Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I haven't written to you in quite some time. Perhaps I have never written to you. See, when I was 4, I figured out that you weren't real. I said to my mom, "Mom, I know Santa isn't real." Mom, most likely thinking, "WHO TOLD HER!?!?!?! SHE'S FOUR!!!" asked what I meant. I told her, "At Christmas, there's always sales. Santa wouldn't need money to buy toys. The toys go on sale because the mommies and daddies have to buy the presents." So shocked by this logic, which evidently left me at this pivotal moment in my childhood, my mother knew there was no way to get me to believe again. She admitted that my theory was correct. As a result, I have no memories of believing in you.

Every year, people ask me what I want for Christmas. I don't like to make lists of things I want. First, I feel greedy. Second, if I make a list, then that's what I get, and there are no surprises. I prefer Christmas Eve to Christmas Day simply because of the anticipation and wonderment. Always have, always will.

I'm not religious. Yeah, yeah, Jesus is the reason for the season and all that jazz. But I like Christmas for its secular traditions, the way my family gets together, when normally, they don't. I like to watch people open gifts that I give them. I feel awkward opening gifts in front of people, but I love when they open mine and I can watch their reaction. Means more to me than some scarf.

I finally told my dad last night that I will not make a list because I prefer the surprise. He understood, and I guess he'll leave me alone about it now.

But other people don't. They think I'm ridiculous. Perhaps I am.

So here's my compromise. It's the list of things I DON'T want. Enjoy.

1. Cable knit sweaters
2. Any tops that are turtle necks
3. Velour anything
4. CDs
5. DVDs
6. Video games
7. Clothes from department store petite sections because I am not a 60-year-old prekindergarten teacher or petite, technically. (I'm either the tallest you can be to be petite or the shortest you can be to be regular.)
8. Festive pins
9. Perfume that I don't wear, but you do
10. Holiday items
11. Decorative pillows
12. Books about conservative issues, or "Family First" by Dr. Phil (the only thing I saw flooded in my house after Katrina that made me smile), or cook books (because who are we kidding?).
13. Coat racks
14. Wind suits
15. Something that you, the gift giver, would wear, because chances are, my sense of style is very different from yours.
16. Plaques with sayings on them, like, "Chocolate makes life sweeter!"
17. Muu-muus or housecoats
18. Math text books
19. Tupperware, because we're busting out of our cabinets with that stuff
20. Plush items

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day!

Yesterday was rotten. First, I found out that I didn't make the cut to attend the Renaissance Festival with the majority of the school. Instead, I was subbing and stuck at school. Whatever. I'll just go another weekend. I have until Dec. 13.

On Monday, I'd had to attend a bowling meeting about districting since I "coach" the school bowling team. I also direct the play. Rehearsals are dwindling down, so I couldn't just cancel. I had a friend who used to do theater watch rehearsals for me, and paid her in breakfast.

I drove to PJ's, ordered a medium soy latte for Jenn and a small soy mocha for me. The guy didn't put my drink in the drink holder properly, and I didn't notice until I turned a corner and heard a strange sound. This was the sound of a coffee cup popping out of the cardboard tray and flipping over, then coffee glugging out onto the floor mats of my 10-month-old car. It smells like a coffee shop. Thankfully, I had soy milk instead of cow's milk, so it didn't smell sour that afternoon. I pulled over, cleaned it as best I could, and then realized that the brand-new sweater I was wearing had coffee all over the sleeve. JOY!

Then I realized that I forgot lunch. We had a 1 p.m. dismissal for the kids for a SACS meeting, and I had my kids stay for rehearsals. I had some crackers and some leftover brie in the fridge, so I noshed on that to hold me over. When the meeting ended, I grabbed my cast and we walked down the street to the store.

One kid was picked up 40 minutes late, and I'd had a call from Mark saying that he had to go to work for 6:30 instead of 8. It was after 5:30, so I ran to McDonald's for nuggets, dropped them off, said hello and goodbye, and ate dinner all alone.

Then I was very tired later, so I showered and went to bed. Shazzy was in my bed sleeping. He didn't want to move. I read for a while, put down the book, took off my glasses, turned out the light, and rolled over after a minute. Generally, I shove my hand under my pillow when I sleep on my side. I did so, and felt something, which I thought may have been a wayward Kleenex since I'd been sick last week. But it was small. And it tickled me. I was convinced I imagined it until it tickled me again. I yanked out my hand and threw whatever it was into the darkness. I had a bottle of water on the floor and heard a clunk. I freaked for a minute, then grabbed my glasses and turned on the light. I saw nothing. I'd felt it. I'd thrown it. I'd heard it. But I didn't see it. Conclusion: Shazzy brought a spider or roach into the bed, but it ran under my pillow for safety, then fell into my hand before being ejected and running to safety.

At that point, I flung the covers off, ran to the bathroom, and couldn't scrub my hands hard enough. Soap, hot water, Germ-X, repeat. I eventually crept back into my room, lifted the pillows and sheets, decided it was safe, and went to bed.

But then I was wide awake. You would be, too. Light stayed on, I read for a while. I texted Mark what happened. His response: "Well, in 45 minutes, the day will be over."

Gee, thanks. Goodnight.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


So, today, I went on the first field trip for school that I will take this year. While all field trips are awesome, none can compare to the one I will take from March 27- April 4: GREECE. Yeah, you right. I'm going to Greece. I was supposed to take 7/8 to Puerto Rico. Then 7th grade moved out of the high school. There weren't enough 8th graders to support the trip. They canceled my trip and moved me to the Greece trip the 9th-12th graders are taking. They are going to allow the 8th graders to travel to Greece IF they have a parent accompany them.

Anyway, we saw "Hurricane on the Bayou" at the IMAX. Perhaps this was not a good week for me to go. I silently cried my eyes out and half expected my contacts to float away. I thought it was all just about the wetlands conservation just in case the big one ever came (they started filming three months before Katrina), with an afterthought of the big one having almost hit. Yeah, people not from here, she was not THE big one. She hit Mississippi dead on. We could have been much, much worse.

I would have been a little okay, but seeing aerial footage of the city pre-K was hard. I immediately flashed back to what life was like back then.

THEN, they followed little Amanda Shaw, the violinist, as she evacuated, watched the news, went to her destroyed home, reunited with her grandfather who was rescued from his roof....and Tab Benoit as he found his destroyed home on the bayou.

Did I mention the footage of the baby alligators blowing away from their mother? 50-60 babies, down to 1 after the storm.

Did I mention all of the footage, some real, some news clips, some weather channel clips, some probably recreated CGI? Oh, and what about that transition scene where they showed the Dome with the Dominion Tower and the Hyatt (the two places where I stayed during the storm, if you remember...), while the roof blew off the Dome, and a piece of it slammed the camera lens?

Or how about, when the visuals got to be too much, so I closed my eyes, but there was no way to block out the audio, and it was just like the real thing, all over again, when I was laying in the ad office, trying to sleep, as windows broke and water drenched the rug, and we had to move to a more inward location of the radio station?

Is this what it's like after 'Nam for soldiers?

I could have left, but that would have dropped the student/teacher ratio. I could have left, but I didn't want anyone worrying about me. SO I sat down, and stayed, and cried in silent hysterics.

Didn't experience the storm? Want to? Go see this.

