Tuesday, October 31, 2006
one might ask, how would Halloween house fare if zombies attacked my street...

...oh, they'd do alright I think.

Happy Halloween!

P.S. More Halloween pictures here, including some of me making a somewhat convincing Patti Hearst and Nathan making a more than convincing Billie Jean King at our 70's themed party. Sorry, you have to sign into flickr to see most of them. As always, let me know if you want an invite.

Monday, October 30, 2006
if zombies attacked my street
Shaun of the Dead happened to be on the television last Saturday while I was sitting around waiting for a Halloween party to commence, and while I was watching neighbors band together to defeat a roaming gang of zombie scum, I got to thinking - how would my neighborhood deal with a localized zombie infestation? We're not exactly like Leave it to Beaver over here. True, we are friendly enough, but it's not like we're having block parties and progressive dinners. Nonetheless, I think that my neighborhood would do a relatively decent job joining forces to defeat the powers of the undead. Basically, here's how I see things shaking out:

Redneck House would be the first to go.
A 100-square foot structure provides a dilapidated shelter for four adults and a minimum of three feral children, affectionately known as the Redneck House. With their love of loud parties, bastard children, illegal substances and country music, I'm pretty sure they'll never even make it to the "coalition of the neighborhood" stage. Most likely, the children will be some of the first infected, and they will eat their mother, live-in boyfriend, grandmother, and great-grandmother in one sitting. It will be tasteless, brutal and disgusting - in other words, pretty much status quo for Redneck House.

Randy and Co. would supply the arms.
After sighting what my neighbors deemed to be an "unsavory sort" skulking through our backyards (unsavory = black), Randy made it well known that he has a gun and ain't afraid to use it. Now, while I might feel inclined to fault his blatant racism, I must admit that I'm thankful for the arms he will be able to supply to defeat the undead. I imagine that at some point, Randy will emerge from the house, shotgun in hand, shouting "Watch out zombie bitches!" before the day is through. Inevitably, he'll be killed by a swift bite to the throat, but he'll take more of his fair share of zombies down with him before he goes.

The Indigo Girls would supply the muscle and the occasional witty banter.
At the end of my street lives the Indigo Girls. They live in a house that looks like it was designed by a schizophrenic, five-year-old architect, and rainbow stickers adorn every available spot on the bumper of their rusted-out conversion van. True, I've never actually
seen them, but in my head they both look a bit like Bea Arthur. I'm pretty sure that neither of the Indigo Girls would survive the zombie attack, but I'll sure be grateful for that conversion van which will likely be used to run over a pack of the flesh-hungry undead while the survivors race for the hills.

Fireworks House will supply the heavy artillery.
During the entire month of July I pretty much hate Fireworks house, but when zombies have infested your neighborhood, a paintball toting, American flag waiving, explosives wielding family of five would certainly come in handy. Emerging from the home draped in American flags and sporting paintball guns which have been modified into a crudely fashions shotguns, Fireworks House will prove to be an indispensable addition in our war against the undead. I'm sure that the whole fight will climax in leading the zombies into Fireworks House, which will then be ignited, exploding in a terrific blast of bottle rockets, zombie bits, and red, white and blue flames. It will be very loud, very disgusting and very patriotic. In other words, pretty much status quo for Fireworks House.

Doug will make sure all the doors are locked and the newspapers are out of sight.
Doug lives next door. He's a retired Vietnam vet, and he's very nice. He doesn't say much, but he's very good at making sure my newspapers are out of sight whenever I go out of town. I'm not sure if that will be absolutely necessary when zombies are roaming my street, but I'd like to think that Doug's thoughtfulness will come in handy. Of course, his two Shar-peis will both become infected, turning into vicious zombie attack dogs which will then turn their master who will be consumed in a matter of minutes, but what can you do - you know?

And as for my house?
Oh, we'll surely die first. We'll be hiding in the closet only to be sniffed out during the first wave of attacks. After all, we may talk a big game, but we're basically cowards over here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006
the one where i get a haircut
I understand that for most people, getting a haircut is a pretty normal, uneventful, every six to eight weeks sort of event. For me, it's kind of a big deal. I think I've mentioned this before, but I absolutely HATE getting a haircut.

Hate it. Hate it. Hate it.

