Wednesday, November 29, 2006
santa claus thinks my sweat is sexy
So, I was at the gym yesterday, somewhere around mile two on the treadmill, breathing pretty heavily through my mouth with sweat dripping rather unattractively down my face and pooling on the back of my neck when IT happened - the creepiest encounter I have yet to have.

I was hit on. At the gym. By Santa Claus.

He was rather portly and had horseshoe-shaped bald spot on top of his head and long, curly, snow-white hair flowing down his shoulders. He walked directly in front of my treadmill and grabbed a 30-pound barbell. With an air of absolute confidence he glanced at me, locked his eyes with mine, pursed his lips to throw an air kiss my way, slowly and clearly mouthed the words "Hey, baby," lifted his chin and gave me a wink. He then turned around to look at himself in the mirror while he struggled to lift his 30-pound weight over his head.


Monday, November 27, 2006
my ten year reunion and why i never really left high school

In my experience, there are two types of people who teach high school - those who loved it so much that they never wanted to leave, and those who love a certain subject matter so much that they want to spend their life convincing other people to love it too. Since I didn't really love high school that much, I guess I'm the latter.

Perhaps that's part of the reason why I never even seriously considered going to my ten-year high school reunion, which happened to be held last weekend. It's not that I didn't have friends in high school (I did) or that high school was such a painful, angst-ridden experience (it wasn't) or that I'm still in close contact with plenty of people from my alma matter so I feel no need to go (I'm not). High school wasn't a bad experience by any means, but it wasn't exactly the best years of my life either, and to be honest, I think I'm having a lot more fun pushing thirty than I ever did during my four years of high school. So, despite the fact that I've been told that "it's really something that you should do or you'll regret it later," I decided to skip my ten-year reunion this year. Oh well.

But the beautiful thing about the Internet is that, despite the fact that I didn't go to the reunion, I was still able to read up on many of my former classmates through a reunion website. There are certainly some of my classmates who I'm envious of - one is a touring cast member of Wicked, another is a member of the VonBondies, a third is a Film Accountant who just finished working on Pirates of the Caribbean 2, and yet another is a nuclear weapons/terror analyst - so my paltry entry announcing that “I'm a married English teacher” made me feel a bit small in comparison, but when I remembered what some of these people were like in high school I was reminded that there's a whole lot more to them than their little website blurbs, the purpose of which is to present only the best of their current realities. Despite the impressiveness of some of the admissions, I still remember the dirty truth.

Take, for instance, Dena who wrote that she is a “Vice President of Consumer Marketing and living in New York City.” I guess that’s pretty impressive for a 28-year-old, but my most vivid memory of her is when she saved up her poop for a week in order to bring it to band camp and spread it all over the boy's bathroom as a senior prank. I wonder what her fellow big-wigs would think if they knew that little tidbit about their VP.

And then there’s John, who wrote that he is an “outreach coordinator for various Republican political campaigns.” Again, impressive I guess, but my most vivid memory is that this kid had the absolute worst body odor I have ever smelled in my life. Seriously, that stuff can be bottled and sold as rat poison. Maybe that’s why so many Republicans just found themselves without a job two weeks ago…

One of my ex-boyfriends, Seth, claims to be “married, living in Australia, and working as a managing director.”
That sounds nice and good, but I’m still convinced that he’s gay, and not just because he dumped me. Dude shaved his armpits and bought pants from the Express before they had a men’s line for Christ’s sake. Nice try, but your blurb’s a lie, Seth, and I am not believing that you actually own that big boat that you’re riding in the picture you uploaded of yourself. (Well, maybe you do, but you still wear girl’s pants. So there.)

I could go on, but I won’t. I guess what I’m trying to say is that being an English teacher, although not so impressive sounding, is better than it sounds. I get my summers off, my lesson plans last week included watching and discussing Dead Poet’s Society and I don’t have wickedly foul body odor.

I hope. You'd tell me, right?

Saturday, November 25, 2006
appetizer sampler
Sorry things have been so quiet around here as of recent; things have been busy, busy, busy. Thanksgiving was good; we had two dinners, once of which consisted of a fried turkey, a delicacy which was a delicious first for me. To protect his house from burning down my brother-in-law constructed an elaborate pully system with ropes, a ladder and a deep fryer, and the result was that I ate way more fried turkey skin than any woman ever should. Everything was delicious, but - ugh - I need to get back to the gym.

In addition to eating far too much I had the pleasure of meeting my brother's new girlfriend, Victoria, who was lovely. I commend her bravery for traveling all the way to Michigan to spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend's family. As someone who tends to feel a bit uncomfortable when surrounded with strangers, I was impressed that she was willing to hop a plane and spend so much time during the holidays with our crazy family. I hope I came off well, but there was 110 proof Absente involved at one point so, who knows...

One thing that I didn't do this long weekend was go to my ten year high school reunion which was held last Friday. I'm not exactly sure why, but I just couldn't muster up the desire to go. It's not that I didn't enjoy my high school experience - it was fine I guess - but they certainly weren't the best years in my life. There's a longer post there, but the tryptophan has made me lethargic and I don't really feel like getting into it at the moment.

Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, November 20, 2006
an open letter to tom brady




I'm sorry, honey.

I've called you some really hurtful names during the last several weeks (pussy, fuckwit and candy-ass loser immediately come to mind), but I want you to know that after yesterday, I'm willing to put past disappointments behind us and start loving you again. Perhaps I was too quick to abandon you, and after your interception-laded debacle versus Indianapolis two weeks ago I don't see how you could really blame me for doing so, but you seem to have turned a corner this week and I know it's because you love me.

But you see, I was starting to doubt your love. You became sloppy, inconsistent and stopped returning my calls. I drafted you for my fantasy football team early and with the loftiest of hopes. Perhaps it's partly my fault; just like most of the East-coast media I put you on a bit of a pedestal and set my expectations unrealistically high. After all, you're only a man - you're not of virginal birth, you do not have muscles made of platinum and, as far as I know anyway, you can not be attributed with laying the basic foundation for democracy in this country or any other for that matter - but you are a fine quaterback, MY quarterback, and I love you, Tommy bear.

Mrs. White (aka - bea arthur's jock)

P.S. But just to be clear, despite your impressive performance this week you ARE on probation. I don't want to do it, but mess up once more and you'll be permanently warming my bench while Tony Romo gets all my lovin'.


Thursday, November 16, 2006
mo' freshmen, mo' problems: vol. 4
My freshmen recently submitted the final drafts of their personal narrative essays. We spent a considerable amount of time working on creating interesting leads, developing details and using dialogue. Unfortunately, I must have neglected the lesson on conclusions. Please allow me to share some of my favorites:
That supid carpet warehouse fire had made that day one of the scariest in my lifetime, along with many others. It probably ruined some people's lives as well. When things calmed down, we all returned to our cars and carried on down to Florida. Those hours were the most nerve wrecking hours of my life, but I was soon fine, because hey, I was four years old and we were on our way to Disney World.

It took me about four hours to get away from the bear. I tried to climb a tree but the bear followed me. When I got home I found 2 dogs and I told them to attack the bear and they did. Guess what they won. But then they attacked me and they beat me up pretty bad, but I killed one and I went to jail because of it. The dog I killed was an old scruffy dog. It looked like it hadn't eaten anything in a long time.

Ever since I had to get those stiches I haven't really spun around that much anymore. I've been scared to spin around. You never know when something bad could happen to you like it happened to me. Yet I have had many more accidents after falling on the weight incident, and I've gotten many more stiches as well. Also, I have been kind of scared to go to the hospital because ever since they strapped me onto the table I've been terribly scared because they give you shot and, to tell you the truth I absolutely hate shots.

So, let's see. In addition to working on conclusions and writing in complete sentences it appears that I need to add developing empathy for your fellow man, how to survive a bear attack and general balanceing skills to my lesson plans. Good to know.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
back from my travels
Wow, its been a whirlwind week, but I'm back from Paris and happy to be so. Paris was impossibly gorgeous but also impossibly exhausting, so being able to sit on my sofa and sleep in my bed is a joy. I'm still recovering from it all, but in sum, Paris was...
  • ...beautiful. I know it's cliche, but everywhere I looked was a postcard. I know I'm not exactly a world traveler, but Paris was, by far, the most stunning place I've ever seen. At one point my colleague and I took the wrong Metro exit and ended up in a Parisian ghetto, and even that area was beautiful. It almost got to a point where I don't even notice it all after awhile because beauty was everywhere I looked, but the French sure know how to build a city.
  • ...exhausting. For those of you who are accompanying me to Italy this summer here's some words of warning - pack light, wear comfortable shoes, and don't expect to sleep. The tour company's goal is essentially to cram as much as humanly possible into the trip, so sleep is a luxury. The hardest part was getting off the plane after seven hours in the air at hitting the ground running for a full day of walking tours and museums. I think I was awake for something like 35 hours on that first day. Don't get me wrong, it was absolutely worth it, but this was the kind of vacation that you need a vacation to recoup from.
  • ...challenging. Like a typical American jerk I didn't bother to learn any French before going to France. I had been assured by several people that it wasn't necessary, that everyone there spoke English, so I'd be fine. And for the most part I was, but it is decidedly not true that everyone speaks English. On the one night that Deb and I were left to our own devices for dinner we had a nearly impossible time finding a restaurant with English menus and English-speaking employees. Ultimately, we chose a Mexican restaurant because I could maneuver enough Spanish to order something. Perhaps we should have been adventurous and picked something at random from a French menu but..well...we weren't. Needless to say, I'm planning on learning some Italian before this summer.
  • ...action-packed. In four days, we somehow managed to visit The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs de Lyse, the Palace of Versaille, take a nighttime boat ride on the Seine, shop at an outdoor market, see a show at the Moulin Rouge and take several walking tours of various parts of the city. Did I mention that I'm exhausted?
It was a bunch of other stuff too, but the biggest souvenier that I came home with is a cold and I'm still feeling pretty wiped out, so this is about all I can manage to write at the moment. If you are interested, I've uploaded a whole mess of pictures onto my flickr account, which can be accessed here or throught he badge on the right.

