Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Meme: 7 Random Things

BlackeyedSue, I haven't forgotten, I've just procrastinated. I've been tagged by BlackeyedSue to share 7 random "things about me" in a meme.

1. I have watched Pride and Prejudice so many times I can't even count (I've only read it once, however). I'm talking I own both the A&E version and the new Kiera Knightley (and...confession...I own an updated LDS-remake version too). I've seen the older black & white version, Bride & Prejudice (the silly, musical Bollywood version--not my favorite). My idea of a great day is a marathon of the A&E version with popcorn, cozy clothes, the lights dimmed and my couch. If I have a night home alone, I sometimes do a shorter version of this tradition with the Kiera Knightley. This is an event for me every 3-4 months. I don't care how much others might scoff, it is the best love story ever and for some reason Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy do it for me. Ah, what a sappy, sappy girl I am!

2. I am a sucker for potty humor. Yes, yes, I know. It's crass, it probably says something about my level of intelligence. Nonetheless, I can't help it, it is stinking funny (no pun intended) and makes me laugh every single time!

3. I like to type. I am rather quick on a keyboard and I sometimes "air-type" what other people say while they're saying it. I think that this has helped me to not only become a talented typist, but I am pretty sure this little habit of mine has contributed to my spelling savvy.

4. I may be offending some in saying this, but I get frustrated while watching Oprah Winfrey. Mind you, I still watch. I do think that she has a decent show in comparison to some. I am certain Oprah has played a positive role in forming some of my opinions of this world.

That being said, I think that, first of all, she simply makes issues too black and white--and I'm not implying race here. I know, I know, you can't cover it all and look at multiple perspectives in a mere hour-long show with commercial interruptions. But, the woman needs to acknowledge that EVERY issue is not as simplistic/wrong or right/uncomplicated as she portrays.

Secondly, she over-estimates her audience. She thinks that they are capable of thinking for themselves and therefore thinks she has every right to flippantly share her opinion (often as fact). She makes the assumption that the general public thinks for themselves, but she has so much sway because people eat up every word. Just because you have a crowd of "yes-men/women" doesn't necessarily mean you're right. I say the emperor has no clothes on!

Thirdly, can we say narcissist? It always about her! Shoot! :)

Finally, Miss Oprah, you ain't in touch with your roots, so quit talking all about you being so poor and how you understand poverty. Honey, you done gone and forgot poverty! You left it behind yous. Yes, you do a lot of good, but probably not enough in ratio with what you make, Miss "I have new sheets put on the bed every day and my dog Sophie gets acupuncture." You care about your projects and I am glad you are making a difference. You do more than most. But don't talk to me about poverty. You are wealthy to the point of sickness. You cast judgment on people in poverty. You assume everybody was given a brain and talent like yours to pull themselves out of their situation. You assume that you are solely a self-made woman and that luck and timing and blessings have nothing to do with all that you have. Girl, it could all be taken from any of any moment.

5. NPR is and will always be one of the best things I discovered in my 20's.

6. I love rubbermaids, tupperware, and other plastic storage containers with lids. Furthermore, I like any product that is intended to help one organize.

7. I have 9 brothers and sisters, but no "real" brothers and sisters.

So, there you go. I am tagging the following individuals with the same challenge:

purpleworld (stine)

Enjoy ladies!

"A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others." ~ Author Unknown

As some of you know, I am a teacher. Tomorrow marks my quasi-final day of teaching. Afterall, next week is really just Memorial Day, yearbook day, enter my grades and clean up the classroom week (aka recycle the equivalent of giant redwood tree's worth of paper in the form of graded, commented upon, yet un-claimed papers and assignments). In other words, tomorrow, I still gotta teach. Oh, let's be honest, I'm going to sit through another 40 awkward-in-only-the-way-a-14-year-old-can-be-awkward presentations on modern and contemporary poets. That, and read Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Suess to my students.

So, I'm done. I am done with my first year. And suddenly, I'm starting to reflect on my first official full-length school year as a high school teacher. And here are a few of my thoughts and observations.

1. Like many professions, nobody has a clear view of just how challenging something is until they do it, day in and day out. Teaching is tough, demanding, exhausting, and at times rewarding work. I had no idea just how tough this job is until I started doing it.

2. I don't care who they are, teenagers are, by far, some of the smartest people I know that are also capable of making some of the stupidest decisions I have ever heard of.

3. Thank goodness there is life after 14.

4. You can live on 4 hours of sleep night after night. You may not look very healthy, but it is possible.

5. Sometimes laughter is the best classroom (and self-sanity) management!

6. There is a place known as "the zone." In "the zone," one can grade during marathon sessions, design entire curriculum plans, and think about the needs of 180 people simultaneously, with complete unawareness of the existence of time, hunger, or the outside world.

7. In December and January, leave work early every now and again. Just to know the sun really does exist.

8. I have a bladder of steel.

9. I need to just face it: my feet are going to hurt terribly between now and retirement.

10. Every teacher needs a friend who knows how to listen and cares about you and what you do. (Thanks Alice...I wouldn't have made it this year without you).