So, I pretty much avoid it, only getting a haircut two or three times a year. It's not such a big deal seeing as I wear my hair sort of long and all one length, but I suppose it's still a bit odd that I, who was still a woman last time I checked, hates to partake in such a basic, womanly activity. I must be missing the "likes to go to the salon and talk shoes and make-up and movies and complain about her husband and 'kids these days' and other stupid shit with the beautician" gene.


But, every now and then I break down and submit to doing the deed. I'm rarely happy with the results, I often pay far too much, and I generally find the experience to be extremely annoying, especially the awkward attempts at conversation that beauticians must be trained to make. I've often thought that if there was a "u-scan" lane for haircuts I would be all over that. Alas, our meager human technologies are just not sophisticated enough yet.

Double drat.

The point, such as it is, is that I got my bi-yearly haircut last weekend and, surprisingly enough, it wasn't so bad. Surely enough, it was awkward, especially because I was sitting in the middle of an Aveda store, facing a giant window overlooking the entire mall (it was a breast cancer fundraiser, hence, not an authentic "salon" setting). I sat there with wet hair dangling across my face in a most unflattering way while myriad teenagers and housewives gawked as they filed past. And, of course, I take only a mediocre appreciation for the end result. However, for perhaps the first time ever, I rather enjoyed the beautician banter, most likely because my beautician, a very, very, gay man named Kai, had no interest in discussing shoes and make-up and complaining about our husbands and 'kids these days' and other dumb shit. Hallelujah.

Instead, the "conversation" was more my speed. Particularly, it involved making snide comments about the poor schlubs who walked past the window of the Aveda store. Excerpts include comments like:

"Honey, if you can't walk in those shoes, don't wear them,"

"Dear God, look at the size of that guy. And no wonder, look at that giant TV he just bought. You know all he's going to do is go home and sit on his giant ass watching that thing all day long," and

"Hmm. I didn't know that tight clothes and pregnancy were in style
," and

"Hmm. I went to high school with that girl. Looks like she hasn't done anything with her life. Bitch."

Indeed, most of the comments came from Kai. Nevertheless, I enjoyed them. And yes, I made an appointment to see him again in six weeks.

I'm considering keeping it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006
the one where i learn that stereotyping is bad
Three years ago, I had a boy in my freshman English class named John. John was, and probably still is, one of the most difficult students in the building. It's not that he is bound for a life of crime or anything, but he has one of the worst cases of ADHD that I've ever seen, and he seems to get off on aggravating his teachers. Furthermore, he is one of those endlessly frustrating kids who is completely intelligent and capable, yet he has amassed a total of three credits in his four years of high school due to a complete inability to turn in any work. The funny thing is that I am one of the few teachers who never had a problem with John. I had him for two years (he had to be removed from his sophomore lit class and I was the only one who would take him) and, although I wouldn't say he was well-behaved and he didn't receive one of those illusive three credits from me, I was never able to share in the horror stories once some of his other teachers liked to share while waiting in line for the copy machine. For whatever reason, John liked me and, as a consequence, he didn't torture me. Thank God for small favors.

I hadn't thought about John in years, but this year he is taking a credit recovery class (two actually - he has a lot of credits to, ahem, "recover") which happens to meet directly across the hall from my classroom. Occasionally, John pops into my room during that hour to say hello, borrow a set of markers, complain about a write-up he received, show me the pair of crutches he stole - you know, normal student-teacher stuff. I've gotten used to John's visits, but I was rather disarmed by his most recent one. The coversation went a little something like this:

John: Mrs. -, do you have a copy of The Odyssey?

Me: You mean the excerpts from the 9th grade textbook? Sure, here.

John: No, I was hoping you had the full text.

Me: The complete Odyssey? What do you need with that? It's like 500 pages, you know.

John: Oh, I know. I've already read it. I was hoping you had Fitzgerald's translation.

Me: Well, I know I have it somewhere at home, but I don't know who translated it.

John: Yeah, I've read a few translations, but I like Fitzgerald's the best. He had this way of making you visualize the action, you know?

Me: Sure. What are you doing, in class? Writing a paper on Greek mythology or something?

John: No. I was just bored and I wanted to read it again. I figured that if anyone would have Fitzgerald's translation it would be you.

(feeling intense disappointment at not having that particular translation) Well, nope, sorry John. Why don't you get back to class, huh?

John: Yeah, I will. Actually, my butt-hole teacher messed up my attendance again, so I have to go yell at her.

Me: Okay, John. Good luck with that.

Huh. Every day is a weird little gift, you know?

