some reason, tons of dudes had chosen to do.

For having seen barely any cars on our way up, I would refer to the top of the mountain as bustling. Most of these cheaters took the train up instead of driving up like total bad asses. Aside from the amazing views at the top, Mt. Washington is host to two gift shops, a small museum, a cafe, and an old timey meeting house restaurant place with tiny wooden beds covered in straw. I didn’t take the time to read exactly what it was, but if it was the only structure that existed back in olden times, it was most likely all of those things rolled into one. (It just dawned on me that the people that work up there need to drive that mountain every day. Holy cats.)

Now, the entire point of driving to the top is to take in some of the beautiful views. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The view from the top as people make the drive up.

A view of the surrounding mountains in the area from Mt. Washington

Tourists had stacked piles of rocks at random places all over Mt. Washington. Literally, they were everywhere.

Just looking at this picture makes my stomach turn. See the side of the road on the left and where it stops? Yeah, if you teeter a mere inch over that, you fall off of Mt. Washington.

My travel buddy, Greg! He used his brute strength to fix this view finder. I’m not even kidding.

Celebrating our ascent to the top of Mt. Washington and having successfully bullied other tourists out of the way so I could have my moment.

The trip was awesome. It had everything that you would expect in a good movie. Comedy, terror, colorful characters, nature, and sandwiches. We capped off the day by stopping at Newick’s Seafood Restaurant in Dover, New Hampshire – a delicious suggestion. We hit a small amount of traffic on the way back and Greg opted to take back roads. For about fifteen minutes it rained harder than I’d ever seen it before, but the results yielded a magnificent rainbow that we could see the beginning and end of. A first for both of us!

Truly a day of adventure!

*until the next one

#30 Grow Tomatoes

Three days. I had them for only three days.

My dad has always joked that when I eventually own property I will ask how much it would cost to pave my yard. I’ve never really cared for plants. Sure, they’re pretty, but they’re work. You have to know so much about them like their name, how much sunlight and water they need, the best place to plant them. They’re like children. No thanks.

I’ve had a jade plant for a few years in my apartment, but it just got lumped into the collective plants of the house and someone else cares for it. I’m confident that I could keep that plant alive if all the responsibility fell on me, but any other type of plant, I’m not so sure.

And thus, #30 Grow Tomatoes was created. Why tomatoes? Because if I am going to grow something, I want to be able to eat it. “These are from my garden,” I hoped to say as a dropped a barrel of tomatoes on a table in the break room at work. “Take as many as you want. I’ve already canned so many!”

Last Saturday, I headed over to Ricky’s Flower Market in Union Square, Somerville. It’s hard when you have no idea what you’re looking at or looking for. I expected a ton of signage denoting the location of this tomato plant, but I got lost. Juan, one of their incredibly knowledgeable employees, eventually found me and helped me locate one of their plants. It was a tall plant, but the weight of the two tomatoes caused the vines to droop.

“Okay, so now what do I do with it?”

“You need to pot it in a bigger pot and tie it to some stakes.” I just looked at him. He just looked at me, grabbed the plant, and headed towards a work station. “Come with me.”

Obviously, Juan didn’t want me to have the chance to immediately kill this thing.  He re-potted it for me with some soil into a bigger pot and used old stakes to tie the vines up. Viola!

Thanks, Juan! He’s the best.

Once I got the plant home, I read the instructions on the back of the card. Apparently, I was growing Roma Tomatoes. I’ve heard of those.

These Big Mama’s need direct sunlight for six hours. After about fifteen minutes of walking around my yard and house, I settled on a small area of concrete to the right of my stairs for these to grow.

Fearing that this plant would get stolen, much like my bike off the porch in the Fall of 2010, I named her Renee (as in “Don’t Walk Away, Renee (… and into the back of some thiefs truck on trash night)”).

Well, on Monday night the plant didn’t get stolen, but my beautiful tomatoes did. Was it a squirrel? Unlikely, but possible. Was it a thief who threw my tomatoes in to the back of his pick up truck on trash night? HIGHLY LIKELY.

Give me back my tomatoes! Give me back my bike!

I’ve moved Renee inside and I am going to put her with the rest of the house plants. There are no other tiny tomatoes or buds that look like they’re going to sprout into something this season, but I’ll keep Renee around and see what happens next year.