What about the kids? Well, none of them seemed upset, but they were in 4th and 5th grade when it all happened. They moved on. They don't remember. This is both good and bad. As much as I don't want to remember, I don't want to forget or be forgotten.

Why did I go? I was available, they needed help, I wouldn't need a sub, and I teach Louisiana History. I figured I HAD to. Now I wish I hadn't.

Bad week to go. Bad, bad, bad week to go.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I am such a slacker.

This is never a good week for me. It's the last week in August, and, well, I have a lot of trouble dealing with this. It gets a little easier as time goes by,'s still too fresh.

Last year, I started writing a 3rd anniversary post during my off-periods at work. Since I'm unable to get on Blogger at school, I typed it in Word and saved it. I never did get to finish it, because Gustav made us evacuate right around this time. I thought about it today, and e-mailed it to myself so I could post it at home.

SO, almost one year late, here's my unfinished 3rd Anniversary post.

Today is a day none of us can ever forget. I fear that a lot of the world...specifically the rest of the country, and even the rest of the state, has moved on and forgotten. Perhaps not today, as we are staring down Gustav in a fierce battle of wits. How much do we want him, and how much are we willing to lose? But what a rollercoaster ride of emotions this is.

All week, I was planning to write about all of the progress we’ve had. The news stories either portray us as a war zone or all better. Quite the contrary on both counts. We’re not all better. But things have been looking up. It may seem insignificant, but we lost Macy’s. They pulled out and have had a vacant section of the Esplanade Mall for these three years. As a result, along with losing Mervyn’s before the storm, the mall has declined. They’ve lost a book store, several clothing stores, and, most recently, the Disney Store. Without anchor stores, the mall is declining in popularity. But after watching the spirit of our people, the determination, the strides we’ve made through the worst adversity imaginable, they have decided to return. Not only are they renovating their former space at the Esplanade Mall, they are building a new wing on Lakeside Mall. Lakeside is doing quite well, actually, in the wake of people avoiding the Esplanade.

This week, instead, my attentions have turned to and as panic spreads. Perhaps some of this is stemming from my work environment. I have several very anxious young students. The youngest were in 4th grade the year of Katrina. I think some of this…their youth during such a confusing time…may contribute to the behavior issues we’ve had all year. All year. Heh. These three weeks.

I have to spend my days as the fearless leader to my students, calming their fears, giving them the science and the facts, remaining calm. But as soon as students are gone, the adults gather. We have many teachers from all over the country this year: the three who moved here from California , the one here via Notre Dame, one from Maryland . The latter was here for college and evacuated for Ivan and Katrina. But all of them are panicking, and rightfully so. We have the group of us who lost everything in Katrina and are extremely gun-shy. We have those who lost nothing, but watched others lose it all and now fear it. And then we have those who seem impervious to it all. But even they falter in their bravado at times. When we are all together, it’s all we can discuss.

I don’t know what we’ll do if IT happens again. I don’t believe we’ll be back. Flood me once, shame on you. Flood me twice, shame on me. Flood me a third time? No thank you. Where will we go if IT happens again? I don’t know. Yeah, I don’t buy into the whole “hundred year storm” thing. I understand that they don’t mean that literally. But I also didn’t bank on this being an “every three years storm.” I’m still attached to my city. I love her almost unconditionally. Sure, she still has a long way to go, but I don’t know where else I could live. It would have to be a major city, one with a lot of culture and history. It would have to have a certain charm to it, a lot of color, and have good food. It couldn’t be a little white bread town….that’s for sure. What if we end up with children? I want them exposed to life beyond what we can provide. I want them to know that there are other people out there with different traditions and cultures. I love my exposures here. I look at my students, and I see many colors and faiths. There’s black students, Hispanic students, some Indian students, white students, boys, girls, Catholics, Jews, Baptists, Episcopalians, and who knows what else. I love that we are not predominantly white. That’s where I went to school. We had one black family in my grammar school. Everyone else was white. We were all from the same basic neighborhoods. And that means similar income levels. Bor-ing. It wasn’t until I went to high school that I was truly exposed to people who were different. Then there’s my immersion into Jewish culture at the J. And when I moved to the Bayou Region for college…well…my world was certainly expanded. Not only did I meet people from other parts of the state, I met people from all over the world. And when I did all of these things, I learned so much more and became the adult that I am today. I would want that for my children.

I honestly DON’T know what we’ll do if we lose it all again. Shoot, even if we don’t lose things but the city floods again, I think we’ll be done. We’re supposed to be going to Indiana if we evacuate, so maybe some exposure to the Central Plains will help. Neither of us has ever been to that region before. Maybe we’ll like it. Who knows. (Edited to add: not so much. While we had a nice visit with Devon, Indianapolis would not be a place to go.)

What worries me most about this is not the moving and relocating. Yeah, that’s a major concern, but I worry more about my parents. I can’t bear to imagine what will happen to my dad if this happens again. His whole life is his business (after family, of course). What will he do? I don’t want to watch him suffer again. I don’t think I can handle that.

But back to my Katrina musings. Enough of Gustav. I can’t think of him any more.

We’ve seen so much happen in three years. We bought our home last year, and we’ve done a lot to it. We’ve pretty much replaced anything important for a home. We’ve upgraded a few things, eliminated a few things, added a few more…and it really feels like a home now. I even put in a garden a few weeks ago. I did some hibiscus and some dust roses. My mom called them primroses, but I’m going by what was on the stick.

We’ve seen some new businesses crop up. In addition to Macy’s returning to the city, we’ve seen a lot of people join us. It may not seem like much, but IHOP, Sephora, and many more stores and restaurants have put their faith in us and finally joined our area. Now, if we can just get an IKEA… I try to give business to as many of these people as I can to thank them for believing in our efforts.

We’ve had a lot of remodeling to existing businesses. Many local places have opened, like NOLA Beans in Lakeview. They’re a bit pricey, but the food is good. It’s as if people took stock of their lives and realized, “HEY! I want more than my current lot in life! I’m going to take a risk!!!”

We’ve had people come and go, through choice, through relocation, and through death. A lot of our local characters are gone now, which is sad. But Frankie or Johnny, whichever one has the bad rug, is still here with a new Special Man. Al Copeland died, which means there will be quite the void at Christmas. Luckily, we’ll still be able to see Ben’s house if we want to see extravagant holiday decorating… I saw that Ruthie the Duck Girl just died, too. It’s still sad to see places that have been replaced by new ventures, like Charlie’s Deli. But at least the building isn’t vacant. Thank goodness for that. Charlie’s has new life (Even if that life has been vandalized…the new place is Touché Café, and someone spray painted a “D” over the “T.”)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It happened, but in the best way I could ever imagine.

What happened? I hit a new decade. I'm 30. I really had a hard time turning 20 ten years ago. I wasn't doing so well with 30, either. But at least this time, I had Mark to do it first and show me it wasn't so bad. Hm.

I came into this world 30 years ago. My parents lived in New Orleans East, then moved to Metairie almost a year later. They still live in that same house in Metairie, although the house has been through a great many changes in 29 years! I was the first granddaughter and grandchild on dad's side by 3 months, the third granddaughter of four grandchildren on mom's side. I apparently was a good baby. Naturally...

