Friday, October 30, 2009

Free Flying Friday

Sometimes a girl just gets the urge for splattering a chaotic thought train on the old blog. A list, if you will, of what is currently on my mind:

1. I am talented at many things. Avoiding the BOX of grading (papers, essays, reading journals, projects) that awaits me happens to be my forte. Yes, a BOX. I've outgrown my bag. I grade, I really do. It just keeps growing in its overwhelmability. (Is that a word? I just made it one.) Instead of facing my problems, I choose to blog.

2. Dear Self: Some guys just flirt. With everyone. Period. They're good at it. Don't take it personally, dearie. It will only end badly if you do that. Flirt back for fun and leave it at that. Think of it as practice for the big game that will some day show up in your life. Besides, are you really compatible with someone who is most decidedly a Glenn Beck fan? (No offense to my Glenn Beck-ite readers, I just don't know that I could marry one of you.)

3. Eating apple pie a la mode at 9 PM with your pals does not bode well for daily Weight Watchers points. Frankly, this whole Halloween, holidays swiftly approaching business is killing the diet.

4. I love a cloud-covered day. Sometimes you just need the gloominess.

5. I will not eat the Swedish Fish kindly provided by the PTSA. I will not eat the Swedish Fish kindly provided by the PTSA. Repeat.

6. Mmmmm, Swedish Fish.

7. I really need to purchase a replacement ink cartridge STAT. This hussling about the school during prep period in search of a printer is no way to live my life.

8. I need to send some new pictures to be printed at Costco. I have an empty frame in my office and old photos scattered in frames about the house.

9. I need to do a lot of things.

10. Alice and I were discussing just this very topic: we each would fully appreciate one week from work on a "vacation." As in, we're out of town and can't do anything with you that week, sorry. But really we spend that week getting everything done for which we never have the time. A giant Checking Off the To Do List Celebration Week. Can you imagine how glorious it would be?

11. Praises be! Ashley, Alice's sister, is coming to town tomorrow. Do you know long it has been since I had my hair cut. July. Early July. Nearly four months! My naturally curly hair grows into a triangle if left alone. A triangle! Not flattering. Oh, how I adore me some Ashley. And not just because she cuts my hair and shapes my eye brows to perfection and...

12. Okay--confession time--she also waxes my chin. I don't know what has happened other than genetics, but I'm developing something resembling scruff. I swear it to you all! This is SO not cool. My entire life I have sat in the back seat of my parent's car watching my Mom "pluck" (tweeze) her chin on the way to every social event we attended in my childhood. My father always had to drive so Mom could tweeze away. I'm her now. I'm her! And I totally get it: the car really is the best place for such an activity--perfect lighting.

13. Grading is waiting. I better leave it at 13. Besides, I'm boring you poor people into a coma.

(Thanks, google, for the image that is as random as this post.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Overheard at School Today

Friday marks the end of term one in Ms. Rookie's class. In celebration of one of my least favorite weeks, I thought I'd share with you all what it is really like to be a teacher.

(So much for my positivity-fest. Yes I really do get paid to spend the day with these people.)

"What's my grade? Am I passing yet?"
If you aren't the type to keep track of this kind of thing on your own, I'm going to guess no.

"That's not middle awged! Middle awge starts at like 30!"
Nice. Talk about life coming at you fast!

"Can I turn this in late and still get full credit?"
Because you didn't understand my 50% off late work policy that is posted and has been covered just about every day since the beginning of the school year?

"'Dude' is such a sweet word."
Great, and they've given you a driver's license.

"What's my grade?"
Comin' right up! Just let me check my ULTRA-HUMAN MEMORY DATABASE because I actually do have the remaining mental capacity after dealing with you people all day to memorize all 160 students' ever-fluctuating letter grades.

"You mean double spacing isn't just pushing the space bar twice?"
Sometimes there are no words.

"If I do this assignment, can I pass your class?"
Oh, absolutely. Because all those assignments and projects you haven't done this term were absolutely meaningless.