Oh, and I missed you. Did you miss me too?

Thursday, November 09, 2006
adieu. parting is - how do you say? - such sweet sorrow...
In a matter of mere hours I'll be hoping to plane to France. Well, actually I'll be hoping a plane to Washington DC, then waiting for several hours, then hoping a plane to France. But, nonetheless, I'll be there in roughly twelve hours or so. I'm so excited I could spit. I hope Parisians won't be too annoyed at the fact that I haven't bothered to learn one single French phrase or basic salutation. But if they are, who cares? I'm in Paris, baby!

I'll be back Monday. With pictures.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006
on racism, social obligations and walking the fine line between being an educator and a jerk
As a teacher in a predominately white, Christian and socially-economically comfortable school district, I am used to kids making comments that many people would find offensive and possibly even blatantly racist. It bothered me quite a bit when I first began, but I've since learned that kids are, by nature, self-centered and ignorant of the world. It would be quite unrealistic of me to expect a fifteen-year-old to have much knowledge or even interest in cultures and issues that do not directly affect him or her. And that's where I come in. It's my job to enlighten, play Devil's advocate, discourage hurtful speech and develop a certain amount of empathy in my students. Not that this is easy or that I'm always successful, but I try. I see it as my responsibility to point out the narrow-mindedness of my kids and to come down hard on them when they start tossing around ethnic and homophobic slurs.

What gets trickier is when when the narrow-mindedness and slurs are made by my peers.

See, I never really given it much thought before, but one reason why I can comfortably criticize my students' beliefs is because I'm in a position of authority. Even the most incorrigible kid recognizes that his teachers are
supposed to critique him. In fact, we're obligated to do as much. But, what is my social obligation when my peers toss hate around in casual conversation? Ideally, the issue shouldn't be a complex or difficult one, but in the "real world" it is.

Case in point, my husband was talking to a guy he works with last week, and without batting an eye they guy worked the "n-word" into the conversation. The man had apparently assumed that because Nathan was white he wouldn't be offended. Of course, Nate was offended, but - as I imagine most of us would do - he laughed uncomfortably and dismissed the comment, choosing not to be "that guy who gets up on his high-horse by pointing out the flaws in others." Upon reflection, it bothered him that he didn't say anything, but what can a person really say without being either dismissed as a pretentious asshole or getting punched out?

While we discussed his encounter over beers and greasy bar food last weekend, I was reminded of the various unsavory comments that several of my older neighbors have made to me here and there over time. Perhaps it was my social obligation to let them know that their slurs are inappropriate, or at the very least offensive to me personally, but I instead just laughed uncomfortably and dismissed them. It doesn't feel good to admit this, especially as an educator, but without that position of authority that I hold over kids I don't really feel comfortable calling the average person out. Besides, I'm kind of terrified of getting hit.

Neither one of us were able to come up with any sort of an "action plan" for what to do the next time someone finds a way to offend us by assuming we're okay with hateful speech. I'd rather not laugh it off since that's really just affirming it, but what would be the socially-acceptable way to let the person know that what he's just said is
not okay?

I know what Jesus would do. I'm asking what would
you do?

Sunday, November 05, 2006
borat: right quick
I'm currently in the middle of two rather longish and rather serious posts about racism, censorship and social responsibility, but instead of finishing those two posts today I'm instead going to write a quick bit about Borat. Although certainly not for everyone, Borat is quite possibly the funniest movie I've ever seen. I'm not sure who came off looking worse, America or Kazakhstan, and I can't believe that Sasha Cohen didn't get arrested while making it, especially when he threw a bag over Pamela Anderson and attempted to kidnap her at a book signing. I don't want to give anything away for those of you who are planning on seeing the movie, but there's one scene in particular that, while utterly disgusting, made me laugh so hard for so long that my head was throbbing for the remainder of the movie. The bottom line, if you're on the fence about seeing this movie you shouldn't be. Go.

On a sort of unrelated yet equally absurd subject - I got carded when I was buying my ticket. Now, I know that for a 28-year-old I have a baby face, but how old do you have to be to see an R-rated movie? Sixteen?? Seriously, people, you're telling me that I can't even pass for sixteen?

Great success!

Thursday, November 02, 2006
music: october: so little to say
I was thinking about skipping this month's music post since there's really only one album that I feel compelled to talk about, but I decided to forge ahead since it's highly likely that it will make my top ten of 2006 list. Amazingly enough, one year after coming out with the very brilliant Picaresque, The Decemberists have somehow created a second ridiculously good album with The Crane Wife. The whole thing is solid, but I'm a big fan of "The Island" and "Shankill Butchers" because that's how I like my Decemberists songs - epic, kind of scary and preferably with accordions.

Unfortunately, they are coming to town next week and I can't go because due to a tragic scheduling conflict I'm flitting off to Paris on that particular weekend. I know, poor me who has to miss a Decemberists show because a tour group company is giving me a free trip to Paris, but seriously, I'm sorta bummed. You can go ahead and cry for me now.