R.I.P.(E.), Renee’s Tomatoes

#9 See Mickie James Wrestle (…and why it’s not happening)

Well, for the first time an item on my 30×30 list has become impossible to complete. I had hopes that at some point within a year Mickie James would make it at least as north as New York on a date that I could attend.

Why Mickie James? Wait, let’s back up. You’re probably asking yourself “Who is Mickie James?” Okay, let’s start there.

Mickie James is currently signed to Impact Wrestling competing in their Knockouts Division where she is a two time Knockouts Champion. In the WWE, she held the Diva’s Championship once and the Women’s Champion a total of five times. She is the only woman in the history of professional wrestling to hold all three titles.

Okay, so why? Well, I became acquainted with her during her stint in the WWE in 2009. I had started watching wrestling again after an eighteen year absence while laid up with a broken ankle. All I did all day was watch tv and wrestling was refreshing. It was an entirely different medium of television that I found intriguing and hilarious.

Before we go any further, I need to get this out of the way: Yes, I know it’s scripted. No, they don’t use steroids. Yes, they are real athletes. And if you come to my house to watch wrestling and say any of those things, I will get silent and then calmly ask you to leave my house. If you call it “fake,” you’re just being a dick and I will let you know that in the most dickish way possible. We judge things that we don’t understand or that we deem different. I’m not here to change your opinion about wrestling, but you can like whatever you like and you won’t hear shit from me.

Back to the story at hand. When I was a wee little WWF fan, there was no such thing as women’s wrestling. My role models were the Big Boss Man and the Ultimate Warrior. It was so cool to see that they actually had positive female role models that were athletic, strong, smart, and totally bitchy when they needed to be. It was awesome.

When Mickie James came out for her match, she was bouncy, happy, and the crowd loved her. I was like “Oh man, she’s the kind of person I want to be best friends with.” And then I was like “No, she’s pretty much who I aspire to be. A happy-go-lucky people pleaser with whacky outfits.”  And so a Mickie James fan was born.

If you read my entry on Sara del Rey, you’ll remember that I wrote that the Diva’s division is not at all what it used to be. Mickie James was one of the Diva’s that could hold her own in the ring. She competed in an awesome Falls Count Anywhere match with Melina. And if you want to watch  fantastic  Women’s Championship match between Mickie and Beth Phoenix look no further.

Then the WWE released her from her contract in 2010 and I never saw her wrestle. It needed to be added to this list.

The problem is that Impact Wrestling doesn’t tour as extensively as WWE does. Unlike WWE, Impact let’s her perform at independent shows, but those are mostly in the South.

So I was surprised when she was scheduled to be a part of Northeast Wrestling’s Wrestling Under the Stars in Upstate New York on September 22nd. However, her appearance was cancelled last night. Strangely, I’m thrilled. The rest of August and September are crazy busy for me and it will be nice to not have to drive a total of eight hours alone…and then attend another wrestling show the next day. Besides, she’ll be back.

With all that bummer business out of the way, let’s talk about something positive and stay on topic. No, I am not going to get into Wade Barrett’s imminent return and how he’ll become World Heavyweight Champion and I will pass out. Instead, we’re going to talk about the time I met Sara del Rey.

Having seen Sara wrestle previously at two Chikara shows in September and December of last year, this was long overdue. I’m terrified to meet people, but I’ve done it before and made it out alive. Mick Foley and Chris Jericho have the distinction of being two of the nicest, most engaging people I have ever met. You can now add Sara del Rey to that list.

A few weeks ago, Vincent and I attended another Chikara show. He, as well as many others, insisted that I finally pull the trigger on meeting her. Because I am a giant suck up, we stopped at Target so I could pick up some of her favorite gum (Dessert Delights).

It’s very common at indie wrestling shows for performers to hock their own goods. Self produced DVDs, 8x10s, t-shirts, etc. They’ll interact with fans, take photos, and ask their fellow performers for change for large bills. Sara was out signing before the show, but I was too paralyzed with fear to approach her. I would wait until intermission.