Twenty years ago, when I turned 10, I was so excited. I couldn't wait to hit double-digits, but the thought of being a teenager soon scared me. I never thought that those days would come! I was in Amelia Island, Florida, with my Dee-dee, my aunt Pam, my cousin Amanda, and maybe Myron. Geoff was only 5. They showed me "Dirty Dancing," which angered my parents. It was the first and only time I ever saw that movie. Please do not revoke my girl card! It was my first trip away from home without my parents, and the longest I'd ever been away from them. I was at SPN for school, making nice grades, never being in trouble, and hanging out with a great group of friends.

Ten years ago. I just got back from Emi and Jason's wedding, my first foray into the Pacific Northwest, my only Jamba Juice experience, and the first time I ever ice skated. It was the furthest I'd ever been away from home (and still is, but don't think that means I never travel!! I've been to about half of the states!), as well as my first flight without my parents and my first real road trip of sorts with friends. It was also the first wedding of a friend I'd ever attended, and it made me feel old. In fact, I'd only been to Philly, NJ, and everything between here and Florida at that point in my life, and figured I'd never see anything else.

Ten years ago, I wasn't driving, I had never been drunk, and I had met Mark several times, but was not dating him. I was such a good girl ten years ago...

Ten years ago, I was convinced I would have an amazing career as a journalist. I thought I was in my final year at the JCC. I was rebelling against my thoughts that mayyyybeeee I should switch majors and go into education.

Ten years ago, hurricanes didn't mean much to me. Well, other than a day off, of course. I'd never evacuated and thought people who did were stupid.

Ten years ago, I was a one-cat girl; my lovely lady Nala Noelle was the only kitty in my life.

Ten years ago, I thought I would never get married, but desperately wanted kids.

I was also one of 12 grandchildren on mom's side and one of 5, as of that January, on dad's side. That was it for the cousins.

So much has changed in ten years.

At 30, I am entering my 5th year as a teacher. I was voted Junior High Teacher of the Year in '08. I've been granted the role of journalism teacher and drama teacher for the upcoming school year. I also moderate the bowling team! I've been at the JCC for 14 years and am the assistant director for my 4th summer. And don't forget my three calendar years there as an all-around go-to girl! I've been with Mark for 9 1/2 years. We've been married for 7. No kids, with no chance of them any time soon.

Four cats exist in my life, one of whom is still my Nala. She lives with my parents, as does Geoff's cat, Icarus. I have Shazbot and Lily with me. Each is my favorite in his or her own special way.

I've upped the amount of states I've been to, and most of the ones I've visited have been as a group leader for middle school children. I drove halfway to and halfway from Indiana as we evacuated for Hurricane Gustav. I fear hurricanes.

I've rented a home, mucked out that home, moved back in with my parents, bought a home, fixed up part of said home, and owned three cars. The first was a '94 Corolla which was murdered by Katrina, the second was an '05 RAV4 which was murdered by a crazy drunk woman, and the third is an '09 RAV4 which will hopefully have a long and happy life.

I am in disbelief over having memories that are about 25 years old. My goodness.

How did I spend my 30th? The best ways possible. For the first time in 14 years, my birthday fell during a camp day. Once it was on Open House day, many times it was during Orientation, but never have I had the chance to celebrate it at camp.

The day started with me picking up doughnuts for staff breakfast. One of my CITs brought me a Cookie Bouquet cookie shaped like a turtle. She's so sweet! The Zion campers (4th-6th graders) made me birthday cards, many of which were so hilarious! They're hanging on my office wall. We took a field trip to a gaming place for kids, and I blew everyone's minds with my Guitar Hero skills. I won against all of the counselors. Booyah! My friend bought me lunch from La Madeleine, and another friend baked ice cream cone cupcakes for me. The camp day went smoothly, and then the whole camp serenaded me with "Happy Birthday" at dismissal. They had my little buddy Ben, who is about to be 7 now and is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do (can you believe it?!?!?!) present a card signed by the whole camp to me! After dismissal, the staff surprised me with cake in the staff lounge, another round of singing, and a card signed by the whole's in three languages, too! (English, French, and Spanish...I need our Israeli to go back and add Hebrew to it. She signed the camp card, but not the staff one. Trilingual is cool and all, but quadrilingual would be totally awesome!!!) One of my students gave me a gift card to Zea's at the end of school, and so Mark and I had a delicious dinner that night. Yay for eating out....for free! We basically paid the tax and tip.

Oh, and the night before my birthday, my brother-in-law Phil scored free tickets to Coldplay from Anne and Scott. They couldn't use their tickets, so they gave them to him. The seats were amazing, too. First level (not floor) right alongside the right side of the stage. Fabulous.

Last night, my friend Kristin and I held a joint birthday party at our house. It was an international potluck. People brought lasagna, hummus and pita, guacamole, pot stickers, chicken chow mein, quiche, macaroni and cheese, snickerdoodles, Dutch cheese, cheesecake, goat cheese, Olive spread, quesadillas, salsa, sangria, Chilean wine, white chocolate macadamia nut was an amazing spread! Everyone had a blast...especially Mark, for the most part, who left one ever-shrinking club amongst our friends and joined the ever-expanding one. I think only three of us remain who have never overindulged to that point...and I am one still! Poor guy. I told him that my plans for today included watching "The Hangover." I guess he misunderstood me. I meant the movie. He interpreted it as reality!!! Ah well.

Oh, and on Friday night, when I was out with my camp staff for the end of the first week staff dinner, I got carded. Yeah. Carded the week I turned 30. Beat that!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What is going on these days???

An ingenious (?) proposal.

The J's membership director was asked to help a prospective member propose to his girlfriend this weekend. He called Giselle to set things up, and they rehearsed it. Basically, he was going to bring in his girlfriend for a tour and try to sign up. The guy got into an argument over their membership category.

He wanted a couple membership, but you would have to be in a single-domain or married for that to take effect. (We have a couple of kids with two mommies, and they get family/couple rates.) SO the argument wears on, and she says, "The only way I can give you the couple price is if you're married, I'm sorry." And the guy says, "So, if I would be to ask her to marry me right here, you'd let us have the couple rate?" And she says yes. So the guy says, "Well, it's a good thing I have this with me," digs in his pocket, pulls out a classy ring, gets down on one knee, and the rest is history. They set up a small camera ahead of time and had bottles of champagne and everything. Ta-da!

Ingenious, or idiotic? Points for creativity and originality...but...I dunno. It's not the most romantic place in the world. They aren't even Jewish, so it's not like it's a place with childhood memories or anything.

Snuggie Cult on My Street?

I went to pick up some Quizno's for dinner, and saw something odd that caught my eyes: A delivery guy from Pizza Hut handing over a box of pizza to a woman in a Snuggie. On my way back home with dinner, Snuggie lady was walking down the block with a slice in her hand following a young emo boy, STILL WEARING HER SNUGGIE.

WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO!!????!!!!!???!!!!!!???!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Some updates

Swift finger of justice....from the parents!!!!
When last we spoke (well, I wrote, you read), We'd busted the kid for alcohol and my 8th grade boys were so wide-eyed in wonderment as to the identity of the rat.

The alcohol bearer is still at school. His mom brought him to jail and had them lock him up for a few hours, then brought him to rehab at Children's. I don't think he'll be trying a stunt like that any time soon.

Oh noes...
But today, a much younger student was busted for the same thing. Sigh.

