FUN: Self-Inflicted Gift Card Chaos


I’m drowning…in decisions.

All I want to do is spend a $50 gift card I recently redeemed with credit card points. So far I’ve spent probably three days shopping online. Somehow that seems out of whack.

At first, I was after athletic shoes since I work out regularly. However, once I saw the average prices I quickly decided that I didn’t want to spend more than the card’s value. That decision ended that idea.

Next I decide to  simply replace my near-empty fragrance. It’s one I have come to really enjoy for several reasons: 1. I didn’t have to shop for it 2. It was a gift and 3. I didn’t have to shop for it.

Have I mentioned how much I don’t enjoy shopping? Probably. I’ll move on. So after abandoning the shoe idea, I search said site for women’s fragrances only to discover 725 options. I’m way too tired after teaching middle school all week to consider 725 fragrances – unless, someone has invented “scratch and sniff” computer screens thereby eliminating my need to go to a store.

Why does this weird apprehension overtake me? I ask myself. Just make the decision. Order the replacement fragrance and be done with it.

Nope. There’s a new dilemma. That little bottle of “smell good,” as my grandfather would have called it, costs $4 more than my gift card plus shipping and …

“Get over it,” I’m sure some readers are saying.

“What’s wrong with her?” others are reading while rolling their eyes.

I don’t know! It’s just that I grew up in the 80s, I’m re-evaluating my definition of The American Dream (see my previous post)  and $19.99 is my price point. There’s something psychological about all those nines. It makes the price seem…reasonable. But that was until dress jeans, designer jeans and distressed jeans came on the scene.

I’m the one who’s distressed now!

Did I ever mention that my nephew took the guessing out of distressing and did it himself? No highpriced mangled denim for him! After carefully spreading out his new jeans on the driveway, he procured his father’s tools and took away to tearing and ripping. The results looked great and he saved money.

So here I am today – still in possession of the gift card that won’t go away and no closer to spending it.  Guess there’s always the secondary market: sell it for less than face value. It’s a thought.

At least there’d be no shipping, I think.


ETC: Considering a New Dream


There’s lots of talk these days about The American Dream and how it’s “under attack.” There’s lots of talk these days about The American Dream and how it may actually take a different form than homeownership, a steady job (what’s that?) and enough “margin” to charge meals consumed outside the home.

Maybe it’s time to redefine it. I’m thinking about that for my life. What about you?

What happens in life when stuff or its management isn’t so encompassing? What happens in life if I’m actually open to the possibility that what I’ve thought I’ve needed isn’t really that at all? What happens if I start to re-consider all my attitudes toward spending, saving and giving decisions and base those decisions on something or someone other than myself? I don’t know the answer to all those questions but I am starting to see examples of  real live people considering how their lives can be more when they have less.  Let me give you an example.

Through October 20,  our city is taking part in what the Jacksonville Public Library calls The Community Read: Jacksonville Turns a Page Together. It’s an effort to have those interested read a common book. Several years ago, it was Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This year, it’s The Power of Half: One Family’s Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back by Kevin and Hannah Salwen, a dad and daughter team from the Atlanta area whose book is about their family steps to incorporate radical re-evaluation into their lives.

You’ll be surprised at what they chose to do and then how that impacted the lives of others. In fact, residents can listen to the actual story about how Kevin believes the “power of half” idea can translate in communitywide change. He is a small business expert for Yahoo!, wrote for The Wall Street Journal for 18 years, and is also a writer and entrepreneuer. He will be a guest Thursday, Oct. 20 at the Main Library at 11 a.m. in the Hicks Auditorium. By the way, it’s free, but you should RSVP.

I’m hoping to hear what he has to say and even to take my middle school students to hear him. If you’re interested, see

The whole idea of defining life in different terms intrigues me. What about you? All I know is that for something to change, something has to change.

Profound, I know!



Fun (?): Grilled During the Drill


Usually I rather enjoy unexpected fire drills. Normally, teachers at my school get the heads-up email so we can avoid starting a test right before them. Then there are those fun times when students and teachers alike are at the mercy of surprise. The sudden jolting of a calm learning environment transforms into momentary chaos containing yelps and squeals. Personally, I just let out a big “WAAAHHH!” Then I regain my composure, grab my class roll and head to the door.

There are three types of responses to the monthly mandatory fire drill. The strong silent students routinely are not phased. They get up and are in line waiting for the overresponders to get it together so we can escape the “burning building” before we all “die.” Then there are the screamers who levitate themselves about six inches out of their seats in response.  The third group tries to play it cool but they’re really screamers. It’s just that they add an audible laugh afterward to kind of “shoo away” the fact that they’re, well, screamers.

The orderly procession of students “escapes” the building; they wait in silence outside and then backtrack to their respective rooms – all the time enjoying the mandatory break from note taking and between-class hallway drama.

Recently, I escorted my 6th graders out during an unannounced drill – one that did interrupt a test. They had been deeply thinking and contemplating the universe during my open-note quiz when the alarm jolted us all to action. Screamers screamed. The other screamers screamed and then laughed. Simultaneously, others rose silently, got in line, and waited for the screams and laughs to stop.

The usual exit ensued. The “all clear” was given and just about the time everyone had gotten out, lined up again and had been accounted for we did an about-face to head back in. On the way, one of my 6th grade boys hustled up to me to ask a question. It’s not one I would have been comfortable asking a teacher of the opposite sex so it sent me into a momentary dumbfounded stupor.

It was then that he whisper-asked, “Hey Mrs. Lemine, have you ever peed in your pants during a fire drill?”

I hate these types of questions. How am I supposed to respond to something like that? Couple that with the fact that spontaneous responses are not my strong suit – but don’t tell me students that.  I assured him that I had not had that misfortune despite the fact that I drink a gallon of water a day (yes, of my own accord.) They know it’s true and see my huge insulated water mug each day.

And then, as if his question wasn’t enough, I got even much information as he continued.

“I did, once,” he said. “In first grade.”

So now my life is complete and you know a tantalizing tidbit about fire drills and what they really involve.

Fortunately, our students are well trained because we practice drills regularly. That is, unless they’re asking their teachers odd questions like the aforementioned.

After resuming our pre-drill activity but before resuming his quiz, another male student beckoned me to his desk. Oh, no, I thought. What now?

I hesitantly headed his way.

“Hey, Mrs. Lemine,” he said. “Did you know that fire drill was gonna happen?”

Whew, I silently breathed in relief.

“I can’t say,” I responded in my teacher-like tone. “It’s a teacher secret. If you grow up to be a teacher, you will know!”

“Some of my teachers tell us ahead of time,” he forthrightly continued – sort of in a questioning way like I’m supposed to clear up that discrepancy.

So what’s a teacher to do? I don’t know but I think my water’s kicking in!