Monday, October 23, 2006
down in fraggle rock
Right, then. So, while my disgust with the return of 80's fashion is well documented, my delight at the return on 80's children's shows shows no bounds. Fraggle Rock: The Movie? Now that's something I can get behind. Be still my heart!

Sunday, October 22, 2006
walk it off, boys, walk it off
Despite an absence of tickets, Nathan and I still made our way downtown yesterday to be a part of the World Series excitement. Sure, we waited in line for two hours to sit in a bar and watch the game on television, but at least we were there. Speaking of waiting in line, it's funny how much sports can unite people. Amidst the crowd, Nate and I managed to spark up an hour long friendship with Stacey and Rich, a lovely red-neck couple with whom we shared little in common other than a love for the Tigers and a firm belief that Tom Brady is a candy-ass cry baby. Fortunately, beer and appetizers could be purchased while we waited outside. Unfortunately, despite having the lamest mascot ever (Two wittle birdies on a bat! How cute!), the Cardinals won the game, but I predict that they have not won the war. Bring it Cards! Last time I checked, tigers like to play with their prey a bit before devouring it.

Friday, October 20, 2006
i dream creepy
Sorry things have been quiet around here recently. Report cards, parent conferences, a mountain of papers to grade and larceny have all been occupying too much of my time. I have loads of things to write about, but haven’t had the time to sit and do it. Truthfully, I don’t really have the time now either, but I have a short one for you just the same.

I had a very upsetting dream earlier this week that even now I hesitate to write about because it’s still giving me chills. I normally don’t remember my dreams (I guess my life is filled with enough weird shit that weird events don’t need to happen while I’m sleeping) but this one was sort of memorable. First, I dreamt that I had a cat. I know, that’s not weird at all, but wait, there’s more. It seems that my cat couldn’t have babies. Again, this isn’t weird because I would never have a pet if it weren’t spayed or neutered. However, it seems that I felt bad for my barren cat, so I decided to be a surrogate mother for her. For some reason, I impregnated myself with her cat babies and was waiting to birth kittens. Gross. Fortunately I woke up before I went into labor. That’s a scene that I don’t think my psyche could have handled.

When I woke up, I shared my dream with Nathan, who proved to be Johnny-on-the-Spot with the ‘ole dream analysis. Without batting an eye he says something to the effect of, “Well, that’s easy. Your dream means that you want to have kids, but you aren’t ready for the responsibility. You only want kids if you can leave them at home alone for a week with a bowl of food and water.”

Huh. Well, yeah, I guess that’s about right. Symbolic or not, I’m still grossed out. And just for the record, I vow to never be a surrogate mother, whether the baby be human, feline or otherwise. You know, in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
events conspire against me. again.
Today was a black day,

a long, dark, evil, black day,

a stupid, hateful, ugly, punch you in the gut and spit in your face kinda day.

The carnage began at 1:30 in the morning with my dog's mournful cries. True, she's taken to waking up pretty early, around 4:30-ish, but 1:30 was pretty early, even for her. Turns out she didn't want food or to use the bathroom (and by "bathroom," I mean her muddy pit in the backyard). I could understand her desperate cries if she really, really had to pee, but it turns out she didn't have to pee. She wanted to eat grass. See, dogs do that when they want to throw up. Seeing as I didn't want her to throw up, I forced her back inside. That's when I discovered
why she didn't have to pee. See, she had already peed all over my dining room carpet. Awesome.

Tired, frustrated and annoyed I abandoned the mess for the morning and went back to bed. But my dog is a wiley one, and she tends to get what she wants. And she wanted grass. Having found the only living plant in my entire house, an aloe vera, she apparently had herself a little meal while I slept. Perhaps this wouldn't be such a big deal - it was a $3 plant, after all - but it turns out aloe vera is poisonous to dogs. I made this discovery at approximately 6:30 in the morning, right before I had to leave for work. Yes, I had concerns that she may not make it through the day, but what could I do? I had to go to work to be able to afford new aloe vera plants and carpet cleaner, so I rolled the dice on her immune system and left her alone for 8+ hours. You're in awe of my mothering skills, I know.

I really did worry about her for a large part of my day, and perhaps it was this very concern for her well being that distracted me from noticing when one of my little criminals, err, freshmen walked out of my classroom with a pirated school laptop. So now, I get to be the bad mommy who poisons her pet
and the irresponsible teacher who can't keep the school's property safe. Great.