Luigi needs a 1up mushroom
As for the kid I wrote about earlier, the one who I want so desperately to save, well...

He's in school. An 8th grader. 15. He's said before that he can't wait until he's 16 so he can drop out. He's probably going to get his wish.

He started out okay. 4th quarter is research project time. He started out not great, but fairly on track. He was scared. Ish. And then....he trailed off. And I had to let him. He needed As in 3 classes to pass the year. One A in one class would have let him into summer school with an attempt to pass the year. He's not getting them. He did zero work and zero studying in all 7 classes...but will pass drama based on participation. I don't know what will become of him. I'm scared and nervous for him. I gave him all I had, and he took it all for granted. I wish him luck in whatever he does.

All of the kids are allowed to participate in graduation, but he will not technically graduate.

Ending another one
The final 8th grade final exam is tomorrow. On Thursday, they'll have their corrections, followed by graduation (excuse me, promotion ceremony) rehearsal, then field day. No school for 8th grade on Friday. Promotion on Monday morning, 12th grade graduation that night. Regular school for the rest of the week, then a week of exams, with school ending May 29.

Jess and I are ROCKING camp prep. It's approaching so quickly! CIT Kick-off party is May 31, Orientation begins June 2, and camp starts June 8. We won't discuss June 10th major significance. I'm having too good a day to think about it, especially considering...

I started off on the wrong foot today!

I don't know HOW I did it, but I rolled my chair onto my toes this morning, and the pain was so bad that I couldn't even stand up at first. Instead of a rollicking theater game, I had my kids continue watching "My Fair Lady" so I could sit down. Boo. One would assume that that meant that my day was awful, but...

Mission accomplished!

Contract talks finally happened today. Usual minor pay raise. I get to keep the bowling team. I'll co-teach journalism/yearbook with my friend Kristin. I'll teach some older students (Many of whom I've taught before, and including the seniors, who were my first 8th graders.) And, best of all: I get to direct the school plays!!!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Uh, you did.

Great moments in teaching, part eleventy-jillion:

7th period writing...7 8th grade males. I love the class...but boy do they drive me nuts.

Today, "Rick" came to class and almost immediately started asking what would happen if someone brought alcohol to school. In a water bottle. It started out sounding very hypothetical, and Rick's goal in life seems to be to see if he can get a rise out of me. But when "In a water bottle" got added to the mix, my curiosity was piqued. I said I wasn't sure, as I'd never seen it happen here before, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was, at minimum, a suspension and maybe an expulsion. Rick and Luigi exchanged a furtive glance (or so they thought) and Luigi muttered under his breath, "They're gonna be in troublllllle..."

I decided to play it cool. In an incredulous, joking voice, I asked, "Who's got a water bottle of alcohol at school?" Luigi started to say a name, but Rick started making noises and singing "NO ONE! NO ONE! NO ONE WOULD DO THAT< MS. M. YOU KNOW I'M JOKING!!!!"

I had my e-mail program open, actually, and I e-mailed the principal, the vice principal, and the guidance counselor. I detailed what I'd just heard and suggested that they check the situation out. Evidently, at least one of those people got the e-mail, and the principal went to investigate. He got a kid, not the one mentioned, in his office.

Rick returned the laptops to the laptop cart in another room and came back to our room. He grabbed Luigi and said, "Someone ratted them out!!! Mr. E came to get them!!! Someone ratted them out!!!" The two of them then got in a discussion wherein they were trying to figure who'd sold out their friends. I just sat there, biting the insides of my cheeks.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm not as insane as you'd think

When I'm frustrated, I do what everyone does: I vent. I've been very frustrated for the greater part of the year. We've had a very rough batch of 7th graders, who are sort of settling in...but may I please point out that 5 of the originals are no longer with us, for various reasons. Makes a lot of difference. So did rearranging their class schedules at midterm. Divide and conquer, you know?

And a lot of times, when I'm venting to people about work, I get suggestions that I move on to another school. Not at the moment, but the next school year. And I was with them on that until after the redistribution in January. However, I also ended up dropping my morning duty, which I'd had every morning for first semester, and traded out one of my 7th grade classes for one of the 8th grade classes in drama, which is a quarter-long course. This meant I now taught 4 8th grade courses and 1 tiny 7th grade writing course. Which, bonus, means in a few weeks when the 8th graders graduate, I will teach...1 class a day! WOOOOO!

Not only that, but I felt the administration take a large proactive swing. Some children, as I mentioned before, are no longer with us. Others were shifted around to levelize the classes.

My quality of life went up...even though the accident in January brought it way down.

And still, people kept telling me to get out. Go somewhere else.

But the day of the accident, I told my vice principal that I had thought about not returning, but feeling their support and having my own personal support network at work made me change my mind. I wanted to come back. And I meant it. I still do. I plan to. I didn't send any résumés out, which I had been planning to do come January. I decided to stay. And people think I'm crazy for it. I got my certification this year; I could make a lot more money in public schools (but I don't wanna get shot at work...) or many other Catholic and private schools. Yet, I decided against it, even though we desperately need more money right now. So I'd like to make a list of the things that are making me stay, because I feel like people need to understand.

1. The administration backed us. They generally do. They were proactive, and things have vastly improved.

2. I have a support network of coworkers, without whom I could not have made it through the last 4 years.

3. We have a kid who, while in the 5/6 classroom, was isolated from his peers because he has proximity issues. He would growl at kids and push them. He's probably our lowest performing student, to boot. They kept his desk away from everyone with a no-fly zone around it. The kids stayed away. He tried to do it with us, and we did not allow it. He now will sit next to other people and has stopped growling. He makes conversation with me almost every day. He doesn't wear his black leather gloves to school as often as he used to. (Yes, even on hot days....and I thought I had germaphobe issues!!!) He hasn't made much progress academically, which is not good. He has, however, become more functional for the real-world. He came with us to the Inauguration (the post is still coming) and stayed in a hotel room with three other boys, stayed with his chaperone at all times, and actually got to the point where he "snuggled" up with a group of kids in order to stay warm while we were waiting for the Inauguration to begin. He beat my foot at one point, but he didn't realize it was me and thought someone was trying to step on him, when in reality I was blocking him from being stepped on. But when I showed him whose foot it was, he mellowed. Point being, I am part of a team that really accomplished something major with this kid. That's an amazing feeling.

4. Back to my support network, these teachers have made every day worthwhile. Melissa (B)K (broiler?) helped me through Katrina. We both lost the same amount of stuff, and when I was paired with a God-awful she-beast after the storm, she and Kelly helped me cope. I can't thank her enough for what she did for me. Melissa B. helped me deal with the God-awful she-beast as well....because she also shared a room with her and helped me put things in perspective. She's also such a kind and gentle soul. I miss Sabrina dearly, especially her e-mails detailing her life in Japan (AHEM! I know you'll see this at some point!!!). We had a lot of great, goofy times, and she and Mark were like two peas in a pod. I had a hard time going straight home from Rock-N-Bowl without having to drop her off Uptown first. I also miss coercing her to just accept a ride home and shove her bike in the back of my Rav. I loved dragging Gal around New Orleans with Jen. Charlotte cracks me up sometimes...she's a bit ridiculous, no? Dawn I can talk to for hours about many subjects, including Sabrina. I've loved every minute I've spent with my new incarnation of my work posse. I've managed to suck New Jenn in to the JCC world, bwahahahhaha.... Kristin and I think alike a lot of the time... Michelle H.H. has reluctantly joined my #5 reason why I love my job.... The three of them are the greatest group to eat lunch with (more than likely that lunch is an Amy's organic vegetarian meal or peanut butter from my "grocery store..."), share a pint with, spend 3.5 hours in a book store with, attend a party with, blow off steam together after work, go to a festival with... Bernie turns everything innocent into something dirty. Terry is fun to make afraid of me, hahaha... Brendan wore a kilt on St. Patrick's Day...Nick tells amazing stories about the wrestling team...Michelle McM is hi-friggin-larious....Coach cracks me up, even if I can't understand half the things he says in that thick Mississippi accent....Chris was awesome until he left...Candice is a phenomenal thinker and has really helped me see things clearly....and Len is goofy as all hell, when he's not busy being principal...