"But I'm like seventy-two ounces of sexy, Teacher."
(WTF?) No, no. Let's clarify some things for you: you are about 117 pounds of awkward freshman pubescence.

"Just think, we may have F's now. But by Monday we'll all have A's again!"
Way to look on the bright side of your failure.

Have a happy Tuesday. I've grading to accomplish and some ibuprofen with my name...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Further proof that I am in want of a husband

I recently Netflixed (yes, it is a verb now, like "googled" or "texted") the Masterpiece Theatre production of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit. I love Netflix. It has made my access to such period dramas possible. Whilst watching said film it occurred to me that a letter must be written. Rie, wherever you are, I blame you for teaching me such filthy yet hilarious language.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In All My Contradictory Glory: A Manifesto of Sorts

"Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater."
~Gail Godwin

"I celebrate myself;
And what I assume you shall assume;
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you."
~ Walt Whitman

I've always had a secretly flamboyant side. I certainly behave in a more reserved manner most of the time. In fact, childhood shyness kept me from voicing my true self in situation after situation when I was young. But deep down, I'm a ham. I find that talking in silly accents for effect is liberating. My hands (and arms) don't know how not to flail, talking their own language right along with me. And I have never had an issue with not being heard. "Your voice naturally carries," a choir teacher once used tactful euphemism to inform me of my loudness.

Blame it on genetics--I come from a long line of loud, outspoken people. My mother, if her mood is right, will do everything within her power to convince you of just how hilarious she is--usually with complete success.

The more you ease yourself into that place of comfort found best with friends, the more you realize how extremely animated I can get. Alice (the best friend/roommate) knows me best and has, bless her, been driven to shush me in many a public setting.

I celebrate this part of myself. The loud, unfrightened me. The girl all ease in her own skin, unconcerned with the volume of her voice, the space her waving hand-speak takes up. I love the energy that me has, the kinetic vibrancy of her. It is the me that once had the courage to dance and sing and play like she was someone else up on a stage. It is the me that can stand in front of 35 high school freshmen and know she owns the room. She has presence.

Ani DiFranco voiced it perfectly, "I like to take up space just because I can." The animated me lives by that mantra.

For all that is wild and frenetic in me, I have another side too. The side that curls into a book, into her own quietude. The youngest child of the flamboyant family still processing her world, unseen in a corner. The poet that observes from afar, disconnected and imaginative. Head above clouds.

I sometimes wonder if this is my father's genetic code insisting I am his in every way. If it is the shy part of me finding ease in being just what it is.

I celebrate this girl in me also. She is both thoughtful and wise. Her peace and quiet bring a sense of clarity to my existence. This side recharges me, prepares me. This is the self that grounds me, humbles me, ties me to my faith and spirituality with firm and nourishing roots. She is the mellow one and, just as I embrace the boldness, I too must equally grasp tightly to this hushed self.

I am all contradiction and today I celebrate that fact. I celebrate myself today because I have a new goal. It is, quite simply, this: be positive. That is all. No more slanderous gossip or eye rolling. No more dreading of work or dishes or bill paying or unwanted obligations. No more self-deprecation or sarcasm or dark and self-cruel wit. Today is mine. My mind can alter my perspective. So I'm working on celebrating what I do have. No easy task, this one. But this life is mine and I intend to laud every detail. Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rookie Recommends

I went with the kindred spirits from my writing group to dinner and this film. I can only say this: see it. It is still smoldering and stretching inside of me with all of its tragic beauty. Much longing, pining, writing and losing will ensue. I love John Keats. I loved this film. I hope you do too.

And in case my word isn't enough for you, go ahead and read the NY Times review here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

In Which Oprah Reveals the True Extent of My Neuroses

As many of you already know, NieNie was on Oprah yesterday. Nie was, of course, simply amazing. And she looked beautiful.

I got to thinking about Oprah. I've watched Oprah off and on since I babysat two boys from the neighborhood every day after school in junior high. Sometimes she miffs me into madness, but usually I think she's good people. For whatever reason, I thought about being on The Oprah Winfrey Show. More specifically, I thought of all the reasons I would rather not appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show:

1. A decade makeover. Now, a makeover is grand, but if I'm on for a decade makeover it means I have given up. Oh, may I never be the equivalent of that sickening combination of bad mom jeans and feathered hair.