Oh, and the icing on the cake? One of my students has contracted some very gross and extremely contagious bacterial skin infection, and I, the woman with the imfamously weak immune system is expecting to notice some symptons any day now. Fan-tast-ic.

The good news? Chloe's okay. She's hacking up aloe pieces, but seems to be in good spirits and I'm confident she'll make a full recovery. The bad news? She might contract a very gross and very contagious bacterial skin infection from yours truly.

Stupid, ugly day.

Thursday, October 12, 2006
a book club of one: king dork
On the recommendation of a friend, I have just finished King Dork, a novel with a painfully dorky teen protagonist who hates The Catcher in the Rye and the people who idolize it, most likely because he doesn't recognize how Caufield-eque he really is. I guess the novel is Young Adult, but as a high school literature teacher I've read enough YA lit. to know quality from crap and this is quality. As a person who a) teaches painfully dorky boys, b) witnesses the horrors of high school on a daily basis behind the safety of a teacher's desk, c) enjoys a good mystery/comedy/coming-of-age story as much as the next gal, and d) adored The Catcher in the Rye so much that she considered naming her first born son "Holden," it probably goes without saying that I really enjoyed the novel and would highly recommend it to others (unless you take issue with "colorful language" and scenes depicting awkward, teenage intimacy - i.e. - Mom, you might want to pass on this one). Oh, and did I mention it was written by Frank Portman of The Mr. T Experience? 'Cause it was.

JMW over at A Special Way of Being Afraid does this thing called "Archive of the Week" where he posts excerpts from books he likes, and I thought I'd steal that idea for this post. Here's my favorite insightful/angst-ridden/poignant passage from the book. Enjoy.

The title of The Catcher in the Rye comes from a misquoted poem by Robert Burns, which Holden Caufield elaborates into a mystical fantasy about saving children from falling off a cliff. There are all these kids playing in a field of rye, and he stands guard ready to catch them if they stray from the field. A lot of people have found this to be a very moving metaphor for the experience of growing up, or anxiety about the loss of innocence, or the Mysterious Dance of Life. Or any random thing, really…. The brilliance of it, though is that the people in the Catcher Cult manage to see themselves as everybody in the scenario all at once. They're the cute, virtuous kids playing in the rye, and they'’re also the troubled misfit adolescent who dreams of preserving the kids' innocence by force and who turns out to have been right all along. And they'’re also the grown-up moralistic busybody with the kid-sized butterfly net who is charged with keeping all the kids on the premises, no matter what. Somehow, they don'’t realize you can'’t root for them all.

Say you'’re a kid in this field of rye. You try to find a quiet place where you can be by yourself, to invent a code based on "“The Star-Spangled Banner," or to design the first four album covers of your next band, or to write a song about a sad girl, or to read a book once owned by your deceased father. Or just to stare off into space and be alone with your thoughts. But pretty soon someone comes along and starts throwing gum in your hair, and gluing gay porn to your helmet, and urinating on your funny little hat from the St. Vincent de Paul and hiring a psychiatrist to squeeze the individuality out of you, and making you box till first blood, and pouring Coke on your book, and beating you senseless in the boys'’ bathroom, and ridiculing your balls, and holding you upside down till you fall out of your pants, and publicly charting your sexual unattractiveness, and confiscating your Stratego, and forcing you to read and copy out pages from the same three books over and over and over. So you think, who needs it? You get up and start walking. And just when you think you'’ve found the edge of the field and are about to emerge from Rye Hell, this AP teacher or baby-boomer parent dressed as a beloved literary character scoops you up and throws you back into the pit of vipers. I mean, the field of rye.

Sound good? I'’m sorry, but I'’m rooting for the kids and hoping they get out while they can. And as for you, Holden old son: if you happen to meet my body coming through the rye, I'd really appreciate it if you'’d just stand aside and get out of my fucking way.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006
i may be clumsy
I say "may" because I'm really not sure. Clearly, falling off a treadmill would be considered rather clumsy behavior, but seriously, if you run on a treadmill often enough the odds are rather good that you'll eventually fall off one. At least that's what I'm telling myself. But, even though I did fall off the treadmill yesterday, I'm still not quite ready to call myself a clumsy person, overall. I'm not saying that I haven't had my moments - and most of them involve running into things rather than falling off of things - but the vast majority of my klutzy moments occurred when I was a small child or in a very long-limbed, extraordinarily awkward pre-teen phase so I don't think it's very fair to count them.