5. We started a book club at work!!

6. Since we don't have a sub pool, we sub for each other. And when we don't have enough people to sub, Len does it. As principal, he shouldn't have to. But he makes sure to get in the trenches and help out.

7. My first 8th graders are going to be seniors next year. I want to be there for them.

8. We may be moving next year to a new campus. Superficial, I know, but I want in on it.

9. It's where I got my start teaching.

10. I love seeing what these kids accomplish. Some of them come to us so broken and beaten down from other scholastic experiences. To watch them

11. Teaching is tough and demanding no matter where you are.

12. I'm established there. People want to be in my class. Or to not be, in some cases, hahaha.

13. I've been promised the stuff I have really wanted to teach these last four years as my areas next year.

14. I had an e-mail from a former student, who moved on to another school this year...he's been in touch off and on all year. Anyway, his last report card was all A's and one B. I taught him for two years, and I'd like to think that I had a small hand in that success.

15. I focused a lot on a lot of superficial things and adult-related things. But I can't even begin to properly detail all of the kid moments.

16. It's been really exciting building a school and establishing traditions.

17. I enjoy the small-school atmosphere a lot of the time.

18. I found something that many people strive for: a job that satisfies me (most of the time) with people I love working with, in a place that makes you feel appreciated most of the time. Parents are a different part of the equation, but once in a while, you get that parent that really backs you, and everything is amazing. Why would anyone give up the happiness quotient?

Friday, March 06, 2009

Another one for the books....

I made a bust in class today that has my head reeling....

My friend Kristin was out sick today, and so I had to sub one of her classes: 7th grade science. Just had to watch a video on baby animals. Awesome. I like animals...especially when they're babies!!!

So we're watching the video, it's on VHS, and there's a long section where the sound drops out. About 1 min. in, the sound dropped out, and I hear something make an electronic noise.


I THOUGHT it came from "Q," who had his backpack on the table, but he's a really good, really bright kid, and I thought, "Nah...can't be him!"

No one will own up to it...although the sound came back on the video and apparently N was trying to say it was her iPod. She listens to that thing so loud that I can hear the lyrics, so it probably WAS her...turns out, it wasn't a phone, but was the iPod, as I learned was in her bag and she bumped it. I let her slide because she owned up to it and inadvertently helped me catch a serious problem.

I said if no one would own up to it, then everyone would have to turn in every electronic device. They could get them back with no consequences at the end of the period if someone would woman-up or man-up and admit they were guilty.

No one admits it, and I collect a Play Station Portable, a CD player, the iPod, and 7 cell phones. Seventh graders are way easier to control in some ways than the other kids. Oh, I KNOW there were more that weren't handed over. I did this once with 8th graders when a phone rang, and no one turned anything in except the guilty kid, who didn't even admit he was guilty until I turned his phone on and it repeated the exact sound I'd just heard.

Q actually gave me his phone, but his was the last one I wanted to check.

Bernie was there and heard it when it went off...he'd come to ask me something and just happened to be in the most awesome place at the most awesome time.

S immediately gets on the defensive swearing loudly that it wasn't I start thinking it WAS! I checked his phone first, but it wasn't him. He did, however, have it on in his pocket, so there was some Catholic guilt weighing in on him.

I get Bernie to help figure out which phone went off, and I grab Q's phone off the top of the pile. No missed calls....and a text message from "A's dad." At 12:06 p.m. March 6. BINGO

I get A to give me her phone, which is in her hand, and she hasn't erased her messages.

Q sent her one that said "porn," another one that said "dick..." and a few more one-word texts. Texting from your pocket mustn't give you much time to text more

I scroll through and find out they've been texting since 8:30 this morning! I think, hmmm...I wonder how many days THIS has happened at school! Seeing such questionable messages sent between two 13-year-olds nearing the end of 7th grade is concerning. There's probably cause which allows you to search a bag, so I figure this extends to phones....and the texts are completely visible as I scroll. Not like I'm prying.

THEN I find he has another one he sent her that says, "i only have one condom now." With worse spelling than that, though. There's one that says his dad is passed out drunk, and another one that says he was so drunk that he "just threw up whatever the hell he just drank."


So I look at her phone...on application day, she was wearing jeans with patch letters that said "a boy's name starting with 'T'" on them, and she wrote, "i love t" all over them in marker.

Anyway, there's a text to a kid named T: "i can't wait to suck your **** or f*** again"

I KNOW!!!!!!!!!

Disturbed, I ask Bernie to watch the kids, write them up, and go to the principal...who's meeting with the VP. I censor the messages, because while I can say it to VP, I think Principal's ears would fall off to hear those words, hahaha.

Later, I was was eating lunch, and the principal came in in his goofy, jovial manner and said, "Want to hear the best thing of all?!?!?!?!" He says he called A's mom to tell her the phone was taken away. You can only pick up confiscated items on Thursday if you lose something on Friday, you're pretty much SOL. He called her mom, who says that her dad has been in the hospital or is sick or something, and so they've been letting her use his phone because something happened with hers (Taken away? I don't know. Maybe broken? Not important to the story, really...) I don't know if, in these circumstances, he had them pick it up earlier. he didn't say if he did or not.

He didn't actually see them...but my write-up for Q said that he was sending vulgar text messages to a female classmate in 5th period. Hers just said she was texting a male classmate during 5th period.'ll get out somehow...I'm pretty sure that they are having great weekends and that I'll TOTALLY get teacher of the year for the second year in a row, since the students vote, hahaha.

Oh, and true to my word, all electronics were returned with a warning to keep it in their lockers (school policy). No consequences other than the mild heart attacks they all probably had when I picked them up in the first place.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I'm really wrestling with something

I know we can't save them all. And you can only help those who want to help themselves. But I just had to make a painful decision with one of my students. I'm not helping him any more.

What kind of teacher is that?

It's my second year with him. He's from a bad family situation...a dad with more kids than I can count, a mom with a few kids, and one stable adult: his grandma. But to put him in our school, grandma, who kicks ass and has a high value on education, drives charter buses. Which means half the time, he's with her and sort of on track, and half the time he's with mom, who has zero boundaries. He's from a rough neighborhood and his cousin made headlines recently as a perpetrator in a heinous crime. He's a brilliant kid, great artist....and he doesn't give a damn about school. He says we're all out to get him.

