On Being Voiceless…

This week began with one major event: I lost my voice.

When I say I lost my voice I mean I went into work on Monday and could barely muster a cracked whisper. This may have been fine in an office setting, however, this week and next I am subbing as a teaching/instructional aide in a first grade classroom. This not only means hours trying to help students who can’t read well enough to write out any help on boards or papers with everything from reading to math, but also means recesses and lunches on the play yard with no way of yelling out when I see and issue nor calling into the office if I need to report an incident or injury.

Luckily – and so no one thinks I went to work sick to infect children! – I was not sick when all of this happened. (And this is your gross out warning). What happened was that I went to the LA Haunted Hayride on Saturday which was fantastic but also very smokey (both from people and overactive smoke machines working throughout the line) filled with a lot of hay which generally got everywhere. These spooky features are nothing new to me and I didn’t scream the whole night but woke up a little raspy.

Sunday, I had a SCA event which was amazing but I talked all day and as I talked, the rasp in my voice grew steadily worse. I had a tiny bit of a stuffy nose from all the dirt from the course of the two days outside but nothing else. I was able to run my evening 10k with no issue so neither breathing nor and sickness symptoms were apparent.

But when Monday morning came around my throat had a fair share of mucus from night drain but my throat wasn’t raw at all. Repeat up until today with a little more soreness, less phlegm and nose grossness, and a stronger sounding voice (in tiny increments) as the week wore on.

While I cannot compare what I went through this week with others who have voice issues regularly, this week as a teacher and someone who doesn’t actually feel like they like to talk all that much on a regular basis, I have seriously missed my voice. It’s like they say (and, please, pardon the cliche): You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

I’ve also learned a lot about the kids I teach this week.

The first graders were amazing. I got get well soon cards and best behavior (for the most part) and a lot of patience as I searched for ways of still helping them out whenever I could. I also learned how much bigger kids can take advantage of a voiceless monitor but how freaked out they can get when I – a tiny 5 foot nothing girl – finally croaks out commands in a voice a few octaves below what they are used to.

So that’s my life this week. I’m happily taking the day off tomorrow as the rest of the staff gathers for a studentless inservice day with some more honeyed tea (or just raw honey on a spoon – I’m serious, it’s so helpful) and vocal rest.

  • Taylor Gallagher

Rocking the Vote



Tonight, 6 people and a baby sat around the dinner table – post-eating – with 6 mail-in ballots. We read through every initiative and proposition, through all the people running, through the given reading material and online pro/com lists from sources we trust – all in all, it was pretty exhausting. After confirming what yeses meant yes, which meant no, and which canceled each other out if X, Y, or Z, the 6 of us each filled out our ballots.

This was the first time my family officially went through a ballot as a group to fetter out what was being said and what was meant. We all have different backgrounds and different ways of understanding what each part will do or change – we are a 5/6 female household, are catholic (some more than others), and all have very different debts and incomes.

I felt that this was a great first time, however, next time we’d have to pick new readers who would read through the ballot book well before hand – we definitely had one or two who did not want to spend time with any fine print but who have less finesse and much louder voices. Another of our group felt that we needed a lot more fact and a lot less opinion floating around the table – she didn’t need to know all about someone else’s tax whatevers.

The point of this isn’t to tell you about my politics or to talk about how families may influence you – although they can. We all went through it all, finished and have our ballots ready to mail out tomorrow but we all voted our own way.

For us, this was simply economical. 6 ballots done, 6 in the mail. For others, weeks of studying and a silent room is the key. Yet another, it is taking the time out on November 8th to stand in line and walk into the poll booth.

As I have told my 6th, 7th, and 8th graders this year, I will always reserve my opinions on who you vote for or what you vote for – though it may determine how much time I choose to spend around you outside of school (this goes for family and friends!) – but it is you responsibility to get informed and vote. A good chunk of my 8th graders will be voting in the next presidential election so it is an important thing to get through to them.

So if you are eligible to vote this time around – and an astonishing, record breaking number of people have already registered and voted – get out there and rock the vote. If you don’t care enough to vote, I don’t want to hear you complain later.

  • Taylor Gallagher

PS – to my international readers, sorry this post is pretty US-centric! It’s my life right now…


Updating My Merrells


I’ve talked quite a lot about my running. In fact, it seems to be one of the things that I have managed to keep consistent in my life. My father and I have upped our running to four runs a week and going further and further distances – I would never have thought when I started running that I would manage to run 8 miles in an hour and a half even on relatively flat lands.

I’ve been running in Merrell minimalist shoes for the past year or two (I really don’t remember when I bought the pair I’ve been running in – before or mid London) and I have worn them thin. I was looking at them tonight and noticed letter impressions on the flat, worn out sections of the tread, they are so worn down.

My first pair of Merrells were Bare Access trail runners though the style my dad helped me pick out were really for street running over dirt. Since buying these however this particular style has moved on to the ‘Arc 4’ for trail running. This design has more padding especially in the heal which hasn’t stopped them from being minimalist but definitely have a heftier feel.

Instead of purchasing the Bare Access, I opted to switch over to The Merrell Pace Glove 3. The Pace Glove is a cross-training shoe which has the lightness of my older shoe which I just wasn’t getting from the Arc 4.

If you haven’t ever run in minimalist shoes, I have to tell you that it will feel different. The whole process is meant to train your body to run naturally. The theory behind wearing minimalist or barefoot shoes is that traditional running styles change the way you run in three areas: creating an unnatural posture out of normal alignment, creating an inefficient stride, and increasing the stressful impacts on your heal strikes. In minimalist shoes, you are supposed to land midfoot which corrects all of the usual issues with running shoes.