Chikara has the distinction of being one of the few promotions that doesn’t separate gender during matches. And why should they? It’s pretty bad ass that Sara can come out and fight a dude. Even if was Icarus (the most hated man in Chikara wrestling)…

I won’t get into too many details about the match because this is already super long. Here are two highlights:

She put Icarus in the LaBell lock. A move that Daniel Bryan uses in the WWE and calls “The YES! lock.” Obviously when Sara slapped that on, the crowd chanted “YES!” until he broke the hold. What a bunch of marks.

Sara lost. After the match she attacked Icarus, he rolled out of the ring, and she stood in the ring while the crowd chanted “Thank you, Sara!” She has yet to acknowledge that she signed a deal with WWE, but you know it, I know it, everyone knows it.

“It’s too bad she had to lose her last match,” Vincent said during intermission.

“No, it’s not. She had nothing to gain by winning, but that dude will be known as the guy that beat Sara del Rey. She put him over and that’s really cool.”

After a second of contemplation, he responded. “She’s pretty awesome.”

Vincent said he would take the picture of us and go over with me, but I put my big kid pants on and went over myself. “I brought you a present,” I said as I pulled a heap of gum out of my purse.

“You did!? Thank you so much!”

I asked if I could take a picture with her. “Absolutely, sorry I’m so sweaty.” I acknowledged that she put on a hell of a match. “Thanks. I have the same phone, but I guess everyone has an iphone now, huh?” I agreed, but my brain went “OH MY GOD I HAVE THE SAME PHONE AS SARA DEL REY!”

A nice gentleman took the picture for us, I thanked her, wished her luck, and bought her Best of DVD which she signed for me. If I had a Best of DVD, that moment would be on it. (You’re so lame, Dana.)

Ladyjacked!

(Photo Credits: WWE, Chikara, and me)

#24 Take a Language Class

I cheated, you guys. I didn’t take a language class. I did something way better for myself professionally. I took a course to Teach English as a Second/Foreign Language (TESOL). If you’ve talked to me at any point over the last nine years, you know that traveling to a foreign country and teaching English has been a dream of mine. When I graduated from college I applied to the JET program, but was rejected. I took an online certification course and fell in love with making lesson plans. Then, I was supposed to go to China in 2007, but the program was uncooperative. I was going to move to Korea in 2009, but I broke my ankle.

When a groupon for Target Language School popped up, I jumped on it. TESOL classes usually run about $1600, which is an amount I’d never managed to save, and the time commitment of a week of 9-5 classes or every Saturday for a month never seemed to fit with my schedule.

Well, I finally made it happen.

Despite having to go Allston every week, it was awesome. My class consisted of nine girls – all far more well traveled than me and most had some teaching experience or were actually teachers. It seemed like every one of them had done a semester abroad in Ghana. “Oh, it’s so beautiful, right?” they cooed. I immediately became wistful for the same types of experiences. It’s not like I’ve never traveled outside the U.S. I’ve been incredibly lucky in that I’ve had the opportunity to travel to England and Ireland while in college and Amsterdam, Sweden, and Iceland in the last few years. But the idea of living somewhere outside the U.S. for a few months and having the time to really explore every square inch is an incredible opportunity that is afforded to the majority of college attendees. I was really bumming that my semester in Prague didn’t pan out.

Our teacher, Meghan, was fantastic. She’d spent some time in Spain (strangely enough, in the same program with one of the other students) and Thailand. Her knowledge of having traveled abroad and her experience working for international companies was just as valuable as all the planning materials in the books we were given.

Creating the lesson plans were still my favorite part of the class. I pulled most of my warm ups, follow up activities, and structured group learning from games I had learned from back when I was performing improv comedy. I will take any chance I can get to play a game of Big Booty. Teaching is awesome.

Throughout the course we had to create four lesson plans: Grammar, Listening/Speaking, Reading/Writing, and Wild Card! I put ample amounts of time into creating engaging and fun plans for every age group. I had a slight mess up with the grammar one, so I was happy to get that one over with first.

The biggest challenge was actually creating a lesson plan for children. My Wild Card plan was on transportation and involved singing, but I worried that the song was too complex because of verb tenses that were used. Instead, I decided to just focus on the vocabulary and being able to identify different modes of transportation within the song. I really wonder how it would’ve gone over had I been teaching it to children, but my classmates and teacher loved it.