I challenged him on that recently and said that we bend over backwards for him. Honestly...any other school would have kicked him out for behavior by now. But we give him chance after chance after chance. He must think I'm a complete idiot. He doesn't finish a test, I pretend to have not given him enough time. He doesn't turn in a project, I pretend to have lost it. He recently took a test. Literally. He stared at it and did nothing, then left without turning it in. I followed his schedule and said "You must have just grabbed it absent-mindedly...can you grab it for me?" He made a big show of digging in his bag, then not seeing it. I asked him to check my room. He didn't see it. I got stern and said it had 5 minutes to appear on my desk...or it was a zero. Guess what he ended up with? We've called grandma, who is very much on our side. She is wracked with guilt because she can't be with him all the time.

Anyway, when I called him on that, and said that we do so much for him...he thought for a minute and said, "Well, nobody but you cares. You all don't understand." I told him, no, that I can't empathize with him. I can sympathize, and I can listen, but I won't understand his neighborhood, or his family situation. He said he doesn't care anyway...his plan is to drop out at 16 (He's 15 now) and then basically follow the path of so many in his neighborhood. It breaks my heart. I love this kid. I ache for him and his situation. I want to save him from that life. But he's old enough now that he has to make the totally conscious effort of accepting help and saving himself.

I once asked why a bright child like him allows himself to fail, and he said that he wasn't doing well in "regular" school, and he made an "A" on his first test with us. He showed it to his dad, who promptly asked who he cheated from, because there was no way his son would make an "A." Now, I took that with several grains of there some truth hidden in there?

We tried to get him into NOCCA, the arts high school. But he wouldn't get his art portfolio together, and he failed classes. No way could he get in. Every "out" we've given him has been thrown in our faces.

He also mentioned one time that he wanted to just fail out of us so that his grandma will do with him now what she did when he failed his other school: move him somewhere else. He's already a 15-year-old 8th grader. But sharp as a tack and talented to boot!

I learned today that grandma has agreed, against her will, to allow him to go wherever he wants, based upon his ability to pass this year. He has a 28.28 F in my social studies class. He takes no notes. He puts his head down, refuses to read (and he's an excellent oral reader!)He draws during class. Now...some kids process better if they have something to do with their hands...I had one student, over the course of the week, make over 100 beautiful, delicate snowflakes during class instead of taking notes...could contribute to discussions, would stop and read without complaint when asked, and made an "A" on his test. So when that kid does something else, I don't worry. I know he's processing.

My troubled child only fills in his study guides, then doesn't study. He complained that he's failing my class because the tests are too hard. I said he should try taking notes. He said no, that it all comes on his study guide. I can't argue that point...but when I asked if he studies once he fills in the study guide, he said no. Well, wonder my tests are too hard!!!

I'm so afraid of what will come of him. When I see violence from his neighborhood in the news, I read it while holding my breath.

I know I can't save him. I went to the vice principal...numerous times...and she told me, "The teacher shouldn't put out more effort than the student." And so I stopped. I let him in on that. I told him it was up to him to decide to save himself, because I was working too hard, and he was doing nothing.

But why do I feel like a failure?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My temper tantrum ended. It's safe to look again.

So, co-curriculars for the 7th and 8th graders at school changed this year. They go to drama, art, P.E., and Spanish every day for one quarter each. I had no textbook, and so I bought a book on the history of theatre and wrote my own guide. I give the kids notes, then I have them perform in the style they learned. We also pop in some theatre games and exercises.

This being the end of the third quarter (just Mardi Gras week, which is a holiday next week!, followed by one regular week, a dead week, and exams), I've done almost everything three times.

Today was one of my favorite lessons...I finished giving them the notes for the quarter so we can just sort of play the rest of the quarter until they take their final, then I show them a music video.

The song is "Love Me Dead," and it's by a group called "Ludo." Interestingly enough, they also have a song called, "Lake Pontchartrain." This makes me smile.

I grew very fond of "LMD" over the summer, even though it sounds like it belongs in a musical. I hate musicals. I think that's because I can't sing or dance, and therefore was never able to participate in them. Plus, I'm a creative person with an overactive imagination and all, but the Suspension of Disbelief just shuts off when I see choreographed moments interrupt the natural flow of things.

Anyway, digression over.

After 1st quarter started, Mark found the video for the song, and I fell in love with it. Why? First of all, the singer kind of reminds me of Josh from the Nicholls Players. Second, it shows EVERYTHING (for the most part, just go with that) that I teach throughout drama history. I show the video once, all the way through, without discussion. I ask the kids what they saw that they learned about. They instantly pick up crude humor, Greek masks, and stage combat. Then I show it again, setting it up with running themes, such as costumes and props, and pause it 25 or 26 times to point out different theatre styles. Then, I show it to them a third time, no interruptions. Kids from first quarter still talk about it.

Today was that day in class, and so I was pretty happy. Not only that, but they are the first class to get this far this early in the quarter. God, I love 8th graders more than 7th graders!!! What a difference one year makes! Also, I only teach 1st and last periods on Tuesdays (making up for it with no breaks on Thursdays) and had a doctor's appointment with the orthopedist (muscular strains/sprains confirmed, physical therapy prescribed) today, so I left before lunch and missed teaching last period. Teaching only drama once a day? AWESOME!

While I was a little over halfway through the second viewing, one of my students interrupted me with, "How do teachers think?" I asked what he meant. He said, "I would NEVER have watched this and thought of any of that. But teachers always find things like this." I laughed. I told him I watched the video about 10-15 times, minimum, to find what I found, and had to back it up, move almost frame by frame, etc., to find it all. And, each time I watch it, I find a new subtle thing. I found one today. It wasn't anything theatre-related, but it was funny.

So, for your viewing pleasure, here it is:

People I want to punch, part 2

14. The lady who totaled my car and has me missing work for pain, doctor appointments, and physical therapy.
15. The cop who didn't test the idiot who totaled my car, even though she was OBVIOUSLY drunk. Or had been drinking. Why? Because, as we discovered minutes later, he picked up food at P.F. Chang's. HATE YOU HATE YOU HATE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!! This woman is only going to do it again. She should have been locked up. My only consolation is that she totaled her own car and doesn't have anyone else's insurance to help her out.
16. People who let their kids have TVs and video games in their bedrooms, keeping them up at night, rendering them useless at school, and are then surprised when the school calls to inform them of mood changes in the children and suffering performance in school. I would be SO MORTIFIED to tell the school that I was an unobservant parent who didn't keep an eye on my special needs child....especially after telling the school that he comes home wiped out and is on all sorts of meds. NO WONDER he's so wiped out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
17. Insurance company people who talk down to you.
18. I'll preliminarily say my physical therapist, because I've been through therapy for my ankle before, and I know I wanted to punch them then. I can only imagine what will happen for my back.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

From raining to pouring...

I went to buy some groceries today...needed bread and water and a Coke. Went to check out. Australian guy with an amazing accent (who wasn't much to look at) had trouble with his card. After a couple of swipes, he was ok. So when it was my turn and the same thing happened, I just switched payment methods and didn't think anything of it. Chalked it up as a machine error.

Went to buy cat food tonight and was denied. Checked at the ATM to see if there was just a problem with my card. It's the end of the pay period, but I had an adequate amount in my account and should not have bounced cat food. I was grossly overdrawn, though.

I got home, logged in online, and discovered that some assclown paid their Sprint/Nextel bill with my account.