Because of these changes, your legs will be soar in the new conditions but I have been able to adapt my run and am running more, harder and faster than I ever could have imagined. Oh, and just for a style hint, I love the design of the Pace Glove and my pair is black netting with black rubber which has a nice gloss that reminds me of leather detailing. So yes, they are cute, functional and I can’t wait to take them out for their first run (after my 8 mile send off for the old Bare Access pair).

But that’s all for me, run safe, run well, and I will see you next week!

  • Taylor Gallagher

Costume Time!!

It’s Halloween. Or almost…

Growing up, this was always a holiday that got me into trouble. No, not because I caused trouble but because when it comes to costuming I am highly detail oriented as well as a perfectionist. I would drive my mother – a woman who worked non-stop but still took the time every Halloween for most of my sisters’ and my childhood to make our costumes including whipping up patterns on the fly – absolutely crazy as year after year she’d have to argue out compromises with me over all my crazy details.

Still, I would spend hours sketching out costumes from tv shows, movies, books, or whatever else I was obsessed with at the time and plan out every layer and prop that would have to be made or purchased only to discover (with my mother’s tireless explaining) that what I was drawing was way too much to get done – and yet, I still have this issue as seen in all the prepped details and yet completely unfinished steampunk Alice (of Wonderland and Disney/California Adventure’s now concluded Tea Time Show) costume still sitting in boxes in my closet.

So this year (not for the first time!), I’ve decided to go a little more simple with pieces that I can afford to buy on my budget that will also be able to slide seamlessly into my wardrobe, or (better yet) with pieces I already own.

Currently, I am choosing between two costumes that toe the line between subtly and different enough to stay in the costume department and I would love some input.

The Choices:

Coraline From Liaka’s 2009 stop-motion film Coraline (If you haven’t seen it, do! It’s creepy enough for a Halloween movie – throw in ParaNorman after and make a night of it – but family friendly so you shouldn’t have to hide under the covers… too much.)


Laika’s Coraline from 2009’s Coraline

The basics: Blue hair, dragonfly clip, orange lipstick, star sweater (like this!), blue booties, and black skinny jeans. You can also go with a yellow raincoat and wellies or a striped orange sweater. If you are feeling artistic, draw buttons on your closed eyelids but make sure you set the prep the eyelid, set the make up and let everything dry – it’s a fun surprise but can get messy. Carry around a black cat (preferably the stuffed kind) and there you have it.

Pros: Overall, the costume is simple and every piece can be worn again. You can have fun challenging yourself in this but if it’s too much work, skip the button eyes and cat and you can still make your point.

Cons: The hair. If you can get away with dying your hair this color blue both in your work/school life and your complexion, go for it. It is possible to find this shade in both permanent and washable dyes. If, like me, this just isn’t an option, there are ways of coloring your hair like this that can be put in one day and then washed out. With this color, chalk won’t do – that’s a pastel thing and it will be all over everything so be wary – but colored hair spray would. the big warning is that you will get helmet hair, a very colorful bathroom (if that’s where you are spraying), and will need a fair amount if you want to cover your whole head. My hair is fairly light so to get the right shade, I would be mixing black spray in with blue. You can get both at Party City as well as most Halloween or beauty supplies but the best Coraline blue I’ve see in probably here. Of course, there is always the wig option, but I’ve never found one worth the money that doesn’t make me scratch my head all night!

There is also the “Wait… who are you?” factor. While you might be recognizable to a Laika fan, these films are surprisingly unknown and since it came out 7 years ago, your costume is sure to go over many people’s heads. Then again, finding those who know and appreciate your costume is pretty cool.

Next up: Selina Kyle from Fox’s  Gotham. Selina Kyle is the young/future Catwoman (played by the very talented Carmen Bicondova) who is portrayed as a young pick pocket/street urchin who is constantly in the thick of things, many times getting in the middle to help save young Bruce Wayne.


Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle on Fox’s Gotham

The basics: big curls, steampunk goggles, black ripped skinny jeans and fishnets or (for season 3) leather sided leggings, boots (knee highs or booties with leather shin guards), leather jacket, dark grey hoodie, black crew neck top, collar necklace and leather/fishnet fingerless gloves. You can throw a few other details if you want to hone in on a specific episode; ie. if you don’e want curls, go super straight with a slouchy beanie like in the later half of season 2.

Pros: Finding all of these items in dark colors is super easy and I am pretty sure I have something that works. You also have a lot of choices seeing as her look changes – in the specific pieces as well as how she styles her hair – from episode to episode and season to season. The things I don’t have – ie. knee high boots (I have oddly wide calves so finding a good pair that fits is really difficult!) – are things I want to get anyway. Plus, seeing my hair all up and curled will be so much fun.

Cons: I live in Los Angeles so even in October, this is a lot of layers so sweating through the layers is an issue and then the costume is also really dark so you have to pay a lot of attention walking around outside! Because there are a lot more pieces, this costumes details can also get slightly more expensive even when you are compromising on some of the detail (you don’t need the leather jacket that cost over one or two hundred dollars, but even cheap jackets can add to your price tag). Again, while this show is well-publicized, recognition can also be an issue (or a plus for those that do).

So, if you can’t tell, at this point I am leaning toward Selina Kyle – it’s more work finding all the pieces but much less work  (mostly hair) anytime you have to put the costume together – Halloween parties as well as the actual night if you are going out.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

  • Taylor Gallagher