11. "Smart Ones" by Weight Watchers (specifically the Ravioli Florentine and Roasted Potato, Broccoli, & Cheddar) made certain I wasn't malnourished. And, might I mention, if you plan it right they can fit nicely into what equates to be a 25-minute lunch/bathroom break/quick department meeting and/or several episodes of the "If I get an A on this test would that help me pass with a C?" Q & A session.

12. The same kid who told you "This is boring, can we just have a free day?" yesterday is now telling you "I love this class!" today. What can I say? Teenagers are fickle!

13. Due to the fact that most schools' heating/air conditioning systems are operated by monkeys: layering works best.

14. No matter how much they complain, no matter how rarely they ARE doing something worthwhile and the truth is, you will probably never hear the stories of the positive impacts you made.

It has been a wonderful and terrible year. I think I'll stick with it.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Best of Intentions: My Ever-Growing Summer Reading List

For those of you who know me well, you know I don't read as much lately as I wish I did or would like you. For those of you who know me, you know I love a good book. For those of you who don't know me at all: I think reading is the substance of life. I am who I am and what I am not only because of my own experiences but because of the many journeys I've taken in books.

Following is a list of all I want to read, have to read, and intend to read over the summer. Wish me luck!

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. I have always wanted to read this and I am considering teaching it to one of my classes. Or at least a portion of it.

A re-read of An American Childhood by Annie Dillard. For many reasons, I'm teaching it to one of my classes next year and I need a fresh read of the book. Furthermore, I can't say enough about Dillard's writing. I wish I were her.

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. It is the required summer reading for all underclassmen at my school. I finally picked it up at B&N. I have yet to begin it.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. I read it years ago and loved it. It is the required reading for all upperclassmen at the school. So, I will become reacquainted with a good book.

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan. I started it this weekend. So far, so good. I don't blame Pollan's prose for my continual napping. See previous blog for explanation of sleepiness while reading! :)

Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I have heard nothing but great things. I received it for Christmas, started it on the plane to Hawaii. I hope to finally finish it this summer.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Dreads, Sleep Debt, and Other Sunday Night Musings

Imagine the wretched T-mobile jingle. You know the one, you've heard it on the commercials. I don't know what possessed me, but long ago when I got my current phone I set this as my alarm ring. Everytime I hear it, I cringe. It is the sound that will ring throughout the halls of hell!

Tonight is Sunday night. 9:01 PM as I type this, to be exact. The truth is, I have a serious case of what the roommate and I call "The Dreads." The weekend is over, or close to it, and work week begins again in a short 10 hours. That is right, I should get in bed because I have to leave for work in 10 hours. But I'm awake from finally being well-rested. I want the weekend to last a little longer. So, like every single Sunday night before this, I will stay up for another 2-3 hours, thus starting my weekly sleep deprivation cycle.

I learned recently from a study done at Stanford that this is called "Sleep Debt." Great, I am not only up to my ears in student loan debt, I am now in sleep debt? And I thought VISA was a b*%^#!?!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, apparently, this is possible. Sleep loss accumulates. It doesn't go away until we repay ourselves with the sleep we so desperately need. Say, for example, you get a solid 5 hours of sleep Sunday through Thursday, night after night for 5 nights straight. You are looking at a sleep debt accumulation of 15 hours. So this explains why I got well over 8 hours of sleep each night this weekend and managed to squeeze in 3, that's right, THREE naps! (Not to mention a doozy of a 3 hour nap on Thursday night!).

I am not alone, however. Apparently as a nation, we Americans have a serious problem with depriving ourselves of sleep. In a recent Gallup Poll, it was found that 56% of the adult population reported drowsiness to be a problem during the day. And that is only those who admitted to it. In another study, of the 1000 individuals who claimed they had no problem with daytime drowsiness, 34%, thirty-four whopping percent, were found to be dangerously sleepy. These are people who said drowsiness was no problem. Dangerously sleepy was defined by the study "individuals at a high risk for some sort of accident involving unintended sleep or impaired performance."

These are my conclusions:

1. I chose the wrong profession to be the night owl that I am. I WAKE UP at 9 PM. This is my body's natural high. I am most productive, have some of my best ideas, etc. around 9 PM.

2. I wonder if I wouldn't get The Dreads so much if I weren't in such a sleep debt?...probably not. :)

3. Who decided a high school schedule should start well before 8 AM? I work with teenagers, who, according to their natural body rhythms, tend to stay up later and wake up later. Who decided this was a good plan? Obviously not anyone who has witnessed my first period class filled with comatose 9th grade students.

4. Bring on the siesta! Spain has the right idea.

5. ZzzzZzzzzZzzzz.

Sources Cited:

Dement, William "Sleepless at Stanford: What All Undergraduates Should Know About How Their Sleeping Lives Affect Their Waking Lives." September 1997.

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