All this after practically reaching through my phone and tearing out someone's rectum because no orthopedists in this city will look at my back....I finally found one who does backs and they can take me on Tuesday. I've had ENOUGH!!

UPDATE: Card is canceled. BUT....the money won't be in my account until at least TUESDAY because of the weekend and the bank holiday Monday. My mother kindly deposited some money in my account to cover any charges that were pending and to help me through the weekend. She gets the full amount back after the credits go through. I also won't get a new debit card for another 10 days. Next step is to call the cops tomorrow. I want this investigated and the person prosecuted.

UPDATE #2: My check for my car bounced and was returned to the bank. GREAT. And it's the weekend with a bank holiday attached to it. EVEN BETTER. Can't do anything about it until Tuesday.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Woe is we

I was planning to write a blog detailing my trip to Washington, D.C., to witness Obama's inauguration. I got back at midnight on Wednesday, slept on Thursday, which was Mark's birthday, and got in a bad accident Friday night. I have not been able to sit at a computer comfortably for some time. I'm doing better, but the D.C. wrap-up will be lengthy, I feel. I'll get back to that soon.

I've been having some flashbacks lately. To fall of 2005, to be exact. Right after Katrina, when people would try to comfort me after going through a harrowing ordeal that still haunts my dreams and which I see daily reminders of still, and losing all of my possessions. I've detailed this problem ad nauseam, so I'll cut to the chase: people are saying, "Well, it's just stuff. It can be fixed/replaced."

I don't know why people feel this is something to say to someone in the grieving process. If your child or parent or best friend died, would you want people to say something similar? That's not comfort. That's crass.

After Katrina, I was told this many times. And now, I'm hearing it again. "At least you're alive. You can just get a new one."

Two weeks and two days ago, we were going to dinner to celebrate Mark's 30th birthday. We got in my lovely little Rav4, which I bought to replace my sweet little Corolla, who died in Katrina. We stopped at a redlight at Veterans and Causeway, right in front of a Payless. We were third in line and had been there for a while. Suddenly, there was a loud bang. We jerked forward rapidly, then back, then forward, then back. The guy in front of us got out and looked angry. He thought we'd caused it. But we didn't. A woman slammed into the back of us. Part of a car (turns out it was mine) was caught between the body of my car and the rear tire. The guys in the Dakota in front of us said to pull into the Payless lot, so we did. The Accord that slammed us stayed where it was and appeared undrivable. We were in shock. We'd been at the light, for a while, and there was no squealing tires as she slammed her brakes. Why? Because she didn't.

I'm 95% positive that she was drunk. She had a friend following her home. The friend came up to us and said, "Let's just swap our numbers and talk in the morning, okay?" I said, "Not with the police on their way." She said, with a dismissive wave, "Did anyone even call the police?" We all said we had, as soon as the moment of impact ended. She was pissed, went out to her friend, and talked to her for a minute. The woman started her car, which was leaking fluid everywhere, and started driving. One of the people said, "Don't worry, we wrote down her license. And...she's not going to get very far like that."

She pulled into the parking lot, to our amazement and stumbled around. She came up to the victims and slurred, "Don't worry. I do this 24-7." I couldn't control it. "What? You rear-end people 24-7?!?!?!" She stared at the space between me and the wall and gave a dismissive wave, then stumbled off. I wish I'd let her speak. I'd love to know what she does 24-7....

The cop came, got out of his car long enough to gather licenses and registrations, then stayed in his car the whole time. He finished the Dakota first and sent them away. Then he finished us. Mark asked if he would please test the woman, and he said he would. My parents were there, and Stan checked my car to see if it was safe to drive. Some things had moved, but he deemed it workable. Still hungry, shaken, and cold, with stiffness settling in, we went ahead to get dinner. We were at our table when the cop walked to the bar to pick up an order. We doubt that he tested her and are livid. We haven't seen the police report yet.

Long story short, I went to the ER for pain on Sunday night, spent a week of working half-days and floating into and out of comas from painkillers, and had my car totaled.

Everyone says be thankful that we weren't more seriously hurt. I am aware of this. We are so very thankful that we always wear our seatbelts. It could have been much worse.

But here's the thing about my car. I truly, truly, truly loved her. She was with me the day I was leaving work and got a phone call from my dad, who'd driven past our Lakeview home and saw that they'd finally towed away Lucy, the Corolla. I cried in the school parking lot. "It's over, baby. You can move on now," he said.

She was my escape when life at my parents' house got too heavy to deal with. I could get in, drive around, park in my old driveway or at the Lakefront, and clear my head and tearducts. Yup, guys, that's where I would disappear to. Sorry to have caused you worry.

She was where I went when I thought I was losing my job at a school that I loved, where I truly felt appreciated. That was something I'd never felt before in a job. I remember standing in the St. Laurence parking lot, key in hand, taking deep breaths and thinking fast. We had to save the school. But how? She brought me to school that jubilant day when Reggie Bush came to sign over $50,000 to keep us open, and didn't mind being put in the grassy area so that the media and dignitaries could park in the parking lot. She was with me when we moved from the Metairie campus back to the Mid-City campus in an effort to stay open.

We took her to househunt. We drove past our house for many months, stalking the place we wanted so desperately. She drove us to all of the places we needed to go in order to buy the house. She lugged tons of paint and glass and tools to fix the house. She was a valuable member of our moving fleet. She looked so proud parked in the driveway and under the carport.

She was our home away from home during our exhausting 36-hour evacuation to Indianapolis from Hurricane Gustav. She was a trusty, quasi-comfortable place for us to sleep when there were no rooms at any of the inns.

Most of all, she was a symbol of my adulthood. My '94 Corolla was a used car, a gift from my parents upon graduating from Nicholls. Rava, so named because way back when the car was first on the market, my dad thought that was what the logo said, was different. She was the first thing I'd ever bought with my own money. She was mine, all mine, and I loved her. I couldn't afford fancy carwashes, but I kept her in fantastic condition on the exterior. No wrecks, no nothing. I might have left some junk in her from time to time, but always changed her oil, got her brake tag on time, and made sure she didn't get too far below a quarter of a tank of gas. I removed the antenna to do the cheapo carwashes at gas stations from time to time. I didn't take her offroad, even though she could have. Lakeview is as offroad as she got.

She was my one true possession immediately following Katrina.

I had 2 years and 11 months until she was totally mine. When her note was done, we were going to buy Mark a new car. He drives a '97 Mercury Mystique. Or, as Les the mechanic calls him, the Mercury Mistake. Never heard of one? That's okay. No one has. My father is a third generation service station owner, and he had never heard of one until he met Mark. His car is falling apart daily. And we can't afford another note. We can barely afford our regular bills each month. More than anything, this wreck is a symbol of despair. What are we going to do?

So, please. Withhold the, "You have a nice new one now!" and the "It's just a car!" comments. Because now we're 6 years away from him getting a car. Not less than 3. So buy him something before you make those crass comments, and understand how much I'm hurting, physically, emotionally, mentally, and fiscally.

Goodbye, my baby Rava. You served me well, and I'll always miss you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

4 1/2 years later...

I got word from the Louisiana Department of Education finally:

They have finished yanking my chain.

They finished processing my June 2008 application for my teaching certificate.

I am an honest-to-God secondary English teacher after all of this time, all of these headaches, and 4 years of jumping through hoops at UNO. Could have had another BA in all this time.