Another challenge I found was creating lesson plans with the assumption that your learners all had some knowledge. This meant that you could pretty much start anywhere and say “We’ve already done units on [insert every possible topic here] except transportation. So, here is my unit on transportation.” I really wanted to challenge myself to create lesson plans that started at square one of something with no set previous knowledge.

I also worried about creating lesson plans for adults that could’ve been considered as condescending. Then I remembered that we all have to start somewhere. Personally, I love acting like a kid and being goofy. So, I chose to tailor my warm ups around that idea so that students would be comfortable getting a little weird with the material. I find that I learn best when I am engaged, moving around, and having fun. I loved being able to create the opportunities for future ESL learners.

Currently, I’m still in the midst of the last component – my online Business ESL class. Business ESL is perhaps the most lucrative form of ESL teaching and in high demand overseas. I’m a social workerish artsy type by day, so it’s been fun and challenging to learn all these business terms that I may have to teach some day.

Future Business ESL students, I promise to stay away from so-called buzz words and phrases like synergy, organic growth, and leverage. Trust me, you don’t want to do business with those douchebags. It doesn’t matter though. Chances are you’re having a meeting to buy that company anyway.

All kidding about the future owners of the United States aside, I really hope that I get an opportunity to use this at some point in my life even if it’s through teaching classes locally or volunteering for one on one tutoring. Although that game of Big Booty would be really hard with just two people. Anyway, when the opportunity presents itself to me, I am more than ready.

Finally, Sara del Rey…

When my alarm goes off on my phone every morning, I abruptly turn it off, look at my email and then check twitter. For some weird reason my thumb hit on the “Discover” button and I saw something I never thought I would see. Sara del Rey was the number one trending topic on twitter. My first honest thought was that she had died. Awful, I know. What is even more awful is that I considered that to be the case over what had actually happened: She has signed a WWE contract.

This is a huge deal for a number of reasons. Sara Del Rey, born Sara Amato, has spent the last ten years on the independent scene working on her craft in promotions like Ring of Honor, Shimmer, and Chikara. Wrestling didn’t come naturally to her. It was something she worked incredibly hard to be successful at, and something that ten years later, she was still pursuing at the same rate. Is it possible to be proud of someone that you don’t even know?

Anyone that watches WWE knows that the Diva’s Division, which is their annoying name for the Women’s Division, is hilariously flawed. There’s an unbalanced mixed of former models who can’t run the ropes (Kelly Kelly, Alicia Fox, Rosa Mendes) and actual women who can wrestle (Beth Phoenix, Natalya, AJ, Tamina). Last year, they signed former TNA Knockout’s Champion Awesome Kong, now known as Kharma, but they also lost tremendously talented ladies (Mickie James, Melina, Maryse, Gail Kim, Maxine) that have been forced to find homes at Impact Wrestling and back in the Indies. Oh, and yes, only four of them women currently in the division are 30 or over. And only two of those women debuted over the age of 30. At age 31, del Rey is the first woman to be signed over 30. This is another reason why her signing is so shocking. By WWE standards, she is way too old.

My second thought after “OMG SARA DEL REY” was “They’re going to fuck this up.” WWE creative has been struggling with story lines for all of their talent lately. They gave one of their strongest in ring performers, Natalya, a horrific farting gimmick. Beth Phoenix was Diva’s Champion for six months, but was barely seen on television and eventually lost the title  to one of the Bella Twins after faking an ankle injury. Yes, they had to have one of their strongest performers fake an injury to get pinned and lose the title, because it was not believable any other way.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see del Rey wrestle at two Chikara shows over the last year. Thankfully, she will be returning to Boston with the promotion later this month so I will have one more chance to see her before she relocates to Tampa and begins her training. Hopefully, I will not be a giant social leper this time and will actually bring her some gum and tell her how inspiring and awesome I think she is without sounding like a total lunatic. Any help with this is greatly appreciated.

So, what happens when your favorite indie wrestler signs a WWE contract? You wear their shirt all day despite how wrinkled and covered with cat hair it is. And you celebrate it. You celebrate the shit out of it, because you’re almost 30 yourself and you realize that you can still work hard to achieve your goals and be rewarded no matter how outlandish and ridiculous they may seem.