2. From prison, on Skype for being inappropriate with a student. Let me be honest here, I've never, not even once, been attracted to a student. That is the "no duh, you simply don't do that!" cardinal rule of teaching. The key here: they're adolescents. Children. And everything about them screams that pubescent fact. Which simply isn't tempting to me at all. Is that clear? I have no intentions of ever, ever going there. But before I started teaching it seemed a special on Mary Kay Letourneau and her counterparts appeared in the news every other day. So you become paranoid that you'll one day lose your mind and think that sick, predatorial kind of thing is okay. They didn't go into teaching with that intention, either. So I guess my paranoia leads me to secretly fear I will, like Mary Kay and her Crew of deviants, lose all touch with reality and find that option worthwhile.

3. We really should just combine this one with #2: basically, I don't want to be on Oprah's for anything in which I appear in the headlines. I like my privacy.

4. To ask Dr. Oz an embarrassing question. I don't think my pride could ask what some of those people do.

5. For any kind of furniture jumping.

6. To have my book, reputation, pride, and integrity slaughtered and hung for the world to see. I can't believe James Frey sat through that a few years ago.

That's pretty much it. Frankly, I just want to be invited to an all-teacher audience favorite things show. Is that so much to ask? Oprah, are you listening? I'll wear something bright and pretty.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Yes, this image is totally in homage to and in mourning of an excellent, and thus cancelled, television show.

I have an aunt. Wait, I have two aunts. (Technically I have more than that but this post happens to be about these two particular aunts.) One is my aunt by marriage. Aunt Teresa. I've posted about her before. The other is my dad's sister. Aunt Gayle. She is generous and good. She teaches special education on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona. She sacrificed much to serve a mission for my church. She spent the first decade and a half of her adulthood assisting my grandfather as Alzheimers knotted my grandmother's mind and eventually took her life. Aunt Gayle has also, in all her (polite people do not reveal specific numbers freely) years, never married.

Now, if you noticed from the post on Aunt Teresa, she has mastered the art of the mean-but-loving tease. But what you may not know about her is that she also lacks tact. Really, she doesn't think before she speaks. She can be quoted as saying at more than half of my siblings' weddings that "it won't last." When my brother started preparing for a mission, she said of his goal, "I'll believe it when I see it!" She doesn't mean it with cruelty or ill-intent, she's just says things to say things. I learned long ago to take what Teresa says with a grain of salt, because five minutes later she is bragging about how wonderful you are. Five minutes later she is giving you a handmade gift. Teresa, I suppose, is as contradictory as the next person.

Well, today she outdid herself. I called her to ask some travel advice--which of course grew into a full-on catch up conversation. Which then drifted into her telling me she had a handmade gift waiting for my next visit. The conversation drifted and somehow, as it always does with my relatives, my singleton status came up. Now, most people have well-intended but rather useless advice: "Have you tried online dating?" "Maybe you should try a new singles' ward with a better selection of men." "Have you looked into dating younger/older men?" But not Teresa, no advice on this matter was offered. She simply stated, "Oh, you're not getting married. You're just like Aunt Gayle. Some people are just meant to be single and you're one of them."

Come again? You did not just say that. First off, I found it funny. Because, like I said, Teresa is to be taken with a grain of salt. Then I felt kind of relieved--her predictions (like failed marriages or the unlikelihood of obtaining goals like serving a mission) are swinging one of the world's worst batting averages. She strikes out. A lot. But overall, I was shocked. Who says that? Seriously. Only she would say something like that so off-handedly, so nonchalantly, so cluelessly.

Ultimately, I decided to feel flattered. If I'm just like Aunt Gayle, then that means I am self-sacrificing and good. If I'm like my Aunt Gayle and remain unmarried with the upbeat, positive attitude and class that she has, so be it. If I'm like my Aunt Gayle, then I'm okay with that. Because there are worse things to be in this world.