Now for a break, and then maybe I'll finish the master's...

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Did I fall into Bizarro World this week?

So, I teach in a school for kids with learning differences -- dyslexia, ADHD, and Asperger's are our biggest draws. I tend to forget that some of them are socially inept. They seem really normal until we take them in public, or until days where something really bizarre happens. Don't get me wrong. I love them. But social skills are not their strong points.

This week has been ripe with such days... Make sure you read all the way through. The second story is way better than the first.

Tale the first: Sticky Buns

A few months ago, a former student came to my classroom and said he had a little tiny present for me. Every year, he brings me a Christmas present still. He's a nice boy. A little while later, he shows up at my door with a 2-liter of root beer. I'm not a fan of root beer, so I try clever dodging strategies. He thought it was a day where you could wear jeans to school if you brought in two 2-liter soft drinks. Well, it was, but only for the grammar school. Instead of just donating the bottles anyway, he and his friends drank one bottle, and he decided to bestow the other one on me. I was touched. Slightly weirded out, but touched. I run out of avoidance strategies, and end up stuck with the root beer. I stick it under my desk, where it stays for the next couple of months.

Fast-forward to the other day, when we had to rearrange my classroom to make room for this massive AV closet they brought for the 12" flat screen. I notice that I bumped my big stack of Scholastic Book Order catalogs under my desk, which knocked the root beer over. I straightened the stack, then pushed them further back, and put the root beer right next to it. Why? Because I didn't want kids fooling with it.

Tuesday afternoon, I teach last period down the hall. I return to my room, only to discover that Terry, the teacher using my room at that time, left a note on my desk (name changed to protect the guilty):

Aimée --

Bob "accidentally" knocked over your 2-liter of root beer. I told him he has to bring you a new one tomorrow.


I walk to the front of my desk, see no spots on the ground, shrug, find the bottle in the trash (which, by the way, looked like it was squeezed by Andre the Giant and has an unscrewed cap. Interesting. Not being a fan of root beer, I have never opened it. I kept it at school so that the next time there was a 2-liter collection, I could bring it to the donations. "Oh, well," I think. "At least I no longer have to worry about the root beer."

Now, I have a very wide desk. To get the bottle and "accidentally" trip on it requires you to "sweep the leg!" under my desk and kick it out.

I sit at my desk and discover that I'm sticking to it. Then I notice that my butt feels damp. I look around, and my purse, the shoes I was originally wearing until I walked to the store and changed into flip flops but forgot to change back into, my candy jar, the arms of my chair, the legs of my chair, the charger for my laptop, and the seat and back of my chair are coated in sticky goodness.

And now I seethe.

I took Germ-X and Kleenex and did my best to remove the stickiness for now. I then filled out a write-up form with a VERY wordy yet detailed explanation, attach a recess detention to it, and wait.

Bernie comes in to talk to Jenn and me, and I pushed back in my chair a little bit to pick up a pen I dropped. I reach under my desk to pull myself closer to the desk again, and what do I discover, Wet, sticky, brown finger tips. I scream, "ROOOOOOOOOOOOOT BEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" in anger, then rant about how Terry must have run away scared, haha. I'm kidding, of course, and I'm not mad at him, but I am mad at Bob and the situation.

The next morning, Bernie starts baiting Terry with tales of my wrath over the situation. Meek little Terry, who is an easy blusher, comes in and stammers an apology as I'm heading to my off-period and Bernie teaches in my room. Bernie is loving every second of this. I manage to convey my non-Terry directed anger to Terry, and figure out that Bernie has scared him. Am I that intimidating? Or is Bernie that good at lying?

Tale the second: "I Have a Cat. His Name is Bony."

As if the root beer explosion isn't crazy enough, I get pushed to the limits this morning.

We have a kid with some communication difficulties and some form of autism spectrum. He's very bright, but he can be hard to understand. He adores me....he's the one who so fiercely defended me against the kid who made lewd remarks about me and attempted to grab my rear earlier in the year. Anyway, I was recoding some grades on my computer when "Mickey" starts rambling to me. I'm trying to concentrate on not screwing up grades, and I'm half listening. All I hear is, "I have a cat. His name is Bony. Want to see why his name is Bony?"

Expecting to have him shove a wrinkly photo of a skinny kitty cat in my face, I say, "Sure." He knows I love cats. He asks me about my pictures of my cats on my desk (What? I don't have kids. I have cats.). I figure he's got a picture of his.

Mickey says, "Look. It's on the desk." I look up to find him pointing at a desk with a Ziploc freezer bag on it. "Where?" I say. No photos are on the desk. "In the bag," he says.

I look closer and am horrified to discover that Bony the cat IS, in fact, rather aptly named. Bony the cat is a decomposing bag of fur and bones. I decide now would be a good time to freak out on the kid.

"WHY DO YOU HAVE THAT!?!?!?!??!?!"
"For science class."
"Yeah. I asked her."

There's only one "her" who teaches 8th grade science: my friend, Kristin. Kristin, who only eats organic food and cruelty-free meat. Kristin, who planned a mock protest in front of my room when I wore my Cruella De Vil costume at Halloween. Kristin, who does not believe in dissecting animals and took a "C" in high school biology because she refused to dissect. Kristin, who takes in foster animals. Kristin, who is an environmentalist. Kristin, the closest thing I've found to a real-live member of PETA. This story doesn't add up.

"I seriously doubt that Ms. O would want you to bring that to her class. ARE YOU SURE that she said yes and ARE YOU SURE that you asked her about it?????????"
"Yes. We're studying about mammals and bones and teeth and I told her I have this and she said I could bring him."

At this point, Jenn steps in and suggests he put it away, as I'm bordering on hysterics and absolute disgust. Kristin was in her off-period in the teachers' lounge. I march in there, and apparently have one awesome expression on my face, because Bernie is in there and greets me with, "Hello. Are you okay?" and a concerned expression. I point at Kristin and say, "I have an important head's up for you. Did you by any chance give Mickey permission to bring a DECOMPOSING CAT IN A ZIPLOC BAG TO SCHOOL TODAY!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?"
Now it's her turn to look ill. "NO! Why would you think I would do that?"

Poor Terry was sleeping on the couch in there, and he woke up. He's as red as the couch, Bernie is practically crying, and they are laughing up a storm. Brendan is there at some point during my freak-out episode, and all three are rolling. Physically rolling, in Terry's case. Kristin and I are near nausea, both yelling and dumb-founded.

Apparently, during class, while they were, yes, learning about mammals and their teeth and bones, and said he had a skull at home, could he bring it. Kristin asked what kind. He said a cat skull. She said she guessed he could.

What he failed to mention was that said cat skull was still attached to the cat's other bones....and its fur...and resided in a Ziploc freezer bag.

Bernie kindly ran interference for us and convinced Mickey to put Bony in his locker for the rest of the day.

I went to Guidance and said, "I need a Guidance Counselor for myself, STAT!" Candice looked up and laughed and asked what was wrong. I told her my tale, and she said, "Oh yeah, he's bringing it for science class." Apparently, he brought it in Guidance and showed it to her while she was meeting with a parent and a student and couldn't really deal with it at the time. She said he has had it for a few years and found it outside. EW EW EW EW EW EW EW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Add these parents to my "List of people I want to punch." They're number 14, correct?