For example:
  • At six I ran through a screen door. Sounds clumsy, sure, but I was six, therefore it doesn't count. Next!
  • At fourteen I ran into a sliding glass door. Sure, the experience ranks very high on my "most embarrassing moments of my life" list since it happened when I was attending my first boy-girl party and a rather large imprint of my face was left on the glass that the boys had quite a laugh over, but the glass was absurdly clean so it could have happened to anyone. Really, everyone should have considered it a community service that I ran into that door, because by doing so I made the party that much safer for the rest of them. God bless America.
  • At seventeen I made a sudden turn in a hallway in my high school and slammed by my face squarely into a brick post, blackening both of my eyes. Sure, it appears like class-A klutz behavior, but I smell conspiracy here. Why else would my "friend" Jenny have chosen to call my name at that, precise moment? She saw the post. She certainly noticed my proximity to the post. She always was jealous of my endless wit and stunning beauty. It's not that I'm accusing her of setting me up, but I think she set me up. Bitch.
So, while it may appear that I am clumsy, I think that once the history of each event is examined that clumsiness would clearly be an illogical conclusion to reach. Obviously, despite falling off that treadmill, I am not a klutz at all. Unlucky? Perhaps. A martyr? Most definitely. But clumsy, probably not.

that, treadmill.

Friday, October 06, 2006
one bit and two pieces
The moon was enormous this morning – almost scary big. I wonder why the moon sometimes looks normal sized while other times it’s bright yellow and so big that it appears to be about to crash into the planet. This is something that I really should know that answer to, what with my fancy Earth Science minor and all, but all I can seem to remember from those courses is what a trilobite is and that the center of Michigan is the oldest spot, geologically speaking – truly critical knowledge that’s helped me loads in my life.

Speaking of the center of Michigan, I’ll be heading there after work today to stay with some friends, see Wilco perform and celebrate Nathan’s birthday. He’s going to be 29, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with an alt-country band, beer served in bucket form, karaoke, and friends. Yeah!

So, I was wondering – do you think it’s possible that an entire graduating class of kids can all be suffering from the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome? That’s my current theory anyway, but it needs further investigating. I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006
mo' freshmen, mo' problems: vol. 3
Behold, a small sampling of some of my favorite journal entries in response to the question: "If you were the protagonist of your life, who would be your antagonist?" I'm quoting, of course, so you can't pin these spelling errors on me.

My friend Jenna is my antagonist because she's so nice and fun and such a great friend and she understands me when no one else does.

Mrs. W, you are my antagonist because you make me write in this stupid journal every week and it's dumb and there's no point to it at all.

I don't know what an antagon-whatever is because my 8th grade teacher didn't teach me anything last year. We only watched movies and now I'm behind in Language Arts and it's all her fault that I'm dumb this year.

Cheese is my antagonist because it makes me sick whenever I eat it. Math too, because it's hard and also makes me sick. So, yeah, cheese and math pretty much suck and I hate them both. Death to cheese and death to math. Peace.

and my favorite:

My antagonizt would be Satan because he makes me do evil things every single day.

Me too, kid, me too.

Monday, October 02, 2006
if yom kippur and lent got into a fight i'm not sure who would win, but at least with the former i get all my atoning done in one day
Arg. It feels like I've just had the worst streak of bad luck recently. Car problems, roof problems, work problems, a cold that had lingered for over two weeks...things better be looking up soon or I'm going to start getting cranky. I don't really have anything interesting to say about my luck; I guess I just feel compelled to share with world (and by "the world" I mean the handful of people who actually read this tripe) that it sucks more than usual as of late. On the bright side, I've won my second fantasy football match-up in a row and I didn't have to go to work today because it's Yom Kippur. We have only a teeny, tiny fraction of Jewish kids in my district, but we finally got Martin Luther King Day off for the first time last year, so I guess they decided to go all out, multiculturally speaking. Let's hear it for WASP guilt!

Actually, I need a wee favor. I have a Halloween party coming up in the near future and I'm in need of costume ideas. The theme is 70s pop culture icons. I absolutely REFUSE to wear a wig again this year, so I need suggestions for ladies with long, brown hair. Insert suggestions in the comment section below. Please and thanks.

Sorry this post kinda sucked. I'll try to get myself into some funny or endearing situation tomorrow that will make a good story. If not, I'll just make one up. Promise.